With dimensional scaling reaching economic limits, each company in the IC fab industry must rely upon trusted connections with customers and suppliers to know which way to go, and the only way to gain trusted connections is through attending live events. Fortunately, whether you are an executive, and engineer, or an investor, there is at least one must-attend event happening these days to keep you informed.
We should always start with SEMI (sponsor of SemiMD, personal friends for many years) who has always represented the gold standard for trade-shows, executive events, and manufacturing symposia around the world. I attended my first SEMICON/West in 1988, and have since attended excellent SEMICONs in Europe, Japan, Korea, China, and Singapore. This year’s SEMICON gathering in San Francisco will feature a nearly 50% increase in the number of technical sessions.
SEMI ran another excellent Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC) in Albany this month, featuring keynotes by visionaries such as “Nanoscale III-V CMOS” by MIT Professor Jesus A. del Alamo. The panel discussion “Moore’s Law Wall vs. Moore’s Wallet, and where do we grow from here,” was moderated by industry veteran Paul Werbaneth, now with Intevac. It is clear that we will reach economic limits of scaling well before the physical limits.
Materials technology and supply-chain solutions to extend economic limits were discussed by Intel’s VP of Technology and Manufacturing Tim Hendry in a keynote at the Critical Materials Conference (CMC) held this year in Oregon in early May, as produced by Techcet CA (I am also an analyst with Techcet and co-chair of this event, while Solid State Technology was a media sponsor). David Thompson, Senior Director, Center of Excellence in Chemistry, Applied Materials showed that despite the inherent “Agony in New Material Introductions – minimizing and correlating variabilities” is possible with improved collaboration throughout the supply-chain.
The Imec Technology Forum in Brussells this month (Solid State Technology was a media sponsor) could best be described with Lake Wobegone hyperbole that all the women were strong, the men were good-looking, and everyone was above average. The big news is imec acquiring iMinds for greater synergies when integrating the latter’s algorithms with imec-ecosystem hardware for application-specific solutions. Gary Patton, now CTO and SVP of Global R&D for GLOBALFOUNDRIES, reminded everyone at ITF of the inherent speed constraints of the copper wires and low-k dielectrics needed to connect IC transistors, “As I’ve often said, It’s like you have a Ferrari but you’re towing a boat if you don’t address the interconnect delay issues.” Regardless, Patton confidently declares that, “We will continue to provide value to our customers to be able to create new products, and we will innovate in ways other than simple scaling.”
At ITF, a video was shown of imec president Luc van den Hove interviewing Gordon Moore at his beachfront home in Hawaii. Moore has always been humble and claims no special ability to forecast trends. “It would not surprise me if we reached the end of scaling in the next decade,” said Moore. “I missed the importance of the PC, and I missed the importance of the internet. Predicting the future is a difficult job and I leave it to someone else.”
Wally Rhines seemed able to predict the future when he eloquent expounded upon Moore’s Law as a special-case learning-curve in his presentation at ITF. Rhines will provide one of the keynote addresses at the ConFab in Las Vegas this year (Solid State Technology’s home event, co-sponsored by SEMI and by IEEE-CPMT). Executives from the global industry will gather to hear insights and analysis on the challenges facing all companies in the ecosystem, as we search for profitable pathways in a more complex landscape.