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Semiconductor Industry is Key in Driving 5G and AI Innovation
August 26, 2021 News


Written by: Muhammad Zulhusni, Journalist, AOPG.

SEMI recently held its Semicon Southeast Asia 2021, which brought together industry visionaries and experts to discuss the latest innovations, trends and developments in electronics segments such as smart manufacturing, smart mobility, smart data, AI and 5G. 

Ms Bee Bee Ng, President, SEMI Southeast Asia, Singapore, kicked off the event by highlighting how our world has experienced profound societal, economic and technological changes that are redefining every aspect of our lives.

“New capabilities underpinned by the Internet of Things (IoT), 5G and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology are providing [a] digital lifeline for millions of people by enabling remote work and education and it is reshaping industries such as healthcare, agriculture, mobility, connectivity and more,” said Bee Bee.

They are witnessing a surge in demand for digitisation of everything from factories to home offices. And it is because of these factors that the semiconductor industry is thriving.

Mr Ajit Manocha, President and CEO of SEMI in the United States, was also present at the event and stated that the growing demand for digitisation has resulted in a tremendous increase of connected devices of around 50 billion today, which is expected to grow to more than 300 billion by 2025 globally.

Ajit said that “The world is seeing by 2030, it will be 1 trillion devices connected. And if you really look at the whole digital connection, data, which is becoming the new currency, is predicted to see 200 Zettabytes of data to be generated by 2025.”

We are now living in a “smart” world, and he stated that SEMI can assist in realising the benefits of digital transformation – from smart factories to space exploration, from virtual medicine to energy alternatives and sustainable farming, from cutting-edge medical science to the world’s most advanced semiconductors.

All of this is only possible through SEMI’s commitment to serving the ecosystem that makes the digital world possible, providing opportunities to increase industry engagement through their technology communities, assisting in making technology safer to ensure the industry can operate in a sustainable manner, and accelerating digital innovation through the development of standards that increase industry efficiencies.

5G Limitless Possibilities

Throughout this period of innovation, 5G was one of the most talked-about technologies in recent years. Dr Raj Talluri, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mobile Business Unit at Micron Technology, presented during the keynote session, in which he shared insights of the smart device revolution accelerated by 5G, and how the semiconductor industry plays a critical role in enabling these new technologies. 

“One of the key reasons 5G is happening so fast is because of all the investments that are being made by many different people in the 5G ecosystem – from the carriers to chip vendors like [Micron] who make chips, to the people who make the infrastructure and our customers, both in smartphones, IoT devices, and so on,” said Raj.

As Ajit mentioned, there will be a lot of connected devices in the future, which will generate a lot of data, necessitating a massive demand for semiconductors. That is where 5G and AI come into play – the possibilities are endless!

When connected devices generate a large amount of data, the combination of 5G and AI can assist in managing it. According to Raj, when these two advanced technologies combine, it will enable something he calls “contextual awareness,” which means that the smart devices being used are aware of its user’s behaviour and can even inform them about the activities they need to do.

He stated that by 2025, the Total Available Market (TAM) for semiconductors would be USD $667 billion. To put that into perspective, the amount of flash memory storage required will be three times, and the amount of DRAM required will be two times that of today.

At Micron, they are working hard to develop new memory and storage technologies to push the possibilities of 5G. These include products such as:

  • DDR5: The most technologically advanced DRAM to date, delivering more than an 85 per cent increase in memory performance, will enable the next generation of server workloads.
  • GDDR6X: Graphics memory solution to take graphics beyond gaming into true AI.
  • LPDDR5X: Next-generation memory requirements for AI and 5G, with a 50% increase in data access speeds and a 20% increase in power efficiency over previous generations.
  • NVME SSD: Micron is developing NVME SSDs and recognises the importance of providing large capacity SSDs to manage today’s demanding workloads, delivering SSDs with industry-leading capabilities.
  • UFS 3.x: A high-performance storage interface designed for computing and mobile systems requiring low power consumption, as well as advanced automotive systems requiring ultra-fast boot capability and automotive-grade reliability.
  • CXL: A new standard for linking memory bus devices together: CPUs, GPUs, and memory. This is the way some of the future memories will be connected to many of the application processors.
  • Authenta: Developers can strengthen system-level cybersecurity without adding additional hardware components by utilising existing standard flash memory sockets, resulting in a more affordable and robust IoT solution.
  • HBM2E: Provides the bandwidth, massive parallelism, and power efficiency required for next-generation data centres and high-performance computing systems.

“When these two come together [5G and AI], there are going to be [a] tremendous number of applications and use cases which we haven’t even thought of today, that will make [our lives] a whole lot better and make the world a much more convenient place to live [in],” said Raj as he concluded his session, expressing his excitement towards 5G and AI and the business opportunity it will bring to organisations.