Semiconductor Technology Impacts People’s Lives in a Silent Yet Significant Way

Krishnan Shrinivasan
Krishnan Shrinivasan, Managing Director, Lam India

Technology is principally undergoing a gigantic digital revolution. With growing demand of digitization across homes & industries – designers, developers, tech-honchos are developing more compact and yet powerful semiconductors to make connected and smart solutions. Wearables, smartphones, automotive, defense and medical industries are the sectors where Lam Research India is cementing their vital top position in the market. BIS Infotech had an opportunity to interview Krishnan Shrinivasan, Managing Director, Lam India wherein, the tech-magnate scripted an extensive yet judicious dialogue in this future hold electronics sector.   Edited Excerpts. 

  1. The Indian Market has a major potential in the consumer electronics segment, which brings wider opportunities for the semiconductor industry at large. How has Lam Research witnessed this market in terms of innovation, market scopes, ROI etc.?

India has been, and continues to be one of the most exciting markets for the consumer electronics segment. The market for consumer electronics is being driven by increased disposable income, and wider affordability and availability of consumer electronics gadgets. To a large extent, the affordability and availability of electronics has been enabled by advances in semiconductor technology that are made possible by Lam’s cutting-edge innovation.  Increased digitization of home and work life, along with Government programs, such as the Smart Cities initiative, will further drive consumption of semiconductors in India, and this will drive innovation in the semiconductor industry and its associated supply chain.  The resulting innovation in consumer electronics will focus on increased capability at lower costs, while the consequential infrastructure buildout will demand higher performance.

  1. How do you define the semiconductor industry today, where connectivity and automation is taking over every industry into it?

Technology has grown leaps and bounds in the last few years, and semiconductors have been at the heart of this growth. As we are increasingly digitizing our lives, there is a need for more servers, more point-of-sale (POS) machines, smartphones, and networking equipment in the background. All these factors drive the demand for chips.

The semiconductor industry today is growing on the heels of demand for increased mobility, expanding demand for data, and secure & reliable infrastructure to provide connectivity.  Other exciting opportunities such as driverless cars, Internet-of-Things (IoT), and increased home/work automation are also driving growth opportunities in semiconductor design and manufacturing.

  1. What are the latest transformative memory technologies and its latest inflections?

Semiconductor technology impacts people’s lives in a silent yet significant way. Our innovations enable capability improvements in semiconductor devices – capacity improvements in memory chips and NAND chips, and processing capability for logic devices. The most transformative memory transition in recent years has been the move to 3D NAND flash memory.  This has required manufacturers of NAND flash to re-tool their factories, and incorporate newer tools and technologies.  Lam has been at the forefront of the development of etch and deposition technology, that has enabled 3D NAND devices.

  1. Could you talk about the revolutionary technology of 3D NAND, and what it means for laptops, mobiles devices and servers?

3D NAND has had a revolutionary impact on the density of storage memory. With 3D NAND, it is now possible for laptops and other computers to do away with hard disk storage, thus improving reliability.  The ability to pack more memory capacity into mobile devices has had a direct impact on creating richer experiences for consumers, and has increased their demand for data.  The high memory density available through 3D NAND technology is also enabling the corresponding buildout of server and network infrastructure. 

  1. Chip design is moving towards new miniaturization records, delivering compact, sturdy and efficient small chips with the latest being the new 10nm standard? How is Lam Research looking at these next-gen chips, and what is its impact in the electronics market?

As consumer demand for smaller, lighter, thinner and more efficient devices grows, manufacturers are compelled to rethink technology. The continued shrink in semiconductor devices, is driving demand for new technology innovation in etch and deposition.  Newer materials are required for some of the new chip designs, which requires innovation in processing technology.  The use of multiple patterning has enabled the continued shrink in device size without concomitant advances in lithography.  Lam Research has been at the forefront of enabling advances in multiple patterning, through deposition and critical etch processes.

  1. What key factors are driving the demand for silicon wafers?

We see four key factors driving the demand for silicon wafers:

a) Mobile computing and telephony – driven largely by the move to smartphones & tablets in developing countries such as India

b) The voracious demand for data and multimedia experience on mobile devices that require the build-out of network storage and infrastructure

c) The replacement of hard disk magnetic media with solid-state memory on laptops and workstations, and

d) Rapid innovation in IoT and connected networks

  1. What are the key innovations occurring in the semiconductor space, and how is Lam Research poised to take the innovation torch forward?

At Lam we are focused on the critical nuances in semiconductor technology, and enabling our customers’ success in implementing these new technologies. While we are at the forefront of various industry developments, some of our cutting-edge innovations have come in the areas of:

a) Multiple Patterning to extend existing lithography processes

b) 3D NAND Flash

c) Wafer-level Packaging, and

d) FINFET devices

Lam’s etch and deposition technologies take advantage of each of these inflections, and has achieved a dominant market share for its equipment in these new applications.  We credit this to the collaborative culture within Lam, whereby customers are able to trust Lam with their toughest challenges, and we make it our mission to deliver the very best.

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