Friday, August 31, 2007

Does India need fabs? Worth a try!

A friend asked me whether India needs a fab. My answer quick and short was no! While it would be enchanting to see India join the global "fab club" or even have Indians comment "real men own fabs" for a change, I just don't see the ecosystem -- as people like to call it -- there. Maybe, once the odd fabs come up, that would develop as well. However, it can be quite some time away.

India, as most of us know, are strong in embedded and SoC related work. We are strong in design services. We are good at playing to our strengths. We should continue to do so. Note that we are not yet a one-stop design shop, though many people seem to see it that way. This is not exactly software and services!

However, to move up the so-called semicon value chain, India needs to do high-end designs and product development. The last one is currently the problem area.

How many Indian firms are involved in product development? Can you name them? Do you have the names on your fingertips? Most importantly, are those aimed for captive consumption (within the country) or are those serving the global markets? What are the product differentiators?

Right! Let's get back to the fab business. I asked in a earlier piece that whether everyone are aware of the kind of investment that is required for a fab. Do people even have an idea how long would it take for a fab to break even?

First, the investment. The fab is not going to be a small building built on some piece of land. If it's going to be a 300mm fab, the expenses are going to be huge. Let's keep this easy. For starters, there is going to be a fixed cost for maintaining the day-to-day running of a fab. That itself is going to be huge.

Two, most of the fab work would be automated. A fab won't exactly be hiring numbers running well over thousands. Even if huge numbers were hired, do we have people in the country with experience of working in green rooms? Let's assume there are!

Next, there are several other processes involved in developing wafer out of silicon. Do we have people with that kind of experience? Let's again assume that there are. Again, the operating costs for maintaining such personnel would be quite high.

Three, let's get down to the equipment required for a fab. That's going to be really expensive. Most importantly, all of it has to be in place, running, before the fab actually goes live. Next, a fab can't survive for long if it rests on using certain technologies. It has to use all possible latest technologies. Again, getting those would be expensive.

Finally, the wafers coming out have to be world-class and the yield, high, rather, very high. Those should be able to serve multiple product needs as well -- niche and vogue. Oh yes, the fab has to serve the global market. So, do add the marketing costs as well.

How long will it take for such a fab to break-even? Maybe, three to five years. Add the fact that technologies and process geometries would have also progressed a lot by that time. Which means, all of those need to be added on to the fab.

Well, it's worth a challenge. India is betting big on semicon. Let's have those fabs along with the fabless folks. We'll know who stands where, and whether India really has the capability to move up the semiconductor value chain.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Qualcomm rocks top 10! Is fabless the way ahead?

For the first time in semiconductors, a fabless company has cracked the Top 10! This honor has gone to Qualcomm, which broke into the Top-10 ranks of the global chip industry in the second quarter of 2007, according to iSuppli!

The list is consumed by the usual suspects, the giants -- Intel, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, STMicroelectronics, Renesas, Hynix, NXP -- from no. 1 to no. 8, and then, Qualcomm -- the surprise entrant at no. 9, and finally, Infineon Technologies.

This leads to a question: is fabless the way ahead for the future? Maybe, there is! After all, iSuppli reports of an "Asian flu" -- read: all leading Asian semicon suppliers witnessing declines in revenues, even as Qualcomm moved up!

Here's what Future Horizons has to say in its monthly semiconductor forecast:

If May’s WSTS results were "disappointing", June's were a real proverbial kick in the pants, with 2Q07 down 2 percent on the 1Q07. Whilst we had anticipated in last month’s Report that the quarter would be down "at least 1 percent versus 1Q07", we had expected it to be closer to 1 percent, not 2. This year is turning out to be even more of a white-knuckle ride than normal, testing the industry’s vision and faith to new limits. With short-term industry momentum still refusing to rebound, all bets are still on for the second-half of the year. ASPs remain the underlying cause of the industry’s problem, given June’s IC units were up 11.8 percent on the same period last year. With first-half year units up a respectable -- and sustainable -- 7.7 percent year-on-year, the value growth limped in at only 2.6 percent, due to a 4.6 percent decline in IC ASPs.

While Qualcomm surged in the second quarter, Asian biggies such as Samsung, Toshiba, Hynix, Sony and NEC saw semiconductor revenues decline. iSuppli reported Hynix and Toshiba as taking the biggest hits among the Top-10 suppliers.

What about India then, where you often hear cries for fabs? Does everyone know what kind of investment is required for a fab? And well, do people even have an idea how long would it take for a fab to break even?

Let's try something easier! Even if India currently has close to 200mn mobile phones and is growing, how many of those chips for mobile phones are currently being made in fabs located in India? Would a fab located in India only cater to the domestic market or should it cater to the overseas market as well? How many Indian companies are making those chips and how much is it all adding to India's GDP? Most importantly, are those fabs run by home-grown Indian companies? Are there any chances?

There are several fabless companies in India, especially in Bangalore. It won't take long to find them! There has been an endless debate on fabs vs. fabless. There's a reason why India has been stronger in semicon design!

However, to move up the value chain, India is being pushed hard to join the fab community. Given the current market dynamics, it may a long while before we get to see real success, should, as and when a fab or multiple fabs come up. Success may come, but it won't be easily achieved.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bangalore Nano puts Indian firmly on world nanotechnology map

India is now firmly on the global nanotechnology map, following the announcement of the first Bangalore Nano 2007 Convention, which will be held this December.

The nanotechnology industry is heralding a new world order. It has been estimated that the market will grow to over US $1 trillion by 2015. In the US, nanotechnology projects have attracted more than US$800 million in public funds making it the largest research project since the Apollo moon landing.

The European Union is also committed to ensuring a balanced approach in developing nanotechnology. Japan has been investing in nanoscience since the 1980s and is now behind only to the USA in terms of government investment. South Korea and China have revised and improved their national initiatives over the past year, and Australia and India have announced significant new national investments in nanoscience and nanotechnology.

The first ever such Convention, a two-day event on nanoscience and technology, will be held on December 6-7, in association with Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR). It would focus on the integrated roles of technologies, applications and market for the successful commercialization of nanotechnology. The theme of the event is: ‘Bridging the research-industry gap in Nanotechnology’.

My colleague, Radhika, has actually written about Bangalore Nano 2007, and I'm merely borrowing that page link from CIOL Semicon home page.

Bangalore Nano 2007 is the first major event of its kind in the country and is likely to host renowned global scientists and industry veterans in the field of nanotechnology.

C.N.R. Rao, honorary president, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) and the Chief Mentor of Bangalore Nano 2007, said: “Nanotechnology, which has a global business potential of nearly $1 trillion, has many valuable societal application for the unprivileged in the country, including the creation of a more efficient filtering systems for producing clean drinking water and the provision of cheap and clean energy."

This will surely be an event worth the wait

IDC's semicon predictions and top 10 vendors

Looks like a season of predictions in semiconductors. Just a few weeks back, I was looking at IC Insights' top 20 global semicon rankings by sales. And now, we have IDC's list of the top 10 vendors by revenue, along with predictions of its own. Let's look at the table.

According to IDC's table, Intel, Samsung and Texas Instruments held on to the number 1, 2 and 3 positions respectively, with TI showing the highest growth percentage in revenue among the top three leaders.

With the exception of Intel, Renesas, and NXP, all other vendors in IDC's 2006 top 10 ranking showed positive growth. Hynix grew at an amazing rate of 43 percent over the same period thanks to the company's growing position in DRAM and NAND.

Now, if we look back at IC Insights' ranking from a few weeks ago, I find some differences. First, the similarity -- The top three -- Intel, Samsung and TI, retain their positions in both tables!

However, in IC Insights' table, ST and Toshiba exchanged the next two positions, as did Hynix and TSMC, while Renesas was at no. 8! Freescale dropped from no. 9 to no. 16, while Sony, NXP and NEC gained one place each. Infineon climbed back up to no. 12, from no. 16, while Qualcomm occupied the no. 13 position, up from no. 17. AMD dropped two positions, from no. 13 to no. 15.

In IDC's table (by semicon revenue), STMicroelectronics, Toshiba, Renesas, Hynix, AMD, Freescale and NXP occupied positions 4th to 10th, respectively. IDC has made some predictions as well. These include:

Outlook for 2007
* Demand for semiconductors is centered on the big three segments: PC and mobile phone unit volume is steady, led by emerging regions and low-end products. Consumer demand is lackluster, but excess inventory has subsided and IDC expects the design momentum to lead to healthy volume growth during the holiday season.
* DRAM and NAND are experiencing much lower revenue outlook this year following the severe price correction in the first half of 2007.
* Microprocessor market remains flat this year.

Long-term trends
* Emerging regions will boost semiconductor volume growth.
* Multimedia-rich mobile phones continue to drive semiconductor content and demand for processing, memory consumption, and power management.
* Personal computing further migrates toward mobility and low-priced form factors.
* Video processing proliferates across multiple consumer electronic segments, resulting in strong growth for semiconductor suppliers.
* Semiconductor connectivity technologies drive new usage models across device segments.
* Growth in personal content implies increasing need for storage, including NAND.

By the way, IDC's Worldwide Semiconductor Market Forecaster predicts that the 2007 revenue slowdown in the worldwide semiconductor market will make way to a healthier 2008!

The worldwide semiconductor market will grow at a conservative rate of 4.8 percent in 2007, compared to 8.8 percent in 2006. IDC expects growth to resume at 8.1 percent in 2008 based on the current outlook. Interesting days ahead in semicon!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Will Z-RAM lead DRAM rebound?

Most of us have and use swanky mobile phones with enough memory to store videos, songs, clips, images, etc. And we certainly love playing with those wonderful devices. However, have we ever wondered where is all that memory coming from? There's DRAM, and then, there's Z-RAM.

Another news! It was reported recently that record sales of NAND-based iPhones and iPods were using up serious flash memory. Apple's two biggest hits are likely to consume 25 percent of the global flash output! This could drive up prices of memory in the not too distant future. Now this is good news for memory makers.

Now let's start with DRAM, which just got over a very difficult first half of the year. Evidence now suggests that the market, and free-falling ASPs, turned the corner in July and will begin an upward climb resulting in increases in quarterly growth through the balance of 2007, according to IC Insights. It reports that second-half optimism can be linked to the typical back-to-school and seasonal holiday demand, but other specific reasons include:

PC shipments are forecast to increase 12 percent in 2007, with the average PC forecast to contain 1.4GB of DRAM, an increase of 75 percent over 2006, when memory per PC averaged 800MB. The average system memory per PC is expected to grow from 1.3GB in 2Q07, to 1.4GB in 3Q07 and 1.6GB in 4Q07. Some DRAM vendors believe as many as 45 percent of PCs shipped in 4Q07 will contain 2GB of DRAM, the amount required for optimal performance using the Vista OS.

Strong specialty DRAM demand driven by handsets and game consoles will also help boost DRAM demand in H2-07. The Xbox 360 (512MB GDDR3 DRAM), PlayStation 3 (256MB XDR DRAM), and the Nintendo Wii (64MB GDDR3 DRAM) -- require significant amount of memory. Meanwhile, increased DRAM content in new-generation handsets and other personal mobile products will generate more growth opportunities for DRAM suppliers. IC Insights forecasts an average 28MB of DRAM per cellular phone handset in 2007.

On the other side, a significant piece of news hit headlines recently. Hynix Semiconductor Inc. agreed to license Innovative Silicon Inc.'s (ISi), Z-RAM high-density memory intellectual property (IP) for use in its DRAM chips.

According to a release, Z-RAM-based DRAMs will use a singletransistor bitcell -- rather than a combination of transistors and capacitor elements -- representing the first fundamental DRAM bitcell change since the invention of the DRAM in the early 1970s. Hynix has received the first-mover opportunity to bring Z-RAM to the DRAM market. To ensure this advantage,the two companies have committed considerable engineering resources to work side-by-side on the program.

Z-RAM was initially developed as the world’s lowest-cost embedded memory technology for logic-based ICs such as mobile chipsets, microprocessors, networking and other consumer applications The technology was first licensed, in December 2005, by AMD for upcoming microprocessor designs. Now, the engagement with Hynix positions Z-RAM to become the lowest-cost memory technology in the greater than $30bn memory market. This is surely good news for the memory segment.

So, is supply-demand balance appears to be returning to the DRAM market in the second half of the year? And will Z-RAM lead a rebound? Time will tell!

End note: Recently, there was this power outage in Seoul, Korea, which knocked off quite a few chip production lines at Samsung. As I press this blog, I've come across the news that Samsung will likely deliver only 85 percent of promised NAND flash to its major customers. Is the pain going to extend?

Yield management, DFM in the Indian context

There is a lack of satisfactory match that needs to be overcome for India to go up in the semiconductor value chain. This should be overcome by training, adopting new methodologies/tools and taking care of it from the beginning in the design phase, according to S. Uma Mahesh, co-founder CEO of Indrion Technologies, in this discussion on yield management and DFM in the Indian context.

It is said that design for manufacturing (DFM) means design for money and design for profitability. What are designers doing about maintaining these? Most importantly, are the designers conscious of yield. According to Uma Mahesh, it is not as much as they should! It is still not mapped to technical parameters. That is, what if they do will effect the yield to what extent!

On DFM, essentially, it implies that design takes care of effects of manufacturing, by factoring for it in all phases of design -- beginning with architecture. This is done in terms of design margins, matching the projected performance numbers to those achieved.

This requires designers to factor for it, primarily the cross talk, electro migration, signal 'bouncing', etc., by planning for the power bus, clock bus architecture, their widths. And similarly, at the frontend level, by planning for the margins in timings, clock skews and latencies.

Teams are increasingly planning for these from different stages of front-end design and also in the physical design planning and later, by using tools that are actually aware of the DFM, SI effects, respectively.

Are designers as conscious of yield as they should be? If not, why and what should they do to improve? To this, it had more to do with 'realizing the importance of design decisions on yield'. DFY, DFM, etc., are new developments, that are of higher importance for some designs over other -- for example, for high frequency, high performance, lower geometry designs. More importance should be give to these aspects by companies when they train their engineers.

Companies should try to incorporate these aspects in training and inculcate the importance of these to the engineers, explaining the importance of these factors to the products they develop. In short, more education of the factors are required.

Is the yield accurately mapping into the technical parameters that would ultimately lead to higher tapeout percentage? What are the challenges and how can those be overcome? This was not yet happening for the reasons below.

The essential tools are in the process of becoming part of the design process and they do a good job. However, this is still an evolving space, and hence, lots of opportunity for EDA tool companies, startups, as can be noticed in the industry activity globally.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sixty years of India's scientific and IT might

On the eve of India's 60th Independence Day, let's us raise a toast and pay tribute to those scientific greats who are responsible for making India what it is today -- an IT powerhouse, a nation that boasts of great scientific heritage. These are just a few. There have been so many, many more.

It all started with the late Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, said to be the father of India's space program. Establishing the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is among his achievements. Then there's late Homi Jehangir Bhabha, the famous Indian nuclear physicist, who was responsible for establishing the Atomic Energy Commission. The Atomic Energy Establishment was renamed as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in his honor, after his untimely death.

We have all the love and respect for Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, India's 12th president, a notable scientist and engineer. Often referred to as the Missile Man of India, he is considered an innovator and a visionary.

We have R.A. Mashelkar, a leader in science and technology, and former director general, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). We salute Dr. R. Chidambaram, one of India’s distinguished experimental physicists. Some of the research groups established by him in BARC in high-pressure physics and neutron crystallography are regarded among the best in the world.

There is Dr Sam Pitroda, the inventor, entrepreneur and policymaker. Besides founding the Center for Development of Telematics (C-DoT), he is the man responsible for bringing about the telecom revolution. Under his leadership, India developed the rural automatic exchange (RAX), and the public call offices (PCO) also came into being. Let's also salute N. Vittal, former chairman, Telecom Commission and former secretary, Department of Telecommunication (DoT).

Salute to the late Dhirubhai Ambani, who's grand vision of the mobile phones reaching the lower classes of the society revolutionized the mobile phone services industry. Salute to the late Dewang Mehta, who lobbied strongly for India, via, NASSCOM, and under whose leadership India developed into a software powerhouse. We salute F.C. Kohli, considered as the 'Father of Indian IT' and former leader of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).

We also have Vinod Dham, often referred to as the father of the Intel Pentium processor, is now a venture capitalist and co-founder of New Path Ventures. Then, there is Shiv Nadar, who transformed HCL into the powerhouse that it is today.

We salute N.R. Narayan Murthy, who made Infosys what it is today, as well as Azim Hasham Premji, CEO and chiarman of Wipro. Of course, there's Sridhar Mitta too, the internationally recognized expert in the management of R& D in IT.

Lest we forget, there are several giants in the Indian telecom industry as well, such as P.K. Sandell, Y.K. Agarwal, Mahendra Nahata, Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala (the inventor or the brain behind CorDECT), and so many more.

In the semicon space, we have visionaries such as Rajendra Khare, Srini Rajam, S. Uma Mahesh, Dr. Ananda, Dr. Bobby Mitra, Pratul Shroff, S. Janakiraman, Dr. Satya Gupta, Dr. Madhu Atre, and many others. One of India's celebrated sons, Prof Krishna Saraswat, was recently bestowed the TechnoVisionary Award by ISA-VSI to recognize his contribution in semiconductors. Salute to all the wonderful teachers at the IITs, especially those who won the ISA-VSI Technovation awards! What a glorious lot!

Salute to all of these giants, and many, many others who have contributed toward making India a scientific and IT powerhouse! Proud to be an Indian!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Top 10 influential tech products of last 25 years

It is becoming a season to talk about top things, ain't it? About a fortnight back, Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), announced its Top 10 list of the most influential technology products of the past 25 years.

According to CompTIA, a total of 471 individuals participated in the CompTIA survey, which was conducted in May and June. Products developed by Microsoft claimed four of the top five spots in the poll of information technology (IT) industry professionals, conducted in conjunction with the 25th anniversary of CompTIA. Apple's iPod is the only non-Microsoft product to break into the top 5.

As per CompTIA, the top 10 most influential technology (or computing) products of the past 25 years are:

1. Internet Explorer (selected by 66 percent those surveyed)
2. MS Word (selected by 56 percent of survey respondents)
3. Windows 95 (selected by 50 percent of survey respondents)
4. Apple's iPod and MS Excel (tied at 49 percent each)
6. Blackberry (selected by 39 percent of survey respondents)
7. Adobe Photoshop (selected by 35 percent of survey respondents)
8. McAfee VirusScan (selected by 32 percent of survey respondents)
9. Netscape Navigator and Palm's PalmPilot (tied at 31 percent each)

While there will be differences of opinion about this list, and also the fact that components of MS Office have been broken up into separate components, it's quite evident yet again that Microsoft rules the computing world, and will continue to do so for a long time. Well done to the great team at Microsoft!

Now, I have my own comments regarding these selections. First, I have always believed Mac OS to be better than Windows. So, I'd put Mac OS in place of Windows 95.

I won't have MS Office there, or any components of MS Office, as I felt back in early 2000 that StarOffice and now, Open Office are equally good.

I'd replace IE with Opera, which is a lighter and much better browser, even back when it was first launched.

Yes, Apple's iPod has revolutionized digital music, but don't forget Real Player! The first time we all probably started watching videos and listen to music over the Web was by using the Real Player! For most, it was the first experience of streaming video and audio!

I agree Palm's done very well and changed the way people looked at mobile computing. However, it was the short-lived Apple's Newton, which first promised all of this. By the way, I must have the iMac on my list too.

My list would have another Adobe product, the Pagemaker, which revolutionized desktop publishing. Don't know whether people remember Quark Express! I am tempted to add Unix, or well, Linux, as it really brought open source into the great, wide open!

Lot of people are enamored by the Blackberry today. However, it was way back in 2000 when I was using my Siemens GSM phone in Hong Kong and elsewhere to send and receive emails, and also use it to search for hotels and other establishments over GPRS. In fact, at a conference in Singapore in 2002, during a survey done among the participants, I was among the three people using the GSM phone to send and receive emails! So, shouldn't mobile phones be the first on everyone's list?

Finally, I'll definitely add Tally to my list. Tally, as all Indians know, is the most widely used accounting software, starting way back in 1986. The mumbers achieved by this single accounting software is simply mind-boggling!

My Top 10
Therefore, friends, my list of the top 10 technology (or computing) products of the last 25 years would be:

1. Mobile phones (GSM phones, especially) -- all down the years
2. Tied between Apple's Mac OS and the iMac
3. Linux
4. McAfee's VirusScan
5. Real Player
6. Tied between Quark Express and Adobe Pagemaker
7. Netscape Navigator
8. Tally
9. Tied between StarOffice and Open Office
10. Tied between Opera browser and Apple's Newton

I am sure that most people will not agree with my selection/choices or even find my list appealing. That's fine! It's my own individual selection and I'm not canvassing for anyone in particular! These are purely my observations over the last two decades.

I am delighted at having had the privilege, like most of you, perhaps, to have had the honor of using all of these great technologies and products. Hats off to all the technologists of the world!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Top 10 Indian semicon companies

I've been looking at a lot of surveys on the Indian IT and telecom industries. In all or a majority of those, the Indian arms of various MNCs seem to be leading. There is hardly any presence of solid, home-grown Indian companies in any of those lists. Of course, I won't argue on this point for software, as India is a clear global leader.

Recently, a friend asked me on my opinion on these surveys. My answer was simple: it does not reflect India's strength at all! We are praising MNCs sky high! We've always done that and continue doing so! If a global CEO visits India, we in the media go crazy, trying to cover them! However, when a head from say, Ittiam or Quasar or L&T EmSys goes overseas, there's no such media frenzy! Hurts, right?

Two instances. First, CommunicAsia in Singapore, some years ago. No one knew Jataayu! It was the only company from India at that time! Second, couple of years back, in Hong Kong. Again, Jataayu!! Its Europe head was there, but the company hardly attracted the media! Of course, a few foreign journalist friends did meet them, or so, they said.

A third one, and the best one -- this is fairly recent! I interviewed the CEO of one of India's prominent semiconductor companies in the lobby of a prominent hotel in a major city! Hardly anyone turned their head!! And I believe, some press folks were there to attend some press conferences organized by some MNCs!

I've spent a considerable time in the Greater China region and am used to seeing surveys and reports that ONLY feature home-grown companies. So, maybe, it's that bias that I suffer from. However, not only I, but anyone really, really concerned about the well being of the Indian IT and telecom industry would love to see more home grown and bred companies.

Sure, we do not manufacture much! Or is it really the Indian mindset that goes with everything services and against manufacturing!! I recall the early-to-mid 1990s, when I used to cover electronic components for some foreign publications. It was a time when we were, I feel now, quite good in that area. Well, today, I don't see anyone reporting on components, and I include myself in that list. Hope I can change that.

Well, a friend, Sayan, also asked me my opinion regarding the top 10 Indian companies as far as semiconductors are concerned. He probably read the blog or saw the list of the top global semicon companies.

My top 10 Indian semicon companies
Given from what I've seen happen over the last four years or so, I am inclined to put the top 10 Indian companies as follows (in no particular order, though, and irrespective of their current status),

1. Sasken
2. Mindtree
3. Ittiam Systems
4. eInfochips
5. Softjin
6. MosChip/Jataayu
7. Infosys/TCS
8. HCL Technologies
9. Wipro
10. Quasar/L&T EmSys

I know many would not agree with this list, and so be it! Also, some of the companies are heavily into the design services domain, and should not even be in this list, but are there, as I don't see many other Indian semiconductor companies about. At least, not yet! Or, I missed them, and if so, my apologies.

SemIndia does not make my list, yet, nor Spel! Indrion is going to be a company to watch, as also IndusEdge. There, I said it! We lack product companies, especially in semiconductors. We are poor in electronics and we have always been weak in hardware. And, we have a problem accepting that!

We can talk a lot about having chip design automation and embedded design, etc. We can talk a lot about being strong in the semiconductor design space. We can also discuss talent shortage and all that! However, the truth is unless Indian companies really get innovative and enter high-end designs, well and truly, we will continue to be an also-ran in the high-tech world. And, we, as a country need to back our own people first!

Sure, the software industry is strongest in the world, and employs a whole lot of people. However, it would be wise for India to not rest on these laurels, if it wishes to move up the semicon value chain! And, for once, let us all support Indian product companies! The Ittiams, eInfochips, SoftJins, MosChips, etc., matter too!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Introducing FPGA Central!

All of those related to the FPGA and VLSI segments, there's reason to rejoice. The world's first dedicated portal on FPGAs is here!

FPGA Central is said to be central place to find complete info about FPGA vendors, products, IPs, etc.

Field programmable gate array, aka, FPGAs is a semiconductor device containing programmable logic components called 'logic blocks', and programmable interconnects. They are especially popular for prototyping integrated circuit designs. Once the design is set, hardwired chips are produced for faster performance. Its flexibility and low cost of implementation is the key factor for its success.

FPGA Central aims to bring all FPGA related information under one central location. A vendor neutral place to find everything about FPGAs, CPLDs, EDA Tools for FPGAs.

FPGA Central has been created to provide a central place for FPGA vendors and users to share experiences and information about FPGA design, development, verification, validation, process, tools and products.

The sites major feature includes:
* Largest FPGA vendor directory (over 450)
* Vast product directory (over 800)
* IP catalog (over 750)
* Find FPGA events around the world
* FPGA discussion forums
* Latest FPGA news and press releases
* FPGA jobs listing

A release said: "We are enhancing user experience by providing reviews and ratings of all the listing on our Web site. The users are encouraged to discuss their problems and share thoughts." This is just the beginning! Over the next couple of months, FPGA Central plans to add more features to help users to make more informative decisions and vendors to showcase their products.

Need I say more? I was also able to post two articles and the previous blog on the ISA-VSI awards on FPGA Central. Look forward to receiving the newsletters as well. At least, I won't need to look around all over the Web for FPGA related stuff, and believe that FPGA Central would do the job for me.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Academia wins big at ISA-VSI Technovation Awards

The India Semiconductor Association (ISA), along with the VLSI Society of India (VSI), gave away the first ISA-VSI Technovation Awards before a gathering of the virtual who's who of the Indian semicon industry in Bangalore.

This is probably the first time that the Indian academia has been honored in such a manner by an industry association. The occasion symbolized how closely the Indian academia was working with the Indian semiconductor industry.

The ISA-VSI TechnoVisionary, a Lifetime achievement award, was given to Prof. Krishna Saraswat from the Stanford University, USA for his outstanding contributions in the field of semiconductors.

The ISA-VSI TechnoMentor of the year award was given to Prof. Jagdish Kumar of IIT-Delhi, an academic professional working in India for mentoring and research. The professor thanked all of his students and well wishers, who contributed in one way or the other in his receiving the award.

The Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and the Indian Institute of Technology, Karagpur were the joint recipients of the ISA-VSI TechnoShield Award. The two institutes have done commendable work in the field of microelectronics.

Rakesh Sharma from the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra and Syam Sundar Reddy E, from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, received the ISA-VSI TechnoInventor Award for their outstanding post-graduate and doctoral research thesis.

Poornima Shenoy, president, ISA, summed it all aptly saying: "The semiconductor driven industry relies on university research to take it further. India should be an active participant in this process and industry appreciates and understands this fact."