Critical Read

Exploding IoT has semiconductor industry calling for government help

Shutterstock image (by Robert Lucian Crusitu): microchip integrated on a motherboard.

(Robert Lucian Crusitu / Shutterstock)

What: A National Science Foundation-supported, Semiconductor Research Corporation- and Semiconductor Industry Association-sponsored report titled “Rebooting the IT Revolution: A Call to Action.”

Why: Government needs to invest in semiconductor research and development, the report argues, because they’ll play an increasingly crucial role in an increasingly connected world.

As the Internet of Things sweeps the globe, the need for memory will exceed 3x1024 bits by 2040, the report claims – and the number of silicon wafers needed to supply that memory would outstrip the world’s known supply of silicon, unless new technologies are developed.

The report also discusses the need for innovation to support the development and deployment of the myriad sensors that make up the IoT. Unlike mainframes of yore, these sensors will need to be highly specialized, and be able to operate on very low energy.

Manufacturing processes, data analytics and chip-level security will also be crucial areas of research and development.

The report was released Sept. 1, but its contents are based on a March 2015 NSF workshop.

The report calls for “a targeted and coordinated government initiative” – the “National Computing and Insight Technologies Ecosystem” – to support the semiconductor industry’s attempts to upgrade.

Verbatim: “[P]roduct-driven investment by the private sector alone is not sufficient to create the significant advances in IT infrastructure and insight technologies needed for these innovations. Private-sector research and development must build upon and connect to government-funded programs.”

About the Author

Zach Noble is a former FCW staff writer.

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