Perhaps more than at any point in the history of the semiconductor industry, the manufacturing and design supply chain is in the world’s spotlight, thanks largely to the recent period of international trade tension. The national agendas of governments representing the world’s largest economies are prioritizing IP protection along with chip procurement, the materials involved in fabricating them, and even the talent required for design and manufacturing.

Integration is Key

While military technology and national security factor into this sharpened focus on the semiconductor industry at the government level, another key element stems from the increased economic importance of the industry as the broader electronics market supply chain becomes more interconnected with it. There is a universal push across markets and industries to integrate more intelligence and connectivity into applications that have semiconductors as their foundation. The integration of AI, machine learning, and IoT and 5G connectivity is taking advantage of data’s status as the new oil. This is creating enormous economic opportunities in the automotive, consumer, manufacturing, and medical markets, and in others as well.

Automotive OEMs Join SEMI

These opportunities have driven some of the world’s most powerful companies, including Apple, Google, and Facebook, to bring semiconductor design resources in-house to achieve differentiation. However, many more companies are seeking to increase collaboration with their semiconductor supply chain to expedite leaps forward in technology integration. One prime example of this is in the automotive industry, where OEMs are working more closely with semiconductor companies to integrate new electronics and systems on the path to autonomous vehicles. This was evident in 2019 with SEMI announcing that both Audi and Volkswagen joined the industry association as members to strengthen their collaboration with the semiconductor industry.

Semiconductor Industry Strategic Partnerships

In this new era of rapidly evolving and converging technologies, there is a critical need for collaboration across the broader semiconductor manufacturing and design supply chain. This is a guiding principle of SEMI’s strategy to help the industry and its members thrive. Over the past few years, SEMI expanded its industry allies with five new Strategic Association Partners (SAPs) — Electronic Systems Design Alliance (ESDA), Fab Owners Alliance (FOA), FlexTech, MEMS and Sensors Industry Group (MSIG), and Nano Bio Materials Consortium (NBMC). This amalgamation of technology partners opens the door for broader collaboration across the supply chain.

New initiatives and programs that foster collaboration are also a central component to address the industry’s shared challenges and opportunities. SEMI’s SMART Initiatives seek to do this for key verticals in the industry, with Smart Mobility serving as one example that has brought together the automotive OEMs mentioned earlier, along with other OEMs and a broad range of suppliers to look at both global and regional issues.

Another example of collaborative initiatives in the semiconductor industry is the Heterogeneous Integration Roadmap (HIR). As we shift from a focus on chip scaling to system scaling, heterogeneous integration will be at the heart of major innovations right along with intelligence and connectivity. The HIR works to sort through technology issues at an industry level so that investment and R&D can be more focused. Volunteers from around the world, from across the design and system supply chain, and from industry, academia and R&D institutes, meet regularly to set targets for technologies 15- to 25-years out that will ultimately provide guidance for decision-makers. SEMI is one of the sponsors of the HIR effort, helping to provide it with industry validation.

SEMI Turns 50

2020 marks the 50th anniversary of SEMI, and the convergence of technologies we are currently witnessing makes it clear that the need for industry collaboration is stronger than ever. Taking part in these efforts not only allows you to contribute in planning the industry’s future, but it also provides networking opportunities that can lead to a more successful future for your business.

This article first appeared in the 3D InCite Yearbook, as part of the special section, How the Industry Megatrends are Impacting the Supply Chain. Download your copy here. 

Samer Bahou

Senior marketing communications manager at SEMI, the global industry association representing the electronics manufacturing and…

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