SAN FRANCISCO Closer cooperation between technology process experts and design engineers is ineviatble in the nanotechnology era and needs to become stronger in order for the semiconductor industry to continue growing, the founder of the world's largest foundry told the International Solid-State Circuits Conference.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Chairman Morris Chang told attendees in a keynote address that a "new type of integrated relationship differs from many previous foundry-customer relationships in that both design and technology engineering proceed concurrently from an early stage in the product-development effort."
Chang said that maintaining historic levels of growth in the IC market will be challenging. Industry revenues increased exponentially between 1960 and 2000, with an equivalent annual average growth rate of 16 percent. The industry slow-down following 2000 was a watershed event, according to Chang. In its
aftermath, the average growth rate between 2000 and 2010 is projected to reach just 6 perent.
"Accordingly, it is critically necessary to scan ways whereby the foundry segment can continue to support the IC industry to maintain, or even improve, growth rates."
He described a strategy he said would ensure continued future growth, starting with broadening CMOS logic technology and adding other technologies. "We believe that one of the key strategies for future foundry-business growth is to expand both into new markets for CMOS logic that are enabled by the cost reduction and performance enhancement associated with scaling, and into markets that rely on non-CMOS-based technologies," Chang said.
Consumer electronics will be a significant growth drivers, said Chang, adding that growth opportunities include wireless applications, gaming, digital TV, LCD displays, power management, MP3 devices and digital cameras.
Another part of the strategy involves managing design complexity. "As a result of increasing design complexity, the rate of introduction of new designs at foundries is decreasing for the most advanced technology nodes, primarily because of increasingly higher costs for IC design," Chang said.
Hence, foundries must provide customers robust IP, design libraries and EDA tools. "It is also important that third-party IP provided to the foundry is properly validated for the foundry's process technology to ensure the integrity of the final design," he said.