Towards an Engineered Substrates Ecosystem: A Model for Collaborative Innovation

The CEO and co-founder of Soitec shares his vision of how partnership speeds the proliferation of SOI and other engineered substrates.

The advanced substrate community has made terrific strides in deploying SOI and reaping the benefits thereof. The current model of ad hoc collaboration – supplier-to-client, partner-to-partner, manufacturer-to-customer – has been instrumental in moving SOI firmly into the mainstream.

Each company or interest group has taken responsibility for its own research and development. Reasonably enough, this has been the domain of those with high-end products and long-term vision. And they are producing chips that run faster, are far more power efficient, are more reliable, and are more cost-efficient to both produce and to use.

As SOI deployment has increased, costs have come down.

Now it’s time to move into the next phase: we need to bring a wider community into the fold.

The advent of ARM’s joining the SOI ecosystem is another tremendous move forward. Whether the model is full-custom or ASIC, fab/fabless or fab-lite, everyone stands to gain. While those in the full custom-chip design and manufacturing business have developed enormous expertise, they – like their confreres in the ASIC world – need easy access to reliable physical IP.

SOI proliferation enables economies of scale

Driven by enlightened self-interest, the greater advanced substrates community recognizes that finding common ground in terms of technological and business infrastructure will enable the further proliferation of SOI. And with proliferation comes new economies of scale.

At each step in the value chain, SOI further increases functionality and decreases costs. From the circuit design to engineered starting substrate, from wafer manufacturing to chip packaging, from board layout to the cooling system, and from the final system integration to the end user – SOI has a positive impact. The players at each of these levels can help contribute to its proliferation, for the mutual benefit of one and all.

Across different markets, we have common interests. The high-performance markets work to further curb power consumption, while the low- and ultra-low-power markets seek to pump up the speed. In the “more than Moore” world of high-voltage, photonics, MEMS, photovoltaics, system-on-chip, sensors, optoelectronics and more, leveraging substrate innovation provides both increased functionality and cost-efficiency.

Innovation starts at the substrate level. By federating our efforts, the greater SOI and advanced substrates communities can create a stronger foundation on which to build our futures.

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