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Globalfoundries CEO talks about FD-SOI, FinFET and IoT

Posted: 18 Sep 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Globalfoundries? FD-SOI? FinFET? IoT? semiconductor?

Looking closer at the state of semiconductor industry worldwide, PC shipments are declining as well as the smartphone market. The chip industry is expecting a down year in 2016, where practically every chip vendor is on the lookout for growth drivers for the semiconductor market.

Globalfoundries' CEO Sanjay Jha came to Shanghai this week and said that mobility and pervasive computing will continue to drive the industry. But he emphasised that many applications expected to drive the industry's growth, which includes mass market smartphones, M2M, IoT and automotive, "don't require the cost and complexity of FinFET."

Instead, Jha pitched FD-SOI and RF-SOI as "the right technology at the right time," in his keynote speech at the Shanghai FD-SOI Forum. The audience was invitation-only, ranging from chip company executives who had travelled from Silicon Valley, Europe and Japan, to local fabless, research institutes and investors in China. Most notably, Lu Jun, a man who manages China's Big Fund, was sitting in the front row.

Sanjay Jha

Sanjay Jha (Photo: EE Times)

As he queued up a slide illustrating the downward growth trajectory in smartphone shipments, Jha cautioned the audience: "Those days of 13 to 14 per cent annual growth may be over."

In his opinion, what will drive the chip industry forward are "emerging markets, the next two billion subscribers, 5G, social, M2M interaction and content consumption." The question, then, is what semiconductor companies can do about all this.

Lu Jun

Lu Jun China's Big Fund manager (Photo: EE Times)

Jha said "cost, performance equivalent to today's high-end smartphones and power consumption" are the three things semiconductors need to deliver. "I am not talking about sub-spec smartphones. I am talking about smartphones whose performance is equivalent to today's high-end smartphones, which are, however, priced at less than $100 or $80. For that, you can't afford FinFET," he added.

IoT 'no mystical animal'

The Globalfoundries' CEO also touched upon IoT. Although everyone in the industry today talks about the Internet of Things as if it's a mystical animal, Jha stressed "it is not. But first, we need to define it."

He defined IoT as all devices "used in a sensorial environment, connected and share their sensor state with the Internet to optimise computing."

For IoT, "Ultra-low power consumption isn't an incidental fact," said Jha. It's the first and foremost requirement for semiconductors to make IoT happen.

Comparing IoT devices to a PC "which typically needs the power of 20kWh, running 3-4 hours" and a smartphone "that demands 2kWh, operating 24 hours," Jha said, "IoT requires energy of 200mW-hours and it must last two years." Equally important is its cost. "We are talking about an average selling price equivalent to $1."

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