Global semicon industry poised to grow 21 percent in 2018: Malcolm Penn

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According to Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizons, UK, the global semiconductor industry will see 21.1 percent growth and is likely to reach $499.973 billion in 2018! “Year 2018 will see a continuation of the growth with our official forecast at 21 percent,” said Penn. There will be further double digit growth, barring economic collapse. This recovery has nowhere near yet run its course.

In 2017, the global semiconductor industry grew 22 percent hitting $413 billion ($415 billion upside).

Capex drivers
stratix-10The 2018 capex drivers include node migration from 16nm/14nm To 10nm/7nm logic nodes, 3D NAND, where Samsung alone will spend a staggering $14 billion, following $26 billion total In 2017, including 3D NAND, DRAM ($7 billion) and foundry ($5 billion).

China remains a hotbed of activity in fab equipment spending, with multinational and domestic chipmakers building new fabs. EUV lithography is moving closer to production. Traditional lithography with multiple patterning will dominate front-end equipment makers demand. 200mm fab capacity will remain tight in 2018, prompting the need for 200mm equipment, but 200mm tools will be hard to find.

Entering 2018
Entering 2018, a global financial crisis is unlikely. However, China debt and new borrowing is worryingly high. Any slowdown in China growth likely to impact elsewhere.

There is also a potential risk of 2007-09 Eurozone crisis. Big economy with slow growth/high public debt loses market confidence and/or needs bail out too big for Germany to stomach. Middle East conflicts could easily cause oil prices to soar, leading to recession in developed economies.

Further, central banks could trigger downturn. There can also be UK/EU/Global Brexit peripheral economic damage and fallout. No deal is better than a bad deal political brinkmanship. Forecast rests on assumption that major policy mishaps are avoided, and there are positive ongoing economic relationship between UK/EU. There is no significant increase/change in global economic barriers.

Tech trends
As for technology trends, Moore’s Law is still shrinking, and the hype’s exploding. There is still more hype than substance even in technical conferences. In logic devices, silicon area is ceasing to be the prime cost setter. Advances in design (using variance tools) and production (using metrology) mean that yields now so good that it can be worth using a larger die to remove a few process steps.

The ‘X nm’ or ‘node Y’ designations are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Many IC designs are so interconnect limited that smallest transistors are only needed in critical areas of speed or power. Intel pulled away a little due to better metallisation process. Samsung and TSMC are fast followers, but definitely need some divergence in processes again – so they are no longer clones of each other.

The exception is GlobalFoundries. As the smallest company, they need to focus on a single process. Others, including China, don’t spend enough on process R&D. Intel’s 10nm node is the first logic process to exceed the 100 million transistors per sq mm mark. There is still a 12-layer metallisation process, plus Fin and contacted gate. The industry seems to have stalled at 12-layers of metal. Is it impossible to reach layers higher than this, without actually reducing density?

Intel used cobalt for the first two layers of metallisation where all the short inter-gate connections are made. Cobalt provides a more reliable and repeatable conductivity in short interconnects where resistance of the contact dominates, not interconnect length. Another cobalt advantage is that it reduces electromigration. Instead of FEOL (front end of line), BEOL (back end of line) expertise will be the future semiconductor company key differentiator.

EUV (extreme ultraviolet lithography) is now cost effective. There will be new techniques with immersion being used at 10/12nm and beyond. Most layers will stay with 193nm immersion lithography, wherever possible.
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Intel now sampling 14nm Stratix 10 FPGAs to customers

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Intel has begun sampling 14nm Stratix 10 FPGAs to customers. The Stratix 10 is the 14nm FPGA that was built as a result of Intel and Altera’s foundry agreement in 2013. Stratix 10 is the industry’s highest performance, highest capacity FPGA ever built.

stratix-10How is the Intel 14nm FPGA superior to that of Xilinx? According to a spokesman, Stratix 10 FPGAs provides a first to node advantage for Intel, in that Stratix 10 are the first true 14nm FPGAs, delivering the performance and density advantage of a true process shrink.

How are memory and programmable solutions delivering new classes of products for the data center and the IoT ?

IoT is said to be bringing online billions of new smart and connected devices that are generating a tremendous amount of data. This data must be processed, analyzed and acted upon in real time within the cloud and data centers.

FPGAs, like Stratix 10, are built to support this demand by delivering high-performance, multi-function acceleration to the data center. Microsoft and their use of FPGAs to power Azure and to accelerate Bing are great examples of this acceleration today.

Broadcom did announce 5G a couple of years ago. Is Intel’s 5G any different?

According to Intel, FPGAs will be a key enabler in driving 5G deployments. “As we are in the early stages of 5G where standards are being finalized, the flexibility of FPGAs are invaluable to developers of wireless infrastructure, as the FPGA can be re-programmed as standards are adopted and finalized,” he added.

What is Intel doing in memory and programmable solutions that will make it different?

5G represents a significant shift for the industry, and requires an unprecedented integration of wireless connectivity, computing intelligence, and distributed cloud resources. It will fundamentally transform our lives, bringing us a society that is smarter and more connected.

To realize this potential for the IoT and enable richer experiences throughout daily life, wireless networks must transform to become more powerful, agile and intelligent. Intel is transforming the wireless networks and infrastructure to lay the path to 5G. FPGAs like Stratix 10 and memory are key enabling technologies for Intel.

If you look at some of Stratix 10’s capabilities vs. the prior generation, which companies like Microsoft are using to power its data centers, you get a clear picture of how developers of high-end networking gear, communications infrastructure and data centers will benefit from these high-performance, multi-function accelerators.
* 2X higher performance.
* 5X higher capacity.
* 8X higher TFLOPS.
* Integrated of high-bandwidth memory (HBM2).
* Integrated ARM A53 quad core processor.