SEMICON Europa 2013 Demonstrated the Potential of Europe in Semiconductor Technology and Manufacturing

SEMICON Europa 2013 Demonstrated the Potential of Europe in Semiconductor Technology and Manufacturing

By Heinz Kundert, president, SEMI Europe

Over 320 international exhibitors and 4’000 executives, engineers and business professionals convened at  SEMICON Europe 2013 last month to visit the exhibition area and attend one or several of the 40 conference and technology sessions with over 300 presentations. SEMICON Europa validated itself again as the biggest event in Europe to address advanced semiconductor and related markets. Most exhibitors reported higher both traffic with concrete leads for equipment purchases and cooperation compared to the year before. This observation is also supported by the 10 percent increase in the official number of visitors.

More than 500 executives networked at the Silicon Saxony Get-Together hosted by the city of Dresden, the State of Saxony, Silicon Saxony, Saxony Economic Development Corporation and SEMI. The event was hold in the “Transparent Factory” of Volkswagen AG in Dresden and was an excellent occasion to share opinions and strategic directions in a cozy atmosphere. 

Market analysts agreed that 2014 and the years thereafter will bring a market “up cycle” for most “More Moore” and “More than Moore” segments. Equipment sales are expected to grow in average by 15 percent, materials by ~ 5 percent over 2013 due to an increase in fab capacity. 

At SEMICON Europa, the status of disruptive technologies like the 450mm transition, EUV Lithography and the next generation of advance packaging, 3D TSV, was presented and challenges debated. Regardless of an accurate time schedule towards volume production, it will offer large and small companies new opportunities to participate in the transition.

Fair enough, there are still some challenges and roadblocks to overcome for new technologies such as 450mm and EUV. Those will be overcome sooner or later while the shrinkage of line widths will continue. However, for the first time, the decline of costs per transistor came to a halt and major effort is needed not only to shrink the lines but also to reduce the costs.

Eighty presentations with regard to printed/flexible electronics have indicated that the Internet of Things is a large market for the future. Whilst some products like small OLED displays for smartphones are already in production, other exciting gadgets are still in the infancy stage and need further development to reach maturity at affordable price levels. However, it is now the time to prepare for an upturn.

The European Commission has fully understood the criticality of semiconductor technology as an innovation driver for the entire industry. Almost all products contain semiconductors or are produced with the support of semiconductor technology. Therefore, the EU Commission has launched a long-term strategic plan to keep Europe competitive in this sector with the goal to achieve 20 percent of IC device production by 2020. The European Executive Summit with senior management from ASML, ENIAC, GlobalFoundries, Recif, STM, Soitec and Suss Microtech agreed on the European initiative and debated some concerns of implementation.

Achieving this target requires a clear European Strategic Roadmap for the field. This is to be elaborated by an Electronics Leaders Group with the involvement and commitment of a wide range of stakeholders. The initiative will be supported by the new EU investment program “Horizon 2020” that will be launched together with adjacent funding programs beginning of 2014.

SEMICON Europa 2014 also addressed the issue of workforce development. SEMI supports such initiatives with the High Tech University program that is conducted with local high schools and in cooperation with semiconductor device and equipment makers. The goal is to motivate young people to study math and science and get them interested in an engineering career in the semiconductor industry.

SEMICON Europa 2014 will rotate with Grenoble and being back in Dresden in 2015. Reaching out of Grenoble will enhance the show and the conference while addressing the entire semiconductor and related food-chain and investment community. Through the national strategic program “Nano 2017” the Grenoble area will invest € 3.5 billion in advanced semiconductor device technology and manufacturing. It is a “must” to be there. Join us to capture new business opportunities. Mark your calendar now for SEMICON Europe 2014 in Grenoble (7-9 Oct 2014).

November 6, 2013