Herb Reiter

After more than 20 years in technical and business roles at semiconductor and EDA companies, Herb Reiter founded eda2asic Consulting, Inc. in 2002 to focus on increasing the cooperation between…

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A few thousand semiconductor experts, including many high-level executives, got together on December 5, 2019, celebrate the Global Semiconductor Alliance’s (GSA) 25th Anniversary at the annual GSA Awards Dinner, which took place at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The purpose of the evening was to acknowledge and celebrate the semiconductor industry’s high achievers in about a dozen categories.

Welcome and Exemplary Leadership Award

AMD’s Lisa Su, in her role as chairperson of the GSA, and Jodi Shelton as its president, welcomed the attendees, opened the event and introduced the evening’s Master of Ceremony (MC), Katie Linendoll. She started by announcing the event’s first highlight: Awarding the Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award.

In a pre-recorded video, Dr. Morris Chang, Chairman Emeritus of TSMC, congratulated this year’s winner of the Exemplary Leadership Award: James C. Morgan, Chairman Emeritus of Applied Materials (AMAT). Chang praised Morgan for more than two decades of vision, leadership, tenacity and excellent cooperation with TSMC. The close cooperation of these two companies was instrumental in leading our industry to today’s cost-effective fabless and foundry business model.

AMAT’s wafer manufacturing equipment replaced step-by-step most of the four, five, six, and eight-inch homegrown systems and introduced industry standards. TSMC’s investments in wafer manufacturing capability and capacity replaced the occasionally under-utilized, then hopelessly over-loaded wafer fabs at vertically integrated IC manufacturers (IDMs).

Mark Liu, TSMC’s current chairman, also praised Morgan’s work and emphasized the importance of continued cooperation between AMAT and TSMC. Liu left no doubt: Dr. Morris Chang at TSMC and James Morgan at Applied Materials changed our industry!

The Early Years and Initiatives of Today’s GSA

Another important contributor for transitioning our industry from the IDM to the fabless and foundry business model was the Fabless Semiconductor Association (FSA), founded by Jodi Shelton and several other visionary executives in 1994. Yes, exactly 25 years ago! The FSA renamed itself to Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) in 2007 to convey the continuously broadening scope of its worldwide and diverse activities. While the FSA focused on assisting fabless IC vendors to cooperate with wafer foundries, today’s GSA drives many more programs and initiatives. The latest such initiative, announced in 2018, is Women in Leadership Positions.

Amber Huffman, Fellow and Chief Technologist at Intel

This year’s “Rising Women of Influence” award went to Amber Huffman, distinguished Fellow and Chief Technologist for Data Center IP in the silicon engineering group at Intel. She currently leads the definition of industry-leading IP building blocks for Intel’s data center products. These products account for $25B of Intel’s yearly revenue.

Award Winners By Revenue, Geographic Regions and more

To recognize the most deserving companies, GSA contacted many players in the semiconductor ecosystem to get several nominees for each category, then asked them to select the winners. This year’s winners, in their relevant category were:

SambaNova Systems, SiFive, Nordic Semiconductor, Silicon Labs, Xilinx, Broadcom, Shenzhen Goodix Technology, Dialog Semiconductor, Microchip Technology, Lattice Semiconductor, MediaTek and ams.  On the GSA’s award website, you get details in which categories these winners are operating and why they received the awards. If they were rewarded because of excellent financial performance, the financial organization that recognized them is also mentioned there.

Most of these 12 award winners are well known, except SambaNova. It is an AI startup, still in stealth mode. The company’s mission is to bring artificial intelligence (AI) innovations developed in advanced research to organizations around the world. Founded in November 2017 in Palo Alto, CA, SambaNova provides the core infrastructure to rin next-generation AI algorithms and applications from the data center to the edge.

A Few Personal Comments

From 2008 until 2012 I had the opportunity to manage the GSA’s 3D-IC Working Group. In this role, I learned a lot about the benefits of multi-die integration and got to be known as a 3D-IC pioneer. I also realized during these years how complex and multi-faceted the semiconductor ecosystem is. Developing cost-effective and reliable semiconductor solutions for a wide range of market requirements needs many domain experts to work together. I was impressed by the reach and positive influence the GSA had, even at very large companies. I like to work with industry organizations to contribute, as these organizations create significant value at many semiconductor companies. Lastly, I was always impressed by the GSA team’s ability to organize events, at that time for hundreds of attendees. A few thousand attendees at the very well organized 2019 awards dinner showed me that not only the GSA’s organizing talent has grown, but also the number of people and companies that recognize the importance of bringing the many (often diverging) industry forces closer together.

Conclusion

The semiconductor industry’s business model has not only changed from IDM to fabless but also in other ways. Many companies no longer offer components to system designers – remember the “Intel Inside” campaign – when our customer’s built entire systems (e.g. PCs) around a powerful component. To be successful in today’s industry, most semiconductor companies expand their domain knowledge to meet application-specific requirements and provide system-level building blocks – both hardware and software – to their customers. This paradigm shift increases the complexity of all design and manufacturing steps even further and raises the importance of a smoothly operating and well-coordinated supply chain – from architecting a system to ramping it into volume production. These trends make neutral industry organizations, like the GSA, even more important as key enablers for our industry’s prosperity.

Thanks for reading… Herb

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