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Is the smaller the chip, the better? How long is the semiconductor windfall?

05 1

(Q&A)

Q:What is the reason for making smaller and smaller chips? And why not focus on the development of advanced processes

A:Are chips getting smaller and smaller, yes! But not the smaller the better? Not exactly, depending on the specific application scenario, since the birth of the semiconductor industry, the overall trend of the chip is indeed getting smaller and smaller, especially before 2010, the chip device volume is basically in accordance with Moore’s Law in the rapid reduction, in general, the smaller the transistor volume, the smaller the power consumption, the lower the gate capacitance, to achieve faster switching frequency, performance is beneficial, so now the small cell phone The smaller the transistor, the smaller the power consumption, the lower the gate capacitance, and the faster the switching frequency. Simply put, the switch is too small, it is easy to break the defense, leakage current, so the process below 22nm, basically have to be on Finfet (fin transistor), or Gate All Around (gate all around transistor) such a three-dimensional structure to strengthen the gate for channel control, reduce leakage current, which just barely let Moore’s law and a few more years to live, in fact, shrink The biggest advantage of the chip, or area and cost, the original a silicon chip can only cut out 10 chips, now a chip can cut out 100, profits greatly improved, and a circle of silicon wafer edge of the residual chip (edge die) ratio decreased, making money is always a powerful driving force for technological development, so the chip process in just a few decades from the micron level all the way down to the current 7 nanometers, 5 nanometers, with which Corresponding to the rapid expansion of the semiconductor market, from $ 60 billion in 1992 to $ 600 billion in 22 years, this shrinkage is behind the expansion of technological progress, but also full of the taste of money,

Then why do not all chip makers do the most advanced process to make the most money? First of all, the threshold of advanced processes is very high, not every one can do, for the factory (Fab), the smaller the process, the cost of equipment and materials is exponentially increased, not to mention that some high-end equipment to spend money is not necessarily bought. And for fabless design companies, also have to consider the cost of flowing, whether you are spelling a wafer with others to do verification (MPW), or directly on the full mask (full mask), if you choose the advanced process, the foundry’s offer can be on the sky, a square millimeter hundreds of thousands, more than the price of housing is outrageous, small factories can not afford to play, so for a product, in fact There is no most advanced process, only the most appropriate process, chip performance, power consumption, area, cost of these factors, according to the final product application scenario to make trade-offs, to take the simplest example, the smaller the chip, the greater the transistor density, it is clear that heat dissipation will be a problem, if it is a cell phone chip, at most when playing the game, you find that the phone is hot, frequency reduction, affecting the feel of the game, but If it is a car chip, whether it is the power system, BMS (battery pack management), or a variety of sensors, if any deviation occurs when driving, there may be life-threatening, so the most important thing is the car chip is reliable and durable, jargon called functional safety, power consumption and area can be sacrificed, anyway, the car, the bigger the better, and do not need to make the chip so small so precise.

We do automotive chips, in the design phase, we have to consider, each module failure rate is how much fit, detection rate and can cover how much, in case of failure, there is no corresponding safety mechanisms and protection measures, while in the verification and testing phase after more stringent, because the automotive chip to follow the development process and quality requirements, such as ISO26262, than cell phones and computers such as consumer electronics For example, the temperature test, cell phone chips are generally 0 degrees to 70 degrees on the strict point -20 degrees to 85 degrees, the big deal when it’s cold, the phone power off, shut down, but the car chip is minus 40 degrees to 150 degrees have to test, so we will always have liquid nitrogen in the laboratory, and large blowers, used to give the chip a variety of severe torture, and even radioactive radiation sources, to Research the universe background radiation, the impact of the chip soft error rate, and a variety of aging test (burn-in test), to study the aging of the chip, yes, the chip and people will be old, with unreliable infancy, stable adulthood, and prone to problems in old age, of course, this is another topic, in short, the application of the chip is not only cell phones and computers, a Processes as long as there is a market, there is the value of investment, the meaning of existence, not that it will necessarily be eliminated by later processes, such as automotive and military fields, 130nm process is completely sufficient, in fact, many micron-level, sub-micron devices are still in use, this process looks brown is brown point, but in fact, the quality is excellent, withstand the test of time。

Q: Thoughts on the semiconductor windfall? How much longer from the talent saturation?

A:On the issue of semiconductor windfall, standing in the perspective of a practitioner observation, at least in the short term or the wind will continue to blow, because the market demand and the number of orders on there, these years the semiconductor heat is indeed unprecedentedly high, even in my opinion a little too high, of course, there are many reasons behind this, one is the chip shortage in recent years, the demand is indeed very strong, the second is the policy support, the national strategy level of attention, which is not only our country, these years countries are very important: the United States is vigorously promoting the return of chip plants, shouting TSMC to the United States to set up factories, so that Intel to engage in IDM2.0, Europe is also integrating their own chip industry chain, want to improve the degree of autonomy; then there is the first two years of trade friction between China and the United States, and is adding a large wave of chip industry traffic, so that many ordinary people are beginning to care about lithography, and finally There is also the recent Internet industry slightly cold, that part of the capital of hot money also began to flow to the semiconductor, the above several buffs superimposed, it caused the so-called “semiconductor windfall”.

In the eyes of many people, do chip is a technology, capital, talent, three high tech industry, but in the final analysis it is a very mature development of manufacturing, not like the emerging Internet, so many initial employees quickly wealth take off, at least the current technology revolution such an explosive growth point, I have not seen, so if you are not looking to make a quick buck investors, then assess an industry’s Prospects, ultimately, we still have to look at the supply, demand and policy, the chip as a necessity of our modern life, this demand is long-term, but all industries are cyclical, the current semiconductor is in the most vigorous rise in demand, the major manufacturers are trying to expand production, desperately looking for people, so 3-4 years later, the problem of lack of core will certainly ease, and on the question of whether the talent will be saturated by then, at least Freshers market I will feel the speed of saturation is relatively fast。

First of all, these years, my most intuitive feeling is that more and more people in this profession are willing to stay in the chip industry to do counterpart work, rather than as in the past, many excellent students are trying to turn the code to do algorithms, go to the Internet factory to get money to get stocks, if the Internet industry continues to be tight, it is not good that there will be a reverse operation, turn semiconductor track, in fact, this year there have been many students told me that microelectronics Integrated circuit exams score a lot higher, plus today’s blooming IC training institutions, the future of the application must be more difficult than now, but excellent talent will always be a scarce resource, and finally I still want to remind school partners, the so-called wind, is to determine your starting salary, the wind will always stop, and so the capital and the tide dissipated, you will find that touching the fish is impossible to touch the fish, only the factory can make products to Only those who can make products can develop and grow, and only those who have solid technology can stand firm, so I hope you “dielectric” smoothly, “signal” stable, “electromagnetic field” strong, but also hope that the small partners who have joined the industry, keep the enthusiasm of learning, and accumulate more knowledge of the upstream and downstream of the position, as long as the experience is rich enough, absolutely will not be optimized, at most, just be upside down。

Q:Interdisciplinary change of career?

A: Indeed materials are a lot of students want to turn semiconductor, and semiconductor technology itself is also highly relevant to materials, but how to choose the examination? Depends on whether you are willing to roll, as I have said before, this year’s microelectricity set of the examination has been a little volume, but certainly not volume computer and civil service, so you can accept the sunk cost, of course, is to try to turn in this direction, the future of the choice will be much wider, because the non-parallel professional students, if not the academic research bull, into the semiconductor industry, the general entry position is to do process or Equipment-related things, such as Process Engineer (process engineer), Process Integration Engineer (process integration engineer), or Equipment Engineer (equipment engineer), specific responsibilities I will not introduce, the recruitment website have, I will only say that the website will not write out The content: like process integration (PIE), then, belong to sometimes go to the factory, generally no night shift, and people to deal with a little more; PE (process engineer) is often to the factory, will not pour the night shift, depending on the company atmosphere and defect (wafer defects) situation, belong to deal with equipment a little more, equipment engineer (EE) needless to say, the factory is your home, especially the machine has what If the problem, the process and yield engineer to call you home at any time, but I am definitely not discouraged, these positions are very important, especially the R & D class process post, is the core position of fab, chip design is certainly very important, but if the production is not out, it is a building in the air, so the bottom of the manufacturing is the foundation, the future development of space is also very large, and you will not always stay in the first line, so the beginning of the time Save some front-line production experience, the future career development is very useful, believe me, this sentence to HR and the boss will also be so with you pie, but honestly, if you are biochemical ring material students, horizontal comparison, into the semiconductor is really not a pit, later with the increasing attention to the manufacturing end and plant automation degree, the work experience and treatment should be better and better. And then secretly tell you, you can understand before joining, to see if the chip factory has installed the overhead crane system (OHT), can not remotely write recipe (process parameters secret recipe), if there are these two things, the happiness of the work will improve a lot.

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