Semiconductor Manufacturing in Asia – The Changing Landscape

Conference: VDE-Kongress 2008 - Zukunftstechnologien: Innovationen - Märkte - Nachwuchs
11/03/2008 - 11/05/2008 at München, Deutschland

Proceedings: VDE-Kongress 2008

Pages: 4Language: germanTyp: PDF

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Kin, Kenneth (TSMC, Taiwan, R.O.C.)

From its inception – well marked with the Bell Labs invention of the transistor in December 1947 – semiconductor industry manufacturing was US-centric for close to twenty-five years. This began changing in the early 1970s. US manufacturers built plants in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand to do labor-intensive assembly. But high value-added wafer manufacturing was kept mostly in the US. The only significant wafer manufacturing outside the US was in Japan and Europe; and it was Japan that bested the US in the 1980s, captured the global DRAM market, and took the #1 spot in semiconductor sales for seven years. This Japanese success spurred other Asian nations – notably Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and China– to accelerate their moves to wafer manufacturing and, at the same time, disrupted the business models of the US companies. From this tipping point began the restructuring of the semiconductor industry from broad-product-spectrum integrated companies (IDM’s) to today’s business models of highly focused specialty companies (e.g., Foundries and Fabless). In this transformation process, Asia’s strengths have made the region into the world’s factory for Memory and Logic semiconductors. As we look to the future, we already see that the semiconductor market is being shaped by the economic development and increasing individual wealth of the five billion people at the bottom of the global pyramid. This is the future for the industry. Satisfaction of this huge and rapidly evolving market is accelerating the demand for high volumes of highly integrated semiconductors at appropriate price points and is reducing product life cycles. The successful Asian semiconductor manufacturers are among the few companies with the scale to meet this challenge. Wafer fabrication is their core strength built on manufacturing excellence, fabrication clusters and, now, the construction of Giga Fabs. However, fabrication can only be successful on a deep foundation of increasingly demanding R&D. Asian manufacturers are now R&D world leaders in lithography, device architectures, scaling, and in the creation of proven design platforms to accelerate product design cycle times. The semiconductor industry restructuring that started in the 1980s is still playing out, but it is clear that the shift of manufacturing to Asia is a great success and, most likely, irreversible.