Wafer Demand: Under Pressure But Still Growing

Wafer demand grew 10.7% in 2017 while total semiconductor units grew 13.4%. Due to the tight supply of silicon wafers and increased prices, most manufactures placed an even higher priority on improving yields. The industry’s focus on yield improvements is relentless but especially important when the cost of key input materials is on the rise. In 2017 the semiconductor products that con... » read more

AI: The Next Big Thing

The next big thing isn't actually a thing. It's a set of finely tuned statistical models. But developing, optimizing and utilizing those models, which collectively fit under the umbrella of artificial intelligence, will require some of the most advanced semiconductors ever developed. The demand for artificial intelligence is almost ubiquitous. As with all "next big things," it is a horizonta... » read more

Trump Wants Critical Metals

In recent times, President Trump has taken an active role in the electronics and related sectors, notably the U.S. administration’s move to block Broadcom’s unsolicited, $117 billion takeover bid for Qualcomm. The Trump administration has also raised eyebrows by blocking other deals as well. And with little or no fanfare, the administration is also taking a role in another area—critica... » read more

How The Brain Saves Energy By Doing Less

One of the arguments for neuromorphic computing is the efficiency of the human brain relative to conventional computers. By looking at how the brain works, this argument contends, we can design systems that accomplish more with less power. However, as Mireille Conrad and others at the University of Geneva pointed out in work presented at December's IEEE Electron Device Meeting, the brain... » read more

How Atomic Layer Deposition Works

Imagine being able to deposit a film of material just a few atomic layers at a time. As impossible as that sounds, atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a reality. In fact, it’s being used in an ever-increasing number of applications as an extremely precise and controllable process for creating thin films. Together with its etch counterpart – atomic layer etching (ALE) – ALD is enabling the us... » read more

Mixing 4G And 5G

5G networks will impact the number and types of ICs in end-user devices and the base stations used to transmit the signals (including the repeaters that rebroadcast those signals). And this is before we begin to consider the technology impact to the infrastructure required to support the data generated in a 5G ecosystem (servers, memory and so on). First, 5G is expected to transmit up to 10 ... » read more

Counting On Cryptocurrency

While cryptocurrencies may still be in the infancy of market development and adoption, the semiconductor industry has certainly felt the potential of blockchain technologies. In its fourth quarter 2017 earnings conference, TSMC commented on the strong demand from cryptocurrency-related businesses since the second half of 2017. These “mining” markets are driving leading-edge business at TSMC... » read more

New Applications, Multiple Approaches

It may be tempting to view the strong demand for semiconductors as just one more up-cycle in our traditionally cyclical industry, but what’s really driving things right now is the opening of entirely new horizons, made possible by the increased capabilities of today’s chips. Chip demand is no longer only being driven by the needs of computer and smartphone manufacturers. Now, a mushroomi... » read more

How To Build A Better MEMS Microphone

We are seeing a lot of interest in simulating noise, particularly for condenser microphones. With any transducer, noise reduction is always a plus, and with microphones there are two specific applications that need low noise. One is where the microphone is positioned away from the sound source, such as in video calling or when using voice commands with tablet computers. The other is where multi... » read more

Race Of Nations

Technology is the next arms race, and this is not just about national defense in the traditional sense. Countries collectively are pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into developing technology for the future, from education to outright grants and seed funding, and they are working with private industry to continue investing in their respective national futures. Which technologies and na... » read more

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