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  Date: 03/07/2013

Synopsys' Aart de Geus on effect of the fin of the FET

By Srinivas

In semiconductor chip design and manufacturing, the power of Electronic Design Automation software is only increasing. Its not just the traditional design which includes verification, synthesis, analysis, and such normal data-compute intensive tasks, software is even playing role in error/bug/failure estimation due to minute physical variations in silicon and other semiconductor, dielectric, conductor, and insulator material used in chip fabrication. The top vendor of VLSI design software Synopsys is offering broad set of tools for nearly every task in chip design and manufacturing. I met Chairman and Co-CEO of Synopsys Dr. Aart De Geus, the well-known influential person in the semiconductor industry. He was recently in Bangalore, India for the Synopsys' annual SNUG event 2013. He shared the latest trends in silicon chip industry influenced by the 3rd dimension of chip fabrication i.e. the fin of the finFET.

Here are some of the points he shared on node race, semiconductor market and the VLSI design:

I asked him whether the node race is soon reaching a climax?

Aart De Geus: No, it is opposite — node race is accelerating again, because the semiconductor industry for fourty year(past) was using planar transistors, so there it was sort of becoming more and more difficult, but with the coming of finFET which are the vertical transistors, there is a way to get them manufacturing (deeper nodes such 14nm and below).

On growing cost of building advanced semiconductor fab:
Aart De Geus: The cost of the fab is growing linearly, but still it is big money, 14 nm fab is around 5-6 billion US$, 20 nm is already 4 billion, still only few people can build it.

On 3D and such More than Moore technologies:
Aart De Geus: It is interesting market, because of finFETs it has decelerated— the finFET form is very good. From 3/4 years, lot of people have invested in 2D and looking at stacking chips. Now there is another way of Moore's law through finFET, people are slowing a bit.

On the semiconductor industry's ability to improve the global economy or vice-versa:
Aart De Geus: The two are very linked! There is no question the demand for semiconductors to grow massively, at the same time— it is clearly visible the global economy has many points that has lot of question marks, and so United States is growing slowly again — but growing, so there is positive change, Europe — lot of question marks because all of these nations have hard time, Japan has changed its currency— temporarily seeing growth in sales. In Asia pacific, the challeges are; in China growth rate is slowing, you can see here (India) growth has been slowing it is no longer seven to eight percent. So, all this bringing lot of tensions.

On the major double digit semiconductor market growth opportunities expected sooner due to growth in areas such as solar, electric car, Internet of Things (IoT) and smart grid:

Aart De Geus:I agree with that and I also see the potential for high competitiveness, in general my sense is that over a long period of time, the semiconductor industry growing at 5.5% (He highlights the up and downs industry sees year after year).

Suggestion on first time successful tape out of silicon:

Aart De Geus: There are couple of things; one is very disciplined design, secondly use of intellectual property, you don't design every thing from the scratch, you try to use building blocks that are of high quality, and you partner with the people who really are supportive, and the third thing is absolute necessity to collaborate closely with EDA partners, IP partners and your foundries.

EDA tools over Cloud Computer platform:
Aart De Geus:For companies security is a enormous concern. We have capabilities of the technology for cloud, we have found all the companies that do sophisticated design do not trust the cloud today, so instead many are using internal cloud we support that.

To see his interesting video of the presentation at SNUG event visit the page:
Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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