Semiconductor industry report calls for enhanced investment in R&D

WASHINGTON. Leading companies from the defense, technology, and aerospace industries -- led by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) -- have released a report identifying the key areas of scientific research that are needed to advance innovation in semiconductor technology and fulfill the promise of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and supercomputing.

The SIA/SRC joint report, titled "Semiconductor Research Opportunities: An Industry Vision and Guide," concludes that the fast pace of innovation in the semiconductor industry has been sustained through high levels of investment in research and development (R&D). In 2016, according to the report's findings, the global semiconductor industry invested 15.5 percent of revenue -- totaling $56.5 billion -- into R&D, a higher percentage of R&D investment than any other industry in the world.

A critical driver for faster, better, and cheaper computing power and functionality has been the ability, over many decades, to manufacture chips with twice as many transistors every 18 to 24 months, a principle known as Moore’s Law. However, the report says that because this conventional silicon-based semiconductor technology is maturing, a new roadmap of technology beyond silicon is required. The report details the need for advances in such areas of von Neumann computing (generally accepted to define a stored-program computer in which an instruction fetch and a data operation cannot occur at the same time because they share a common bus) as low-power, low-voltage, beyond-CMOS logic and memory devices and associated materials. In non-von Neumann computing, the report states, new memory elements and materials have the potential to enable innovation in the semiconductor industry going forward.

For the semiconductor industry to sustain the pace of performance improvements, the study found, the broader research community needs to undertake a comprehensive approach that considers all aspects of semiconductor technology, including novel materials, new manufacturing techniques, new structures, different systems architecture, and innovative applications.

Semiconductors -- the microchips that control all modern electronics -- enable the systems and products people around the globe use to work, communicate, travel, entertain, harness energy, treat illness, and make scientific discoveries. In 2016, U.S. semiconductor company sales totaled $164 billion; moreover, semiconductors make the global trillion-dollar electronics industry possible. The semiconductor industry directly employs nearly a quarter of a million people in the United States alone.

For more information on the SIA/SRC study, please visit the SIA report page.