SEMICON West opens with imec chief looking at smart everything

San Francisco, CA. SEMICON West got underway today with Karen Savala, president of SEMI Americas, welcoming attendees to the co-located imec Technology Forum. Luc Van den hove, president and CEO of imec, delivered an opening presentation noting that we are enjoying services we couldn’t have imagined 20 years ago. He cited several conundrums of the current era. Uber, for example, is a huge taxi company that doesn’t own any vehicles.

He focused much of his talk on the IoT—“Everything around us will be smart and connected,” he said. When we get there is unpredictable, he added, but no industry will fail to benefit from IoT technologies.

He cited Moore’s Law, an in a compelling portion of his talk presented a video interview of Gordon Moore himself. If this becomes publically available (perhaps it is already) I’ll add a link. He noted the challenges facing Moore’s Law but said the trend Moore predicted not only can continue but must continue.

That’s a bold statement. Moore’s Law is facing economic challenges (we can go smaller but the cost is prohibitive) but also physical challenges (it’s hard to scale beyond the diameter of a single silicon atom). But Van den hove expressed his faith in vertical nanowire and other 3D technologies that can keep us busy for the next 10 to 15 years.

He cited several opportunities for innovation, including neuromorphic computing (with human-brain-like fuzzy logic), quantum computing, and healthcare based on individualized DNA sequencing.

The automotive industry, he said, is in huge need of technological innovation, in pursuit of inclusiveness, safety, and sustainability. Today, he said, lidar is expensive and bulky, but imec is working to integrate lidar photonics and electronics on one chip—much as imec has done with automotive radar.

He also noted that computation is cheaper than bandwitdh—noting that computation is best done at the sensor node—so we can deliver wisdom, not bits.

Ultimately, he said, the IoT based on advanced silicon technology will enable smart cities, smart medicine, smart government, smart finance, smart logistics, smart food service, smart manufacturing, and smart energy.

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