Insiders’ Guide to “More than Moore” Technologies at SEMICON West 2013

Insiders’ Guide to “More than Moore” Technologies at SEMICON West 2013

By Paula Doe, SEMI Emerging Markets

SEMI adds a new program on silicon photonics this year to its SEMICON West TechXpot series on the next opportunities and challenges in “More than Moore” markets. In these programs we invite industry thought leaders from around the world to discuss key issues in the major semiconductor technology markets outside of mainstream ICs, in concentrated half day sessions that aim to provide at a quick update on what’s happening at the leading edge of commercial technology in these growth areas.  This year’s other topics include solutions to the new challenges of the maturing MEMS market, the status of some key potentially disruptive technologies for LEDs, and potential approaches for integrating silicon die with printed/flexible electronics for applications that require silicon’s improved performance but the low cost or flexible form factor of printed/flexible electronics.  SEMICON West ( is July 9-11 in San Francisco.

Silicon Photonics Edge into Production

Now that the insatiable demand for bandwidth is driving data centers to look for ways to move high speed optical transmission closer to the chip, we’ve invited the leading suppliers to talk about their solutions for integrating photonics with silicon, at the die, the module or the circuit board level at the TechXpot July 10. Yole Développement projects this nascent market will triple in the next five years, but could explode after 2020 as the technology matures.

Yurii Vlasov, manager of IBM’s silicon integrated nanophotonics project, will discuss IBM’s die-level monolithic integration, which makes the optical modulator, photo detector and passive photonics components all on a 90nm CMOS die, which is now in qualification.  “We looked at 3D integration too, but decided monolithic integration was the most cost effective in the near term,” notes Yurii Vlasov, noting that the die-level approach simplifies packaging and testing.  This same transceiver chip with optical and electrical I/Os can be packaged either for a pluggable module at the server, or for mounting on a circuit board, or for putting in a socket with a processor, as the maturity of the system evolves.

Senior technologists from all the current suppliers of silicon photonic products, Cisco Systems, Kotura and Luxtera, will talk about their approaches, particularly module-level integration that takes advantage of recent developments in 3D packaging technology to stack photonics on the interposer with electronics on the chip. Photonic Controls’ Roe Hemenway will discuss the MIT Microphotonics Center’s roadmap for integration of optical connects at the board-level. “Board level optical interconnect is coming sooner than you think,” he says.

What Comes Next for the Maturing MEMS Sector?

The MEMS market can expect steady 10-12 percent annual growth that will double the market over the next six years, according to Yole’s projections, and bring continuing change towards a more mature, high volume industry. That suggests that the value will move from just making the best unique MEMS structure towards consistent volume manufacturing, software, integration, customer support, and enabling applications development by others. A few years ago, who would have expected to see STMicroelectronics opening its core inertial sensor manufacturing process to other users, Texas Instruments pushing to enable others to find new uses for its core DLP technology, and GLOBALFOUNDRIES looking to build a “virtual IDM” ecosystem. We’ve invited these and other speakers that we thought represented interesting approaches to some of the major issues for the Tuesday MEMS TechXpot.

Yole Développement founder and CEO Jean Christophe Eloy will talk about his view of the future shape of the MEMS industry.  Rakesh Kumar, senior director of MEMS at GLOBALFOUNDRIES, will discuss the developing role of the big CMOS foundries, including the challenges of developing standardized process capabilities and the potential for developing partnerships across the value value chain from R&D organizations to OSATs to be able to provide fabless companies with a full solution that can compete with the IDMs. Iain Rutherford, product marketing manager for MEMS at X-FAB, considers the status and role of monolithic integration technology of MEMS with CMOS. Gina Park, product line manager, Texas Instruments, looks at the issues of creating an open system to ease development by a wider range of potential users to grow the market for new applications, with the example of TI’s core DLP product. John Ivo Stivoric, CTO, BodyMedia, discusses the potential for much more sophisticated kinds of sensor fusion, combining motion data with biological measures for more intelligent health monitoring. And Yan Loke, for STMicroelectronics and CMP, explains ST’s interesting offering of its core inertial sensor THELMA technology as an open process through CMP.

SEMI’s packaging committee of industry executives presents another session on next generation MEMS whose lineup of international speakers features Fairchild Semiconductor’s Janusz Bryzek, Robert Bosch’s Jiri Marek, VTT Technical Research’s Aarne Oja, Dai Nippon Printing’s Satoru Kuramochi, and EVGroup’s Thorsten Matthias discussing coming requirements for MEMS packaging.

New Technologies that Could Significantly Impact LED Manufacturing

For this year’s LED TechXpot program, we’re looking specifically at the status of some emerging technologies that could potentially be really disruptive and push the solid-state lighting industry forward. “There’s no answer yet about GaN on silicon, but there will probably be one within the next 12-18 months,” suggests Eric Virey, senior analyst for LEDs at Yole Développement, who will give his view of the potential for some of these key emerging technologies. He suggests much will depend on the success of Bridgelux and Toshiba in producing GaN-on-Si product that proves extremely competitive in cost and performance. If they do, many of the other big players, who all have research programs, will move to production as well. Most likely scenario, however, is that GaN on Si will make sense for those companies that have silicon experience and depreciated fabs, but not for those with more invested in other technologies and targeting applications less suited to the cost and performance of the silicon product.

Azzurro Semiconductor’s Alexander Loesing will present that company’s latest results with its 150-200mm silicon template wafers with the buffer layers grown, ready for LED makers to grow their own light-emitting epi structures on top. He argues that LED devices made on silicon can be of equal quality and lower cost, thanks to silicon’s better thermal properties and the templates’ control of bowing during growth, as well as the higher yields of the silicon process tools. But the real advantage would come from savings on capital investment, from having a depreciated fab, or if a foundry would decide to offer post-epi LED processing.

Bridgelux’s Max Hong and Philips Lumileds’ Wouter Soer will each talk about the potential from re-thinking LED packaging. KLA-Tencor’s Steven Chen discusses progress towards identifying the defects that matter, and Seren Photonics’ Carl Griffiths will introduce the UK startup’s non-polar and semi-polar GaN templates. And Strategies Unlimited’s Ella Shum will ask them all hard questions.

Making Useful Products from Printed/Flexible Electronics

Printed, organic or flexible technologies have considerable potential for new kinds of   electronics, from OLED lighting and displays, to low cost smart packaging and RFID systems, to flexible displays and biomedical sensors.  But real products and real profits have so far been very limited, as few players have found the right mix of performance and cost to drive market demand. Yole Développement projects the market for printed and flexible electronics will remain a modest ~$176 million this year, but will see 27 percent CAGR to ~$950 million by 2020, mostly from larger OLED displays moving include to some printed layers. This market value includes future electronics devices manufactured on flexible substrate with some of the steps done using printing processes.

One promising way to improve performance while keeping the low cost and flexibility of printed/flexible electronics to enable some applications could be to find ways to integrate small or thin silicon die for some critical features like logic or RF into mostly printed or flexible systems. So this year, SEMI and FlexTech Alliance have invited a selection of technologists working at the intersection of the semiconductor and the flexible electronics sectors to discuss the issues of potentially integrating silicon die with printed/flexible electronics processes at the TechXpot on Thursday.

Caption: Graph describes the applications that will appear in 2020+ using printed processes (in red).

One potential approach could be an open platform for making flexible silicon die. CEO Doug Hackler will discuss American Semiconductor’s technology for drastically thinning conventional fabricated silicon wafers, and coating them with a combination of polymers, to make silicon-on-polymer die for attaching with printed wiring or bumps to flexible substrates. He reports interest for things like large distributed sensing systems in structural composites for aircraft, or drivers for flexible displays. The company has qualified TowerJazz’s 130nm process to make SOI CMOS for its initial flexible standard microcontroller, and has worked with the foundry to establish design rules to make an open platform for other designers to create their own flexible chips.

Another solution particularly suitable for attaching sensors to the body is the spring-like stretchy wiring developed by MC10 for making flexible arrays or bandaid-like stickers of small, thin but rigid silicon die for everything from wearable heart rate and fitness monitors to implantable electronic sensor membranes. VP of R&D Kevin Dowling talks about the company’s technology and its first commercial application, a Reebok soft skullcap that uses motion sensors to measure impacts to the head.

Printed electronics supplier Thin Film Electronics’ Chandrasekhar Durisety, meanwhile, will update on current state of printed/flexible technology at one of the sector’s leaders, and give a reality check of the costs and integration issues hybrid electronics will have to meet.

Speakers from Jabil, Sandia National Lab, and Terapac will also talk about low temperature die attach technology, thinning commercially available die for prototyping flex systems and batch assembly technology to handle tiny die.

In other printed/flexible content at West, Yole Developpement will give its latest market forecast for this sector in the materials program on Tuesday. And FlexTech Alliance offers a full-day workshop on Wednesday featuring most of the major players in the transparent conductor market, who’ll discuss the current state of materials performance, manufacturing cost, and technical maturity of the various options in this fast growing market for printed electronics technology.

See the SEMICON West 2013 Extreme Electronics TechXpot schedule for complete details on all these programs:

This article was originally published in Micronews, June 20 issue.

July 1, 2013