Role Of Semiconductors In Modern Technology

India to be an attractive investment destination for semiconductor technologies and the country's own consumption of semiconductors is likely to cross $80 billion by 2026 and $110 billion by 2030. In a recent interaction with the Editor of siliconindia, Anku Jain, MD, MediaTek, shared his insights on the widespread acceptance of the semiconductor advancements in modern technology.

How do semiconductors play a significant role in development of consumer electronics of the Future?
The discovery of integrated circuit (IC) chips by Robert Noyce in the later 1950s laid the first milestone for the development of consumer electronics industry. Semiconductor technology has undergone rapid transformation since then, evolving from the 17nm process in 1990s to the current 4nm process, with major improvements achieved in their size, performance and power efficiency. Taiwan has been the hub of semiconductor evolution with TSMC contributing a greater share of the current chip innovations. Being a Taiwanese fabless company, MediaTek has gained an edge in the market, mostly in terms of innovations in smartphone and other smart devices.

MediaTek portfolio leads the future of semiconductors in consumer electronics segment. As a leading supplier of SoCs, MediaTek powers nearly 2 billion devices globally every year covering smartphones, smart TVs, voice assistants, earbuds, Chromebooks, Wi-Fi routers, smart home devices, automotive components and more. These modern lifestyle gadgets are driving the digital revolution among the masses. Smartphones, for example, perform several roles beyond just connecting people. They serve functions like digital banking, e-commerce, gaming &entertainment, photography, personal assistant roles, and more.

While the growing adoption of smartphones, smart TVs and other smarter gadgets is a testimony to the widespread acceptance of the semiconductor advancements, it also calls for still greater breakthroughs in the near future.

Share your thoughts on “Semiconductors are the brain of modern electronics.”
Semiconductors have been shaping our lives for several decades. Today we hardly see any devices without a semiconductor/IC. From computing to modern medicine, from transport to defence, from agriculture to space travel, every industry or business segment relies on the power of semiconductors for their effective functioning.

In the modern digital age powered by technologies like Cloud, Mobility, IoT and AI, the scope of semiconductors is expanding day by day. The Internet of Everything (IoE) is driving the new digital revolution, with applications like home security, wearables, smart factory robotics, biometric scanners, autonomous farming devices, and others gaining popularity across the globe. Thus semiconductor industry will flourish in the era by accelerating digital adoption across industries. The ongoing R&D efforts in semiconductors are directed at making every device smarter and thereby making every user perform better. Researches indicate that total R&D spending by semiconductor companies is expected to rise by a CAGR of 5.8% between 2021 and 2025 to $89.3 billion, which further underscores the relevance of semiconductor innovation and the concerted efforts by industry players to drive the mission forward.

In India, the government has rolled out an extensive plan to encourage semiconductor manufacturing and exports. This as the major milestone and there is a need to collectively work towards creating a sustainable innovation, research and manufacturing model.

What are the benefits and challenges involved in application of 3D technology in semiconductor industry?
3D printing is emerging as a viable alternative to manufacture customized semiconductors in smaller quantities. The technology has gained more relevance in the wake of the supply shortage affecting the industry in recent times. The implications of semiconductor shortage have been felt across the industries, with automotive and consumer electronics being the most affected. Application of 3D printing in semiconductors will be one of the best ways to address this challenge.

3D printing in semiconductor manufacturing can enhance the product designs by adding innovative features, improving performance, reducing costs of manufacturing gas well as increasing scope for geometric optimization Currently the focus is on printing flexible circuits using tightly woven silver nanowire-based composites. DMP additive manufacturing has many benefits including increased conductivity and consolidation.

What are the emerging industries that rely on semiconductors?
Almost every industry today relies on semiconductors in one way or the other. Now, these factories are transforming into highly automated process centres with the help of robotics, which has led to productivity improvements at exponential levels. Thus, acceptance of robotics and semiconductor technology has grown significantly in the modern industries.

While it is true that semiconductor innovations will impact every industry in the coming years, they will all be driven by the latest trends like AI, IoT, Edge Computing (Cloud), and other emerging applications like AR/VR. The growth of 5G networks is also driving the demand for higher performance computing devices. In short, the design of every electronic gadget such as smartphones, voice assistants, wearables, or automotive accessories is influenced by this technology transformation. Research indicates that manufacturers who can meet the demands of AI and IoT semiconductor chips are likely to lead the future semiconductor market. Further, reports also suggest that semiconductor companies that focus on delivering end-to-end solutions for specific industries and expanding to newer segments beyond computing, storage and network technologies will gain an edge in the market.

What is the importance of digital transformation in the semiconductor industry?
Like any other industry, semiconductor industry is also impacted by digital transformation. The impact will be clearly visible in semiconductor manufacturing, which is characterized by highly complex and time-consuming processes from R&D to wafer processing, and from assembling to testing and packing. With digital, each of these processes can be improved, in terms of quality and quantity.

With Industry 4.0 emerging as the requisite for digital businesses, semiconductor manufacturers cannot sit back and relax. The use of AI/ML, IoT, Edge and AR/VR can all enable newer ways to boost performance, reduce costs and improve reliability. For example, research indicates that adding intelligence to materials and products facilitates fully decentralized operations, leading to increased flexibility and productivity. With advanced ML, manufacturers can predict failures at different stages like materials, products, supply chain and customer engagement. IIoT-based sensors are used for collecting data, while smart surveillance/tracking solutions provide 365x24 hours realtime monitoring. Considering the scale and complexity involved in semiconductor manufacturing, such DT initiatives will drastically enhance productivity while also improving decision making capabilities.

As the semiconductor industry seeks a proactive measure to address the semiconductor shortage, Industry 4.0 is the best way forward. In India, the momentum has just begun, both for semiconductor manufacturing and Industry 4.0. Thus, it would be ideal for the industry players in India to embrace advanced technologies from the beginning itself, which will give them an edge among global, established competitors.