Saturday, November 28, 2009

MEMS likely to see strong recovery in 2010!

Recently, Jérémie Bouchaud – Director and Principal Analyst, MEMS, iSuppli, ran a program on High-margin MEMS: Medical, Industrial and Aerospace.

According to Bouchaud, the MEMS market is not immune to the downturn and is down 8 percent in 2009. The bottom was hit in Q1-09. However, the MEMS segment is likely to see strong recovery and regain double digit growth in 2010.

The high end markets enjoy similar growth as consumer and mobile MEMS markets. It has grown at 16 percent CAGR from 2008-2013. There are opportunities for small companies and foundries. Volume manufacturers have also come to high end markets.

Overview for high-margin MEMS
Providing a market and suppliers overview for high margin MEMS from 2008-13, he said: “We don’t believe MEMS market is immune to the current market conditions. It went down 5 percent in 2008 and 8 percent in 2009. The last quarter of 2008 was very bad.

Not only automotive applications are suffering, the entire industry is suffering. Only a few segments in consumer electronics and cell phones, etc. are doing better. However, going 2010 onward, MEMS industry will see +11.5 percent growth from 2009-2013.

Coming to MEMS market by applications, mobile and CE are driving growth. They are not going down in 2009, but slightly growing by 4-5 percent. Most other applications are going down, however. Areas like military and civil aerospavce, medical electronics, industry and process control, are interesting.

High margin MEMS is growing as fast as CE and mobile MEMS — 16 percent CAGR from 2008-2013. Industry and process control will be biggest part of the market by 2013. Also, medical electronics and military and civil aerospace should do well, added Bouchaud.

This market should be more stable than what it is presently. MEMS wafer probe cards, e.g., is extremely dependent on the memory market, which has been going up and down. Demand for memory has been bad in 2008 and 2009.

He also presented a brief overview of the top suppliers for high margin MEMS — such as Formfactor, Honeywell, GE Sensing, FLIR Systems, Epson, DRS, JDSU, BAE Systems, MEAS and Panasonic.

Formfactor is the leading manufacturer, especially in wafer probes. Honeywell is a significant player, strong in accelerometers, gyroscopes for aerospace and defense applications. GE Sensing is a leader for pressure sensors for medical applications. FLIR Systems is a leader in microbolometers for industrial and defence application.

Epson is a leader for professional inkjet applications. Panasonic is a key player in pressure sensors, accelerometers, etc. JDSU is a purely fabless optical MEMS company. MEAS has a number of products — accelerometers, vibration sensors, flow sensors, etc.

Bouchaud also discussed the leading MEMS foundries for higher MEMS, where iSuppli calculated the revenue for high margin MEMS products only. These include companies such as Microalyne, Silex, IMT, Tronics, GE Sensing, Coilbrys, Menscap, Dalsa, Honeywell, Semefab, Microfab Bremen, X-Fab, MEAS and APM.

This is a very diverse picture, he said. “We have pure play foundries — purely focused on high end MEMS markets, such as Micralyne, IMT, Tronics.” Another group is covering both high end and volume markets such as consumer and automotive — like Silex, Dalsa, APM, etc. Then, there are those with mixed models, which are IDMs, such as GE Sensing, Colibrys, Memscap, Honeywell, etc.

High margin markets attract volume suppliers!
– Accelerometers/vibration sensors for health and structure monitoring, industry, medical, asset monitoring.

* This market was once dominated by expensive piezo-resistive MEMS sensors (like Endevco, MEAS).
* Volume accelerometer suppliers now try leveraging low power low cost and robust CE sensor experience into indl applications.
* VTI, ADI, Freescale, ST are now quite active.
* Accelerated price erosion is now happening due to the arrival of the big players. It could be a threat to established suppliers who have been having nice margins so far.

– High margin foundry work, e.g., for biomedical, industry, aerospace and defence, optical telecom.

* Traditionally, it was in the hands of Micralyne, Tronics, IMT.
* Silex historically on high margin markets, but has been moving to higher volume for customer during 2006 to 2008.
* Dalsa and Sony historically focused on higher volumes like consumer and automotive.
^ Raging competition on high volume MEMS with newcomers such as TSMC, UMC, SMIC.
* Medium sized players like Dalsa and Sony now increasing efforts to develop foundry biz with high margin MEMS due to the tough competition.

Snapshots of high margin markets
Bouchaud alsp provide snapshots on high margin MEMS markets.

The optical MEMS for telecom networks is said to be in transition. Poducts Includes VOAs, 1xN switches, NxN switch matrices, WSS ROADM, tunable filters, etc. There was collapse in Q4-08 through to Q2-09. However, there was an uptake in Q3-09. The key trend here is the increase in data rates from 10GB/s to 40GB/s to 100GB/s. This has had no impact on MEMS shipment. The only impact has been the specs — for some devices like VOAs.

Consolidation of market has been encouraged by system companies. Yet another impact is the arrival of Chinese suppliers who are driving price erosion on simple products. Overall, the market is flat for devices, with one exception being WSS ROADM — which will double in units. Finally, fabless models are dominating.

Biomedical applications not immune to economic crisis. They were given a lot of attention in the last decade. Bouchaud covered two groups:

* Microfluidics include silicon and glass microfluidics for drug discovery, POC diagnostics and drug delivery (inhalers, pumps, micro-needles).
* Sensors and switches include pressure sensors, accelerometers, thermopiles, flow sensors, switches and microbolometers.

As for trends, there was an inventory reduction in 2009 — up only 2pc in 2009. Also, the medical system companies have also been trying to cut costs. In microfluidics, drug discovery remains small. In POC diagnostics, there is no mass market with Si/glass. Also, ST’s chip hit the market. In drug delivery, there are over 5mn MEMS inhalers in 2009. As for micro pumps, the industry has currently adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach.

Pressure sensors are dominating in this segment. It is well established for blood pressure, sleep apnea monitoring, etc. There are strong R&D efforts for implantable wireless.

Next, inertial MEMS are gaining momentum over conventional sensors. Among the vibration/shock sensors, the piezoelectric (non MEMS) and piezo resistive still dominate. There has been slow adoption of silicon capacitive. Further, microfluids based accelerometers and gyroscopes are coming soon. As for the WSN (wireless sensor network) opportunity, iSuppli feels that the opportunity will remain modest over the next four years.

Some other trends include, geophones, which are dependant on oil price; MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes growing in munitions guidance; MEMS gyro is displacing fiber optic gyro in defense and aeronautics; and pacemakers and defibrillators present the best opportunity in medical.

Supplier landscape has been shaken for microbolometers — yet another key trend. This is a double digit growth market — $300mn likely by 2013. Among applications, defense applications are dominating, while building inspection presents a good opportunity. However, automotive applications will remain niche.

Some other trends in this area include: export eased for US suppliers in 2008 and 2009 — good news for them, but bad news for Europen suppliers; standardization for firefighters; emergence of Chinese suppliers; prices remain high; limited adoption of WLP (wafer level packaging) still there.

Lastly, Bouchaud discussed MEMS switches, which are said to be in false start for high end applications. This segment did not really take from 2006-09. Today, it is mostly used for medical applications.

As a number of companies have either stopped production or gone bankrupt, the ATE and RF industry are now very skeptical. Also, ADF (automated distribution frameworks) opportunity is dead; and basically, companies in this area are now gone. ATE remains the best opportunity for high end applications. Defence applications will emerge from 2012 onward.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Focus on Indo-Japan ties in embedded, design and automotive

Recently, the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), in collaboration with Japan External Trade Organization JETRO, recently took a business delegation to Fukuoka, Japan, on November 11-13, 2009, to promote the Indian embedded, automotive and design companies, and to attend the 9th International Workshop on Microelectronics Assembling and Packaging (MAP 2009).

Indian electronics industry
During the inaugural session, N. Krishnan, director, STPI, and leader of the Indian delegation, made a presentation on “Electronics Industry in India-an Overview”.

According to him, the Indian electronics industry is on a growth path. The domestic production is at $20 billion in 2008-09 and exports at $4 billion, representing a growth of 21 percent over the previous year. All the global top 10 fabless design companies have India operations and 22 of the top 25 semicon companies have design/development centers.

India is now emerging as a preferred destination for manufacturing. A good electronics ecosystem is building up and there is a shift to increased local value addition. He also touched upon the highlights of the Indian semiconductor policy. These include:

* The government will bear 20 percent of the capital expenditure during the first 10 years for units located inside SEZs and 25 percent for those outside it. Window open till March 2010.
* For semiconductor manufacturing (wafer fabs) plants, the policy proposes a minimum investment of $625 million and $220 million for ecosystem units, including ATMP.
* There is a ceiling of three fab units and 10 ecosystem units for incentives under the policy.
* Key benefit is the grant of the SEZ status.
* There has been an overwhelming response to the Government’s policy – 17 proposals have been received envisaging an investment of $35 billion, with 15 proposals received relating to solar PV manufacturing.
* Government of India has given in-principle approval to 12 proposals.
* There is a great opportunity to leverage the policy incentives for ATMP operations.

Advantages of outsourcing to India
Krishnan highlighted the SEZ incentives, which includes no license required for import, exemption from customs duty on import of capital goods, raw materials, consumables, spares, etc., exemption from central excise duty on procurement of capital goods, raw materials, consumable spares etc. from the domestic market, supplies from DTA to SEZ units treated as deemed exports, reimbursement of central sales tax paid on domestic purchases, etc.

What about the advantages of outsourcing to India? According to him, these include an overall 7-10 cost reduction compared to the current scenario, as well as assembling only when required and building products that are required, so there is no waste.

India is already a proven case for IP, embedded systems and IC design, besides boasting of a skilled employee base and strong R&D capabilities. All of these provide Japanese companies a major opportunity to reduce cost and improve customer satisfaction.

India rising on global stage
The second day of MAP 2009 featured a host of presentations from the ISA-led Indian delegation during the India Session.

Ms Poornima Shenoy, president, ISA, spoke at length about India’s status as a rising player in the world electronics design stage. She touched upon the strength of the country’s semiconductor design industry, which is increasing witnessing a growing role of the independent design companies (IDCs). These IDCs provide flexible business models for design engagement. They are involved primarily in front end design work, providing testing and verification-level services, and continue to mature in terms of experience and capabilities.

The growth in India’s IC design industry is being driven by global corporations who are establishing captive design centers or expanding their existing design capacity in India. The Indian design companies are therefore moving up the value chain. There is a high level of maturity in product engineering and development, and project management expertise. India’s IC design industry is particularly strong in important market segments such as wireless, automotive and consumer electronics.

Some challenges currently faced by India include a talent crunch at the middle-level technical and managerial level, resulting in attrition, rising cost of staff, competition from other design destinations such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East, China and Israel, and the absence of commercial semiconductor fabs in India.

She added: “India has the potential to address the challenges mentioned earlier and grow as the preferred outsourcing/off shoring destination for semiconductor companies. We invite Japanese companies to leverage India’s strengths and avail of this opportunity.”

India Semiconductor Vision – ISV 2020
Dr. Pradip K. Dutta, Corporate Vice President & Managing Director, Synopsys India, presented the India Semiconductor Vision – ISV 2020. This vision includes:

* Focus semiconductor and related enabling technologies on new growth markets critical to India’s needs such as healthcare, renewable energy.
* Lead in new technologies by focusing device manufacturing and ATMP on new component technologies, e.g., MEMS/PV and nanomaterials.
* Fund and guide research through industry/academia/government consortium, using market specific technology roadmaps.
* Some focus areas of the ISV2020 include promoting IP vendors, developing more fabless semiconductor companies, focus on ATMPs and material suppliers, and promote more of ODM/EMS and board design services. Dr Dutta also projected a forecast of India’s electronics industry by segment up to 2020 (see table below).Source: ISA, India

Kuttappa Bittiananda, Practice Manager – Semiconductor & System Design, Wipro Japan discussed how delivery challenges could be bridged in Japan. EAGLEWISION is Wipro’s design methodology for LSI, FPGA and board designs.The methodology aims to deliver cost effective and high quality designs through guidance, scrutiny, automation and re-use. The methodology focuses on prevention, detection and early correction.

Tetsuya Tsuruta, Patni Computer Systems Ltd, made a presentation titled: Exploring Business opportunities for Kyushu in collaboration with Indian partners. He spoke about the role of green embedded technologies (ET) in the semiconductor value chain. Green ET means a chance — where product re-engineering is required.

For instance, minimizing the form factor and components on the module helps in the reduction of PFC gas emission drastically. Also, ASIC/PFGA/SoC design and software/firmware are required for not only reducing the semiconductor pitch, but also re-engineering of the circuit.

Tsuruta added that re-engineering requires close communication with existing Japanese engineers at the first stage. The domain knowledge for new green devices is required as well.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Industry reactions on National Solar Mission (NSM)

Observations by India’s semiconductor and solar industry on the National Solar Mission (NSM).

Dr. Biswadip (Bobby) Mitra, president and managing director, Texas Instruments India, Bangalore.
India is blessed with sunlight for most part of the year and is in a unique position to create multiple opportunities in the solar energy arena.

We have a dedicated Ministry of Renewable Energy (MNRE) and its financial arm IREDA to channelize the potential of solar energy. We also have abundant talent spanning across solar thermal, electronic systems and semiconductors.

India can therefore play a pivotal role in taking this fledgling industry to a significant position. The commitment of the Indian leadership to promote green technologies is commendable and Texas Instruments will support any endeavor towards expanding and enhancing this ecosystem.

Semiconductors and electronics can add high value in developing the solar energy infrastructure. Texas Instruments believes this is a step in the right direction that would spur many new innovations and we seek to participate actively in this exciting journey.

Ms Shilpa Urhekar, Head-Production, GreenBrilliance Energy Pvt Ltd, Baroda.
The NSM does not talk money apart from mentioning that funding for the ambitious targets would be from budgetary support and multilateral mechanism under the UN system.

The policy has suggested a renewable purchase obligation (RPO) on states that could start with 0.25 percent of their power off take in Phase I by 2013 and going up to 3 percent by 2022. This, I think, is going to be the main driver for the growth of grid solar power.

State utilities will have to purchase this power from the NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd (NVVN), the designated nodal agency by the Ministry of Power (MoP), for entering into a power purchase agreement (PPA), of 25 years.

The idea of introducing power trading instrument of REC is also an ambitious plan. The mechanism which will be devised for its implementation remains to be seen though.

The good news is that, with this booster to the mainstream industry, there would be huge employment generation.

I will add more comments, as I receive those!

Top 20 semicon suppliers of 2009!

iSuppli recently put out a report where it listed the preliminary rankings of the top 20 semiconductor suppliers for 2009.

As per iSuppli, Samsung has been the most notable performer among the top 10 suppliers to achieve growth — although a mere 1.3 percent — during 2009.

As you can see from the table here, barring Samsung, all the remaining top 10 companies registered negative growth, with Qualcomm is just about flat. However, MediaTek has been a grand performer in the top 20 list, growing by 21.7 percent.

“The year 2009 will be remembered as one of the most dismal years in the history of the global semiconductor business, with a plunge of more than $32 billion in revenue compared to 2008,” said Dale Ford, senior vice president at iSuppli Corp. “However, iSuppli’s preliminary estimate of a 12.4 percent decline is far better than expectations from early 2009 of a more than 20 percent plunge.Source: iSuppli, USA

Among the movers and shakers. AMD has moved up from 12th place in 2008 to 9th place in 2009. Elpida moved up from 19th position t0 the 16th position. Qualcomm also moved up two places — from 8th to 6th, as did Hynix — from 9th to 7th.

Among the top 10, Renesas dropped two places — from 6th to 8th, and Sony dropped three places — from 7th to 10th. Infineon — moved down to 12th place, post the spinoff of Lantiq.

Among the bottom 10, Freescale had the biggest drop — from 13th place t0 17th place, while NXP dropped from 17th place to 19th place. Panasonic dropped from 15th place to 18th place.

This year is best forgotten for the global semiconductor industry. The performance during Q2 and Q3, and a further postive enough performance likely for Q3 has just about made up for what has been a really bad year.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Indian government unveils National Solar Mission Plan document!

Right then, here’s what most of the readers interested in the Indian solar photovoltaics industry were waiting to know!

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE), government of India has announced the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission.

Interested folks can download the report from MNRE’s website —

Let’s take a look at the Mission targets. These are:

• To create an enabling policy framework for the deployment of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2022.

• To ramp up capacity of grid-connected solar power generation to 1000 MW within three years – by 2013; an additional 3000 MW by 2017 through the mandatory use of the renewable purchase obligation by utilities backed with a preferential tariff. This capacity can be more than doubled – reaching 10,000MW installed power by 2017 or more, based on the enhanced and enabled international finance and technology transfer. The ambitious target for 2022 of 20,000 MW or more, will be dependent on the ‘learning’ of the first two phases, which if successful, could lead to conditions of grid-competitive solar power. The transition could be appropriately up scaled, based on availability of international finance and technology.

• To create favourable conditions for solar manufacturing capability, particularly solar thermal for indigenous production and market leadership.

• To promote programs for off grid applications, reaching 1000 MW by 2017 and 2000 MW by 2022 .

• To achieve 15 million sq. meters solar thermal collector area by 2017 and 20 million sq. meters solar thermal collector area by 2022.

• To deploy 20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas by 2022.

There you are! All the targets are right in front of you! You can choose to get into solar lighting systems or other off-grid applications, or maybe, grid-connected applications. The current grid connected capacity is less than 2 MW, which means, there’s only one way to go all the way — up! Those missing out, here’s the time to enter the Indian solar/PV market. And, be ready to be a long term player.

The targets at first glance seem to be quite steep, although I feel the 20 million solar lighting systems for rural areas is low, and could be much higher. The PPAs (power purchase agreement), I believe, are valid for 25 years — a recommendation made by AES Solar during Solarcon India 2009.

I am trying to speak with some industry folks as well, and get their views and whether they are happy with this.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Growth drivers for embedded electronics in India

The strength of India’s embedded systems and software industry is well known globally. Naturally, interest is extremely high in this area.

Keeping that in mind, the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), recently organized a conference on “Embedded Electronics: Trends and opportunities in India”, during the event.

Speaking on the global electronics systems design and manufacturing ecosystem, BV Naidu, chairman, ISA, estimated the global electronics industry at $1.75 trillion for 2009, and projected to reach $2 trillion in 2014. The annual growth rate has been 3 percent for 2004-09.

India lags behind in (electronics) numbers!
India’s story is starkly revealed in its numbers. While the electronics industry is the key to national growth, India is extremely small in this segment. Taking telecom/electronics hardware production as a share of GDP, China has a GDP share of 12.7 percent, while India only has 1.7 percent share.

Even smaller countries, such as Korea — 15.1 percent, Taiwan — 15.5 percent, and Israel — 23.6 percent, respectively, have much higher GDPs. The share of USA is 5.4 percent, Japan — 4.5 percent, and Germany — 8.3 percent, respectively.

India’s domestic production, excluding imports, is $10.8 billion during 2009. Consumption reached $45 billion in FY09 and the demand is likely to reach $125 billion in FY 2014. The expected domestic demand will likely grow 22 percent from 2009-2020, reaching $400 billion by 2020. Exports reached $4.4 billion in FY09, and it is likely to reach $15 billion in FY14 and $80 billion in FY20, growing at 31 percent.

The trade imbalance is projected to increase to $323 billion by 2020 as the imports of electronic products are likely to increase to 16 percent of the GDP. As a result, it is important for some Indian companies to play a major role.

It has the potential to leapfrog!
There exists a tremendous potential for India to leapfrog technologies and lead. Potential exists in several areas such as wireless, smart meters (AMI), LEDs, green energy/energy efficiency, affordable devices/telemedicine, digital classrooms/virtual classrooms for education, digitization in terms of electronic society/unique ID/TV, radio, etc., integrated surveillance systems, and low-cost zero emission cars.

Touching on the VLSI/electronics ecosystem, Bangalore itself is home to over 90 companies in VLSI and embedded. However, most of these are arms of MNCs. High-tech manufacturing does not exist, as yet. However, the solar PV industry has been attractive recently, and high-tech manufacturing is likely to grow there. The silicon fab, however, may take some more time.

Within the Indian electronic system design industry, there are companies such as Ittiam, SemIndia, etc., who focus on made in India and made for India. Naidu called upon the government to encourage the domestic manufacturing and systems companies.

In this respect, the electronic components and accessories ecosystem industry is currently moderate. It used to be 15 percent and has now grown to 35 percent. That means, 35 percent of the costs of production can be sourced and managed using components from India.

India has managed to attract some EMS companies, especially to Sriperumbudur, an industrial town in the Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu. However, low end products are being developed, or rather, work that is at the low end of the value chain is being done. That needs to change! Here, embedded software can play a key role.

“Our local markets should provide opportunities for the local companies. Access to global markets will help us grow,” he added. He presented segment-wise projections for the Indian electronics industry up to 2020 (see table here).Source: ISA, India

Embedded electronics as ICT driver
Srini Rajam, chairman and CEO, Ittiam Systems, discussed the role embedded electronics could play as an important growth driver for India’s ICT industry. India boasts of a powerful embedded electronics ecosystem. It currently has three clusters in embedded. These are:

* World class design and services — which is export driven and mature. It creates leading edge technology and has broad based competencies. Also, it can offer complete system solutions.
* High volume market — which is driven by the domestic economy. We are seeing applications in mobile communication, entertainment and industrial electronics.
* Cost effective delivery — which is an emerging area. We have excellent prototyping skills, low-medium volume development and EMS partnerships.

Touching on the global embedded electronics trends, he said the customers and end equipment makers are trying to retract and not do everything themselves. With IP and system design being India’s strength, these trends place India in a nice, middle path. This will greatly help India in connecting with the semicon suppliers, as well as the EMS houses and customers.

Highlighting some opportunities, Rajam said India could develop digital STB for Rs 500 – with the market opportunity being 100+ million TV homes, and IP STB for Rs 200 – in this case, 50+ million Internet homes.

Some other opportunity areas are IP surveillance with — a price target of Rs 3.000, IP videophone — with a price target of Rs 10,000, and IP videoconferencing — with a price target of Rs 25,000. The size of the opportunity is Rs 1,000 crores in 2009, and is forecast to grow to Rs 47,000 crores by 2017. This opportunity requires a total solution — front end + back end.

Even MIDs and smartphones provide great opportunities for India. For smartphones — a price target of Rs 7,500, with an opportunity size of 20 million units in 2009. For MIDs/netbooks — a price target of Rs 12,500, with an opportunity forecast of 2 million units per year.

India is home to core competencies — from chip design to software and system design. The strong growth of the domestic market adds the vital dimension. With the right EMS strategy, the volume market can be served with world class solutions.

Evolving from services to design and manufacturing
Vinay Shenoy, COO, SemIndia Systems discussed the role embedded electronics could play — from sevices to design and manufacturing.

While the global electronics market is growing moderately at a CAGR of 9.5 percent from 2006-12, the Indian electronics market is growing at a much faster pace at a 23 percent CAGR from 2006-15. However, a large percentage is serviced by imports. India imported nearly $14 billion worth electronics in 2007, but exported nearly $2.6 billion worth of electronics in 2007.

Despite the presence of the top six global EMS players in India — Foxconn, Flextronics, Jabil Circuit, Celestica, Sanmina-SCI and Elcoteq, as well as the presence of over 40 Indian EMSs, and, the availability of R&D talent, the total R&D offshoring revenues is estimated to be $9.1 billion in 2009. However, we haven’t prospered yet! It is partially due to the fact how the associated industries have evolved. So what does it take to evolve from services to design and manufacturing?

On analyzing the value chain, the components industry is the weakest link. It is said to be at 27.35 percent. Localization of components needs to go up to 60 percent.

Time for new model
In a new model, two operators — ODM and contract manufacturer — should participate actively in cost reduction. The IP comes from the original design. The model also eliminates the OEM and goes directly to the contract manufacturer. This model should be seriously explored in the Indian context. It is advised that the Indian design houses work closely with the EMS companies, who have huge purchasing power. That would facilitate cost competitiveness.

Some opportunity areas for India include government contracts – such as egovernance, ehealth, metro and rural broadband; decentralized distributed power generation; telco/DTH operators; and large retailers.

Shenoy also provided some tips for Indian embedded design houses. These include:
* Focus on mature products initially.
* Focus on sunrise and sunshine markets.
* Focus on high volume low mix product family.
* Co-develop requirements with operators (customer’s customer).
– Differentiator: Towards feature management
* Strong partnership with semicon technology partner
– Combined go-to-market strategy
* Import talent from Singapore/Malaysia for manufacturing interface
* You can’t do it all. Let others do what they are best at!

There is a big opportunity for India’s design centric organizations to evolve into design and manufacturing. A large local market justifies the evolution. However, they need to first address manufacturing-interface related weaknesses. Also, the local component ecosystem needs to improve.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Building pillars of India’s tech infrastructure: Dr. Bobby Mitra, TI India

Following the keynote of Lip-Bu Tan, Cadence’s president and CEO, the guest keynote at the recently held CDNLive was delivered by Dr. Bobby Mitra, president and managing director, Texas Instruments India.

Dr Mitra started his keynote by taking a bird’s eye view at the various things happening in India today. What’s the thrust? The winner hands down is infrastructure!

“How will the growth in infrastructure fuel the next growth? If India is an emerging ecomony, are we satisfied? Absolutely not! How do we accelerate toward being the emerged economy of tomorrow? That change has to be built on a technology infrastructure!”

Pillars of a technology infrastructure
A technology infrastructure has several pillars. These are:
* A communications and telecom infrastructure built on semicon and electronics has to be a very big thought,
* Energy infrastructure, which has to be a major pillar,
* Security and surveillance, and
* Education.

Electronics is everywhere, in each one of these areas. “We can and should put in high value in all of this infrastucture using semiconductors and electronics,” said Dr Mitra. “We are starting from behind. So, what do we do? We have to leapfrog to lead in the technology infrastructure.” Wireless handsets is one such area that has already done so, In fact, some parts of India have leapfrogged from no phones to wireless phones.

What is being done now? There are platforms that offer 20megapixel imaging, especially on the mobile phone. Phones can also have a week’s playback time. Some of these things are already happening.

Go for AMI!
Energy is another major area of opportunity. For example, every house in India has an energy meter. These are starting to be replaced by electronic meters. The utilities are already doing this. (There seems to be 38 known methods of tampering with the meters!). All of this is helping the SEBs (state electricity boards), the country and its economy.

How do we move from the electromechanical to electronic meters? Here, India needs to go for AMI — automated metering infrastructure and automated metering. Some of TI’s customers are starting to build these products, although in small numbers. One only has to imagine the speed and accuracy of such devices!

Lighting is another area of huge opportunity in India. Dr Mitra said: “How can we go from incandescent to CFLs? Can we go on to LED lighting? How can we have standard LED lighting? Can we design LED drivers? Once it becomes a mandate, it will encourage electronics companies to move into LED lighting.

Medical electronics is the next important area for India. A company had recently introduced a handheld ultrasound, with superior image clarity. “All the details about the patients will be in the doctors’ hands,” he added. “If you can add wireless connectivity, it will mean the world, and enable telemedicine! India can leapfrog to lead in this area.

A lot has been spoken about automotives. It has been going from high emission to low emission or even no emission in cars! Can we leapfrog here? It is fascinating to see companies building ebikes, hybrid vehicles, etc.

Energy efficiency is a non-glamorous, but equally key area for India, said Dr. Mitra. “Renewable energy especially, is a huge growth area. Energy efficiency is an area that hugely impact every area around us!” As an example, Coimbatore is very well known for pumps and submersible pumps. Can we build efficient chips and MCUs that can go inside such pumps and also irrigation pumps? The amount of opportunity in power reduction or low power is huge.

How shall we do all of this?
Dr. Mitra pointed out that several hundreds of OEMs in India are designing systems for each one of these areas and manufacturing. He advised the industry to work with customers who are building such complex systems. He noted: “We have to support them as they are the leaders in the electronics world. Let’s open up, instead of being a chip or an EDA provider and re-architect systems together.”

He said: “They (customers) bring the systems knowhow, while we bring the components knowhow. We can take customers to a completely different level. We have to understand the vocabulary of the customers and know what’s bothering them. It is important that we co-innovate with customers and show them the value.”

Dr Mitra also happens to be the vice chairman of the India Semiconductor Association (ISA). He said that the semicon TAM (total available market) in India is worth $2.8 billion and it is growing at a pretty good rate. “We should help to make the transition and leapfrog technologies, and lead!”

Lip-Bu Tan, president and CEO, Cadence, on global semiconductor trends

I recently attended Cadence Design Systems’ CDNLive event in Bangalore this week. Here’s a snapshot of Lip-Bu Tan, president and CEO, Cadence, touching upon global semiconductor trends during his keynote address.

According to Tan, the semicon industry is recovering and stabilizing, and gradually improving. The semiconductor revenue is also improving, but is still down, as compared to last year.

JP Morgan conducts a CEO survey with the GSA (Global Semiconductor Association), known as the Semicon CEO Sentiment Index. It shows that the CEO sentiment has improved from 29 percent in Jan. 2009 to 51.4 percent in Oct. 2009.

Innovative products are most likely to drive recovery. These include 4G phones, smart grid power, medical electronics and emerging markets. In 4G, WiMAX is growing, while in smart grid, semiconductors play a critical role. Medical electronics is also growing rapidly, and emerging markets such as China and India are very important. Video traffic is another big market.

SoCs facilitate innovative products and capital efficiency
How will you deliver innovative products? Perhaps, by capital efficiency! You require to develop very close partnerships with your foundry partners. IP or intellectual property is becoming very important as well. For example, a complex chip could well have over 50,000 IPs that would need to be integrated. There are EDA tools as well.

SoCs facilitate the delivery of innovative products and capital efficiency. Advantages of the SoC include developing multifunction devices, allowing the setting of aggressive price targets, and also developing products in innovative form factors. SoC designs are leading the industry. Most chips are today mixed signal in nature.

An example is the iPhone, which has several SoCs. It uses a very complex chip that integrates everything and runs on low power.

Implications of SoC development and integration
The implications of SoC development and integration include collaboration, mixed signal and system-level design and verification. SoCs require extensive collaboration.

Software will be driving the differentiating factors. Next, all SoCs are mixed signal designs. Incidentally, Cadence is a leader in mixed signal. SoCs also require a system level of improvement. Cadence has solutions for system level design and verification.

Later, Cadence will move into virtual prototyping. This will help the company in moving forward as per its roadmap. Cadence delivers leadership core products, and complements those products with the ecosystem and service offerings. “Our foundation business — we want to be SoC realization partner with our customers,” said Tan.

Here are some announcements from Cadence at CDNLive:
* TLM-to-GDS design and verification flow announced.
* 450+ customers for RTL Compiler and Conformal.
* Customers switching to OVM for verification re-use.
* Encounter adds 230+ new customers.
* Virtuoso speeds Spectre simulation up to 60 percent for mixed signals.

Lip-Bu Tan said that Cadence is a trusted and open EDA partner of the electronics industry, and is committed to the leadership technology creation. It will deliver and enable leading solutions in SoCs. Cadence is also organizing to optimize in efficiency creation and delivery of its offerings globally.

“We are committed to our customers’ success. The key is to find the right role within the ecosystem. We are again profitable as well, with $570 million in cash,” he concluded.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Union Cabinet approves National Solar Mission; 20 GW by 2022 (not 2020)!

First, the big news! The Union Cabinet of Ministers, Government of India, has cleared the National Solar Mission! Earlier slated for an announcement on Nov. 14th, the Cabinet approved of the Mission on Thursday!

One major change — depends on how you see it — the Mission aims to generate 20,000 MW by 2022, and not 2020!

Now, this news is all over the Web, with the Plan being approved at an estimated cost of Rs 4,337 crores ($900 million).

As per published reports, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni has said that the mission proposes to scale-up off-grid solar applications by installing another 2,000 MW capacity by 2022 including 20 million sqm solar power collective area and 20 million solar lines, she said adding that the mission will have a three-phased approach for solar energy applications in the country.

The Mission initially aims at generating 200 MW by 2012, she added.

One main thrust of the Plan seems to be on an aggressive R&D department, which will aim at reducing costs.

Apparently, Rs. 355 crores (or is it Rs 385 crores? ) will be spent on the R&D activity.

The minister has also said that the R&D department will carry out field-testing of emerging applications in solar energy and the first phase of the mission will be started carefully with proven applications. For facilitating the early launch of the mission, the public sector Vidyut Vitraran Nigam, a subsidiary of NTPC, will be designated as a nodal agency for entering into power purchase agreement with the solar power developers, she added.

This is absolutely great news, folks! India is well positioned to repeat its telecom success story all over again with solar PV! It is all set to rock the solar PV world!
This news, in some manner, is a huge victory for India’s semicon policy as well, and should go some way in kick-starting some manufacturing activities in this area within the country.

PS: I was about to add some posts from CDNLive, when I came across this news. Am holding CDNLive posts and the one on embedded back for a little while. Also, I hope I can get to see an approved copy of the Mission. Can’t wait to study it!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What does it take for students to be (semiconductor) industry-ready!

Recently, I was part of a wonderful panel discussion at Cadence Design Systems CDNLive, Bangalore, India edition, titled:What does it really take for students to be industry-ready?Moderated by Dr. CP Ravikumar, technical director, University Relations HR, Texas Instruments, the panelists included Joe Lazar, director HR, Analog Devices India, SN Padmanabhan, senior VP, Semiconductor, Mindtree, Anand Bariya, MD, Netlogic Microsystems and Prof. Venugopal. Electronics and Communication Dept., SJCE, Mysore.

India boasts of some of the finest technical institutes of the world. This discussion centered around whether our graduating students are industry ready? What are the necessary qualities or aspects they would need to keep in mind when entering the semiconductor industry?

Avoid a bad attitude!
There is this quote from Scott Hamilton — “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” According to Joe Lazar of Analog Devices India, attitude is an observable behavior over a period of time.

When students come into the semiconductor industry, they need to collaborate and not compete with each other. There is a need to bring about some change in this aspect. Similarly, commitment to the job and to the company are equally important aspects.”Next, be prepared to understand what is good for you. Also, money is not everything. During campus hires, money may become an important driving force. However, it goes away after some point of time,” he added.

Lazar concluded with a quote from William James: “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”

Are you ready for an inch wide and mile deep job?
Prof. Venugopal from SJCE, Mysore, focused on students to develop the right technical skills. Are they ready to join an industry that offers an ‘inch wide and miles deep job? Also, can students really communicate clearly?

It is equally important for the faculty in any institute to motivate students. When students are doing projects, they should also come to know how good they are with their technical skills. He advised: “Students should know the tools very well, and be very strong in their basics. They should be very good in circuit (analog/digital) design as well.”

The faculty of any institute has be really good enough to prepare its students for the challenges ahead as the technical skills required for the semiconductor industry are constantly changing.

Be prepared for the grind, and have strong foundations!
Anand Bariya of Netlogic Microsystems remarked: “What do we expect from fresh engineers? Their ability to learn with respect to the semiconductor industry!” He cited some examples, such as, today, it is impossible to design a chip without knowing low power techniques, or chips that incorporate very high speed serial interfaces. “There is a continuous demand for engineers who can learn and deliver quickly. Engineers who come in, should be prepared for the grind,” he added.

Next, manufacturing technologies and techniques are also changing, and present fresh challenges. “Designers need to keep up with the changes in manufacturing technologies,” said Bariya. He advised students, “Your foundations need to be very strong.” Fundamentals are very important for students to learn quickly. “In the semiconductor industry, we need people with a programming mindset. Your ability to learn is all in your attitude.”

He further advised students to develop a habit of taking notes (this applies to journalists too, who use voice recorders, rather than take notes during a meeting), as it helps to cement learnings. Also, a lot of learning is possible if students are willing to search on the Internet.

Strong ethics, integrity, respect for IP, others
MindTree’s SN Padmanabhan said the industry spends three to six months on an average on orientation programs for newcomers. Once, they get into projects and project teams, they can work seamlessly. Having strong fundamentals and basics are very important and paramount. He also touched upon the need for strong ethics as the semiconductor industry is global in nature where there’s a constant need to interact with teams made up of multicultural people.

Similarly, there is a need to communicate in a proper manner with peers and colleagues within the industry. Besides, email etiquette needs to be maintained. Especially, for communication, there are audio and video conferences. “We have to be in an audio conference at least 80 percent of the times. Hence. the need to understand and respect multicultures, and communicate properly and effectively.”

Another important aspect for students to understand is to respect the dress codes — which is meant to present a better image of ourselves.

Padmanabhan touched upon integrity and the need to be honest with yourselves. “Don’t fudge your resumes!” Gender sensitive issues and language come up as well, especially in a multicultural environment. “Try to make an attempt to learn about others cultures, and see that you don’t end up hurting them.”

He also stressed upon the need to respect IPs and IP protection. “How are you going to protect the customers’ rights? How will you ensure that you do not violate anyone’s right?” Most IP violations happen due to a lack of information. Also, he advised students who would be joining the semiconductor industry soon to be careful of the information shared with other people, especially over a cup of coffee.

Do look for apprenticeships!
Following a lively Q&A session, Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate VP and MD, Cadence Design Systems (I) Pvt Ltd, suggested that students could actually get into a ‘real job’ in the semiconductor industry, unlike any other industry. They could get involved immediately in projects to design and develop products that would be later on used by other industries such as medical, telecom, etc.

Further, they should look at an apprenticeship as a system of training for a new generation of practitioners of a skill, in return, for perhaps, a stipend.

I quite agree with Ahuja’s suggestion for apprenticeships – I myself started this way, in the mid 1980s, making newspaper cuttings in a small room (or office) of a local magazine at Allahabad! Here’s where I learnt what it takes to be a journalist. I only got an LP record of The Police (to play on my gramophone) as stipend! However, I can never forget that period, as it became the launch pad for me to go forward and develop myself later in life as a tech journalist!

Ahuja also touched upon multicultures and how there’s a need for students to understand and respect the various cultures. Definitely, once you work for a global company, you interact with nationals from other countries, with different backgrounds and cultures.

Right folks, you’ve heard it all! Do you have it in you to carry the torch of the Indian semicon industry forward?

Solar PV and Utility 2.0: Making the grid smarter!

The plenary session at the recently held Solarcon India 2009 was presented by Jigar Shah, Founder, SunEdison.

According to him, emerging markets are important for growth of solar energy as these markets are likely to grow at CAGR of 72 percent from 2008-13.

In contrast, North America would grow at 61 percent, other OECD countries at 21 percent and Europe at 16 percent. So, what would be the total addressable market? In 2010, $100 billion (approximately 5 percent) of the global retail electricity demand could be competitively addressed with solar power.

He added that system prices had fallen 40 percent in 2009 vs. 2008, with more to come in 2010. It is expected to stabilize to long-term trend of ~5 percent per annum. The system cost is expected to drop to $2.85/W, supported by the increase in the system efficiency.

Shah mentioned that India has the best solar resource in Asia. All technologies work in India including the technologies that generate electricity only from direct normal insolation (DNI).

Thin-film and multijunction solar cells can easily be manufactured in India and have half the performance degradation due to temperature.

He highlighted the case of wireless telecom in India, which has helped India leapfrog in communications (over the fixed line services) and though it is more expensive, yet communication has been the largest source of productivity growth in the entire decade.

Shah put solar in the similar situation which could be exploited as the largest energy resource for India in the long term. According to him, energy has the capability to be the next largest source of GDP growth potential in India. However, it also presents the biggest challenge to growth. Here, there are four aspects:
* Price is not as important as the existence of electricity.
* India continues to be unable to institute land and water policies necessary to grow electricity simply through new coal.
* Nuclear is proving to be just as difficult and costly as coal.
* What is the trade off between electricity pricing and GDP growth? Data shows that household electrification in villages results in a 64 percent increase in family income.

Besides, airports, shopping centers, deserts, and industrial sites can cover 20,000 MW of solar without using agricultural land. He opined that solar is a better energy product due to the following factors:
* Solar is scalable and growing.
* Solar is competitive.
* Solar is predictable.
* Space for solar installations is available.

Plan for Grid connected solar program
The main challenge is that the state electricity boards (SEBs) do not know how to integrate 21st century technologies or “Utility 2.0.” This involves energy efficiency, self generation, independent power producers, etc. So how does solar fit into Utility 2.0? It is not only about solar, but also about storage.

Shah also advocated a plan for a grid connected solar program. The new goal should be: 20,000 MW program by 2020, starting with 100 MW in 2010!

For this, the industry would be required to grow at 50 percent annually to meet ~2 percent of India’s needs by 2020. Government should also allow for 80 percent depreciation on all systems.

It should encourage SEBs to provide full tariff without seeking Central funding support. Integrated solar manufacturing should be encouraged. This can result in creation of 1 million direct job years of employment.

How to achieve all of this?
How would one go about in achieving this? First, start with a generous 25-year feed-in Tariff (FIT). For instance, Rs 15 per kWh would show seriousness and attract players. Also, it would be prudent to reduce FIT based on MW targets – not based on calendar year.

Next, there should be hassle free interconnection to the grid and purchase of electricity in priority to conventional electricity. There should also be a training program for contractors to learn how to install solar PV – grant funding.

Further, in the areas of utility rates and revenue policies, Shah recommended charging customers real cost of electricity –- peak and off-peak. He suggested keeping subsidized rates for the poor, and a tiered rate structure (higher rate as the consumption increases) for middle class and wealthier customerss.

“It all comes down to Utility 2.0! It needs some effort to make the grid smarter,” Shah concluded.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prof. Eicke R. Weber, Fraunhofer Institute on future of PV

Transformation into a green energy future requires focus on rapid development of all RE sources esp., wind, solar PV, solar thermal, hydro and bio mass, said Prof. Eicke R. Weber, Fraunhofer-Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE and Albert-Ludwigs University, Freiburg, Germany. He was delivering the keynote at the recently held Solarcon India 2009 show.

Today, less than 0.1 pecent of solar energy is being used to produce electricity. Looking at 2050 and 2100, there will be widespread use of solar energy.

Drawing on the challenges of today‘s situation, he said that the the world had experienced the largest financial and economic crisis in the last 80 years. Limited availability of fossil fuels and the dangers of catastrophic climate change will remain our key challenges.

The crisis may actually accelerate the global transition into a green energy future, which requires increased energy efficiency in buildings, transport (e-mobility) and production, rapid development of all renewable energies as well as expansion of the electricity grid for long-distance transport and smart users.

Touching on the magnitude of solar energy, Prof. Weber said that each hour the sun delivers to earth the amount of energy used by humans in a whole year. Sun radiation onto earth corresponds to 120,000 TW. However, the total human energy need in 2020 is 20 TW. PV can easily supply substantial part of world’s energy needs.

The annual global installation of PV modules was 600 MWp in 2003 and was above 5 GWp in 2008 — far above the most optimistic prediction. The forecast for 2010 is greater than 12 GWp.

The PV market today is still dominated by crystalline solar technology with about 85 percent market share – thin film technology has 15 percent.

Prof Weber also spoke about the technologies in the global PV industry including the higher efficiencies possible from multiple junction cells.

He highlighted the importance of attractive feed-in tariffs to develop a great PV market as has been the case in Germany. To bring down costs of PV, we need to install GW and TW of solar energy, he added.

Giving the example of the path to grid parity in Germany, Prof. Weber noted that the electricity pricing from solar PV will be less than the pricing from conventional sources of electricity in Germany by 2014.

Prof Weber concluded:
* Our climate goals can only be achieved with rapid introduction of renewable energies worldwide; among those, harvesting solar electricity will be a leading technology, as solar energy is virtually unlimited available.

* Direct PV energy conversion is based on semiconductor technology; the price will follow a steep learning curve, so that solar energy will get competitive with electricity from fossil and nuclear sources.

* Electricity from solar thermal energy conversion (CSP) claims cost advantages today, and has advantages in heat storage; however, the learning curve seems to have a smaller slope, so that PV might create lowest-cost solar electricity.

* Crystalline Si will most probably remain the dominant PV technology for quite some time, thin film PV like a-Si, CI(G)S and CdTe can capture a large market share if efficiencies reach the 15 percent-range.

* Concentrating photovoltaics, CPV, with high-efficiency III-V multi-junction cells and gentle land use, have a good opportunity in high-sunshine regions.

* Ultimately, the solar energy market will develop into a 100s of bn-$ market, providing millions of jobs and energy without fuel costs worldwide.

Dynamics of the global PV industry

It was a pleasure to finally meet up with Dr. Henning Wicht, Senior Director & Principal Analyst iSuppli, at the recently held Solarcon India 2009 event in Hyderabad, India.

He was also a speaker in the session: “Government policies shaping the growth of the industry.” Here are some of the highlights from his presentation.

According to Dr. Wicht, the global PV installation is likely to be around 8.3 GW in 2010. “However, it is too early to say whether this is good news. We will also see a 30 GW likely happening in 2013.” Italy, Spain, California (USA), France, Greece, Blugaria, Czech Republic, China and the USA are likely to witness aboive 60 percent CAGR during this period.

Touching on solar module production, he said that total PV modules is likely to grow from 14,52 GW in 2010 to 20,85 GW in 2013. During this period, production of crystalline modules will likely increase from 11 GW in 2010 to 13,97 GW in 2013, while production of thin film modules will likely increase from 3,53 GW to 6,87 GW in 2013.

The total crystalline cell production roadmap from is likely to expand from 11.679 GW in 2010 to 16.985 GW in 2013. The solar polysilicon production roadmap (2010-2013) is likely to expand from 22,79 GW in 2010 to 48,68 GW in 2013. According to Dr. Wicht, the dynamics of supply and demand determine the future price levels . Supply and demand for modules will likely balance in 2010. Also, polysilicon price will likely drop next year.

According to iSuppli‘s view at the end of Q3-2009 (source: PV Market tracker):
* German market picks up from July. In 2009 2,5 GW of PV system installations is possible in Germany (compared to 1,5 GW in 2008).
* Module oversupply peaked in middle of 2009.
* Installations in 2010 are estimated to grow by 60 percent reaching 8,343 GW.
* It will depend on Q4-2009 if supply and demand will be more outbalanced in 2010, or if the oversupply will continue next year.

It has now been indicated in Europe that “12 percent of EU 27 electricity shall be provided by PV”. About 462 TWh corresponds to 12 percent in 2020. Also, the insolation average: 1200 kWh/kWp installed. This would indicate 390 GW has to be installed in Europe by 2020. In 2008, only 10 GW are installed. The PV industry in Europe is likely to grow at a CAGR of 35 percent over the next 12 years.

Will the industry be able to install 100 GW in the year 2020 in Europe? According to the PV Systems Market Tracker, by 2013, annual installations of 17 GW in Europe looks likely, and 12 GW in the rest of the world.

Dr. Wicht compared three approaches for evaluating the PV market. He advised:
* 120 to 130 GW is forecasted by bottom up approach and by top down approach. assuming that PV will provide 1 to 2 percent of total energy consumption.
* 100 GW may seem very large compared with 4 to 5 GW in 2009 but is it feasible?
* PV is still in the early stage of adoption; large solar markets, eg., US, China and India have just started.
* By 2020, it is likely that PV would contribute 1 to 2 percent to the total energy consumption of the respective region.
* Markets can grow fast, when ground installation is possible (Spain).

Hence, the annual installations of 100 GW for Europe in 2020 looks realistic!

Dr. Wicht advised pursuing CO2 emission trading and grid management. A separate grid management is recommended from traditional energy suppliers. Also, there is a need to guarantee grid access for renewables (secure investment case).

Worldwide CO2 emission trading is the next way to grow PV. Recommendations include making energy by fossil resources more expensive to trigger demand in non-PV supporting regions. Also, there’s a need to generate budgets and funds for REE as well as stimulate self-consumption of REE energy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

AMD, Intel settle all disputes! What a relief!!

The big news: Intel and AMD announced a comprehensive agreement to end all outstanding legal disputes between the companies, including antitrust litigation and patent cross license disputes! What a relief!

In a joint statement the two companies commented, “While the relationship between the two companies has been difficult in the past, this agreement ends the legal disputes and enables the companies to focus all of our efforts on product innovation and development.”

As per the agreement the two companies obtain patent rights from a new five-year cross license agreement, Intel and AMD will give up any claims of breach from the previous license agreement, and Intel will pay AMD $1.25 billion. Intel has also agreed to abide by a set of business practice provisions.

AMD will drop all pending litigation including the case in US District Court in Delaware and two cases pending in Japan. AMD will also withdraw all of its regulatory complaints worldwide.

Ramkumar Subramanian, VP, Sales & Marketing, AMD India, said: “This is a historical settlement for the microprocessor industry. The settlement will set transparent ground rules for open, competitive markets, with which Intel, in full public view, has agreed to comply. Fair and open competition dictates that the best product wins and market forces prevail. I am very confident that this development will help us strengthen our market position.”

This is just the kind of news the global semiconductor industry needs! It is hopefully, on path of a major recovery after having faced the worst recession.

It is heartening to note that the two rivals have buried the hatchet and shaken hands — a plea I’ve been making via my blog posts for such a long time.

It would do both Intel and AMD a world of good to focus on their core competencies and continue to produce all of those magnificent chips that make all of our lives so easy and meaningful!

Good work guys and congratulations. May you have all the success and lead the global semiconductor industry to greater heights in the future.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

India major destination for solar/PV investments!

“Green energy is the order of the day,” stated K. Rosaiah, Hon’ble chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. “It is the responsibility of every country and every citizen to see that our dependence on conventional energy can be reduced to the extent possible, and to focus our efforts on the development of renewable energy sources.”

He was speaking at the ongoing Solarcon India 2009, a three-day exhibition and conference organized by Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), in association with Intersolar, and in partnership with the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) and FabCity.

According to him, a sizeable gap exists between the demand and supply of energy. Solar energy becomes critical in the context of climate change and global warming. The Prime Minister had launched the National Action Plan on Climate Change in June 2008.

The Solar Mission Plan, to be announced on November 14, aims to achieve 20GW of solar generation capacity by 2020. There are plans to deliver on the creation of 1 lakh new jobs during the course of the plan.

“At present, solar energy was high on absolute costs compared to other sources of power. The Solar Mission would definitely drive the cost as rapidly as possible,” the chief minister said.

He added that Solarcon India had attracted 67 exhibitors from 16 countries, and over 400 delegates. This will be an annual event from now on, to showcase FabCity and SolarCity initiatives of the state government.

Now, it is time for India!
Earlier, delivering the welcome address, BV Naidu, chairman, India Semiconductor Association (ISA) said that the Solarcon India 2009 was happening at the right time and at the right place. “We have heard the success stories in the USA, Japan, Germany, etc. Now, it is time for India!”

He added that Andhra Pradesh had leap frogged in solar PV, and hence, this event was being held in Hyderabad. Also, FabCity has taken the lead in managing to attract manufacturing.

Among the 15 proposals on solar PV received by government of India under the semiconductor policy, five proposals have been submitted by companies located in Andhra Pradesh. According to him, Andhra Pradesh had the capability to take on at least 20 percent target of the solar mission plan, given the kind of leadership the state has shown so far.

Naidu further advised that Andhra Pradesh was also going to host the Fraunhofer ISE, which will be set up here. Prof. Eicke R Weber, director, Fraunhofer Institute, will be signing the MoU to set up the institute in India.

FabCity emerges as largest solar hub
Kanna Lakshmi Narayana, Hon’ble minister of Heavy Industries, government of Andhra Pradesh, said that India is exploring new areas such as renewable energy, as it is the endeavor of each country today, to develop alternate sources of energy. He added that FabCity has emerged as the largest solar hub in India.

The logo of the upcoming SolarCity at Anantapur was released at the inauguration of the Solarcon India 2009 event by K. Rosaiah, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. The minister highlighted that the SolarCity was spread over 10,000 acres of land. This is an exclusive cluster, which will be used for setting up solar farms.

According to Dr, Debesh Das, IT minister, government of West Bengal, the approach to promote solar companies is a very important initiative. “Over 400 million Indians have no electricity. Using power from the sun can help meet this demand,” he added.

How would India go about to achieve 20GW by 2020? A major part would depend on solar PV. “As semicon fabs are expensive to build, we should try and build solar fabs.”

He added that West Bengal also has plans to have a hardware park. Obviously, solar would play a major role. Das said that Solarcon India 2009 would also project India as the destination for investment in solar/PV.

India should follow Germany’s example!
Next, Prof. Eicke R Weber, Director, Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy, was presented the FabCity Excellence Award 2009 for his outstanding contribution in the field of solar energy.

Thanking the organizers, he also touched upon the dangers of climate change, and cautioned that India could be one of the areas hit, because of irregular monsoon. Prof. Weber advised policy makers to carefully study Germany’s case as well as its attractive feed-in tariff rates. “Germany has over half of the PV market installed. India has a great opportunity to follow this example,” he said.

Monday, November 9, 2009

SolarCity logo unveiled at SolarCon India 2009; award for Prof. Weber of Fraunhofer Institute

The Solarcon India 2009, which kicked off today at Hyderabad, India, promised much, and well, did not disappoint!

It all started with the chief guest, K. Rosaiah, the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. inaugurating the event by lighting solar LED lanterns.

The action continued thereafter when a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy ISE and the University of Hyderabad Knowledge and Innovation Park (UoH KIP), in association with the India Semiconductor Association (ISA).

Proposed activities of collaboration between Fraunhofer ISE and UoH KIP include:

* Setting up of testing and certification facility.
* Designing appropriate training programs in solar energy.
* Research & Development centre.
Also, Prof. Eicke R. Weber, Director, Fraunhofer Institute of Solar Energy, was presented the FABCity Excellence Award 2009 for his outstanding contribution in the field of solar energy.

I recently had the pleasure of doing a great story with him and was thrilled to meet him during the event.

SolarCity logo unveiled
The logo of the upcoming SolarCity at Anantapur was released today during the Solarcon India 2009 event by K. Rosaiah, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.

Located in Kadiri area of Anantapur district, it is spread over 10,000 acres of barren land. It has proximity to Bengaluru International Airport (85 kms). The area has suitable radiation index for solar farms as well. This is a proactive government policy to promote solar power generation in the state. It is in synergy with FABCity, Hyderabad, a center for solar PV manufacturing.

Allotment letters were also handed over to the following companies by the Minister.

* Sunborne Inc, USA
* Lanco Solar
* AES Solar, USA
* Titan Energy

Moserbaer Photovoltaic Ltd (MBPV) was also allotted 100 acres of land on lease in FABCity SPV for setting up its crystalline based solar cell manufacturing facility during the ongoing Solarcon India 2009.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Strong semicon industry recovery likely in 2010!

If all of the industry analysts are to be believed, the semiconductor market recovery has begun! Nearly all of them have been forecasting a recovery in the global semiconductor market as well. Let’s take a look at their predictions.

* According to IC Insights, the top 20 suppliers’ sales show back-to-back 19 percent growth rates! In fact, four of the top 20 — Samsung, Toshiba, Qualcomm, and MediaTek are likely to show sales growth this year!

* As per Databeans, the Americas was the first to post growth for semiconductors from the same quarter a year ago, up 8 percent. Worldwide, Q3 came in down 10 percent from 2008, but up 20 percent sequentially. This puts the market on target with our current prediction of $217 billion, a contraction of 13 percent from 2008. Databeans is also still predicting that the 2010 revenue will be up 17 percent from this year.

* The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) is projecting worldwide sales of $219.7 billion for 2009, a decline of 11.6 percent from the $248.6 billion reported in 2008. Forecast projects that sales will grow by 10.2 percent to $242.1 billion in 2010 and by 8.4 percent to $262.3 billion in 2011. Worldwide sales of semiconductors in the quarter ended September 30 were $61.9 billion, an increase of 19.7 percent from the prior quarter when sales were $51.7 billion, it reported.

* According to DRAMeXchange, 3Q09 DRAM revenue increased 40.7 percent to $5,719 million. Samsung, Hynix, Elpida, Micron and Nanya (of Taiwan) make up the top 5 positions.

* Worldwide silicon wafer area shipments increased significantly during the third quarter 2009 when compared to the second quarter 2009 area shipments according to the SEMI Silicon Manufacturers Group (SMG) in its quarterly analysis of the silicon wafer industry. Total silicon wafer area shipments were 1,972 million square inches during the most recent quarter, a 17 percent increase from the 1,686 million square inches shipped during the previous quarter. The new quarterly total area shipments are 13 percent below third quarter 2008 shipments.

* Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO of Future Horizons says that Q3-09 chip growth has set the stage for 22 percent surge In 2010 vs. 2009! The market rebound started at the end of Q1, with Q2 coming in at 17 percent sequential growth. With Q3 now up a further 20 percent and Q4 market guidance in the 5 percent to 7 percent range, the 2009 market is set to close out at between $220-225 billion.

* Although global semiconductor revenue is set to decline in 2009 for the second consecutive year, quarterly year-over-year growth is expected to finally return to the market in the fourth quarter, signaling the start of the industry recovery, according to iSuppli Corp. As iSuppli previously announced, global semiconductor revenue is set to contract by 16.5 percent in 2009.

* A note of caution from The Information Network, which said that semiconductor equipment billings were at 1994 levels as semis continue to underspend! Much of the problem in its opinion is the transition from 200mm to 300mm diameter wafers. Also, semiconductor companies, let by International Sematech, are pushing for a transition to 450mm wafers, which in our opinion will be the death knell for a large number of equipment manufacturers. It is critical that semiconductor equipment manufacturers boycott 450mm development. The Information Network also indicated that the “salad days” are over for the equipment industry.

* Late September 2009, the EDA Consortium (EDAC) Market Statistics Service (MSS) announced that the EDA industry revenue for Q2 2009 is $1,125.5 million, a 5.6 percent sequential decline from Q1. Since Q3 results are awaited, and as Walden Rhines, EDAC chair and chairman and CEO of Mentor Graphics, said, “As the electronics industry recovers, and its R&D spending increases to come in line with its growing revenue, the EDA industry would be expected to recover as well.”

* According to iSuppli, foundries played the semiconductor survivor in 2010. It reported that although the global semiconductor foundry market is set to make a welcome return to growth in 2010 after a terrible 2009, the recent downturn is likely to thin the ranks of the top-tier pure-play suppliers down to just three major players in the future,

There you have it! All of the semiconductor pundits are pointing toward a recovery in 2010!

However, there are some questions that remain unanswered, for now. iSuppli also reported that there has been no double booking in this semiconductor recovery in late 2009 at least. Will this scenario remain? For how long? Or, will those same old mistakes be made once the industry is back to being healthy?

Will there be renewed interest in the move toward 450mm fabs? What happens to all those companies making equipment for 300mm fabs, should that happen?

Will the companies re-write their business plans, as advised by Future Horizons’ Malcolm Penn?

In all of these good tidings, there is some discomfort hidden deep down!

Oh, one last point! What happens to all of those folks who got laid off during the longest recession of our times? Will they be re-instated?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Solar Semiconductor’s Hari Surapaneni on why solar is good for India!

Hari Surapaneni, founder, chairman of the board, president and chief executive officer, Solar Semiconductor, is among the speakers at the Solarcon India 2009 event in Hyderabad next week. It was a pleasure to chat up with him recently.

Solar Semiconductor is a well known systems integration company specializing in promoting, designing, building and maintaining solar PV power plants in the US and rest of the world.

Solar/PV market drivers in India
According to Surapaneni the current market drivers for solar photovoltaics in India include:

* Rising energy demand: Electricity consumption in India is projected to rise from 660 kWh per capita currently to over 2000 kWh by 2032 along with economic growth.

* Energy security for sustainable economic growth: To reduce reliance on fossil fuel for sustainable economic growth. This will help reduce risk on depending on a few nations for supply of fossil fuels and reduce the export bill for the country.

* Significant power deficit situation: India is still a power deficit country with average power shortage of ~9 percent and peak power shortage of ~15 percent.

* Government goals to supply electricity to all.

On potential of thermal and CIGS solar
Surapaneni believes there is a case for thermal solar. He said: “Solar thermal technology does have a potential in India. With today’s prices of PV and continued reduction of the same coupled with lower operating expenses of PV, the penetration of solar thermal becomes a challenge in India.”

There has been some talk about CIGS (Copper indium gallium (di) selenide) solar. Does this technology have potential in the Indian context?

Surapaneni added: “CIGS is a very promising technology as it provides higher panel efficiency with low cost. However, it is still not a proven technology at commercial scale and some time off from commercialization.”

And what about BIPV?
On the same note, it’d be interesting to get his thoughts on the potential for BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics) in the Indian context.

According to Surapaneni, building integrated PV and roof integrated PV (solar tiles, etc.) are primarily urban applications.

“Rapid development in cities (high rises/apartment complexes/office buildings), coupled with high solar irradiation of 4-7 kwh per day, per square meter and 300 sunny days annually, BIPV has significant theoretical potential.

“These building currently have polluting diesel back-ups. However, to realize this potential, specific government encouragement through incentives and mandates is necessary.”

India advantage
In the global context, consolidation in solar cell manufacturing to control oversupply has been happening.

Surapaneni said that in the current scenario — where the global capacity is approximately 1.5x to 2x times the demand — there is bound to be consolidation among the solar cell manufacturers, including potential mergers and acquisitions.

“This is however is a dynamic phenomenon and as grid parity is achieved in developed markets, and with a turnaround in global economy, demand can potentially outpace the consolidated supply also.

“Regardless of the dynamics of the market place, India offers significant opportunity. India can offer highest quality products at the lowest cost. Solar Semiconductor has already demonstrated this capability/value proposition and has benefited consequently in this demand constrained (over supply) environment.”

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Embedded electronics: Trends and opportunities in India!

I know this particular topic and headline is going to get lots of page views. However, I’ve something better in mind to tell all of you, especially those having an interest in embedded systems and software in India.

The headline is actually the theme of the India Semiconductor Association’s (ISA) E3 conference, which will be held during the forthcoming event next week! What’s in store? Probably lots!

In the opening session, industry thought leaders from Ittiam Systems and SemIndia will be setting the tone on design and manufacturing perspective. The second session is actually a panel discussion — to be moderated by S. Janakiraman, President and Group CEO, Product Engineering Services, MindTree. The panelists are from KPIT Cummins, National Semiconductor, Wipro and Delphi. It should be interesting!

I will add some more thoughts on the trends and opportunities in the Indian embedded systems and software industry, although, I’ve mentioned those quite a few times in the past!

India's strength in embedded
India's strength in embedded is two-fold -- embedded design - in both hadware and software; also India's manufacturing demand for electronic products is growing at 13 percent CAGR as per the ISA-F&S report 2008.

Design of embedded systems and software
India is emerging as the chip design center for most global companies. There are three types of embedded activities currently happening in India. These are:

* Embedded products designed, developed and manufactured by Indian companies for local markets or for exports -- such as local product companies.
* Design projects executed by Indian design services companies for global companies -- such as Wipro, KPIT, etc.
* Transnational R&D companies functional in India, who are doing captive design projects for parent companies from India. -- Delphi, Cisco, Intel, etc.

Verticals of growth
Coming to manufacturing part, this growth is happening across five-six verticals:

* IT and office automation (OA) -- where desktops and laptops are the growth drivers.
* The second area is telecom -- wireless infrastructure for GSM and CDMA; also mobile phone manufacturing is emerging as a big segment.
* Next comes consumer electronics, which is driven by STBs, MP3 playerrs, TV and audio systems, etc.
* In industrial electroncis -- it is being driven by UPS, energy meters, etc.
* In automotive -- we have over 7 million two-wheelers being manufactured in India. The electronic content within them is growing.
* Another opportunity is in medical electronics, smart cards -- now with the national ID project as well as metros coming in, and also e-passports.
* Even defence and aerospace are growing areas.

Trends and opportunities in India
The emerging trends are in security surveillance, solar energy, and LED lighting.

* Surveillance -- video and security surveillance are gaining strongly.
* Solar -- basically, along with solar panels, you will need MPPT charge controllers as well as solar inverters. These will fuel growth.
* LED lighting -- meant to replace kerosene lamps with LED, as well as street LED lighting and auto LED lighting, along with lanterns.

On the software side, India has more of software than hardware engineers. The reason being, In India, more work based on developing applications, programming of MCUs, device driver development, etc. are majorly happening here.

Hence, embedded software is a bigger element of the Indian industry.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Semicon update Oct. ’09: Will the perfect calm drive 2009-10 recovery?

Here are the excerpts from the Global Semiconductor Monthly Report, October 2009, provided by Malcolm Penn, chairman, founder and CEO of Future Horizons. There are a lot of charts associated with this report. Those interested to know more about this report should contact Future Horizons.

August IC sales were up 1.7 percent on July, driven by a 2.2 percent increase in ASPs and a 0.5 percent fall in units. Whilst this is nothing to write home about when taken in isolation, both the ASP and unit trends were in line with normal ‘month two of the quarter’ expectations, they did show that the market recovery is not running out of steam as the Q1 inventory correction starts to peter out.

Real demand is thus starting to pick up the baton, just as we forecast in our January IFS2009 forecast seminar. More importantly, it is paving the way for a blockbuster Q3. Already firms are starting to show results well above our 12 percent sequential growth forecast. The future is bright; and it is getting brighter by the minute!

With the third quarter results season now well under way, companies are starting to show stellar results, see sampling below:
* Intel's Q3 sales top expectations.
* Hynix returns to profitability.
* Broadcom shows second consecutive quarter of greater than 20 percent growth.
* TSMC posts best revenue, profit since Q308.
* Foundries top Q3 forecasts on improved utilisation.
* NXP improves sales, net profit in Q3.
* Chips drive profit at Toshiba.
* Semiconductor sales drive record Samsung profits

Intel set the ball rolling with a 12 percent third quarter growth – right on our forecast number – sizeably up on its earlier guidance and second quarter estimate, which in essence means a 12 percent overall market growth is the minimum.

In Europe, ST announced sequential growth of 15 percent, whilst NXP posted a whopping 20 percent Q3 gain. If even NXP can show this kind of quarterly performance, despite its current selling off the family silver strategy, it just goes to show how strong the third quarter will be.

It also throws into serious doubt NXP’s ‘recovery’ strategy. History has proved time and time again you never save a crippled firm by selling off the assets (especially quality ones) or downsizing the organisation. Selling off the assets seriously damages future growth prospects and downsizing an organisation (other than laying off staff) simply cannot be done.

You always end up with the same bloated infrastructure but with a lower sales base to support it; overheads skyrocket and the stagnation just gets worse.

The only way to turn a company around is by steely determination, vision, strategy and above all growth. This, of course, takes time and patience because it does not produce instant overnight results, something the bean counters and financial community have never managed to grasp.

Yet, given their product range and outstanding R&D capability, a few more ‘20 percent growth quarters’ would soon fix NXP’s problems.

To mis-quote Winston Churchill, we have always been bewildered how “so little (sales) has been achieved by so many (products)”. Growing NXP out of its problems should have been a no-brainer; it is a sales not operations problem that they have.

Ignoring the structurally (and typically) wild individual monthly fluctuations – which simply means no single month’s data is a good indicator of the underlying trends – August’s results places us squarely into our -14 percent 2009 growth estimate range.

Having said that, even this revised estimate is now looking too pessimistic given future monthly 12:12 numbers will be measured against a dynamic, whereby the 2009 numbers are trending up whereas the 2008 numbers were trending down, amplifying the impact of the 2009 positive monthly trends. We now believe that November will be the month when the 12:12 growth rate breaks back into clear positive territory.

Malcolm Penn further says: "We also believe we will be upping our Q4 and total 2009 forecast in next month’s Report, based on the better than forecast third quarter results. If September’s sales continue to track July and August’s performance, Q3 will grow in the 18 percent region, increasing the likelihood of Q4 to grow 5 to 6 percent rather than our current 3 percent assumption.

"That would put 2009’s market at $220 billion, down just 10 percent versus our current -14 percent forecast. Even a modest quarterly growth patter on this yields a minimum 20 percent growth for 2010, to around US$ 275 billion -- sizeably more than its 2007 peak.

"Just as the perfect storm killed 2001, the perfect calm will drive the 2009-10 recovery. Time to re-write the 2010 business plans now."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Altera expands low-cost Cyclone FPGA series

Altera Corp. has introduced the Cyclone IV FPGAs, thereby expanding the success of the low-cost Cyclone series.

The Cyclone IV GX is said to be the lowest cost, lowest power FPGAs with transceivers, and the Cyclone IV E has helped it extend the lead in combining low cost, low power, and high functionality. Simultaneously, Altera also extended its transceiver portfolio leadership.

The Cyclone IV FPGA family offers two variants. Cyclone IV GX devices have up to 150K logic elements (LEs), up to 6.5-Mbits of RAM, up to 360 multipliers, and up to eight integrated 3.125-Gbps transceivers supporting mainstream protocols including Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), SDI, CPRI, V-by-One and Cyclone IV GX has hard IP for PCI Express (PCIe).

According to Jennifer Lo, Senior Marketing Manager, Altera, the company is pushing bandwidth limits in cost-sensitive markets and products -- specifically, smartphones, wireless communications, industrial Ethernet, broadcast and 3D displays. There is said to be a huge demand from Latin America, Asia, etc., specifically in wireless. Altera is providing a low cost, low power solution. Next, the trend is also moving from 2D to 3D displays. In broadcast it is moving to high bandwidth, in order to support HD video.

Easier for designers to debug FPGA designs
With the new Cyclone IV, will it become easier for designers to debug FPGA designs, especially when looking at the hardware and software aspects? Lo said that ease of use has always been a focus for low-end products for Altera.

"To that end, with Cyclone IV FPGA’s, like other Cyclone series, we strive to provide reference designs, design examples, development boards to customers to jump-start their design. With respect to debugging, we don’t see any particular differences between Cyclone IV and previous Cyclone generations.

"However, with more training, both fundamental trainings offered free on-line and more in-depth instructor-led trainings are available to help customers get accustomed with the Altera design methodology and use of our Industry-leading development software," she added.

Altera had introduced the Cyclone III LS FPGA development kit, as well as shipments of industry's first FPGAs with integrated 11.3-Gbps transceivers. How are all of these going to help Altera overall, given that Q3 saw a 3 percent increase; and help boost FPGA sales?

Lo said: "FPGAs usually have a longer design cycle (at least a few months before prototyping and another few months till mass production. With the recent few product additions, Altera is in a technology leadership position that we are all very proud of and confident that we will be able to reap the results of in the near future."

Product goals to address market requirements
Commenting on the product features, the Cyclone IV FPGA family supports mainstream transceiver protocols and has the core functionality to address targeted applications.

The new FPGA family also facilitates probably the lowest system cost -- in terms of lowest device cost, reduced board and BOM cost, and fastest time to volume production. Also, it meets the most strict power budgets with increased functionality.

Focusing on Altera's transceiver portfolio leadership, the company is said to be the only supplier shipping FPGAs with 11.3Gbps transceivers. The Altera Cyclone IV GX has 3.125Gbps transceivers. The Arria II GX, shipping now, features 3.75 Gbps transceivers, while the HardCopy IV GX and Stratix IV GX feature 8.5Gbps transceivers. The Stratix IV GT features 11.3Gbps transceivers. Lo added that the company needs to make sure that the products supports all latest transceiver protocols.

Cyclone IV FPGAs
Altera's Cyclone IV FPGAs are currently said to be the lowest cost, lowest power, integrated transceivers.

Lowest system cost
* Smallest density FPGA with transceivers
* Integrated hard IP
-- PCIe x1, x2, x4
-- Transceivers built from ground up for low cost
* Requires only two power supplies
* Wirebond packages

Lowest power
* 60nm low-power process
* PCIe to GbE bridge for <1.5W

High functionality
* Up to 150K logic elements (LEs)
* Up to 6.5-Mbit RAM and 360 multipliers for DSP-intensive applications
* Up to eight integrated 3.125-Gbps transceivers

As an example, when used in consumer video displays, the new family will meet high video-quality requirements fast and cost effectively. When used in a broadcast video capture card, it helps save over 30 percent system cost.

ASSP replacement
Cyclone IV FPGAs provide a cost that rivals ASSPs. It also offers unmatched flexibility to support multiple protocols. Besides, being obsolescence proof, it reduces cost as well. It cal also replace simple bridge ASSPs -- for example, PCI to PCIe, PCIe to GbE, etc. The FPGA family can also replace industrial Ethernet ASICs/ASSPs.

The Cyclone IV FPGAs can be used across all market segments -- wireless, wireline, consumer, industrial, broadcast, and test and medical -- to address cost-sensitive applications. It aims to help designers meet their cost-sensitive product targets for increased bandwidth.

Quartus II software v9.1 released
Altera also released the new Quartus II Software Version 9.1, which facilitates compile time advantage. What is the difference between the new version and the earlier one?

According to Lo, In the latest v9.1 of the Quartus II development software, new features and enhancements are added to reduce the compile times 20 percent vs. older versions.

"In addition, we have added a Rapid Recompile feature, which maximizes designer productivity when making small engineering change order (ECO)-style designs changes after a full compile is run, reducing compilation times by 50 percent on average vs. running another full compile on the design.

"By preserving critical timing during late design changes, Rapid Recompile can also significant reduce the timing closure workload on designers," she added.