Tom Quan, TSMC
EETimes (1/12/2015 06:00 AM EST)
The Internet of Things requires specialty processes, pioneered by smartphone chips, to create optimal IoT silicon, says a TSMC executive.
More-than-Moore technology sales skyrocketed when smartphones took off five years ago. Also known as specialty technologies, these devices complement the digital processing and storage elements of an integrated system by allowing interaction with the outside world. Our CTO likens them to human sensory organs such as sight, hearing, and sensation.
Smartphones in particular, are like little specialty technology storehouses. Consider that the 1.24 billion smartphones that shipped worldwide in 2014 each contain ten or more specialty chips for microphones, cameras, gyroscopes, accelerometers and more. Rapid growth is expected in several areas such as image signal processors stacked with CMOS Image Sensors (CIS), mixed signal for fingerprint sensors, small panel drivers, and embedded flash for near-field communications and touch-screen controllers.
Several emerging opportunities also rely on specialty technologies. Among those with the most potential is the nascent Internet of Things (IoT), ready to devour billions of ICs to fulfill its promise of connecting all our gadgets to us through the Web. The IoT presents the semiconductor community with nearly limitless opportunities thanks to specialty technology foundry services with the ability to integrate flash, CIS, RF, high voltage, power and MOSFET technologies.
Foundries are launching updated offerings and migrating select technologies to new process nodes that will trim power consumption and meet growing demand by increasing the number of die per wafer. TSMC, for example, introduces 30-50 new specialty technologies annually and the manufacture of these devices currently accounts for 25 percent of our business.
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