One of the main reasons for this situation is that there is a confusion between IMPROVEMENTS and true innovation. Improvements driven by Moore's Law have run their course. Thus, making CMOS smaller, albeit extremely successful, attained its peak and the FinFET/SOI paradigm is the exit point. Meanhile, devices are clearly stuck in the need for better memories, as the high scale of SoC integration is clearly the future, It is also a serious innovation bottleneck when we have FPGAs without Nonvolatile Memory at the higher node, poor endurance and no real power savings of High end FLASH and embedded devices with need of simpler and low cost nonvolatile memories. Add to that the needs to have lower cost solid state drives and the last hooray of DDR4-DRAM, and yes we seem to have no place to run. In the last 30 years, as DRAMs and FLASH had their run, the only two memories that were truly novel did NOT come out of Silicon Valley. These were the FeRAM (FRAM) and more recently STTRAM. Now, we have a few possibilities with CBRAM, CeRAM and a plethora of questionable electrochemical RRAM ( although I believe that all RRAMs based on filaments, including CBRAM (although it seems a bit more reasonable until you see their video in Youtube, showing a SILVER electrode injecting SILVER CLUSTERS!!!
Since I had something to do with FeRAM, a technology that never had enough funding and yet it has already put over 1.5 Billion chips in the Market (Ramtron, Fujitsu and Panasonic, now TI), I can say that today FeRAM is a good and mature response to embedded. Some confuse FRAM with FeRAM, so here is the difference: FRAM is based on PZT and FeRAM is based on SBT - Symetrix developed SBT for Panasonic and that is an extremely low power scalable device which can be made down to 25 nm thick and sports 10X less Power and more speed than FRAM). See next post - they limit size of text in EETIMES.
>> This is definitely a trend to watch out for, as the source of the money tells us a great deal about the intentions of the project in any situation.
The #1 reason is that in the last 10 years, no semiconductor company has had an exit of up to $1B. Dropbox is now worth $10B. So, if that trend continues, there is no reason to waste capital in semiconductor when web companies do better. China runs state capitalism and that means the profit is not just the motive. It is government money and I see them leading that path in years to come.
I have been saying same for a long time. I do not see the value in funding semiconductor companies. For all the troubles, no one likes them. Instagram was worth $1B with 5 staff with no bank account while Analog Devices with thousands of staff, $2b+ revenue, great products, history of innovation cannot cross $15B. If people value web firms more and VCs are in this to make money, the best roadmap is to fund web companies.
I noted the point about chips being funded by non-US non-VCs from places like China and India. This is definitely a trend to watch out for, as the source of the money tells us a great deal about the intentions of the project in any situation.