We propose to hold a webinar to listen to the experts who have been involved in the industry and their lessons learned to help towards discussing a national strategy for the future. The webinar is expected to provide a forum for discussion and for perspectives of lessons learned from the experts in different aspects of the government-academia-industry collaborations.
The path from invention of semiconductors and integrated circuits to the manufacturing billions of microprocessors is a U.S-led story, which has led to the technological revolutions that have furthered national security and have accelerated all levels of the economy. The technology that leading-edge semiconductor electronics enabled includes computers and communication, digitalization, the internet, automation and their associated applications. This industry is also one of most R&D-intensive, as evidenced from 1989 to 2019. Merchant semiconductor firms devoted 12.3% to 15% (in 2018) of their sales to R&D, compared with 3.1% for U.S. industry overall average.
In 1987, according to the Defense Science Board Task Force on Semiconductor Dependency, the U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing was rapidly eroding and the task force recommended the creation of an industry-wide consortium to "develop, demonstrate and advance the technology base for efficient, high yield manufacture of advanced semiconductor devices." The U.S. Congress voted to match industry contributions to conduct precompetitive research in a non-profit consortium. In addition, the industrial companies consisting of 14 US manufacturers also set up multiple consortia to connect the links from university research to manufacturing. The consortia and the pre-competitive nature of collaborations connecting research to technology and manufacturing is credited with the success of the U.S. leadership in semiconductors in 1990s, as by 1992 the U.S. chip manufacturers, overtook the Japanese manufacturers in terms of worldwide market share. In addition, the efforts led to design, development, and optimization of process equipment, manufacturing and design methodologies, hardware architectures, and the creation of a science-based global technology roadmap for semiconductors.
Now in 2020, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, the U.S accounts for only “12 percent of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity”, and the end of circuit miniaturization (often correlated with Moore’s law) is at hand, requiring vastly different chip architectures, materials and technologies than the industry has been using and a roadmap “beyond Moore’s law” is needed. We are in a situation which is much more serious than in 1987.. The US leadership in manufacturing has been eroded and China has intentions of becoming the world leader from R&D to design to manufacturing. Many countries including China, Taiwan, South Korea, and Europe are investing to seize leadership. For regaining and sustaining the leadership necessary for the future of computing, it is critical for a different renaissance of the entire ecosystem and the building blocks within the US. As in 1987, since the U.S. innovation leadership and national security depend upon design and manufacturing, we would like to revisit the lessons of the government-academia-industry partnership from the 1980-1990’s.
The panel will address the following questions:
- What are the lessons learned from the 1980s and 1990s for semiconductor manufacturing for the US? What worked and what did not? What could have been done better?
- What is different this time?
- What is the relevance of the above learnings today (both from standpoints of global situation, tech challenges)?
- How can we ensure US leadership in the future design, manufacturing, and assembly of cutting-edge semiconductors vital to United States national security and economic competitiveness?
- If the US must lead from research and development all the way to the assembly line, what should the specific efforts be?
- In R&D
- Manufacturing etc.