In an exclusive series of blogs, imec’s science writers report from the International Technology Forum (ITF) last week in Brussels. This year, ITF’s theme was “It’s a changing world. Let’s make a sustainable change together”.
Gregg Bartlett, CTO of GLOBALFOUNDRIES, acknowledged that the semiconductor industry has been battered in 2011. The already considerable challenges were magnified by a natural disaster and the global economic malaise. Looking back further in time, it is important to remember that the IC industry has always been a volatile business. But if you look at the long-term picture, averaged over 30 years, you see a tremendous growth. A growth that today in the high-end foundry business, is still close to 20%.
According to Mr. Bartlett, the key to survival in this industry is adaptability and collaboration. Today’s landscape is almost unrecognizable when compared to the days before the existence of dedicated silicon foundries, large fabless design companies, widespread internet connectivity, and entirely unimagined categories of electronic devices. These trends have strengthened the need for a collaborative model of semiconductor design and manufacturing.
At the core of this new model is collaboration—not of the opportunistic or desperate variety, but a truly strategic approach to collaboration that leverages the strengths of each partner, while sharing both the risks and the rewards. It is this strategic approach that brought high-k metal gate to volume production at 32/28nm, and it is this strategic approach that will continue to drive innovation at 20nm and beyond, even in the face of the very challenging barriers in lithography, materials, packaging, and wafer processing.
Jan Provoost, science writer imec