Pete’s Posts Blog

Monthly Archives: June 2014

Three fundamental shifts

At The ConFab last week, Dr. Gary Patton, vice president, semiconductor research and development center at IBM, said there is a bright future in microelectronics (I heartily agree). He said that although there seems to be a fair amount of doom and gloom that scaling is ending and Moore’s Law is over, he is very positive. “There are three huge fundamental shifts that are going to drive our industry forward, will drive revenue growth and will force us to keep innovating to enable new opportunities,” he said.

The first fundamental shift is the explosion of applications in the consumer and mobile space. Patton noted examples such as cars that can drive themselves and can detect people and bicyclists and avoid them, smart phones for as little as $25, wearable devices that not only tell you what you’re doing but how you’re doing, and 4K television. “That is an incredible TV system, but it’s going to demand a lot of bandwidth; twice the bandwidth that’s out there today. If you turn on your 4K system, your neighbors are going to start to notice it when they try to access the internet,” he said.

Patton said that it’s estimated that today there are about 12.5 billion devices connected to the internet. That’s expected to grow to $30 billion by 2020. This represents the second fundamental shift commonly known as Big Data. “All these interconnected devices are shoving tremendous amount of data up into the cloud at the rate of 1.5 Exabytes (1018) bytes of data per month,” Patton said. “And that’s grown by about an order of magnitude in just the last 13 years. The estimate is that in the next 4 years, it’s going to go up another order of magnitude. It’s accelerating.”

The third fundamental shift is with all this data going up into the cloud, the data is almost all unstructured data, such as video and audio. “It’s related data but disconnected. How do we take that data and do something with it? That brings us to analytics and cognitive computing. We have really just started in this arena.”

So there you have it. Three reasons to be very positive about the future of the semiconductor industry: an explosion of applications, the rise of big data and the need to analyze all that data.

The Rise of MEMS Sensors

Join us for a MEMS-focused webcast on Thursday, June 19th at 12:00pm Eastern time. Click here to go directly to the registration page.

Jay Esfandyari, Director of MEMS and Analog Product Marketing at STMicroelectronics, will discuss the rise of MEMS sensors. Although Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) have been around for a long time, the introduction of the technology into consumer markets, with Nintendo’s Wii in late 2006, opened the floodgates with multiple MEMS – accelerometers, gyros, compasses, pressure sensors and microphones — now in smartphones and tablets. And you ain’t seen nothing, yet!
Simone Severi, lead for SiGe MEMS at imec, will discuss SiGe MEMS technology for monolithic integration on CMOS. He will describe the recent development of MEMS technologies at imec that enables the monolithic integration of MEMS on CMOS. This approach represents a potential key advantage for a variety of MEMS systems as it can lead to a device performance improvement and to the scaling of the system area with consequent cost and package size reduction. Systems requiring multiple MEMS devices on chip or large MEMS array will benefit the most out of this approach.

One route focuses on the direct post processing on top of CMOS of a low temperature SiGe material, fully compatible with standard Al back end of line processes. This platform can realize a compact system for multi sensing applications. Accelerometers, capacitive pressure, compass and temperature sensors are among the candidate sensors to be combined on the same chip, e.g., to yield implantable (or wearable) products for the medical field, chips for the consumer or automotive market. Array of Capacitive Micromachined Ultrasonic Transducers are demonstrated for potential medical imaging systems. Key asset for the success of this CMOS-MEMS monolithic approach is the implementation of an hermetic thin film packaging technology. Thin film hermetic SiGe packages are demonstrated with cavity pressure ranging from few Pa up to several 100mBar. This technology has the potential to enable a scaling of the form factors while reducing packaging and testing costs.

Jay Esfandyari has more than 20 years of industry experience in Semiconductor Technology, integrated circuits fabrication processes, MEMS & sensors design and development, sensor networking, product marketing, business development and product strategy. Jay holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Technology of Vienna, Austria. He has more than 60 publications and conference contributions. Jay is currently the Director of MEMS and Analog Product Marketing at STMicroelectronics and he is located in Dallas, Texas.

Simone Severi joined IMEC Leuven in 2007, working on microsystems for mass data storage devices, poly-SiGe surface micromachining technology and CMOS integrated biosensors. In 2009 he became the team leader of the specialty component group at IMEC, with specific focus on MEMS and Bio-Photonics sensors.

Severi received his M.S. degree in microelectronic engineering from the University of Bologna, Italy, in 2001 and his Ph. D degree from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in 2006. During his Ph.D course he worked on ultimate device scaling, innovative channel engineering and processing for future CMOS devices technologies.

Register now for this free webcast.



The next big thing: IoT

The semiconductor industry has greatly benefited from the push to mobile technology, but what’s next? It could well be the Internet of Things (IoT), which includes smart homes, smart cars, smart TVs, wearable electronics and beacons. According to an analysis by Business Insider, The Internet of Things alone will surpass the PC, tablet and phone market combined by 2017, with a global internet device installed base of around 7,500,000,000 devices.

Source: Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

In a keynote talk at the Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Conference (ASMC), John Lin gave some insight into the technology challenges the IoT will create. John is the Vice President and General Manager of Operation of G450C Consortium. Prior to joining G450C, Dr. Lin was the Director of Manufacturing Technology Center in TSMC.

“What is the next big thing?,” he asked? In 2014, after mobile computing, we believe it is the Internet of things. Many of the devices needed to connect to the internet will grow very fast. We need to prepare the technology for that.” John said the ultra-low power will be a primary concern. Processors, sensors and connectivity will also be key. “To support this at TSMC, we will continue with our ultra-low power efforts and continue to support advanced nodes, from 28, 20, 16 to 10nm.” He also said the company will focus on “special” technologies such as image sensor, embedded DRAMs, high-voltage power ICs, RF, analog, and embedded flash. “All this will support all of the future Internet of Things,” he said.

The Business Insider report also notes that the wearables, connected car and tv markets will equal the tablet market by 2018. Smart appliances are already going mass market. More than 250,000 Nest thermostats, for example, have already shipped this year. Connected TVs are overtaking traditional TVs: A connection to the internet will become common in fully loaded cars. US regulators are slowly allowing more aerial drones. Also expect to see more “beacons” in retailer establishments, such as Apple’s iBeacons, which are used to communicate with shoppers in-store.