Applied Materials India is a leader in materials engineering solutions used to produce every new chip and advanced display. Its expertise in modifying materials at atomic levels and on an industrial scale enables customers to transform possibilities into reality. Recently they announced a new platform – AI(x) – to accelerate discovery, development and commercial deployment of new chip technologies.
Given the current global chip shortage, such an innovative platform that improves and accelerates chip R&D becomes all the more important. As the name suggests, the AI(x) platform taps into the power of AI and Big Data to enable an improvement in every step of the chip development process.
Here, Srinivas Satya, Country President & MD, Applied Materials India, talks about the demand for AI-dedicated chips. Excerpts from an interview:
DQ: The demand for AI-dedicated chips has grown significantly. What has Applied Materials done to meet this growing demand?
Srinivas Satya: The breadth of Applied’s portfolio allows us to combine technologies in innovative new ways and enable the breakthroughs in chip performance, power, area, cost and time to market (PPACt) needed to unlock the potential of AI.
For example, in addition to advancements in our traditional unit process systems, we are bringing to market entirely new types of products called Integrated Materials Solutions.
These highly differentiated products can combine multiple technologies in a single system to help customers create new types of semiconductor devices and structures.
One example is an Integrated Materials Solution for selective tungsten deposition that removes a major bottleneck to continued scaling of transistors in advanced foundry-logic nodes.
DQ: Due to AI and the data economy, there has been a growth in demand for semiconductor equipment. Which industries are driving this demand?
Srinivas Satya: The dependency between the global economy and technology is greater today than it’s ever been. Several major technology inflections are accelerating as work-from-home, home schooling and online retail drive significant investments in cloud data centers and communications infrastructure.
The digital transformation of companies and the economy as a whole is also broadening the long-term growth drivers for the semiconductor industry. While consumer devices drove electronics demand over the past decade, non-discretionary commercial investments in IoT, Big Data, AI and 5G infrastructure are poised to lead the next decade.
DQ: How does the company fit into India’s electronics manufacturing story?
Srinivas Satya: According to a joint study by ASSOCHAM-NEC technologies, the Indian electronics sector is experiencing tremendous growth, as the industry is poised to exceed $400 billion by 2023-24.
The study also elaborates on the domestic production has grown from $29 billion in 2014-15 to nearly $70 billion in 2019-20 (CAGR of 25 percent). Additionally, the government recently unveiled three schemes with an outlay of about ₹48,000 crore to promote electronics manufacturing in India.
At Applied Materials India, we focus on developing innovations with our region’s considerable talent and resources to help solve high-value problems facing the chip industry. Just as the Indian government seeks to enable development through ‘Making India Atmanirbhar in electronics’ initiative, we look to collaborate and encourage partnerships across our different industry sectors for mutual success.
DQ: How can India leverage its semiconductor ecosystem to develop advanced chip capabilities?
Srinivas Satya: India is taking concrete steps to develop the country’s semiconductor ecosystem. Recently, India has unveiled an initiative in which it is offering more than $1 billion to companies setting up manufacturing units in the country as it seeks to develop its smartphone assembly industry and electronics supply chain.
India also released an Expression of Interest (EoI) inviting companies and consortia to set up or expand semiconductor wafer and device fabrication facilities.
The semiconductor industry is highly capital intensive, but that is not the only consideration. Like any big industry, a chip plant needs a range of ancillary units nearby for supplying parts and service, and these are also very high-tech and capital intensive. It is necessary for the Government to come up with incentives so that there is a sufficient secondary industry to provide critical services to chip factories. Government support and robust supporting industries are necessary to encourage major players to set up chip factories.