SEMI looks to future challenges, welcomes STEM initiative

San Francisco, CA. SEMICON West kicked off yesterday with a press conference at which show sponsor SEMI made several key announcements relating to workforce development, industry outlook, and SEMI governance. In addition, SEMI presented a panel discussion with Dr. An Steegen of imec, Robert Cappel of KLA-Tencor, and William Chen of ASE Group commenting on the role of R&D, manufacturing, and packaging in furthering progress in the semiconductor industry.

As for workforce development, James C. Morgan, chairman emeritus of Applied Materials, announced his support of the SEMI Foundation in furthering STEM education. And SEMI announced newly elected board members and confirmed members who would continue their service. With respect to the industry outlook, Jonathan Davis of SEMI predicted about 20% revenue growth in semiconductor equipment this year, to be followed by about 11% spending growth for 2015. Davis also cited favorable Semiconductor Industry Association report that worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $26.86 billion for May 2014, 8.8% higher than the May 2013 total.

Panel discussion

Despite the relatively bright market outlook, the industry faces technical hurdles, as the press conference panelists emphasized. Steegen of imec cited the challenges involved in reaching process geometries below 14 nm. She cited specifically the delay in EUV readiness and suggested the need to further the development of 3-D structures (like FinFETs) and 3-D die stacks. Cost is also an issue, she said.

Cappel of KLA-Tencor also cited the fact that EUV lithography is not ready. In addition, he said, it is becoming more difficult to achieve adequate yields as devices become more complex. Imagine you have 1,000 process steps, he said. If each step has a yield of 99.5%, your overall yield is zero.

Chen of ASE Group cited market demands—particularly with respect to mobility. Mobile devices, he said, must deliver the performance of devices intended for a desktop computer, yet the mobile devices must integrate with memory, sensors, cameras, and so on. Consumers, he added, want more functionality, better design, and improved connectivity, yet they won't pay more. SiP (system in package), he said, is an important technology for meeting consumer demands. He also cited the Internet of Things (IoT) as requiring intelligent sensing devices, connectivity, and backbone providing adequate bandwidth and storage.

Meeting the challenges, all panelists seemed to agree, would require collaboration throughout the industry, from EDA to packaging.

When asked about how to test increasingly complex devices, Chen said that heterogeneous integration will change the way we look at DFT. Adding MEMS, sensors, microfluidics, and other functions, he said, changes the way we need to look at test. Steegen added that each new feature requires a new test methodology.

STEM initiative

In support of STEM education, Morgan, the chairman emeritus of Applied Materials (to be named ETERIS after its merger with Tokyo Electron Ltd. closes), announced his commitment to match up to $500,000 in donations to the SEMI Foundation. Over the next three months, Morgan will match every contribution of $50,000 or more. A success party is planned in October at Ferrari Silicon Valley, hosted by Art Zafiropoulo, CEO of Ultratech.

“Today, we all have a role in supporting students’ success in their academic and career goals,” said Morgan. “The SEMI Foundation has gotten thousands of young people excited about the importance of math, science, and the opportunities in high-tech careers through its dynamic High Tech U program. It is time for the industry to take the High Tech U program to the next level and achieve even greater impact. I encourage you to commit qualifying contributions during the challenge period to the SEMI Foundation.”

Through High Tech U, the SEMI Foundation has conducted more than 170 programs for both high-school students and teachers with a combined impact on more than 350,000 individuals. High Tech U programs consist of a three-day hands-on science-based curricula and interactive professional skills development program. SEMI held 20 programs in 2013 in Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States. The Foundation plans to expand the impact of the High Tech U franchise through enhanced program development, portal-based student engagement and tracking, industry employment information assistance and other improvements.

“Jim and Becky Morgan epitomize leadership and generosity through their tireless work to foster education,” said Denny McGuirk, president and CEO of SEMI. “We commend his numerous contributions to SEMI, our industry, and the youth who will occupy high-tech careers in the future. We also encourage others to accept the challenge and to support the SEMI Foundation.”

For more information on the SEMI Foundation and High Tech U, visit www.semi.org/Foundation.

SEMI board members

SEMI also announced that Martin Anstice, president and CEO of Lam Research; Kevin Crofton, president and COO of SPTS Technologies; Tien Wu, COO of ASE Group; and Guoming Zhang, executive vice president of Sevenstar Electronics, were elected as new directors to the SEMI International board of directors.

Six current board members were re-elected for a two-year term: Nobu Koshiba, president and representative director of JSR Corp.; Yong Han Lee, chairman of Wonik; Sue Lin, vice chairman of Hermes Epitek; Toshio Maruyama, chairman of Advantest; Tetsuo Tsuneishi, vice-chairman of the board of Tokyo Electron Ltd.; and Natsunosuke Yago, president and chairman of the board of Ebara.

In addition, the SEMI executive committee confirmed that André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, chairman, CEO, and president of Soitec, will remain as SEMI chairman, and Yong Han Lee, chairman of Wonik, will continue as SEMI vice-chairman.

“We are honored to have four distinguished industry leaders joining the SEMI Board and appreciate the continued service of those that have been reelected,” said McGuirk.

SEMI’s 20 voting directors and 11 emeritus directors represent companies from Europe, China, Japan, Korea, North America, and Taiwan. SEMI directors are elected by the general membership as voting members of the board and can serve a total of five two-year terms.

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