The semiconductor industry invests more in R&D than any other industry except pharmaceuticals. At the same time, It is dealing with shortening product life cycles. How is the industry expected to continue innovating while still profiting from their R&D investments needed to deliver transitions in main areas such as lithography and wafer sizes?
While the microelectronics industry could use the compute power generated by leading-edge semiconductor technologies that have been historically enabled by following Moore’s Law, the size of the market that needs this much power may not be able to support the R&D required to continue along the same trajectory. And while Moore’s Law may be alive and well within the walls of companies like Intel and Samsung, Qualcomm and Apple that can absorb the increase of R&D costs of continued scaling. For other companies, these R&D costs are forcing them to either consolidate or turn to new technologies.
Many companies are exploring interposer integration and 3D IC technologies. Others are looking at new applications on older technology nodes such as radio frequency or microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) on eight-inch wafers. Examples are Xilinx’s use of Si interposers in the high-end field-programmable gate array market or Micron and Toshiba’s use of 3D applications for the memory market. Many other companies are exploring 3D technologies as a hedge against the risk of traditional scaling by taking the traditional application of Moore’s law out of the critical path for successful innovation. Those explorations are helping these companies innovate and grow revenue without the same approach to massive investments in scaling.
Another approach to reducing R&D costs is to actively engage in ways to increase R&D efficiency through the implementation of proper planning processes and better allocation of resources.
Getting Moore out of Chips, by Scott Jones, Alix Partners, illustrates the reasons for increasing R&D costs to continue Moore’s law, and the end markets required to support them. It also details market trends that are driving many companies away from traditional approaches Moore’s Law. Lastly, It provides key tips on how to improve R&D efficiency through effective portfolio management.