Playing With Chip Volumes


The overall market for semiconductors continues to grow, but the number of applications that will generate enormous volumes continues to shrink. In theory, this is good for the overall semiconductor industry, but it raises important questions about where R&D dollars will go in the future. The fundamental problem is that the semiconductor business is a volume business for one or two markets. ... » read more

Following Multiple Patterns


The lithography market is in flux. Today, chipmakers plan to extend today’s 193nm immersion lithography and multi-patterning to at least 10nm and 7nm. For the most critical layers, though, it’s unclear if optical lithography can extend beyond 7nm. For that reason, chipmakers hope to insert extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography at 7nm and/or 5nm. To get a handle on the state of patterning, S... » read more

TFETs And/Or MOSFETs For Low-Power Design


As discussed in Reducing Subthreshold Swing With TFETs, papers at December’s IEEE Electron Device Meeting examined a variety of potential designs for tunneling transistors (TFETs). That focus continued at the recent CS International Conference. In particular, Nadine Collaert discussed IMEC’s work on InGaAs homo-junction devices. Many compound semiconductor devices depend on heterojunctio... » read more

2017 Off To A Good Start, January Up 10.6% Year Over Year


January 2017 semiconductor sales exceeded $29 billion, representing a 10.6% increase over January 2016 and a decline of 10% from December 2016. The average weekly industry ship rate for January was $7.3 billion. Extending this ship rate for the year would produce an annual revenue of $380 billion or 10% growth. Semico is forecasting a couple of slow months and some price degradation on a few ke... » read more

What’s New On The MEMS Horizon?


In my previous blog post, I discussed emerging trends and the increased demand for MEMS; now I’ll focus on what we can expect in the immediate future in terms of new device technologies and MEMS-enabled products. While the more well-known MEMS such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, microphones and pressure sensors continue to grow in volume as they find new applications in things like wire... » read more

MEMS Microphones: A Bright Spot Among Commoditized Consumer Sensors


MEMS microphones have emerged as a bright spot among consumer sensors, which in general are going through a rapid commoditization and profit-squeezing trend. To understand what’s driving the MEMS microphone market, consider that the Apple iPhone 7 and 7S each have 4 MEMS microphones. As reported by System Plus Consulting, the latest iPhones have “a front-facing top microphone, presumably f... » read more

Semiconductor Process Development: Finding A Faster Way To Profitability


Building a chip fabrication facility requires billions of dollars in investment for land, buildings, processing equipment, chemical and hazardous material safety, not to mention the deployment of hundreds of highly experienced process engineering and manufacturing personnel. Bringing up an advanced semiconductor process in any fab, new or established, is a several-hundred-million dollar effort,... » read more

Semiconductor CapEx To Increase 4.3% In 2017


Semiconductor capital expenditures are an important bellwether for the industry. Based on preliminary findings, Semico Research predicts 2017’s total will increase 4.3% to $69.7 billion, a record high, and a slightly larger increase than in 2016. Semico tracks more than 80 companies for CapEx and R&D spending, although many of those companies have merged, have been acquired, or gone ba... » read more

The Return Of Time Sharing


As early as the 1960s, it wasn't uncommon to hear that transistors would be free. Those were pretty bold statements at the time, considering most computers in those days cost $1 million, required special rooms, and budding computer scientists usually had to sign up to use mainframe computers for one-hour time slots—often in the middle of the night or on weekends. Still, those predictions ... » read more

What’s Next For NOR Flash?


The flash memory market is the tale two of cities. Today, NAND and NOR are the two main flash memory types. Over the years, the NAND flash market has exploded. Targeted for data storage, NAND flash has moved into flash cards, solid-state storage drives (SSDs) and other products. The excitement for NAND continues to mount, as the technology is moving from planar to a 3D structure. In fact, 3D... » read more

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