The future is bright for the future semiconductor and IT industry, according to Samsung exec Yoon Woo (Y.W.) Lee. In a keynote talk at The ConFab, Mr. Lee described a future with dramatic advances in almost every field, including healthcare, nano, energy and the environment, all powered by semiconductors. The end result: a smarter, healthier and cleaner planet. Mr. Lee, who is widely credited with the success of Samsung’s semiconductor business, is now an Executive Advisor at Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. He previously held positions at Vice Chairman and CEO, Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Chief Technology Officer at Samsung Electronics.
Mr. Lee noted two major trends in the world’s population: more people living in cities, and a greater number of elderly. “There will be 500 cities with over 1 million people by 2015,” Mr. Lee said. “Such a trend will stimulate the IT industry.” According to UN projections, more than 400 of these cities will be in developing countries. The number of "megacities" of 10 million people or more also will increase. Worldwide by 2015, 22 cities will be this big, all but five in developing countries. “Asia continues to grow into the largest economy in the world,” Lee said.
By 2020, most of the rich world will be a “super-aged” society, Lee added. A country can be described as an aging society when people aged sixty-five or above make up more than 7% of the total population (as in China). When the elderly make up more than 20% of the population, the country has a super-aging society.
“From a business perspective, bio and healthcare holds great potential,” Lee said. He also spoke on the importance of global sustainability, which he said will face strain. “There are finite reserves of oil. We must also address global warming which is behind extreme weather conditions.”
Lee said much of the remarkable progress in fields such as mobile computing and medicine has been possible due to the advancement of IT, and semiconductors in particular. “The industry strives for greater performance, lower power, and smaller form factor to enable this technology migration,” he said.
He noted that new innovations, such as nanowires and transistors with III-V channels, are being developed for 10nm chips, and said the use of new TSV technology “will raise transfer speed, function less power and reduce size.”
He also predicted that optical interconnects would soon be required. “Exascale computing will require optical interconnection to communicate between the CPU and memory chip,” he said.
He also gave a nod to MEMS devices, saying nanostructures would be used to switch mechanical energy such as background noise and wind into electric energy. “Our movement will be converted into electricity that charges most of our mobile device in the future,” he said.
As part of his presentation, Lee asked the audience to imagine what it would be like in the year 2025, when we will experience a smarter world, a healthier life and a cleaner planet. Among the advances expected:
- A light field 3D camera that easily captures three dimensional information, color and depth data simultaneously from different viewpoints in order to generate an accurate real-life picture.
- Tangible interaction technology that will enable the user to directly touch and freely manipulate three dimensional images in open space. One will be able to actually feel the shape, the temperature and even the texture of a real object.
- Displays in the form of a contact lens. Augmented reality on such lenses will inform you of traffic and weather conditions.
- With thermochromic materials, it will be easy to check what’s inside the fridge. When exposed to heat, these thermal sensitive molecules lose their alignment and by transmitting light more readily the material becomes semi-transparent.
- A terahertz medical mirror that exploits terahertz antenna technology to enable real-time medical diagnosis, or remote treatment with nanotechnology allowing the system to be miniaturized for household or portable use.
- Using intra-operative optical spectroscopic imaging, tissue can be analyzed without waiting for the pathology lab. By 2025, the aggregate medical data from patients worldwide will reach 6 zettabytes (1021 bytes), roughly equivalent to 6 quadrillion books. From the use huge volume of databases, we can find similar cases by analyzing the organ, physiological and molecular level data, using this “big data” to optimize medical diagnoses.
- Clean and inexhaustible energy based on hydrogen, from sunlight and water will provide electricity and heat without releasing greenhouse gases.
- Batteries will be entirely redesigned to utilize abundant and affordable substances such as magnesium or sodium, taking increasingly important roles in the future of large scale power storage.
- Next generation microorganisms can biodegrade waste and transform these products into highly concentrated raw materials. This technology can also be used to inexpensively produce new plastic materials for many applications.
Lee concluded with a call for collaboration, which he said is critical in intra-regional trade and development. “Countries will need to lower risk and boost efficiency through closer cooperation along the supply chain, forging alliances, devising common standards, and undertaking joint R&D,” he said.