Yes, there were lots of great conference sessions, keynotes, and products and technologies being showcased at SEMICON West 2011 (I have the notebook full of notes to prove it) but everyone knows that the measure of a truly successful SEMICON West lies in the network opportunities and the receptions following all that heady stuff.  I promise to get to all of that because I’ve got lots to say, but it’s the weekend, everyone’s tired and recovering, and I thought it would be more fun to talk about the parties.balooncrown

SEMICON West is not a one reception-a-night kind of week for me. It’s more like 2-4 receptions/night over three nights.  Attending all while keeping in mind that there’s still work to be done during the day requires careful strategizing. In fact, there were a few I just couldn’t make. (There were some tough decisions, but sponsors of 3D InCites and R&D partners got first dibs). Overall, based on the extravagance of the events overall this year over last year, it’s clear that this industry’s bottom line seems to be improving.

Monday kicked off with the first sign that we’re on the road to economic recovery; the traditional SEMI Press Luncheon was back, and the press and analyst corps was treated to a nice chicken Caesar salad. (Last year it had been downgraded to a breakfast).  At the same time down the hall, imec was kicking off its SmartPhone workshop. I arrived on the scene in time for coffee and networking before the sessions started.  One look at the luncheon buffet and I wished I saved some room – at least for the Thai noodle salad.  There was a great turnout, and the interesting sessions that followed were a great kickoff for the week.

I stuck around after at the SEMI VIP Reception to catch up with some press colleagues and meet some of the keynotes and presenters that would be speaking in the coming days.  (The Dungeness crab cakes and dim sum were delicious, and went well with the nice New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc I selected from the numerous wine and beer offerings.)

Next stop was the annual MCA Press and Analyst reception, held this year at the St. Regis.  I was a little late arriving, having decided to skip the program on 450mm since it’s not really my area of focus.  I chatted with the MCA team, made some new connections (Qcepts and AT&S) in the industry and greeted old friends from EV Group and Ultratech.  I always linger at this particular function even after the party’s over, because ever since they presented me with my crown pendant after I moderated the first Brightspots Panel, I feel like an honorary member of the MCA family. It was a nice way to start this busy week.

Tuesday started bright and early with various meetings and sessions. I decided to forgo the first-ever SEMI happy hour with over 40 bars on the exhibit floor, and spent that time interviewing Ludo Derferm of imec.  We agreed that next year, we would conduct the interview over a beer rather than miss out on this event. I then high-tailed it over to the W Hotel to catch CEA Leti’s reception and got their just in time to catch the end of the presentation about the launch of Clinatec. After some catching up with Leti folk and a glass of wine and some nibblies reminiscent of the recent Gala event in Grenoble, I was off to make an appearance at the Impress Labs party before meeting up with the Chip Scale Review team for dinner at Kuleto’s. Impress definitely gets the award for the best open bar – top shelf all the way – and a delectable raw bar with three types of oysters.  It was hard to save room for dinner, but I managed.

From the sessions through to the parties, Wednesday was predictably nuts.  After absorbing lots of great content at the Contemporary Packaging and 3D in the Submicron Era sessions, I barely made it in time for the annual EVG wine and cheese reception.  After a glass of a fine Austrian Red and some canapés, I was off to the SEMATECH reception at the Marriott Marquis.  For the second year running, I have to give them the award for the best spread, complete with crab cakes, fried risotto, various sliders, carving stations, and more.  I chatted with Sitaram Arkalgud, Roger Quon, and Rosalia Beica about some of the events we had participated in during the day.  It’s always great to get their input while I’m digesting all the day’s information for blog posts. (Roger Quon came up with a great title for me, which I won’t reveal yet – but he gets the credit for creativity). From there, it was a brief visit at the MEMS Industry Group reception which was winding down, and then off for the final stop at the SPTS party in celebration of the company’s recent management buy-out from SPP.  I was happy to see  Susumo Kaminaga, Chairman of SPP, who asked if I had experienced the “Air Sunami” in Arizona (an apt name for the recent 5 mile high dust storm that blew through my neighborhood). SPTS topped the charts with its evening entertainment of balloon animals, bendy pen gifts, and a contortionist act to celebrate the theme of flexibility.

Thursday dawned early and was strictly business. It’s occurred to me that with all the social activities crammed into three nights, someone might get the idea to have a recovery Bloody Mary breakfast on Thursday morning? Just an idea. I’ll be happy to attend. — F.v.T.

Francoise von Trapp

They call me the “Queen of 3D” because I have been following the course of…

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