AI drives next wave of chip innovation and growth: Ajit Manocha, SEMI President and CEO

By Cherry Sun

“We are living in a digital world where semiconductors are taken for granted, AI is bringing semiconductors back into the deserved spotlight, and now we are witnessing the dawn of the Cognitive Era enabled by semiconductors,” SEMI president and CEO Ajit Manocha said to an audience of more than 500 during his presentation – Rebirth of the Semiconductor Industry – at the First Global IC Entrepreneur Conference.

Speaking at the Shanghai event in mid-December, Manocha recalled how, when he first entered the semiconductor industry in the 1980s, semiconductors revenue topped out at about $10 billion. Now, with sales having swelled to a staggering $450 billion, the industry is on a much faster growth track. Revenue could reach $500 billion by the end of 2020 and trillions of dollars by 2030.

Over the past two decades, chips have given rise to social media and e-commerce powerhouses such as Google, Facebook, and Alibaba. All rely on heavily on chips, the engines of data centers across all industries. Wave after wave of technology innovation have been powered by semiconductors – from mainframe computers in the 1970s, personal computers in the 1980s, the Internet in the 1990s, and mobile and social networking in the early 20th century, to the current shining stars of technology such as IoT, big data, new memory, virtual reality, autonomous driving and artificial intelligence, Manocha said. New applications across areas such as smart manufacturing and digital healthcare are stoking the latest round of semiconductor growth.

The rise of AI, like all the technologies before it, has renewed the semiconductor industry once again with its promise to drive growth of all industries worldwide, Manocha said. Five years ago, IoT was but a gleam in a technologist’s eye, more hype than reality with doubt about its viability running deep. Today, with about 60 percent of people in the world connected to the Internet, the enormous promise and potential of IoT is flowering.

Industry growth will explode as the melding of AI and IoT birth countless applications and innovations in SMART transportation (0 emissions; 0 fatalities; 0 congestion), smart sensors (agriculture, infrastructure, healthcare) and SMART “Everything” (people, devices, homes, cities, industries, and the list goes on). Indeed, AI is now widely recognized as a chief growth driver of the semiconductor industry well into the future, with semiconductor technology at the core of AI innovation, he said.

Semiconductors are thrusting the fifth industrial revolution into the fast lane. China’s much-anticipated rise as an industry powerhouse over the next few years will only accelerate industry growth, turning current disruptions into future opportunities as SEMI China continues to cultivate connection, collaboration and innovation in China’s fast-growing semiconductor sector.

Cherry Sun is a marketing manager at SEMI China. 


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