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Semico is a semiconductor marketing & consulting research company located in Phoenix, Arizona. We offer custom consulting, portfolio packages, individual market research studies and premier industry conferences.

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FinFETs 2014: Shaking up the Mobile and Foundry Markets

Rolling out a new semiconductor technology always has its challenges, and it’s also usually accompanied by speculations and surprises.  In 2011, at the 22nm process technology node, Intel surprised the semiconductor industry by introducing a three dimensional transistor structure, which Intel calls Tri-Gate, but is more commonly referred to in the industry as FinFETs.  Most of the speculators were expecting FinFETs to be rolled out at the 14nm node. 

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Printing Your Own Semiconductors

Much of the look and feel of today's PCs, tablets and smartphones was developed at PARC (Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center).  Is PARC now on the track of an innovation that could revolutionize semiconductor manufacturing?

With financing from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects), PARC has developed a method of programmable electrostatic assembly, inspired by xerography.  Tiny chiplets are produced and mixed into a solution-based “ink.”  The chiplets, which have an electrical charge pattern on them, are subjected to dynamic electric fields which are used to orient and position them with micron-level accuracy.  Once assembled, the chips are put onto a final substrate with interconnects.  The technology used is similar to laser printer technology, which is essentially the assembly of large numbers of micron-sized toner particles, a Xerox development from the 1970s.    The resulting circuits can be microprocessors, memory or any other desired semiconductor chip.  Although production quantities will not be feasible for several years, could this be leading to desktop printing of almost any semiconductor?

Joanne Itow to Speak at SEMI AZ breakfast, Oct. 17

200mm: Thing of the past? Not so fast!

200mm fabs are thriving! 200mm wafer shipments to fabs in 2014 are experiencing tremendous growth compared to 2013. The challenge for 200 mm fabs in the secondary equipment market continue to be balancing quality, cost, extendibility, service and support.

Join ASML, Freescale Semiconductor, OEM Group, ON Semiconductor and Semico Research as they discuss solutions to enhance and to extend the production life of 200mm wafers:

Semico Fab Database and Update Summary First Half 2014

Semico tracks over 870 semiconductor fabs in its Fab Database.  The database includes detailed information about the fabs, including the operating status of the fab, its location, process and products, wafer size and capacity, and more.  The other document included with the database is a Word file containing a summary of updates made to fabs by company type:  Memory, Foundries, and Other.  

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Sensors in Wearables and Mobile: The Many Players

The markets for wearable devices, smartphones and tablet PCs are large and growing quickly.  By 2018 sensor sales into mobile devices and wearables will reach $28.3 billion.  There are over 75 sensor vendors targeting these markets.  More sensors are being designed in which enable new features and functions. 

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FinFET Ramp: Changing Market Dynamics?

Rolling out a new semiconductor technology always has its share of challenges, but it seems like the 14nm finFET process node is starting off with more than its share of delays and speculation.

This week Intel revealed some of the details for its new microarchitecture, Broadwell, and their first product, the Intel Core M processor, to be manufactured using their second-generation finFET, 14nm technology.

Plagued by rumors of yield issues and a slow computing market in 2013, Intel delayed the release of their newest 14nm product line by almost one year.

Back on July 16, during the TSMC Q2 2014 financial conference call, the company reported that their 16nm finFET process would not begin ramping until 2H 2015. That is a delay of approximately six months from the original Q4 2014 ramp target.

There have been some technology issues, but Semico believes these delays are also market-driven. In the past, new products could be released for the early adopters willing to pay a premium just to get in on the higher performance. Huge volumes were not required from day one. Today, the ramp to high volume occurs much faster and the products require high efficiency and low cost to support huge consumer driven mobile markets.

How Swarm Intelligence will Take Over our Lives

Swarm intelligence is a type of crowd intelligence, like what is seen in ant or bee colonies, where each member of the colony tends to work independently at a particular task and then contributes their particular knowledge to the collective, and the group reacts as a whole. 

For example, ants may have guards, health monitors, food gatherers, childcare monitors, etc.  When any one group hits an alarm, (Food is low! The Queen is dying!) the entire hive reacts appropriately because they come “programmed” with the knowledge of what their next task should be. 

In effect, this is where the Smart Home is going.  With lights, sockets, hubs, speakers, security, curtains, appliances, etc, the Smart Home is becoming a swarm of input sensors where each sensor will be able to react based on input from all other sensors. 

For example, in a Smart Home, if the sensors are activated, i.e.  a window is broken or the inside temperature is not ideal, then the entire home will react appropriately.  The alarm will go off and the security alerts will be sent, the heater may automatically go off to save energy, the lights may go on, and the home owner’s phone alarm alerts them to the situation.  Each segment of the home will come preprogrammed with the knowledge of how it should react based on the particular information supplied by the hundreds of sensors around the home. 

Wafer Demand Summary and Assumptions 2Q14

The Wafer Demand Summary and Assumptions is a quarterly publication. It includes an excel spreadsheet with annual wafer demand by product by technology from 2002-2018. Product categories include DRAM, SRAM, NAND, NOR, Other Non-volatile, MPU, MCU, DSP, Computing Micro Logic, Communications, Other Micro Logic, Programmable Logic, Standard Cell, Gate Array, Analog, Discrete, Optoelectronics, Digital Bipolar. In addition, there is a five-page summary write-up providing the major assumptions behind the forecast and changes from the previous quarter.

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The Smart Home: Big Brother or Swarm Intelligence?

Within the Smart Home, Semico has been tracking over 70 items that every household can expect to purchase that will include some type of sensor and wireless chip by 2020.  This new connected home includes white goods (clothes washer, clothes dryer, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc.), HVAC, lighting, small appliances, door locks, security system, windows and more. 

This market is primed to be a high growth industry with low barriers to entry, which is why Semico is releasing a new report titled: The Smart Home: Big Brother or Swarm Intelligence.   

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Sensor Fusion in a State of Flux as Companies Fuse Together

There has been a great deal of activity among companies within the sensor fusion ecosystem.  Mergers and acquisitions are changing the competitive landscape. 

As a quick background, sensor fusion is the technology of combining data from multiple sensors and deriving intelligence from that data.  It is the foundation for motion tracking, navigation, context awareness, location based services, augmented reality and more.  It is the basis for future innovative applications.  The brains behind sensor fusion is in the algorithms.  This is usually embedded in a 32-bit microcontroller core or similarly powerful processing device, known as a sensor hub.

In May 2014, Fairchild announced the acquisition of Xsens the Dutch company known for motion tracking software.  Xsens has been doing motion tracking for film and other such applications.  It has modules with low cost consumer grade inertial motion MEMS sensors from STMicroelectronics.  At the time of the acquisition, Fairchild also announced that it would be bringing MEMS sensors to market soon as well.

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