Groundhog Day in the Semiconductor Industry

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Groundhog Day in the Semiconductor Industry

By Jonathan Davis, president, SEMI North America

Sometimes this industry reminds me of the film, Groundhog Day.

In the 1993 comedy, Bill Murray wakes up to the same day over and over again. At first, he finds the repetition torture, but then he reexamines his life and priorities and uses his predicament as a quest for self improvement, actualization and transcendence.

In our industry of cycles and milestones, we are continuingly refining our understanding of important lessons that lead to a stable, sustainable industry. One year after the worst industry downturn on record, the latest chip growth forecasts averaging at about 25 percent are among the highest of all time. In recent days, upgraded fab spending announcements and forecasts have been common occurrences.

So what did we learn from the last cycle that will help us meet the future challenges that are just around the corner?

Answering this tough question and a host of others requires the brightest minds in the industry. That’s what you’ll get at this year’s SEMICON West. On Tuesday, July 15, leading executives from the industry will join me for the annual Executive Summit to explore the unique business and technology challenges of the coming 3 to 5 years. Joining me on the stage will be:

  • Keith Barnes, chairman, CEO and president, Verigy, Ltd.
  • Steve Newberry, president and CEO, Lam Research Corporation
  • Thomas Sonderman, vice president, Manufacturing Systems and Technology, GLOBALFOUNDRIES
  • Randhir Thakur, executive vice president, general manager Silicon Systems, Applied Materials, Inc.
  • Rick Wallace, CEO, KLA-Tencor, Inc.

In addition to learning more about the details and dynamics of the current cycle, the panel will also discuss some of the most perplexing and complicated issues facing microelectronics manufacturing today, including: the state of the industry, technology advancement, expanding market opportunities, a potential wafer size transition, changing business models and the pace of technology innovation.

In lithography, EUV technology has been in development for over 13 years. Is it ready for prime time at 22 nm in 2013? And who will be able to afford it? Will the price tag spawn alternative technologies and new ways to extend existing ones?

3D IC seems yet another crossroad challenge to navigate. To many observers, 3D stacking presents a real alternative to traditional 2D scaling — capable of turning this industry on its head — but considerable technical issues have not yet been addressed. In fact, 3D IC probably presents the most difficult collaborative challenge between design-wafer processing-packaging-and-test we have ever seen. If the industry can work through these problems, the impact on major application segments like cell phones, digital cameras and other areas will be immense.

We hope you can join us at the Executive Summit to hear the perspectives on these and other issues facing the industry.

If you have questions that you think this prestigious group of executives can shed light on, please pass them along to me (

See you at SEMICON West.

SEMI Global Update
June 1, 2010