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Innovation-driven market is next frontier

Posted: 04 Jan 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:agilent technologies? electronics industry? application? convergence?

Leong: The next frontier sees the convergence of previously disparate technology domains.

The wait is over for those in the electronics industry who are counting on the next killer application to drive more business. We have perhaps entered the phase where the next wave has already arrived, albeit with less fanfare than anticipated.

The next frontier sees the convergence of previously disparate technology domains. And the result will be unprecedented freedom of place and time, home convenience and work life, with access to far more information than previously available, without the constraints of current connectivity infrastructure and bandwidth.

Throughout the history of the semiconductor industry, there has been exponential growth in shipments of semiconductor products alongside significant market waves, which come every few years followed by flat growth or a downturn.

By 2005, worldwide mobile phone penetration will reach 24 percent, up from 8.1 percent in 1999. By 2007, that number will rise to 27.5 percent of the world's population, driven by the enormous potential in Asia and Latin America and growth opportunities in Africa.

Fuelling the next wave will be the convergence of computing, consumer electronics and communications into "super" consumer products that provide a host of functionality in a single device, such as mobile phones with digital cameras and Internet access or PCs with home networking and multimedia gaming.

The idea of convergence has been around since the early 1980s, but it is only today that it has become economically viable through innovations in SoC, SiP, stacked memory devices and extremely dense PCBs.

At 130nm process technology and below, we see an interesting correlation between innovation in process technology and consumer market waves. Innovation in process technology fuels the next wave of consumer applications, creating a "semiconductor cycle of innovation."

With the start of each new wave comes new test challenges. New devices come loaded with an incredible amount of functionality and performance, yet their success is largely driven by their ability to meet acceptable consumer price points. The real challenge for industry players sitting at the cusp of delivering the next frontier is how to reduce the cost of high-performance testing. Moreover, as our marketplace becomes more consumer-driven, our electronics industry is also driven by the fickleness of consumer tastes.

Now, more than ever, test solutions must be flexible to be able to adapt to these consumer markets. As such, more and more ATE vendors have found themselves having to embrace the notion of flexible and scalable test systems to enable the convergence-in-a-box that we are seeing today.

- Amos Leong
VP and General Manager
Agilent Technologies Inc.

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