Sam Wang may have been a Gartner analyst for only six months or so, but he’s already learned how to drop a stunner on the audience. The event was today’s Gartner Semiconductor briefing at the San Jose Doubletree Hotel near the airport. Wang delivered the equipment manufacturing and foundry forecast, but his stunner of a comment wasn’t directly about IC manufacturing or the foundry business, it was about the effect that the forces shaping those business are having and will have on SoC Realization, Silicon Realization, and IC design.
What’s happening in the IC manufacturing and foundry business? In one succinct word: competition. Globalfoundries and Samsung aren’t going to let TSMC walk away with all of the business without a fight. As a result, all three companies are dropping a ton of cash on capital expenditures (capex). So much capex, in fact, that there will be a wafer glut by 2013 according to Wang.
What’s that got to do with SoC and Silicon Realization? One of the consequences of the foundry race, according to Wang, is that 40nm and 28nm manufacturing capacity is becoming readily available and will soon be in oversupply based on current capex trends. So Wang’s advice to IC design teams is to be aggressive in evaluating these advanced IC process technologies. “Do not hold back,” he said, “because your competitors won’t.” In fact, said Wang, he’s recently been to China where he discovered design houses that are already starting 28nm and even 20nm designs. That news just might rock you back on your heels.
So, what race are you in and are you in it to win?