SEMICON West 2020 – In a home office far, far away …
July and SEMICON West have long been synonymous for semiconductor professionals for many years. Would it even feel like July if we did not collectively gather at Moscone? As concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic grew, SEMI – and the Advanced Energy team – pivoted to support a virtual event.
Although it was strange to experience the show from the comfort of my home office, it was nevertheless still a great celebration of 50 years of SEMI. From hearing from industry leaders on the latest trends and innovations to exploring the various exhibitor booths, it will be a show I won’t forget easily.
Industry Trends and Observations
Kicking off the virtual conference was a press event where SEMI presented its latest forecast. Global sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment by OEMs are projected to increase by 6% to $63.2 billion in 2020, up from $59.6 billion in 2019. In 2021, the equipment market is expected to cross the $70 billion revenue mark. The wafer fab equipment segment is expected to grow over the next few years, driven by a memory spending recovery, investments in leading-edge equipment, and China. Packaging capacity buildup is driving growth in the assembly and packaging equipment segment. China, Taiwan, and Korea are expected to lead the pack in spending this year.
SEMICON West underscored visible long-term technology trends by highlighting the exponential innovation in the industry. 5G is in the midst of a global rollout now and there are more talks of the potential for 6G to be a game changer for data consumption. Autonomous machines are making autonomous vehicles and AI is becoming ever more ubiquitous as billions of sensors power IoT worldwide.
One of the biggest themes that ran throughout the week was sustainability. Former Vice President Al Gore’s keynote on increasing the energy efficiency of our semiconductor manufacturing processes encouraged us to take meaningful actions to keep sustainability top as mind as we innovate the future of technology. Applied Materials unveiled its new initiative, “Make Possible a Better Future” – a framework for expanding the scope of its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments. As part of the overall roadmap, Advanced Energy is one of the six launching partners on Applied Materials’ SuCCESS2030 initiative to work towards a more sustainable supply chain. It is exciting to see the industry embrace the promise of digitalization as a force for good in curtailing climate change.
Leading-edge chipmakers are moving from 7nm to 5nm with 3nm in R&D in advanced CMOS processes. At each node, as Moore’s Law becomes exponentially more challenging and costs grow rapidly, the industry is turning to new 3D Advanced Packaging techniques, particularly chiplets. 3D packaging architecture is not new and has been used in stacking memory for handset for years. More advanced 3D architecture includes stacking and connecting devices vertically, so they behave as one device reducing the bandwidth bottleneck. This can provide faster and shorter interconnects, higher transistor density with potentially higher efficiency and lower power and cost.
“The 3D aspect of Moore’s Law has not yet begun really in earnest. But when it does, we will start to see some very serious gains in performance.” Rob Aitken, fellow and director of technology for R&D, Arm
Lastly, the current pandemic has shifted the conversation around operations. Whereas cybersecurity has been a key topic for several years, there is a renewed urgency with the rapid rise of the remote workforce over the past few months. Organizations are eager to ensure their data remains secured – no matter where in the world its accessed – so that fabs keep up-and-running while engineers and technicians work from home. The COVID-19 pandemic has also emphasized the need for a diverse, distributed supply chain so that, should there be a disruption in one location, it minimizes the overall impact on operations and ensures ongoing business continuity.
Advanced Energy at SEMICON West
Throughout the week, we welcomed our customers and partners at our virtual booth to share how we are powering the process and the platform with our latest innovations and solutions. Our RF group unveiled three new process power products, including our revolutionary eVosTM LE which was nominated for the SEMI Best of the West award, Navigator II FCi which extends our leadership in advanced RF matching, and Paramount HFi which brings performance, size and costs of RF delivery to a whole new level. We were excited to also introduce the iHP series from our Artesyn Embedded Power product group to the semiconductor community. The iHP is part of our broad portfolio of intelligent, digitally configurable power supplies that enable customers to solve speed, space, and flexibility challenges. Initial feedback confirms our belief that these new products, together with AE portfolio of power, measurement, and control solutions, will be powering future generations of leading-edge semiconductor processes and next generations of semiconductor platforms.
Although the virtual event is no substitute for the in-person show, it was a welcomed alternative to connect with the semiconductor community during this unprecedented time. On the upside, this year’s event doesn’t have to end when the keynotes are over, and the exhibition hall closes. You can revisit the show floor and speaker sessions, including ours, through September. Check it out here. We hope to see you back in San Francisco next year!