EU supporting growth of microelectronics

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Day 2 of the SEMI Technology Unites global summit commenced with two sessions, on EU Digital Forum and Advanced Packaging, respectively.

Marco Ceccarelli.

At the EU Digital Forum, Marco Ceccarelli, European Commission, presented an overview of EU policies supporting the growth of microelectronics in Europe. The European Union made a historic agreement, Next Generation EU, to accelerate the recovery of regions and sectors hit by the pandemic, and to increase the resilience of the European economy. The new Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-27 includes initiatives such as the Key Digital Technologies Joint Undertaking and the Digital Europe Program.

EC President, von der Leyen, declared the Europe Digital Decade. AI, Europe’s digital sovereignty, data and infrastructure are the key programs. Digital Europe focuses on capacity and deployment of more mature technologies. IPCEI or Important Projects of Common European Interest, is a program sponsored by member states.

Horizon Europe is yet another platform. 5 mission areas have been identified, each with a dedicated mission board and assembly. The board and assembly help specify, design and implement the specific missions, which will launch under Horizon Europe in 2021. Cluster 4 is on digital industry and space. Related partnerships are for smart networks and services, EuroHPC, photonics, AI, data, and robotics.

Key digital technologies build on ECSEL JU experience and achievements. It also extends scope and includes integrated photonics and higher layers of software. The Digital Europe Programme ensures that Europe drives digital transformation. It will build essential digital capacities, such as HPC, AI, cyber security, and advanced digital skills.

There was also a joint MS declaration on processors and semiconductor technologies. There is a new IPCEI on microelectronics. The IPCEI on microelectronics is divided into 5 technology fields: energy-efficient chips, power semiconductors, sensors, advanced optical equipment and compound materials. An industrial alliance on microelectronics has also been proposed. InvestEU is another program to mobilize private and public investments through an EIB guarantee. Targets include semiconductors, processors, manufacturing ICT components, and AI. There is also the need for skills in microelectronics. Sector Skills Alliance has been co-funded by the Erasmus+ program. The microelectronics METIS project is to develop a skills strategy.

The semiconductor sector is facing exceptional transformations and challenges. New opportunities must arise. The EC underlines the need to join forces for the impactful actions. With committed industrial partners, we can build a platform.

MADEin4 developments
Ilan Englard, Applied Materials Israel, (AMIL) spoke on the MADEin4 Project. There have been metrology advances for digitized ECS (Semiconductor and Automotive) Industry 4.0, at the EU Digital Forum, SEMI Technology Unites global summit. It is Metrology Advances for Digitized Electronic Components and Systems (ECS) Industry 4.0.

MADEin4 is a consortium of 47 partners from 10 countries connecting the full range of the supply chain, from semiconductor equipment manufacturers and system-integrating metrology companies to RTOs and organizations working on key application areas such as the automotive industry.

The MADEin4 Project develops next-generation metrology tools, machine learning methods and applications in support of Industry 4.0 high volume manufacturing in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. He talked about the semiconductor and automotive domains. There are many similarities between them. He added that data is now the new oil, with AI, cyber-physical systems (CPS), digital twins, etc., all coming into play.

Ms. Juliette Vandermeer.

Ms. Juliette Vandermeer, Bruker, presented on Advance X-Ray Metrology Equipment As Part Of A European Semiconductor and Automotive Industry 4.0 Cycle Time and Yield Improvements Scheme, at the EU Digital Forum.

Bruker’s objective in MADEin4 include the development of new x-ray metrology. It has the enhanced total reflection x-ray flourescence (TXRF) spectrometer for automated contamination monitoring/mapping. Yield optimization is the key driver for TXRF. Contamination control is essential. Metal contaminants degrade the silicon device performance in many ways. The TXRF allows the identification of the contamination and its location on the wafer. It covers light (F, Na, Mg, Al), transition, and heavy elements.

Miklos Tallian, Semilab, presented on advanced photo-luminescent metrology equipment. There are challenges with inspection tools, metrology tools, failure analysis tools and lab equipment, etc., at the fabs. There are buried, non-visible electricity active defects, as well. Semilab developed a new technology to detect non-visible electrically active defects in semiconductor manufacturing process to increase the reliability of products.

Dr. Andres Torres, Principal Engineer, Siemens EDA, talked about combining manufacturing data with design for improved process performance. Production data exists in silos, and it is underutilized. MADEin4 brings the relevant data together. There are cross industries manufacturing commonalities between semiconductors and automotives. The manufacturing process flows can be optimized. In semiconductors, the metrology abnormalities can be detected. These defects can also be reduced.

There is virtual testing in automotives. There can also be robot operation modeling in automotive manufacturing. Manufacturing of semiconductors and automotives are automated processes with many opportunities for optimization.

Bernard Pelissier, Maxime Besacier, and Jean Herve Tortai, LTM-CNRS, and Ms. Delphine Le Cunf, STMicroelectronics, presented on new industry 4.0 metrology approaches driven by predictive in line control requirements at the EU Digital Forum.

Ms. Delphine Le Cunf, STM, said advanced technology nodes are the technology drivers. The key enabler is to increase productivity. Next, LTM uses the unique metrology toolset based on versatile and hybrid lab techniques implemented on the 300mm platform. LTM actions in MADEin4 are in line with Booster 1 and Booster 2. Maxime Besacier, LTM talked about artificial neural networks (NN) for dimensional metrology. The goal was to improve the robustness of the results, and reduce the measurement uncertainties.

Improving production efficiency via systemized approach

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M-TEK organized a webinar on production efficiency-improved performance through a systemized approach.

Philip Stoten, moderator, Forbes writer and an EMS industry writer, said that the pandemic has shone a spotlight on every frailty in the industry and in the supply chain. Some EMS companies have been more successful in navigating the choppy waters. Real-time data has made companies more agile and resilient. Companies also need to be ready for any next crisis.

Note as shining example
Johannes Lind-Widestam, CEO, Note said that Note has been a shining example. Note had SEK 1.76 billion turnover at the end of 2019. It is involved in products for medtech, industrial, communication, defence and high-end consumers. He said: “We are looking at very generic KPIs. If we grow, we have to figure out how do we increase production. If we add another SEK 100 million in sales, we should be able to do more. It is also important how do we utilize our factory space. We feel we can add 50 percent capacity across our sites.”

“We were hierarchy driven. The head office is quite small. We are now trying to educate sites. We needed to get the sites on board and be in charge of the overall progress. That has been the biggest change.”

“We can take our Chinese facility as an example. We should not see our low-cost labour sites as low-cost. We are taking an approach where sites looked similar. We were adding people based on the sales increase. We had a very strong local management in China. People below the MD were having lot of good ideas. They were not able to get customers in, as the factory was absolutely full. We needed to be more efficient in our operations. We looked at how we utilize workstations. Three months later, we had half the set-up times. We still have room to grow. The China facility has become much more efficient.”

M-TEK delivers on time
M-TEK is a software and robotics solutions company. Its MBRAIN digitizes and virtualizes the production flow across the entire manufacturing operations

Mattias Andersson, CEO and founder, M-TEK, added that the team in China was allowed to do things in their way. This has spurred the culture of continuous improvements in an avalanche style.

Lind-Widestam noted that all the sites are occupied differently. We have managed to get them to be supportive with each other. That’s leading to the strong growth. The delivery and quality performance are best-in-class. Note carries some inventory for flexibility. It makes lives very simple to have those KPIs in place. Space utilization has also built up.

In Estonia, Note has factories in two buildings. There is one warehouse. We also looked at warehouse management, as well, for components. When we pick goods, we rig the feeders directly. They added lot of local efficiencies.

Connect man, material and method
Andersson said that M-TEK has been helping companies all over the world. “We are a software company with a mission to make manufacturing smart. Creating a holistic approach has always been to connect, man, method and material. They have to be backed up by data. What data comes to you? Where do you collect them? It should allow the operators, the engineers and the management to create and share valuable insights. You initiate a project, and not a long-term improvement philosophy. You need to improve on that.”

Lind-Widestam added: “We look at a stock scenario, and see how we can improve from there. We have started to be a factory collecting data. We are getting better and better. We have all the sites reporting. We have a monthly meeting. KPIs are available cross-site. We share the performance of the sites, and perhaps, improve the overall performance. We are trying to deliver the right data to the right people, so that they can make the right decisions, and come up with the right results. Central teams can enable local teams to do work if they can provide good data. They are enablers of the local teams.”

On another topic, Andersson said that we need to make sure that people are connected. It is important to empower people on the local side. We can make improvements, and create value. When the local sites make any improvements, it is there for everyone to see. We also need to protect people from complexities. We need to have the right information. It will also allow the information to be aggregated.

“We have digitized processes. Collecting the right information is prime. Allowing the customers to use it themselves is also important. The entire methodology to run the line is a cross process. You can have a fast changeover and allow flexibility. Everything has to be connected.”

Lind-Widestam added: “We always try to focus on improving the quality and flexibility. We can facilitate an extremely fast build-up. We carry the right amount of inventory.”

CEO Forum looks at startups, technologies, talent: Display Week 2020

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At the ongoing Display Week 2020, there was a CEO Forum. The participants were: Owen Lozman, Head, M Ventures, Merck KGaA, Ms. Annie Rogaski, Chief Operating Officer, Avegant Corp., and Scott Soong, CEO, Pervasive Displays, a BOE group company. Sri Peruvemba, CEO, Marketer International Inc., was the moderator.

Peruvemba said that the SID is a global organization supporting the display industry. He asked the panel regarding the role played by startups. What are the signs that they look for?

Role of startups
Owen Lozman, Head, M Ventures, Merck KGaA, said: “Even a good checklist will not get you a good startup. When we form a relationship, we try and see that we bring value to it and support them in their journey. Is the company able to deliver strategic value?

“It’s also about the team, the great technology, standing in the market, the culture of the team, etc., that they are bringing. It’s also about the management and the technical team. These are factors important for the success of the company in the longer term. We do an assessment of the team that we want to be part of. We also bring in the additional benefits.”

Ms. Annie Rogaski, Chief Operating Officer, Avegant Corp., said: “We have to deliver new consumer experiences. For me, it is the culture, and whether they are humble. How do they prioritize each other? Eg., if there is some mistake, how does everyone get together to handle that? Things are more challenging right now. Having a team that works well together is very important. There should be transparency between the management and the team. You need to have information that you need to be successful.

Scott Soong, CEO, Pervasive Displays, a BOE group company, added: “It is very important to have the leadership visible throughout the company, and not just at the top. A visionary team needs to be very disciplined as well. They should be able to run fast, and very far. They should preferably be from different disciplines. They should really support each other. When investing, we see a team that is well tuned into each other.”

Scott Soong and Owen Lozman (T). Ms Annie Rogaski and Sri Peruvemba (B).

Peruvemba noted that some startups have done some unique things. He asked the panel to advise on such startups.

Ms. Annie Rogaski, said that AirBnB had started from scratch. The way their leadership team got into building the team and strengthening the community is commendable. That is what startups need to look at — building communities.

Scott Soong noted: “I’ve spent over 15 years in Taiwan. There are companies that are scaling, and into manufacturing. They need to understand that to scale, you need to get the timing right, the technology right, and your position in the value chain. Having those things in mind really helps.”

Owen Lozman added that certain tenacity is needed to bring new technology to the market. There is great physics concept, and you should scale it. Although, this is not easy. It is also a very long and complicated value chain.

Finding right talent
Peruvemba related to his experience of having worked in a large company. Then, he moved to a little startup, which went on to become very successful. How do you find the right talent and diversity?

Ms. Rogaski said, it is challenging! “My company is in a very narrow space. We are hiring for specialized and general talent pool. It was hard to find anybody with the right criteria. Your mindset also matters. You are thinking about issues that you might not think about. You also bring in perspectives. People need to also know that they belong in a company. If you transition from zero to one, you need to go through all of this. Having a culture that is welcoming and belonging, and acknowledges the value that we all bring is very important.”

Externally, looking for talent is through networks. It is important to be able to be diversifying your network, and knowing people who don’t look like you. You should not also sacrifice on quality. Sometimes, the minority groups are able to overcome obstacles that the majority group did not. They also need to develop resilience. We need to see their values, the schools that they went to, and their grades.

Peruvemba added that a vast majority of us are men with decades of experience. In the Silicon Valley office of SID, about 50 percent of the employees are women. Because of the diversity, we are also getting new ideas, etc. We also grew up with different thoughts.

Lozman noted: “I have a small team at the moment. I am feeling blessed as diversity was, sort of, in-built in the team. It is all about the network. There are things about the internals and the foundations of the team. Quality is also very important. Having diversity in the team can also lead to better quality. Lot of experiences can be added. We have a long way to go to make this perfect. It is important that we are able to do all of this right, with priority.”

Peruvemba said that if you are willing to make mistakes, just go forward and do them. Soong agreed: “Our company is based in the South of Taiwan, in Tainan. We have benefited with a diverse team, and especially, the moms. They are able people who look at things very differently. They also give out positive criticism. They are willing to go out and share. They make a fantastic source of amazing talent.”

Trends today
Next, what are some trends that folks are seeing from a technology perspective? Where do you see money flowing?

According to Lozman, for a long time, there was one dominant technology. Now, new ones are coming up. There is also a role for AR/VR. There are huge amounts of new developments and new segments. There are also a lot of opportunities. There are things that need to be fixed in order to make these new technologies ready for mass production.

There is also a convergence happening between digital and the conventional semiconductor industry. Semiconductor fabs are now thinking whether they can make the microdisplays. Display guys are thinking about panel-level packaging. Can they diversify into electronics packaging? Technology is driving some very interesting changes. It also creates new and large niches, which can go on to be very large and significant.

It will be interesting to see what the large platform providers are planning on things like AR/VR. There will also be exciting new developments in the wearables over the next 2-3 years. The hardware is just the tip of the iceberg. With AR/VR, that will be different aspect to develop.

Ms. Rogaski agreed that it is exciting to see the progress being made, especially in AR/VR. We see all these display pieces coming in. AI/ML, eye tracking, etc., are all coming together. If we see how the technologies are headed, there are some important things. One, teams should be thinking along the same direction.

In facial recognition, we are seeing some companies pulling back. That’s important, when you see facial recognition being recognized across the board in future. We need to think about how diverse thinking is creating a foundation. There is also the role of ethics as to how to use technology. We need to think about how are we going to use some of these technologies, going forward, and look at the goals. There is lot of potential.

Peruvemba added that as long as we are mindful from the very beginning, it would be much easier to solve such problems.

Soong noted that one obvious space is the unified communications that is already happening. It should be more than just talking across screens. We need to do things even more collaboratively. We are also looking at the digital ID. The DoP is coming back. There are apps across different areas. People are also exploring what can be done with the microdisplays.

Advice for industry
Peruvemba said that during the last several months, we have been in shutdown. Jobs have been lost. What is your advice for the next half of this year, to recover and get back to the positive pro-active way?

According to Ms. Rogaski, it is great to be in the hardware space. We have a multi-functional team. We have moved labs to people’s houses. It has been challenging. We have been mindful of cutting costs. We have creative teams that have new ideas all the time. We have also done a return-to-work policy. We have a few people working on the hardware in the office. The progress they made has been great. Discipline, for us, is a critical factor.

Soong added that we have learned some new things. We are in the business of survival and making money. You also know that the people that you are fighting for, have their jobs on the line. You need to re-examine what you are doing, maybe, successful or not. You need to figure out how you are going to get from step A to step B. A year and a half later, we will invest into more exciting things. Right now, it is all about the practical things.

Lozman said that you need to make sure that you have enough cash. It is also about how you can keep the teams engaged and positive. Most of the companies have taken this very seriously. They are doing as much as they can to survive, and hopefully, in the process, have a little bit of fun. Cash conservation is the key thing.

Habits formed, decisions taken!
Next, Peruvemba asked the panel about some habits that they have formed. Also, what were some of the decisions that they took that have brought them here.

Soong said that early on in his career, his mentor had said: find a great boss that you can work for! He/she should be educating you, giving exposure, etc. I found worth in being loyal and candid, and being able to speak up. Starting a company can be very lonely. Sometimes, you are not able to share the anxieties, thinking about cash flow issues, etc. It is a marathon. Now, I tell people to question the norm. You also need to create your own value.

“About 15 years ago, I was a software analyst. I got back with my parents. The only job in Taiwan was in the display industry. That’s how I became a part of this. So, the decision to return to Taiwan and work with my father was a pivotal role.”

Ms. Rogaski said: “I was a young lawyer. A partner asked me for a thankless task. I said yes to that. It got me in front of people, who later, introduced me to others, when I had my own law firm. I also discovered that I enjoyed risk. I helped people avoid risk. There is a balance between planning and enjoying profits. Some of the most interesting parts of my journey were, when I took risks. I have a supportive team that knew I was doing things for the first time.

Lozman added: “If I traced it back, one thing I have always done is to invest in myself. You also want the learning and the experience. Early on, I became comfortable in many situations. That gives you lot of strength. Interfaces are always important. Openness and transparency, and the ability to give and receive feedback. Getting a good boss also helps. You can also help your teams.

Finally, what would the panelists redo back in their career!

Ms. Rogaski said: “I liked to joke around. I was told, you need to not joke around. I totally changed my personality. I wasn’t myself for 10-15 years. I was successful, but not happy. A lot of people from under-represented groups still do that. I need to find joy in the work that I do. That feels really good.”

Lozman said that he has always tried to know what is going on with the devices. “I will probably do so at some point. Ups and downs make you part of what you are.” Soong added: “I am a non-technical person in a technical industry. I could have looked at the fundamentals, that would have helped.”

Peruvemba concluded by asking them: if you are a new entrant in the industry, what advice would you give?

Soong said that we need to look at the meaningful interfaces. How can an app add more value? I am grateful for the opportunity and the diversity. There is a lot to learn from the display industry. Ms. Rogaski avoided physics. She would want to be an optical engineer.

Lozman felt that this year, there will be lot of new opportunities. “I worked in crystals, and not in displays. I would go back and make holograms. Holography is going to be the next, after AR/VR.”

Be ready to be amazed @ Display Week 2020!

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The Society for Information Display is organizing the Display Week Virtual Conference 2020. The symposium and seminars, along with an exhibition, will be held from Aug. 3-7, 2020.

I had several discussions with Sri Peruvemba, CEO, Marketer International, and Chair of Marketing, Society for Information Display. Incidentally, I had earlier chatted with Sri, back in 2008! You can read more, here! Thanks for remembering me, my friend! 🙂

Industry expectations
First, I asked him about the industry expectations from Display Week 2020. Sri Peruvemba said: “As you know, SID is a non-profit body that supports the industry via many efforts, including Display Week. This is an unusual year for most industries, including ours, in that the pandemic has resulted in economic downturn for our customers. In order to make up for lost time and to continue making progress to achieve goals for the rest of this year, as well as to position for next year, the industry is looking for ways to advance its causes.

Sri Peruvemba.

“These include new business development, new technology development, raising funds, hiring top notch professionals, learning from the best in the world and showcasing your achievements to your peer group. SID’s DisplayWeek aims to achieve exactly that! We want to accelerate the technology development via collaboration and training.

“We want customers and suppliers to use the opportunity to select projects and find homes for the displays sitting in the warehouses. We want the employers to find the brightest minds in the industry to hire. We want the students and young professionals to be inspired. We want to advance the causes of women in technology. We also want startups to get funded, and the industry audiences to find the clues left behind by successful pioneers.”

Latest in display electronics
There are several special topics up for discussion at Display Week 2020. Some of these are AR/VR/MR, high-dynamic-range LCDs, ML for displays, printed displays, flexible AMOLEDs, AI, applied vision, interactive displays and systems, display measurement, emissive, microLEDs, quantum-dot displays, etc. These are all the very latest in display electronics to be shown at Display Week 2020.

Peruvemba said that this year’s international technical symposium features world-renowned thought leaders, researchers, academics and industry experts. It includes many new and expanded topics that reflect the display industry’s growth into fresh areas and emerging technologies.

Focused on the special topics of AR/VR/MR, machine learning for displays, high-dynamic range LCDs and printed electronic displays, this event brings together hundreds of speakers for both oral and poster paper presentations. There are several latest advancements when it comes to displays in 2020. This ranges from a Pro Display XDR from Apple that is a massive 32-inch LCD panel with 6K Retina resolution, to a 65-inch UHD BD Cell Display from BOE Technology.

Some of the latest technological advancements, when it comes to displays, are outlined here with innovations that truly stand out. Those companies were all awarded the industry’s highest honors as they continue to advance their technology due to market demands and remain best in class.

Display Week 2019

Now, ML in displays? That’s interesting! We need to find out the role of AI and ML in displays.

Peruvemba elaborated: “Whether it is personal assistants or robots, displays are needed as a critical aspect of the way these devices communicate with humans. Displays are the face of most products. They enable the development and adoption of a number of devices, from automobiles to factory automation to medical diagnostics to mobile phones and TV.”

Foldable displays
Next, let us also look at how is the foldable display market situation right now. He added that it’s too early to tell, but, there has always been the need for larger screen, so that we can see more. We humans are visual creatures. We like bigger displays as evidenced by the growth of the mobile phone screen each year in the past decade.

“Ten years ago, if I had said that most phones will have displays that will double in size in less than a decade, I might not have been believed. Yet, here we are, with displays having 6.5” diagonal screens! There is a limit to this. At some point, these phones start looking like tablets and they aren’t easy to carry. So, how do we resolve the issue of wanting larger screen surfaces, while keeping them as portable as before?”

The industry’s answer is foldable displays! They have been deployed in a few devices, and the industry is testing the waters. From a display technology perspective, this is a major milestone that is achieved en route to rollable displays, or displays that you can fold up like a paper map.

Role of AR/MR/VR
Also, there is a role for AR/MR/VR that are now getting featured in displays. As per Peruvemba, the big question in the industry is: ‘what comes after laptops/tablets/smartphones’ as the next wave of computing platforms? Computing for information, for entertainment, for critical applications in every industry that currently uses a display in a computing platform.

Display Week 2020 is a virtual event.

The largest companies in world are betting on AR/MR/VR, and display plays a significant role as this trend takes shape. Last year, about 10 million virtual reality sets got shipped, most used your phone, and there weren’t any dedicated displays.

Some did have the first generation of dedicated micro displays, which left a lot to be desired, as they were slow, used a lot of power for portable headset applications, generated uncomfortable heat, and cause nausea. Yet, the industry kept building better displays.

Tomorrows’ displays, using microOLEDs and microLEDs, and improvements in LCoS and laser technologies is aiming to solve these issues. This is one of the hottest developments in the display industry with hundreds of millions of dollars being spent by each of several companies that are developing end devices as well as display technologies.

Be prepared to be amazed at what these high resolution, high bright displays can do to create a stunning visual experience!

Emissive displays call the shots!
Emissive displays are reportedly calling the shots, besides microLEDs and quantum dots displays. Peruvemba noted: “In the world of emissive displays, OLEDs got a shot in the arm recently with some of the largest companies in the world making significant investments and commitments to build TV, smart phones, and micro displays. The ecosystem to support these companies, ranging from TADF materials, mechanical liftoff technologies for flexible OLEDs, improved lifetime and robustness of displays, has stepped up.

“MicroLED technology is relatively new, and the companies promoting this technology are poised to replace traditional LCD in TV and electronic signage. There are also companies pursuing the AR space with microLED. We are seeing investments in many startups that are promising. In the meanwhile, mini-LEDs on a TFT substrate to build full-array local dimming backlights for LCD TV is gaining ground. This technology allows LCD with quantum dots to compete with OLED.”

Mini or micro LED backlights enable HDR and a great cinema experience. The quantum dots are mostly used in enhancing the color gamut in LCD displays (TV mostly). They are also replacing the traditional color filters and may eventually find more penetration in the display stack. This space is exploding in innovation. OLEDs are leading the charge with other technologies offering differentiated advantages that might create more demand for products, and create brand new categories of products that did not exist before!

View movies on 5K OLED headsets!
There are going to be 5K OLED headsets, which are going to deliver cinema quality content, as well. Peruvemba said: “Unlike in a movie theater, in a VR environment rendered via a headset, you can not only get a panoramic view, you can stretch to a full 360 view and you can also view from ceiling to the ground – as if you were fully immersed in a physical environment.

“To make this happen, you need at a place view ability, you want the speed of response of the display faster that the eye can perceive motion blur, you want vivid colors, all of this in a display that consumes less power, one that does not produce heat nor cause the user to experience fatigue due to device weight or bulk. 4K and 8K OLED micro displays aim to solve all of these issues.

“Technologies that are enabling brighter displays, that offer 10X the brightness of yesterdays’ displays, are needed, not only in the field of entertainment, but also in medical, industrial, and military applications such as fighter pilots’ helmet. I have had the opportunity to experience some of these displays that will show up in the market in 2-3 years. The market is craving for a better experience that these technologies will deliver.”

Printed displays future
We had a look at the status of printed displays right now, and in the future.

According to him, printed displays enable lower cost, roll-to-roll processing, and offer a need in the market. Making them is non-trivial, but several companies are researching and developing printed displays. Color filters are being printed, OLED materials are being printed, electrochromic displays and cholesteric displays are being printed.

There are several other layers like transparent conductors that can be printed. But, a fully printed display, with all layers encompassed, is not yet on the cards. The industry produces magic, we don’t want to bet against innovation.

The SID/DSCC business conference webinar, sponsored by Applied Materials, GE and OTI, will feature over 40 different talks on all aspects of the display industry. Hope to see you all, there!

Enabling sustainable growth of Big Data, AI and cloud computing: Semicon West 2020

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There was a panel discussion on ‘Bending the climate curve: Enabling sustainable growth of Big Data, AI and cloud computing, at the ongoing Semicon West 2020.

The panelists were, Cliff Young, Google, Nicola Peill-Moelter, VMware, Ellie Yieh, Applied Materials, Moe Tanabian, Microsoft, Samantha Alt, Intel, and Rob Aitken, ARM. Eric Masanet, U.C. Santa Barbara, was the moderator.

Masanet opened the discussion, stating that digitalization can bring energy efficiency challenges. There is 67 percent increase in electricity use. There are dual narratives in play with energy. How much bandwidth remains to improve processor efficiency?

Rob Aitken of ARM said that computer designers think of how to get more power into the processors. They look to co-optimize all the pieces. A big chunk is done via the Moore’s Law. You have to approach a problem differently. We are going to move to more 3D-based solutions. We will see high processing with localized memory. The 3D aspect of Moore’s Law has yet to begin. We will see some serious gain in the performance. You can also stack logic and memory devices.

Ms Ellie Yieh, added that Applied Materials has been focusing on designing and making semiconductor equipment more sustainable. We look at PPAC. We also focus on chip architectures. We follow the 30x30x30 rule. There are many ways to reduce the energy. There can be better energy efficient generators.

From the silicon processing standpoint, we have a suite of integrated solutions and materials. Tungsten is not a new material. You can eliminate 40 percent voltage drop. SRAM and DRAM consume lot of power. We are working on MRAM. It is not an easy technology to integrate. It can save the standby power by 10X. There is the BCMA or voltage-driven MRAM. We will continue to push the curve.

Cliff Young from Google said there are problems and risks with all of the new technologies. We have been breaking previous abstractions. We have changed the math. We need to break abstractions at all levels. Those might be enablers for the next 10X steps. Google is not yet super deep. We need partners that can teach us about materials.

Future energy efficiency
Masanet asked can future energy efficiency can mitigate some of the problems?

Intel’s Ms. Samantha Alt said that we want the data centers to be green and clean. We also need something to consume the energy. DCs are in a position to consume energy. We also have high energy workloads. They are just executing. If we are running clean, we can run faster. We need to look at cooling, liquids, etc. We want to be able to load the backup and operate, and then, put it to sleep.

Ms. Nicola Peill-Moelter of VMware noted there are new IT innovations, such as AI, ML, etc. These are enabling de-carbonization. There should be more lifecycle studies. Virtualization has already reduced lot of e-waste. There is use of energy at the systems level. About <5W is meant for useful computing.

There is software-enabled compute efficiency. VMware has virtual machines running. The cumulative impact of compute virtualization has avoided 130 million servers deployed, etc. There are stranded compute capacities, as well. We need to look at maximizing the productivity, cost and carbon efficiency of IT. Stranded capacities are expensive for organizations.

Cliff Young added that virtualization has been a key app for IT. AI is another app. AI can be very computationally intensive. We have seen breakthroughs in AI over the past few years. There is competition to achieve higher levels of accuracy. There is an open AI. We can train the model to that level of accuracy. You have to find more efficient ways. We should not draw conclusions from the early days of AI.

Moe Tanabian from Microsoft concluded that the edge data centers have implications for energy use. We need to see better energy efficiency. AI is the foundational technology. It can power up the good and the not good. There are lots of AI-driven benefits. There are network costs as well. You need to have a lot more bigger machines. We can bring renewable energy at the edge. It can reduce the energy cost of the data center. You can achieve a better energy consumption level.

China’s chip retaliation against US will go against its self-interest: John Lorenz, Yole

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The China vs. USA chip battle is all the rage today. The USA imposed restrictions on China’s Huawei, limiting the ability to use American technology to design and manufacture semiconductors produced for it, abroad.

End customer demand to exist
How are US chip supplies sales position right now, post China-US tiff? John Lorenz, Technology and Market Analyst within the Computing & Software division at Yole DĂ©veloppement (Yole), part of Yole Group of Companies, said: “The domestic US chip suppliers that I have spoken to are still processing exactly what the latest Department of Commerce moves really mean. There may still be legal ways of shipping to Huawei subcontractors, and thus, a path to continuing to count the Chinese technology giant as a customer.

John Lorenz

“Additional attention is being given to the relationships with other Chinese handset OEMs (like OPPO and Xiaomi), as there is a belief that the end customer demand will still exist, even if Huawei is crippled.”

Will SMIC come through?
There is news of SMIC picking orders. How is China adjusting? Lorenz said that SMIC is indeed gaining some orders. For example, Huawei is signing up for manufacture of the Kirin710A Application Processor on SMIC’s 14nm process. However, this is really only a viable contingency on about half of Huawei’s APUs, because SMIC is not capable of running at the very advanced lithography that is required for Huawei’s most advanced processors.

SMIC has a more advanced node in development, that is comparable to a 7nm node, but is barred from using EUV. Therefore, shrinking beyond this 7nm-like node would be impossible, without the relaxation of trade sanctions.

Chinese self-interest at stake
Where will this lead to, should China start retaliating in a similar manner? He agreed that China has the capability to retaliate in a very big way if it chose, but that would have such global economic impact as to go against China’s self-interest. Yes, there has been a focus on gaining semiconductor independence recently, but those efforts are not far enough along to shift completely to a domestic supply chain.

“For instance, Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm are still the CPUs and APUs of choice for many Chinese OEMs. The more likely scenario is for China to be similarly surgical in a tit-for-tat response. This could resemble the designation to restrict one or two US companies with ample supply alternatives,” he concluded.

One hopes that sense prevails in these tough times.

Next 40 years of VLSI for ubiquitous intelligence: VLSI Symposia 2020

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The 2020 Symposia on VLSI Technology and Circuits is being held in the USA on June 14-19, 2020. This is the first time the conference will be held virtually.

The Technology Symposium Chair / Co-Chair are Chorng-Ping Chang, Applied Materials, Shinya Yamakawa, Sony Semiconductor Solutions, and the Program Chair / Co-Chair are TomĂĄs Palacios, MIT, and Katsura Miyashita, Toshiba Electronic Devices and Storage.

The Circuits Symposium Chair / Co-Chair are Ken Chang, Ayar Labs, and Ken Takeuchi, The University of Tokyo. The Program Chair / Co-Chair are Brian Ginsburg, Texas Instruments, and Yusuke Oike, Sony Semiconductor Solutions Corp.
VLSIVLSI for ubiquitous intelligence
Brian Ginsburg, Senior Member, IEEE, and Texas Instruments, said that the symposia theme for the year 2020 is the “Next 40 Years of VLSI for Ubiquitous Intelligence.” There are 53 on-demand sessions and 40 live events, accessible from June 14-27, 2020. These include plenary and traditional sessions, workshops, short courses, interactive events, luncheon talk, etc. About 248 papers have been submitted to technology for the 2020 event.

VLSI-T is becoming more diverse. There has been significant growth in non-silicon, heterogeneous integration, integrated photonics and devices for AI. On the circuit side, there are 321 papers submitted for 2020, with 110 papers accepted. VLSI-C has been balanced between analog and digital. Growth over the last couple of year in AI, ML and security has stabilized in 2020

There are three short courses, on future of scaling for logic and memory, heterogenous integration, trends and advancements in circuit design, and technologies and circuits for edge intelligence. These are all available on demand from June 8-27, 2020. There are three workshops on: analog computing technologies and circuits for efficient ML hardware, metrology in the new age of semiconductor manufacturing, and quantum computing for electrical engineers.

There is a joint panel on 40 years of VLSI to enable the future of computing. The moderator is Steve Kosonocku, AMD. Among the participants are Asad Abidi, UCLA, Tsu-Jae King Liu, UC Berkeley, Akira Matsuzawa, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Charlie Sodini, MIT, and Naveen Verma, Princeton.

Plenary sessions
Tomas Palacios, Technology Chair added that one of the key goals for the conference is to not lose all the interactions and brainstorming. All the live sessions are going on about discussions. We have an extremely global audience. There are plenary sessions by Dr. Jennifer Lloyd, VP, Analog Devices, Takehiro Nakamura, Senior VP, NTT DoCoMo, Dr. Michael Mayberry, CTO, Intel, and Shigeo Ohshima, Technology Exective, Kioxia.

There will be live discussions on topics of interest to the VLSI community. Joint panels of authors and technical program committee members will share their insights on the current state and the future of VLSI. The technology panel is on memory and logic technology divergence. Will AI/ML bring them back together?

The Circuits Panel will look at Human vs. Machine: The future role of AI/ML in circuit design. There is also an SSCS/EDS sponsored Diversity Panel – Cultivating Engineering Confidence. Another SSCS/EDS-sponsored online mentoring event will look at pairing young professionals with mentors.

Paper highlights
Talking about paper highlights — technology, Willy Rachmady, Principal Engineer, Intel Corp., said there is one on advanced CMOS technologies by IBM. There is a paper on air spacer with self-aligned contact. Another one is seven-level stacked nanosheet GAA transistors. On memory technology, there is a paper on fast thermal quenching on ferroelectric thin film with record polarization. In the SoC/3D packaging, there is a paper on 5G and AI integrated high-performance mobile SoC with 7nm EUV FinFETs. Another one is on low temperature SoICTM bonding and stacking for high-bandwidth memory, from TSMC.

On heterogenous integration and non-silicon substrates/materials and devices, there is a paper on vertical-channel FET w/high thermal tolerance InAlZn oxide channel, and another on GaN and Si transistors that are enabled by 3D monolithic integration, from Intel. The University of Tokyo is presenting a paper on the monolithic 3D integration of RRAM array.

In the paper highlights — circuits, there are papers on silicon photonics switch, sensor circuits, biomedical circuits, superconductor quantum logic, 5G transceivers, digital circuits, hardware security, AI and NAND flash memory buffer.

Evolution of and future trends in semiconductors and electronics

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The National Program on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL)-IIT Madras has launched a Special Lecture Series online for the benefit of students affected by the nation-wide lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Jaswinder S. Ahuja, Corporate VP and India MD, Cadence Design Systems India Pvt Ltd, presented on the evolution of and future trends in semiconductors and electronics.

Jaswinder Ahuja
Jaswinder Ahuja

Cadence Design Systems is in the EDA and IP business for chips, packages and bolts. It has over 1,500 patents as a company. IP has nothing to do with patents. Moore’s Law is driving the industry. It has been driving the semiconductor and EDA roadmap for the last 50 years. The cost of implementing any functionality in silicon halves every two years. In reality, it is doubling in every 18 months. A multi-million dollar military flight simulators of the 1980s are sold for $250 today.

If we talk about the semiconductor processes, it used to be measured in microns. Now, it is measured in nm. The current leading edge is 7nm. The next will be 5nm, 3nm, 1.5nm, and then, nobody knows. Semiconductor scaling may end in some point of time. The economics are the key driver to advanced process technologies.

Trends driving semicon
Let us now look at the global trends driving semiconductors. The most profound trend is data. There is the IoT, data centers, servers, in-memory and Big Data, HDDs, DRAM and NAND, as well as the wireless and the wired infrastructures. There is data creation, processing, transmission and storage. There could be over 50 billion IoT devices by 2025. It can also be a trillion! For every living person on this planet, there will be at least seven to eight IoT devices generating streams of data. A lot of different applications and devices are coming up! Its creating momentum as well behind AI/ML. We are creating a virtual cycle of data.

Industrial, automotive and mobile will be driving edge computing. There is the Industry 4.0 as well. You have autonomous vehicles moving around, and a lot of technologies that you can experiment with. The large quantities of data being generated is also driving 5G and antennae. There are huge investments being made in the cloud and datacenters as well. A lot of decision making are also becoming very timing sensitive. Example, if a car gets a signal regarding an obstacle, you have to make a decision in milliseconds.

Some of the other key industry trends include, 5G, automotive, Industry 4.0 driven by ML, AI/OT, and cloud and data centers. These are driving the growth around electronics and semiconductors. With the advent of ML, and the need to process specific streams of data, there are a large number of startups coming up with normal architectures targeted to meet these challenges. Example, there are about 150 startups doing unique process architectures for different kinds of apps.

Moore’s Law is alive and well. It was earlier driven by lithography, novel architectures, device architectures, FinFETs, etc. In the future, it will be the co-optimization of the design and the underlying process technologies. Even further ahead, it will be co-optimization of system and the underlying technologies. There will be heterogeneous system integration.

More than Moore is also scaling over the last 5-10 years. If the digital portion of the chip can benefit from the scaling, and this can be done at 7nm or 5nm, and the analog chip is at 28nm, we can put some MEMS and sensors into a single package and create all kinds of new and interesting apps. Lab-on-chip is an example.

Focus on pervasive intelligence
Pervasive intelligence is a key driver for the industry. It is about autonomous vehicles and systems, intelligent edge and cloud compute, and intelligent networks and mobile devices. You can have autonomous cars, trucks, mining equipment, drones, robots, and personal assistants, etc. These can do predictive maintenance, embedded electronics, video surveillance, medical diagnostics coupled with AR, consumer data analytics, and provide business intelligence. These tasks can be performed over 5G self-organizing networks (SONs), smartphones, industrial Internet (4.0) and data center interconnect (DCI).

There are design elements in the intelligent systems. It involves data processing — Big Data, computer vision, and speech processing, decision and control — in planning, control and safety, and connectivity — in wireless, networking and security. All have ML as a common element. These are all driving the explosion of data and AI computational needs.

There are drivers of convergence in computational software. These are around system design such as algorithms, hardware, software and multi-physics, AI/ML such as data analytics and EDA, such as ICs, packages and PCBs. There is an explosion of data and AI computational needs, leading to exponentially growing cost and complexity of silicon design, and CPU and software performance scaling. We also need to address the thermal heating, so that the system does not break down. EMI is another area that needs to be addressed. Each one of the process nodes has an implication on the complexities and the cost of design.

Lot of opportunities
Cadence is leading the convergence of intelligent system design, with EDA, AI and system design. It is fueled by pervasive intelligence. There are a lot of opportunities for students as there are several global semiconductor companies in India. Several incubators and accelerators have also been set up. There is the Electropreneur Park, FabCi (Fabless Chip Design Incubator), SFAL, KLE Center for Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the Incubation Center at IIT Patna. In India, we have many unsolved problems. The challenge is to find the right problem to solve!

There are several projects going on. More needs to be done in the areas such as clean, drinking water, energy conservation, renewable energy and smart energy, waste management, security, education, urban mobility and EV, EV charging and solar, healthcare and medical electronics. Eg., water ATM for clean, affordable water. There is also the Doorastha Analytics at the Electropreneur Park, New Delhi. It is working to optimize the efficiency of solar micro and mini grids. There are interesting problems that require interesting solutions. We need to solve real-world problems with innovative solutions.

Business leaders of tomorrow will be those who can solve the real-world problems in a scalable, profitable and sustainable manner. India is among the fastest-growing electronics market in the world. We have a huge opportunity. There is a huge potential in  the bottom-of-the-pyramid solutions.

Power scalability challenges in high-voltage ESD design

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At the IEEE International Reliability Physics Symposium (IRPS), USA, Dr. Gianluca Boselli, Analog ESD Lab Manager, Texas Instruments talked about the power scalability challenges in high-voltage electrostatic discharge (ESD) design. He mentioned thermal failures (Wunsch-Bell curve), giving an example of four regions with failures from the analytical solution of the heat equation.

gianluca_boselliThere are instabilities in semiconductors. Depending on feedback mechanisms, the current can uniformly spread through the entire width of a device or focalize into a filament.

Talking about voltage overshoots in the forward-based diode, he said that voltage mostly drops in the lightly-doped region, The N-region resistivity decreases as the diode current increases due to conductivity modulation. There is a need to derive an analytical model for the voltage overshoot.

A model accurately estimates measurement data for various current levels, rise times, and diode geometries. We also need to take care of low capacitance diodes. Diodes sized for 8kV IEC contact unexpectedly failed at 2kV. There are two surprising finds. One, failure current is sensitive to rise-time. Failure current is also not scaling up with reduced pulse width.

He spoke about the high current behavior of the LDMOS (laterally-diffused metal-oxide semiconductor). Gate biasing does not impact the holding current. There is also power scaling with LDMOS/DEMOS (extended MOS). Drain current density drives the filamentation vs. the power dissipated. DEMOS helps in restoring the uniform conduction. SBLK in N/N+region restores the uniform conduction.

High-voltage switching thyristors (HV SCRs) are also important. Eg., LDMOS SCR power scalability is highly repeatable and observed in devices featuring similar constructions. LDMOS SCR provides power scalability. Example, by ‘jumping’ over the failing region, failure disappeared, and the expected dependence was restored.

The 59th IEEE IRPS will be held at March 21-25, 2021, at Hyatt Regency, Monterey, CA. Robert Kaplar, Sandia National Labs, will be the General Chair. Charlie Slayman, Cisco Systems, will be the Vice-General Chair. Chris Connor, Intel will be the Technical Program Chair.

The IRPS’ sister conference, the 31st European Symposium on Reliability of Electron Devices, Failure Physics, and Analysis (ESREF), is proposed to be held in Athens, Greece, on Oct. 5-8 2020. It will be chaired by George Papaioannou, University of Athens, and George Konstantinidis, Fourth Krete.

Power electronics in electrical energy supply chain @ IRPS

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At the ongoing IEEE International Reliability Physics Symposium (IRPS), the VIRTUAL IRPS 2020, Dr. Oliver HĂ€berlen, Senior Principal, Power Transistor Technology, Infineon Technologies Austria AG spoke about power electronics and power devices. Everyone is demanding zero defect.

Oliver HĂ€berlen
Oliver HĂ€berlen

Global mega trends include demographic and societal changes, that will also see climate change and scarce resources, along with digital transformation. Power electronics plays an important role in the electrical energy supply chain. It is part of energy generation, transmission and consumption. Power semiconductors are at heart of all these devices. Wideband gap technologies such as SiC and GaN are the key enablers with a projected market of $1.8 billion for green economy by 2023.

There is for power massive paralleling challenge of cells and chips. There is challenge of parallel connection in big inverter systems. Additional challenges for wide band gap power devices include wide band gap, higher defect densities in bulk materials, epitax layers, gate oxides, higher power densities, etc.

There are major challenges coming from the die shrink. There is high power density, and high current density. We need to better understand failure mechanisms. How do we qualify a better technology like SiC and GaN? We need to keep the methodology, but adapt to material specific properties. We need to focus on the application profile, quality requirement profile, reliability investigations during development, degradation models, etc.

Application profile include its lifetime, operating hours by mode, currents, voltages and temperatures at different load conditions, time of abnormal use conditions, etc. QRP displays the development targets of a new technology or product regarding reliability, performance, and target applications. Reliability investigations during the development phase and degradation models are also there.

You have to do stress testing and reliability production. The accelerated test conditions should predict the stress devices until failure/degradation, analyze the aging mechanisms, predict application reliability and end-of-life testing.

We need to take care of the different phases of a typical product life, commonly described by the bath tub curve. You can eliminate the critical extrinsics by killing them at an appropriate electrical stress test. It is not necessary to remove the whole extrinsic branch, but only those that would fail within the application useful life.

Application stress testing looks at how to cover the multitude of different applications. The setup should be able to run accelerated conditions. It should be designed for the flexible operation conditions to match the different target apps.

On a personal note: Today, on my mother, Ms Bina Chakraborty’s 26th death anniversary, my blog, Pradeep’s Point, has won the ‘Featured Site’ on the Engineers Tribune, USA. Thanks everyone, for your continued support and best wishes! 🙂