We had our second conference call yesterday with advisory board of The ConFab (a special thanks to Lori Nye of Brewer Science who called in from Japan at 2:00 am her time. Above and Beyond the call of dutry!). The ConFab will be held June 22-25 at The Encore at The Wynn in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. It will be the 10th anniversary of the event and I’m working hard to make it the best one ever.
We’ve recently updated the event website, www.theconfab.com. It includes a short video where, using my best radio voice, we scroll through pictures of last year’s event, including a not so flattering picture of Bill Ross of ISMI (sorry Bill!).
As you know, I travel around a lot, attending various semiconductor meetings and conferences. In fact, I’m off to IEDM tomorrow! Short courses begin at 9:00 am on Sunday and I can’t wait. It’s like drinking the Kool-Aid from a fire hose! But I digress.
The ConFab is vastly different from any other event I’ve attended for several reasons. For one, it’s focused entirely on the economics of semiconductor manufacturing. All of the keynotes and presentations are tuned to that direction. Yes, we get into technology challenges in design, manufacturing, packaging and test, but with a huge helping of why and at what cost? We may kind of sip the Kool-Aid but then talk about how it tastes (okay, any analogy breaks down at some point, but you know what I mean).
Another reason The ConFab is different: We combine thought-provoking conference sessions with private meetings arranged between our sponsors and our VIP attendees or “delegates” as we like to call them. These aren’t “speed dating” kinds of meeting, but 45 minute meetings where both parties come prepared to talk business. I’ve found this is one of the least understood aspect of The ConFab. People often ask me: “Why would leading semiconductor manufacturers feel the need to travel and sit down with their suppliers when they could just pick up the phone and call them whenever they want.” The answer to that is simple. One, it’s true they can do that, but those kinds of conversations are usually focused on some kind of problem. The tool isn’t working; get it fixed. We need this or that. I’m not privy to the private conversations in these meetings at The ConFab, but people have told me they’ve accomplished more in one day than would have in a year otherwise. They’ve also told me it was the first time they met with a customer and didn’t get yelled at.. but that’s a different story. I think it’s also true that most of the technology in a fab come from the tool and equipment suppliers (and software suppliers – let’s not forget EDA!). At The ConFab, they can at least touch base with all of their main suppliers and have useful meetings. People come to this absolutely fabulous hotel, which is easy to get to, relax and listen to luminaries discuss industry trends and challenges, and then sit down with folks that can make business happen. We combine all this seriousness with a variety of networking events, including breakfasts, lunches and evening receptions, as well as refreshment breaks.
At the 2013 ConFab, more than 175 private meetings took place during which sponsors and their customers, both prospective and existing, engaged in strategic discussions and created crucial alliances for the future. These pre-scheduled boardroom meetings offer an efficient and highly effective approach to conducting face-to-face business in a global industry
I was talking to Bill Tobey yesterday after our conference call. Bill, who is a true industry veteran, has been involved with The ConFab from the very beginning and has seen many things come and go. He reminded me that in the mid 2014 we will know a lot more than we do today. EUV alone – whether it works or not — is going to be a major factor in determining the “economic balance” as Bill put it. He said we should keep that in mind as we develop our session topics and invite our speakers. Sage advice if I’ve ever heard it. Bill was one of the co-founders of Micronix, which was focused on providing a single point X-ray solution. That didn’t take off because of problems with the X-rays masks. Guess what – the same problem still exists with EUV masks. But I digress yet again.
With Bill’s help – and the rest of our fantastic board members — we’re putting together the agenda for 2014. I’m more than confident that it will be as exciting as past years, when we had such speakers as: Y.W. Lee of Samsung, Subu Iyer of IBM, John Chen of Nvidia, Bob Bruck and Jackie Sturm of Intel, BJ Woo of TSMC, Ali Sebt of Renesas and many others (check out our most excellent lineup from this year).
We will be covering the economic outlook for 2014 and beyond, major technology challenges facing the industry – such as the move to 450mm wafers – and of course the big issues such as the escalating costs of R&D.
More on this later, but we are also planning a second ConFab event, The ConFab II, in November. This will focus on critical subsystems and components: all the things that go into today’s extremely complex processing and assembly tools, including robotics, vacuum pumps, pressure gauges, power supplies, exhaust treatment, wafer aligners, etc.
This is all a long-winded way of saying I hope you join us next June at The ConFab for our 10th anniversary, and The ConFab II in November. Check out our website for more: www.theconfab.com.
P.S. If you’re interested in a sponsorship, contact Sabrina Straub at [email protected].