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TSMC Will Own the Internet of Things!

TSMC Will Own the Internet of Things!
by Daniel Nenni on 04-27-2014 at 8:00 am

In my quest to uncover the future of the semiconductor industry I was quite impressed by the executive presentations at the TSMC Symposium last week. Rick Cassidy opened the 20[SUP]th[/SUP] Annual TSMC Technology Symposium followed by Dr. Mark Liu, Dr. Jack Sun, Dr. Cliff Hou, J.K Wang, Dr. V.J. Wu, and Suk Lee. A variety of topics were covered but I had IoT on my mind so that is what I will talk about here.

Internet of Things (IoT)-The network of physical objects that contains embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with the objects’ internal state or the external environment.

My interest in IoT started with chapter 8 of Fabless: The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry where I asked 30 industry luminaries, “What’s next for the semiconductor industry?” In the 300 word responses IoT was a common thread so that is where I have been spending my time. My goal is to navigate through the hype and figure out just how the fabless semiconductor ecosystem (EDA, IP, Foundries) can monetize this emerging market. The semiconductor industry is all about design starts and to me that is what IoT is all about. From what I can tell, the majority of IoT designs today are implemented in mature nodes with 65nm considered bleeding edge technology.

The basic building blocks of an IoT chip include:

  • MCU (ARM is the default here)
  • Sensors (temperature, vibration, gyroscope, humidity, pressure, altitude)
  • Power Management (solar, energy harvesting, short burst battery usage)
  • Embedded Memory (flash, NVM, SRAM)
  • Connectivity (GSM, GPRS, LTE, Zigbee, WiFi, Mesh Network)

Let me know if I’m missing a block.

According to J.K. Wang, Vice President of Operations of 300mm fabs, TSMC ships more than 1.3M 28nm wafers annually and that will increase by 20% this year. The transition to FinFETs is expected to start in 2015 with 900k wafers shipped followed by 1.3M wafers in 2016 which will free up an amazing amount of low cost 28nm capacity. 28nm also has the strongest design ecosystem with more than 100 partners including 39 vendors offering more than 6,000 pieces of IP. This has the makings of a perfect IoT storm:

Low Cost + Large Capacity + Low Power + Design Enabled = Low Barrier to Entry!

The next of many IoT seminars I will attend is sponsored by the World Affairs Council:

The Internet of Things: Global Implications of Merging the Physical and Digital Worlds

More than nine billion devices around the world are currently connected to the Internet, including computers and smartphones. That number is expected to increase dramatically within the next decade, with estimates ranging from quintupling to 50 billion devices to reaching one trillion. Please join us for a discussion of how the Internet of Things will impact the way we live, the way business is done and how resources are consumed. Important to the discussion will be the challenges ahead when merging the physical and digital worlds and the implications for privacy and security around the world.



  • Aleecia McDonald, Director of Privacy, Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Reception: 6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Event: 7:00 PM – 8:00 PM


Cadence Design Systems, Inc.

2655 Seely Avenue, San Jose, CA 95134

I hope to see you there!

More Articles by Daniel Nenni…..

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