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TSMC R&D Chief: There’s Gentle on the Finish of the Chip Scarcity

Yuh-Jier Mii began on the bottom ground of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in 1994 as a fabrication integration supervisor. At this time he’s one of many Hsinchu-based firm’s leaders as senior vice chairman of analysis and growth. Throughout his practically 30 years at TSMC, he has been concerned with the creation of denser and denser built-in circuits.

The IEEE member is in command of R&D for brand new chips constructed utilizing TSMC’s 3-nanometer course of node, anticipated to enter manufacturing later this yr. (The business time period nanometer refers to a brand new, improved technology of silicon semiconductor chips.)

The world’s largest contract chip producer credit Mii with serving to it keep know-how management within the foundry section of the worldwide semiconductor {industry}.

For his “management in growing industry-leading foundry logic course of applied sciences and open innovation design platforms,” Mii is being honored with the 2022 IEEE Frederik Philips Award. He shares the award along with his colleague Cliff Hou, TSMC’s senior vice chairman of know-how growth and company analysis. The award is sponsored by Philips.

“It’s my nice honor to have obtained this award,” Mii says. “I came upon there have been many excellent leaders on this {industry} who’ve additionally obtained this award, comparable to Dr. Gordon Moore. That is additionally particular for me as a result of I obtained it with Cliff, who’s doing the design a part of the work. We work collectively to make the know-how helpful for our clients.”


Rising up, Mii was desirous about physics, astronomy, and every kind of science-related topics, he says. Like most budding engineers, he favored to tear issues aside to see how they labored.

“By nature, I used to be desirous about doing engineering,” he says. “Rising up in Taiwan, the surroundings inspired folks to grow to be scientists or engineers.”

Mii earned a bachelor’s diploma in electrical engineering from Nationwide Taiwan College, and his grasp’s and Ph.D., additionally in EE, from the College of California, Los Angeles. He was employed in 1990 as a researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Analysis Heart, in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Throughout his 4 years there, he labored on IBM’s 0.1-micrometer CMOS know-how which, he says, had related dimensions to the 90-nanometer know-how he later labored on at TSMC.

Mii left IBM to hitch TSMC. It was, he says, a “massive and daring transfer in many individuals’s factors of view—going from pure analysis to course of integration within the manufacturing fab. However I feel that was transfer for me and a really uncommon alternative. I realized how fab operators work, what’s of their minds, and what’s required to make a know-how manufacturable.”

“It’s vital for us to get the expertise and the knowledge from the entire world, not simply from the group in Taiwan.”

After studying the ropes as a fab integration supervisor, he was promoted to fab deputy director. Then, in 2011, he was moved to R&D as a result of a number of folks had left, he says. His time as a researcher at IBM was about to repay.

“As a result of I had some previous analysis expertise, I used to be transferred to R&D and managed the 90-nanometer program, after which the 40-nm,” he says.

Later he was put in command of the corporate’s superior know-how growth. The position concerned defining the method know-how and main the group that might develop it for manufacturing nanotechnology-based semiconductor chips. They had been the smallest transistors produced on the time.

Like most prime leaders, Mii attends a whole lot of conferences. Nonetheless, he’s nonetheless keen about diving in to assist clear up issues.

“It’s thrilling if you see a giant drawback and also you discover a method to resolve it,” Mii says. “Due to my group, which is sort of succesful, I don’t have to become involved within the particulars of problem-solving, however it’s all the time intriguing and thrilling to seek out options.”


Considered one of Mii’s most vital challenges, he says, is figuring out the choices for every know-how that can convey probably the most worth to TSMC’s clients in addition to ship the answer in a predictable schedule. That was actually true of the upcoming 3-nm node, which is able to succeed the 5-nm node simply two and a half years later. The three-nm node is slated to hit the market later this yr, and he’s already engaged on the 2-nm model.

“We’re approaching atomic scale,” Mii says. “Earlier than, we may obtain the next-generation node by fine-tuning the method, however now for each technology we should discover new methods when it comes to transistor structure, supplies, processes, and instruments. Prior to now, it’s just about been a serious optical shrink, however that’s not a easy trick.”

Early in his profession, growing a brand new course of know-how meant simply shrinking the transistor utilizing higher lithography. Nevertheless it requires extra innovation now, he says.

One other problem, he says, is discovering sufficient proficient engineers.

The semiconductor scarcity remains to be one other hurdle he has needed to face. In his private opinion—not essentially that of TSMC—it will take two to 3 years to convey new fabs on-line to resolve the scenario. He partly blames the COVID-19 pandemic for disrupting the worldwide economic system, however the rising pervasiveness of electronics in every day life can also be inflicting a surge in semiconductor demand.

He says the {industry} missed indicators that demand was rising. Nonetheless, he says, the sphere realized lots from the scenario, and he expects it is going to do higher sooner or later.

“Proper now, the {industry} is investing an incredible quantity of capital into constructing additional capability to resolve this chip scarcity drawback,” Mii says. “We have now a a lot clearer image of future demand at the moment than we had two years in the past.”


MII joined IEEE as a grad pupil at UCLA.

“As an EE pupil, it was pure to hitch IEEE,” he says, “as a result of that’s the portal for folks to change info and study.”

He’s nonetheless in IEEE to study, he says: “We all the time go to the conferences to change each info with others and likewise study from new issues.” Lately, he acknowledges, he doesn’t have the time to attend many conferences, so as an alternative he sends his engineers. After they return, he holds a debriefing session to study developments and what path the {industry} is headed.

“Growing know-how by ourselves just isn’t sufficient,” Mii says. “In my management position, it’s vital for us to get the expertise and the knowledge from the entire world, not simply from the group in Taiwan.”

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