Executive viewpoints: 2017 outlook

IoT main industry driver

Reno_CDavis_HeadshotChris Davis, SVP, Reno Sub-Systems

The general industry consensus is that 2016 is finishing strong and that this growth is expecting to extend into 2017. From our perspective, the internet of things (IoT) is driving this, but not from the sensor/device-level applications (although certainly, with billions of devices predicted, this too will be good for manufacturers). The true drivers are big data and all the things associated with storing, transmitting and processing the data. There is significant demand for faster processors and more memory—needed to move the data and analyze it, not to mention the need for more processors and ICs to meet emerging bandwidth requirements. We also anticipate fewer cycles and expect demand to be more consistent.

There are many trends that bear watching that play into this outlook. Sensors are the tip of the iceberg; they will be in everything, but it is the data they generate that demands more infrastructure. Several applications are all actively progressing that will further drive the industry: artificial intelligence, deep machine learning, autonomous cars, robots, augmented/virtual reality, drones, 3D camera/data.

So what does this mean in the semiconductor industry? There is a drive, in both memory and processors, for smaller geometries so that chips can do more in a smaller space with less power. Nodes will continue to shrink to put more capability into the same size chips. The industry is just at the beginning of the move to 10nm and below, and new technologies will be needed to enable continued shrink.

Advanced packaging, chip stacking and 3D are all on the radar, but there remain improvements to front-end manufacturing that will drive the industry forward; subsystems offer one example. As etch and deposition process steps become more critical, higher precision and control are required as well as reduced process times to improve cost of ownership. Advanced RF matching and gas flow capabilities need to offer faster, multilevel pulsing and move beyond conventional RF matches —which already can’t keep up. We look forward to working with original equipment manufacturers and independent device manufacturers to understand and solve these issues to enable the rapid growth we anticipate from the IoT.

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