The semiconductor deposition process is primarily planar. As feature sizes reach molecular levels, the industry is moving to 3D circuits - primarily stacked die with wire bonds or via structures. This is occurring in logic and memory and will become more pervasive until a solutions are perfected to do multilayer microcircuits, or a new 'Beyond CMOS' process is developed to bridge the gap signifying the end of 'Moore's Law'. It is imperative that US manufacturers are at the forefront of these developments which will require billions in research funding.

At the same time there is a technology movement toward Silicon Photonicscircuitry - first hybrid and then monolithic to support high performance computing, communications, and Big Data installations. The IPSR consortium mentioned on our home page is roadmapping this effort for: a) System Interconnects, b) Packaging, c) Assembly, d) Monolithic Integration, e) Optical Sensors, f) The Internet Of Things (IoT). The goal is 128TB data communications capability within 5 years, utilizing single mode in-system fiber, polymer waveguides and advanced SiPhotonics chip technology.

The semiconductor industry may hold one key to the future of US manufacturing dominance. It will provide complete system-level circuits on a silicon die within a decade, using its photolithography, diffusion and packaging capabilities to create whole new applications on a chip, i.e. SiP or SoC. Domestic employment here will be high tech - and limited. The bulk of this new employment will be upstream from manufacturing: designers, firmware engineers, application engineers, supply chain and marketing.

More, soon.....including Robotics and Lights Out Manufacturing

Intel CPU Socket 1155                     Single Mode Optical Fiber: Coming to a Computer System near You

Latest Input:  Several Meetings have been held with government officials - in Congress and Agencies, in Industry and in Academia. Limited response from the Trump Administration have been received. The gist of substantive discussions is a "sympathetic ear" and some good suggestions, but no call to action. It appears that if anything is to be done, we will have to be the catalyst for it to happen. There are disturbing inputs: 

Apple has said it cannot manufacture consumer products here in high volume because the types and numbers of employees necessary to do this type of work do not exist in the U.S. Their claim is that nowhere in the U.S. for this type of work, can the 10s of thousands of assembly line workers be found. And the costs associated with Onshore manufacturingwould increase substantially, making it difficult to sell these products.

Other inputs say we should focus on New Technology and forget about electronic products now made offshore.

Others, although left unsaid, imply that we are enjoying the fruits of offshoring, to reduce costs and maximize profits, so why should we change? With each company having their own parochial needs. And, as an added bonus, we are helping to lift up emerging World economies.

  • In academia, perhaps over 100,000 foreign students are here already. They represent a significant economic factor for American Universities - and, here is the kicker: There are many more foreign masters, Ph.D. candidates and post Docs here from Asia and Eastern Europe than there are American Technical Students.

  Top 20 Semiconductor Manufacturers 2014                    Some IC Packaging Firms

               (OEMs: Orig. Equip. Mfrs.)                           (OSATs: Outsourced Assembly & Test) 

  1. Intel $50B (US)                            11. Renesas $6.9B (JP)                            - ASE (TW)

  2. Samsung $38B (KR)                    12. SanDisk $6.1B (US)                          - Amkor (US)

  3. Qualcomm $19.3B (US)              13. Infineon $6.1B (DE)                         - OSE (TW)

  4. Micron $16.4B (US)                     14. NXP $5.5B (NL)                                 - Promex (US)

  5. SK Hynix $15.7B (KR)                  15. Avago $5.4B (US)                             - Shinko (JP)

  6. TI $11.4B (US)                                 16. AMD $5.4B (US)                               - Kyocera (JP)

  7. Toshiba $8.5B (JP)                        17. Freescale $4.6B (US)                      - Signetics (KR)

  8. Broadcom $8.4B (US)                  18. Sony $4.5B (JP)                                 - Chip-Pak (US)

  9. ST Micro $7.4 (FR-IT)                19. UMC $4.3B (TW)                              - ISI (US)

10. Media Tek $7.1B (TW)                 20. NVIDIA $4.0B (US)                         - Corwil (US)

Needed: Industry Commitment and Input

 Included in Electronic Manufacturing are: Smart Phones, Mobile, Tablet, 2-in-1s, Desktop and Server Computers, e.g. PCs and Macs, Servers and  Mainframes, Semiconductors, Other Components, Medical Electronics including Medical Devices, Audio/Video Equipment. Transportation  Equipment including Automotive, Industrial Equipment including Robotics, Telecommunications Infrastructure, Data Communications, Cellular  Communications including Smart Phones, Military Electronics, Appliances, Industrial and Home Security and Automation, Cable TV and Internet  Infrastructure, Electric Power Infrastructure, Instrumentation and Specialty Electronics.

  • One focus of current efforts: Silicon Photonics for domestic Data Center and IoT Applications  See for its SiPh technology roadmap.
  • Another: International Electronic Manufacturing Initiative and its Industry Roadmap, i.e. 2015 Edition;  2017 Roadmap work has been started. This is designed to held companies plan for the future, knowing general and specific industry technology directions and roadblocks for the next decade.

 All of these technologies, many of which were originally developed in the US, have been globalized. In many cases the leading manufacturing      footprints for these devices and equipment are now international, many are assembled in China. Typical numbers you hear about electronics  manufacturers revenues are: 60-40 or 70-30 International vs. Domestic. Most of the ‘International’ revenues come from foreign operations – some  from export. The positive here is that many companies have established strong global market positions, much of it based on foreign manufacturing  operations and have provided leadership in their fields.

 The negative is that what could have been domestic employment – including those manufacturing lost to OEMs by outsourcing. Over 100,000  electronics jobs have been lost to the U.S., with some segments of the domestic industry now moribund, others emerging as major forces in  the  future. The sneaker here is that there are many lost pieces of a domestic manufacturing infrastructure that could take years to replace.  Equipment would be relatively easy. Qualified workers would be more difficult in a robotics revolution involving high tech programmed  manufacturing.
 In fact, there are two poles to this issue, both of which are difficult for domestic manufacturing:

  1. High Tech Automation evolving to “Lights Out” Manufacturing. Major Issues: Capital Investment in an ‘OEM-Outsourced’, Thin Margined Contract Mfg. Marketplace; and with few workers trained to operate advanced robotics equipment and processes. 

  2. High Volume Bench Type Assembly requires large numbers of Repetitive Hand Assembly Workers: Will U.S. workers work at Near-Minimum Wage to Assemble iPhones? China has millions of them. Will they be automated?

 There has been a long history of new developments and internecine cannibalization in the electronics industry. Perhaps more than any other  industry, electronics seems to reinvent itself every 5 years or so, crushing formerly dominant technologies. Outsourcing of manufacturing has been  a major recent sea change, begun in the 1990s with IBM PC production. It is now pervasive in the U.S. Very few large OEMs now manufacture t  their own products. This is because outsourcing has advantages to the Original Equipment Manufacturer: lower or no capital investments in  equipment, significantly lower employee head counts - and ability to re-direct resources toward engineering and marketing. This has undoubtedly  helped U.S. companies be globally competitive and gain market penetration in other regions. How would this change with U.S. mfg?

 For the contract manufacturer, often called an EMS firm, (Electronic Manufacturing Services manufacturer), they get to focus on manufacturing -  often on a global scale. The top EMS firms have huge factories in China, some in SE Asia and Vietnam. However, this is a high volume, low margin  business - or with low volume, high mix and quick turn. There is typically limited RD&E investment capability with EMS firms. They are dependent  on suppliers and OEM direction to upgrade equipment and processes. It seems Asian firms have specialized in these contract manufacturing  businesses, particularly board assembly - working hard and diligent, turning on a dime, with few layers of management, but often 1,000s of factory  employees doing bench assembly of electronic parts. Foxconn, HQed in Taiwan, is doing most assembly work in China, employs 1 miliion factory  workers in sprawling Chinese plants, with dormitories, soccer fields, (and nets over windows to prevent jumpers in this relentless, repetitive  assembly manufacturing process). Foxconn is now a &130B company looking to expand into its own product technologies in displays and other  products - and a move into India. They are also sidling up to US manufacturing and have a $10M robotics program with Carnegie-Mellon University.

 Product life cycles also come into question: They are short in electronics, perhaps 1-2 years before a major re-tooling is required. Flexible  manufacturing techniques can overcome some of this, and future robotic assembly processes may be more-easily reprogrammed. This is an area  where many contract suppliers may not have the expertise or financial capability to encompass the coming robotic paradigm shift, and many OEMs  may be caught off guard after having abandoned manufacturing years before. The big EMS firms would get bigger.

 Going back in history, IBM may have been the one to start it all. Being the visionaries they were at that time, IBM was the first to outsource  manufacturing on a large scale. They did it with their PC business, using SCI in Atlanta GA first. Later they spun off their Toronto manufacturing  facility to what is now the EMS firm Celestica. More recently, IBM sold off the PC business to Lenovo in China, and this past year did the same with  their ‘X86’ Server business. After 64 years in Louisville, KY, GE finally unloaded its appliance business to Haier of China. Before that a deal struck  with Electrolux AB fell through due to antitrust concerns. There are many other less published incidents like this, where US companies have given  up the ghost on manufacturing a product. The US TV industry was decimated by Japan, but is now making a nascent recovery with merchant LCD  systems outsourced to Asian manufacturers.

 Are these incidents and trends just examples of needed globalization and offloading of unprofitable businesses - or do they signify the possibility  that something is amiss with our domestic commitment to manufacture and sustain products, industries, et al? And while in the GE case, Haier  says they will continue the GE site, can you imagine how many suppliers will be affected, from sheet metal to electric motors to tool and die  makers? In other areas of the industry, this has been going on for a long time now - and doesn’t seem to be turning around.....

 However, there is talk and some action. Some companies are attempting to ‘Insource’ their manufacturing due to logistics and quality issues. There  is no major influx yet, but there are signs: Apple has made some moves involving its Mac Pro and potentially other products. Lenovo, with its IBM  roots in N.C. is opening a plant there. The domestic automotive industry uses domestic and Mexico-based manufacturing, but they do use a lot of  international components. Foreign implants: Toyota, Honda et al use mostly foreign parts, e.g. Japan.

  • Proposing a Major Insourcing Movement – Involving OEMs and their EMS Partners:
  • U.S. Manufacturing where it makes Economic Sense and Protects U.S. National Interests

 Starting with the Semiconductor Industry:
 This industry has globalized, yet has its Roots and Technology Foundation here

 in the U.S.  It has become more Concentrated, particularly with Intel’s Dominant

 Market Share in Logic.  In Memory, Manufacturing is Dominated by Asian

 Suppliers plus US Micron and SanDisk.  In the Developing: ‘More than Moore’

 or ‘Beyond Moore’ world there is a Major New U.S. Opportunity to innovate

 at the chip, package and process areas.

 The Top 20 Semiconductor makers are analyzed below. China has been making moves to acquire US companies, but has been slowed by US  government oversight. 11 of the Top 20 were U.S.-Based, which makes the semiconductor industry the crown jewel of US manufacturing. Why?  The process produces hundreds to thousands of exact replicated circuits on a single silicon wafer, with feature sizes approaching the atomic  domain.


       Proposition: An Electronics Manufacturing Renaissance in the U.S

This from EE Times. It confirms a meeting I was present recently in with the National Director of Intelligence:

SAN FRANCISCO — Junko Yoshida, 12/13/16: "There has been much buzz in the global semiconductor industry about the accelerated consolidation of chip vendors. But the biggest untold story this year is the presence of Chinese investors M&As and buyouts traced back to China. In deals involving Marvell Technology, Micron, Atmel, Anadigics, Micrel, Pericom Semiconductor, PMC-Sierra, Lattice Semiconductor, Western Digital, and more, Chinese bidders have lurked behind practically every attempted — or speculated — negotiation in the last two years". 

Electronics is certainly not the only industry with domestic manufacturing issues, but it is one of the highest technology that does. We DO need to compete in a global marketplace, penetrate foreign markets, be respected global citizens in our industries but not at the expense of hollowing out our own manufacturing infrastructuresand exposing the U.S. to potential disaster in the event of a prolonged international supply disruption. That is exactly what we have done! This is a complicated subject with various parameters moving in different directions, powered by individual companies' differing business strategies and parochial concerns. Currently, with China's slowdown, Imported goods have flattened. Whether this is a trend or blip, we don't yet know. Some companies are domestic and/or under the radar screen in market niches, others are global with significant (and growing) percentages of their business overseas. A major challenge is how you steer this massive heterogeneous vessel more toward domestic manufacturing without disrupting the global positions of hundreds of companies. A recent short dialog with Professor David Autor, Associate Dean of MIT Economics and others on the ground.  I said we need to regain high volume manufacturing as a society. Dr. Autor observed in a dispassionate non-editorial position, that a rebound in domestic manufacturing maynot result in a large increase in the workforce. He observes that future manufacturing will require both very high skill positions and capital-intensive automation, and that 'Reshoring' is not likely to "rejuvenate labor-intensive products such as we formerly saw" the flight "in textiles, furniture, leather goods", and now my input: Electronic assembly can be more highly automated, and one US company is developing that capability now. However - it IS capital intensive and will need millions in investment to bring it to market. And what if, like in many other cases, the market is still in China or other Asia-Pacific, and they are still leveraging low-cost labor?

  • What we need here is a demonstration program, modeling the costs of domestic production vs. offshore.
  • This can be done with a major university that already, like MIT, has the modeling tools to do this.
  • They just need the input and the funding for such an important program.

IN ADDITION - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

  • The U.S. DOES Need to Regain Global Manufacturing Leadership in its Flagship Industry.
  • In an Unstable, Hostile World, the U.S. Must Increase its Regional Industrial Supply Chain.
  • The Electronics Industry can provide Excellent Domestic Employment Opportunities at all skilled Levels.
  • Domestic Electronics Manufacturing Must Lead the World with 21st Century Automation and Technology Innovation.
  • That innovation will be disruptive of Asian assembly and entail a major component of Advanced Semiconductor Technology.
  • This will be Beyond Moore's Law and include Multi-Chip Packaging with Advanced Substrate Technologies
  • The US Needs to Export More and Import Less to Increase GDP and Eliminate its Trade Deficit.
  • The U.S. Must Nurture and Protect the Viability of Domestic Manufacturing in:

  • Semiconductor and Packaging is by far The Most Important Domestic Industry.
  • Semiconductor Technology is evolving into Si Photonics for Computers, HPCC, and IoT applications.
  • Robotics IS our Mfg. Future, But we are currently Vulnerable to Major International Competition.
  • Robotics can be our friend, but also our worst enemy. What do we do when 25-40% of existing jobs get automated?
  • Computers and Electronic Products, Mobile/Wireless, Electronic Components should be Made Here.
  • Automotive Electronic Mfg. Infrastructure supports a Key U.S. Industry vs. Asian Competition.
  • Telecommunications with Domestic Mfg. of Handsets - we can build High Volume/Low-Cost Products.
  • Medical and Bio-Electronic Technologies and Mfg. is evolving into New Areas and applications.
  • Renewable Energy/Advanced Photovoltaic Technologies and Mfg. Needs to be Re-Established Here.
  • National Grid with EMP-tolerance should not be just a Wish List. It will take a National Commitment.
  • Domestic Manufacturing of Electrical Grid Components go Hand-in-Hand with Above.
  • We are Currently Vulnerable to a conflict in Asia.
  • The list goes on….