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Semico Summit Speakers Debate Next "Killer App"

PHOENIX, Arizona March 16, 2004 - At the recent Semico Summit held in Scottsdale, AZ, key industry executives debated the next ‘killer application’ for the semiconductor industry – an application that proves to be a major driver for semiconductor usage. The Semico Summit is an annual conference in which influential executives converge and historically debate and brainstorm significant issues that have an important impact on the future semiconductor industry.

In the past, personal computers and cell phones have emerged as killer applications. There is no question that these two end-use products have dramatically changed the world we live in and, as a result, positively impacted the growth of the semiconductor market. Looking ahead, an often debated question is, “What is the Next Killer Application?” Secondarily, “Will There Be One?” and, “Do We Need One?” The importance of these questions is tied to the competitiveness of the market, and the desire to establish an innovative position.

According to Atiq Raza, Chairman and CEO, Raza Microelectronics, Inc., IT infrastructure will be the heart of growth in the semiconductor industry. Mr. Raza believes the current IT usage model has become a bottleneck. In the future, the next generation IT infrastructure will enable the “virtual computer”, where processing and storage moves from the PC to the network. “Instead of focusing on the next killer application, these changes will be instrumental in moving the industry forward”, said Raza.

Dr. Kevin Kettler, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Dell Corp., is similarly less focused on the term ‘killer application’, and more concerned with the question, “How will we fill the fabs?” “It’s all about demand generation”, said Dr. Kettler. “Expanding the market for products we currently sell, creating shorter replacement cycles through innovation, and creating new product categories are all ways to create demand”, he continued. Future technology growth areas include wireless, fuel cells, nano technologies, MEMs, and programmability. Additionally, security – physical, user, system, and network – will be an important driver, and the increased need is expected to force replacement cycles.

John Bourgoin, President and CEO, MIPS Technologies, Inc., suggested that instead of a killer application, there will be several killer experiences that will drive semiconductor demand. “Common applications can become ‘killer’ drivers of silicon consumption”, Bourgoin stated. On the consumer side, an example Mr. Bourgoin discussed is the consumer digital experience outside the home. We carry many different digital devices, such as cameras, laptops, PDAs, and MP3 players. Today, none of these devices communicate easily with each other, but in the future Mr. Bourgoin sees a change in consumers’ lifestyles, in which we can “experience on demand”, anywhere and anytime.

Semico Research President Jim Feldhan commented, “I agree that there is a not a single ‘killer app’ on the horizon. I believe there are several different killer technologies that will drive the creation of new devices as well as the replacement of new ones. Perhaps the most important example of a killer technology is fuel cells, that will drive the replacement over the next several years of such battery-powered devices as cell phones, laptops, and PDAs.”

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