A recent report shows steps industry and government leaders can take to enable continued advances in semiconductor technology to help solve society's most pressing challenges.
The Semiconductor Industry Association and Semiconductor Research Corp. drafted the report called, “Semiconductor Research Opportunities: An Industry Vision and Guide.” It highlights the research needed to advance semiconductor innovation and fulfill the promise of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and supercomputing.
According to the report, research is needed across a variety of areas to harness the full potential of these emerging applications, unlock new technologies beyond conventional, silicon-based semiconductors and advance next-generation semiconductor manufacturing methods. The report calls on industry, government and academia to intensify commitments to research to usher in a new era of semiconductor technology and keep America at the forefront of technological advancement.
The U.S. semiconductor industry is a key contributor to our country’s strength. Our industry supports more than one million jobs in America, accounts for nearly half of the world’s chip sales, and is the world’s most innovative and technologically advanced manufacturing sector. Semiconductors are America’s fourth-largest export – after airplanes, refined oil, and automobiles – and about half of U.S. semiconductor companies’ manufacturing base is in the United States across 21 states.
The strength of our industry and the many benefits it provides to our country are largely the result of robust and sustained investments in research, including federal investment in basic research. University-based, pre-competitive scientific research funded through agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Department of Energy Office of Science has enabled some of the most revolutionary inventions of the last 60 years, including the Internet, the Global Positioning System, the laser, and the large-scale integrated circuit.
To maintain U.S. leadership, this commitment to research must be maintained and strengthened. The U.S. semiconductor industry does its part to promote research, annually devoting about one-fifth of its revenue to R&D, the second-most of any U.S. industry.
The Vision report is the culmination of work by a diverse group of industry experts and leaders, including chief technology officers at numerous leading semiconductor companies, who identified 14 areas in which research is essential to continued semiconductor innovation. These areas include advanced devices, materials, and packaging; intelligent memory and storage; power management; cognitive computing; security and privacy; and next-generation manufacturing among others.
The report comes at a time when the U.S. semiconductor industry faces increasing competition from abroad and mounting costs and challenges associated with maintaining the breakneck pace of putting more transistors on the same size silicon chip. America must rise to this challenge. Industry, academia, and government should collaboratively implement the recommendations outlined in the report to explore new frontiers of semiconductor innovation and to foster the continued growth of emerging technologies.
--John Neuffer is president and chief executive of the Semiconductor Industry Association.