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Annual Report

Semiconductor World


Forum Topic: New Applications, New Technologies, Focus in Future Talent Cultivation, New Models for Industry-University-Research Partnerships
 Semiconductor World

Forum Report / Forum Personalities/ Event Album


The topic for the "Semiconductor World" forum was new applications, new technologies, focus in future talent cultivation and new models for industry-university research partnerships. The forum was hosted by Yang Fu-liang personally with Deputy Minister Prof. Jou Jing-yang of the National Science Council giving the opening and ending speeches. Before the start of the forum, NDL President Chen Wen-hwa gave a speech stating that the NDL is one of the 11 national research laboratories and that 1/6 of research students in Taiwan's semiconductor electronics field use NDL equipment for their master's and doctoral theses. Taiwan is ranked 3rd in the world in semiconductor production and ranked 4th in the world in terms of production output behind the US, Japan and Korea. Yet Taiwan is now faced with competition from China, India and Singapore. How to sustain and enhance Taiwan's competitive advantage in the future is the question that the forum brought everyone together to discuss.

Director Yang Fu-liang said: "it is now clear that components now must not only be fast but also, energy-saving, multi-function, light, and thin and compact. Experts will share the related technologies with everyone during the forum. The hosting of the "Semiconductor World" forum was partly due to the collapse of the DRAM industry last year. A review of the aftermath revealed that despite it being an industry worth hundreds of billions, there was virtually no research being conducted by the Taiwanese academia. We concluded that while the DRAM industry's demand for talent was relatively small, there was a complete breakdown in the cultivation of related talent by the universities. 

This made it difficult for the industry to take root and grow. On the other hand, platforms for the semiconductor industry to communicate with the academia were also limited in Taiwan. That's why we decided to take the initiative and host the first "Semiconductor World" forum. We hope this will connect the industry with the academia, and explore the future opportunities and challenges for the Taiwanese semiconductor industry from the perspective of national competitiveness. The leaders of the Taiwanese semiconductor industry including Vice-President Tseng Fan-chen from TSMC, the leading foundry company, President Lu Chih-yuan from Macronix the large memory maker with its own memory technologies, and Taiwan's President Hsu Chin-jung from Hermes-Epitek, the most successful instrument manufacturer in Taiwan, have been invited to discuss with everyone the industry's opinions on the future competitiveness of the Taiwanese semiconductor and their demand for talent. President Lee Si-chen, President Wu Chung-yu and Academician Hu Chen-ming will share with everyone future semiconductor applications and technologies in energy, biomedical and other emerging industries, as well as the successful industry-university partnership model they have established over the years. Through this forum, we hope that everyone can see that there are still many possibilities for the Taiwanese semiconductor in the future. All we have do is ask ourselves: “Are we ready?” Finally, thank you everyone once again for coming and I look forward to this forum creating new sparks of innovation for the future of the Taiwanese semiconductor industry!

Academician Hu Cheng-ming said that education must work with local industries in order to support economic development. University research needs industry to realize their economic value. One should therefore support existing local industries rather than putting all the resources into new future technologies instead. Hu Cheng-ming also explained that a certain percentage of the global power generation capacity is consumed by transistors inside electronic products and this now exceeds the proportion consumed by air-conditioning. As electronic products become increasingly widespread, reducing the power consumption of transistors has become an increasingly important topic of research. During the speech, Hu Cheng-ming also introduced the latest energy-saving transistors with a sub-threshold swing of up to 30mV/dec. This more than halved the 60mV/dec. operating voltage for the theoretical maximum of conventional transistors. Once the development of this high-efficiency, energy-saving transistor proves successful, this will reduce the power consumption of transistors by over 90%. In Korea, top executives are now expected to take Chinese classes so Taiwan should take this opportunity to absorb talent.

NTU President Lee Si-chen explained that "medicine deals with the small number of people who are sick, healthcare for everyone." He also offered two suggestions on sources of semiconductor talent. The first is the government providing program places and funding for improving university laboratories while the other is semiconductor companies providing more industry-university partnership funding. During the forum, Lee introduced new energy developments such as clean coal power plants, smart grids, hybrid vehicles, Taiwan's LED industry, new technologies in biological and nuclear power plants, wind power, solar power, Kuroshio Current power generation and other future prospects. In conclusion, he emphasized that energy-saving and carbon reduction is the responsibility of everyone on Earth in order to save the human civilization. As Taiwan now lags far behind the rest of the global village in energy-saving and carbon reduction, we should do everything we can on a national level as well.

When NCTU President Wu Chung-yu stated that "the IC industry is Taiwan's national treasure", applause broke out in the quiet conference hall. He also said that IC design should guide the search for new applications that are inter-disciplinary with an open mind. Government policy should give strong support to the semiconductor industry, the population should follow Korea's lead in patriotism, the industry should invest more in education such as $5 billion over 5 years, develop killer applications to improve standards, make the best use of China's market and personnel. During the speech, he also introduced the research targets of medical electronics, green energy technology, automotive electronics and 3C electronics in the smart electronics national research program. He hoped that in 2015 IC design in Taiwan will reach a net worth of $640 billion and master IC system integration technologies to open new frontiers that complement global trends. This should create new opportunities from emerging electronics industries, boost added value, promote industry innovation and system innovation, cultivate high-level talent, encourage the training and introduction of design talent, and build a high-quality environment that offers diverse industry development options. 

TSMC Vice-Chairman Tseng Fan-chen said that while Taiwan's semiconductor industry output is lower than Korea by value, we are among the best in the world in logic technology. Though transistor power consumption will become even more important in the future, the semiconductor industry has difficulty finding the right people. Fewer university professors and students are working on this technology as well. The government should increase its investment and industry cooperation to carry out pre-competitive research projects. Taiwan is ranked 2nd in the world in IC design so should emphasize application-oriented, system companies and supply chains in the future. National planning should establish the industry demand. China is now doing well in market system industries so semiconductor IC applications should be strengthened to improve our own competitiveness, universities should cultivate related talent and open the door to Chinese talent as well so they can be harnessed for our use.

Macronix President Lu Chih-yuan said that existing infrastructure should be used with innovative technologies for industry development. Disruptive technologies may not be useful and NAND Flash is reaching its limits with the decreasing number of storage electronics. When multi-level memory modules are used the amount of electronics will become even less. The solution to the wall of diminishing returns includes changing materials and bit-cost scalable (BICS) innovative 3D technologies (different form the ITRI 3D technology). Investment in outstanding semiconductors is urgently needed now. Government subsidy is critical rather than investment in an uncertain future. TSMC is now having a problem finding the people it needs and tier-2 manufactures are having even greater difficulty. The government should cultivate the talent needed by the industry.Hermes-Epitek President Hsu Chin-jung mentioned that Taiwan is probably ranked 1st in the world with around $10 billion invested in semiconductor equipment. The challenge of the equipment industry in Taiwan is the slowdown in growth of the electronics industry and intensifying global competition. In the post-Moore's Law period, pioneering process technologies have become even more challenging, demand for new equipment is decreasing, the total number of customers is decreasing, there is intense competition in market monopolies, technologies are even more advanced and heavily protected patents, as well as strong support by the Korean and Chinese governments. During the forum, Hsu explained that Taiwan's development opportunity lies in being the world's top semiconductor equipment market, world-leading semiconductor process manufacturing environment, and customer expectations of localization in equipment/component manufacturing and improvement. The Taiwanese equipment manufacturing industry should therefore respond by "competitive pricing and value creation". Local equipment and semiconductor manufacturers should cooperate on the development of new machines and instruments needed for the future. The industry should set aside budgets for expanding and leading cooperation with universities and research institutions in order to build up even more innovation capability.

As the forum approached its end, Deputy Minister Jou Jing-yang gave the closing remarks for the forum: "Semiconductor is a national treasure and the government will do all it can to support the industry. It is important to educate people and recruitment of foreigners will be considered. In the past, we followed. Now, it's all about top-down and demand-driven applications. Attention will be paid to competitions with China. 

Forum Personalities
Forum Personalities

1. The crowd at forum registration
2. Interim coffee break
3, 4 & 5. Forum attendees listening and networking
6. Forum guests starting from the left: Wu Chung-yu (President, NCTU), Lu Chih-yuan (President, Macronix), Hu Chen-ming (Academician, Academia Sinica), Tseng Fan-chen (Vice Chairman, TSMC), Yang Fu-liang (Director, NDL, NARL), Lee Si-chen (President, NTU), Jou Jing-yang (Deputy Minister, National Science Council), Hsu Chin-jung (President, Hermes-Epitek)