I can’t tell you how much fun I had last week at SEMICON West! My favorite part has always been the conversations I have with industry colleagues on the show floor. Up until now, however, those conversations were distilled down and summarized in a blog post. But now, with our Conversations from SEMICON West Hybrid 2021 podcast series, you get to be a fly on the wall. It’s kind of like sitting down and having a glass of wine while we talk about what’s really going on in the industry.

This year, as you’ve probably guessed, in addition to what they were showcasing in the exhibit halls, talk was all about the chip shortage, supply chain issues, the talent shortage, managing growth, efforts in sustainable manufacturing, and their hopes and dreams for 2022.

I interviewed SEMI CEO, Ajit Manocha about semiconductor growth and what it means, and the role SEMI plays in providing a collaborative environment to find solutions. He talked about how the global fab expansion, once completed, will spark 48% growth in capacity, which translates to potential revenues up to $2.2 trillion by 2030.

I also had an interesting conversation about attracting and retaining semiconductor talent with Debbie Gustafson Debbie Gustafson, CEO of Energetiq, Scott Balaguer, Vice President, and General Manager Semiconductor Division North America, and Emma Cheer, who is leading the DEI efforts at GlobalFoundries.

In a sponsored spotlight episode, I spoke with Anand Nambiar, who heads the semiconductor materials business of EMD Electronics, a business of Merck KGAA Darmstadt, Germany. In addition to providing his perspectives on the aforementioned issues plaguing the industry, he shared some exciting news about the company’s 3.5B global investment in capacity and R&D. He also provided details on Athinia, a joint venture between EMD and Palentir that leverages AI and big data to improve supply chain transparency and tackle chip shortage.

The rest of my podcast time was spent having conversations with our 3D InCites community members. Many noted that despite less foot traffic, the conversations they had at their booths were much richer and meaningful. Attendees who showed up really wanted to be there, and the exhibitors benefited from that.

Dragan Cekic and Victoria Barnes of YES, talk about the importance of maintaining proximity to customers; and their approach to talent acquisition across the globe as the company expands its infrastructure to provide “boots on the ground” support to customers locally.

Faraz Shoukat and David Ratchkov of Anemoi Software gave me an inside look at their brand new start-up that has developed thermal solver solutions for 3D IC and heterogeneous package design. They shared their origin story, how they identified the problem and teamed up to develop the solution. Contact them if you are challenged with thermal management.

Garret Oakes and Dave Kirsch, of EV Group, talked about how EVG is handling industry growth, and growth as company. For example, EVG’s new Heterogeneous Integration Competence Center makes it possible to support HI designers who can come in and use technology to develop their solutions.

Mike Plisinski, CEO of Onto Innovation talked about navigating a merger, acquisition, and re-brand through the pandemic followed by the rapid growth of the company. He also talked about the company’s competitive edge with AI technology implemented in its tools to support smart manufacturing.

Rama Puligadda, Kim Arnold, and Alex Smith of Brewer Science talked about the company’s growth, its strength in culture as they navigated through the pandemic, about the company’s efforts to foster tenure, helping employees to grow in their career paths, and focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Subodh Kulkarni, CyberOptics, described the company’s inspection sensor technology product lines, and how they are addressing the complex needs as heterogeneous integration, chiplets, and 3D packaging take hold. We also talked about how the supply chain and talent shortages have impacted CyberOptics.

Bob Smith of SEMI’s Electronic System Design Alliance, focused on the important work this technology community does in risk management for the EDA industry, for example, the anti-piracy effort to top the theft of software licensing that plagues the industry and costs billions of dollars annually.

Jonas Discher of PlanOptik, shared his experience traveling from Germany to attend SEMICON West. He said that the company celebrated two anniversaries this year – 40 years as a company and 20 years for its location in the U.S. He also talked about the development of copper-plated through glass via (TGV) wafers that allow for interconnection via conductive material through the holes in the wafers. The company kicked off its first project with customers for interposers for 3D wafer-level packaging.

Joe Montano of Delphon Industries, one of our newest community members. He talked about the company’s three brands that serve the semiconductor industry – Gel-Pak, TouchMark, and UltraTape. He shared how the supply chain shortage impacted the company and talked about Gel-Pak’s latest offering for transporting ultra-thin die.

Kenton Read of Evatec, specialists in sputtering and evaporation technology for thin-film applications. He talked about a new evaporation platform that hooks up to a central handler. They also showcased their Clusterline 300 platform for advanced packaging. They are focused on the future of heterogeneous integration and the advantages their knowledge base across different technologies brings to the table.

Meg Conkling of Veeco, who recently joined the company as Director of Global Accounts. She talked about how great it is to meet in person at SEMICON West and have the real conversations that you can’t have on Zoom. We discussed the challenge of shortening the supply chain to meet the growing needs of customers, particularly in the face of fab expansion. She says she thinks things will begin to normalize in 2022. She also talked about the company’s plans to double its capacity. The company showcased its Altair platform, a backend lithography tool that provides solutions for the packaging world.

Emerald Grieg of SurplusGLOBAL, supplier of secondary semiconductor equipment. She talked about the great quality of conversations she had this year at SEMICON West, because it wasn’t crowded and rushed. All the topics we’ve been discussing this week are the ones that are top of mind for her customers. One of the issues they’re dealing with is the vicious cycle of not having chips to build the tools to make the chips. SurplusGLOBAL’s big news is its new state-of-the-art cluster facility and what it has to offer customers for demoing and testing their equipment locally in Asia.

All of these episodes are available here – or follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Lastly, a big shout-out to these companies, and the other exhibitors who showed up to make sure SEMICON West was a success. SEMI needed your support this year, and you delivered.

That’s a wrap for SEMICON West Hybrid 2021! We’re looking forward to gathering again in six months at SEMICON West 2022, when it returns to its regular time – July 11-14, 2022.



Francoise von Trapp

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

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