In an exclusive series of blogs, imec’s science writers report from the International Technology Forum (ITF) last week in Brussels. This year, ITF’s theme was “It’s a changing world. Let’s make a sustainable change together”.
This year’s ITF was kicked off on Tuesday evening, at the auditorium of imec in Leuven, Belgium. The first speaker was Dennis McGuirck, president & CEO of SEMI (www.semi.org), who highlighted the agreements and collaboration processes that drive the IC industry, and SEMI’s role in that process.
McGuirck reminded the audience that one of the most powerful economic forces of the past decades has been Moore’s law. And this despite the fact that Moore’s law never was a law in the first place. It started out as an observation that the number of transistors that can be placed on an IC doubles approximately every two years. Next it was extrapolated to the future and became an expectation, a self-fulfilling prophecy even. An expectation that was only met through an agreement by the entire semiconductor industry to improve at an “agreed-upon” rate.
This agreement was cemented with standards, roadmaps and other highly evolved collaboration processes. Without these agreements, according to McGuirck, Moore’s law could already have come to a cold and abrupt end. Now they form a formidable collaboration engine. A collaboration engine that is able to advance and scale new billion dollar industries and change and improve the future in ways that we cannot even imagine. In addition, the same type of agreements have also started to propel emerging and adjacent technology industries such as photovoltaics or LEDs.
The next hurdles for the industry are the manufacturing of 3D chips and the transition to 450mm wafer fabrication. Also in these areas, SEMI is laying the necessary groundwork of standards and roadmaps. In collaboration with what happens at research centers such as imec, this should ensure a widespread collaboration in these very challenging domains.
Jan Provoost, science writer imec