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With electronic content in automobiles seeing rapid global growth, automotive and semiconductor industry leaders will convene for the first SMART Transportation Summit at SEMICON Japan 2018 to connect, collaborate and innovate the new generation of automobiles. Registrationis now open for SEMICON Japan, Japan’s largest global electronics manufacturing supply chain event, December 12-14 at Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo.

Automobiles are growing in technical sophistication thanks to increasing silicon content, adding connected navigation systems, Lidar, and other connected-car features including internet radio, mobile search and cloud-based content. According to IHS Markit, microcomponent ICs will grow the fastest over the next five years among all semiconductor device categories, driven by automated driving and the increased number of sensors.

SMART Transportation Summit

The new SMART Transportation Summit, December 13 at the SEMICON Japan SuperTHEATER, will connect the automotive and semiconductor supply chains. Automotive executives from Bosch, Denso, Honda, Toyota and other powerhouses will share their visions with electronics supply chain players.

  • Takashi Imai, President & CEO, Toyota Info Technology Center Co., Ltd.
  • Kazuyuki Iwata, Operating Officer, Energy & Mobility Management System Executive LPL, Honda R&D Co., Ltd. R&D Center X
  • Hajime Kumabe, Executive Director, Denso Corporation
  • Klaus Meder, President and Representative Director, Bosch Corporation
  • Hirotaka Kizuki, Senior Manager, OEM Business Development & System Competence, Regional Center Automotive Japan, Infineon Technologies Japan K.K.

SMART applications will also take center stage at other SEMICON Japan programs including the SMART Technology Forum on December 13. Featured speakers from the University of Tokyo, Microsoft, Amazon Web Service and DefinedCrowd will explore artificial intelligence (AI) innovations and opportunities.

SMART Application Zone

On the SEMICON Japan show floor, 70 companies will exhibit in the new SMART Application Zone in East Hall 3. The zone features two areas with key exhibitors including:

  • SMART Transportation – Bosch, Tesla Motors and Toyota Motor
  • SMART Manufacturing – IBM, Japan Semiconductor, Lapis Semiconductor, Microsoft, NEC, Preferred Networks, Sony, SAS and SIEMENS

“Semiconductors are becoming an even bigger part of our lives as more consumer electronics, medical devices, factories, buildings, homes and, of course, automobiles demand more electronic content and greater connectedness,” said Jim Hamajima, president of SEMI Japan. “SEMICON Japan will highlight AI, other SMART technologies and related industry growth drivers as the era of AI dawns.”

Over 70,000 attendees are expected to convene at SEMICON Japan at Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo. For registration and other SEMICON Japan information, please visit www.semiconjapan.org. Exhibitor information will be available on the SEMICON Japan website in mid-November.

Sensera Inc. (ASX: SE1), a provider of MEMS devices and Internet of Things (IoT) solution provider that delivers sensor-based products transforming real-time data into meaningful information, action and value, is pleased to announce it has acquired and qualified additional thin-film processing equipment including a dicing saw, a wafer bonder and an electroplating cell to meet the growing customer demand in this segment.

“We are very pleased to be able to expand our production capabilities, closely aligning ourselves with growing customer demand. This new production equipment substantially broadens our existing tool set and enables greater vertical integration and process control,” said Tim Stucchi, GM/COO of the Sensera MicroDevices Division.

The new dicing saw operates in either fully-automatic or semi-automatic mode for full wafer and custom cuts, featuring a positional accuracy down to 1 μm and a cutting speed of 300 mm/sec. It supports small pieces and allows for custom shaping of silicon, sapphire, Pyrex, quartz, ceramics and metals.

Operating under high vacuum, precisely controlled temperature and high-pressure conditions, the new wafer bonder facilitates extremely demanding applications. Eutectic, thermal compressive, adhesive and anodic bonding processes with a wafer alignment accuracy of 2 μm have been smoothly integrated into Sensera’s qualified processes, thus enabling the company to offer many wafer level packaging (WLP) solutions to its current and future customers in multiple applications and market spaces:

    • Microfluidic devices for bio-analysis, medical research and drug development
    • Pressure sensors for human implantable surgical devices
    • Precision accelerometer and gyroscope devices for geo-positioning
    Micro-mirror devices for laser based Automotive self-driving applications

The wafer bond chamber is configurable to process small coupons (from ~10 mm2) and wafer diameters from 25 mm (1”) up to 200 mm (8″).

The electroplating cell is able to plate and electroform wafers or discreet parts up to a size of 200 mm (8″). Typical applications include MEMS, Integrated Circuits (IC) on silicon, gallium arsenide and similar glass-type substrates. Sensera’s qualified processes achieve exceptionally low residual stress and enable tight thickness uniformity control.

“To drive down cycle times, improve quality control and reduce costs, our fab requires ongoing capability upgrades,” stated Ralph Schmitt, CEO of Sensera Inc. “Our objective here is to bring previously outsourced processes back in-house and to expand our internal capability to develop and produce complex MEMS products and solutions. The new dicer, bonder and electroplating cell are just some of the essential steps required to enable innovative development programs and commercial volume customer shipments.”

With tight supplies of widely used power transistors and diodes driving up prices and new optical-imaging applications moving into more systems, the diverse marketplace for optoelectronics, sensors and actuators, and discrete semiconductors (O-S-D) is on pace to grow by 11% for the second year in a row in 2018 and set a ninth consecutive record-high level in combine annual revenues worldwide.  An update to IC Insights’ O-S-D forecast shows total sales across the three market segments reaching $83.2 billion this year, followed by 9% growth in 2019, when revenues are expected to hit an all-time high of $90.6 billion (Figure 1).

Figure 1

In 2017, O-S-D revenues grew 11% with total unit shipments also rising 11%, but in 2018, combined sales of optoelectronics, sensors/actuators, and discretes are expected to increase by about 11% with overall unit volumes rising 9% and average selling prices (ASPs) for products in the three market segments being nearly 1.5% higher this year.  Shortages of power transistors, diodes, and other widely used commodity parts in 2018 are expected to drive up total discrete ASPs by nearly 8% this year and result in a strong 12% increase in sales to a record-high $27.6 billion from the current peak of $24.6 billion set in 2017.

Optoelectronics sales are forecast to rise nearly 11% in 2018 to reach an all-time high of $40.9 billion, with unit shipments climbing 18% this year, but the ASP in this market is expected to decline by about 6% because of falling prices for some image sensors, infrared products, lasers, optocouplers, and lamp devices, which are mostly light-emitting diodes (LEDs).  Optoelectronics sales are getting a tremendous boost from sharply higher demand for light sensors, which are used in automatic controls of displays in smartphones and other systems, heart rate monitoring, proximity detection, and color sensing.  Light sensors along with infrared and laser transmitters are also seeing strong growth in new three-dimensional depth scanning systems and time-of-flight (ToF) cameras, which use reflected light to sense distances and are appearing in more smartphones and other applications for face recognition, 3D imaging, and virtual/augmented reality applications.

Following strong growth of 16% in both 2016 and 2017, total revenues for non-optical sensors and actuators are expected to rise 7% in 2018 to a record-high $14.8 billion with unit volume being up just 5%—the lowest rate of increase in 10 years—because of inventory adjustments in several product categories, low smartphone growth, and some production constraints.  Strong automotive sensor demand has propped up total sensors/actuator sales growth and helped lift ASPs by 2%—the first rise since 2010.

Two leading French and Taiwanese research institutes today announced their new collaboration to facilitate a scientific and technological exchange between France and Taiwan.

Leti, a research institute of CEA Tech in Grenoble, France, and the Taiwanese National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs), two key nanotechnology research providers in their respective countries, will explore opportunities for joint research-and-development projects in high-performance computing and networks, photonics, bio-medical nanotechnologies and brain-computer interface. Their scientists will meet in a series of workshops to initiate joint R&D projects. This agreement also includes access to each other’s unique equipment and platforms, and will offer opportunities to researchers with a specific exchange program.

The agreement was signed by CEA-Leti CEO Emmanuel Sabonnadière and NARLabs President Yeong-Her Wang during the recent Leti Day Taiwan in Hsinchu.

“CEA-Leti and NARLabs have the same goals: to create differentiating technologies and transfer them to industry,” Sabonnadière said. “This cooperation agreement will be the starting point for a strategic research cooperation between our organizations that will strengthen R&D and inspire microelectronics innovation in both Taiwan and France.”

“The National Chip Implementation Center (CIC) and the National Nano Device Laboratories (NDL) of National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs) have fostered close ties with CEA-Leti since 2017,” said NARLabs Vice President Wu Kuang-Chong. “Around the Leti Day Taiwan, we held seminars together, and our researchers were able to meet and exchange ideas. Topics included silicon photonics, intelligent image sensors, RF technology, 3D IC+ and device fabrication technology, among others. We believe that with this memorandum of understanding, CEA-Leti and NARLabs will continue to collaborate together to complement and to enlighten each other to formulate innovative research projects.”

The Micron Foundation (Nasdaq:MU) announced a $1 million grant for universities and nonprofit organizations to conduct research into how artificial intelligence (AI) can improve lives while ensuring safety, security and privacy. The grant was announced at the inaugural Micron Insight 2018 conference where the technology industry’s top minds gathered in San Francisco to discuss the future of AI, machine learning and data science, and how memory technology is essential in bringing intelligence to life.

“Artificial intelligence is one of the frontiers where science and engineering education can best be applied,” said Micron Foundation Executive Director Dee Mooney. “We want to accelerate advances in AI by investing in education and making sure that pioneers of this technology, reflect the diversity and richness of the world we live in and build a future where AI benefits everyone.”

Micron awarded a total of $500,000 to three initial recipients at Micron Insight 2018.

  • AI4All, a nonprofit organization, works to increase diversity and inclusion in AI education, research, development and policy. AI4All supports the next generation of diverse AI talent through its AI Summer Camp. Open to 9th-11th grade students, the camp gives special consideration to young women, underrepresented groups and families of lower socioeconomic status.
  • Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research (BAIR) Lab supports researchers and graduate students developing fundamental advances in computer vision, machine learning, natural-language processing, planning and robotics. BAIR is based at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering.
  • In a related announcement, the Micron Foundation launched a $1 million grant for universities and non-profit organizations to conduct research on AI. For more details, visit http://bit.ly/MicronFoundation.

The $1 million fund is available to select research universities focused on the future implications of AI in life, healthcare and business, with a portion specifically allocated to support women and underrepresented groups. The Micron Foundation supports researchers tackling some of AI’s greatest challenges – from building highly reliable software and hardware programs to finding solutions that address the business and consumer impacts of AI.

In August 2018, the Micron Foundation announced a $1 million fund for Virginia colleges and universities to advance STEM and STEM-related diversity programs in connection with Micron’s expansion of its memory production facilities in Manassas, Virginia.

Technion, Israel’s technological institute, announced this week that Intel is collaborating with the institute on its new artificial intelligence (AI) research center. The announcement was made at the center’s inauguration attended by Dr. Michael Mayberry, Intel’s chief technology officer, and Dr. Naveen Rao, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of the Artificial Intelligence Products Group.

“AI is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and Intel has been working closely with a range of industry leaders to deploy AI capabilities and create new experiences. Our collaboration with Technion not only reinforces Intel Israel’s AI operations, but we are also seeing advancements to the field of AI from the joint research that is under way and in the pipeline,” said Naveen Rao, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of Artificial Intelligence Products Group

The center features Technion’s computer science, electrical engineering, industrial engineering and management departments, among others, all collaborating to drive a closer relationship between academia and industry in the race to AI. Intel, which invested undisclosed funds in the center, will represent the industry in leading AI-dedicated computing research.

Intel is committed to accelerating the promise of AI across many industries and driving the next wave of computing. Research exploring novel architectural and algorithmic approaches is a critical component of Intel’s overall AI program. The company is working with customers across verticals – including healthcare, autonomous driving, sports/entertainment, government, enterprise, retail and more – to implement AI solutions and demonstrate real value. Along with Technion, Intel is also involved in AI research with other universities and organizations worldwide.

Intel and Technion have enjoyed a strong relationship through the years, as generations of Technion graduates have joined Intel’s development center in Haifa, Israel, as engineers. Intel has also previously collaborated with Technion on AI as part of the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Computational Intelligence program.

MEMS & Sensors Industry Group (MSIG), a SEMI Strategic Association Partner, today announced four Technology Showcase finalists for the 14th annual MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress (MSEC), October 28-30, 2018, at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif. The MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress is the premier event for industry executives to gain insights on emerging MEMS and sensors opportunities and network with partners, customers and competitors. An early bird registration discount is available until Oct. 8.

The Technology Showcase highlights the latest applications enabled by MEMS and sensors as finalists demonstrate their innovations and vie for attendee votes. The finalists were selected by a committee of industry experts.

Technology Showcase Finalists

N5 Sensors’ Micro-Scale Gas Sensors on a Chip enable low-power, high-reliability microscale gas and chemical sensing technologies in small-footprint devices. The chip promises to broaden the implementation of gas and chemical sensing for industrial detection, first response, smart cities, demand-controlled ventilation, wearables and other consumer electronics. N5 Sensors Logo
NXP Semiconductor’s Asset Tracking Technology uses motion sensors, GPS and edge computing for precision tracking of a package’s journey from origin to delivery point. The technology enables logistics companies to quickly pinpoint and resolve transportation issues. See video NXP Logo
Scorched Ice Inc.’s Smart Skates leverage STMicroelectronics’ inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensors to facilitate real-time diagnostics of a hockey player’s skating technique, condition and performance. The device provides actionable insights to players, coaches, trainers and scouts. SI Logo
SportFitz’s Concussion-Monitoring Device combines real-time measurements of location, position, direction and force of impact as well as big data analytics and embedded protocols to stream data that can help assess potentially concussive brain impacts. The one-inch wearable device is hypoallergenic, waterproof, recyclable, reusable and rechargeable. See video. SportsFitz Logo


The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing, design, and research, to day announced worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $40.16 billion for the month of August 2018, an increase of 14.9 percent compared to the August 2017 total of $34.96 billion. Global sales in August 2018 were 1.7 percent higher than the July 2018 total of $39.49 billion. All monthly sales numbers are compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization and represent a three-month moving average.

“Global semiconductor sales continued to bound upward in August, easily outperforming sales from last August and narrowly surpassing last month’s total,” said John Neuffer, president and CEO, Semiconductor Industry Association. “While year-to-year growth has moderated somewhat in recent months, sales remain strong across every major semiconductor product category and regional market, with the China and Americas markets standing out with the largest year-year growth.”

Regionally, sales increased compared to August 2017 in China (27.3 percent), the Americas (15.0 percent), Europe (9.5 percent), Japan (8.4 percent), and Asia Pacific/All Other (4.7 percent). Sales were up compared to last month in China (2.1 percent), the Americas (3.6 percent), and Asia Pacific/All Other (1.3 percent), and decreased slightly inJapan (-0.1 percent), and Europe (-1.4 percent).

For comprehensive monthly semiconductor sales data and detailed WSTS Forecasts, consider purchasing the WSTS Subscription Package. For detailed data on the global and U.S. semiconductor industry and market, consider purchasing the 2018 SIA Databook.

Leti, a research institute of CEA Tech, and EFI Automotive, an international supplier of sensors, actuators and embedded smart modules for the automotive industry, today announced a project to dramatically improve reliability and response time of low-cost automotive components by equipping the devices with sophisticated model predictive control techniques.

Model predictive control (MPC) is an advanced method of process control that makes use of a model of the system to predict its behavior. The control law is based on an optimization technique that computes the system inputs, taking into account the reference that the system output has to follow, together with the effort (energy) that is applied on the system inputs and some constraints that may exist within the system, typically saturation of the system inputs.

MPC also allows electronics equipment to perform at levels that are not possible with standard control laws, e.g. proportional-integral-derivative (PID) controllers. But this sophisticated technique is rarely used on low-cost, low-capability computing units, because it requires solving optimization problems under constraints, which is a complex computational task.

Leti and EFI Automotive are evaluating the implementation of MPC on low-cost, low-computational-capability computing platforms, such as microcontrollers or low-cost digital signal processors (DSPs). The goal is to improve the dynamics of the systems considered, because automotive certification is easier when the control law is implemented on a DSP or a microcontroller. An example of EFI Automotive product, which will benefit from the MPC implementation, is the Air Loop Actuator (Figure 1).

Figure 1: EFI Air Loop Actuator Prototype (200ms response time). Numerical command and power stage integrated

“The control community, including academic researchers and process control experts in industry, is trying to make MPC available for these systems by resolving the underlying optimization problem on a low computational-capability computing platform,” said Marie-Sophie Masselot, business development manager, Leti. “This shortcoming usually leads to suboptimal performance for the controlled system. Our project with EFI Automotive will take into account specifics to offset the drop in performance, or response time, introduced when solving the model predictive control problem on this low computational-capability computing platform.”

In addition to transferring its expertise in MPC to EFI Automotive, Leti will develop software-automation tools dedicated to a given problem as a feasibility demonstration for the MPC project, and then make the tools easily expandable to similar control challenges.

For example, Leti and EFI will develop an MPC law for a given system and, with its increased expertise, EFI will expand this control technique to other systems.

“By combining Leti’s MPC expertise with our know-how in real-time processing on low-cost, low-computational capability computing units, we expect to dramatically improve the response time and reliability of our devices that are key to operating today’s complex vehicles,” said Vincent Liebart, innovation engineer at EFI Automotive.


With the MEMS and sensors industry on the cusp of explosive growth, MITRE Corp. cyber security expert Cynthia Wright will urge industry executives to lay the groundwork for securing  hundreds of billions of autonomous mobility devices in her keynote at the 14th annual MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress (October 29-30, 2018 in Napa Valley, Calif.). Wright, a retired military officer with over 25 years of experience in national security and cyber strategy and policy, will highlight the critical importance of device security and privacy in ensuring reliability and end-user safety.

Hosted by MEMS & Sensors Industry Group (MSIG), a SEMI technology community, the event also features DARPA’s Ron Polcawich, who will introduce his agency’s innovation and production program, a government-industry collaboration that aims to dramatically speed design-to-development of MEMS.

Spurred by surging growth in autonomous mobility devices such as smartphones, smart speakers, autonomous cars, and fitness and healthcare wearables, the global market for MEMS and sensors is expected to double in the next five years, reaching $100B by 2023.[1] Featured speakers at MEMS & Sensors Executive Congress will examine the enabling role of MEMS and sensors in these diverse intelligent applications.

  • Autonomous and Electric Cars: What’s in for Conventional MEMS & Sensors? – Jérémie Bouchaud, IHS Markit
  • Status, Challenges and Opportunities of the 2018 MEMS & Sensors Industry – Guillaume Girardin, Yole Développement
  • Smart Ear: Will Innovation Lead to Technology with Human-like Audio Capabilities? – Andreas Kopetz, Infineon Technologies AG
  • Sensors in Food and Agriculture – David Mount, ULVAC
  • Environmental Sensor Systems Enabling Autonomous Mobility – Marcellino Gemelli, Bosch Sensortec
  • It’s Time for Wearables to Revolutionize Healthcare – Craig Easson and Sudir Mulpuru, Maxim Integrated

Special Events

  • Technology Showcase – Finalists will compete for audience votes as they demo their MEMS/sensors-enabled mobility products.
  • Alquimista Cellars Wine Tasting and Dinner on Monday, October 29

MSEC will take place October 29-30, 2018, at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, Calif.