ARM, Corning, Micron and TSMC Share Strategies for Embracing Change — at SEMICON Taiwan Executive Summit

ARM, Corning, Micron and TSMC Share Strategies for Embracing Change — at SEMICON Taiwan Executive Summit

At the Executive Summit held on September 5 at SEMICON Taiwan 2012, industry heavyweights including ARM's chief COO Graham Budd, Micron's CEO Mark Durcan, TSMC's Executive VP Mark Liu and Corning's CTO Peter Bocko discussed the latest trends in the semiconductor industry.  The executives offered a glimpse into the future, emphasizing that the industry must embrace change and work together to take advantage of new opportunities for growth.

Graham Budd, chief operations officer of ARM, began by providing a retrospective look at industry advances since the PC era. Budd noted that mobile applications have emerged as the driving force in the technology industry and in today's post-PC era, the convergence of mobile and computing technology has become all the more obvious.

Budd emphasized that with the world population entering the next billion, trillions of connected devices, the development of the “Internet of Things” and ubiquitous computing, the future of the technology industry lies in mobile technology.  Even though ARM leads the mobile market in low-power technology, the company is now venturing into the server sector to open up new frontiers in the post-PC era through innovations in different fields.

At the same time, Budd said that with software development now surpassing the cost of hardware, it has become even more important to leverage the ecosystem and partnerships to effectively reduce development costs and maximize the returns from software investments.  Budd emphasized that the age of companies “going it alone” is now over.  The partnership model is now the best strategy for success in this new era.

Mark Durcan, chief executive officer of Micron, explored the development of the memory industry from a macro perspective and also described the development strategy at Micron.  Durcan noted that corporate mergers, the rise of mobile applications, and market reforms has sent shockwaves through the memory market.

Apart from DRAM and NAND flash memory approaching the miniaturization limit, issues such as the emergence of cloud services, big data analysis and connected devices all mean that memory vendors can no longer focus just on increasing bit capacity.  They must now strive to build an optimal solution for system performance. With phase-change memory now entering production, a number of emerging memory technologies will begin to become reality and these will require even more active investment from the industry.

Durcan noted that the new industry model means memory suppliers must work even more closely with wafer vendors and end customers.  The consolidation and upgrading of the value chain to provide customers with differentiated products will be crucial to the value of memory suppliers.

Mark Liu, executive vice president of TSMC, gave a speech on "An Ecosystem for Innovation".  Liu noted that recent advances in mobile computing technology mean that lifestyle trends of the future — such as mobile fusion, augmented reality, cloud computing, ubiquitous connectively and the “Internet of Things”— are now beginning to become reality.

According to Liu, new challenges must be overcome before this vision can become reality, and the ecosystem constructed by TSMC is the key to driving innovation. According to Liu, TSMC and its customers invested up to US$ 11.9 billion in hardware R&D last year.  TSMC accounted for $1.1 billion while its customers accounted for $10.9 billion, resulting in the industry's largest R&D investment ecosystem.

Design, IP and EDA partners are all included in the ecosystem and TSMC works closely with its customers from initial product design through the manufacturing stage to promote continued product innovation.  TSMC will focus on developing advanced technology packages that boost performance, power and area (PPA) such as CoWoS and FinFET.  TSMC will also provide the world's largest manufacturing capacity so innovators can quickly bring their products to the market.

Peter Bocko, chief technology officer of Corning, spoke on the feasibility of using next-generation glass technology as an advanced semiconductor packaging material.  Bocko said that Corning's unique melting process can now produce special glass that is very smooth and light.  The new glass material's light weight, thinness, consistency, superb optical and mechanical properties as well as environmental friendliness make it a suitable future candidate for semiconductor packaging material.

With the new generation of 3D-IC in particular, glass can be used as the carrier or interposer with no polishing or CMP (Chemical Mechanical Polishing) necessary to achieve the required thickness. The glass melting process can also be extended from the existing 8"/12" wafers to the next generation of wafers as well.  Since it is also usable with existing semiconductor packaging ecosystem, the new technology offers tremendous development potential.

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October 2, 2012