Business Perspective of Semiconductor Industry

One of the things I strongly regret my college education not providing as an engineer is an overview into the business and overall timeline/history of the companies that I would be looking to one day go into and work for, either for a temporary cooperative education term or as a full-time engineer.

While having a great technical background is always a plus and the importance of being savvy is crucial for certain day-to-day activities, the importance of pragmatism often gets completely disregarded while at university. One of the best examples I could find just off the top of my head is a great resource that I find myself reading up on and using on the daily is a site called SemiWiki.

I have talked to just how useful SemiWiki is for keeping up-to-date with the semiconductor field, and this article titled “2017 Semiconductor Dead Pool” by Daniel Nenni is a prime example of some of the key items missing from an engineering education.

The article goes into a brief, to-the-point overview of how some familiar key players in the semiconductor field are doing to-date and predictions for their business trajectories given their paths so far. One of the biggest shocks I was glad to see was the acquisition of Altera by Intel. The two are perfect fits for one another given Intel’s strong market dominance of the CPU market and Altera being a platform offering software for the programming and design of FPGA’s and computing architectures.

I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand the selling off of IBM Microelectronics in the Summer of 2015 as student in a cooperative education program as a Procurement Engineer in IBM Microelectronics in the Enterprise Storage and Memory Technology department. There was a massive celebration with plenty of free food given out at the time of the acquisition by GlobalFoundries, of which I sampled more than a handful. At the end of the acquisition, my team remained “Big Blue” or “Blue” (sometimes even “Big Brother Blue”) as it was referred to, where the departments acquired by GlobalFoundries were referred to as team “Red”. There was a clear angst and dislike between the two parties, even though they literally did the same exact things, still had (for the most part) the same exact people working there, but now under a different company name.

The point in all of this is that I wouldn’t know now that IBM no longer deals with the semiconductor industry in a technology sense anymore as it does instead with the computing and software industry. All of the core STEM components that IBM once had have shifted over to GlobalFoundries, and this brings me back to the post by SemiWiki. It is of no surprise that some of the companies mentioned in this list, namely MicroSemi, Skyworks, On Semi, and others, are up possibly for either some sort of acquisition, merger, and/or a combination of the two or even something along the lines of what IBM did: selling off a division to focus efforts / consolidate into something else.

Catch the full article below: