Takeaways from SEMICON West 2021

SEMICON West 2021 lived up to its status as the signature conference for the extended microelectronics supply chain. Business and technology leaders, researchers, and analysts from across the semiconductor industry connected in-person and virtually for a 360 view of technological and market trends.

Enthought Takeaways

Authors: Michael Heiber, Application Engineer, Materials Science Solutions Group; Tim Diller, Director of Digital Transformation Services, Materials Science Solutions Group; Chris Farrow, Vice President, Materials Science Solutions Group

SEMICON West was back in action at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and Enthought was excited to strengthen relationships with our valued customers in the industry. Similar to what we observed at the SEMI Strategic Materials Conference (SMC), players across the semiconductor supply chain pointed to complex technical challenges standing in the way of continued performance scaling and the need for new problem-solving approaches. This event served as the perfect place for Enthought to debut our AI Solutions for Accelerated Innovation amid presentations on the importance of collaboration, strategic technology trends, and what’s next in digital innovation. If you missed the news from the show, we’ve got you covered. Read on for the highlights captured by the Enthought team.

Dave Anderson, President of SEMI Americas, highlighted in his welcome address that “digital transformation will enable efficient innovation not only for design, materials, and manufacturing, but also for culture and inclusion,” and we could not agree more. The SEMICON West 2021 slogan was ‘Forward as One’ with the idea that “together we innovate to re-shape the world”. 

The themes of collaboration and digital transformation resounded throughout the conference as more important than ever. Coincidentally these themes are deep-rooted in Enthought’s history and reinforced in our business model for helping science-driven companies advance innovations and achieve global impact.

In his keynote presentation, Nate Baxter, President of Tokyo Electron America (TEL), emphasized that rapid innovation at both the leading edge and the lagging edge of technology are driving industry growth. The pace of innovation demanded by customers across the industry is an exciting but difficult challenge. As noted by Baxter, things have changed a great deal in the past year: a few months of the pandemic accelerated digital innovation by years.  Continuing to challenge the way the industry delivers solutions is essential to meeting the innovation challenges ahead. 

Baxter emphasized the importance of digital transformation and the role of TEL, reflecting on the market structure of digitalization. “The materials and equipment suppliers are at the bottom of the pyramid. In essence, what we do in some shape or form sets the pace and cadence for what our customers can do.” He pointed to ongoing efforts at TEL centers of excellence around design-to-yield co-optimization, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) data analytics & advanced process control, online tool diagnostics, digital twin technology, recipe optimization, and rapid prototyping. “We’re looking not just at what’s tomorrow but what’s coming in the next decade, so we spend a lot of time working with consortia and materials suppliers on optimization of certain materials…”

Kai Beckman, CEO of EMD Electronics, highlighted the importance of scientific data in his keynote presentation stating that there is an incredible amount of data that needs to be processed, which is a very real challenge for the electronics industry as they are pressed to accelerate digital innovation to get things to market quickly. The pressure to continue to produce a high quality product while simultaneously pursuing innovation is not easy to navigate, and it is here to stay. Semiconductor chips are increasing in value as highly specialized products that are customized for different markets and applications. What is needed, he noted, is stronger collaboration all along the supply chain to support production of new device architectures, which requires a managed co-optimization strategy during the introduction of multiple processes in parallel with multiple materials. 

Beckman drove home the importance of digitization stating that “these days data is not just a major part of everyday life; it’s a crucial factor for every company to stay ahead of the curve.” Beckman explained how they are achieving this at EMD. “We are collecting and analyzing high-quality data ourselves and [using it] as the basis for making the right decisions along the entire value chain. We are using data systematically to improve the quality and cost of our products, solutions, and business processes. And just as important, we want to help our customers operate more successfully and faster in dynamic markets through the use of first-class data and analytics.” One of EMD’s major objectives is to increase their strategic materials knowledge base. “The more we know about new materials and how they react in certain processes, the better [we can] anticipate errors early. Less test runs are needed, and we can deliver to our customers faster. And of course this also saves cost.”

As a digital transformation partner for leading companies in the semiconductor industry, Enthought leverages scientific computing technologies to accelerate science and discover innovative engineering solutions. We are seeing powerful digital tools enable greater collaboration between individuals, teams, business units, regional locations, and supply chain partners, which is removing critical innovation barriers and leading to new value generation opportunities. 

At the Enthought booth, we presented our suite of AI Solutions to Accelerate Innovation. Enthought’s AI-powered Knowledge Search solution enables fast, accurate access to complex institutional knowledge, removing communication bottlenecks between domain-specific databases. Our AI-powered 3D Metrology solution enables new device architectures and new materials to come to market faster by replacing the manual data analysis procedures with fit-for-purpose process automation. Our AI-powered materials and process co-optimization solution helps organizations bring data analytics, machine learning, and AI technologies to bear on some of the industry’s hardest R&D problems.

The semiconductor industry is at an exciting early stage of its digital transformation and will continue to astound the market as companies partner and collaborate to advance technology faster than ever before. We are privileged to take part in highlight events, such as SEMICON West, and foster our relationships with industry leaders. As a company that delivers science-based innovation to technology markets around the world, Enthought is prepared to support science-forward global manufacturers. 

For more information on the AI Solutions we presented at the tradeshow, and to share your own observations from SEMICON West, please contact Enthought.

About the Authors

Chris Farrow, VP Materials Science Solutions, holds a Ph.D. in physics from Michigan State University and degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Nebraska.

Michael Heiber, Applications Engineer, holds a Ph.D. in polymer science from The University of Akron and a B.S. in materials science and engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with expertise in polymers for optoelectronic applications.

Tim Diller, Director of Digital Transformation Services, holds three degrees in mechanical engineering, including a Ph.D. and B.S. from The University of Texas at Austin and an M.S. from M.I.T.

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