He added that inter-consortium collaboration will be needed if the industry is to avoid hitting the “red brick wall” of technical challenges.
Genda Hu discussed a planned Taiwanese consortium called ASTRO, which had been placed “on hold” due to issues beyond the control of the industry. The attempt to form that organization, he said, had been a clear demonstration that Taiwan intends to participate in R&D consortia. One objective of ASTRO is to facilitate participation in international R&D activities. Absent ASTRO, the best strategy for individual companies is to join international collaborations on their own, which almost every semiconductor company in Taiwan has done.
Erik Kamerbeek of the European Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Association said that collaboration is common in Europe, which has a greater need for joint efforts than a single, large country like the United States. Among international consortia, the Information Society Technologies Programme is planned and organized by the European Commission with the support of industry. Programs are approved by the national representatives of the 15 EU countries. Another major IT program is MEDEA, in which each project is accepted by the ministers’ conference of participating countries. All projects are initiated and guided by industry.
The views summarized above reflect the diversity in the national and regional approaches to meeting the needs of the semiconductor industry. They also affirm the common perception of the technical challenges the industry must overcome if it is to continue its extraordinary rate of growth.