Bravery At Semiconductor Conferences

What constitutes being brave at the semiconductor conference? Predicting the return of bubble memory? Projecting that FRAM will become the main memory device? Or predicting that direct write e-beam will bring about a resurgence in ASIC?

No one said the first two at the Globalpress Summit in San Francisco this week, but Ronnie Vashista, CEO of eASIC, said the third. It was not well received by his fellow speakers at the conference. “Direct write gets you away from mask costs but those are dwarfed by the design costs”, said Joe Sawicki general manager Mentor Graphics “A resurgence in ASIC will require really significant cost reduction”, said Andy Haines, vice president of marketing at Synplicity “Direct write will not be mainstream. It will not bring a resurgence in ASIC. On the manufacturing side it has always been a technology,” said Walter Ng, vice president design enablement alliances at Chartered Semiconductor



  1. 1965! That’s amazing, Peter, it makes you wonder when was the last time something really fundamentally new happened in the semiconductor manufacturing process?

  2. What goes around comes around. Back in about 1965, Texas Instruments was making some ICs by testing what parts of a wafer were good, and then laying down metal interconnect to hook up the good parts. Of course, the wafers were maybe 1 inch across, and the yields of good elements was probably in single digits, and the end product was being sold to a space-based application, where cost was not the first consideration, but the basic technology would appear to be the same. I remember seeing the equipment that did the photo-resist exposure for this, it was an impressively big machine.

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