Semiconductors Leading Path For Green-Tech?
The semiconductor industry is not one that is really recognized as a green industry. After all, it’s manufacturing facilities have to apply for special polluting permits, they require a lot of energy, and some view all the chemicals involved as hazardous.
Nonetheless, we rely on the semiconductor industry to continually provide consumers with smaller chips, more power, and sometimes at a cheaper cost. When we think about Moore’s Law, an industry guideline that has been able to double the amount of transistors in the same space every two years, it’s amazing how technology has been able to keep innovating to keep up with the law. But sooner or later the way chips will be built in the future will be completely different from today.
Take Intel Corporation as an example, they are currently manufacturing 22-nanometer chips, their own projections say they will be manufacturing in the 10-nanometer range by 2016 or 2017. As their chips get smaller and faster, sooner or later we will be looking at a different technology altogether to progress our future computing needs in the coming decades.
The trend for CPU’s has been shrinking chips with more power, similar to when the auto industry use to make bigger engines with more punch. Back in the good old days when they were designing classic Ford Mustangs with all that extra horse-power, no one ever thought or even cared about how fuel efficient those cars were. Perhaps, people simply demanded more power. In today’s post Great Recession world though, power sipping devices are a consideration for the average consumer.
In the electronics world, chip-makers like Intel are now playing catch up in terms of making their products more energy efficient. Energy efficient chips are now an increasing market because of growing global demand for smart phones and tablets which tend to have battery lifespans we’d all like to see increased. In today’s highly mobile world, one might argue that laptops will become obsolete and that smart phones and tablets will be able to power all our computing needs.
Now Intel, the world’s leading desktop/laptop CPU maker, wants to go to 450mm wafers in their production process. Chip manufacturers say the bigger the wafers the more efficient they can be, but when suppliers have to make machines that demand so much more, at what cost are we demanding energy efficient, smaller, and faster technology products?
Obviously, the trade-offs of having combined energy efficiency spread across millions of real and potential users of energy efficient products out-weighs the extra energy needed to produce them…right? Has anyone ever asked the question? Does a dirty industry need to exist in order to have a clean (green) consumer industry? Does that even make sense?
Regardless of the unknowns, I believe the next technological race will be a green technology race – one of energy efficiency. We’ve come to a point in technology where we’ve mastered computing power, and now we are realizing that with growing populations, the need for energy is rising while environmental issues continue to pile up. While the world attempts to transition to clean energy alternatives like solar, geo-thermal, hydro, and wind, traditional technology companies have a window of opportunity to expand into the fast growing green-tech sector.
If the markets follow demand, and consumers are demanding efficient products from cars, cell phones, tablets, to energy star appliances galore…then we can assume industry will try to meet that demand.
What do you guys think?
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