Today, chip-making requires sophisticated, expensive, and highly polluting processes. It needs critical changes from architectural design to sustainable materials and end-to-end fabrication to address the growing demand for semiconductors. To achieve this, the industry is adopting the latest technologies that increase efficiency and meet environmental requirements. This report provides an overview of top global semiconductors trends and innovations ranging from artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and 5G to advanced packaging and in-house production. Read more to explore how they impact your business.
Innovation Map outlines the Top 10 Semiconductors Trends & 20 Promising Startups
For this in-depth research on the Top Semiconductors Trends & Startups, we analyzed a sample of 1 336 global startups and scaleups. The result of this research is data-driven innovation intelligence that improves strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies & startups in the semiconductor industry. These insights are derived by working with our Big Data & Artificial Intelligence-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 2 500 000+ startups & scaleups globally. As the world’s largest resource for data on emerging companies, the SaaS platform enables you to identify relevant startups, emerging technologies & future industry trends quickly & exhaustively.
In the Innovation Map below, you get an overview of the Top 10 Semiconductors Trends & Innovations that impact 1 336 companies worldwide. Moreover, the Semiconductors Innovation Map reveals 20 hand-picked startups, all working on emerging technologies that advance their field.
Top 10 Semiconductors Trends
- Internet of Things
- Artificial Intelligence
- Advanced Materials
- Novel Architectures
- Advanced Packaging
- In-house Chip Design
- Fabrication Technologies
- Automotive Chips
- Sustainable Manufacturing
Tree Map reveals the Impact of the Top Semiconductors Trends
Based on the Semiconductors Innovation Map, the Tree Map below illustrates the impact of the Top 10 Semiconductors Trends and Innovations in 2022. Startups and scaleups are developing application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) to accommodate IoT, AI, and 5G. They bring economical value and enhance manufacturing capabilities. Additionally, automotive chips provide high-quality sensors to ensure safe driving experiences. Further, businesses are transitioning to in-house design for personalized chip design. Novel architectures ensure better performance by scaling capacity through multi-component integration and direct-to-chip interfacing. Sustainable manufacturing efforts allow semiconductor businesses to achieve a balance between rapid innovation and ecological considerations.
Global Startup Heat Map covers 1 336 Semiconductors Startups
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the global distribution of the 1 336 exemplary startups & scaleups that we analyzed for this research. Created through the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, the Heat Map reveals high startup activity in the US and China, followed by Europe & India.
Below, you get to meet 20 out of these 1 336 promising startups & scaleups as well as the solutions they develop. These semiconductor startups are hand-picked based on criteria such as founding year, location, funding raised, and more. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.
Top 10 Semiconductors Trends for 2022
1. Internet of Things
IoT devices press certain demands such as smaller sizes, diverse connectivity technologies, and lower power consumption. To address these requirements, semiconductor manufacturers focus on sensors and integrated circuit development. That is why startups are developing flexible multifunctional chipsets with increased circuits. They also combine microcontrollers and analytics into IoT to move computing to the source, making devices less vulnerable. Moreover, IoT financially benefits chip manufacturing by enabling continuous process and asset monitoring. It also improves visibility into production operations. For example, sensor data and previous usage patterns collected through IoT devices enable predictive maintenance.
IMOSTAR develops Multi-band IoT Chips
IMOSTAR is a Taiwanese startup that offers multi-band IoT chips. The startup integrates multiple low-power IoT radios on a single chip to save space and costs. These monolithic antennas feature compact dimensions, cope with different frequencies, and offer good performance. As a result, IMOSTAR’s platform expands the application range of IoT devices and simplifies their manufacturing.
Nano-Core Chip builds AIoT Chips
Nano-Core Chip is a Chinese startup that creates AIoT chips. The startup combines event-driven architecture, dynamic charge domain signal chain, closed-loop circuit topology, and memory-computing fusion simulation. Its chips feature high energy efficiency and a small chip area to support AI computations. As a result, Nano-Core Chip’s AIoT chips enhance the industrial application value in terms of low latency and high storage density.
2. Artificial Intelligence
A rapid rise of AI solutions is forcing the chip industry to develop AI-ready hardware. Semiconductor companies also integrate AI into manufacturing workflows to optimize operations and improve product quality. That is why startups are offering hardware-based acceleration technologies that run neural networks. These advanced processors handle deep learning workloads and find applications across industries. Additionally, other startups build multi-dimensional matrices which calculate complex functions and train AI models. On the other hand, AI and predictive analytics optimizes the time and costs of designing new chips. For instance, machine learning-driven solutions are able to identify design limitations and analyze the root causes of failures.
Rebellions provides Domain-specific AI Processors
Rebellions is a South Korean startup that offers domain-specific AI processors. The startup builds AI accelerators by bridging silicon architectures and deep learning algorithms. It uses silicon kernels to change the processor architecture so they are suitable for complex deep learning algorithms. This way, this specialized AI hardware accelerates machine learning computations, improves performance, and reduces deployment costs.
Gauss Labs enables AI-assisted Semiconductor Manufacturing
Gauss Labs is a US-based startup that offers AI-based solutions for semiconductor manufacturing. Since the semiconductor industry requires high accuracy in chemical, mechanical, and optics processing, it is necessary to optimize them reliably. To achieve that, the startup offers solutions such as virtual metrology, root cause analysis, and image metrology. They use machine sensor measurements and metrology data to predict factory anomalies and provide guidelines for engineers. This way, the startup enables AI-based precision manufacturing to minimize disruptions.
3. Advanced Materials
Beyond reducing structure size, semiconductor startups are pursuing “more than Moore” innovations by leveraging novel materials. They include silicon carbide (SiC) and gallium nitride (GaN) which feature a wider bandgap. This brings several advantages such as high voltage resistance, higher operating temperatures, faster switching, and a smaller form factor. As a result, these alternatives deliver cost-effective and robust solutions within restricted constraints of the chip size.
EPINOVATECH develops GaN-based Chips
EPINOVATECH is a Swedish startup that makes GaN chips for transistor devices. The startup’s proprietary method, NovaGaN, reinforces silicon wafers at the nanoscale level. Further, it coats the wafers with a thin layer of a GaN material. This improves the thermal conductivity, breakdown resistance, and switching speeds, optimizing chip size and reducing power consumption. As a result, EPINOVATECH’s solution enables easily scalable and cost-effective microchip systems.
QustomDot offers Color-Changing Nanoparticles
QustomDot is a Belgian startup that creates color-changing nanoparticles for semiconductors. Its patented quantum dots (QDs) technology employs color conversion material that improves the brightness, lifetime, and efficiency of display panels. The nanoparticles transform UV or blue light into other precise colors by tuning the semiconductor size. Since the QDs produce a higher-resolution image with more pristine colors, TV, LEDs and other display producers use them to improve performance.
4. Novel Architectures
Due to the fierce competition for faster processing speeds, the chip industry is leveraging novel architectures. Startups build non-volatile memory chips, integrate heterogeneous 3D-enabled designs, and use nanotechnology to develop novel processor architectures. Additionally, more efforts go to the simplification of processor instructions for parallel information computing. These modifications allow the use of smaller chips with more components on a single silicon wafer. Consequently, simple and easily scalable architectures reduce power usage and manufacturing costs while improving performance.
YSEMI builds an ARM-based Cloud Processor
YSEMI is a Chinese startup that makes an ARM-based cloud processor for high-performance computing (HPC). The startup’s architectural design delivers broad software compatibility that makes chips affordable and easy to manage. It also reduces form factor as well as improves chip efficiency and scalability. YSEMI’s ARM chip architecture is low-cost and high-performing, accelerating big data processing.
EDGED creates Neural Network Chips
EDGED is a UK-based startup that provides neural network chips for edge computing. The startup’s architectural approach designs a computation block with matrix and vector operations units. This way, EDGED replaces conventional methods that need to replicate programmable cores multiple times. It also greatly reduces instruction-decoding computation time, enabling the tensor processor units (TPU) to pack data more efficiently. This enhances the responsiveness and performance of TPUs in limited power supply applications.
5. Advanced Packaging
Electronic packaging technologies significantly affect chip power, performance, and cost. Advanced packaging solutions allow manufacturers to merge multiple components into a single electronic device with better signal connections. It includes techniques such as multi-chip modules, 3D ICs, 2.5D ICs, fan-out packaging, and system-in-package (SIP), among others. Connecting these chips more compactly reduces the travel distance for signals, resulting in faster data transfer. Further, micro-system packaging and flip chip technology better protect silicon chips from mechanical vibrations and thermal stress.
TSD Semiconductor builds Advanced Packaging Machines
Chinese startup TSD Semiconductor manufactures advanced packaging machines. The startup’s range of products includes wafer grinding, chemical and mechanical cleaning, lapping, and polishing machines. They find applications in flip chip assembly, wafer bumping, and production of SIPs. TSD Semiconductor’s surface processing equipment enables chip makers to thin the die for better semiconductor properties and improve electrical execution.
JetCool provides Fluid-to-Package Cooling Technology
JetCool is a US-based startup that offers a fluid-to-package cooling solution. It is a micro-convective liquid cooling technology that uses arrays of fluid jets to cool chip surfaces. In comparison to other techniques, this improves heat transfer for high-power microelectronics. The direct-to-chip cooling also eliminates the need for thermal pastes and interface materials, saving space for enhanced packaging.
The hardware requirement for 5G is a critical aspect in ensuring its market penetration and performance. Therefore, startups are developing tech-driven solutions to enable low-latency connectivity and reliability for indoor and outdoor networks. These 5G-oriented products include private networks, millimeter wave chipsets, and signal amplifiers, among others. Chip manufacturers also focus on high-frequency spectrums, smaller cell sites, and edge computing to support more connected devices. Further, advances in 5G improve the connectivity of assets in semiconductor manufacturing floors.
Falcomm develops 5G Power Amplifiers
Falcomm is a US-based startup that creates 5G power amplifiers for wireless communication. The startup’s patented solid-state technology, Dual-Drive, leverages silicon-based 5G amplifiers that use millimeter waves for data transmission. This resolves issues with signal noise and distortion over the air. Through this, Falcomm’s chip optimizes 5G network hardware, reduces energy consumption, and increases data transfer speeds.
milliBeam offers 5G Radio Chipsets
Australian fabless semiconductor startup milliBeam makes chipsets for millimeter-wave 5G radios. The startup combines integrated circuit design, radio architecture, and beamforming to increase network bandwidth. This, in turn, improves network capacity and enables faster speeds for end-users. Moreover, the startup’s chipsets reduce the system-level costs and power consumption associated with 5G communication.
7. In-house Chip Design
Semiconductor companies are transitioning to in-house chip design for better control over their product roadmaps and supply chains. Customized chips with flexible architecture and reused components also enable producers to reduce development timelines. In-house chip design moves the industry from general universal processors to more customized hardware. Startups are offering AI-driven digital tools, independent foundries, and software platforms to manufacture custom silicon and domain-specific chips. This way, fabless manufacturers personalize chips and expand their application portfolios independently from external suppliers.
SEMIFIVE provides a Custom Silicon Platform
SEMIFIVE is a South Korean startup that offers a purpose-built custom silicon platform. It integrates with silicon-proven IPs and optimized design methodologies to improve system-on-a-chip solutions. The platform utilizes continuous integration and deployment to the entire configuration process. Further, its framework merges customer requirements into the design, simulates the environment, and analyses potential issues. This enables small businesses to mitigate outsourcing while lowering costs, reducing risks, and improving turnaround time.
Anari delivers Personalized Chips
US-based startup Anari offers AI-driven personalized chips. The startup provides reconfigurable chips with more efficient computing than conventional graphics processing units (GPUs) to enable quick infrastructure customization. For instance, the startup’s chip, Thor X, employs hardware acceleration and machine learning models for faster data processing. This system-on-cloud technology also uses semantic segmentation of cloud data for 3D applications. This way, Thor X generates accurate information about the images which finds applications in geospatial intelligence, 3D architecture, digital twins, and the metaverse.
8. Fabrication Technologies
The continuous miniaturization of chip geometries requires precise and detail-oriented fabrication technologies. It also brings challenges such as forming fine patterns and placing them on the die on the nanoscale. Metals implemented to reduce wiring delays in circuits add additional complexity. That is why startups are providing fabrication innovations based on additive manufacturing and robotics automation. For example, robotic wafer handling improves fabrication precision. Consequently, chip makers are able to produce components more quickly and cost-effectively with novel fabrication methods.
UNISERS offers Chemical Defectivity Detection
UNISERS is a Swiss startup that provides a semiconductor chemical defectivity detection solution. It utilizes physical coating and optical inspection to find and characterize particles on the nanoscale. For instance, the solution detects wafer parameters such as size, concentration, and chemical composition of nanoparticles. Besides, the startup’s software detects and classifies issues using intelligent data analysis. Chip manufacturers use this solution to reduce risks associated with high-purity chemical processes while securing the supply chain.
EHVA aids Photonic Circuit Testing
EHVA is a Canadian startup that facilitates photonic integrated circuit (PIC) testing. The startup’s fully automated, high-precision robot incorporates 300mm wafer testers for various scenarios, including individualized chips. This testing station has 6-axis nanometer optical aligners to automate processes with high flexibility. Additionally, the startup’s software suite makes the inspection process easier by providing accurate navigation tools. EHVA automates the testing process and ensures product consistency.
9. Automotive Chips
Modern vehicles with autonomous driving capabilities have already altered demand patterns for automotive semiconductors. These vehicles require better electronic solutions for improved connectivity, enhanced sensors, battery performance, and more. That is why there is a growing demand for specialty HPC chips that support real-time and complex analytics. Consequently, startups are creating chip systems that quickly respond to unexpected changes such as traffic stops or car accidents. Such automotive chips feature multiple interconnected sensors and centralized electrical architectures to improve driver and surroundings monitoring.
Yuntu Semiconductor creates Automotive-Grade Chipsets
Chinese fabless semiconductor startup Yuntu Semiconductor makes automotive-grade chipsets. The startup focuses on integrated circuit design to provide clients with their own chipset solutions. Its auto-level micro control unit (MCU) chips deliver delivers high stability and security crucial for automotive control. They find application in electrical control units (ECUs), engines, fuel systems, infotainment systems, autopilot systems, and more.
Lidwave develops Automotive System-on-Chips
Lidwave is an Israeli startup that offers automotive SoCs. Its patented sensing architecture is useful for the 3D perception industry. It develops a lightweight system on the chip with time-based sensing. This approach enables manufacturers to produce LiDAR solutions free of bandwidth limitations. Thus, Lidwave’s 3D sensing technology advances driver assistance systems making them safe and more reliable.
10. Sustainable Manufacturing
To maintain the increasing interest in semiconductors and simultaneously meet the ecological requirements, manufacturers are scrutinizing emissions along the entire supply chain. Chip fabrication generates massive amounts of emissions due to manufacturing tools, chemicals, raw materials, and extensive subfab facilities. Therefore, chip manufacturers are switching to alternative fuels such as biogas and green hydrogen to ensure sustainable operations. They are also substituting conventional chemicals with recycled materials. Fabs improve the sustainability of internal processes by capturing hazardous gases through membrane separation, cryogenic recovery, or desorption. All these solutions break new paths to enable climate-friendly chip manufacturing.
Hard Blue Si-Carbons provides Recycled Silicon Carbide
US-based startup Hard Blue Si-Carbons makes recycled silicon carbide by transforming agricultural residues into semiconductor abrasives. While companies conventionally convert pure biomass to fuels, the startup recovers silicon carbide from agricultural remains. Further, chip makers chemically fuse the obtained material and carbon to get industrially valuable silicon carbide. Silicon carbide is an important abrasive and wafer material for semiconductors. As a result, by recycling agricultural residues the startup enables manufacturers to avoid costs and emissions on mining and transportation.
Digitho offers Chips Traceability
Canadian startup Digitho provides die identification as a service for chip traceability. Since current semiconductors contain subcomponents from multiple supply chains it is challenging to track them. To overcome this, the startup offers digital lithography that enables manufacturers to identify each chip at the wafer level. It collects historical data for material recycling by combining digital verification technologies. This way, Digitho promotes a circular economy and mitigates the need for virgin raw materials.
Discover all Semiconductors Trends, Technologies & Startups
The semiconductor industry is integrating digital tools, fabrication technologies as well as novelties in materials and design. Further, more and more companies are integrating in-house chip production to address the chip shortage. This will drive innovation towards easily scalable and deployable fabrication units. Future innovations will also make personalized chips even more accessible while making chip production more efficient and, importantly, sustainable.
The Semiconductors Trends & Startups outlined in this report only scratch the surface of trends that we identified during our data-driven innovation and startup scouting process. Among others, in-house chip design and manufacturing, HPC, and novel fab technologies will transform the sector as we know it today. Identifying new opportunities and emerging technologies to implement into your business goes a long way in gaining a competitive advantage. Get in touch to easily and exhaustively scout startups, technologies & trends that matter to you!