Semiconductor Challenges

Article excerpt

Permit me to applaud Bill Spencer's thoughtful "New Challenges for U.S. Semiconductor Industry" (Issues, Winter 2004). Spencer raises a number of key concerns that private decisionmakers and government policymakers should consider in deciding the future of this critical industry in the United States.

First, I concur with Spencer that preserving a robust semiconductor industry is crucial to the U.S. economy. The continued strong industry presence of the United States, with its stable government, established industrial base, world-class universities, hard-working labor force, tradition of manufacturing know-how, and unique innovation capability, is indispensable to the future of the world semiconductor sector. We need every nation's intellectual and productive capital in order to stay on the demanding development pathways defined by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, which seeks to maintain the historical trend of doubling chip power every two to three years.

Second, Spencer is insightful in observing that innovative partnerships between industry and regional governments are part of the solution for maintaining this country's ability to compete. SEMATECH has been able to vastly extend its work in extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL), due to support from the State of New York in establishing our advanced EUV Program with Albany Nanotech and the University at Albany. More recently, the State of Texas opted to partner with SEMATECH and state universities by agreeing to help establish an Advanced Materials Research Center to investigate future electrical and interconnect materials for silicon chips. …