Korea Targets the Recovery and Beyond
Optimism about the short and long term prospects for the semiconductor industry was heard throughout SEMICON Korea, held on February 3-5 in Seoul, Korea. “Rapid demand growth in developing countries and new and emerging electronics applications will be the primary growth drivers for the industry,” said Dr. Joo-Tai Moon, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics, at the Day One keynote speech.
25,000-plus attendees are expected to participate in this year’s SEMICON Korea, visiting 1,300 booths featuring the latest technologies, products and solutions for the microelectronics industry. This year, SEMICON Korea was held in conjunction with SOLARCON Korea and LED Korea representing the first time that nano-manufacturing technologies that are enabling the latest innovations in chips, renewable energy and lighting will co-locate in one location, taking advantage of the synergies between technologies, customers, and supply chains. Korea is expecting a strong IC market rebound in 2010 with equipment sales reaching $4.45 billion, up from $2.95 billion in 2009 (SEMI Consensus Forecast).
Entering the Terabit Era
Dr. Moon provided an inspiring outlook on the semiconductor industry during his keynote presentation entitled, “A Perspective on the Silicon Industry: Challenges and Opportunity.” His positive outlook was clear when he began by stating, “We are entering the terabit era,” comparing the transition from the typical 10 MG email message of ten years ago to the 10Gbyte movie download of today (a billion fold increase). Global internet traffic is doubling every two years, requiring a new IT platform of hardware, software and operating system every two or three years. Powering the terabit era is an unprecedented “solutions convergence” where business and technology needs of the broadcast entertainment, telecommunications, Internet and computer industries are reinforcing each other, producing exciting, chip-intensive applications.
Dr. Moon sees outstanding near and long-term market prospects for semiconductors, with electronics and computer growth at every income range, in every region of the world. Much of this growth will occur in the Asia-Pac region which will make up 70 percent of the total world chip consumption by 2011.
Among applications growth drivers, Dr. Moon sees the following as the most promising:
- Cloud Computing: “Anything connected to anywhere.”
- Automotive: The market for chips in automobiles will exceed $40 billion by 2015, driven in part by the development of Intelligent Transportation Systems combining advanced vehicle safety, “info-tainment” and traffic control.
- Health Care: Dr. Moon sees an aging society producing a “paradigm shift” in health care where advanced ICs will enable “Personalized, Preventive and Personalized” health care, highlighted by bio-medicine, bio chips, and ubiquitous health care.
- Aerospace: Like automobiles, airplanes are become enormously rich in advanced sensors and ICs.
- Robotics: Dr. Moon sees an eminent revolution in robotics, where today’s technology that produce amusing pets and toys will progress with speech recognition, sensor network-based environmental interaction, visual space deduction, and artificial intelligence to become “helpers” and “companions” by 2030.
Challenges and Opportunities
Reaching this promising future for semiconductors will require significant resources, ingenuity and effort by the equipment and materials supply chain. Dr. Moon sees “no limit to scaling.” He is confident that EUV lithography — “it is inevitable” — can take the industry through the “extreme shrink era” and EUV double patterning will enable the deep nano era of sub-10 nm by 2020. Limitations in current memory cell technology will be overcome by 3D structured cells, including charge trap flash (CTF) technologies. Today’s multiple die stack solutions will evolve into multiple wafer stack technology by 2013 and multiple layer stack processes by 2018. MEMS and MEMS integration technologies will be pervasive.
In memory technology, Dr. Moon anticipates phase change memory PRAM, OXRAM (oxide-based RAM), STTMRAM (electro-resistant, magneto-tunnel affect) and polymer memories all having potential to deliver lower costs and added performance in the coming years.
In wafer size transition, Dr. Moon stated that “300 mm investment without 450 mm wafer transition will be a burden for device makers after 2015.”
With growing demand in developing countries and exploding application segments, Dr. Moon envisions a future of exciting possibilities, innovation and technological diversity. Business model and economic uncertainty — how to solve the complex scaling challenges and how to pay for the massive R&D — has always characterized the industry. They were prominent in the past and they are present today. But at no time has customer expectations better matched the industry’s capabilities. That means a promising future for innovation and the industry.
February 3, 2010