SEMI’s Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) has been on my conference bucket list for some time, so when I was offered a press pass to attend ISS 2018, there was no question about attending. One day in, and I’m not disappointed. The venue, the Ritz Carleton at Half Moon Bay, is spectacular – nothing like falling asleep to the sound of crashing waves on the beach below – and so far, the speakers have been top notch. It’s been a day of listening, learning, networking and tweeting up a storm. Here are today’s highlights, lowlights, and A-ha! moments.

Cisco’s Kevin Bandy and Nissan Research’s Maartin Sierhuis’s talks were the highlights of the day. From Bandy, we learned how the digital economy is changing business models. Going forward, to be successful we have to think less about manufacturing products, and more about providing experiences. For example, with its DriveNow car-sharing service featuring BMWi, BMW’s business model is no longer about selling cars. It’s anchored in the experience and the post-service model around the car.

From Sierhuis we found out that fully autonomous vehicles are closer to reality than we think, and that Nissan is working to develop socially acceptable autonomy, where autonomous cars learn to make human-like decisions and cope with real-life mobility situations. Announced last year at CES, they are working on the next generation version. Modeled on NASA, Nissan’s Seamless Autonomous Mobility (SAM) system uses humans as a backup support if your self-driving car can’t handle a situation. This seems like a great interim solution until the remaining kinks are worked out.

Another notable highlight was the geopolitical talk presented by Mark Gertken, BCA Research. He said geopolitical risks are understated in 2018 and could present headwinds to the world economy and marketplace. Areas to watch are US-China tensions, Middle East tensions, polarization, inequality and populism in the US.

The prediction that growth will slow by 2019, and that inventories are high is cause for concern if demand drops off. Both are reasons to proceed with caution.

The complete absence of women speakers on this year’s agenda and the low ratio of women to men in attendance highlighted the disparity of women to men in C-suite executive positions in the semiconductor industry. Hopefully, SEMI’s focus on workforce development its new Women in Tech initiatives will help to address the issue.

Aha! Moments
There were several notable a-ha! moments throughout the day.  One was learning from Bandy that the BMW 7 series contains more than 100 million lines of code – more than the Large Hadron Collider in Cern.

Another was finding out from Sam Wang, Gartner, that bitcoin mining is power hungry, and burns more electricity than Ireland. James Faucette, Morgan Stanley added that the amount of bitcoin mining will increase by 7x this year. “You cannot be a bitcoin bull and also be an environmentalist,” he said

Lastly, in Wang’s conclusion slide, he notes: real men have fabs with extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. Wise men evaluate the return on investment before committing fully to EUV. To that I say, smart women turn to heterogeneous integration and 3D ICs. Mike drop. ~ FvT

Francoise von Trapp

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

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