Turning Ideas Into Reality

Paolo Gargini, Fellow at Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group, and director of technology strategy for the semiconductor vendor, understands very well the challenges and sometimes incredible difficulties of moving a product from conception to the end customer.

At the 2011 Semico Summit on May 3, Gargini highlighted the time gap between when an idea is formed, to when the science, technology, and engineering are able to make that idea a reality. The incubation time for a concept to become real has shortened from many decades for, say, satellites to 12-15 years now for many ideas.

The driving technology in the semiconductor industry to date has been the ability to scale CMOS transistors. The Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) is a consortium begun by Semiconductor Industry Association member companies to run a university-based research program to determine what will come next after the limits of CMOS scaling have been reached. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) joined as a full participant in 2007. NRI's goal is to have a demonstrable solution by 2020.

The solution is supposed to show benefits in power, performance, density, and/or cost in order to continue the cost and performance gains from traditional scaling. There are four main branches of the NRI-NIST program: the Western Institute of Nanoelectronics (WIN) at UCLA; the Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery and Exploration (INDEX) at SUNY-Albany; the SouthWest Academy for Nanoelectronics (SWAN) at UT-Austin; and the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND).

Science, technology, and engineering companies have been working together to invent the next new product that we all can't live without. The semiconductor industry has relied on Moore's Law to set a sustainable pace for the past 40 years. As chips have integrated more functions, become denser with transistors, and become available in large quantities, multiple end-product waves have been able to occur.

New technologies are being developed by groups such as NRI, which promise to continue the pace of new chip introductions we have experienced so far. Problems occur when the chips can't meet the products' required functionality, but that's when other similar products can be repurposed in order to drive the eventual success of the end product.

13 comments on “Turning Ideas Into Reality

  1. SunitaT
    May 23, 2011

    Good to know that the incubation time for a concept to become real has shortened to 12-15 years. We need to appreciate the efforst of the industry leaders like GF, Intel, IBM etc who are contributing millions of dollors annually to research.

  2. Nemos
    May 23, 2011

    Very, interesting I did not know the existence of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI).
    NRI has a significant role to play as quickly we are leading to an integration end.

    Further I didn't expect that it takes 12-15 years to turn an idea into reality. I know how difficult could be, but it sounds to me many years for the implementation. Maybe I am addicted to new technology, and I am expecting more than our research model can give.

  3. mario8a
    May 23, 2011


    It will be very interesting to know what Gardini Thinks about the time gap in other technologies such as cell phones, computers, tablets, as he highlighted the Satellite shortened timeframe.


  4. prabhakar_deosthali
    May 24, 2011

    When it takes about 12-15 years for an idea to be materialised into a viable product or technology,  and many millions of dollars and many decades of man years of effort is spent by the R & D companies on the convertion of the ideas into a product, it is worthwhile to know what has been the success rate of such efforts by these reputed R & D organizations and how do these organizations come to the conclusion that an Idea of today can give a viable solution tomorrow if suufient effort is put into its development? I am interested to know since many of us individuals get so many ideas everyday and just forget about them , thinking that it may not be possible to bring them to reality.

  5. Anna Young
    May 24, 2011

    It is interesting to know that “the incubation time for a concept to become a reality is between 12-15 years. This proves a lot of hard work and efforts in realising these ingenuities . Amazing!


  6. jbond
    May 24, 2011

    It is amazing that it takes 12-15 years for an idea to become reality. That is a lot of man hours and serious financial cost. Hopefully with the start up of these four branches, the time period for turning ideas into reality can be cut down dramatically. At least in this set up, there is a conglomerate of researchers and scientists working together towards common goals as opposed to these individuals working for separate companies and not being able to work jointly. These branches should allow us to see some results much quicker.

  7. Taimoor Zubar
    May 24, 2011

    That's a great point. I think it's highly important to consider the success of the products as well and not just the pace at which they are rolled out. Over the recent years we have seen a plethora of electronic products that have failed to make any significant mark. Another point to consider is the quality of these products. Are we really focusing on the quality as well, or simply neglecting it to keep up with the speed of development.

  8. tioluwa
    May 24, 2011

    What kind of ideas take 12-15yrs? It's hard for many to imagine, but Intel also claims that the 3D transistor is a product of a 10year research program

    We don't seam to have looked into Intel's 3D transistor and its potential impact on the semiconductor industry. This is a 22nano device, ready to set the stage for the next generations of semiconductor chips.

  9. Mydesign
    May 25, 2011

        Most of the technologies are formed by years of Research and development by eminent engineers and scientists. We can’t predict the time frame and results for any R&D work, it can be a month to decades. It isn't a matter of technology. The biggest requirement is the desire, patience and willingness to devote the time and funds to develop the technology. Most of the companies, won’t like to invest a huge amount for R&D, because on their account this investments may not bring profit for them immediately and they considering it as dead money. Business peoples and companies want to role money on immediate basis with margins and profits.

        By contributing more talented manpower and collaborative projects can accelerate and speed up the R&D works. In most of the casess sucess ratio is more than average, unless it is an invention.

  10. Mr. Roques
    May 28, 2011

    Well, 12-15 years is a lot! … that obviously depends on what you are producing and the impact it will have.

    Although my comment here is geared at the fact that independently of the time it takes R&D to have it ready, it's the marketing department that really has the final word (before the CEO, etc). 

    Products are probably years ahead of the market, and if you don't get the timing right, it will fail. Think of 3D, it's been around for years! (80s? before that?) and it failed. Thanks for Avatar and a few others before it, its the “in” thing now. 

  11. mario8a
    May 29, 2011


    I think it depens if the idea is what some designers call “blue ocean” where no-one has created before or a totally new market consumer product.

  12. Kunmi
    May 30, 2011

    R&D program of any product may take a minimum of 10-12 years provided it is not generic. Turning ideas to reality can be challenging because you have to prove to the market or the regulatory bodies that your product meets on applicable specs in the design of the idea. As old as the 3D technology had been in the market, continuous efforts and introducing of a new tech over 3D may completely render 3D technology obsolate

  13. prabhakar_deosthali
    May 31, 2011

    In medicine research , such a long time of 10-12 years is understandable because getting a drug developed and approved by the regulatory authrities is really a long drawn process involving a lot of clinical reasearch, trials first on animals and the on humans. In Electronics R & D the development cycles can now be shortened by using a lot of simulation studies, mathematical modeling and so on. An idea can be verified whther it is convertible to a viable product by using such tools. The only uncertainty remains is whether the competion will bring some rival idea into the market before you and kill your market.

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