Computers permeate all parts of life. The semiconductor industry has a history of scientific innovation, productivity, wealth creation, and has improved the lives of millions of people across the world. It is considered one of the largest contributors to technological innovation and is expected to keep on expanding.
Consumer electronics, communications, automotive, defense, and aerospace industries widely use semiconductors. Increased consumer demand in smartphones and the use of semiconductor integrated circuits in automobiles are large contributors to the steady growth in the industry. Industrial automation in smart cities is another factor driving growth.
Asia Pacific currently dominates the global semiconductor market. China, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam are some of the world’s largest semiconductor consumers and manufacturers.
1. The growth of the semiconductor industry in China
China has been the largest producer and consumer of semiconductor products. Fast-growing automation, consumer electronics, IT & Communication and automotive industries drive the market. They are moving their core businesses from low-cost production areas to focus on investment and development of technology-based high-value product lines that have seen tremendous increases in sales over the last couple of years. Specialized semiconductors for AI applications and new chip architectures for smartphones for the booming smartphone global market will further increase China’s dominance in the short to medium term.
2. The advent of 5G
5G can transmit over ten times the data rate of 4G. It means that semiconductors will have to improve its capabilities in servers, storage and mobile devices.
3. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
One of the top industry trends is the growth of AI technology. It will spike demand for AI chips and AI-based applications across all industries. It also offers a tremendous opportunity for AI chip manufacturers.
Some of the benefits of AI technology include automation, faster production processes, reduced costs and an increase in product performance. New and innovative solutions, the ability to save money, improved data handling, streamlined manufacturing, improved customer experiences and a better understanding of analytics will go hand in hand with the growth of AI.
Engineering and manufacturing will benefit most from AI. Other industries likely to be affected by the improvement of AI is medicine, telecommunications, education, aerospace, transport and the energy industry. Areas that might show massive growth in the short term is workforce management and e-commerce specifically, after the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic.
Some concerns might impact the semiconductor industry. They include data security, safety, centralized information across devices and self-ownership. Vision and speech recognition and translations have quite a way to go for it to impact the industry significantly.
4. Cars that drive themselves
The race is on to develop self-driving cars. Semiconductor manufacturers are diversifying their supply of chipsets, modems, memories and other hardware solutions to meet the demand for telematics. They include connected cars, autonomous and electric vehicles, in-vehicle infotainment, cloud connectivity and digital cockpits.
AI is the backbone of self-driving cars and it has pushed the development of semiconductor components to the next level. Advanced automation includes additional semiconductor components like sensors for ranging and imaging. Vision-based processing, neuromorphic chipsets and hardware-level security contribute to redefining the architecture of next-generation cars and semiconductors play a vital role in enabling these technologies.
5. The Internet of Things (IoT) and the growth of manufacturing demand
Growing demand for industrial automation systems and connected devices offer more diversified opportunities for semiconductor manufacturers. Industrial applications of IoT will boost demand for semiconductor chips on a massive scale and the manufacturing industry will contribute to further growth through its demand for enhanced factory networks.
6. Big data is getting bigger
A significant trend in manufacturing is big data fueled by the IoT. Businesses generate a significant amount of unstructured and structured data in their day-to-day operations. This data can be analyzed and leveraged to reduce costs, save time, stimulate new product development and make smarter decisions. Big data can help companies determine the root cause of failures or defects in real-time; identify buying habits of users, determine risk factors and detect fraud.
The use of big data will grow in the next couple of years. Currently, big data is used mostly in machine learning followed by manufacturing and image processing technology, customer service, natural language processing, artificial intelligence (AI), supply chain and workforce management.
Some of the benefits of big data include improved customer experiences and process insights, enhanced safety and reduced risk.
7. The importance of R&D investment and the search for silicon alternatives
R&D investments are focused on identifying alternative materials for semiconductor manufacturing. The biggest factor that impacts the growing semiconductor industry is investments to meet and enable connected cars, 5G, AI, big data and digital transformation.
8. Digital supply networks
There’s a shift from structured, linear supply chains to more open, interconnected cloud-based systems that integrate data from various sources. Emerging digital supply network technologies can solve old industry problems that stem from limited information transparency across manufacturing and supply chains.
9. Laser technology for better precision and Nano-Imprint Lithography (NIL) as an alternative to Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography (EUV)
Semiconductor manufacturers and PCB processing applications mainly use laser technology. There is an increased need for die size reduction, increased yield, better quality and precision. Some of the broader applications of laser technology in semiconductor manufacturing include dicing, drilling, patterning, debonding, annealing, inspection and metrology. Seamless applications of pre-existing technology from one sector to another will push this trend in the future.
One of the key contributors to the evolution of semiconductors is lithography. Nono-imprint Lithography (NIL) is the new frontier with advancements in photonics, biochips and front-end memory applications. NIL is paving the way for simplified cutting-edge lithography procedures by producing semiconductors with higher resolution and more uniformity.
10. Integration of semiconductors and advanced packaging solutions
Technologies like the Internet of Medical Things, medical robots and wearable medical tech are growing and becoming more important in the global supply chain. Advanced packaging solutions will offer tremendous customization opportunities for manufacturers and buyers at a lower cost. Smaller packing solutions will also drive smaller devices with increased processing power and lower energy consumption.Most companies are only beginning to capitalize on these trends. They offer numerous benefits and present ample opportunities for companies that move fast. DataProphet’s PRESCRIBE can help your company stay on top of future trends. It offers optimization, reduces defects, transfers best practices, easy integration and simulation.