This month I attended the Semicon West show in San Franciso, California. Semicon is the largest industry trade show for the Computer Chip market and all who service it.
Against a backdrop of declining Personal Computer sales and a flat year in the equipment that makes the chips for the PC’s, I was eager to see if this was going to be a good show. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the industry is not so much contracting as it is instead getting ready for the next “big thing” and there were a few I’d like to highlight here.
The “Internet of Things” Emerges at Semicon West This Year
An interesting concept floating around at Semicon West this year was the emerging “Internet of Things”. Steve Wigley, VP of Marketing at LTX-Credence, presented in a session where he discussed this topic in some detail. In a nutshell, more and more things are connecting to the internet! Many of these “things” communicate thru Radio Frequency (RF) and as items become RF enabled they are void of the need for wires to pass the data around. So look for fewer wires and more devices around your home and office!
One Trillion Sensors!
The term “Trillion Sensors” was also knocked around throughout Semicon West. The term highlights the number of sensors needed to collect the data that is estimated will be computed in our world soon.
Tech giant companies including the likes of Intel are talking about putting as many as 20 billion connected devices into use in the next 5 years. The number of chips to handle this would be huge, but the number of sensors generating the data is downright mind-boggling. From the perspective of what I do, I can certainly see that these technologies will in crease the need and use of lightweight materials such as DuPont™ Vespel®, and Quadrant Engineering’s PEEK which are currently staples in chip production equipment.
One good example of this emerging technology is your vehicle. Today your car talks to you and tells you when it’s time for a lube job, oil change, or tire rotation. The next generation of vehicles will have additional sensors that will determine if things like the alignment of your wheels is correct and, if adjustment is needed, the sensor will handle it directly with the factory. It made me think about how technology is changing the face of customer service as well.
Connecting Us for Better Health Care?
Semicon also featured displays showing how circuits can be printed right onto our skin. These breakthroughs in technology show how circuits on skin can hold a variety of possibilities, from monitoring the bodily functions of patients without the use of so many chords and connections to machines, to immediately reporting changes in a patient that may be helpful in a recovery room setting where seconds can make a big difference in survival.
Driving much of this development will be the new “sensors” (see photo on right) designed to gather data. Each sensor will run through a processor which will take the information and that, in turn, will drive an action like sounding an alarm at the nurse’s station for example.
Semicon West Speaker Looks at Dollars and Market Value. The Message – Mobile Devices Rule!
I have heard it said that mobile devices are now used more often to access the web than traditional computers and Semicon West offered proof of that this time around. In fact, I think I read it in an article I saw on my iPad. A speaker at Semicon noted a new milestone that occurred the week of the convention when the dollar value of semiconductor revenue from mobile devices surpassed the revenue from traditional PC and Notebook computers. So, I it certainly appears the trend toward smaller and more powerful technology will continue its evolution in coming years and I expect we will see much more of that at next year’s Semicon West.
If you are looking at your calendar for next year. I say be sure to put Semicon West 2014 on it folks. From what I saw at Semicon 2013, the 2014 show will be the dawn of even more new and amazing technology. Attendees will never be thinking “Oh its the same old thing at Semicon West.” On the plastics front, look for more lightweight materials like Semitron MP370 to become popular in the all important test sockets which ensure chips are as perfect as possible. If you haven’t heard of Semitron MP370 yet, check out the overview on our website by clicking here
I for one am already looking forward to seeing what’s in store for next year at Semicon West 2014. Of course I’ll be on the lookout for how plastics are being utilized in this field and I’m sure there will be a good showing of that I won’t want to miss learning about. Will I see you there? If you’d like to learn more about Semicon West, keep tabs on the news for 2014 by visiting their website www.semiconwest.org
Sales and Marketing Manager, DuPont™ Vespel®
ThyssenKrupp Materials NA
AIN Plastics Division