Jim Elliott is vice president of memory marketing and product planning at Samsung Semiconductor and oversees all marketing activities for Samsung’s memory organization in the Americas. He has 15 years of experience in the semiconductor industry, including the past nine at Samsung. Jim has been a featured guest speaker at numerous industry conferences. He also sits on the board of directors of the Climate Savers Computing Initiative.
JEDEC SmartBrief lead editor Susan Rush interviewed Jim on his thoughts for future of the semiconductor industry. An edited transcript of their conversation follows.
What will be the biggest business motivators for the chip industry in 2012?
The continued rapid growth of the mobile industry is fueling a healthy level of business for the memory segment. Volumes are rising for smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, with the coming of Ultrabook-class PCs likely to add considerably to the strength of the overall mix. Similar growth in the server market is being stimulated by cloud computing, which will continue to grow in popularity.
In addition to the strong demand, we’re seeing improved production efficiencies with our move to the 20-nanometer-class process node. Samsung plans to lead the industry in providing high-performance, low-power “green memory” solutions, which can process large amounts of data more efficiently to meet the rising needs of the mobile and server sectors.
How do you expect the chip industry to change over the next 12 months?
The shift in emphasis from desktop PCs to mobile applications is having a significant impact on the memory market. As this shift continues, we are clearly embracing an “Always On, Always Connected” mindset, going from hours to weeks of standby time in mobile devices. Battery life, product responsiveness and portability are working together to fuel a greater need for more efficient memories that are faster and consume less power, such as Samsung’s green memory.
What will drive the embedded flash market in 2012?
The push to lower process geometries will drive greater growth as production efficiencies add to product competitiveness. But the greatest catalyst will be the continued expansion of the tablet and smartphone markets, as well as expected rapid growth of the Ultrabook market.
E-readers are another bright spot that will continue to grow in market prominence. All of these markets are trending upwards to include more storage. Clearly, more and more functionality is also triggering a greater need for chip performance. So you’ll be seeing faster memories with higher capacity requirements.
How low will memory chip production process geometries go in 2012 — will the industry break the 20nm barrier?
The more interesting question is, “Can we go lower than the 10nm-class and when?” My betting guess would be that will be a much more challenging proposition with the limitations faced by the lithography process. The 20-nanometer barrier will be broken. However, I don’t want to predict when that will happen.
As a leader in the memory industry, Samsung will devote consistent R&D efforts to green memory products that utilize more advanced process nodes at 20nm-class technology and beyond, so that customer needs in the green IT industry will be fully satisfied.
Image courtesy of Samsung Semiconductor.
This question-and-answer session was produced as part of SmartBrief’s 2011 Best Of reports, which capture the year’s most important stories in each industry. Sign up now for JEDEC SmartBrief to get tomorrow’s report on the top must-read stories from the microelectronics and semiconductor industries.