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Friday, May 29, 2009

SEMICON West Update

With the industry in the midst of the worst slump of its history, many people are asking me, “What’s happening with SEMICON West?”

It’s not an easy question to answer. From a programs perspective, I think it will be the best West in a decade. We have more content and more original, high quality content that we’ve had in many years. In addition to the TechXPOTS which will be better this year, we have much stronger partner programs. The MEMS Industry Group will hold its Business Strategy Seminar, Convergent Semiconductors will hold an impressive conference on new memory technologies, and Sematech will run a 3D Interconnect Workshop. I am especially looking forward to FlexTech Alliance’s introductory and educational workshops on printed electronics. There will 2-hour Packaging and Foundry Summits, and this ITRS panel discussion will present the critical issues in the industry roadmap. For more on West and the programs, visit

But in terms of exposition space, West will be a smaller show. The floor plan has consolidated into Moscone Halls North and South and the Test and Packaging segments will no longer be located in Moscone West first floor. But Intersolar, our partner solar exposition is growing and compensating for the semiconductor decline. Intersolar now occupies all of Moscone West, tripling the size of last year’s exhibition and bringing the 2009 total floor space to approximately 120,000 net square feet –Intersolar North America 2009 now expects to accommodate around 500 exhibitors. Currently more than 400 exhibitors from 20 countries worldwide are confirmed to exhibit at Intersolar with 15,000 expected attendees anticipated

Concerning attendee registration, things are going reasonbly well for SEMICON West. Through Sunday, May 24, SEMICON registration (SEMICON-only and SEMICON + Intersolar North America) totaled 9,617, which is -22% versus the same week last year, but only -6% compared with the five year average for this week (10,223).

We added 1,423 visitors in the past week, versus 1,727 the week prior. Including the 1,055 Intersolar-only visitor registrants, total visitor registration for both events through Sunday totaled 10,672. In the past two days, even with the Memorial Day holiday, we have added over 500 new SEMICON visitors, which is ahead of our average daily pace. And Intersolar audience recruitment hasn’t kicked in yet. Last week, Intersolar distributed their first visitor promotion email, which accounted for a significant portion of the week's accelerated registration.

While the industry is mired at equipment booking levels not seen since the early 90’s, innovation continues on productivity, 22nm geometries, new materials, wafer sizing, and a host of other areas. At the same time, the MEMS, solar, high brightness LED, printed electronics and other markets are just emerging. SEMICON West is still the place to be to participate in the next waves of innovation in advanced manufacturing. As the industry and region changes, so must SEMICON West and we’re committed to evolving the show in new ways. If you have any ideas or comments, please let me know.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SEMI Members Essential to a Sustainable World

I was thrilled and proud to see the recent report that confirmed that semiconductors are at the vanguard of the world’s most significant steps to reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate climate change. The report by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE) claims a significant relationship between economy-wide productivity growth and the use of semiconductor-based technologies. Since 1990, the United States has expanded its economic output by nearly 62 percent but the demand for energy has grown by less than 20 percent during the same period. The report claims that this decoupling of economic growth and energy consumption is a function of increased energy productivity— primarily achieved through semiconductor technologies. Faster, better and cheaper microprocessors, computers, and telecommunications equipment have accelerated both the adoption of these technologies and their growing networked use. This, in turn, has ignited changes in the way that we manufacture products, conduct business, and maintain social activities.

And of course, I believe that technical achievements in manufacturing equipment and materials are the primary drivers for the proliferation semiconductors. Semiconductors have been around for decades. What has made them faster, cheaper and better are the manufacturing efficiencies delivered by SEMI members that have made Moore’s Law a self fulfilling prophecy. By enabling a miraculous 4,000,000X reduction in cost since 1975, no other industry has had such a positive and wide ranging contribution to world energy efficiency and no other industry is expected to contribute more to fossil fuel reduction in the coming decades.

The report states: “Compared to the technologies available in 1976, we estimate that the entire family of semiconductor-enabled technologies generated a net savings of about 775 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in the year 2006 alone … [H]ad we expanded the size and scope of the U.S. economy based on 1976 technologies, it appears that the U.S. would be using about 20 percent more electricity than actually consumed in 2006.”

What the report doesn’t state is that semiconductor technology—or to be more precise, manufacturing technology—is also displacing fossil fuels by enabling the production of solar PV, solid state lighting and fuel cells. Some estimates predict that by the year 2030, PV systems could be generating approximately 2,600 TWh of electricity around the world, enough to satisfy the electricity needs of almost 14% of the world’s population. In environmental terms, it would reduce annual CO2 emissions by 1.6 billion tons, equivalent to the output from 450 coal-fired power plants. Today, virtually every mass-produced PV cell in the world is made with equipment and materials from SEMI member companies.

Solid state lighting produced by high brightness LEDs (typically GaN/InGaN chips) is another critical component of the future energy equation. It is estimated that 22% of the nation’s electricity is used for commercial lighting, equivalent to 8% of the nation’s total energy and approximately 130 million tons of carbon emitted into our atmosphere. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that an efficient solid state lighting technology could save the U.S. about 620 billion kilowatt-hours per year (or approximately 50-70 power plants) by the year 2025. Like solar cells and semiconductors, the equipment and materials used to make solid state lighting are developed and made by SEMI member companies. Without continued developments by SEMI member companies, white LEDS won't reach the cost targets necessary to diplace conventional lighting.

Almost every solution contemplated to solve our energy problems are enabled by semiconductor technology made faster, better and cheaper by SEMI member companies. Many of these of solutions are just now being developed, such as nanotechnology fuel cells and energy harvesting chips that are powered by kinetic energy. Smart grid technologies enable a more cost-effective deployment of decentralized but cleaner renewable energy resources— such as solar panels and wind turbines. These “green” technologies are also enabled by a variety of semiconductor technologies, including sensors to measure temperature or other variables; communications chips to receive and transmit data; memory chips to store the information; and power management chips to adjust energy loads.

The importance of SEMI member companies can’t be overstated. Without their manufacturing expertise, developments in the lab can’t be commercialized for widespread use. Without their achievements, the gigawatts needed in solar and the double digit economic productivity increases can’t be realized. Without their contributions, the only equation that works in our energy future is one that requires drastically lower lifestyles, radically reduced economic progress, and an end to developmental progress in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. Fortunately, the companies that comprise SEMI are marshaling some of the most brilliant and ingenious people from around the world to address the planet’s most critical problems.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Value of Exhibiitng in a Downturn

“We need the continued visibility so that clients know you are still there and potential clients don’t think you have gone under.”

“Less people, but more authority to purchase.”

“The decrease in attendance has lent to increase in quality and size of prospects who do engage.”

“Not being at the show leaves people to wonder if we are still in business.”

“(We exhibit in a downturn to) gain additional market share in this economy and try to outlast the competition.”

“For increased exposure with new customers. Renew relationships with existing customers.”

“Maintaining our company profile of strength and consistency, so when the market strengthens we are the first choice.”

“(There are) fewer attendees, but typically they are high quality decision-makers.”

These are the opinions of real exhibitors. They continue to see trade shows as an important investment in new business and enhanced profitability. Particularly in the semiconductor industry, trade shows remain the most cost effective marketing medium and sales tool available today.

Passive marketing through advertising, web, and arming sales people with brochures and Powerpoint presentations won’t change customer perceptions and behavior. To effectively influence people, effective marketers know that you need to imprint your key messages on customers through interaction and engagement. Sales calls and meetings can’t deliver these effective environments because customers control the situation and will discount—if not actively fight—your attempts to differentiate your products from your competitors. Customers already have a supplier opinion and ranking and won’t believe your key messages and sales people. They won’t read your brochures and webpage and will resist all your efforts to position your new unique product features and technology. They will try to drive all sales meetings to a commoditized price and delivery conclusion.

Trade shows gives marketers the most effective way to differentiate their companies and products, and change customer perception and behavior. You control the environment in a trade show engagement and your sales messages have the supercharged credibility of 3 dimensional authority, underscored by demonstrated corporate commitment. They allow you to accelerate the sales cycle in measurable ways.

These are tough times, but they don’t change the way people learn, customers behave, or how good marketers differentiate their products for greater share and higher margin.

Monday, May 04, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities

I had the pleasure of hearing interesting perspectives on the industry dynamics and synergies of two of the world’s largest technology clusters: Silicon Valley and Dresden, Saxony.

At the Silicon Valley Lunch Forum on April 23, Art Zafiropoulo, Chairman and CEO, Ultratech Inc. gave a nice talk on the history and future of Silicon Valley. Like many observers, he traces the Valley’s tech origins to the founding of Stanford and the invention of the oscilloscope in the famed garage by Hewlett and Packard. With the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor, tech DNA started spreading, duplicating and intermingling. The Valley enjoyed a unique mix of geography, higher ed, specialized expertise, and eventually money that served as a magnet for innovators like Art the world over. A critical mass was established that kept the Valley in the forefront of the computer revolution, the communications revolution and the Internet revolution. He contrasted collaborative, flexible, open Silicon Valley culture with the insular and vertically integrated approach taken in Massachusetts along the Rt. 128 corridor and many parts of the world.

Art still sees the Valley as a center of innovation, but not manufacturing. The region still enjoys the output from best educated people in the world, but suffers from a variety of economic ills generated by the high tax, high spend policies of the State and national government.

Dresden, Germany is one of the great economic success stories in Europe. While only recently behind the “curtain,” Dresden is now home to the most dynamic high tech cluster in Europe (Don’t forget Grenoble, France).

While many people know in chips know Dresden and Saxony as the EU home of Infinion, AMD and Qimonda, its also the center of the world in photovoltaics. We recently a visit from Dagmar Vogt, CEO of Vogt Group, and Harold Bender, VP of Applied’s solar business in Europe who painted a compelling picture on why SEMI needs to be centered in the Saxony-Berlin region. Many of the same dynamics that accelerated Silicon Valley are present in the Dresden region.

The Dresden-centered solar industry encompasses nearly all of Saxony, including Leipzip and Thalheim, which many now call Solar Valley due to the many solar firms located there, including Q-Cells. Actually the region extends beyond Saxony to include Berlin, Arnstadt, and Alzenau. There’s competition between cities, but also synergy and internetworking. Like Silicon Valley, the area enjoys tremendous education and R&D resources from the University of Halle, Helmholtz Centre Berlin for Materials and Energy (HZB). IMEC, Fraunhofer ISE, and EU institutions like the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).

While Silicon Valley is less of a manufacturing center, Saxony enjoys many advantages as a manufacturing center including low rents and wages.

What distinguishes both areas, however, is the synergies, the intermingling of smart people from business, industry and finance that makes both regions go. It is not the guided centralization that you see at Hsinchu Science and Technology Industrial Park in Taiwan or Shanghai, Pudong, but the informal dynamics of different industries and specialties combining to accelerate progress. SEMI tries to leverage this dynamic wherever we can when creating and developing expositions and conferences. We know that it’s what you plan and expect from a program that generates delight and the “a-ha’ moment, it’s the unexpected that frequently comes from outside your immediate industry and specialty that spurs innovation.
(Phot: Dresden Messe)