Table Speech

Initiation Speech by Mr.Hiroshi Ohnishi does not appear

Initiation Speech II
Future and Challenges of the Semiconductor Industry

January 29, 2014

Mr. Tetsuro Higashi
Chairman, President & CEO, Tokyo Electron Limited

 The market size of the “semiconductor industry” is about 30 trillion yen and its manufacturing device industry is about 3 trillion yen. Semiconductors are not visible to the general consumers, yet they are embedded in almost all electronic devices, including personal computers, smartphones, televisions, automobiles and other industrial equipments. Market size of the electronics industry totals 150 trillion yen.

 The semiconductor transistor was invented in 1947. Intel Corporation developed the world’s first semiconductor integrated circuit (IC) in 1970 and accelerated the development of high-performance, small-sized and low-priced computers that enabled usage by individuals for personal purposes. The internet became widely prevalent in the 1990s, together with personal computers, and precious information that had been scattered around the world became instantly and easily accessible to the general public. We are entering a highly-networked information society (IoT: Internet of Things) where all objects in the world will be equipped with semiconductors to utilize an enormous amount of information (big data).

 The semiconductor market size has grown 300 times in 50 years. As we entered the 21st century, the semiconductor industry is showing phenomenal expansion due to the growing needs in emerging countries including BRICs and developing countries in Africa. Future purchasers in these areas are relatively low-income so the entire industry is urged to provide cost-competitive products.

 US and Japanese semiconductor manufacturers have dominated the market up to the 1990s. Since we entered the 21st century, the competitive landscape has undergone a major shift and we are witnessing the prominent emergence of manufacturers in other Asian countries to replace Japan. Such Asian manufacturers take a horizontally specialized approach and make concentrated investments of human and capital resources in their field of expertise, in contrast to IDM (Integrated Device Manufacturer) that undertakes the overall operation of development, manufacturing and sales of semiconductors within one company. Asian manufacturers thus came to dominate the market, thanks to their advanced expertise and cost reductions.

 Semiconductor micro fabrication technology started at the level of 10 micrometers (hundredth of 1 mm) in 1970. After 40 years of development, it has entered the era of several tens of nanometers (100,000th of 1mm) in recent years. At the research and development level, processing technology is developed at the level of several nanometers (millionth of 1mm). Such ultimate processing technology cannot be developed by a single company or research institute, because it requires technological competence, financial resources and superior cost-competitiveness.

 It is predicted that environmental/energy technology and biotechnology will be the main driving force of the economy in the 21st century. As we look back on history, epoch-making industrial goods were developed by merging technologies in different fields. Semiconductors were invented by merging mechanical engineering (mechanics) and electronic engineering (electronics). I am excited to witness the development of new industrial goods by merging mechatronics (mechaelectronics) and biotechnology.

※1mm=1,000μm  1μm=1,000nm