Looking ahead into the new year in technology often proves quite interesting and educational. For 2018, one well-established market – automotive – is gaining the attention of many technology companies. The wide range of new electronics being developed for automotive involve numerous device types, each with its own set of manufacturing requirements. The challenges this presents to the chipmaking industry is the focus of a recent outlook perspective in Solid State Technology by Lam’s Pat Lord.
Pat Lord, general manager of Lam’s Customer Support Business Group (CSBG)
There are many exciting growth and innovation opportunities in semiconductors. One such area is the automotive industry, where recent advances in technology are transforming this sector. Electric vehicles – not long ago considered somewhat impractical – are becoming more common, and the availability of autonomous vehicles may soon be a reality. Another key area that has carmakers’ attention is the development of electronic systems to improve safety, performance, and convenience. Given these needs, demand for a wide range of integrated circuits (ICs) for use in vehicles has grown significantly. In fact, the automotive segment is now forecast to be the world’s fastest-growing electronic systems market through 2021.
Addressing the technical requirements of automotive applications is challenging as they involve a broad spectrum of devices. These include chips to support vehicle connectivity, advanced infomatics, navigation systems, and sensors (microelectromechanical systems or MEMS, RADAR and ultrasonic, and optical/infrared image and light detection and ranging or LIDAR). Furthermore, in electric and hybrid vehicles, advanced power modules and discrete devices are needed for applications ranging from power inversion to rapid battery charging.
At the same time, these more complex electronic systems are no longer limited to higher-end cars and are now being included in a range of vehicles that have a significantly lower price point. With this change, demand is growing for both new and novel ICs as well as established ICs such as sensors, analog chips, and microcontrollers. Many of these devices can be readily fabricated by 200 mm or 300 mm fabs that are running automotive qualified processes well above the 28-nm technology node. As such, these fabs are well-positioned to capitalize on the auto industry’s growing chip demand, provided they can achieve reliable, cost-efficient production. These needs can be addressed with productivity and process enhancements that have been developed for existing systems as well as the ability to add capacity with new and refurbished equipment.
Continue reading this and other 2018 outlook perspectives at Solid State Technology.