Monthly Archives: June 2016

Device Solution for Future Automotive: Autonomous and Driverless Vehicles

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Abstract The semiconductor content in cars is projected to grow significantly as cars are being transformed into autonomous driverless vehicles. Today, a typical car contains $799 of electronics (including $353 of semiconductors) which is expected to grow to $886 ($386) by 2022[1]. This transformation is anticipated to change the way people navigate, access information, and interact with one another [2]. With pivotal challenges lying ahead for future automotive electronics, an evolution from semi-autonomous to fully-autonomous vehicles is expected. Designing and managing the car electronic systems to achieve those functions in mobility mode will depend heavily on complex semiconductor circuits and advanced components such as all kinds of sensors, microprocessors, microcontrollers, and mixed signal analog/RF. These electronics must have ultra-low power consumption, especially static power, superior reliability in harsh environments; and security, all while maintaining sufficient performance, high data rate, multiple and simultaneous connectivity. In this paper we will discuss enabling ... Read More »

China, Semiconductors and Some Implications

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China’s growing presence in technology is hard to ignore. But to date the direct impact on semiconductors has been minor. That is going to change in a big way. China’s impact on technology is impossible to ignore. Lenovo buying IBM’s PC division in 2005 was perhaps the first symbol of China’s technology leadership: the exit of the PC’s inventor was symbolic and now Lenovo leads that space. That was followed last year by them buying the server business too. In communications infrastructure the success of Huawei and ZTE is hard to ignore; some people wrongly think they are “cheap followers” anyone knowledgeable knows that is far from the case. In mobile phones brand and design are as important as technical prowess and the emergence of Xiaomi, Huawei and OnePlus is impressive: smartphones designed in China now have over 50% of the global market, compared with negligible presence five years ago. ... Read More »

The Clockspeed Dilemma: What Does it Mean for Automotive Innovation?

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In the last 100 years, the auto industry has been at the forefront of innovation, building a powerful base of knowledge along the way. From the Model T to mass production to automatic transmissions and beyond, the car has evolved into an amazing blend of road machine and sophisticated computer. And yet, despite all this astonishing innovation, we believe the next decade will produce as much change as the previous century. In less than five years, cognitive computing has advanced from a novelty to a commercialized means for solving problems. In 2014, bioengineers developed a circuit modeled on the human brain: 16 “neurocore” chips that simulate a million neurons and billions of synapses, able to process information 9,000 times faster than a PC and with 40,000 times the energy efficiency. Combined with near-record levels of capital investment in start-ups, the picture becomes clear: we are entering a time of accelerated ... Read More »

Reducing IC Manufacturing Cost While Enhancing IoT Security

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By some estimates, lithography now accounts for 50% of wafer cost. Since 2007 when 193nm immersion (193i) lithography reached its 80nm resolution limit, semiconductor lithography has undergone a series of seismic shifts: At 28nm node and below, leading IC companies have adopted unidirectional (1D) design layout style with “Lines and Cuts” to facilitate manufacture of advanced IC designs. At 20nm node and below, leading fabs are deploying “pitch splitting” (also called “pitch division”) using advanced deposition and etch technologies to achieve line-pitch resolution much smaller than the 80nm limit. At 14nm node and below, printing line-cuts and contact/via holes with 193i requires “multiple patterning” with multiple masks and mask steps. Today, 193i multi-patterning is driving up costs while increasing overlay errors and cycle time. The severity of these challenges has no parallel in the history of IC manufacturing. And there is no optical solution to mitigate the soaring costs and ... Read More »

CEO Interview: Dr. Leo Li

Dr. Leo Li Chairman, President and CEO, Spreadtrum Communications Chairman, Global Semiconductor Alliance After earning your PhD degree at the University of Maryland, you had a successful career in the U.S. What made you decide to return to China and join Spreadtrum? After graduation, I worked at Ericsson Rockwell, Mobilink, Broadcom (through the Mobilink acquisition) and Magicomm, a company I founded. I was very fortunate to have a great career, and I had many opportunities to interact with customers and see how the world and the industry was transforming. Although, at the time, the cell phone chipset market was dominated by leading vendors such as Qualcomm and Mediatek, it was obvious to me that the number of users and potential users in China and other developing countries could be enormous. This presented a very big opportunity that all of us in the industry would need to think about how to ... Read More »