Europe to rethink 10/100/20 chip project

December 15, 2016 // By Peter Clarke
The European Commission intends to reconvene a high-level group of European CEOs and executives to exchange views on Europe's 10/100/20 nanoelectronics and chip manufacturing project and make adjustments as necessary for a wave of European Union investment supposedly starting in 2020, according to industry body SEMI.

Rania Georgoutsakou, SEMI's director of public policy for Europe, has written that a recently held closed meeting of company CEOs and national ministries and other participants came to the conclusion that the EU 10/100/20 strategy "was on track."

Europe's 10/100/20 strategy was launched in 2013 with the goal of raising European chip production to 20 percent of the global total by 2020. At that time, Europe's global share was less than 10 percent and had been falling for decades. The three numbers in the project title stand for €10 billion in public/private research funding, €100 billion spent by industry on manufacturing and achieving 20 percent of the global chip production market by 2020.

The high-level group of CEOs convened to implement the 10/100/20 strategy passively resisted the plan from the start. Instead they sought to persuade the bureaucrats that chip manufacturing output was not the appropriate measure of success (see Infineon Rejects Europe's Chip Manufacturing Plan, Interview: Sir Peter Bonfield on how Europe can compete, Europe's Kroes softens stance on chip manufacturing target).

It should be noted that Sir Peter Bonfield is a director at foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) and therefore works in the interest of world's leading foundry manufacturer of chips. Sir Peter Bonfield is also chairman of NXP Semiconductors NV and a director with Mentor Graphics Corp. NXP is the process of being acquired by Qualcomm Inc. and Mentor in the process of being acquired by Siemens AG.

The closed meeting of CEOs and other parties was held at a nanoelectronics forum held in Rome at the end of November. According to Georgoutsakou the meeting did discuss increasing capital expenditure although the idea that the 10/100/20 strategy is "on track" seems strange.

There is almost no leading-edge digital chip manufacturing left in Europe as the local companies have embraced outsourcing of digital semiconductor manufacturing to foundries. The two most advanced wafer fab locations left in Europe in terms of deep sub-micron miniaturization belong to Intel in Leixlip, Ireland and Globalfoundries in Dresden, Germany. And these sites are relatively mature.

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