SEMICONDUCTOR : Chipers in Europe rely on cooperation

The European chip industry benefits from system know-how and cooperation with customers.

Chip manufacturing at Infineon: Innovations are emerging increasingly together with the users of the chips.

Photo: obs / Infineon Technologies AG

To date, the annual Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) of the semiconductors association Semi Europe was a forum where the European semiconductor manufacturers discussed their mostly precarious position as a provider of global chip business. They also used it to advertise publicly supported catch-up strategies against their powerful competitors in other world regions. Not so 2017: More than 20 chip developers and system users presented a sober and a bit proudly a concentrated list of their own competences - with the occasional indication that without their cooperation the regular progress of the chip production according to the Moore law would come to a halt in the Silicon Valley . This time there was no talk of high-flying initiatives to defend the European production base.

It was simply about European technology innovations and the smart networking of the process flows from the chip provider to the user. And to meet the resulting requirements for cooperation and cooperation between the chip suppliers and their industrial users into the joint technology development.

This is in line with the current consolidation wave and the newly introduced vertical integration of the semiconductor manufacturers with their customers across traditional system boundaries. At the ISS Europe there were therefore no industrial policy announcements or demands regarding the well-established global trade regulation as they were vigorously ventilated at the corresponding US event in the California Half Moon Beach in early January.

Semi has been representing the interests of its more than 2000 member companies in all high-tech regions of the world market for almost 50 years as a decidedly internationally oriented industrial association with headquarters in Silicon Valley: semiconductor manufacturers and their suppliers for manufacturing equipment and process materials. "Semi represents the architects of the electronic revolution", it sounds self-confident on the homepage.
The influence of Semi on the efficient and problem-free flow of the global supply and value chains of micro- and nanoelectronics is correspondingly important. To the outside, this is reflected in the numerous semi- organized trade fairs, conferences, forums and symposia. They also discuss the sometimes incompatible economic policies of the various trading regions and take care of their current upheavals.
For Europe, SemiEurope is responsible, headquartered in Berlin and two other offices in Grenoble, France and the EU site in Brussels. The main event is the annual exhibition and conference Semicon Europa, which, after a long journey through the polycentric continent, finally landed on the expansive grounds of Messe München.Starting in 2017, it runs parallel to the trade fair giants Electronica and Productronica, with its own hall.
"Munich is the center of electronics," says Laith Altimime, President-in-Office of SemiEurope, since 2015, this strategically motivated step. "We want to make it clear that we are an important part of the global electronics platform." Finally, Europe has a lot to offer in terms of micromechanics, sensors, actuators, power electronics, research and standards for smart manufacturing with artificial intelligence.
This idea of ​​the international intertwining and systemic networking of the production process also ran through the agenda of the second-day Industry Strategy Symposium of SemiEurope 2017. In addition to the well-known industry analyst Bill McClean of IC Insights with his already in January in Half Moon Bay's assessment of the global chip markets and the impetus from China - now also proven European chip managers such as Helmut Gassel from Infineon and David Reed from NXP.
According to Gassel, the chip industry continues to drive industrial innovation. But the focus of chip development has changed: from the building level to the system level.The immediate added value for the users is decisive for the success: "We are innovating today with our customers." The end-to-end, all-embracing "system of systems", such as the Internet of Things (IoT).
For David Reed of NXP, this entails new demands for the safety and quality of the products. IoT requires not only total availability, but also continuous data protection. The same applies to the automotive electronics industry. "IoT and Auto are the next growth engines for semiconductors." For NXP, this is a "journey into the culture of total quality", across the entire supply chain, with immediate response to customer problems - things that have only recently been implemented approximately.
Start-up for the research factory Micro electronics Germany
To strengthen the position of the European semiconductor and electronics industry in global competition, eleven institutes of the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics, together with two institutes of the Leibniz Association, have developed a concept for a cross-site research factory for micro- and nanoelectronicsThe existing locations of the institutes are maintained, the expansion and operation are coordinated and organized in a joint office. The aim is to be able to offer the entire value chain for micro- and nanoelectronics from one source to customers from the large-scale industry, small and medium-sized enterprises as well as the universities. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports the necessary investments.
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