FAQs About the Focus Center Research Program (FCRP)
FCRP Legacy Content
FCRP Phase V ended on 31-Jan-2013, and this content may no longer be current.
Longer term microelectronics research is now being sponsored by DARPA and industry participants in STARnet (FCRP Phase VI).
- What is a Focus Center?
- Who is participating in the Focus Centers?
- How much money is involved?
- Why was the Focus Center Research Program developed?
- How do the Focus Centers relate to other semiconductor industry research activities, including the program of research already funded by SEMATECH and GRC?
- What is the time-frame of this long-term research?
- What areas of technology are the Focus Centers targeting?
- Who conducts the Focus Center research?
- How are the Focus Centers evaluated?
- Who owns the intellectual property?
- Is this a good use of tax dollars?
- How does the size of this program compare with other grants awarded universities?
- Is government money really needed to fund this program? Why involve taxpayer dollars at all?
A Focus Center is a team of U.S. universities that conduct exploratory research on silicon-based integrated circuits to address gaps and barriers anticipated in the development of certain technologies, as outlined by the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors(ITRS).
The ITRS is a 15-year projection of the semiconductor industry's technology requirements designed to ensure continued advances in the performance of integrated circuits. The roadmap helps identify future barriers to meeting the industry's requirements and guides R&D investment decisions.
All research conducted by Focus Centers will be pre-competitive and use cross-disciplinary, broad-based resources to enhance the transfer of technology from universities to industry. Focus Centers will target long-range research -- eight years and beyond. (Back to top)
The Focus Centers are a cooperative effort. Participants include members of:
- Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA)
- Semiconductor Materials & Equipment Suppliers and EDA companies
- U.S. Department of Defense
The Focus Centers are managed by MARCO, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Semiconductor Research Corporation. MARCO stands for Microelectronics Advanced Research Corporation. (Back to top)
The Focus Centers receive multiple millions of dollars. The specific amount varies according to negotiations with the universities. (Back to top)
The semiconductor industry is subject to rapid technology change and demands for fast returns on investment. To sustain the historically intense pace, the industry must eliminate technological barriers identified by the ITRS. Most current industry research efforts address shorter-term needs, but to ensure its future, the industry must also conduct longer-term, exploratory research as well. The Focus Center will focus on creating technological options through longer-term research. (Back to top)
5) How do the Focus Centers relate to other semiconductor industry research activities, including the program of research already funded by SEMATECH and GRC?
Most industry research is, by design, narrowly focused on shorter-term solutions to existing problems: i.e., it looks at evolutionary approaches. This research is very important to the current health of the industry, but in many cases it does not address longer-term needs, where revolutionary approaches may be required because of impending technology barriers. Focus Centers will perform longer-term, more broad-based research, with the goal of expanding the knowledge base of the semiconductor industry. Researchers at the Focus Centers will generate ideas for technological solutions, which GRC and SEMATECH will direct to companies for commercialization as appropriate. To better understand some of the differences between the GRC research program and FCRP, refer to Focus Center Research Program Overview.
The Focus Centers' research agendas will concentrate on research that is typically at least eight years from commercialization. (Back to top)
Professors, post-doctoral researchers, industry assignees and graduate students will conduct research using university facilities and equipment. Multi-year contracts, covering the cost of equipment, facilities and research, have been set up with sponsoring organizations. U.S. government laboratories could perform research as well. (Back to top)
FCRP contracts are rebid every three years. The program is reviewed every year and adjusted, if necessary, to adapt to changes in technology developments. In addition each center conducts quarterly and annual technology reviews, members provide feedback at these reviews to guide research directions(Back to top)
Focus Center members will obtain worldwide, non-transferable, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to inventions and works of authorship (e.g., software) resulting from Focus Center-funded research. MARCO will sub-license such inventions and works of authorship, as appropriate, to Focus Center members. (Back to top)
Yes! The government has a vested interest in the ever-expanding capability of semiconductor-based information technology and in academic research to maintain the same. An important arm of research in the United States, the American university system benefits significantly from the program., receiving resources for salaries, equipment and upgraded facilities. In addition, by helping ensure the health of a major U.S. industry, the program makes a significant investment in the future of the U.S. economy. (Back to top)
We believe the Focus Center Research Program is one of the largest research contracts ever funded by private industry.(Back to top)
The Department of Defense has a long history of involvement in semiconductor technology programs. The program will help solve technology challenges that dramatically affect the performance of military equipment and assure superiority in deployed military capability. So, it makes sense for the government to be involved when it is so closely linked to the investment's return. It also ensures the government will receive immediate access to new technological discoveries. (Back to top)