Powering the Pulse of the Semiconductor Manufacturing Industry
The semiconductor industry has long grown to the beat of the most remarkable metronome of any industry. Our metronome has been Moore’s Law, where approximately every two years the number of transistors per area doubles. With Moore’s Law now slowing – at least in terms of Dennard scaling – Advanced Energy wanted to make sure it still has its finger on the pulse of the industry. To that end, we sponsored an IEEE survey aimed at identifying the top trends that will impact the semiconductor market in the next three years.
As might be expected, the survey found consensus around now familiar drivers: 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), connected car, digital transformation, Big Data, smart factories and smart cities. Survey respondents also zeroed in on Big Data, digital transformation, AI and how these are being used in our own industry. The top three uses in our industry for Big Data and AI were machine learning, image processing, and manufacturing. Fifty percent said that machine learning is the most-used application while 39 percent of those using big data said they applied it for image processing and manufacturing.
We found it telling that in terms of long-term growth, above other drivers in our industry, R&D investment was top with more than 45 percent of respondents. Interestingly, Big Data and AI adoption in our own industry are currently limited, with only 30 percent using big data and only 26 percent using AI in their jobs. Regardless of our own use to date, AI, Big Data, and machine learning will be driving a new demand wave and will set the pulse rate of innovation. It’s clear that big bets (in R&D) will be made to keep up and – for market leaders – critical to stay ahead.
A Pulse within the Pulse
Advanced Energy is the market leader in semiconductor manufacturing power solutions – and means to stay ahead. AE power solutions are used to create plasma and ion energy for etch, deposition, sputtering, and ion implantation – the very hearts of wafer processing. We are keen not only to keep up with the pulse of industry drivers, but Advanced Energy also has been consistently innovating to keep at the pulse of leading customer’s future requirements.
We’ve been at the forefront of “the pulse within the industry pulse.” In the past, Advanced Energy brought DC pulsing to enable high volume metal deposition processes; now Advanced Energy RF pulsing is enabling for sub 14 nm processing. Especially as etch processes drop below the 7 nm technology node, RF pulsed power is becoming imperative to etch through the huge stacks (96+) of V-NAND structures. The role of RF energy in patterning wafers has risen to levels of critical as never before – as one semiconductor fab director put it, RF is the new litho.
To develop chips for IEEE survey’s driving trends of 5G, AI, connected car, digital transformation, big data, and smart factories and cities, there needs to be both increased use of AI and big data in our industry as well as focused and enduring R&D investment (Advanced Energy has been awarded over 290 patents for power innovations). Moore’s Law may be slowing, but if anything, the industry’s heartbeat is only getting faster. Advanced Energy continues to listen to the pulse of the industry while providing those enabling beating hearts of wafer processing – and supplying “pulsing within the industry pulse” to meet the industry’s toughest challenges.
For more information on our semiconductor solutions, visit www.advancedenergy.com/solutions/semiconductor-manufacturing/.