Rush Hour On The Technology Roadmap

Dramatic shifts in the semiconductor industry are evident in this year’s ISSCC agenda.


Starting this week, the International Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) will commence at the Marriott in downtown San Francisco. This prestigious conference showcases the latest semiconductor innovations from around the world. Looking at the advance program, one can’t help but notice a shift in the work presented. The conference theme this year is: “Intelligent Chips for a Smart World.” The traditional focus on a market segment (e.g., cloud, IoT) is gone. We’re now talking about how intelligent chips will change our world.

Scanning the agenda, the session titles are eye-catching:

• Beyond the Horizon of Traditional Computing: From Deep Learning to Neuromorphic Systems
• Quantum Engineering: Hype, Spin or Reality?
• Deep-Learning Processors
• When Will We Stop Driving Our Cars?

It sounds more like Comic-Con than ISSCC. This remarkable shift from technology-centric presentations to end user experiences signals a new chapter in our industry—one that puts the customer center stage, not the enterprise. This will bode well for dramatic semiconductor growth in the not-too-distant future. At eSilicon, we have the privilege of working with many of the innovators who will present at ISSCC—advanced researchers from all over the world who are part of our eMUSe (eSilicon MPW University Service) program.

The research community regards ISSCC as the premier conference in our industry. Publishing here has one important rule – silicon data must accompany the presentation. And that means prototyping via multi-project wafer (MPW) technology in most cases. This is what inspired the title of this piece. The submission deadline for ISSCC is in early September, and if you work backward from that date, you’ll find it’s ideal to submit your design for prototyping before the summer begins.


Consequently, we’ve experience something of a “rush hour” before summer for our eMUSe program. eMUSe is a little over one year old. Last year, we processed more MPWs in one week than we did the entire prior year. That can create a technology traffic-jam for sure. We expect it to happen again this year – and we’ll be ready with new automation to keep things moving smoothly.

If you’ve never attended ISSCC, I strongly urge you to go and check it out. You will see the very latest semiconductor design innovations. If you’re part of a university research program for semiconductor devices, I also invite you to join us for our annual MPW researcher reception on the evening of February 6. It’s right around the corner from the Marriott. You can catch up with your colleagues and have a drink and snack on us. Please register here if you’d like to join us.

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