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Friday, October 31, 2008

Launching a New Event Brand :SOLARCON

The growth and importance of PV manufacturing has driven the need for SEMI to create a new event brand: SOLARCON. Each of the SOLARCON events in Korea, China, and Singapore will be co-located with existing SEMICON events in the regions. Each of these events had a prominent PV exhibitor and attendee base and strong program this year, and exhibitors were near-universal in the support for continued growth in the PV area.

In co-locating with SEMICON, SOLARCON will leverage the existing visitor and show infrastructure, allowing exhibiting companies serving the photovoltaic and microelectronics markets to reach both communities without needing multiple exhibits in multiple events. The co-location strategy also continues SEMI's commitment to grow existing shows and partnerships while reducing the proliferation of new stand-alone events.
The thinking behind the branding was that PV is a distinct and separate community from semiconductors and it needed its own identity. While manufacturing leaders understand the synergy between PV and chip making—and do not want more events to dilute the audience--the PV industry is too diverse and large to feel entirely comfortable depending on a “semi-com”. While increasingly the PV industry is being populated with veterans from the chip industry, they also attract many young engineers who have no relationship SEMI and SEMICONs.

The name SOLARCON is an obvious “frankenword” combining solar with the CON from SEMICON. The result is a hoped-for brand extension that provides security and stature, with the necessary identification with solar industry. It seems like a simple and easy name, but we struggled with considering many alternatives and whether to focus on PV rather than solar.

The new name will allow us to better target and differentiate our exhibitor and attendee marketing and program development.

The new events and dates announced are:

SOLARCON Korea, January 20–22, 2009, COEX, Seoul, Korea
SOLARCON China, March 17–19, 2009, SNIEC, Shanghai, China
SOLARCON Singapore, May 20–22, 2009, Suntec Exhibiton Centre, Singapore

The SOLARCON events in Korea, China, and Singapore join other SEMI and PV Group-sponsored and supported PV events including PV Japan, Intersolar (Munich), and Intersolar North America, the latter co-located with SEMICON West in San Francisco.

We have just announced a new president and office and India, so you might see the announcement of SOLARCON India very shortly.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Exhibitor feedback was surprisingly good at this year's Europa. Key customers were attendance and and Programs's attendance equalled last year. Despite the economic climate, most exhibitors said the show performed well for them. AMD's announcement and special supplier forum was a big success.

Great Europa slide show, here.

Monday, October 06, 2008

MEMS Ingenuity

I was at the International MEMS/MST Forum all day yesterday and the one fact that jumped out at me was that approximately 250 MEMS companies make less than $35 million dollars. This industry has a long tail.

MEMS is a technology that represents an enormous amount of creativity and manufacturing ingenuity. There is a spirit entreneurialism at work that reminds you of the early days of the PC and the era. People have ideas and dreams and skills and they believe they can make a difference. They believe they can be the first to see a need and work out the engineering and get on the cost curve and beat the big guys. The industry isn’t yet about scale, it’s about cleverness and taking on risk. While the market numbers are still dominated by the big LDP and printer apps from TI and HP, the MEMS business is still characterized by one-off devices where someone sees a better a way to marry a sensor with a microprocessor and do it better than companies with thousands of engineers and tons of capital.

The process of creating a device seems to be often one of basement creativity and engineering on-the-fly. First you have the application: integrating pressure, temperature, motion and other inputs with a control system for an automobile, a cell phone, a camera or one of the hundreds of other devices that interact with people and an analog world. Everyone who uses a cell phone or power tool or industrial device could probably think of ways to marry functions among parts or create new features or functionality. Then there is the real tough engineering of developing a faster-better-smaller-cheaper package with a dependability and robustness that can attract a big customer. Getting the first products to market seem to entail a whole lot of trial and error—devising new manufacturing methods and packaging techniques that need to be customized by the device, by the process and by the fab. Testing the part often requires that development of an entirely new testing protocol and specially designed equipment. You don’t do this stuff on computers and with formulas. You need to get your fingers dirty.

There will be a shakeout in the market and many of these small companies will be overwhelmed by economics, competition, fate, bad luck. And new processes, design tools, processing equipment and test systems will make the market more efficient, more standardized, more about scale and optimization. But while MEMS have been around for a while, it’s still a business characterized by dreamers and doers and hands-on engineering and that’s a good thing.