Major Challenges Facing U.S. Semiconductor Industry Right Now
Moore’s law states that the number of transistors in a semiconductor will double every two years. For decades, this theory has stood to be true. However, with processors’ size being already too small to challenge the laws of physics, this law may see its last days soon. Regardless, this does not mean that the semiconductor industry will stop innovations. Major players in the industry like Intel are investing billions of dollars in R&D programs each year to come up with more powerful chips that can power the next generation of consumer electronics. Added to that, with the rise of IoT, AI, machine learning, and big data, its high time the semiconductor industry ramps up its innovation game. With so much happening in the world of technologies, what trends are set to pick up speed in the semiconductor industry?
Rise of artificial intelligence
Businesses view AI as a source of differentiation from their competition. The next generation of AI is set to be incorporated into self-driving cars, autonomous drones, surgical robots, and smartphones. As a result, semiconductor companies are racing to meet the demands that arise from such innovations. Semiconductor chips consume a vast amount of power to perform such AI intensive tasks. Graphics chips, which were originally developed for gaming are now being used for machine learning. Companies have gone as far as developing custom chips especially for machine learning and AI.
Going smaller but stronger
Intel, in 2017, announced that they would be working on a 10nm chips. The new chip is set to deliver 2.7x improvement in transistor density compared to current 14nm chips. However, Intel is not alone in this rat race for the 10nm chips. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM) and Samsung also have ambitious plans to shift to a 7nm node which could compete with Intel’s 10nm node in the power front. However, such a battle would only be beneficial to the consumers as they can get their hands on powerful gadgets.
Using analytics to optimize semiconductor processes
It is reported that a majority of semiconductor development projects are unable to meet their initial production schedules. Fabrication plants often overestimate their ability to handle complex tasks or underestimate the time required to complete the work. Analytics can help eliminate this guesswork of estimating project completion date along with manpower needs. The use of analytics can provide insights into equipment health to gain maximum performance out of it. Additionally, analytics can also help to predict process failure in a production step and prevent significant losses in the early stage of production.
The semiconductor industry is closer to the deployment of the 5G technology than ever. The need for extremely high data rates and low latency will force companies in the semiconductor industry to make high-speed and high-efficiency devices. Such demands will outline the need for a compound semiconductor. The semiconductor industry will be impacted as end-user devices and base stations will need to manage multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) and beam-steering technologies.
To know more about the top upcoming trends in the semiconductor industry:
2017 was considered to be one of the most profitable for the semiconductor industry. This year too is expected to be a robust one for semiconductor companies, not only because of the surging demand in some new and existing end markets but also due to the supply constraints in key product categories that have resulted in robust pricing. Here is some more good news for semiconductor companies- World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (or WSTS) expects global semiconductor revenue to rise by 7% (year-over-year) in 2018. For over five decades, the semiconductor industry has had a fantastic history of scientific innovation, productivity, wealth creation, and enablement of technologies and devices that have improved quality of life for humans. Let’s take a look at some major developments that could positively impact the semiconductor industry in 2018:
Semiconductor Industry Trends
A significant development that companies in the semiconductor industry can expect this year the adoption of AI (artificial intelligence) technology across various verticals. Mobile handset makers Apple and Samsung have already brought AI functionality to smartphones. Furthermore, the drone market is growing, and 2018 may see the commercial rollout of AI-powered drones throughout the world. Several industries ranging from construction to healthcare could adopt AI technology to improve efficiency and reduce costs in their business. It means that this trend could boost the earnings of semiconductor companies.
Semiconductors form the foundation for enabling the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. The IoT revolution has not only skyrocketed the demand for semiconductor chips but also shifted the value capture to software and solutions. To capitalize on this new market opportunity, semiconductor companies need to change marketing, application engineering, sales, and product development approaches and re-define go-to-market and monetization strategies.
The semiconductor devices manufacturing industry was formed in 1960 when the production of semiconductors became a viable option. Ever since this industry has proliferated, mainly due to the advances and innovations in technology. The application of semiconductors has quickly expanded from its use in radio in the 1960s to almost every electronic gadget that is used today.
Based on the end-use application semiconductor devices are classified into the following broad categories:
- Communications: This segment includes the chips that are used in wireless and wired communication equipment. Data Processing: This application segment is the most significant end-user of semiconductors devices, it includes the chips used in servers, printers, and computers.
- Consumer Electronics: This segment uses semiconductor devices in the manufacture of household appliances, LCD TVs, and gaming consoles.
- Automotive: In the automotive sector, semiconductor devices are used in automotive electronic components including lighting and power steering.
- Industrial: The industrial sector makes use of semiconductor devices in scanning devices and medical devices such as patient monitors and ultrasound imaging systems.
- Military and Aerospace: Integrated circuits comprising of semiconductor devices are built based on the requirement of specific military applications.
Let’s look at some major developments that could positively impact the growth of the semiconductor devices manufacturing industry:
- Artificial intelligence: The adoption of AI technology across various verticals is proven to be a major development in the semiconductor devices sector. Several leading smartphone manufacturers have already implemented AI functionality in their smartphones. Organizations operating in other industries can also adopt AI technology to reduce costs and enhance process efficiency, this, in turn, helps in improving the ROI of semiconductor device manufacturers.
- The 10 nm node: Another significant development in the semiconductor devices manufacturing space is the shift to a 10-nanometer The shift to a smaller node, will improve the performance of the chip and also bring significant cost savings.
- Autonomous vehicles: The onset of level-three autonomous vehicles, is another major factor that is positively impacting the semiconductors devices manufacturing market. With several leading companies focusing on launching their autonomous ride-share services. The automotive sector may end up being the largest end-user of semiconductor devices.
Though these factors contribute significantly to the growth of the semiconductor devices market space, there are several challenges that organization in this sector have to encounter. As a player in the semiconductor devices market space, you may be familiar with the immediate need to confront each of the inevitable aspects that are impacting the growth of your business. Although you may yet not have a plan do so, it is best recommended to consider implementing solutions such as market intelligence as it will assist in defining your future growth opportunities.
The Business Challenge
The client– A semiconductor devices manufacturer
Objective– To analyze the marketing strategies and enhance the existing business models.
The client, a leading semiconductor devices manufacturer, wanted to analyze and improve their existing business model across their manufacturing units. The client wanted to leverage the use of Infiniti’s market intelligence solution to identify the specific customer segments, geographic and demographic information all of which play a significant role in the market intelligence study. The semiconductor devices manufacturer also wanted a detailed report on the entry barriers, market opportunities, risks, and competition in the semiconductor devices market space.
Results– Analyzed the market information to enhance the client’s existing business models and improved the overall business efficiency. Also, identified future growth opportunities for the manufacturer of semiconductor devices by drawing conclusions on the growth of end-user segments and market opportunities.
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The market intelligence experts at Infiniti carried out extensive research comprising of interviews and discussions with leading stakeholders across the semiconductor devices market space to help the client improve business efficiency. The experts at Infiniti further compiled information from a wide array of secondary sources such as paid industry databases, company presentations, and industry forums to help the client understand the competitive scenario.
The Solution and the Business Impact
Infiniti’s market intelligence solution helped the semiconductor devices manufacturer identify the current trends in ICT. This engagement assisted the client in analyzing their business models to determine the process gaps and improve the overall business efficiency. It also helped them in identifying future growth opportunities and ways to improve retention strategies to ramp up sales. Moreover, the market intelligence solution offered by the experts at Infiniti also helped the client in gaining actionable insights from the extracted data.
Along with the rapid changes in lifestyle, there is a growing demand for electronic devices and gadgets. Consumers are ever more inclined towards the use of electronic gadgets and accessories in their day-to-day activities. This has resulted in a rise in the use of semiconductors devices for manufacturing such devices. Moreover, future opportunities in the semiconductor devices market space are set to outweigh their challenges, driving substantial changes in this sector. Therefore, those who carefully access and anticipate future opportunities and challenges to address them proactively, will be better positioned to succeed in this sophisticated market space.
A must-read case study for strategy specialists and decision makers looking to develop an understanding of the semiconductor devices market.