Semiconductors, because everyone is courting Imec in Belgium

Semiconductors, because everyone is courting Imec in Belgium

The article by Giuseppe Gagliano

The Interuniversity Center for Microelectronics, or Imec , is located in Leuven and is one of Belgium's best kept secrets. Now that there is a shortage of computer chips, everyone suddenly seems to know Imec.

Microchips have become a weapon in the conflict between the United States and China.

Industries are groaning at the semiconductor shortage from the pandemic and now everyone is setting their sights on Imec. The United States, China, Japan and Europe are all seeking independence in chip manufacturing. They therefore always need direct access to advanced technologies.

The European Commission is currently consulting IMEC on expanding the chip offering for the continent. A South Korean ministerial delegation also visited the area earlier this month.

“We have never been in the spotlight as much as we do today,” said Luc Van den Hove, CEO of Imec, in an interview with Bloomberg . "We are getting a lot of attention from local, European, American and even Chinese politicians."

The importance of this research center is such that, before the current economic war with the United States, Imec had collaborated with Huawei Technologies and Qualcomm. The goal was to help China's largest chip maker, Smic, set up a research center. But the US then put China on the embargo list and a series of export controls followed.

Although little known, Imec was founded in 1984 by the Flemish government and today has around 4,500 employees, including research students. About 75% of its funding comes from partners such as Intel, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (Tsmc), and even Samsung Electronics.

Among the main objectives of this center there is of course that of creating smaller and more powerful chips.

In general, Belgian researchers are two or three generations ahead of production. When the rest of the world develops 5-nanometer chips, Imec is already working on a 2-nanometer or smaller chip.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL on Fri, 16 Jul 2021 09:26:16 +0000.