Looking ahead, the industry
transition to 450-mm wafer processing will also help sustain the U.S.
central role in the industry. Currently, U.S.-based pilot lines for
450-mm manufacturing are scheduled for 2015 and 2016 with high-volume
manufacturing targeted for 2018. While no decision has been made, the
knowledge infrastructure for 450-mm manufacturing will reside in the
U.S., and the challenges of bringing larger wafers online synchronously
with an advanced node, indicates the first-generation 450 mega fabs will
be located in North America.
Another key trend that favors the
U.S. microelectronics industry is the growing complexity semiconductor
manufacturing and the interdependencies with the supply chain. In
addition to geometric scaling and the planned transition to 450-mm wafer
processing, the industry is implementing complex new transistor
architectures based on new materials and processes, 3-D stacked ICs, and
other technologies requiring complex co-design, co-development and
joint development agreements. Increasingly, these challenges are being
addressed through new collaboration models involving leading fabless
chip firms like Qualcomm and NVIDIA and top EDA companies such as
Synopsys and Mentor Graphics. These new collaboration models are
extending to the key subsystem and component suppliers. Learn more at Semicon West 2013.
is another key asset of the U.S. semiconductor ecosystem. Approximately
one billion annually in venture capital is invested in new U.S.
semiconductor firms and technologies, more than any other region by far.
Many of the technologies that will drive next generation semiconductor
demand and enable next generation manufacturing will be delivered by
firms that do not even exist yet, many of whom will move to the U.S.
from overseas to be near leading-edge customers and investors.
the winds are blowing favorably for U.S. semiconductor manufacturers
and their suppliers, critical policy initiatives are still required to
ensure continued growth of the U.S. microelectronics industry. We
desperately need to see the passage of immigration reform, especially
high-skilled immigration reform to allow more H1-B visas and green cards
for those in the STEM fields. In addition, manufacturing would benefit
from additional policy support, including corporate tax reform to
incentivize more production in the U.S., While most can agree that would
need some kind of fiscal reform from the federal government, it
shouldn’t come at the expense of R&D investment. Respect for
intellectual property rights is a strength in America, and the
government should be doing what it can to bolster those credentials as
well as ensuring a level playing field around the globe.
President Obama making high-tech manufacturing a centerpiece of his
second term with his National Network for Manufacturing Innovation
(NNMI) proposal, the political conversation is turning in positive and
non-partisan ways in favor of our industry. Perhaps at no time in recent
memory has the contributions of our industry been so widely understood,
recognized and supported. As the economy and political environment
improve, we should all be excited about the prospects and promises of
the U.S. semiconductor industry in the coming years.
Karen Savala is president of the Americas region at semiconductor processing equipment trade group SEMI.
Karen, while the future may look bright for the few massive captive fabs in the US, the rest of the semiconductor industry is heading into a dark future. The engine for innovation in semiconductors has been the fabless sector, and its growth was enabled through venture capital. The concentration of semiconductor VC into late-stage and mezzanines has left the cupboard increasingly bare in the early-to-midstage sector. We are now watching the big public companies snap up what's left in the private sector - and at fire sale prices.
More H1-Bs may help staff new fabs at Intel, but all the H1-Bs in the world won't balance the lack of early-to-midstage investment capital. What happens to product-level innovation in the semiconductor industry when there aren't any startups?
Good point on the increasing difficulty of raising investment capital for early-stage companies. To address this very real problem, SEMI has organized the Silicon Innovation Forum to bring together leading corporate investors (Intel, Applied, Samsung, Micron, Dow) with VCs and other investors at SEMICON West on July 9. About 25 early-stage companies will directly participate. More information at http://www.semiconwest.org/sif