GSA: The Next Phase

The Global Semiconductor Alliance is charting a future based on geographic expansion, 3D IC, analog/mixed-signal, MEMS, and more.

When the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) was founded in 1994 as the Fabless Semiconductor Association, our purpose was to establish the viability and long term success of the fabless business model.  We successfully achieved this goal and transitioned to the Global Semiconductor Alliance in 2008.  As the only global voice of the semiconductor ecosystem, we have grown the Alliance from 40 charter members to more than 400 members in 30 countries.  We have refined our vision and focused on four major initiatives in 2011 – geographic expansion, 3D IC, analog/mixed-signal and MEMS.

GEOGRAPHIC EXPANSION

Inroads into the Japanese market became a priority in late 2010.  The decision to expand was based on the importance of this country in the global semiconductor ecosystem.   Japan plays an integral role, representing nearly 20% of the semiconductor market and more than 25% of the top 100 electronics suppliers. It is a critical region for GSA members from an end market, supplier and partner perspective.  GSA also recognizes that Japanese companies are moving to a fab-lite business model and has expertise in helping drive collaboration.  With 22% of GSA members in the Asia Pacific region, it was imperative for the Alliance to grow in this dynamic market. 

Our expansion efforts began with the appointment of Dr. Tetsuya Iizuka, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, THine Electronics, Inc. to the Asia Pacific Leadership Council and the appointment of Japanese executive Shozo Saito, Corporate Executive Vice President and CEO of the Electronics Devices & Components Group from Toshiba Corporation to the GSA Board of Directors.  The Alliance also held an inaugural event, the GSA Semiconductor Leaders Forum Japan, on March 1st in Tokyo which catered to global semiconductor CEOs and featured Japanese perspectives on the semiconductor industry.

In the EMEA region, GSA has had a presence for several years with roughly 20% of our members based there.  In January 2011, GSA appointed Sandro Grigolli as its EMEA Executive Director.   Grigolli is responsible for establishing and growing GSA’s European operations and spearheading the Alliance’s European initiatives by working closely with the GSA EMEA Leadership Council to drive critical programs for the benefit of the European semiconductor community, including Key Enabling Technologies (KET) as well as European government and policy matters. 

3D IC

As part of our mission to identify and articulate market opportunities, GSA recognized the importance of 3D IC technology in this complex ecosystem.  Our efforts began in 2010 when we hired industry veteran Herb Reiter, president of eda 2 asic Consulting and longtime GSA advocate, to lead our 3D IC initiative. Under Herb’s guidance we formed the 3D IC Working Group, held several meetings and panels around the world and published the first 3D IC Tour Guide which debuted at DAC.  2011 plans included a comprehensive 3D IC article in the spring issue of Chip Design Magazine, panels and keynotes highlighting this technology and its benefits at the GSA Memory Conference on March 31st in Santa Clara and a well-attended panel during DAC 2011 where GSA released the second 3D IC Design Tools & Services Guide.  Reiter will appear, on GSA’s behalf, during ATE Vision 2020, as an invited speaker to further promote the 3D IC initiative, and he will attend other industry events throughout the year.  Additionally, GSA will release the 3D IC Report in Q3 of this year addressing why 3D IC is necessary, the benefits of the technology, barriers to adoption and possible solutions.

Analog/Mixed-Signal/Radio Frequency

The Alliance recognized the importance of analog/mixed-signal (A/MS) in the ecosystem and has been active in this area for many years.  With the first release of the MS/RF PDK checklist in 2004, we formed the A/MS working group with the intent of addressing technical and business challenges within the A/MS ecosystem.  Since that time, we have released two additional checklists – MS/RF SPICE Model Checklist and A/MS/RF Process Checklist – along with subsequent versions of each to increase the efficiencies between semiconductor companies and wafer foundries, and semiconductor companies and PDK and SPICE Model developers.

Key A/MS deliverables in 2010 included the following: the formation of the PDK Sub-working Group; an A/MS workshop and analog panel during the 2010 GSA & IET International Semiconductor Forum in London; and the MS/RF Working Group meeting on May 24th where Nick English, Vice President of Development with Si2 presented a preview of the OpenPDK Workshop which Si2 organized at DAC.

With the appointment of Sandro Grigolli, GSA’s EMEA Executive Director, GSA has sharpened its A/MS focus, specifically in Europe.  The Working Group’s main objectives for 2011 include identifying problems and finding solutions for attracting A/MS talent in universities, increasing A/MS interoperability and re-use as well as showcasing best practices.

Key findings during the “Supporting Analog/Mixed-Signal Talent in Europe & Its Impact on the Future” panel at the 2011 GSA & IET International Semiconductor Forum in Munich suggested the responsibility of cultivating an environment where Europe’s A/MS industry and its talent can flourish should be shared by many, including government, semiconductor companies, universities, industry associations and research institutions.   The panel addressed challenges in attracting young talent to the A/MS field, best practices that could be used to peak students’ interest in A/MS, how to encourage universities to have stronger education in this field, how to keep A/MS talent within Europe, and new A/MS solutions being developed within universities and institutions that are tackling the most advanced design challenges.  The panelists stressed three key points - the importance of the European Commission in voicing that semiconductors are indeed a key enabling technology; chip companies should partner with universities and employ graduates to validate that there is a career in A/MS; and the semiconductor industry needs to educate students at a very young age about what is possible with math, physics and engineering and why it is an exciting career path.      

Additionally, as part of its plans to encourage A/MS talent in Europe, GSA appointed analog IC design expert Dr. Willy Sansen to the TSMC Europractice Innovation Award selection committee, which consisted of technical experts from IMEC and TSMC.  The committee awarded the most innovative mixed-signal or radio frequency (RF) design submitted by a European university during the GSA and IET Forum in Munich. 

Another key initiative in A/MS is increasing interoperability and re-use.  Chip vendors recognize the benefits of cooperating to establish a standard that guarantees interoperability.  With digital IP, standardization and a modular approach allow chip designers to focus on higher value-added system level design, but what can be done for analog IP?  This is one of the main questions that the GSA A/MS Working Group is focused on for 2011. 

Four new directors were elected to the GSA Board of Directors in March that further cements our commitment in the global A/MS arena – Ted Tewksbury, President and CEO of Integrated Device Technology, Sagar Pushpala, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Technology with Intersil, and Dr. David N.K. Wang, President and CEO of SMIC.

MEMS

MEMS has become an increasingly important subject for GSA.  We recently signed an organizational alliance with the U.S. based MEMS Industry Group (MIG) to further promote the MEMS ecosystem.   The main goal of this alliance is to bring people and information together to advance knowledge and to help the industry understand and eliminate barriers that prevent the greater commercial use of MEMS and MEMS-enabled technology.  GSA’s newly formed MEMS Working Group, co-chaired by Louis Ross, President, CEO and Chairman of Virtus Advanced Sensors and Maarten Willems, CMORE Business Director at IMEC, will work with MIG on various events and initiatives to address key issues and opportunities throughout the remainder of 2011.   The MEMS Working Group main objectives are addressing the impact of MEMS, promoting global MEMS commercialization and emerging nanotechnologies, as well as focusing on MEMS device manufacturability. 

GSA and MIG collaborated on May 12th with “Perspectives and Progress in the Emerging MEMS Market,” a three-hour event held in conjunction with the GSA & IET International Semiconductor Forum featuring perspectives from players within the MEMS supply chain, including several MIG members. Speakers addressed the current state of affairs in the MEMS market, efforts by semiconductor companies to develop their MEMS capabilities, specifically in the medical market, and MEMS IC design to name a few.

GSA RESEARCH

In addition to our commitment to geographic expansion, 3D IC, analog/mixed-signal and MEMS, GSA has several projects over the next twelve months that will address semiconductor logistics and will report on the concerns, viewpoints and forecasts of industry CFOs.  GSA will also has plans to release the IP Licensing Best Practices report and the Process Control Monitoring (PCM) Checklist.  Additionally, GSA provides a quarterly financial tracker and monthly funding, IPO and M&A update free of charge to members, with the option to purchase for non-members.   For more information on GSA research initiatives, contact Chelsea Boone, Director of Research at 972.866.7579 ext. 123 or via email at cboone@gsaglobal.org.

As senior marketing manager for the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA), Nicole Bowman works with all inter-company departments to ensure that the GSA is recognized as the leading trade association for the semiconductor supply chain. Bowman has knowledge of current industry trends, companies, technologies, and the general outlook within the semiconductor market as well as a strong background and understanding of strategic marketing, product marketing, and marketing development. Prior to joining the GSA, Bowman worked as a marketing manager at Starkey Hearing Foundation. She earned both a bachelor in science and a masters in business administration from the University of Texas at Dallas. 


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