In the semiconductor industry, a period in which standardization is valued and a period in which customization is emphasized alternate every 10 years. This is a well-known theory called "Makimoto Wave" and was proposed by Tsugio Makimoto, who is called "Mr. Semiconductor" in Japan.
Makimoto, who has been leading Japan's semiconductor industry, participated in the controversy over the trade conflict in the semiconductor industry between Japan and the US as a representative from Japan. When he was an executive managing director at Hitachi Ltd, he was headhunted by then Sony President Nobuyuki Idei in 2000. He became an operating managing director at Sony Corp.
After leaving Sony, he became an outside director of Elpida Memory Inc. And he spoke at academic conferences in and outside Japan as a representative of the semiconductor industry, contributing to the development of the industry.
What does he think about the current semiconductor industry? What are the key technologies and applications for the future development of the industry? We asked these questions in the interview. (Interviewer: Naoki Asami, publisher of Nikkei Electronics, & Motoyuki Oishi, deputy editor for Nikkei Electronics)
Q: From the perspective of the Makimoto Wave, what kind of phase the current semiconductor industry is in?
Makimoto: Let's look back on the history. I came up with the Makimoto Wave in 1987. It defines the decade from 1987 to 1997 as a customization period. In fact, ASIC (application specific integrated circuit) became popular in about 1987.
Before 1987, semiconductor makers that were manufacturing microprocessors and memories were strong. But during the period from 1985 to 1986, memory prices crashed due to overproduction. Considering that the crash occurred because an unspecified number of makers supplied memories, which are general-purpose products, to an unspecified number of users, semiconductor makers turned to ASIC. At the same time, EDA tools were released and the design methodology of gate array was established, helping launch ASIC businesses.
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