In the 70 years since the transistor was invented1 and 60 years since the integrated circuit (IC) was invented,2 we have taken the computer out of large rooms and put them into our pockets. It’s been an amazing time where we have been able to impact every aspect of society with the innovations enabled by these two moments in history. Now we’re in the process of taking the computer out of our pockets and putting it into our clothing, into our bodies, and into our imaginations.
At the same time, we have completely removed the need for wires when communicating with other people throughout the world. Instead of having to fly halfway around the world for a face-to-face conversation, we can do that instantaneously with the push of a button. Now instead of suffering from “jetlag”, we instead suffer from “netlag.” It’s amazing now to find ourselves on the threshold of computers talking and listening to us in the same ways we communicate with other people. Computers, of course, now talk to each other without human intervention. One can only guess what will be next.
These advances have created several challenges (or should we say opportunities) for electronic designs and therefore the semiconductor industry:
- The focus of electronic design has moved from the component to the system.
- The demand for performance has outstripped our capacity and capability.
- The demand for ultra-low power (e.g., long battery life) has become the new performance metric.
- There’s a continuous demand for faster product introduction cycles.
- The innovation enabled by using technology no longer requires us to understand the technology we’re using.
In this article, we’ll discuss the opportunities that are ahead for the semiconductor industry and how they will drive the next round of innovation. Then we’ll propose an idea on how to enable the next round of innovation. Finally, we’ll make some concluding remarks as to our view of that exciting future.