Europe’s chip opportunity

Bagging up the world’s second largest chip company to be its FD-SOI foundry is a great coup for STMicroelectronics and it’s COO Jean-Marc Chery.

Jean-Marc Chery, COO

Jean-Marc Chery, ST COO

No one can now say that the future of the chip business is finfet. FD-SOI now sits alongside finfet as a complementary mainstream process technology.

Chery’s expectation is that the industry will use finfet where performance is paramount – as in server ICs – and use FD-SOI where low-power is just as important as performance as in consumer applications, networking and mobile.

For Europe, this couldn’t come too soon. Those who believe that Europe should retreat into its core strengths and avoid leading edge technology have a powerful voice.

Those who believe that Europe should keep its place at the forefront of IC technology and compete in the most competitive chip markets have had to justify this against a decline in Europe’s world market share, a sagging manufacturing base and sceptical shareholders.

Those who believe in Europe’s IC future have a champion in Neelie Kroes, a visionary technologist in Chery and, now, a disruptive manufacturing technology in FD-SOI.

Chuck in the money which Kroes can conjure up and the science which Europe’s R&D institutions develops and European success in ICs looks plausible.

How ST-Samsung plays out is anyone’s guess. But If ST and Samsung create such a demand for FD-SOI chips from consumer, networking and mobile OEMs that Europe builds an FD-SOI megafab to make them in, then the European chip industry will be off to the races again.

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