At Semicon China 2017, executives at chip giant Intel, IC packager Advanced Semiconductor Engineering, equipment vendors ASML, Lam Research and Tokyo Electron (TEL), and nano-electronics research institute Imec talked about innovation to keep the Moore's Law relevant, and China's fast-growing homegrown semiconductor industry.
Intel VP Jun He and Imec CEO Luc Van den hove during their speeches focused on the importance of Moore's Law - the ability to cram more transistors on a single chip - in the IC industry development. He claimed Moore's Law is the cornerstone on which the semiconductor revolution has been based. Since ICs become an integral part of people's lives, from PCs and mobile phones to data storage devices and the automotive industry, the chipmaking industry's ability to extend the Moore's Law is critically needed, He said.
Van den hove pointed out that the industry "must" explore ways to keep the Moore's Law moving forward with innovations, as it is no longer about geometric scaling. FinFET transistor technology has extended the Moore's Law beyond 28nm, while extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) technology is set to be ready to enable a full 7nm node, Van den hove indicated.
The Moore's Law concept has been reshaped to some extent, Van den hove said. The complexity of semiconductor wafer designs is increasing, while transistors continue to shink in size. The trend toward 3D-chip manufacturing and design is already inevitable, Van den hove said.
TEL CTO Sekiguchi Akihisa remarked that the efficiency of EUV light sources has to be enhanced through collaboration between companies. An ecosystem should be established to motivate cross-industry collaboration, said Akihisa, who urged China- and Japan-based companies to work together to accelerate EUV.
Lam Research CEO Martin Anstice in his speech titled "Collaborating for Success" expressed optimism about chip demand for emerging technologies in the fields of Big Data, IoT, robotics, AI, AR and VR. Anstice also believes that the semiconductor market still has huge room for growth since chip demand has not reached its peak in the high performance computing and mass storage device fields.
In addition, the availability of EUV technology will further push forward the development of the semiconductor industry, according to Anstice. And through 96 layers to 128-layer 3D NAND, the IC industry development will continue to move forward.
Lam Research has stepped up its investment in China, said Anstice. The company now has more than 20 projects implemented at customer sites with 4,000 units of equipment already installed at fabs locally, Anstice indicated.
China will be the main driving force behind the world's chip industry growth over the next six years, according to ASE COO Tien Wu. China will expand its fabless IC design sector's global presence to account for 42% of the worldwide IC design industry output value in the foreseeable future, said Wu.
China is also looking to expand its homegrown IC foundry and IDM sectors, which will account for 25% and 20%, respectively, of the worldwide industry output value, Wu indicated. The booming IC industry in China will definitely benefit fab toolmakers and materials suppliers, Wu added.
ASML president and CEO Peter Wennink suggested that technology and talent remain key elements enabling China's IC industry to catch up with its bigger international peers. Wennink disclosed ASML is looking to work more closely with China-based companies with its R&D centers in Shenzhen and Beijing. ASML also has plans to help the country develop a talent pool with a local center for training and education.