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9 Issues Face Today’s Semiconductor Supply Chain

While the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) report focuses on China, the challenges discussed apply to the global IC-supply-chain market.

The GSA recently released its “State of China IC Design Industry 2012” report. While primarily focused on China, the report characterizes global challenges facing the semiconductor industry.

To understand these challenges, it’s important to understand today’s IC-supply-chain ecosystem, from EDA design tools and IP reuse to manufacturing and packaging processes. The report notes that fabless companies, which comprise most of the IC design space, rely on IP cores, libraries, design services, software, and embedded operating systems (OSs).

Once produced, most ICs (e.g., ASICs, FPGAs, etc.) are sold to system manufacturers to become part of a larger electronic system before entering the end market as a complete product.

Source: Dr. Wei’s presentation at GSA SLFT 2012

The GSA report lists nine major changes facing the supply-chain process:

  1. Planar CMOS Comes to an End
  2. Application-Driven Innovation
  3. Innovative Business Model
  4. Software Becomes a Must
  5. Knowledge about Process Technology
  6. Few Foundry Resources
  7. Foundry’s Support Capability Lowers
  8. Intention of Investment
  9. A New Relationship between Fabless and Foundry

I’ve covered most of these changes in past stories. But the cumulative impact of all nine warrants a fresh look at each. We’ll start with the first one next time.

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