Silicon and the semiconductor industry: what lies ahead

By Jean-Christophe Eloy, for EE TIMES 50th Anniversary Special Edition: The Next Silicon Frontier – While silicon remains a constant in our industry, there are already signs of significant changes to the industry models we know today. Let me begin by saying that silicon content in everyday products will continue to increase. But an evolution is under way, driven by four factors, all of which integrate functionality and are reshaping the industry.

The first factor is front-end integration to integrate more transistors — and thus more functionality — per square millimeter of silicon.
Two other trends are more recent and are closely related. One is advanced packaging. Classic packaging was merely a way to interconnect the device to the model board, but now, packaging is used to support further integration. The other is advanced substrate integration, which is replacing the conventional PCB with advanced substrates. We saw the first real system-in-package emerge about five years ago, as the industry moved on from flip-chip packaging and die integration to integrate more functions at the substrate level.

Finally, the supply chain is shifting as smartphone and vehicle manufacturers introduce their own chip design teams rather than rely on Tier 1 suppliers. System makers are also going deep into the supply chain, interacting and integrating directly with Tier 2 or even Tier 3 suppliers.

Structural changes: shifting supply chain

OEMs are diving deeper and deeper into their supply chains, foundries are providing advanced packaging services as part of their global support portfolios, and EMS companies are moving into the lowercost end of design and manufacturing.

The result is that multiple players are either moving down the supply chain and integrating suppliers, or moving up and providing services and products to their customers’ customers. At the top of the chain, OEMs are bypassing Tier 1 suppliers and directly accessing Tier 2 suppliers. This shift started in the smartphone industry, with Apple integrating a lot of design and other smartphone makers following suit. It is also happening in the automotive industry, where Toyota, Volkswagen, Tesla, and other new car makers no longer rely solely on Tier 1 suppliers… Full article in the Next Silicon Frontier, EETIMES’s anniversary issue.


SiC and GaN: an industry driven by different engines

An article written by Ezgi Dogmus, Poshun Chiu, and Taha Ayari, from Yole Intelligence, part of Yole Group, for EE TIMES 50th Anniversary Special Edition: The Next Silicon Frontier – Over the last several decades, developments in silicon carbide and gallium nitride technologies have led to growing industry acceptance and the promise of revenues in the billions of dollars for devices based on the two wide-bandgap (WBG) materials.

The first commercial SiC device arrived in 2001 in the form of a Schottky diode from Germany’s Infineon Technologies. Rapid development followed, and the industry sector is now poised to exceed $6 billion by 2027. GaN first wowed the industry in 2010, when U.S.-based Efficient Power Conversion (EPC) delivered super-fast switching transistors. Market adoption has not yet matched that of SiC, but come 2027, power GaN revenues could hit more than $2 billion… More