SEMICON West keynoter outlines The Big Five Challenges of the semiconductor industry

When Ajit Manocha, GlobalFoundries CEO, polled his audience during his keynote address on Tuesday at SEMICON West 2013, nearly 60 percent of the audience believed that the biggest challenge facing the semiconductor industry was the economy. However, during his presentation, Manocha seemed to suggest otherwise.

The technology business is booming, according to Manocha, who shared with SEMICON attendees that the mobile business is forecast to be double the size of the PC market in 2016. The mobile business drives many new requirements, said Manocha, including power, performance and features, higher data rates, high resolution multicore processors and thinner form factors.

This incredible growth is driving new dynamics, said Manocha, and pushing the industry to the new technology node each year, which is presenting the industry with what Manocha deems the Big Five Challenges. Manocha believes these challenges are: cost, device architectures, lithography and EUV, packaging and the 450mm wafer transition.

Cost, said Manocha, continues to be the underlying challenge of the entire industy, because, without focusing on wafer cost, even in good times, a company can enter into what he called “profitless prosperity.” Unfortunately, with the introduction of a new technology node each year, advanced technology costs are rapidly rising.

“Fab cost alone escalates 40 percent year after year,” said Manocha.

To keep wafer costs down, what Manocha believes the industry needs for success is a new foundry model altogether. His model, which he calls Foundry 2.0, hinges on industry collaboration rather than wafer price competition. By encouraging the industry to work together on products and meet the same goals, the industry can see a faster rate of change and tap into global R&D talent.

“The best solutions rarely originate from an insultated team,” he said. “It’s critical that we understand what customers need.”


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