Friday, February 26, 2010

Industry reactions on union budget 2010

Here are some reactions on the union budget 2010, sent in by friends in the Indian PR community.

Jaswinder Ahuja, Corporate Vice President & Managing Director, Cadence Design Systems (I) Pvt Ltd
The 2010-11 Union Budget announcements will find broad-based appeal due to the provisions for social reform and increased allocation for primary education, health and rural infrastructure. Raising the tax slabs should positively impact consumption and as a result the overall economy.

Although there haven’t been any significant incentives or reforms for the IT sector, the tax reforms for R&D expenditure is a good step towards encouraging innovation in India across sectors, as well as in our national research bodies. The proposal to simplify the current foreign direct investment (FDI) policy is also a positive step.

This budget reflects India’s increasing commitment to environment sustainability and the raging issue of climate change. The focus on clean energy investments - with the increased allocation towards renewable energy and the setting up of the ‘National Clean Energy Fund’ for funding research in clean technologies - is a welcome measure.

For the semiconductor and solar industry in India, the proposal to set up solar, small hydro and micro power projects in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir seems encouraging. Significant budgetary allocations towards the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) project is likely spur investments in smart card technology in India. Other steps that stand out for the semiconductor industry include the reduction of Central Excise duty on LED lighting and the CVD tax exemptions on all medical equipment.

The reform process and policy announcements by the government are no longer just an annual exercise but a continuous, evolving process and we expect that other measures will be announced through the year that are take into consideration, the recommendations put forth by the ISA (India Semiconductor Association).

Tiger Ramesh, CEO & MD, Vignani Solutions
We welcome the Finance Minister’s acknowledgment of LEDs as a highly energy-efficient source of lighting for outdoor, indoor and street lighting and applaud the government’s decision of lowering the Central Excise duty from 8 percent to 4 percent ,as this will accelerate adoption rates for LEDs by reducing the capital expenditure for the end-users. This encouragement of the LED industry is significant as we expect the market share of LEDs to rise to 15-30 percent of the overall lighting industry by 2014 from a current 2-3 percent market share. We are actually on the threshold of a revolution in the Rs 10,000 crore Indian lighting industry!

The launch of the National Clean Energy Fund is also as per our expectations as we have always requested government’s support for funding research and the support of innovative projects in clean energy technologies. These two steps can act as important catalysts for energizing the LED market in India as well as stimulating R&D in clean energy technologies in India.

Amar Babu, Managing Director, Lenovo India
The Government’s Union Budget 2010 underscores the focus on development, especially on infrastructure, rural development, urbanization and social welfare, aiding India’s development and further stimulating the vital industrial sectors. The attention on e-governance with the UID project and the Technology Advisory Group indicates the Government’s continued move to leverage Information Technology in critical projects.

It is also setting an example by generating thrust in the renewable energy sector. Spends allocation in the SME sector is welcomed, as that will allow for the sector to invest in IT for productivity and competency. Assigning GST will help clarify pricing norms and duty structures across the board. The budget concentrates on the sustained growth and momentum in the industry, and is welcomed.

Padmaja Krishnan, director, Sales and Marketing, CSC India
There is good focus on the banking sector as more banks will be encouraged. The budget is also a step in strengthening the Manufacturing sector. Both banking and auto stocks have led the rally as the stock market gave a thumbs up to the Union Budget 2010-2011. The allocation for the power sector has also increased by more than double. The National clear energy fund for funding research and innovative projects in clean energy technologies is a good initiative too. Overall, to me, the budget looks good and I hope all this focus in these sectors will also mean a share in the IT pie.

Pramod Bhasin, Chairman, NASSCOM says: “We are delighted that the Finance Minister has recognized the key role our industry can play in driving technology led inclusive growth across the country, apart from directly contributing as an employment generator and foreign exchange earner. The announcement of the Technology Advisory Group under Nandan Nilekani, automation of central excise, GST and commercial taxes will enable the vision of citizen centric governance. Our industry will partner with the government to drive inclusive growth within India, while continuing to be the leader around the world in IT and business process solutions."

Som Mittal, President, NASSCOM says: “There are numerous positives for our industry in this budget, particularly on simplification. The removal of anomaly in Section 10AA of the SEZ Act and the Finance Minister’s reaffirmation on the importance of SEZs will help the industry to take forward its SEZ plans across the country. The enhanced deduction on R&D investment will propel greater thrust on innovation and IP creation helping India to realize its vision of being the global R&D services hub.”

He adds: “The reduction in personal income tax will greatly benefit the employees in our industry who will help to drive both enhanced savings and consumption within India. At the same time, the clarification on duty applicability for pre-packaged software as well as service tax refunds will provide the much necessary simplification of policies.”

While the overall the budget is positive, we are disappointed with the increase in MAT which will be a burden on small and medium businesses who are still struggling with the impact of the global recession.

There was also no move toward announcing parity of incentives between the STPI and the SEZ scheme which is again necessary for small companies and development of tier 2 and tier 3 cities. In line with our recommendation, the IT Taskforce formed by Department of Technology (DIT) had also strongly recommended that the STPIs be brought at par with the SEZs.

The tax benefits under the STPI Scheme are available till March 31st, 2011 and we will engage with the Government and through the Ministry of IT to represent for an equitable benefit to the SME sector.

Sandeep Menon, Country Head - Novell India
At a broad level, I think this budget reflects the governments confidence in the Indian economy. I am particularly please to note that there has been no knee jerk reaction to withdrawing the fiscal stimulus, as I don't think the time is right yet. The increased outlays to Urban development, RRBs and Clean energy are steps in the right direction. A fiscal deficit target of 5.5 percent is not too bad. All in all, I would call it a pragmatic budget. From a packaged software industry perspective, it would have been good to see a move towards rationalization of levies and taxes. But we'll perhaps need to wait and watch how the GST rollout progresses, for that issue to be addressed."

MAIT, the apex body representing India’s IT hardware, training and R&D services sectors, welcomed the thrust given in the Union Budget towards sustaining the national economic growth and making it inclusive. The industry body expressed satisfaction for the thrust given to infrastructure development, upliftment of the rural economy and significant outlay for promotion of the social sector, especially education and healthcare. Further, it also appreciated the focus in Budget on New and Renewable energy and announcement of proactive measures for environment conservation.

Congratulating the Union Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, Vinnie Mehta, Executive Director, MAIT, said: “We are glad that the Hon’ble Finance Minister has unveiled the roadmap for GST with a definite date for implementation i.e. April, 2011. Unification of the rate on excise duty and the service tax has been a step in the right direction towards implementation of the GST. The rate of service tax as well as that of excise duty will now be 10 percent. This will also help mitigate the issue of CENVAT overflow for manufacture of IT products in the country.”

Elaborating on the outcome, he added, “Exemption of Special additional Duty (SAD) on pre-packaged goods for retail is also a welcome step as refunds for SAD were not forthcoming. However, to sustain hardware manufacturing in the country in the long run, it is critical that SAD on the input components be exempted as well.”

“It is heartening that the Hon’ble Finance Minister has recognised the strong potential of the electronics industry and its role in energy generation. In this regard, the announcement of concessional customs duty of 5 percent on machinery, equipment etc. for setting up photovoltaic and solar thermal power generating units is welcome”, added Mehta.

“Lastly, MAIT welcomes the setting up of the Technology Advisory Group under the chairmanship of Mr Nandan Nilekani for monitoring effective IT implementation in projects of National eminence. Timely completion of IT implementation in Government projects is not only critical to the growth and development of the country but also essential for delivering services to the citizens”, mentioned Mehta.

Some of the other noteworthy outcomes of the Union Budget 2010-11 are:
* Extension of weighted deduction on expenditure on in-house R&D from 150 percent to 200 percent.
* Exemption from basic customs duty, CVD and SAD on parts of battery chargers and hand-free headphones for the mobile phone industry until March 2011. This will enable backward integration in the sector.

Union budget 2010: Solar, UIDs all the way!

As expected, solar photovoltaics (PV) is the largest beneficiary of the UPA government’s union budget 2010, which was presented today by India’s Union Finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee. On India’s growth, he said that a 10 percent GDP growth rate is likely in the future.

Late last week, I had said that it would be a great surprise if solar/PV was not part of the budget, given the NSM. Well, it now has a major role, as do UIDs. However, as I expected, there is hardly anything for the semiconductor/VLSI industries, and definitely not what the industry had proposed Well, semiconductor/VLSI is not yet a critical sector, and will need to wait for its time.

Key budget highlights
* The plan outay for new and renewable energy has been increased by 61 percent from Rs. 620 crores to Rs. 1,000 crores. This is following the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (NSM) announced last year, which aims for 20GW by 2022.
* Proposal to establish national clean energy fund.
* There are proposals for setting up solar and wind power projects in Ladakh region as well.
* Allocation for power sector doubled to Rs. 5,120 crores.
* Allocation of Rs. 1,900 crores for UAID scheme (UID projects).
* UID numbers are ready for take off. UID authority has been constituted, and it will issue the first set of UIDs by the end of this year.
* Smart cards extended to NREGA.
* The Unique Identification Authority of India to get an allocation of Rs. 1,900 crores.
* An effective tax administration and financial governance system calls for creation of IT projects which are reliable, secure and efficient. IT projects like Tax Information Network, New Pension Scheme, National Treasury Management Agency, Expenditure Information Network, Goods and Service Tax, are in different stages of roll out. To look into various technological and systemic issues, the minister proposes to set up a Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects (TAGUP) under the Chairmanship of Nandan Nilekani.
* The budget proposed to further simplify FDI.

New and Renewable Energy
* The Finance Minster proposed to increase the Plan Outlay for the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy by 61 percent from Rs. 620 crores in 2009-10 to Rs. 1,000 crores in 2010-11.
* To address the problem of energy deficiency in the Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir which faces extremely hard climate, the government proposes to set up solar, small hydro and micro power projects at a cost of Rs. 500 crores.
* The Ministry of new and Renewable Energy (MNRE), which aims to develop and utilise new and renewable sources of energy fur supplementing energy requirements of the country in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner, has got a total Plan Outlay of Rs. 1,950 crores, which includes Rs.950 crores as IEBR in the annual plan for the year. The following physical targets/activities have been set during the financial year:
* 2972 MW Grid-Interactive Power capacity addition from Wind, Small Hydro, Biomass, Power/Cogeneration, Urban & Industrial Waste to Energy and Solar Power; 142 MW eq. Off grid / Distributed Renewable Power Systems.
* Provision of basic electricity/lighting facility through SPV/other RE systems and devices, including DRPS in 1500 remote villages/hamlets; and Family type Biogass Plants of capacity of 0.30 million m2 (1.5 lakhs nos.).
* Deployment of Solar Water Heating Systems of 1.00 million m2; Promotion of Energy – efficient Buildings (1 million sqm. Floor area) and Development of Solar Cities.
* R&D activities on different aspects of new and renewable energy technologies; support to MNRE Centres /institutions and Standard and Testing; Renewable Energy Resource Assessment.
* Information, Publicity and Extension (IPE) of Renewable Energy systems; International Relations; Administration and Monitoring including HRD and Training; Support to States, Public Enterprises and Industry including HRD and training activities to be undertaken under Solar Mission.

Tax proposals
* GST to be rolled out by April 2011.
* Rs 1133 crores outlay for launch of GST.
* SARAL – II form for individuals ready for the coming year in a simple format in only two pages.
* Computerisation of commecial tax collection in states.
* Automation of central excise and service tax already rolled out.

Direct taxes
* Corporate tax hiked; MAT increased from 15 percent to 18 percent
* Current income tax slabs extended as follow:
Rs 1.6 lacs — nil
Rs. 1.6 lacs – Rs. 5 lacs – 10 percent
Rs. 5 lacs – Rs 8 lacs – 20 percent
Above Rs 8 lacs — 30 percent

Indirect taxes
* Under the NSM — concessional customs duty to machinery, equipment, applicances etc., required for setting up PV and thermal power units.
* Wind energy generators exempted from central excise duty.
* LED lights — central exicse duty reduced from 8 percent to 4 percent.
* To waive excise duty and solar and PV panels.
* Concessional 5 percent duty on set up of solar power unit.
* Excise duty on CFL halved to 4 percent.
* 4 percent duty on electric cars and vehicles.
* Mobile phone domestic production picking up. To encourage manufaturers of accessories, exemptions extended.
* Tax exemptions have been announced for equipment used in solar systems and wind energy system, LED lights, electric cars, cycle rickshaw, mobile phone components and certain medical equipment.

In detail, some of them are as follow:
* In pursuance of Government’s resolve to implement the National Solar Mission, there is a proposal to provide a concessional customs duty of 5 percent to machinery, instruments, equipment and appliances etc. required for the initial setting up of photovoltaic and solar thermal power generating units. I also propose to exempt them from Central Excise duty. Similarly, ground source heat pumps used to tap geo-thermal energy would be exempt from basic customs duty and special additional duty.

* Wind energy has shown promising growth in the country in recent years. As a measure of further relief, it is proposed to exempt a few more specified inputs required for the manufacture of rotor blades for wind energy generators from Central Excise duty.

* LED lights are staging a debut as a highly energy-efficient source of lighting for streets, homes and offices. Central Excise duty on these is being reduced from 8 per cent to 4 percent at par with Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs).

* Full exemption from Central Excise duty was provided to electric cars and vehicles that offer an eco-friendly alternative to petrol or diesel vehicles. The manufacturers of such vehicles have expressed difficulty in neutralising the duty paid on their inputs and components. It is proposed to remedy this by imposing a nominal duty of 4 percent on such vehicles. It is also proposed to exempt some critical parts or sub-assemblies of such vehicles from basic customs duty and special additional duty subject to actual user condition. These parts would also enjoy a concessional CVD of 4 percent.

* With the subscriber base growing at 14 million per month, India is one of the fastest growing markets for mobile phone connections in the world. Domestic production of mobile phones is now picking up in view of exemptions from basic, CVD and special additional duties granted to their parts, components and accessories. To encourage the domestic manufacture of accessories, these exemptions are now being extended to parts of battery chargers and handsfree headphones. Also, the validity of the exemption from special additional duty is being extended till March 31, 2011.

* Medical equipment, instruments and appliances are subjected to a very complex import duty regime based on several long lists that describe individual items. Multiple rates coupled with descriptions not aligned with tariff lines, result in disputes and at times prevent state-of-art equipment from getting the benefit of exemption. It is proposed to prescribe a uniform, concessional basic duty of 5 percent, CVD of 4 percent with full exemption from special additional duty on all medical equipment. A concessional basic duty of 5 percent is being prescribed on parts and accessories for the manufacture of such equipment while they would be exempt from CVD and special additional duty. Full exemption currently available to medical equipment and devices such as assistive devices, rehabilitation aids etc. is being retained. The concession available to Government hospitals or hospitals set up under a statute is also being retained.

* The manufacturers of orthopaedic implants have represented that their inputs attract a higher rate of duty than the finished product. I propose to exempt specified inputs for the manufacture of such implants from import duty.

* Cable transmission of infotainment is undergoing a transformation with the adoption of digital technology. The multi-service operators need to invest in “Digital Head End” equipment. To enable this, it is proposed to provide project import status at a concessional customs duty of 5 percent with full exemption from special additional duty to the initial setting up of such projects.

Service tax
* Export of services, especially in the area of Information Technology and Business Process Outsourcing, generates substantial employment and brings in foreign exchange. It is proposed to ease the process of refund of accumulated credit to exporters of services by making necessary changes in the definition of export of services and procedures.

No place for semicon/VLSI, components
There you have it! The union budget 2010 has lots of good news for new and renewable energy, solar PV and UIDs — all on expected lines. Perhaps, these are on the national agenda, as is telecom, and hence, they have rightly bagged pride of place in the budget document. One hopes the players in the solar PV field do not have much to complain after this!

However, there is no place for semiconductors/VLSI, components, electronics manufacturing, as of now, which is a bit of a surprise. At least, some thought should have been given to electronic components and electronics manufacturing, as these are the need of the hour.

There will be a need to build a solid ecosystem around solar PV. I hope that happens, now that so many goodies have been allocated to the sector. However, one wishes that a wee bit more could have been done for boosting local manufacturing of LEDs in India.

Overall, a good budget from the solar/PV perspective, but really down on electronics manufacturing, for now. Perhaps, we have to wait for some other time to see this segment get a real boost!

The verdict: those who wish to invest in India’s new and renewable energy sector, the time is now!

NI DAQ workshop: Sun tracker suitable for Indian (and global) solar/PV industry

It was a pleasure to attend National Instruments’ Data Acquisition Showcase & Workshop in Bangalore. On display were a complete family of data acquisition (DAQ) products for desktop, portable, industrial and embedded applications.

There were several live demonstrations on systems with acquisition from various sensor types with in-built signal condition on different buses and form factors, building management system, sun tracker demo, and high speed audio recorder. There are much more applications and demos, but I shall only touch upon a few here.

First, I quite liked the Sun Tracker demo (see picture here). This solution should be of considerable interest for folks in the solar photovoltaics (PV) space, especially in India. A solar tracker is a device for orienting a daylight reflector, solar PV panel or concentrating solar reflector or lens toward the sun. The sun’s position in the sky varies with the seasons and times of the day.

Solar powered equipment works best when pointed at or near the sun. A solar tracker can increase the effectiveness of such equipment over any fixed position, at the cost of additional system complexity.

NI’s multisensor DAQ demo actually highlighted the company’s ability in making measurements from various types of sensors using NI hardware, without the need of any third party signalling, and then implementing test cases on this data in LabVIEW. The company's high speed audio recorder is a DAQ device that acquires sound signals at very high speeds and stores the acquired data by streaming to a RAID array at over 100 MB/s.

NI’s automated test demo hgihlighted the ability of NI hardware to automatically carry out multiple tests of various types on different products without any human intervention. The company’s building management system (BMS) is actually a complete facility monitoring and control system, which takes care of lighting, automated motion detection, temperature monitoring, attendance system, power consumption monitoring, etc.

Earlier, field applications engineer, Denver D’Souza made a presentation of NI’s DAQ portfolio, aptly titled “Acquire Everything. No Constraints.” Practically, any signal can be acquired from anywhere. Such a system also needs to be scalable, in terms of hardware and software, and flexible. The system should be able to acquire data from diverse bus and form factors as well.

Several examples of applications were highlighted. A few of those are: for harsh industrial environment — NUCOR refining steel recycling using NI’s platform; embedded data acquisiition — CERN using NI’s R series data acquisition to control the world’s largest particle accelerator; and academia — the University of Manipal, India, using high performance electronics for a formula race car.

Finally, may I also take this opportunity to thank Jayaram Pillai, MD, India, Russia & Arabia, NI, as well as Ramya Nair and Nandini Subramanya for their hospitality, and to Denver for a most enlightening presentation.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Xilinx to build next-gen FPGA products on 28nm high-k metal gate

Xilinx Inc. has announced the foundation for a next-generation of Xilinx programmable platforms that will give system designers FPGAs that consume half the power at twice the capacity than previously possible for addressing the Programmable Imperative.

Xilinx's architecture for next-generation FPGA products will be built on 28nm high-k metal gate (HKMG), high-performance, low-power process at TSMC and Samsung.

According to Suresh Menon, vice president, product development, Programmable Platforms Development, features of the next-generation FPGAs include:
* Reducing total power consumption enables customers to meet system integration and high-performance targets within their power budgets.
* Scalable unified architecture reduces customers’ investment developing and deploying products.
* Xilinx maximizes the value of 28nm with high-performance, low-power process to accelerate platforms for addressing the programmable imperative.

He highlighted some industry challenges. These include the decline ASICs -- with development costs, risk and complexity, and time to market being 2x per node, leading to ASIC starts being 50 percent less per node and the ASIC business at -5 percent per year. The ASSP business model is also challenged. While it has grown at 22 percent CAGR from 2004-2009, the operating margins have declined by 27 percent, thus making tier 2 unsustainable.

Menon cited some examples addressing the programmable imperative -- wireless communications, wired communications, industrial scientific and medical (ISM), automotive, consumer, and aerospace and defense.

Lower power initiatives are universal. The challenge is to lower the total power consumption, This has to be achieved without giving up on performance or differentiation. Some examples include: green base stations to reduce carbon footprint, eco-friendly server complexes and communication hubs, automotive power restricted environment, and size, weight, and power requirements in defense.

Consumer demand is also driving network bandwidth. A challenge would be enable 1Terabit switch fabric and 400+Gbps line cards. This could been addressed by providing support for 1+Tbps full-duplex bandwidth for high-end switch fabric, enabling high-performance, non-blocking capability with flexibility to integrate QoS security, etc., and extending support for 40G, 100G, 200G, and 400G line cards.

Menon said, "We are delivering lower power through technology innovation, enabling the lowest power, high performance FPGA." This is being done as follows:

* Reduce static power consumption by 50 percent.
– 28nm high-K metal gate high-performance, low power process reduces static power compared to 28nm high performance process.
* Lower dynamic power consumption using architectural innovations.
– Transistor choice and multi-gate oxide techniques reduce dynamic power consumption despite trends.
* Enable additional 20 percent power reduction using advanced tool innovations.
– Clock gating technology.
– Fifth generation partial reconfiguration.

World’s first ultra-high-end FPGA
Xilinx is now enabling the world’s first ultra-high-end FPGA. An example is by replacing the ASICs at the heart of wired communications. The solution is a single-high-end switch fabric and 400G OTN line cards.

The result -- a 2x increase in capacity and IO bandwidth required to enable integrated solutions. Advanced tools reduce power and cost while enabling multiple design iterations in a single day for the world’s first ultra-high-end FPGAs.

According to Menon, Xilinx is also focusing on unified architecture. This will reduce customer’s investment in developing and deploying products. Products can now share the same blocks. This will result in migrating IP, Targeted Design Platforms, and customer designs from one FPGA family to the next.

The customer IP core libraries can now carry forward without redesign. The ecosystem can also develop and deploy broad IP and reference designs. Finally, the customer can now focus on differentiation through increased IP ease-of-use and re-use.

To achieve all of this would require optimal foundry partners for delivering the necessary capabilities. Xilinx has partnered with TSMC and Samsung for developing the next generation 28nm products.

How are Xilinx's products moving forward? By lower power, integrating more, and meeting performance requirements. Unified architectures is shortening customer development time and preserving design investment. Xilinx is now delivering the value of 28nm technology and accelerate platforms.

All of this is being made possible by next generation Targeted Design Platforms, which will enhance and expand key platform enablers.

* Design environment enhancements.
– Design preservation, innovative clock gating, and fifth generation partial configuration.
* Interchangeable socketable IP creation
– Xilinx and ARM common interconnect.
* New targeted reference designs
– Optimized for domains and market specific requirements.
* Scalable unified board and kit strategy with FMC reuse.
– Expanding ecosystem enabling ease-of-use.

The 28nm process development has been in progress at Xilinx for over two years now. Software will be available to enable design starts during the first half of 2010. The Xilinx 28nm FPGA devices available by end of 2010.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Phantom of the Opera returns with Christine in “Love Never Dies”!

Do you or did you love that fantastic musical extravaganza “The Phantom of the Opera”? If yes, there is good news ahead for all you Phantom lovers!

The Phantom will continue his adventure of proving that his love for Christine was true — in a new musical appropriately titled — “Love Never Dies.”

According to wikipedia, “Love Never Dies is a musical with a book and lyrics by Glenn Slater and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. A sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, it will be directed by Jack O’Brien and is scheduled to open at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End on 22 February 2010, on Broadway on 11 November 2010, and in Australia in 2011. It will be the first time a musical sequel is staged in the West End.

Sierra Boggess is said to have been cast as Christine Daaé, and Ramin Karimloo, will portray the Phantom in Love Never Dies!

Now, I don’t have the exact details. but as per the official website, Andrew Lloyd Webber is bringing back the principal characters of “The Phantom of the Opera” in “Love Never Dies.”

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! Couldn’t get better than this! Thank you, Andrew Lloyd Webber!!

I never really liked to see the mysterious Phantom lose Christine in the end in the original plot, nor did I think highly of Christine’s character as a woman for giving up on the Phantom at the end for Raoul. And, I hope that several ‘Phantom’ lovers will agree with me in this assessment.

The storyline of ‘Love Never Dies” goes something like this. And well, I have taken it from the official website.

About a decade after the Phantom’s mysterious disappearance from the Paris Opera House, Christine Daaé accepts an offer to visit and perform in America at New York’s fabulous new playground of the world – Coney Island. She arrives in New York along with her husband Raoul and their son, Gustave. However, she is not aware of the identity of who actually invited her to America. She discovers all this and more in “Love Never Dies.”

According to the official website, “This brand-new show is a roller coaster ride of obsession and intrigue…in which music and memory can play cruel tricks… and The Phantom sets out to prove that, indeed, LOVE NEVER DIES.”

Besides the musical starring Michael Crawford as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine, I have had the pleasure of watching the 2004 movie (at least several times), starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rosum, and was very fortunate to see a live performance of the breathtaking “Phantom — The Vegas Spectacular” in Las Vegas, thanks to my friends at Symantec. And well, I love the title song!

Now, I simply can’t wait to see or at least, listen to the audio/music of “Love Never Dies!” I do hope that the Phantom gets Christine this time, or perhaps, this musical has a much happier ending, which will make Phantom’s fans, such as I, happier.

Finally, readers, I hope I have the liberty of writing about something else which is close to my heart, besides semiconductors, telecom, solar PV. My sincere wish that you enjoy this post too.

PS: I read a news on Mail Online that Sierra Boggess had to withdraw from a final dress rehearsal as she fell ill with a fever. Her understudy, Celia Graham, stepped into Boggess’s shoes. Okay, today is Feb. 22nd, the D-Day for “Love Never Dies”!

Hope this works:

Indian electronics and semiconductor industries: Time to answer tough questions and find solutions

Another year and yet another union budget is close at hand! I’ve been receiving mails left, right and center from enthusiastic friends in the PR community who are trying to push their clients’ expectations on the budget.

Hold it for a moment! The IT sector alone does not make up India! Neither does semiconductor or VLSI or embedded! So, I am wondering — will all of those recommendations even get a look in? Solar PV probably would probably figure somewhere in the budget as it now has its own ministry — the MNRE. I’ll be very surprised, if solar PV is missing in this year’s budget.

Right, let me focus a bit on semiconductors and electronics. The rest will all fall in place if these two sectors are really paid greater attention.

The Indian semiconductor policy was announced back in 2007. Barring investments in solar PV, it has really not seen much movement. We did start a ‘national movement for fabs’ back in 2007-08, but all that seems to have fizzled out for now. As for solar PV, the National Solar Mission (NSM) was formally launched by the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, last month. This month, the Karnataka State Government has announced its own semiconductor policy at the recently held ISA Vision Summit 2010. So, we already have some notable policies in place.

Now, the Indian electronics industry seems to be looking at a $350-$400 billion opportunity by 2020 as far as the electronics consumption is concerned. As per available statistics, the current consumption stands at about $40-$45 billion. I am told, we have not made a very good use of the existing opportunity in the sense that only 3 percent of this $40 billion consumption of electronics goods is actually produced in India. How are we ever going to hit the so-called huge opportunity in front of us if we don’t start now? And most importantly, where exactly do we start from?

Policies are supposed to play the role of guiding lights. In the end, it is up to the industry to deliver, of course, with government support. It is for the industry to come up with roadmaps as to how it will reach a specific target during the time period marked in such policies. The real onus will be upon the industry — and how its ‘actual effectiveness’ is perceived, based on its local success — in the global markets, to attract newer investments.

Not for a moment should anyone confuse IT/ITeS with electronics manufacturing and semiconductors. IT/ITeS has its own success story! Nor for that matter should anyone feel that since we are strong in design services, we will have an easy path ahead.

IT/ITeS, and also satellite TV and telecom, have largely grown on their own strengths. Most importantly, all of them started back in the 1990s. Of course, the industry associations and regulations have had their roles to play. But, make no mistake. It will be a very different story as far as local electronics manufacturing, components and semiconductors are concerned.

Thoughts on the budget
Here are some thoughts on what the union budget should try to answer, if it will.

What steps will be taken to promote domestic electronics manufacturing in the country? What steps will be taken to boost the growth of electronic components in India? Time and again, I’ve noticed that electronic components are not even on anyone’s wish list! How can you even think of developing an ecosystem that fosters electronics manufacturing in the absence of a strong components ecosystem?

Next, what steps will be taken to develop the local markets? Rather, who’s responsibility should it be to develop the local markets — for local manufacturers? Are the local manufacturers ready enough to take on the global giants? How will they be protected? If not, what steps would likely be taken to make them self sufficient and globally competitive? How much money is India actually going to spend on semiconductor and electronics R&D? More importantly, will that R&D be on really cutting edge technologies?

Now, I really want to play some part in making certain things happen! That’s one of the many reasons why I was very pleased to meet Dongbu recently. I even went ahead and requested an X-Fab associate to find out whether this company would be keen on visiting and exploring the Indian market.

I am glad that the UKTI has made some efforts to connect UK based firms with those in India. However, these are early days, and much more needs to happen. I am trying to connect some companies here as well. It excited me even more to see Indian start-ups at Technovation 2010, and later, the industry experts encouraging engineering students to consider entrepreneurship as a career.

An acquaintance mentioned to me some time ago that we don’t even have enough and well, trustworthy third-party statistics on the various segments! Much as I’d like to provide such statistics, I am merely an individual with limitations who can only do a very little bit, as I am neither an association, nor part of any media outlet. Nevertheless, I still try to do whatever little I can manage!

Coming back to the budget, this is the right time to answer tough questions and find meaningful, long term solutions.

One would be keen to know how the local market and manufacturing segments will get developed over the years. Or what kinds of efforts will be made to revive the electronic components industry. What kinds of high-tech R&D efforts will be made in the semiconductor and electronics domains, etc.?

Once such tough questions have been properly addressed, all sops, incentives and other tax breaks — of any kind — will look brilliant to the world, and attract the necessary investments.

I really would like to see the Indian electronics manufacturing and semiconductor industries, along with electronics components, to take off! I hope I made some sense!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reputation based security protects you from malware

Information is everything in today’s connected world! According to Joe Pasqua, VP, Research, Symantec Corp., there are 487 exabytes of data globally, growing at 51 percent annually.

Speaking about the innovative work being done at Symantec Research Labs, Pasqua said that it was the Labs’ endeavor to bring together technologies and products in new and interesting ways and help solve problems. “We have a customer centric approach to innovation.”

Symantec Research Labs develops cutting edge technologies to solve real-world customer challenges in security, storage and systems management. It does core research, advanced concepts and collaboratve research.

According to Pasqua, reputation based security changes the manner in which you can protect yourself from malware. It was noticed a number of years ago that there were more of malware. “So, we decided to create a reputation score for every piece of software.”

Symantec Research Labs has an extensive and successful track record. These include core security technologies such as reputation-based security and Browser Defender. Other areas include consumer cloud services, infrastructure software, etc. Pasqua provided a sneak peak of the Symantec Mobile Reputation Security (SMRS) research prototype as well.

More details in a while.

Monday, February 15, 2010

VLSI/embedded systems design contest rolls out at RV-VLSI Design Center

The RV VLSI Design Center, Bangalore, and Mentor Graphics have jointly started a new initiative on BE projects and design contests as part of the education initiative in India. The first ever inter-collegiate design contest in VLSI/embedded systems was inaugurated today by Dr. H.P. Khincha, Vice Chancellor, Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), at the RV VLSI Design Center, an RV Academic Research Institution.

The RV-VLSI, with the support of VTU and industry academia alliance partners such as Mentor Graphics, has constituted this design contest. It is open to all colleges under the VTU.

A set of projects of relevance to the industry has been identified by RV-VLSI and VTU. Students have to choose a project based on personal interest and guidance from their college guides. RV-VLSI offers pre project training to these students and will subsequently guide them in the execution of the project at the center.

Venkatesh Prasad, CEO, RV-VLSI Design Center, said that 133 students from nine colleges have registered for projects. To ensure that students have necessary skills required to execute the projects efficiently, each student will undergo an intense 100 hours pre-project training at the center. After its completion, the students will regroup into their respective teams and start the execution of the project under the guidance of the RV-VLSI faculty.

Opportunity for budding entrepreneurs
Anil Gupta, member – Executive Council, India Semiconductor Association (ISA), said that India could have a potential of consuming $300-$400 million in electronics by 2020, from the current consumption of about $40-$45 billion. Only 3 percent of this $40 billion is currently being made in India. “The opportunity is in front of us to grab,” he said. “So far, we have done a terrible job of making use of this opportunity.”

Encouraging students to also focus on enterpreneurship, he advised them of the great opportunity and challenge ahead of us to see how much we (India) can contribute toward this $400 billion opportunity. We would also need to learn to compete with the Samsungs, Toshibas, iPhones, etc. He mentioned the ISA Technovation Awards 2010, which witnessed a number of Indian start-ups demostrating their products.

Projects are responsibility of faculty
Delivering the keynote address, Dr. Khincha said that the impact of VLSI and embedded is huge in India. VLSI, especially, plays an important role in the sense business and the intelligent business. India needs experts to run such businesses.

He added: “Universities are supposed to develop scholarships of academia. There are four aspects of this scholarships. These include the scholarships of discovery, application, integration and teaching.” Commenting on the RV-VLSI Design Center’s design contest, he said that trying to develop such programs and making it worthwhile rests on the faculty of the institutes. It should not be left up to the students to do what they can do. “A project is a part of the curriculum. It has to be done by the faculty and it is their responsibility.”

Dr. Khincha highlighted that the VLSI impacts a very large part of our lifestyle. “It also changes very fast. Students and the faculties have to keep pace with those changes,” he noted.

He hoped that some of the students would go on to become enterpreneurs. VTU will be able to provide help to such students in areas such as patenting, copyrighting, funding, etc.

Raghu Panicker, Sales Director Mentor Graphics India, shared his experience with students, adding that it had been tough for him to complete his project while finishing engineering. Today, everyone in the industry has been coming forward to help the student community. He added that the design contest could be in multiple areas such as analog, mixed signal, etc. Other criteria would be laid out in the coming months. He advised students to talk to Mentor Graphics who would help solve their challenges. Panicker also advised students to visit the Cre8 Ventures website, which helps start-ups and budding entrepreneurs.

Dr. M.K. Panduranga Setty, president, Rashtreeya Sikshana Samithi Trust, added that products today were designed to last a few years, instead of decades. “The Indian industry is looking for engineers with ‘extra quality’ so that they can be productive to them in a short time. The RV-VLSI’s mission is to lower the time taken by engineers to become productive. It is our desire to extend this contest to all over the state of Karnataka, and later, to the other parts of the country.

He added: “It should be our endeavor to stop importing components and assembling. Students, you can become great industrialists and make us proud.”

The intent of the design contest is to instill a competitive spirit amongst students undertaking projects at RV-VLSI, and to identify and select the best project. Four cash prizes sponsored by Rashtreeya Shiksana Samithi Trust and Mentor Graphics, and two Rolling Trophies were also announced.

Later, Venkatesh Prasad pointed out that there would be rolling shields in both embedded and VLSI categories, as well as for runner ups. Winners will receive a citation and cash award of Rs. 1 lac. Mentor Graphics is also putting in a cash award of Rs. 1 lac. The money will be shared by the team and the faculty.

The design contest will run for three months. Each team can have a minimum of two and a maximum of four members. “We will be looking at the clarity of thought and what they (students) have learned in the college,” he added: “The preliminary front-end will be done by the under graduates. It will be taken up by the graduates to take it to the next level.”

Before I close, I was a bit surprised to see students being unaware of the India Semiconductor Association. Friends, most of you would be probably working in the semiconductor industry. It would benefit to know about the industry association and its members. Please make that effort. Finally, best wishes to all of the participating teams in the design contest. It is always exciting to witness emerging talent!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

India should build chip design capability

The India Semiconductor Association (ISA) invited me to an exclusive roundtable with Raymond Bingham, managing director, General Atlantic, a global growth equity investment firm. Having joined the firm in 2006, Bingham is co-head of General Atlantic’s Palo Alto office. He also serves as co-head of the firm’s investment activities in the Communications and Electronics sector.

He discussed a host of issues, such as India’s vision for building its chip design capability, SaaS model for startups and VC investments in semiconductors.

What can be India’s vision?
According to Bingham, India is still emerging as a chip design resource. Although a lot of good teams are in place, such as those at Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, for instance, those teams haven’t really come out to do their own things. The population of India based chip designers need more time.

India still retains a strong technical labor that is still reasonable. He advised India to build on the shoulder of chip design services, layer by layer, and build a strong chip designing capability. “Use a business model that works for the time being and then move up the value chain,” he advised.

On the topic of fabs, he said that having domestic consumption would assist in getting a fab or a foundry. The supply chain is currently the barrier. “You (India) have addressed a lot in the last five years. Some barriers in the supply chain are being addressed as well,” he said. “The last dominos to fall would be government barriers, regulatory barriers, etc.”

Earlier, commenting on the investments in the chip industry, he cited some figures stating that investments had been really ugly in the recent times. Besides the economic downturn, the other key reason for this dip in investment was that people simply did not want to invest in semiconductors! The increasingly large amount of money that one has to commit to a semicon start-up has scared away the marginal players. “It is an awful lot of money to invest, when exits are few. The risk reward is also very low,” he added.

Bingham also touched upon the Cadence VCAD (virtual integrated computer aided design) services model, while on the subject of a EDA companies adopting a SaaS model for start-ups. This program helped the ecosystem grow in China, and there was expert support around it. Perhaps, such a model can work well in India.

Speaking about General Atlantic, Bingham said that the equity investment company looked to invest $1-2 billion each year. “We are organized around verticals and I am responsible for electronics. We also have verticals such as healthcare, nanoenergy, financial services, etc. Now, we are trying to be responsive to the biggest themes that are playing out,” he added.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dongbu HiTek comes India calling! Raises hopes for foundry services!!

Find this a bit difficult to believe? Yes, its true! Top executives from South Korea’s Dongbu HiTek, which ranks among the semiconductor industry’s leading foundries, came India calling at an event organized by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) this week, where I happened to be an attendee.

On first impression, Dongbu’s seminar on foundry services surely raises a lot of hope that India could eventually have an ‘active foundry services provider’ after all! And definitely, a player, who won’t be that expensive, one hopes, should it happen.

There’s a reason why I am using the term ‘active foundry services provider.’

While, Dongbu’s visit may not mean that India can have an actual foundry or foundry services overnight, instead, the country could well have a foundry services player, who, I felt, is quite serious about India and the Indian semiconductor industry. However, what all of this will translate into eventually, remains to be seen, as these are still very, very early days. And, Dongbu is still exploring India!

Lou N. Hutter, senior VP and GM, Analog Foundry Business and Aabid Hussain, VP of sales and marketing, Dongbu HiTek Semiconductor Business conducted a workshop on Feb 9, co-ordinated by Mandate Chips (an ISA member) and supported by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA).

Operating two world class wafer fabrication facilities — in Bucheon and Sangwoo — and leveraging key technology achievements spanning two decades, the company continues to meet the needs of fabless ventures. Its business philosophy is driven by an aggressive mission to deliver the highest quality product backed by the most responsive customer service. Overarching this mission is the vision to become the best-in-class supplier of foundry services.

To realize this vision, Dongbu HiTek pursues a “collaborate and thrive” growth strategy. Accordingly, the company continues to maintain close relations with customers and has put in place an advanced business model that adds higher value to its products and services.

Headquartered in Seoul, Dongbu has two foundries – one in Bucheon and the other in Sangwoo, both in South Korea. Fab 1 in Bucheon has a monthly capacity of 54,000 wafers in the 0.35, 0.25, 0.18 and 0.15um technology nodes. The main technologies include logic BCD, analog CMOS, HVCMOS, etc. Fab 2 in Sangwoo has a monthly capacity of 34,000 wafers in the 0.25, 0.18, 0.11um and 90nm nodes. The main technologies include logic, mixed signal, flash, RFCMOS, CIS, HVCMOS, etc. Fab 1 was acquired from Amcor in 2001 while Fab 2 has been built grounds up.

Aabid Husain said, “As we move out to higher volumes and smaller nodes, we will do new technology nodes in Fab 2.” Taiwan has been among Dongbu’s key markets and MediaTek is among its leading customers. Dongbu also has a long association with Japan. Hussain said that Toshiba has been Dongbu’s technology partner, and also draws a lot of wafers from Dongbu’s fabs. Dongbu has an office in Santa Clara, USA, and started another office in Austin last year. It plans to add another office in Boston during Q3-2010.

Husain also highlighted Dongbu’s YourFab service. An easy-to-use web based system, it facilitates real-time WIP monitoring. The service is accessible at all times from anywhere. It provides design kits and technology reports, besides PC and inline data.

Dongbu HiTek’s ShuttleChip program allows customers to share a single MultipleProject Wafer (MPW) to verify the performance of their respective prototype designs in silicon before committing to volume production. Husain said, “Indian companies can take great advantage of this program.

The ShuttleChip Program reduces the cost-burden of manufacturing chips while it also engages foundry customers at the early phase of prototype development. Accordingly, it sets the stage for close collaboration between Dongbu HiTek and its foundry customers throughout the entire manufacturing process.

Analog foundry business
Speaking on the analog foundry business, Lou Hutter said: “We need to have the right technology and really compelling technology. The next thing is design, and where the designers will work with PDKs. These have to be really great PDKs. Third, you should have a well toned manufacturing line.”

While analog offers a lot of products, each one of them would not be typically doing too much of business, individually. “If you want to be player, you’ve got to be flexible,” he added. “The life span of analog products is also large. You have to support this business and be in it for the long run,” Hutter noted. “The beauty of analog is that there is no ITRS (International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors) roadmap.”

He added that the analog business has been Dongbu’s growth engine. Last year, the analog foundry grew 30 percent in a declining maket. Dongbu expects to double it this year. “Our vision is to be the industry’s most respected analog foundry,” said Hutter. “We intend to be the analog powerhouse.”

Dongbu’s technology roadmap
Dongbu HiTek’s expanding portfolio of CMOS wafer processing options currently spans the 0.35-micron to 130-nanometer spectrum. This broad offering will soon be augmented with a 90nm processing option that is being developed by Dongbu Hitek’s “Nano Team.”

When this development is complete, Dongbu HiTek will have qualified four generations of processing technologies, which enable SoC implementations that integrate the most advanced mixed-signal, logic and analog functions.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Key drivers of electronics in India: Francois Guibert, ST

One of the industry keynotes on day 1 of the recently held ISA Vision Summit featured François Guibert, corporate VP and president, Greater China & South Asia Region, STMicroelectronics.

According to Guibert, electronics is key for the wealth of nations as most industries and services will be unable to operate in its absence.

Electronics also generates more added-value than any other manufacturing industry. It provides three times more jobs than it generates. It also accounts for 30 percent of the fixed asset investments of the overall industries. Guibert added that the electronics industry will continue growing more than twice the world’s GDP in this decade.

Commenting on India’s electronics landscape, he said the domestic electronics demand was 3-4 percent of the global consumption, or approximately, $48 billion in 2009. This comprised 9 million STBs, 125 million 2G/3G handsets, 8 million desktops and laptops, 17 million TVs, and 1.5 million cars.

India’s electronics manufacturing revenue was worth $26 billion in 2009, which is slated to rise to $43 billion by 2013, at a CAGR of 10.7 percent over the next five years.

The present situation of India, includes a huge local market with strong growth prospect, Asian dynamism, large clusters of local companies, cost competitiveness, huge pool of IT resources, good educational system and high English literacy. The current market drivers include digital STBs, digital security, lighting, automotive, metering system, etc.

In future, the mega drivers or trends are going to be green electronics, biomedical electronics, advanced security and advanced connectivity.

In green electronics, the key areas to watch out are energy harvesting, green lighting, green automotives, plastic electronics, green appliances and green computing. In biomedical electronics, the key areas would be body gateways, medical equipment and biosensors. Here, Guibert highlighted the role of MEMS as an emerging enabling technology.

Advanced security would include physical seurity, infosecurity and electronic security systems, eventually leading to system integration with a combination of components for comprehensive security systems. Advanced connectivity would entail high-speed wireless connectivity and multimedia convergence.

He added that electronics is now at the center of the industrial policy of nations. Nations are launching strategic programs through R&D in electronic systems and also reinforcing the strategic programs through R&D in semiconductors. Guibert cited Taiwan’s example, with the country having gained leadership in PCs and peripherals and semiconductor foundry manufacturing.

BRIC countries and other emerging nations possess tremendous potential for electronics and semiconductors. Two points would be very crucial — R&D and manufacturing.

So, what are the ingredients for success? One, focus on key electronics applications, such as consumer, telecom, PC, industrial, etc. Other critical factors include — government focus, strong R&D efforts, industry partnerships, as well as regional economic success — competitiveness of the local electronics industry along with semiconductor innovation and integration.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Global semicon industry update: 30 percent growth now on radar for 2010, says Future Horizons

Here are the excerpts from the Global Semiconductor Monthly Report, January 2010, provided by Malcolm Penn, chairman, founder and CEO of Future Horizons. There are a lot of charts associated with this report. The report also covers market trends. Those interested to know more may contact Future Horizons.

November’s IC sales continued the year-end rally, down just 2.4 percent on October, up 29.3 percent vs. November 2008. This confirms our earlier prediction that Q4-09 sales would be up around 6.4 percent on Q3-09, one of the strongest year end-closes on record - Q4 sequential growth is typically ‘zero plus minus 2 percent’.

This confirms that 2009 will come in close to our minus 10 percent forecast, most probably at minus 9.7 percent, setting 2010 up for a bumper double-digit growth year. Only a Lehman Brothers-type event can now derail the recovery, the future is bright, and not before time too. For far too long now doom and gloom has spoilt the chip market horizons. Industry faith has been stretched beyond the limit.

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 – November’s result places us comfortably within our minus 10 percent 2009 growth estimate.

Based on November’s WSTS data, it is now very difficult to see anything less than a 22 percent growth year for the semiconductor market in 2010 based on the current industry momentum (i.e. a fourth quarter growth of around 6.4 percent) and a very ‘average’ quarterly growth pattern for 2010. Indeed we are now starting to see the first industry guidance revisions that tend to indicate even this range might be low. If the current growth momentum holds firm, 2010 chip market growth could easily hit 30 percent.

Low double-digit growth is totally out of the question, growth in single digits an absolute impossibility, Figure E3. Either of these scenarios would need a very poor start to the year, which is simply not happening. Order books are strong, inventory levels are low, capacity is tight and demand is holding up. You could not wish for a better start to the year … what a difference from this time 12 months ago. Only a massive economic collapse can now spoil the party.

As we mentioned before, only a massive economic disruption like a Lehman Brothers bankruptcy can now derail the recovery and this is not being forecast by the economists. Quite the opposite, GDP data is trending more and more positively, with an upwards revision at the macro level more likely than not. This is not to say that the economic recovery is not fragile, it is far from out of the woods and many risks still remain.

Of the ‘not so good news’, to our minds the biggest single problem is the world’s financial systems remain unreformed and, worse still, unrepentant. This means the same issues that caused the global financial problem in the first place remain unchecked. In 1929, Wall Street’s shamed bankers jumped from their office windows. In 2009 they stood in line for their bonuses. From a chip market perspective, a sound economic base is important but the correlation is poor.

Whereas a collapsing GDP will trigger a chip market downturn, just as it did in the 2001 dot com bust and September 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse, the rates of recovery are independent of each other. For example, the economy recovered faster than the chip market after 2001 whereas the chip market is leading the recovery in 2009.

The extent of the market collapse can be gauged by looking at the peak to trough data, showing over one third of the chip market simply disappearing overnight. Except ASPs, despite this massive decrease in demand, ASPs help firm, in fact they rose a modest 1 percent. One year after the chip market collapsed, units and value have now recovered to 98 and 90 percent respectively of their Q3-08 (market peak) value, with ASPs coming in just 8 percent lower.

This is quite an extraordinary recovery, seeing as it took a full two quarters more for the world to exit recession. It happens though because there was no chip market bubble prior to the downturn.

With the memory market now in full flood of recovery – we can easily see an upside potential of a $60 billion market for 2010 – and memory prices increasing with barely a flinch from the market, 2010 is set to be a very good year for the industry. The only problem is that no one yet believes it.

Confidence has been shattered ever since the 2000 bust, with a glass half empty mindset dominating collective thinking. “Market growth is now single digit; ASPs will keep on falling; Where are the killer products to drag the chip world out of recession; We need to specialise, merge, narrow the R&D scope, cull the product line and above all dump all the fabs; outsource for capital and operating efficiency; etc”.

Well, to coin a phrase once used by Jerry Sanders III, “Nuts!” It was only 2004 when growth hit 28 percent just after an 18 percent growth in 2003. Better get planning now, it’s already too late.

Industry capacity
Q3-09 total MOS IC capacity was down 12.5 percent versus Q3-08, which in turn was up 6.2 percent on Q3-2007. Quarter on quarter growth was minus 0.7 percent, compared with minus 2.7 percent for Q2-09, minus 8.0 percent for Q1-09 and minus 1.6 percent for Q4-08. This dramatic slowdown in net new capacity is in direct response to the slowdown in Cap Ex that has been gaining momentum since the second half of 2007, i.e. well before the September 2008 market crash.

It should be remembered that there is a three quarter delay between a Cap Ex spend and saleable units out, plus at least a quarter equipment delivery lead time so Cap Ex in year ‘n’ drives capacity expansion in year ‘n+1’. As a result of the Cap Ex spend now growing much slower than the underlying demand, Q3-09 capacity utilisation rates hit 87.2 percent, up from 78.6 percent in Q2-09 and 87.5 percent in Q3-08. This bounce back was exactly in line with the prediction we made in our July and October Monthly Update Reports.

Just to recap, the sharp fall in Q4-08 and Q1-09 was the direct result of the uncertainty following the September 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing near-term inventory purge driven demand slump. It was not representative of the underlying trends.

With utilisation rates now back to their pre-Lehman level, we expect utilisation rates to improve again in Q4 with overall MOS IC capacity breaking the 90 percent barrier. Advance wafer fab production is already ‘Sold Out’ with Q3 utilisation rates reaching 93.5 percent. Leading edge capacity is now very tight indeed.

With Wafer Fab Cap Ex spend averaging around US$8 billion per quarter between Q3-06 and Q1-08, spending plunged dramatically in Q2-08 reaching around one quarter this average in 1H-09, recovering very slightly to $3.3 billion in Q3-09. Given the current front-end Cap Ex book-to-bill trends, this spending level will improve only slightly in Q4-09, exiting the year at just over $ 1 billion per month, half the previous 2006-07 level.

It must not be forgotten that this cutback was deliberately started well before the Q4-08 market meltdown, in a premeditated strategy to dramatically tighten supply and thereby increase wafer and IC average selling prices.

With November’s book-to-bill ratio now back to 1.0, the level of new front-end capital equipment orders has now been sizeably lower than sales for 39 consecutive months, from September 2006 through November 2009, aside from three brief incursions into positive territory circa Q4-06, Q4-08 and Q3-09.

2009’s Cap Ex spend now looks set to come in at around $ 16 billion, down 46 percent on 2008, which in turn was down 31 percent on 2007. That puts 2009’s Cap Ex spend at one third of its US$ 48 billion 2000 peak, basically at spares, upgrades and maintenance levels and no serious new capacity build.

No amount of productivity gains can offset this slowed investment, especially now the one-off 300mm conversion gain has been absorbed. Net new capacity addition is thus condemned to shrink even further during 2009, the capacity utilisation effect of which will be briefly suppressed in the first half of the year due to first half year seasonal demand and inventory adjustment process.

Unlike 2001, when the recession hit during a period of Cap Ex expansion, the industry was already 12-18 months into a capacity slowdown before disaster struck. For the first time in its history, the industry is entering the recovery in capacity famine mode. With the ‘Allocation’ word now back in the vocabulary, and the fact many previously IDM firms have gone decidedly fab-lite, it is not at all clear how the industry will respond or how tight things will become.

The interim period of ‘plentiful capacity in 2009’, has feed the illusion of plentiful capacity. This is now well and truly over, although few firms yet believe it; even fewer took the precaution of tying down their supply positions whilst the going was good. It is now too late; the era of cheap and plentiful wafers is over. Supply will get worse well before it gets better!

Market trends - growth prospects for 2010
Semiconductor applications were negatively affected by the recent economic downturn in 2008 and 2009 and the outlook was very gloomy at the beginning of 2009 getting progressively worse as Q1 figures were declared. The consumption of electronic equipment is, however, only loosely connected with the economy and many applications showed an amazing resilience in the turbulence of the economic storm triggered by the US housing market and the banking troubles.

The rest of 2009 showed a recovery, particularly in PCs and mobile phones units produced. Both of these applications categories make a significant contribution to the overall semiconductor consumption. Unfortunately electronic equipment was under price pressure as manufacturers tried to sell more in a depressed market that is already subject to stiff competition. This had a knock-on effect on semiconductor ASPs, but the end result was a semiconductor market that was down, but considerably betters than the industry believed at the beginning of 2009.

The performance of the electronic equipment and semiconductor market in the face of economic trouble has led us to the conclusion that growth over the next five years will be relatively strong overall, but the automotive and consumer market will take longer to recover. The seed corn of this growth is the increasing affluence in some of the developing countries, which will allow rising consumption.

The GDP growth of China and India, as two examples, was positive in 2009 compared to the more beleaguered developed countries of Europe, Japan and the United States. The consumption of electronic products in the East is growing fast relative to North America and Europe. Another factor that should not be underestimated is world population growth, which has more than doubled in the last 50 years. China and India combined make up approximately 40 percent of the total world population and this is set to increase going forward.

The total semiconductor market in 2009 is $205.2 billion and the market forecast for 2014 is $385.2 billion.

Key growth drivers
The key growth drivers for some of the major segments are as follows:

* Lower cost PCs are driving the market and we expect this trend to continue.
* The netbook phenomenon has spurred growth but this is not all gain for the PC and semis industry as it sets consumer expectations for low priced items and takes away from sales of (other) lower end laptops.
* 64 bit cores will trickle down to home PCs. These cores will give an improved PC experience for games and high definition movies especially for video editing.
* The PC will become more poplar for media playback in the home as it offers more flexibility than standard consumer items including DVD and Blu-ray players The availability of DDR3 will help on upgrades as it can improve performance for some applications.
* The trend to more fashionable, thinner, lighter and greener portable PCs will continue, helping new and replacement sales.
* Sales of PC will comprise high growth from developing regions and replacement sales in more saturated regions.

* Semiconductor content is rising in the average vehicle in the longer term – pervasive use of electronics for all systems in the vehicle.
* Safety systems including new developments where accident avoidance systems are being developed for automatic braking to prevent impending collision.
* The car will replicate some of the entertainment and connectivity of the home. Ideally, the consumer would like to have in-car access to the full range of entertainment available in the home.
* Lower cost and more fuel efficient vehicles proved popular in the downturn but fuel efficiency is here to stay, which will require more electronics for control.
* Easing of credit restrictions will help growth in developed countries from 2010 onwards.
* Economic development in Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC countries) will spur automotive growth as more consumers in these regions become more affluent.
* New Asian automotive manufacturers (ex Japan) will become increasingly important producers in world as well as domestic markets.

Consumer (integrated flat panel TVs, STBs and games consoles)
* Consumers still have appetite for innovative products and are prepared to buy at ‘value’ pricing even during an economic downturn.
* Unit growth will continue but revenue will be much slower in rising as cut-throat pricing continues which will also be reflected in the associated semiconductor market.
* New innovations are needed to spur growth and this will be increasingly difficult as there is still a lot of concentration on cost reduction and manufacturing efficiency rather than innovative developments.
* Next generation consoles are likely to be released in 2011 and this will generate consumer interest. Interest in 3D displays, virtual reality and sensory feedback may feature more strongly and help growth.
* High definition video will encourage many consumers to upgrade for improved resolution and richer colours – ‘an altogether better experience’.
* More converged devices will appear - possibly larger thin screen navigation systems able to accept and receive phone calls, send cellular text, and play videos.

Mobile phones
* Mobile phones are becoming increasingly popular in developing countries and this will feed growth in the next five years, although world saturation will still occur in the more distant future.
* The market is becoming more commoditised and more phones are using applications standard products rather than custom chips. This development is helping reduce the end price for mobile phones and will spur unit and revenue growth.
* New mobile phone architectures that can handle multiple radio protocols efficiently and at low cost will help reduce the cost and increase penetration of mobile phones.
* Multiple phone ownership may become more prevalent with phones for emergencies, smartphones for business and fashion phones for leisure.

The mobile phone is the prime candidate for a converged device and is cramming in new functions year-by-year. Health monitoring, for example, could include heart monitoring, insulin analysis and pollen count indicators. These would feature in some new specialist ranges of mobile phones.

There is considerable potential for renewed growth over the next five years with a increasing number of ‘new consumers’ entering the market for the first time in developing economies. Electronics is becoming increasingly pervasive and most equipment is no longer in the luxury goods category and this will help increase penetration in the world market.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

ISA Vision Summit 2010: Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 unveiled; great opportunity for India to show we mean business!

The much awaited Karnataka Semicon Policy was released today at the ISA Vision Summit 2010 by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa and Hon’ble IT and BT Minister, Katta Subramanya Naidu, along with B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA, and chairman and CEO, Sagitaur Ventures India Pvt Ltd, and other dignitaries.Way back, on 25 July 2008, it was first mentioned that Karnataka could have its own semicon policy, as announced during the ISA ExCite event that day. The state semicon policy has taken own time coming — a little over 18 months!

Well, better late than never! The Indian state of Karnataka now has its own semiconductor poilcy, which was unveiled today at the ISA Vision Summit by the IT Department, Government of Karnataka, along with the ISA.

Karnataka’s target: $120 billion by 2020
Prior to the policy’s release, B.V. Naidu said: “The ISA welcomes the Karnataka Semicon Policy and we are happy that most of our recommendations to the government have been considered. This policy will play a significant role for achieving $120 billion electronic system design and manufacturing industry to grow in Karnataka.”

This means: of the national target of $400 billion by 2020 set by ISA for the Indian semiconductor industry, the Karnataka state is expected to achieve 30 percent!

Karnataka semicon policy features
Am very sure a lot of you are very keen to know about the policy! Presenting the salient features of the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010.

* To encourage setting up of semiconductor units in tier-2 cities, other than Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, an incentive of investment-promotion-subsidy would be provided in accordance with the Karnataka Industrial Policy 2009-2014.
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide additional amount of Rs. 25 crores, toward 26 percent contribution to the KITVEN (Karnataka IT venture capital fund) IT Fund for raising funds from the market to assist startup semiconductor units engaged in design and embedded software.
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide financial assistance to firms for filing IP in accordance with the incentives provided in the industrial policy.
* Govt. of Karnataka will provide assistance of 50 percent of the total cost toward purchase of proposed equipment for augmenting the Orchid Tech Space in the STPI to a Characterization Lab. The remaining funds would come from the industry or mobilized through PPP business model. This Lab will be a one-stop solution for hi-tech facilities and will spur growth of R&D in future technology without financial burden to budding entrepreneurs.
* ATMP units will be encouraged with special incentives in the proposed ITIR near BIAL (Bangalore International Airport), Bangalore. (Special incentives for ITIR to be announced separately).
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide all encouragement and assistance to the solar PV manufacturing units under the Karnataka Renewable Energy Policy.
* To encourage setting up of ATMPs in the state, Govt. of Karnataka would provide incentives to units set up in the state by lowering the threshold investments for ATMPs/ecosystem units with investments above Rs. 400 crores and up to Rs. 1,000 crores. Incentives would be provided on a case-to-case basis approach based on specific employment potential.
* As a policy support, to encourage innovation and R&D in chip design, product development, telecom, etc., the Govt. will set up a fund known as ‘Karnataka Fund for Semiconductor Excellence’ of Rs. 10 crores. This fund will be available to the private companies covering up to 50 percent of their R&D expenses, subject to a limit of Rs. 10 lakhs per unit. This financial assistance would be subject to repayment of 10 percent of the profit (after tax) annually for a period of 10 years. Preference would be given to fresh engineering graduates by identifying talent through projects submitted in the college and start-up companies.
* A committe comprising of representatives of VTU, ISA, industry, scientists, and financial institutions would be set up to monitor the activities and functioning of the fund.
* Karnataka Power Corp. and Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd would take steps to develop solar farms on joint ventures/PPP mode in Bijapur, Gulbarga, Raichur and Bellary districts.
* Govt. to set up a focused school under IIIT at a cost of Rs. 10 crores and strengthen the research labs in the institute at a cost of Rs. 5 crores with a contribution of 25 percent from the industry.
* Fiscal incentives would be provided to semiconductor units as per the Karnataka Industrial Policy 2009-2014.
– Investment promotion subsidy.
– Exemption from stamp duty to MSME, large and mega projects.
– Concessional registration charges to MSME, large and mega projects.
– Waiver off conversion fine to MSME, large and mega projects.
– Exemption from entry tax to MSME, large and mega projects.
– Incentives for export oriented enterprises for MSME, large and mega projects.
– Subsidy for setting up ETPs to MSME, large and mega projects.
– Interest free loans on VAT to large and mega projects.
– Anchor units subsidy to first two manufacturing enterprises with minimum employment of 100 members and a minimum investment of Rs. 50 crores.
– Special incentives for enterprises coming up in low HDI districts for large and mega projects.
– Interest subsidy to micro manufacturing enterprises.
– Exemption from electricity duty to micro and small manufacturing enterprises.
– Technology upgradation, quality certification and patent registration for micro and small manufacturing enterprises.
– Water harvesting/slash conservation measures to small and medium manufacturing enterprises in all zones.
– Energy conservation, small and medium manufacturing enterprises in all zones.
– Additional incentives to the enterprises following reservation policy of the state.
– Refund of cost incurred for preparation of project report for micro and small manufacturing enterprises.

Now, let’s take a look at what the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 achieved and areas that need clarity!

What does the policy achieve?
1. First state semicon policy of its kind in the country. Cam be a model for other states.
2. Provides an excellent ground for startups entering semicon design and embedded software — focusing on India’s existing strengths.
3. Provides opportunities for other cities and towns in Karnataka to have some semicon related activities, and also generate employment.
4. Clear measures for IP creation and accumulation.
5. Makes it easier to procure semicon equipment for Characterization Lab.
6. Has some measures to boost semicon related local R&D.
7. Provision taken to develop solar farms in other districts.
8. The policy comes into force with effect from the date of issue of the Government order in this regard and shall remain in force for a period of five years from such date or till the issue of a new or revised Semiconductor Policy.

Where the policy requires more clarity!
1. While the ‘Karnataka Fund for Semiconductor Excellence’ for R&D is welcome, the Rs. 10 lakh per unit cap is limiting. For instance, it could get difficult to purchase/upgrade EDA tools, or hire fresh talent. Maybe, this cap will get revised in the later years.
2. While Keonics has been assigned to the task of developing IT parks in the tier-2 and tier-3 cities, I haven’t seen specific plans to develop tier-2 cities in the policy document. Perhaps, those will come by shortly.
3. In the policy document, I read a line stating: “Karnataka would draw up initiatives to set up an entire ecosystem, which would provide the infrastructure and incentives for attracting investments in the areas of solar PV cell manufacturing, ATMP facilities, wafer fabrication facility.” In fact, an entire section of the document is devoted to attracting investments for wafer fabs.

Perhaps, we should refrain from discussing about wafer fabs for the time being, and focus more on fabless. Although, if we do attract and develop a local fab, that will be great news for India!

Come on India, show the world what you are capable of!
The Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 is certainly a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, make no mistake! Achieving the state target of $120 billion by 2020 (or, the national target of $400 billion by 2020) is not going to be easy.

Semiconductor manufacturing, and for that matter, electronics hardware manufacturing are vastly different from IT/ITeS segments. Expecting quick returns would be hazardous, giving the cyclical nature of the global semiconductor industry. Also, the local market needs to develop and mature further in the years ahead. As local consumption escalates, the returns are likely to get a tremendous boost!

Oh! Don’t forget the Shanzai manufacturers from China. The Indian industry will now have to compete against them as well, besides the global industry. Further, it would do well if the products produced here could also be exported, thereby increasing their footprints. Having seen the winning products and companies at Technovation 2010, it provides great hope that the Indian industry is now quite prepared to take them, and the world, head on with innovative products using the latest technologies at affordable prices.

Perhaps, help can be further given to the Indian industry by boosting electronics components manufacturing in the country. Maybe, this semiconductor policy will facilitate that as it progresses.

Definitely, the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 has the capability of changing the very face of the Indian semiconductor industry and the electronics hardware manufacturing industry, as well as bring about a vast change in the mindsets of people!

This policy is really meant for entrepreneurs, SMEs, startups, etc., and actually promotes risk taking.

Further, at the ISA Vision Summit 2010, both Israel and UK have expressed keen interest to work with the Indian companies. Also, other Indian states have taken note of the Karnataka semicon policy. For instance, West Bengal wants to align with the country’s vision on electronics and will be examining the Karnataka semicon policy.

Well, with the policy now tabled, here is a great opportunity for India to show the semicon and electronics worlds that we really mean business!

You know what! Even if 10 percent, and I am being cautiously optimistic, of the policy target is achieved, it would surely make for excellent results. What a change that would bring about after years of hardware neglect! Alternatively, we could even witness a scenario of Silicon Valley shifting to Karnataka Valley, rather than Shanghai Valley, and I am now being overly optimistic, which means, the state (and national) targets will be achieved!

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my understanding of the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010. Of course, the experts would know much better than I do. Now, over to the Indian industry to deliver on the targets!

ISA Vision Summit 2010: UK intends to be part of India’s growing electronics market

The UK is a country partner with the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) at the ongoing ISA Vision Summit 2010 for the second successive year. Delivering his address during the inaugural function, Richard Hyde, British deputy high commissioner, said: “The UK is partnering this event because we want to be part of the growing electronics market in India. We see the changing ICT landscape. We see the move from low end outsourced services to high value business, driven by innovation.”Richard Hyde, British deputy high commissioner, delivering his address at ISA Vision Summit 2010 in Bangalore, India.

He added: “We have an ongoing and long-term commitment to working with the Indian semiconductor industry. We want to promote growth through partnerships with UK innovation and excellence. The UK and Indian semiconductor industries working together have enormous potential to create a powerful solution for customers in India, the UK and the rest of the world.”

The UK electronics industry is about £25 billion a year. It is made up of more than 11,500 companies employing about 250,000 people. UK is the acknowledged leader in independent systems design with over 40 percent market share.

Hyde presented some examples of UK’s innovative industry, such as CamSemi — a spinoff from Cambridge University, which provides power conversion solutions to make electronics industry ‘greener’; DisplayLink — a pioneer in connecting multiple screens to one PC through USB; and PicoChip — experts in wireless infrastructure and signal processing. Several of UK’s semiconductor companies also have strong presence in Bangalore, India, such as ARM, CSR and Wolfsen.

He said that the UK has a vibrant start-up community that supports strong industry clusters in the South West of England, Central Scotland and Cambridge. Experts from these regions are present at the ISA Vision Summit for discussions.

Hyde added that the UK’s consumer electronics market is the strongest in Europe. Sales of flat panel and LCD TVs hit £8.8 million in 2008. Despite the downturn, there has been further growth in 2009. Blue ray players and HD based technology have continued to grow, and that is important as this technology was developed in the UK. The UK also remains Europe’s largest ICT market with sales of £171 billion per annum with over £20 billion in equipment sales.

Hyde touched upon the SemiConclave workshop organized by the Science and Invvovation Network within the Deputy High Commission team and the ISA in October 2008. One of the outcomes of the event has been that the Bangalore based Center for Emerging Technologies at the Jain University is now working with the Scottish Microelectronics Center on a research project to fabricate MEMS devices.

He added that the ISA is helping UKTI drive its Global Value Chain program. “Our goal is now to encourage and develop more direct business to business interaction. A good example of this is the agreement signed in December between Lord Mandelson and Azim Premji of Wipro, which aims to promote UK/Indian joint work to develop new and innovative low carbon technologies.

“We are looking forward to the next stage of development of this important relationship, in particular, the promotion of the UK Core Initiative Group. We aim to have increasing representation from each other’s industries at each other’s events, including the ISA session on Innovation Ecosystems. And we want increasing number of companies working together and develop partnerships.”

He concluded that this indeed is an exciting area and an exciting time for the semiconductor industry. Delegates at ISA Vision Summit 2010 can look forward to meeting leading UK companies, such as the TTP Group, PowerOasis, Advanced Hall Sensors and the Scottish Microelectronics Center.

Monday, February 1, 2010

ISA Vision Summit 2010: Saankhya Labs, Cosmic Circuits are Indian start-ups to watch at Technovation 2010!

It was an evening to celebrate for home grown Indian technology and product companies, as well as Indian start-ups in semiconductor product development at the India Semiconductor Association's (ISA) Vision Summit 2010. This year's ISA Technovation Awards 2010 celebrated some of the best Indian start-ups to watch, as well as some of the best products developed by home-grown Indian companies.

'Technovation 2010 - Celebrating Excellence in Electronics' were constituted with an aim to recognize role models and excellence in not just the semiconductor, but also the greater electronics ecosystem – covering the entire electronics value chain.

Technovation 2010 acknowledged, recognised and honoured India’s best individual contributors and companies and provide them with a platform to showcase their achievements and product successes.

While Saankhya Labs, Cosmic Circuits emerged as the Indian start-ups to watch at Technovation 2010, Dr. Kumar N Sivarajan, Co-founder and CTO, Tejas Networks, was declared the ISA UKTI TechnoVisionary for 2010 for his vast contribution vastly to the design, architecture and development of a slew of next-gen SDH SONET and carrier Ethernet products.

Here are the winners. In case you wish to contact any one from this list, do get in touch with the ISA or with me.

ISA TechnoMentor Award 2010: Dr. Shanti Pavan - Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
He’s a professor in the field of analog/mixed signal design. Dr. Shanti Pavan has done his MS & Ph.D from Columbia University, New York, USA. He is a well known authority and has mentored several students in the field of analog/mixed signal design.

ISA TechnoMentor Award 2010: Dr. Sreeram Vasanthi - Websol Energy System Ltd
She is the Director – Technical & Marketing. Mrs. Vasanthi is a alumnus of IIT Bombay & IIT Delhi and has 15 years of experience in photovoltaic industry. She has been a role-model & an inspiration for many within her organization. Through her mentoring & leadership, she led her organization to significantly improve the efficiency of the solar cells produced by her company.

ISA UKTI TechnoVisionary Award 2010: Dr. Kumar N Sivarajan, Co-founder and CTO, Tejas Networks
In the area of optical networking, over the last nine years Kumar has contributed vastly to the design, architecture and development of a slew of Next-Gen SDH SONET and Carrier Ethernet products that allow telecom carriers to integrate voice, data and intelligent network management on a single network. Kumar was instrumental in Tejas being one of the first companies in the world to have developed and deployed standards compliant Carrier Ethernet-over-SDH SONET.

ISA Start-up to Watch -- Winner: Saankhya Labs
Saankhya Labs is a fabless semiconductor startup based in Bangalore. Saankhya has developed world’s first Multi-standard TV demodulation technology targeted for Digital TV and PC TV Tuner applications. Saankhya’s unique product enables for the first time a truly universal TV demodulator, capable of demodulating all digital and analog TV signals on a single chip.

ISA Start-up to Watch -- Honourable Mention: Cosmic Circuits
Cosmic Circuits is a leading provider of differentiated Analog and Mixed-Signal silicon IP for integration on to System-on-Chips. With a single-minded focus on Analog, and a large team of expert analog designers, Cosmic Circuits offers quality analog Hard-IP solutions for integration into nanometer silicon process nodes. The company has seen a growth rate of 40 percent to 45 percent for the past few years and despite the economic slowdown of last year it had positive growth.

Innovative products that won!
Now, we come to India’s best individual contributors and companies who used the ISA Technovation 2010 as a platform to showcase their achievements and product successes. Here are the winners in the various product categories.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Consumer -- Winner: VuNow - Internet TV Platform : Verismo Networks Pvt. Ltd
Verismo Internet TV device is a high definition set-top box bringing internet video over any IP network to your television. The set-top connects to the Internet using a broadband connection and is able to stream content from various content sources such as linear TV channels, free websites like youtube, premium on-demand Hollywood movies. A multi-format, multi-protocol player along with a video search engine enables access to a very broad range of content found on the Internet.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Consumer -- Honourable Mention: Quillpad - Tachyon Technologies
Quillpad is an artificial intelligence based solution for intuitive (completely phonetic) Indian language input. It can be used on PCs as well as mobile phones. On mobile phone Quillpad can be used for SMS communication in Indian Languages. Quillpad is accurate and ease to use. Quillpad technology is bundled onto LG phones. It will also soon be available for download by MTNL and Idea Cellular customers. It is also available for end users to directly download from

ISA Best Electronics Product – Energy -- Winner: Solid Multilight (Solar LED Lantern) - Gautam Polymers
Solid Multilantern is a well designed Solar LED Lantern that maps itself to the way a rural user requires a light. It can be used in many forms - as a diffused general surround light, focused study / task light, handheld torch, handheld downward lantern, roof mounting light and can be used to charge mobile phones.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Energy -- Honourable Mention: Solar powered "Egg lamp" - Kotak URJA Pvt. Ltd
“Egg Lamp” is a uniquely conceived and designed multi utility solar lamp that will soon be introduced in the market. It provides uninterrupted light through either CFL or LED lamp, for a period of six hours daily, with standby back up of additional 10 hours. This product is a multi utility lamp, helping to meet the rural energy requirements for light (surrounding, reading, ceiling) & portable torch. Egg lamp can be used for charging mobile phones and has a unique feature of FM radio with built-in antenna and speakers.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Health care -- Winner: "Mozzquit" Mosquito Trap - Leowin Solutions (P) Ltd
“Mozzquit” is an apparatus for attracting, trapping, and killing the harmful mosquitoes. It mimics the human body in attracting mosquitoes and eradicating them. It does not use any harmful chemicals like the existing products in the market to achieve its purpose.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Health care -- Honourable Mention: USB Power 3 lead ECG Monitor - Infotech Enterprises Ltd
Infotech USB-ECG is the “world’s first USB powered 3 lead compact ECG monitor” which resembles a pen-drive, offering cheap and effective cardiac diagnostics. This particular system works with the power supplied by the USB port. Main features of this system are 3-lead ECG Monitoring and Heart Rate Measurement. The ECG data can also be transmitted to an expert in the cardiology room using ZigBee in case of emergency. This product is affordable, compact, easy to use and portable.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Security -- Honourable Mention: Automatic License Plate Recognition System - Kritikal Solutions Pvt Ltd
KritiKal’s vision based automatic license plate recognition system is a non intrusive & automated image processing based solution. It identifies and authenticates vehicles by capturing and recognizing vehicle’s number plate, transmits real-time stamp of entry / exit of the vehicle to the database. The solution is highly applicable for Access Control (Parking lot management, restricting vehicle accessing sensitive/high security establishments/zones etc), security and surveillance (policing), and traffic management. The solution has been fine tuned to meet Indian conditions hence provides accurate results with high reliability.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Telecom -- Winner: ELAN - Tejas Networks Ltd
Tejas ELAN innovations aid Triple Play services by supporting protected service rings that optimize bandwidth and by natively supporting multicast applications like IPTV. To support time-critical services such as VoIP and Circuit Emulation, the operators can use Tejas platform to create Point-to-Point CBR (Constant Bit Rate) Services over Traffic Engineered Ethernet trunks, using Tejas’ PBB-TE implementations. Moreover, the same Tejas equipment can simultaneously provide various services, giving the operator considerable flexibility to offer differentiated services in a “pay-as-you-grow” fashion.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Other category -- Winner: Pre Shower - 32 Channel Silicon Strip detector for CERN, Geneva - Bharat Electronics Ltd
BEL supplies 32-channel Silicon Strip Detectors to CERN Geneva, which are used to detect subatomic particles generated when high energy particle beams collide. These detectors have unique features such as very low leakage currents and very high breakdown voltages in spite of large area. The uniformity over large area, fast response time, high detection efficiency, compactness, and superior performance than traditional detectors. The technology has a huge potential in the field of radiation detection, nuclear instrumentation, medical and other commercial applications.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Other category -- Winner: Remote controlled system for power tillers - Mangalore Robotronics Technologies
Remote Controlled System for Power Tillers was basically developed for making the works of farming easier and more comfortable. This system is an electronics combined mechanical gadget which goes as an attachment for power tillers.Presently, the operator of a power tiller has to walk continuously along with the machine to control its direction (unlike tractors where operator sits on the machine). Remote controlled system for power tillers is an attachment kit, which is installed on a power tiller or a waking tractor, which will make the machine to operate using a hand-held wireless electronics device.

ISA Best Electronics Product – Other category -- Honourable Mention: iMFAST - Integra’s Mobile Financial Application Secure Terminal: Integra Micro Systems (P) Ltd
iMFAST is a device designed for rural banking. It is a banking platform capable of providing mobile banking as against branch banking. A commercial bank can link this device to its CORE Banking System and extend all banking facilities to poor and illiterate population in rural India without spending opening remote branches and installation of ATMs. With the usage of RFID identification, biometric authentication and online secure confirmation of the transactions, the device facilitates absolutely safe transactions virtually at the cost of one phone call.

What's interesting to note here is that all of these products and the companies that won today have it in them to go on and become commercial successes. Not only that, some of these could well find use in other emerging markets, and perhaps, even in the developed markets. Congratulations and best of luck to all the winners.

A suggestion for the ISA: It would do certainly even more service to the Indian industry by introducing awards in some other product categories as well, for e.g., in automotive, education, transportation, etc., and any others that it can think of.

For everyone present at this function, it was truly a celebration of the great success of Indian electronics and technology companies! More good times ahead, folks, as far as the Indian electronics and semiconductor industries are concerned. Stay tuned!