Ib Semiconductors

Topics: Semiconductor, Integrated circuit, Semiconductor device fabrication Pages: 14 (3765 words) Published: March 21, 2013
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Semiconductor industry: Reasons of slowdown and its future.
A study
Semiconductor industry: Reasons of slowdown and its future.
A study


The semiconductor industry lives - and dies - by simple creed: smaller, faster and cheaper. The benefit of being tiny is pretty simple: finer lines mean more transistors can be packed onto the same chip. The more transistors on a chip, the faster it can do its work. Thanks in large part to fierce competition and to new technologies that lower the cost of production per chip, within a matter of months, the price of a new chip can fall 50%.

As a result, there is constant pressure on chipmakers to come up with something better and even cheaper than what redefined state-of-the-art only few months before. Chips makers must constantly go back to the drawing board to come up with superior goods. Even in a down market, weak sales are seen as no excuse for not coming up with better products to whet the appetites of customers who will eventually need to upgrade their computing and electronic devices.

Traditionally, semiconductor companies controlled the entire production process, from design to manufacture. Yet many chip makers are now delegating more and more production to others in the industry. Foundry companies, whose sole business is manufacturing, have recently come to the fore, providing attractive outsourcing options. In addition to foundries, the ranks of increasingly specialized designers and chip testers are starting to swell. Chip companies are emerging leaner and more efficient. Chip production now resembles a gourmet restaurant kitchen, where chefs line up to add just the right spice to the mix.

A semiconductor is a material that has an electrical conductivity between that of a conductor and an insulator, that is, generally in the range 103 Siemens/cm to 10−8 S/cm. Devices made from semiconductor materials are the foundation of modern electronics, including radio, computers, telephones, and many other devices. Semiconductor devices include the various types of transistor, solar cells, many kinds of diodes including the light emitting diode, the silicon controlled rectifier, and Digital and analog integrated circuits. Solar photovoltaic panels are large semiconductor devices that directly convert light energy into electrical energy. An external electrical field may change a semiconductor's resistivity. In a metallic conductor, current is carried by the flow of electrons. In semiconductors, current can be carried either by the flow of electrons or by the flow of positively charged "holes" in the electron structure of the material.

Common semiconducting materials are crystalline solids but amorphous and liquid semiconductors are known, such as mixtures of arsenic, selenium and tellurium in a variety of proportions. They share with better known semiconductors intermediate conductivity and a rapid variation of conductivity with temperature but lack the rigid crystalline structure of conventional semiconductors such as silicon and so are relatively insensitive to impurities and radiation damage.

Silicon is used to create most semiconductors commercially. Dozens of other materials are used, including germanium, gallium arsenide, and silicon carbide. A pure semiconductor is often called an “intrinsic” semiconductor. The conductivity, or ability to conduct, of common semiconductor materials can be drastically changed by adding other elements, called “impurities” to the melted intrinsic material and then allowing the melt to solidify into a new and different crystal. This process is called "doping".

Broadly speaking, the semiconductor industry is made up of four main product categories:

1. Memory: Memory chips serve as temporary storehouses of data and pass information to and from computer devices' brains. The consolidation of the memory market continues,...
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