Beyond Moore’s Law – Emerging Challenges for the Semiconductor Industry

The semiconductor industry is facing unprecedented growth thanks to the increasing need for computing power brought by the Internet of Things, edge computing and artificial intelligence, among others. But as the industry grows, so do the challenges that come with it.

Gartner forecasts worldwide semiconductor revenue to reach $451 billion by the end of 2018, a 7.5 percent increase from $419 billion in 2017. “Favorable conditions” are said to be the driving force behind this spike, as technology and devices continue to evolve to satisfy consumer demands. The Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence are among the new technologies that will impact (or are already impacting) the industry. The need to connect thousands -- if not millions or billions -- of things will have a ripple effect across multiple industries, semiconductors included.

For decades, Moore’s Law has been the mantra of many semiconductor companies. Named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, this principle predicts that computing would dramatically increase in power, doubling every two years. As a result, chips were being shrunk so more could fit into transistors, resulting in powerful devices that helped create the smartphones and Internet services that we know today.

But in recent years, many semiconductor manufacturers are putting the brakes on applying Moore’s Law, focusing instead on developing performance upgrades on existing chips rather than debuting smaller and smaller chips that can be costly to produce. This new approach entails a different approach to many manufacturers.

Challenges and opportunities

Research firm McKinsey and Co. has identified the following verticals where semiconductor manufacturers can potentially capture growth:

  • Wearable devices like fitness and health accessories;
  • Smart home applications
  • Industrial automation
  • Smart cars
  • Smart cities

With this, manufacturers are coming up with new approaches to designing chips that would support these technologies such as managing placement density and high memory count or increasing functionality on a single die to support sensors.

One challenge faced by semiconductor manufacturers today is rising power consumption. As chips get smaller, density tends to increase and power leakage can occur. The challenge for manufacturers is reducing power loss and dissipation for higher efficiency.

Vertiv: Supporting Semiconductor Manufacturers

Amid new approaches to chip manufacturing, core challenges faced by manufacturers include: ensuring clean and consistent back-up power throughout the testing process and protection of critical equipment. Vertiv, formerly Emerson Network Power, is well-positioned to support semiconductor manufacturers by:

  • Providing clean and consistent back-up power – machines used in the quality testing of chips must be running smoothly and without any breakdowns. Any minute of downtime can cause a chain reaction that can affect the batch process, leading to significant business loss. Our industry-leading UPS, such as the Liebert eXL S1, is uniquely designed to provide robust power protection, operating even in harsh environments.
  • Protecting critical equipment – machine repair can be costly and a hassle for manufacturers. Our solutions and services can help semiconductor manufacturers protect vital equipment from wear and tear, ensuring critical continuity of operations at all times.

To learn more about our solutions for the semiconductor industry, contact Etienne Guerou at