Karen’s blog from imec Technology Forum – Smart phone 2020

by Karen Lightman, Managing Director, MEMS Industry Group

I’m back in one of my favorite cities, San Francisco to attend SEMICON West another time.What makes this year different? Well for starters I am here with my family for the first time (thank you Ari for being Mr. Mom right now). There seem to be a ton more workshops, forums and yes, cocktail parties this year. But the biggest difference is that MEMS has its biggest presence at SEMICON West…well, um…EVER.

Sure, MEMS has been featured at SEMICON West before. Last year I had the pleasure of moderating a fun panel of MIG members representing the MEMS supply chain. But this year, MEMS is truly a presence at SEMICON West. Thank you, SEMI, for recognizing importance of MEMS in the mainstream.

This blog is from day one of SEMICON West week – July 11, 2011. MIG worked in partnership with imec to sponsor its first imec Technology Forum (ITF) – Smart phone 2020 to be held in the US.  I was really excited to step into the pre-event luncheon and see so many familiar faces. Some were actually surprised to see so many “MEMS folks” – but I knew that much of the afternoon’s forum would incorporate MEMS into the presentations. Imec did a stellar job of putting together an impressive lineup of speakers.

For a full list of the speakers and their bios, I suggest you check out the ITF website and for those eager to read my notes, I’ll post them to the MIG resource library (available to MIG members only). Here are my highlights from the event:

After an intro by imec’s president and CEO, Luc Van den hove, Intel CTO Justin Rattner discussed the “future of mobile computing.” While his talk was hauntingly similar to the keynote given by Intel Lab Director Vida Ilderem’s keynote at MEMS Executive Congress 2010, I did learn a few more tidbits about Intel’s plan to rule the world of mobile computing. Rattner focused a lot on how user experience quality is driving mobile devices – not performance. And how consumers “like the device is having profound effect on design in the industry.” I see this as the power of Apple…and it’s interesting how he sees the future “increasingly focused on people, not just people or silicon.”

Liesbet Van der Perre, director of green radios program at imec was next. Her talk was the only one to touch upon the issue of energy (and energy harvesting, perhaps?) when she discussed ultra low power ultra high-speed versatile radios.

I really enjoyed the more lively presentation by imec senior vice president of smart systems and energy technology, Jo De Boeck. Jo willalso be speaking at the MEMS session that I’ll be moderating 7/12 (today); and I am hoping that he’ll continue the conversation about what your phone knows about you; and more importantly if your phone cares about you. It reminded me of the QoL discussions I hosted at the Microtech symposium last month in Boston (check out my blog for moreinfo). I also liked Jo’s discussion of heterogeneous system. He showed the “SniPhone” which incorporates MEMS sniffing sensors into the phone to – with examples from Nokia, NTT Docomo, and NASA.

After the break that had a delectable tray of Belgian chocolates (YUM), we heard from Serge Biesmans, VP of process technology atimec. Biesmans spoke about technology challenges to smart phone growth (to be smarter, faster and in the right form factor) in terms of how Moore’s law can’t go on forever. Instead, we need to define system performance differently – if can’t go faster, go parallel; then if can’t go parallel then go 3D; then gooptical.

Eric Beyne, scientific director of advanced packaging and interconnect at imec was then up next. His main talk was on 3D integration and how it complements semiconductor scaling. I kept visualizing little sky-scraping stacking chips that can slice, dice and even make your bed… I am pretty sure that is not the technical description of 3D integration for smart phone applications.

Next up was Robert Gilmore, VP engineering for Qualcomm. His presentation (which was more like a keynote) was on the “the smartphone experience of tomorrow.” He described how the mobile phone is the biggest platform in history of mankind. Qualcomm’s strategy is to enable smart connected devices. Gilmore echoed the earlier speakers by saying “choice is key tenant and growth of the market for mobile smart phones.” He spoke of how “everything will be smart” and how multi-screen experience & content everywhere. However, I was intrigued by his statement that he wouldn’t talk about QMT and screen technology…why did he say that?

After the closing statements by Luc Van den Hove, it was party time at the SEMI VIP reception where I mixed and mingled with the who’s who of SEMI. I am trying to pace myself – so I didn’t stay up late. Good thing too, as otherwise I wouldn’t have written this blog. So forgive me if my next blog post is next week… :)

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3 thoughts on “Karen’s blog from imec Technology Forum – Smart phone 2020

    • Smartphones would probably out dated by then. We’ll probably have something like “Smart Ears” or something where we don’t need a phone just say call josh and your ear willstart ringing! Oops hope I didn’t just give away a billion dollar idea!!!!!

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