By Ajit Manocha, president and CEO, SEMI
Artificial intelligence (AI) may be a hot topic today, but SEMI has helped to incubate Big Data and AI since its founding. Early in SEMI’s history, SEMI’s always intelligent members worked together to introduce International Standards that enabled different pieces of equipment to collect and later pass data. At first, it was for basic interoperability and equipment state analysis. Later, SEMI data protocol Standards allowed process and metrology data to be used locally and across the fab to approach the goals of Smart Manufacturing and AI – for the equipment itself to make adjustments based on incoming wafer data.
As a part of this evolution, SEMI members developed the latest sensors and computational hardware that could ever better sense, analyze and act on the environment. Often first to use its own newly developed hardware, progress in this area was critical toward improving the likelihood of success for one of the world’s most complicated production processes – and coping with the breakneck speed of Moore’s Law – by accelerating capabilities that would later be regarded as the basis for machine learning and “thinking” systems.
Since then, process steps have increased from about 175 to as many as 1,000 for the leading technology nodes. By the time 300mm wafers were introduced, manufacturing intelligence and automation sharply increased productivity while reducing fab labor by more than 25 percent. Employing adaptive models, modern leading-edge factories are fully automated and operate at nearly 60 percent autonomous control.
Today, AI is akin to where IoT was yesterday in the hype cycle – popping up everywhere as a major consideration for the future. Neither IoT nor AI is hype, though – they’re the future. There is ever more at stake for SEMI members with AI. AI appears to be the next wave helping to maintain double-digit growth for the foreseeable future.
As part of its appeal for the global supply chain, AI can be a key silicon driver for three inflections that should benefit society. First, there is a massive increase in the amount of compute needed. Half of all the compute architectures shipping in 2021 will be supporting and processing AI.
Second, the Cloud will flourish and the Edge will bloom. By 2021, 50 percent of enterprise infrastructure will employ cognitive and artificial intelligence.
Third, new species of chips will emerge, such as the devices fueling IC content and electronics for the rapid growth of disruptive capabilities in vehicles and autonomous cars (as well as medical and agricultural applications, for example). There are also many more advantages created with and for AI as SEMI members enable new materials and advanced packaging.
What results can be measured from these changes for the global electronics manufacturing supply chain? More apps, more electronics, more silicon and more manufacturing.
On the other hand, the technologies alone create relatively little business value if the problems in our factories and markets are not well understood. There’s a great need to anticipate and guide AI. This requires a new kind of collaboration.
To address this need, SEMI’s vertical application platforms have been created for Smart Data (which is all about AI), and also for Smart MedTech, Smart Transportation, Smart Manufacturing and IoT. This higher degree of facilitated collaboration serves to cultivate multiple “smart communities” that accelerate progress for AI, better directing how connected networks and data mining can step up the pace for advancement of global prosperity. This process also provides members with access to untapped business opportunities and new players.
We at SEMI are learning right along with our members. If you attended SEMICON West in July, several lessons about AI were presented by the Executive Panel (“Meeting the Challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolutions along the Microelectronics Supply Chain”) with Mary Puma (Axcelis), Shaheen Dayal (Intel), Lori Ciano (Brooks Automation) and Regenia Sanders (Ernst & Young). This very timely and excellent panel discussed how and where predictive analytics can have the biggest impact and the implications of sharing (and not sharing) data for problem solving and process optimization.
Ensuring that the SEMI staff gleans everything possible from the experts, we hosted an “encore” of the Executive Panel in October in our headquarters for an even more in-depth discussion about how to enhance collaboration across the supply chain in support of AI.
Going forward, these SEMI vertical platform communities will help to simplify and accelerate supply chain engagement for member value. Collaboration will play an ever greater role for using AI to master the making of advanced node semiconductor devices and enabling limitless cognitive computing. As a result, AI as we know it today, has a big head start over the previous pace of evolution for one of our great trendsetters, Moore’s Law.
Join the conversation. Find out how you can work with SEMI to advance the AI – and especially AI in semiconductor manufacturing. Frank Shemansky Jr., Ph.D., is heading up SEMI’s formation of SEMI’s Smart Data vertical application platform. Let Frank know (firstname.lastname@example.org) you’re interested and he’ll give you more information on what’s to come. As always, please let me know your thoughts.