BENGALURU, India The electronics industry is doing very little to achieve ecologically sustainable growth, a goal that must start with semiconductor manufacturing, a U.S. executive said.
Visiting here, Mike Splinter, president and CEO of Applied Materials Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.), said the semiconductor industry continues to focus on increasing speed and performance rather than on more efficient energy usage. Instead, Splinter said future chip architectures must focus on optimal energy use.
With increased use of semiconductors in consumer electronics, chips can play a larger role in ecological sustainability, Splinter added.
Speaking to members of the India Semiconductor Association here, Splinter said global demand for consumer electronics makes sustainability a priority, especially since few manufacturers are focusing on the issue.
"Sustainability is becoming a critical issue now that human activity-induced climate change is happening at a terrifying pace. The global electronics industry impacts energy consumption and waste in a very significant way and it must address the sustainability challenge head-on," Splinter told the group.
Economic growth is driving demand for electronics in Brazil, Russia, India and China. Growing semiconductor content in consumer electronics is paralleled by growing energy demand.
"Growing demand for electronics and the rising chip usage in electronics is causing more energy to be used, and this is bringing about more recycling challenges," Splinter said. "Waste management in the semiconductor and electronics manufacturing chain is a huge issue, but is not being looked at in the way it ought to. It is up to us to decide whether sustainability is a threat or an opportunity," Splinter said.
Along with energy efficiency, the IC industry needs to use more renewable energy sources in its production facilities. Splinter challenged manufacturers to reduce total energy consumption by 20 percent over the next five years.
"Every transistor in every chip and the chip architecture itself needs to use less energy. While the ability to make chips more energy efficient is there, the design gains are used for performance rather than for energy savings. There just needs to be a significant change in microprocessor architecture, with the clear target being energy efficiency," Splinter said.
The chip manufacturing equipment vendor is aiming to cut its own energy use by 20 percent, and has decided that its new products will be 20 percent more energy efficient than equipment they replace.
In October, Applied opened a photovoltaic R&D center in Germany.