ness of modeling whole industries, and, given some years of experience in modeling the aircraft industry, to demonstrate the level of detail needed for productive modeling of the semiconductor industry.
Dr. Benkard closed this discussion by agreeing that the aspects that are central to the aircraft industry differ from those that are central to the semiconductor industry. He also refuted the point that semiconductor products reach the market faster than aircraft. He noted that experimental work with semiconductor products, such as chips with 8-nm separation, begins many years before a product reaches the market. Conversely, the first high-bypass jet engine was developed concurrently with the airframe it powered.
Dr. Pinto made the point that, in the semiconductor business, “transistors aren’t the product. The product is the chip that has 50 million transistors and the integrated circuit that goes with it.” The market lifetime of these products varies widely, from 9 months or less for the disk drive business to eight or ten years for an infrastructure chip.
Dr. Isaac seconded that point, and he reminded the group not to think of the semiconductor industry in monolithic terms, but to separate process technology, as seen in the foundry, from more integrated activities that bring products to market. He said that in the realm of process technology it may take 15 or more years to develop a useable new technology, such as copper, SOI (silicon on insulator), or silicon-germanium. Complex individual products may be somewhat quicker, such as IBM’s new Unix chip, which had been defined four years earlier. For discrete, specialized products, the tempo may be much more rapid; a chip for a storage drive may have to be designed, manufactured, and ready in nine months. In short, the industry is more diverse in terms of product lifetimes than many people realize.