Contributed by Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group
Day One- Monday January 11, 2011
As a benefit of MIG’s partnership with SEMI, I had the immense pleasure of being a guest at their senior executive conference, Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) at Half Moon Bay at one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at – The Ritz-Carlton. The theme of this three-day conference was “the role of capital efficiency through cycles” and what a wild cyclical ride it has been. Seriously, this industry is not for the faint at heart and that must help explain all the drinking…
I came to the conference with the simple goal of learning: learning more about how SEMI does its version of MIG’s annual executive conference, MEMS Executive Congress. I figured I’d also enjoy the benefits at staying at a four (or was it five?) star hotel at one of the most beautiful places on earth = my daily walks on the coastal path were amazing. For those of you who know me you probably aren’t surprised that I also figured I’d pick up a few business cards and meet a few people. J
But what I wasn’t prepared for the magnitude at which I accomplished all those goals. I learned so much about how a premier conference is managed, organized and attended. I met a TON of amazing people running amazing companies in/around semiconductors and got to play another fun round of six-degrees-of-separation Pittsburgh-style, which means that I meet someone from Pittsburgh and I happened to know his oldest and dearest childhood friend (yes I am talking about you, Bruce). I also enjoyed meeting the impressive folks who are running SEMI’s international offices and expos and look forward to working together with them in the future (yes I am talking about you, Mavis and Terry!).
I will share with MIG members (on our members site) my full notes from the symposium, and I am also working to get the presentations for you to download, but in the meantime I’ll share with you a few thoughts and memories from my experience at ISS.
The symposium’s keynote was Mark Durcan, President and COO at Micron. My main takeaway from his presentation was the power of partnership – international partnership. I was interested to hear him state several times that thanks to their joint ventures and collaborations with numerous international companies (mainly in Asia) Micron was able to increase scale, leverage their core competency and also attain financial leverage (i.e. US banks wouldn’t lend them anything so they borrowed from overseas banks).
After the keynote came the barrage of economic forecasts from Bruce Kasman, Chief Economist, JP Morgan; Bill McClean, President, IC Insights; Handel Jones, CEO, International Business Strategies; Robert Fry, DuPont, Senior Economist; Dean Freeman, Research VP at Gartner and finally Jim Feldham, President of Semico Research. Honestly, after sitting through their presentations (all of which were pretty darned similar and their predictions only varied a few percentage points) I felt like I was experiencing the SEMI version of Groundhog Day. The only variations were Dean’s list of top strategic tech trends for 2011 (you’ll have to go to my notes and the .ppt for the full list); and I loved Jim’s intro to his presentation “Highway to the Danger Zone” with a video clip of TopGun’s theme song. My favorite quote of Jim’s was “we used to call places and now we call people.” My favorite new gadget that Jim introduced (from his CES recap) was a MEMS-enabled videogame called “on target” that helps with accuracy/aim in a urinal (I think I found my MEMS Executive Congress BATHROOM SPONSOR!)
Inter-sprinkled with the analysts’ presentations were two presentations by Dan Armbrust, President and CEO of SEMATECH who presented “Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology Challenges and Role of Collaboration.” I was uber-impressed with the presentation “The Smartphone Disruption” given by Bjorn Ekelund, VP Ecosystems and Research at ST Ericsson. ST Ericsson is a lesser-known company formed two years ago that is a joint venture spinoff of ST Micro and Ericsson. My main take aways from Bjorn’s presentation were that mobile subscriptions outnumber bank accounts 4 to 1; and mobile phone sales outnumber births 9 to 1; there are an astounding 35 hours of video uploaded to Youtube every minute; and even more shocking = 10x mobile data traffic in last 12 months! Bjorn also predicted that by 2013, mobile media will overtake PCs for internet browsing. I hope to have Bjorn present at the Congress in November…his message would be very well received.
The last keynote for the day was Mario Paniccia, Director of the Photonics Lab at Intel who talked about “Silicon Photonics.” His theme was how Intel is leading the way to bridging photonics and computing using silicon. Wicked cool stuff and I hope he can make it work outside the lab, too.
Day two – Tuesday January 11, 2011
The second day featured several diverse speakers giving their perspectives on growth areas in and around semiconductors including cleantech, solar, and LED. I won’t try to recap all the presentations but overall, I was hopeful that many of these visions for growth are finally reaching their potential for revenue creation (fingers crossed?). But one of my favorite presentations was by Senior Analyst at SEMI, Christian Gregor Dieseldorff. Gregor impressively shared his overview of trends & forecasts for fab spending and capacity – with the sub-theme that “companies roar(ed) again. ” Gregor highlighted several fabs that “stand out” – namely: Toshiba Fab 4&5; IMEC 300 mm extension; CEITEC, TI RFAB, Samsung Austin, Line 16.
I was excited to hear the presentation “Expectations for the Year Ahead” by Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist & Director of Research, Consumer Electronics Association; and I was NOT disappointed. Though Shawn didn’t mention the word “MEMS” ONCE in his presentation (for which I scolded him later that evening), the definite theme of his recap of last week’s CES was the “sensorization” of consumer tech. My favorite example is recon ski goggles – which are a great example of how sensorization has bled from the mobile phone into myriad of new devices. According to Shawn, the last decade was defined by cheap sensors; and next decade will be defined by more integrated sensors where consumers can make decisions. Yup, and it’s all thanks to MEMS.
The day ended with the panel “Capital Efficiency: Lessons Learned for the Next Business Cycle” moderated by G. Dan Hutcheson, Chairman & CEO of VLSI Research. Dan kicked off with .ppt on capital efficiency – lessons learned from the cycle, etc. Again it was déjà vu all over again….But the panel discussion was more lively as the “old guard” of the semiconductor industry sat around in comfy chairs (on stage) and discussed the past, present and future. Panelists were = Robert Bruck, Vice President, Technology & Manufacturing Group; General Manager, Technology Manufacturing Engineering, Intel Corporation; James Clifford, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies; Dave Miller, President, DuPont Electronics & Communications; and Tetsuo Tsuneishi, Vice Chairman of the Board, Tokyo Electron Ltd. I enjoyed the part when Dave Miller of Dupont was asked the question “how important are materials to doing scaling?” His answer = materials are VERY important – “materials put my kids through college.” HA!
Day Three – Wednesday January 12, 2011
Day three was a melding of both the SEMI ISS and SMC (materials) conferences. Though there were several presentations on new materials including Paolo Gargin, Chairman of ITRS; Intel Fellow and Director of Technology Strategy at Intel who discussed how materials are the key to innovative devices. He was followed by James Hutchby, Senior Scientist at the Semiconductor Research Corporation, who discussed emerging memory technologies and the potential for scaling beyond 16nm. Keith Cook, Senior Director of Technology Development at Micro also discussed his take on the influence of materials on technology development.
I was very excited (and not disappointed) by the presentation by Norm Armour, Vice President and General Manager of GLOBALFOUNDRIES. His presentation overviewed GF’s international presence/power with over 10,000 employees and 2 fabs in Singapore; 1 in Dresden, Germany and soon to be in Saratoga NY (Fab 8 nearing construction completion). Norm described partnership structure “ecosystem” and GF’s impressive 2011 investment focus: planned CapEx for 2011 of $5.4B (nearly 2x increase over 2010 levels ($2.7B). Again, more detail on my notes (available for MIG members only); but my impression of the overall theme of his presentation was “watch out TSMC, we are going to take you down.”
Sadly, I had to leave the conference mid-day to catch my flight back to the ‘burgh but thankfully was able to experience the annual “Streetviews Panel.” The Chairman & CEO of Novellus, Rick Hill, moderated the panel in drag, dressed as “Sister Mary Ricky Hill” from “St. Novellus Academy” and her students/pupils were the panelists: Tim Arcuri, CITI; Avinash Kant, DA Davidson; Satya Kuma, Credit Suisse; Krish Sankar, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch. I have a big smile on my face just thinking about the panel – man, that was hysterical.
“Sister Mary Ricky” did a great job of allowing each panelist to present their reflections of 2010 and forecast for 2011; while scolding them to stand up straight and take their hands out of their pockets. The best part was when Sister Mary Ricky handed out report cards for each analyst, including one for Goldman Sachs (in absentia). A few notable Sister Ricky quotes: “I attribute your prediction of the Lam Research stock to the fact that you stopped your anti-depressants” as at first the prediction was too positive and then too negative. And then ended the panel by thanking the analysts for keeping those in the industry honest for projecting stocks/growth for Applied Materials, KLA, Lam, Novellus -“There is absolutely no value in agreeing with us.” Sister Mary Ricky, I think you are right on; now please take off that hideous costume.