Saturday, December 31, 2011

Round-up 2011: Best of semiconductors

Right folks! This is the last post for 2011!! Here's a look at the good, bad and ugly, that the year had to offer in semiconductors. Enjoy! ;) Happy new year, everyone!!

Dec. 2011
Round-up 2011: Best of semiconductors

2012′s semicon sales and sales growth estimates $325.5 billion and 6.9 percent!

Video and mobility drivers for global semicon in 2012

Future materials and devices for power electronics

SuVolta solving power problem in SoCs across multiple CMOS process nodes

Global semiconductor industry keeps consolidating; 28nm will be stable: Dr. Wally Rhines

Synopsys acquires Magma! And, another one bites the dust!!

Nov. 2011
Lattice intros low power ECP4 FPGAs

Global semicon sales forecast at $329.4 billion for 2012!

MEMS Executive Congress 2011 round-up

Global semiconductor market will be $313 billion in 2012: SSIA

MEMS market overview: IHS iSuppli

NXP licenses Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach Ethernet technology for in-vehicle networking

MEMS devices driving healthcare apps!

Updated global semicon sales forecast 2011′s estimate falls $2.74 billion

Oct. 2011
DIT outlines initiatives to promote ESDM in India

Game changers: New paradigms for future of electronic product realization

Designing systems to thrive in disruptive trends!

Realizing EDA360: Charlie Huang, Cadence

What’s happening with ISA and Indian semicon industry?

Altera launches SoC FPGAs

Emerging piezoMEMS apps and ion beam etch solutions for next gen MEMS and sensors

ESDM all over again? When will Indian semicon and electronics industries learn??

Semiconductor supply chain dynamics: Future Horizons @ IEF2011

Sep. 2011
India has restricted itself to only semicon design and R&D!

ST launches STM32 F4 series of MCUs

ARM connecting the world!

Renesas enhancing localization of products in India!

Magma announces Silicon One strategy

Need to work toward sustainable future: imec

Aug. 2011
Freescale launches first ‘base-station-on-chip’ products!

Semicon industry at inflection point of innovation: Rich Beyer

NXP launches CAN partial networking solution for automotives

Fabless fables and all that! Is India listening?

What’s happening with global semicon industry?

2011 global semicon sales growth likely to trend downward for rest of year?

Jul. 2011
Cloud key strategy for Intel: Liam Keating

Dr. Wally Rhines on global semicon industry

Creating measurable value through differentiation: Dr. Wally Rhines

Trends in embedded — smart and green energy: ST

Intel leads industry transformation to open data centers and cloud computing

Now, there is EDA software piracy!

SanDisk’s iNAND Extreme family of embedded eMMC storage devices for high-end mobile and tablets

Applied Vantage Vulcan RTP — better side of anneal

Friday, December 30, 2011

Round-up 2011: Best of electronics, solar/PV and telecom

Here's the best of electronics, solar/PV and telecom for the year 2011. Enjoy! ;)

ELECTRONICS
M/H can truly deliver ‘real TV’ experience!

Cisco’s borderless networks architecture help enterprises overcome security challenges

Symantec releases latest Intelligence Report!

Norton cybercrime report 2011: Exposing the true scale!

Cloud deployment trends in APAC: IDC

Very fitting finale to Harry Potter!

XConnect’s VIE set to make video calls as easy as voice calls!

Vision technology can add valuable capabilities to electronic products: Jeff Bier, EVA

Tablets likely to transform ICT industry landscape: Computex 2011

Embedded Vision Alliance (EVA) is born!

Kotura leads the way in silicon photonics!

Aftermath of Japanese earthquake: Implications for global electronics industry!

Disruptions to global electronics supply chain following Japan’s quake!

Japanese quake and tsunami — too devastating to watch on TV!

What’s with attack toolkits and malicious websites?

SOLAR/PV
Global solar PV industry likely to be 22 GW in 2012!

HCPV on way to utility market!

Solar PV industry recommended to stay optimistic; US govt. supports India’s clean energy initiative!

Solarcon India 2011 begins with record exhibitors

PV inverter — innovations and market trends

Solar installations: How long will boom last?

Lessons to learn from Solyndra debacle!

Solar power becoming increasingly affordable: Dr. Charlie Gay

What’s happening with Indian solar/PV industry?

TELECOM
LogMeIn resolving IT challenges due to enterprise mobility!

Microsoft launches developer program for Windows Phone

Lava Mobiles launches classy S12 smartphone!

Steve Jobs: Master of the game!

Telesphere Videoconnect: Videoconferencing in the cloud!

Ether 1.3.1 phone adaptive antenna solution integrates with smartphones!

Wavion offers gamer changer in Wi-Fi offloading

Celebrating the World IPv6 Day!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2012's semicon sales and sales growth estimates $325.5 billion and 6.9 percent

This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

We are into the back end of 2011 with just two more months of global semi sales numbers yet to be announced (by WSTS) in order to “wrap up” and finalize year 2011's official, overall semi sales result and the corresponding final sales growth compared to last year “cast in concrete.”

Various industry watchers' sales growth forecast expectations for 2011 are presently ranging from low positive single digits to low negative single digits including the latest Cowan LRA Model's sales growth forecast estimate of 2.1 percent based upon WSTS's October 2011 sales results published at the beginning of December.

Therefore, the soon to be released -- expected on or about Jan. 5th, 2012 -- November sales number in conjunction with exercising the Cowan LRA Model's "look ahead" analysis capability can shed more insight into 2011's final expected sales and sales growth forecast estimates as well as updated 2012 forecast numbers.

Consequently, the "look ahead" scenario analysis summary table shown immediately below nets out the “look-ahead” analysis derived high-level forecast expectations. A write-up providing the details is appended below.Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Video and mobility drivers for global semicon in 2012

While 2011 was generally a year of growth for the global semiconductor industry, 2012 promises to be more volatile, thanks to new macroeconomic issues that will weigh on consumer and IT outlay. The upside is that long-term business trends for semiconductors seem positive, with revenue projected by some industry analysts expected to grow more than twice as fast as global GDP over the next few years.

Global business drivers in 2012
According to Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate VP and MD, Cadence Design Systems (India) Pvt Ltd, the major semiconductor market drivers in 2011 have been apps, video, mobility, cloud computing and green technology, and they will continue to be so into 2012.

As seen over the past year, apps are driving new generations of products. Traditional devices have more functionality than ever before – mobile devices such as smart phones or tablets have the ability to email, tweet, text, browse the web, stream video, take pictures, calendar appointments, and manage your contacts. The pervasiveness of apps are changing the demands on electronic design – this is the basic tenet of the EDA360 vision that Cadence announced in May 2010.

Video drives development of both devices and networks. It is expanding from the television to the smartphone, to media tablets, to your wristwatch. Video is not just used for recreation or entertainment – witness business applications such as videoconferences, surveillance systems, and professional video blogs.

Over the past few years, we have see the consumer’s need for mobility with all their electronic devices – whether a tablet or a gaming console or even in a car. This continues to challenge electronics designers – the need to stay connected all the time is still driving cutting-edge semiconductor design.

Along with mobility, we also want long battery life, light weight, small size, and lots of communications options. This, along with the demand for green technology, is a market driver that makes lots of demands on designers.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Future material and devices for power electronics

Alexandre Avron, market analyst in power electronics, Yole Développement, provided a briefing on semiconductor material’s potential through an analysis of devices and systems for power electronics.

According to him, there is still a bright future for silicon. It will keep good market share until at least 2016 and even further, being cost competitive and very standard. On the other side, SiC is more applied to higher voltages. These are the smallest markets, but probably the one requiring SiC properties the most. PV inverters and EV/HEV are at intermediary voltage levels, they could both be targeted by SiC and GaN, this makes the predictions very difficult.

No technical aspects helps in knowing which material will be more used. They have their advantages and drawbacks, and both deserve their place. Prediction must be based on developments advancements. The points to watch about SiC and GaN devices include: samples availability is a main point for future integration, reliability is also a main concern, especially for SiC devices, voltage capability seems to keep GaN at smaller power, and cost: GaN appears to be potentially cheaper, as it is based on Si wafers and can be CMOS compatible.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Xilinx starts shipping Zynq-7000 EPP family!

Xilinx Inc. has announced its first Zynq-7000 Extensible Processing Platform (EPP) shipments to customers. It showcased the first public demonstration of a Zynq-7000 EPP at the ARM European Technical Conference, in Paris, France. where attendees saw the device running a Linux-based application. Xilinx has recently started shipping Zynq, to at least three customers.

The Zynq-7000 family is the world’s first EPP. It combines an industry-standard ARM dual-core Cortex-A9 MPCore processing system with Xilinx 28nm unified programmable logic architecture. This processor-centric architecture delivers a complete embedded processing platform that offers developers ASIC levels of performance and power consumption, the flexibility of an FPGA and the ease of programmability of a microprocessor.Dave Tokic and Lawrence Getman.

Dave Tokic, senior director, partner Ecosystems and Alliances, said the company had made a number of investments. It has adopted a two-pronged approach: focusing on how it developed the ecosystem, and what it could do by itself. "We need a tool flow applicable across all customers. Our technologies are enabling much more complex designs. We are also raising the bar for the EDA providers. We do provide early access to our tools, etc."

Tokic added that the company has also invested a lot in training and certification in India. "Our partners are some very good companies. We have 24 members in our program. Eight of those are certified members." Some of the partner companies include Wipro, TCS, Corel, Mistral, CMC, GDA Technologies (L&T), Mechatronics, etc.

Lawrence Getman, VP of Processing Platforms, added that Xilinx has been seeing how to potentially leverage a cloud. "We are continuing to develop the IP ecosystem. We are also looking to engage expert service needs."

Commenting on developments, Getman said that Xilinx's Virtex-7 series FPGAs are based on high performance low power (HPL) process by TSMC. Xilinx wants to foster more collaborative approach in future for acquiring and working with customers.

Monday, December 12, 2011

IT optimization and database consolidation!

How does an organization kick-start its transformation and achieve an optimized data center ready for the future? Does an organization adopt a futuristic, focused program to achieve immediate wins?

There is a need for CIOs to formulate a winning, if not, a workable strategy! In a white paper titled: "Planning for Tomorrow’s Data Center through Strategic Infrastructure Optimization", Greg Crider, senior director of technology product marketing at Oracle, recommends companies to take a look at their existing IT infrastructure and explore the strongest business needs. The companies can also find out where where its possible to realize immediate business benefits.

For instance, a shared database platform allows IT to get the elasticity they need so they can move resources where the demand is greatest. Standard configurations mean fewer moving parts, which means faster provisioning, notes Willie Hardie VP of database product marketing, Oracle, in the same white paper.

A quick poll on challenges of database consolidation within an organization, done in the same white paper, is interesting. At least 55 percent feel that IT resources are focused on managing the existing systems. However, 41 percent say there is no IT budget to embark on the consolidation project.

According to Crider, IT leaders need to embrace an alternative model, optimized from end-to-end by taking advantage of collective expertise and experiences throughout deployment.

Organizations also face a number of challenges, such as IT resources focused on managing existing systems, limited IT budgets to embark on consolidation projects, and running the risk of compromising enterprise information security. Hence, there is a need for database consolidation.

Benefits of database consolidation
The benefits of database consolidation are huge. According to a survey, 74 percent say it reduces IT costs, while 67 percent say it reduces complexity in the data center. It was found that 29 percent had already consolidated some or all of the databases, and 22 percent had started the process.

Private cloud computing is about consolidation, standardization and rationalization of the hardware, storage and software portfolio,” explains Hardie. As IT leaders move toward transforming data centers, a well-planned database consolidation strategy can help drive toward sustainable success. Similarly, application consolidation also plays a key role in helping IT leaders establish and support manageable environments capable of transforming data centers better prepared for an uncertain future.

Considering the potential benefits associated with application consolidation and optimization, it’s easy to understand why IT leaders are serious about embracing well-crafted plans as a key component of their data center transformation. Of course, IT leaders need to arm themselves with the right tools to overcome the potential obstacles head-on.

Specifically, it’s crucial to start by gaining an understanding of the potential challenges, developing a strategic plan, establishing a well defined end goal, securing senior support early in the process and staying determined throughout the process. That’s the surest route to an optimized infrastructure and a data center designed for the future.

Standardization, virtualization, consolidation, and cloud orchestration capabilities are necessary steps for organizations as they work to improve the application lifecycle management process, explains Mike Palmeter, director of product management with Oracle. IT leaders are starting to realize that even though they could create a list and build a system with the best-of-breed components, there is still a need to account for system efficiency.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Global solar PV industry likely to be 22 GW in 2012!

Here is an outlook for 2012 on the global solar PV industry, done with the assistance of Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst, IHS iSuppli.

First, the outlook for the global solar PV industry for 2012. According to Dr. Wicht, the bottom up analysis results for the global solar PV industry is at 22 GW. However there is upside potential, e.g., in Italy and China, of a total of 6 GW.

On the same vein, what is the outlook for solar cell production in 2012? He said that based on the 22 GW market, 19.6 GW of cSi cells will be produced in 2012. If the market is growing faster (upside potential), then 24 GW is possible.

Let us now have a look at the current top 15 producers. The graphs here are for global crystalline module producers and global thin film module producers, as of Q2 2011. The data for 2012 will certainly look different.

Fig. 1 is about the crystalline module producers, as of Q2-11, with Suntech the leader at 9.8 percent share. Yingli with 6.8 percent and LDK with 6.4 percent are the next two.Global crystalline module producers Q2-11. Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

The others are: Trina Solar 6.2 percent, Canadian Solar 5.2 percent, Sharp 4.6 percent, Jinko 3.7 percent, Hanwha Solar 3.6 percent, Jabil Circuit 3.5 percent, SolarWorld 3.3 percent, REC 3.2 percent, Sunpower and Kyocera with 2.8 percent each, Sanyo Electric 2.5 percent, Bosch Solar 2.4 percent and all of the others at 33.3 percent.

Fig. 2 is about the global thin film module producers, as of Q2 2011, with First Solar as the leader at 45.5 percent share.Global thin film module producers, Q2-11. Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Solar Frontier with 10.5 percent and Sharp with 5.6 percent are the next two. The others are pretty small at the moment, with some of the major ones being Q-Cells with 3 percent, Bosch Solar 1.7 percent, etc. Others constitute 15.5 percent.

Improve cost structure, diversify downstream!
Two years ago, iSuppli had advised: "improve the cost structure, improve the sales side, and diversify downstream." How true does these hold for 2012?

Dr. Wicht said: "This advice remains very valid. Since 2009, nearly all Western players have developed downstream activities. They are using the power plant business to outbalance week demand and to enter into emerging markets.

"The challenge is now at the Chinese players: How do you maintain the high utilization of factories when sales is not visibility and there is no downstream business? PV installations in China are used as a “fast exit”, generating module sales and maintaining utilization (e.g., Yingli)."

Newcomers? And, road to grid parity?
Are the newcomers still having problems in getting the required credit for their projects? Also, are more new players entering, or has there been a cutback? Dr. Wicht said: "The hype of solar has actually cooled down. However, we expect that as soon as profits are just being back, the next wave of investments and expansions will happen. That will lead to the next wave of oversupply."

And, what about a “bumpy road” to grid parity? What's the scenario like for 2012? Dr. Wicht replied: "Grid parity is very close. We will have it in 2012 for the German and Italian residential household. However, we won’t see a “grid parity” PV boom. It will be a smooth transition from subsidized to unsubsidized markets. The challenge is on the PV downstream side: how do you develop PV business models in unsubsidized markets? This will start in 2012 and is forecasted to lead to significant growth by 2014."

Finally, what about HCPV? Dr. Wicht said: "High concentrated PV will remain a niche in 2012 since EU market are not really suited. Soitec/Concentrix has been quite successful with projects in China and South Africa recently, and that’s why it’ll survive."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

SuVolta solving power problem in SoCs across multiple CMOS process nodes

SuVolta Inc., based in California, USA, develops and licenses CMOS semiconductor technologies that significantly reduce the power consumption of integrated circuits (ICs). Back in June 2011, introduced the PowerShrink low-power platform and the first licensee, Fujitsu. Thanks to Amanda Crnkovich of The Hoffmann Agency, I interacted with Dr. Scott E. Thompson, CTO, SuVolta, on the deeply depleted channel (DDC) technology that delivers over 50 percent reduction in IC power consumption, while maintaining performance.

What's DDC technology all about?
First, I asked Dr. Thompson what the DDC technology is all about? He said that SuVolta’s PowerShrink platform in planar, bulk CMOS provides dramatic improvements in variability and device performance, and is compatible with existing CMOS processes. It integrates using conventional fabrication equipment and materials, and enables the reuse of existing circuit IP infrastructure. SuVolta is focusing on solving the power problem in system-on-chips (SoCs) across multiple CMOS process technology nodes.

He added: "SuVolta’s DDC transistor reduces threshold voltage (VT) variability and enables continued CMOS scaling. The structure works by forming a deeply depleted channel when a voltage is applied to the gate. In a typical implementation the DDC channel has several regions – an undoped or very lightly doped region, a VT setting offset region and a screening region. Each implementation of SuVolta’s DDC transistor may vary depending on the wafer fabrication facility and specific chip design requirements."

The DDC transistor has a much tighter distribution of threshold voltages. In addition, DDC transistors allow for the setting of multiple VTs, which is vital for today’s low-power products.

"Perhaps, the biggest benefit is in embedded SRAM memory blocks. For most chips, lowering supply voltage is limited by the SRAM. However, with a DDC transistor, conventional 6T SRAMs have been demonstrated operating below 500 milli Volts. This is significant as it is amongst the lowest voltage ever reported in a standard embedded SRAM," added Dr. Thompson.

Impact on reducing IC power consumption in devices
So, what impact will all of this have on reducing IC power consumption in devices, such as smartphones, tablets, etc.? While the increased density in transistors enables more features for all types of devices, power has now become the biggest issue in semiconductors. This “power impasse” is critical or two reasons:

* Excessive power consumption limits battery life for mobile devices, and causes huge electricity bills for server farms.
* Devices are hitting their thermal (heat) limit, thus preventing more capabilities from being added. Power consumption directly creates heat. This is becoming a major problem in mobile devices, which have very strict thermal limits. To hit thermal limits, chip makers must forego adding additional content, or “throttle” the chip back to a slower speed.

The impact of excess power on consumers is profound: shorter battery life, lower-content mobile devices - fewer features and/or slower performance, higher electronics costs because transistors hit their scaling limit because of power, excessive energy bills and an increased global demand for energy.

Dr. Thompson added: "SuVolta’s PowerShrink platform enables semiconductor firms to cut chip power in half without sacrificing performance, losing functionality, or migrating to a more advanced, and costly, semiconductor process node. And, it does so using planar, bulk CMOS, and does not require development of new manufacturing facilities or IP blocks."

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Update to Cowan LRA model’s global semicon forecast numbers 2011/2012

This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

The WSTS posted the October 2011 HBR on Saturday, Dec 3rd, 2011. Consequently, based upon the latest sales numbers availability (through Oct 2011), Cowan has generated updated sales and sales growth forecast numbers for 2011 and 2012 as summarized in the table here:Sources: WSTS & Cowan LRA Forecasting Model (Dec. 2011).

Major high level result: The forecasted sales and sales growth expectations for both 2011 and 2012 have continued to systematically decrease over the past seven month’s predictions put forth by the Cowan LRA forecast model as highlighted in the table below:Source: Monthly Cowan LRA Forecasting Model.

The following table, given below, summarizes/compares the recent (last two) forecast pronouncements by the indicated forecasters.Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Monday, December 5, 2011

HCPV on way to utility market!

According to Dr. Milan Rosina, Yole Developpement, high concentration PV (HCPV) does not follow the same way as PV. Adapted applications and installations in suitable regions are necessary. There are synergies between HCPV, LED, automotive and PV industries. New market entrants could help in the business development Dr. Rosina was speaking at an HCPV seminar organized by Yole.

He added that more than 80 companies are currently working in developing HCPV technology. Over 30 firms are developing new modules and systems. Large-scale installations are underway. There is said to be a large potential for the LCOE cost decrease. Positive track record from the large-scale installation could significantly improve the bankability of HCPV systems. However, strong competition with flat-module PV will remain.

Earlier, touching upon solar electricity generation and HCPV at a glance, he said that cells based on III-V materials have currently the best efficiencies, both in laboratory and in industrial production. A world record efficiency of 43.5 percent under concentrated light was obtained in 2011 by Solar Junction of USA. Commercially available cells are produced by Spectrolab of USA, Emcore of USA and Azur Space of Germany that reach 39-40 percent efficiency.

III-V cells have been used since 1997 to power satellites in space. They are too expensive to be used in standard terrestrial applications. Therefore, these are combined in terrestrial applications with light concentration systems in order to increase the efficiency and to decrease the cost per watt. The interest of HCPV is to use only a small amount of III-V material and to concentrate the light onto very efficient cells.

Drivers and barriers
Marker drivers and advantages of HCPV include high power production (MWh/y per watt installed) in high DNI areas due to high system efficiency, sun tracking, amd low temperature coefficient. There is reduced consumption of (costly) semiconductor material due to the use of optical concentrating system. Other advantages include system modularity, ,inimal water use, low environmental impact, promising LCOE potential in the high DNI areas, and large potential for efficiency increase and cost reduction.

As for market barriers, HCPV is still a niche market. There are geographical limitations for installations (high DNI required). It is best adapted for ground-mounted power plants only. There is high system price to contend with, as well as low product maturity and lack of standards and independent track records. Finally, there is competition with all electricity sources, especially with CSP and PV.

HCPV systems are targeting the utility market, e.g. electricity production on a large scale. An HCPV system is a multicomponent and multidisciplinary system.

System components include solar cell, receiver module, concentrating optics and HCPV module. High-precision assembly of all elements into the module is the key factor for reaching full module and system performance. The tracking system is equally important.

Emerging market
Before the end of 2010, there were over 50 HCPV installations. Most installations were in 10-kW or 100-kW range only. The biggest HCPV installation before 2011 used HCPV modules with high efficiency crystalline silicon solar cells (Amonix/Guascor Foton). The cumulative volume of all installed HCPV systems based on III-V cells was around 15MW at the end of 2010, e.g. less than 0.05 percent of the PV total installed volume (~40GW). These were mostly test and prototype installations, and therefore, received some additional funding that enabled these projects.

The market is likely to take off during 2011-2018. According to Yole, in 2011 the new installed HCPV capacity will be approx. 38 MW. The HCPV market will continue to grow and the annual installed capacity will reach 1,020 MW in 2018.

There has been a move to use larger 6-inch substrates in order to decrease the cell costs. This transition will be done progressively depending on the HCPV market size and the manufacturing complexity of the cells with new designs.

Forecast of market share increase for 6” wafers in the HCPV industry.Source: Yole Développement, 2011.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Global semiconductor industry keeps consolidating; 28nm will be stable: Dr. Wally Rhines

The global semiconductor industry keeps consolidating, said Dr. Walden (Wally) Rhines, while making the keynote presentation at the ongoing Mentor Graphics' U2U conference in Bangalore, India.

According to a survey, the no. 1's market share has been relatively flat since 1972. The combined share of the top five semiconductor companies has been nearly the same as that of 1972. However, the share of the top 10 companies has been nearly the same but less than the historical average. If you look at the numbers, it is also evident that Texas Instruments' (TI) acquisition of National Semiconductors has had negligible impact. Also, the market share of the top 50 semiconductor companies continues to decline, especially in the last decade.

The answer lies in the fact that manufacturing is consolidating, while semiconductor is not! Foundries share of semiconductor revenue has increased. The share of total IC production has been flat. However, foundry capex has tripled over the last two years. Also, 28nm/32nm capacity has been sold out, and prices rising have been put on top of the next slide. Foundries are likely to revamp and record the highest market share of the 28nm/20nm market. Foundry spending is said to be at an all time high as percentage of total capex.

There have been significant design changes. In fact, 28nm has now become the 'work horse' technology. There have been high yields and at lower costs. The accelerated design activity has seen redesign take advantage of smalller node efficiencies. So, how can you prepare? Perhaps, do more design in less time, and use the same resources. Or, you could do less of power devices.

Significant changes are now coming in design. Because of 2010/2011 capital expenditures, 28/20nm semiconductor technology will become a major “work horse” compared to previous technology generations. Plenty of wafers will be available from silicon foundries. Yields will be high and costs will be low. As a result, design activity will accelerate beginning in late 2012 to take advantage of the 28nm capability and capacity. Favorable costs and yields will cause semiconductor companies to redesign 180/130/90/65/45nm products into 28/20nm versions while adding functionality. Totally new applications will emerge because of the 28/20nm capability and cost, thus growing the semiconductor market in 2014+.

Implications of plentiful 28/20nm foundry capacity include: 28nm will become “work horse” technology. There will be high yields and low costs, as well as an accelerated design activity. Redesigns will take advantage of smaller node cost efficiencies. New designs will leverage the additional transistors.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Synopsys acquires Magma! And, another one bites the dust!!

Wow! Yesterday, Synopsys signed a definitive agreement to acquire Magma Design Automation Inc. This news is interesting, and not surprising. This acquisition seemed to be on the cards, but at least, not so soon. Nevertheless!

So, that leaves Synopsys, Cadence and Mentor Graphics as the big three EDA vendors, now that Magma has been acquired.

Just a couple of months back, I was in discussion with Rajeev Madhavan, chairman and CEO, Magma, regarding Silicon One technology solutions on the sidelines of MUSIC India. Magma had outlined five technologies: Talus, Tekton, Titan, FineSim and Excalibur and expected to have the opportunity to be a dominant yield management company.

Where has all of this gone, one wonders! It can safely be assumed that the Silicon One series can very well go on, now under the guidance of Synopsys. However, it will only add up to boosting the revenues of Synopsys in the long run.

Some time ago, one thought that the EDA industry was having four big players. Now, there are three. In between, there was news such as Cadence trying to acquire Mentor Graphics, which did not happen. Even Magma seemed to be doing fine, at least, till 2006-07.

Thereafter, it has been a slightly different story, with not only the CEO leaving Magma India, and some changes in the Indian management team, as well as certain MUSIC India events with less attendances, and so on. One can accept these as the part and parcel for any industry/organization.

On Magma's website, there is a statement from Madhavan, which says: "Magma and Synopsys have always shared a common goal of enabling chip designers to improve performance, area and power while reducing turnaround time and costs on complex ICs," said Rajeev Madhavan, CEO of Magma. "By joining forces now we can ensure that chip designers have access to the advanced technology they need for silicon success at 28, 20 nanometer and below."

All the best to both Synopsys and Magma!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

LogMeIn resolving IT challenges due to enterprise mobility!

LogMeIn Inc., a provider of cloud services for data and devices, recently opened an office in Bangalore, India. Thanks to Mamata Sampath, I had a brief discussion with Anil Sharma, sales director, LogMeIn, India. LogMeIn provides cloud-based remote access, support and collaboration solutions to quickly, simply and securely connect millions of Internet-enabled devices across the globe — computers, smartphones, iPad and Android tablets, and digital displays. For instance, LogMeIn is working to resolve several IT challenges due to enterprise mobility.

First, I asked him about the challenges before enterprises due to the increasing mobile workforce. He said that mobility has become more complex for enterprises, and particularly for multinationals that need to manage the mobility of their staff across many countries. It has been observed that enterprise mobility is the biggest single trend across the tech industry investment, even outpacing the cloud computing trend. The increasing importance of the space is reflected in robust market traction predictions for India as well.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the enterprise mobility market in India was worth about Rs. 346 crore in FY2008-09 and is estimated to reach Rs 1,880 crore by FY 2015-16. Growth rates for the enterprise mobility market in India are estimated to be among the highest in the Asia region. There are simply more users with more devices using more applications.

In addition there has been a blurring of the boundaries between business and personal usage, and many IT managers struggle to enforce company policies while employees demand more consumer-like devices and applications. Their need for support in managing this complexity and cost has never been greater.

Some of the IT challenges faced due to enterprise mobility are: Securing information systems, integrating technologies, supporting devices, containing costs, controlling personal use, training users, justifying investments and limiting use.

When it comes to managing enterprise mobility, it has been noticed that the devices like tablets and smartphones are becoming “access” devices and enterprises are still figuring out how to best ensure data is neither lost nor accessed by unauthorized persons. Enforcing password policies and employing capabilities that allow IT helpdesk to remotely lock a lost or stolen device are musts.

Further, keeping data behind a firewall on the network (where it can be backed up regularly) helps ensure its integrity. Software like LogMeIn’s remote access solution, Ignition, enables users maintain the high level of mobility that they have become accustom to and get access to the data on the corporate network via their tablet or smartphone, without actually downloading or storing that data on the device itself.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Lattice intros low power ECP4 FPGAs

Lattice Semiconductor Corp. has introduced the low-cost and low-power ECP4 FPGAs. These feature 6Gbps SERDES in low cost wire-bond packages, powerful DSP blocks and hard IP-based communication engines for cost- and power-sensitive wireless, wireline, video, and computing markets.

The LatticeECP4 FPGA family features high performance, low power in low cost 65nm process, making a great FPGA family even better. Lower cost, high yield 65nm process is ideal for mid-range FPGAs. There has been an extensive use of wire-bond packaging. The FPGAs have CDR capable I/Os that lower customers' implementation cost. The POWER sysDSP minimizes multipliers and LUTs, and enables high bandwidth in a small area. There is also a 10X area reduction by use of hardened MACO communication engines.

The ECP4 features lower power architecture. It is optimized for mid-density devices, and not based on high-density high overhead platform. Modified logic/routing power ratio helps achieve higher performance with modest dynamic power increase. It also features higher bandwidth and performance.

As it is, the FPGA boasts 10X more efficient hard MACO engines. Besides, it has 7X more DSP processing capability, 2X faster SERDES (6G), 66 percent more LUTs, 50 percent higher LVDS performance, 42 percent more memory and 33 percent higher DDR3 I/O performance.

Diamond 1.4 beta design software is available for select customers, especially those who jumpstart cost-effective platform designs. The ECP4 device samples will be available in 1H 2012, and the ECP4 production devices will be available in 2H 2012.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Global semicon sales forecast at $329.4 billion for 2012

This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

It’s that time of the month again; namely, time for an “early showing” of next month’s global semiconductor sales forecast updates for both 2011 and 2012 as gleamed from October’s “actual” sales expectation range via exercising the ‘look ahead’ forecasting capability of the Cowan LRA forecast model.

The soon to-be-announced October 2011 global semiconductor sales result should, therefore, be influential in determining the sales growth expectation for the full year of 2011. In particular, one can ascertain whether 2011 will exhibit positive yearly sales growth for the industry or will it turn negative as a number of market researchers have recently forecasted based upon downward fourth quarter sales guidance recently announced by many semiconductor suppliers in reporting their third quarter financials?

Therefore, presented here is a “snap shot” of 2011′s global semiconductor sales and sales growth forecast prospects as a function of October’s possible “actual” sales forecast estimate range as derived via the Cowan LRA forecasting model that I have developed and previously shared. Moreover, the model has been extended in order to include a view of what 2012?s sales growth prospects might look like thereby providing a five quarter look ahead horizon that allows the model to also capture the four quarters of 2012.

It should be mentioned that October 2011′s “actual” global semiconductor sales number is scheduled to be released by the WSTS via its monthly HBR (Historical Billings Report) on or about Monday, December 5th.

In advance of the WSTS’s release of its October HBR, here’s a monthly “what if” outlook analysis. The analysis leverages the Cowan LRA forecasting model, which projects worldwide semiconductor sales for 2011 (as well as 2012) by providing a “look ahead” scenario for year 2011′s sales forecast range as a function of October’s assumed range of “actual” global semiconductor sales estimates.

The output of this “look ahead” modeling analysis is detailed in the scenario analysis matrix displayed in the table below. A discussion of the model’s results is provided in the paragraphs immediately following the table given here.Source: Cowan LRA model.

In order to facilitate the determination of these “look ahead” forecast numbers, an extended range in assumed October 2011′s “actual” sales is selected a-priori. In this month’s scenario analysis outlook, an Oct. 2011 sales range from a low of $23.948 billion to a high of $26.948 billion, in increments of $0.250 billion, is pre-selected as listed in the first column of the above table.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

M/H can truly deliver ‘real TV’ experience!

Siano Mobile Silicon, based in Israel, is going strong in mobile digital TV space. Thanks to Rachel Glaser, of Ruderfinn, Israel, I managed an exclusive with Ronen Jashek, co-founder and VP Marketing, Siano.

First, let’s understand what the US standard for mobile digital TV — ATSC-M/H (Advanced Television Systems Committee – Mobile/Handheld)– all about! Jashek said: ”ATSC-M/H is a standard that was established on the foundation of ATSC, a digital technology that replaced Analog TV in the US back in 2009. ATSC is the US equivalent to other international standards, like DVB-T (Europe), ISDB-T Full-Seg (Japan), and others around the world.

“ATSC is targeted (and consequently, was designed to do just that) to deliver HD content to domestic, stationary applications (i.e., big-screen TVs at home) that primarily use fixed antennae. It therefore does not address issues that are related to mobile use-cases – mobility (being able to receive the signal while moving at high speeds), efficient power consumption (to address the mobile, battery-powered devices) and extremely high sensitivity and immunity to interface (which is required in a typical mobile use-case when “on the go”). As a result, these aspects are exactly what M/H (Mobile/Handheld) is addressing. In a word, M/H can be considered the equivalent of DVB-H (again – in Europe), CMMB (in China) and ISDB-T 1-Seg (Japan and LatAm).

“ATSC-M/H was established by the ATSC standardization body, as a joint effort by its members, after realizing the need to secure a technology that would enable true mobile TV service to take off and flourish in the U.S. The various ATSC committees worked on the standard for several years, up until its final version was formally approved in the fall of 2010, paving the way to the deployment and launch of the M/H TV service.”

Given the considerable interest around mobile handheld TV, how significant is the mobile-ready programing? Jashek replied: “Based on the underlying M/H technology, US broadcasters now have the means to get their content out there – direct to consumers. Currently, there are about 60 cities with a total of close to 80 TV stations that are already airing mobile TV content.

“To date, however, most of this content is local – meaning, it’s produced and aired locally. But this is not nearly enough to generate a successful, enticing mobile TV market. Enter the Mobile Content Venture, the MCV – a coalition of the top US broadcasters (FOX, NBC, ION, and others) that set its mission on delivering the mobile TV service built on the broadcast technology and spectrum.

“Naturally, the content that can be delivered by this coalition is the best available premium content in the US Quoting their official plans – “At launch, the service will initially consist of at least two ad-supported, free-to-consumer channels in each DMA. Additional channels and markets are expected to be added.” There’s no doubt that once the MCV plans are in motion and materialize, the content will be extremely attractive to render the service successful.”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

MEMS Executive Congress 2011 round-up

Presenting the round-up or closing remarks from Ms. Karen Lightman, MD, MEMS Industry Group, at the recently held MEMS Executive Congress 2011 on Nov. 2-3, in Monterey, USA.

Market analyst panel
* Intelligence added to location will dictate consumer experiences on mobile, (Forrester).
* MEMS market growth at 10 percent in 2011. Nearly $12 billion market by 2015, says IHS iSuppli. Yole predicts $20 billion by 2015.
* Consumer MEMS growing at much faster pace, at 20 percent year-over-year – but look out for price erosion (iSuppli)!
* Be more like semiconductor manufacturing. Leverage standard processes and tools to get to volume production. Reduces cost and TTM (Semico).

Accelerating innovation through systems engineering best practices
* We are ushering in a “new wave” of innovation fueled by “building blocks” of the connected world.
* Software is the Iifeblood of today’s innovation and is changing design paradigm within many markets.
* Connect multiple products and services into a “system of systems” to deliver unique value.
* Leverage systems engineering and develop core competency in software delivery. Speeds time-to-market and enables differentiated products.
* IBM Rational implemented “system of systems” with GM to produce new drive system for Chevy Volt in just 29 months!

Panel on MEMS foundry models – in-house, fab-lite, fabless
* Time-to-market (TTM) is a key challenge. It’s still 2x slower than in the semiconductor business.
* MEMS is coming to attention of global semiconductor industry, which can address high- and low-volume apps. Barriers to entry are lower than ever.
* A difference of opinion: Reusing tools from CMOS fabs can lower costs for IDMs and large IC foundries. Pure-play foundries compete via engineering know-how and “ecosystem” approach.
* There will be more fabless companies in top 30 MEMS companies within next few years.
* “Remember that products pay the bills, not technology.”

Panel on MEMS sensor fusion/sensor networks
* MEMS sensors have potential to give us real-time situational analysis.
* We’re using cell phones to communicate with one another. Now, we need to communicate with the environment.
* HP’s Central Nervous System of the Earth (CENSE), used for oil and gas exploration, is ramping 1 million high-performance sensor nodes.
* But sensor companies have failed us (at least in part)! We need low-cost, lower-power MEMS devices that can withstand on-again, off-again demand.
* In the future, it won’t be about pushing data to someone else’s cloud. We’re going to have our own personal networks through which we manage secure communities of interest.

Panel on MEMS in consumer products
* Smartphones don’t just make computation mobile; they personalize it.
* Personal health management used to be the exclusive domain of men and women in white coats. Now it’s moving to consumer population at large.
* There are 24+ devices in consumer homes that produce data.
* “Ive seen espresso machines running Android!”
* In past, MEMS was obscure and invisible to the end user. In future, consumers will want to interact with many of these sensing technologies.
* The future of MEMS in consumer products is health/medical, LARGE, and ubiquitous.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Global semiconductor market will be $313 billion in 2012: SSIA

The Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA) recently held its 2011 Summit. Estimating the global semiconductor industry in 2012, the SSIA agrees with Future Horizon forecasts stating that 2011-Q3 will be flat (+/- 1 percent), and that 2011-Q4 will show a slight decline (-1/-2 percent) with total year growth of 1 percent as compared with growth of 2010 +32 percent.Pasquale Pistorio, honorary chairman, ST Microelectronics, who spoke at SSIA’s Summit, described expectations for 2012 as including a low first half, followed growth of +8 percent and 2013 growth of 22 percent. “The industry will reach the elusive $400 billion mark in 2013,” noted Pistorio. The global semiconductor market will be $313 billion in 2012.

Meeting semicon industry challenges
According to the SSIA, the semiconductor industry challenges going forward include:

Industry growth in an uncertain market: The semiconductor industry is cyclical – and this poses challenges. “Excessive investment in inventory during expansion or economic slowdown, or both, has been the way of life in this industry,” said Pistorio. “The semiconductor industry is characterized by big market swings. In 2001, the swing was +69 percent. Now is a new swing. This is the first correction of this decade. This is the nature of the industry - this is business as usual.”

Growth of emerging semiconductor companies: With semiconductor startups declining in number and VCs becoming more and more hesitant to invest funds in getting them off the ground, a different approach is needed to enable these innovative entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in the semiconductor market.

To encourage growth in this sector, SSIA will become involved in a semiconductor-focused company incubator to guide the creation of growth of Singapore- based fabless semiconductor startups; create an SSIA emerging company board with a focus on better meeting the needs of emerging semiconductor companies and facilitating coordination with established Singapore semiconductor companies; and coordinate with Singapore government agencies and the Economic Development Board on infrastructure support initiatives for emerging semiconductor companies.

Asian semiconductor industry worth $177 billion in 2012
Estimating the Asian semiconductor industry in 2012, the SSIA said that Singapore plays a significant role in the overall. The Asian semiconductor market is expected to be $177 billion in 2012. According to SSIA projections, the 2012 Singapore semiconductor market will be approximately $44.6 billion.

Year 2010 was a record year for Singapore's electronics industry. The industry attained historic highs in both manufacturing output and value-added. Electronics manufacturing output grew 26.9 percent in 2010 to reach S$89.9 billion, far surpassing the global industry growth of 9.3 percent. The electronics industry was also the largest contributor to Singapore's 2010 GDP from the manufacturing sector, with its share of GDP increasing to 7 percent from 5.7 percent in 2009.

The strong growth of Singapore's electronics industry was enabled through industry transformation. Over the years, the electronics industry has transformed to manufacture higher value-added products and R&D. This is illustrated through two main sectors - semiconductors and data storage.

Singapore's semiconductor industry posted a nominal growth of 49.8 percent, outpacing the global semiconductor industry's 32.5 percent growth in 2010. As a result, Singapore's manufacturing output share of global semiconductor revenues increased from 11.2 percent in 2009 to 13.5 percent in 2010.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cisco’s borderless networks architecture help enterprises overcome security challenges

Thanks to Riyanka Khanna at Text100, New Delhi, I managed to get into conversation with Bipin Kumar Amin, principle consultant, Borderless Networks – Security, Cisco. I started by asking him about the security challenges currently faced by enterprises.

Security challenges faced by enterprises
He said: “Indian network security market is growing consistently as organizations increasingly realize the importance of securing their data against external and internal threats. The advent of 3G in India has opened up new roads for technologies and applications owing to the greater bandwidth available, as well as faster data transfer. As data becomes more pervasive, privacy and security becomes the important concerns for the enterprises. Consequently, there has been no let-down in IT security spending because CIOs realize that without ensuring the security of their vital data, it’s not possible to expand business.

“The traditional network and physical perimeter is no longer the only border where information must be defended. Collaboration, IT consumerization, mobility, and new computing technologies are increasing productivity while presenting new security requirements.

“BYOD is a new phenomenon, which every enterprise is witnessing and has to deal with the management and security the data on mobile devices, whether they are owned by an enterprise or user. There is greater pressure on IT to meet the demands of a dynamic workforce-both in terms of service delivery and security challenges. New solutions are needed to protect borderless networks and to help further improve business efficiencies in the mean time.”

As for the trends in security, he added: “There are three major trends sweeping through the enterprise: rapid rise of the consumerized endpoint, onset of virtualization and cloud computing, and growing use of high-definition video conferencing. Each one of these critical technologies is transforming business—and forcing a fundamental shift in how security is developed and deployed.”

Monday, November 14, 2011

MEMS market overview: IHS iSuppli

The MEMS Executive Congress, MEMS Industry Group’s annual executive conference, was held on Nov. 2-3, 2011, in Monterey, USA. Here are the excerpts from a presentation on the MEMS market overview by Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst, MEMS & Sensors, IHS iSuppli.

The market for MEMS has been growing, and is slated to grow at a CAGR of +10.5 percent from 2010-2015. Consumer and mobile MEMS market is slated to grow 22 percent CAGR from $1.5 billion in 2010 to $4.4 billion in 2015.Source: Source iSuppli MEMS Market Tracker – Q2 2011.

Smart phones remain the locomotive. MEMS content has increased in smart phones. The Accelero has migrated to feature phones. There will be limited opportunity in the gray handset market. Tablets are providing an additional market boost. There will likely be 275 million media tablets in 2015. The 'full PC tablets' in consumer laptops segment will also be impacted positively. Dangerous games -- they peaked in 2010, will be down in 2011-2012, and go up again in 2014.

New MEMS devices in 2011 include MEMS thermopiles in handsets (TI), MEMS joysticks (Knowles) and RF MEMS switch/varactors. There will be new opportunities in sport/reha. However, IHS iSuppli not too excited about motion sensors for remote controllers and MEMS speaker -- there will be no revenue by 2015.

Hottest of the hottest include motion sensors in handsets and tablets. There are likely to be a few more fat years' for consumer MEMS. The fat years include the period from 2010-2013, which translates into robust smart phones sales and skyrocketing media tablets shipment.

The automotive MEMS market will grow at 8.5 percent CAGR from $1.90 billion in 2010 to $2.86 billion in 2015. Safety applications dominate, often with mandates. Examples are: ESC with (MEMS gyro, accelerometer, pressure sensors), airbags (accelerometer, pressure, ultrasound), and TPMS mandate in US since 2007, EU from 2012 and now China (from 2015).

Japan caused 2.2 million production drop globally, in 2011. Car production forecast has also been revised down in for 2012. China is driving sensor sales, e.g., basic MAP to lower emissions. Combo sensors are accelerating price erosion (7-8 percent, instead of 4 percent). Newcomers are finally breaking into safety sensor markets. Some examples are SensorDynamics for gyro, MEMSIC accelerometer in airbag-based ESC systems from Autoliv. Also, ST and Epson are gunning for safety applications.

Finally, high value MEMS markets will grow at 12.3 percent CAGR from $1.5 billion in 2010 to $2.7 billion in 2015. Global trends are benefiting high value markets. For instance, energy and global warming is witnessing MEMS reducing energy consumption (in industrial processes, residential heating and billing systems, in transportation systems). Also, MEMS are finding energy (geophones for oil/gas exploration, measurement-while-drilling).

MEMS is also handling the aging population, obesity issues, etc. MEMS for less invasive monitoring of patients and elderly people.Also, it is more affordable and provides continuous diagnostics. MEMS increase efficiency and comfort of drug delivery.

The rise of China and other BRIC countries is another trend. China has already turned into a major consumer of MEMS for industry, infrastructures, aerospace and defense as well wired communications. Fiber deployments in China is, for example, boosted by new government stimulus and largely pulls the global optical MEMS market for telecom.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NXP licenses Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach Ethernet technology for in-vehicle networking

NXP Semiconductors N.V. recently announced an engagement in automotive Ethernet as the first automotive semiconductor supplier to license Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach Ethernet technology for in-vehicle networking.

Speaking exclusively on the engagement, Lars Reger, VP automotive business & strategy and general manager integrated in-vehicle networking, NXP Semiconductors, said: "We are convinced that Ethernet will only be successful on a mass-market level if we manage to find one uniform standard in the automotive industry. Car manufacturers around the world are really pushing towards this. As no. 1 supplier of in-vehicle networking semiconductors, NXP can make a big impact and take a leading role to this end. NXP has taken the decision, as the first automotive semiconductors company, to license BroadR Reach.

"This technology uses single-pair, unshielded cable which makes high-bandwith networking very cost-efficient. We will use the licensed IP as a basis for developing the physical layer chips for Ethernet. For the development process, we can rely on our expertise in automotive electronics and our application know-how to meet the automotive quality requirements.

"Altogether, this license will save NXP an significant amount in R&D cost. At the same time, it will allow us to bring a full portfolio of Ethernet transceivers to the market in a much shorter time period. Ethernet will well complementary to other technology standards that NXP offers for in-vehicle networking, which are CAN, LIN, and FlexRay, as each one has its specific advantages. In short: it’s the next logical portfolio enhancement and we will be in the market early 2013 with first samples."

So, what does this arrangement set out to achieve? Reger said: "Ethernet will give a major boost to the connected car. With Ethernet, a networking technology will be available that is cost-efficient and yet powerful enough to cope with the huge amounts of data generated through modern infotainment systems, new camera-based driver assist systems like 360 degree cams, or traffic sign recognition.

"Ethernet technology, as it’s already well established in the consumer and business areas, will make it much easier to adapt existing technologies to automotive applications and to bring them into the car in much shorter development circles. NXP has a major interest to push this. As we combine in-vehicle networking with wireless technologies like broadcast reception, telematics, car-to-x, and car access technologies, we see a big market there for high performance mixed signal technologies – NXP’s focus area."

Given the high price of petrol in India, does NXP see a thriving market for automotives in future? Reger replied: "Reducing fuel consumption is definitely a main innovation driver in the automotive industry – and that’s not only true for India, but around the world. The effort to bring fuel consumption down concerns every single component in the car and is a number one priority for semiconductors suppliers. Let’s take in-vehicle networking as a good example.

"At a major international automotive conference held in Ludwigsburg, Germany, in June this year, Audi, BMW, Daimler, Porsche, and Volkswagen made a public announcement in favour of rapidly introducing a new technology called “partial networking”. Partial networking gives design engineers precision control over a vehicle’s bus communication network.

"By intelligently de-activating those Electronic Control Units (ECUs) that are currently not needed, engineers are able to significantly reduce vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions without sacrificing performance or consumer experience. NXP has recently announced the world’s first ISO compliant solution for this purpose. It saves 3 percent CO2, which equals 0.11 litres fuel per 100km. It’s one out of many steps needed to improve the efficiency of vehicles.

"For sure there is further fuel saving potential like this. In the end, growth potential in the automotive industry will depend to a large extent on whether we manage to really make these potential savings a reality."

Friday, November 11, 2011

MEMS devices driving healthcare apps

Frédéric Breussin, Yole Developpement, an expert in Microfluidics for diagnostics and life sciences, recently presented on MEMS devices driving healthcare applications.

According to him, microsystem technologies are changing the healthcare industry. New in-vitro diagnostic systems, new therapy strategies, genetic disease treatment, targeted and intelligent drug delivery, artificial pancreas, drug discovery processes… are healthcare improvements promised to future generations.Source: Yole Developpement, France.

Microsystem devices, including MEMS devices, SI based sensors, Microfluidic chips and Bio sensors find many applications in healthcare markets:
* Pharmaceutical Research market ($870 billion worldwide 2010),
* In-vitro diagnostics ($57 billion worldwide 2010),
* Medical devices ($255 billion worldwide 2010), and
* Medical home care ($54 billion worldwide 2010).

Within these applications, the MEMS/microsystem technologies market for healthcare will grow from $1.4 billion in 2010 to $4.5 billion in 2015, which represents over 1 billion units per year in 2015.

The largest markets are microfluidic devices and bio-sensors for diagnostic and pharmaceutical applications. However, one should keep in mind that the unit price is relatively high, and that the microfluidic market is very segmented in terms of “biological” applications and players.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Solar PV industry recommended to stay optimistic; US govt. supports India's clean energy initiative!

Solarcon India 2011 started today in Hyderabad, with Jim Brown, president, Utility Systems Business Group, First Solar Inc., stating that the global solar PV industry is in a bit of the state of turmoil. Some are driven by pure supply-demand. He recommended the industry to be strategically optimistic. He cautioned that not everyone who's playing in this field, will go on to survive the next two to three years. First Solar reiterated its optimism regarding its own prospects in the industry.

Commending Solarcon as a flagship event for the Indian solar PV industry, Dr. Bharat Bhargava, director – Photovoltaics, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, said that the policies and programs started by the Indian government are now yielding results.The Jawaharlal Nehru-National Solar Mission has seen the participation of the industry, the academia and the funding agencies, showing that the success of the program lies in the hands of the people involved. When the Indian solar PV industry started, the country was said to have only 2MW. By the end of October this year, India had 125 MW. By 2013, it will likely reach 2GW, according to Dr. Bhargava.

He apprised the audience regarding the REC (renewable energy certificate) program. Initially, the REC was for three years, but was later extended to five years. As of now, experts are consulting to enable it to increase to seven years. He estimated that the Indian solar PV industry might even go up to 100GW, instead of 20GW, and encouraged everyone to work together and make this happen.

Francisco J. Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, USA, stated that a lot of excitement is in the air! “We are committed to India and its solar industry. There are opportunities to do big things in this industry.” He added that solar has achieved a triple bottom line.According to Sanchez, the solar industry is worth $17 billion in India and it is growing. India is spending $19 billion by 2022 to produce 20GW of solar energy. There will be a lot of engineers, manufacturers, etc., who can monitor and contribute to the growth of the industry. He advised that India will need to add 150GW of capacity over the next five years. Therefore, India is well placed to seize opportunities with trade partnerships.

He said: “The US government fully supports India’s clean energy initiative. There is an abundance of opportunities in solar. We can achieve much more in partnerships. We are committed to working with you. It is a huge opportunity for both countries.

“Some of the obstacles include repositioning for success, where companies indulge in unfair trade practices. When the market is open for competition, it creates thousands of jobs, and the market is growing quickly, helping many. It is all about chance and choice. We have a chance to build a great industry. We need to work together in partnership and share value. We will work together for the good of India and its consumers. We hope that India will take the same approach. India now has the chance to build an exciting industry for the future.”

Solarcon India 2011 begins with record exhibitors

Presenting the excerpts from the welcome address by Debasish Paul Choudhury, president, SEMI India, at the ongoing Solarcon India 2011, being held in Hyderabad.

This year’s show features a larger exhibition, a three-day dual track conference, and will feature three concurrent technical programs. The theme for this year’s exposition, representing the widening solar value chain in India, is “Showcasing the Solar Eco‐System: From Polysilicon to Power Plants.”The exhibition with over 115 exhibitors from eight countries, compared to 81 exhibitors in SOLARCON India 2010, covers the entire solar value chain, will provide you an opportunity to see a wide range of new products and services offered by Indian and international companies, under one roof.

This year’s show, as many of you are aware, is certified by the US Department of Commerce (US DOC), and features an exclusive US Pavilion with 14 leading US companies participating in the exhibition. I am also delighted to welcome a 35-member Clean Tech Delegation led by the United States of America’s Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Francisco J. Sanchez to the show.

I am delighted to have in our midst two other distinguished guests – Dr. Bharat Bhargava, director – Photovoltaics, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, who is widely credited to be the architect of the India’s National Solar Mission. In the same vein, I am happy to welcome Jim Brown, president, Utility Systems Business Group, First Solar Inc., the world’s largest thin film module manufacturer, with us this morning.

Featuring more than 70 speakers drawn from the industry, academia and government, the conference is themed "Charting India's Roadmap to Solar Leadership — Translating Potential into Reality." The conference attracts high-profile participation of solar energy leaders from all segments of the industry supply chain, academia and governments from India and around the world.

The three-day conference also includes an LED Lighting summit, co-organized with Frost & Sullivan, which will focus on SSL (solid state lighting) technology with speakers from among LED manufacturers, LED suppliers, researchers and others.

The climate in which we are holding the show this year has not been without its challenges – on two fronts: the events in Hyderabad on the one hand (which have now, we are grateful to all parties involved, returned to complete normalcy) and the considerable stress that the solar industry is under due the slowdown in the European economies, regulatory changes in the major solar markets and manufacturing over capacity resulting in a fall in PV system prices over the last two to three quarters. This show and the support it has received are proof that the long term prospects for the solar industry remain most bright in India.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NASSCOM announces top 10 start-ups to watch!

On the eve of the NASSCOM Product Conclave 2011, to be held in Bangalore, on Nov. 9-10, 2011, NASSCOM (National Association of Software and Services Companies) announced the list of the top 10 start-ups to watch.

These top 10 start-ups are:
1. Pawaa Software -- Pawaa
2. QuickoLabs -- SearchEnabler
3. Persistent Systems Ltd -- eMee
4. Imaginate -- Imaginate
5. Srijan Technologies Pvt Ltd -- DROWPS
6. Conwerge Web Services Pvt Ltd -- Grupur.com
7. Semgel Technologies Pvt Ltd -- Semgel
8. Openweb Labs Pvt Ltd -- HirePlug, Getlive.me
9. Ozonetel Systems Pvt Ltd -- KooKoo
10. NRich Software Pvt Ltd -- DiaSof.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Updated global semicon sales forecast 2011's estimate falls $2.74 billion

This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

On Wednesday, Nov. 2nd, 2011, the WSTS posted its Sept. 2011's HBR (Historical Billings Report) on its website thereby facilitating the calculation of the monthly update for the latest global semi sales forecast estimates for 2011 and 2012 via exercising the Cowan LRA forecasting model.

These latest forecast results reflect September 2011's actual monthly sales and include revisions to previous months' reported sales numbers. According to the WSTS's September HBR, September's actual global semiconductor sales came in at $29.442 billion with a corresponding September 3MMA sales of $25.764 billion.

It should be highlighted that two of the previous eight months (January through August), namely July and August, experienced very minor sales revisions from last month's published HBR.

Thus, the YTD cumulative global semiconductor sales through September totaled $227.852 billion. This represents a 2011 YTD sales growth of 2.2 percent compared to the same time period in 2010 when September 2010's YTD sales were $222.853 billion. This continues a downward trend in the month-to-month 2011 YTD sales growth numbers from the beginning of the year as shown in the table here.Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

The Cowan LRA model's sales forecast estimates for the month of September as determined by last month's model run were $31.528 billion (actual) and $26.413 billion (3MMA), respectively. Consequently, the model's September sales MI (Momentum Indicator) came in at minus 6.2 percent, which marginally improved from last month's sales MI of minus 7.5 percent.

This indicates (mathematically speaking) that the semiconductor industry's September's actual sales came in $1.959 billion lower than the model's previous month's forecasted expectation. This suggests that 2011's sales growth could continue to trend downward for the remainder of this year relative to this month's 2011 sales growth expectation of 3 percent as discussed below.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Microsoft launches developer program for Windows Phone

Microsoft has launched a program for developers where they can build applications (apps) for mobile and win a Windows Phone. It also showcased some of the latest Windows Phones from leading handset vendors.

Microsoft calls the Windows Phone as People vs. Icons -- it puts people first. The mobile phone itself has a load of features, such as People Hub, Groups, Threads, Better email, Calendar, Bing Vision, IE9 and Pictures Hub. There's more, in form of XBOX Live, Multitasking, Music + Videos, Custom Ringtones, Office 365, Live Tiles, Voice to text, My Windows Phone, SharePoint, Local Scout, Remote Wipe.

According to Harish Vaidyanathan, Microsoft, the company has moved up from zero (0) to 30,000 apps in just 12 months.

Microsoft also highlighted 'i Unlock Joy' for students. The Windows Phone is designed to put people in the center – making it easier for them to connect and share with friends, family and colleagues, so they never miss a moment. Here’s your chance to unlock your creativity -- build apps for the latest Windows Phone, and win the latest mobile phone.

Microsoft has unveiled a program for developers and students where they can participate and build apps, and win a Windows Phone. For students, the program runs till December 31, 2011, while it runs till March 31, 2012 for developers.

Windows Phone will present your apps to people in smarter and easier ways. The new Metro UI design helps developers create breathtaking apps and makes them easier to discover and use. “I Unlock Joy” program is definitely your chance to become the users’ favourite and get a brand new Windows Phone.

Developers can download the complete set of developer tools to build Windows Phone apps. They can choose the tools and technology for app development. They can also become a member of the Windows Phone Marketplace with an annual membership fee of $99 and get access to the App Hub and certification process.

Developers can submit an unlimited number of certified paid apps and up to 100 free apps as registered App Hub member.

In case you are a woman developer, you have a chance to win a Windows Phone by developing just 1 app (for first 100 female participants). Women are required to submit their apps on the Marketplace by March 31, 2012.

To participate, be aware that you are a technology professional – software developer, project manager or software architect – working and residing in India. You are not an employee, intern, agent or a relative of an employee of Microsoft Corp. (India) or Microsoft Corp. or any of their affiliates; You are not involved in any part of the execution or administration of this program.

You can participate in the program by:
* Submitting three (3) new Windows Phone Apps that get published at the Windows Phone Marketplace by March 31, 2012;
* Submitting two (2) new Windows Phone Apps that you have ported from existing Android and/or iPhone apps, which get published at the Marketplace by March 31, 2012; and
* If you are a woman developer, submitting one (1) new Windows Phone App based on Entertainment, Fashion, Leisure, Gaming, Recreation or Travel Themes, which gets published at the Marketplace by March 31, 2012.

So, fill up the Registration Form posted on Microsoft's website with all the required information. You need to register on the App Hub with a $99 annual membership fee, which entitles you to publish and manage apps at Windows Phone Marketplace. Your app should get certified on App Hub and published at Windows Phone Marketplace on or before March 31, 2012.

To participate, developers need to go through the application submission checklist.

PS: I shall refrain from commenting on the Windows Phone, for now! ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

PV inverter -- innovations and market trends

France's Yole Développement, recently organized a seminar on PV inverter - technical innovations and market trends. The speakers were Brice Legouic, Power Electronics Market & Technology Analyst, Yole and Paul Kleistead, Cree.

What are the trends for 2011-12? According to Legouic, one, a first step of standardization should take place at the added functionalities level. This includes MPP positioning with advanced solutions, monitoring, and anti-theft and protection. Two, players with a higher level of product quality will enter the EU market. These include Japanese players focusing on efficiency and reliability, but with more expensive inverters.

Yole also anticipates a double speed business to take place. If the residential segment is opened to Chinese manufacturers and industrial/solar farms are dedicated to high-end products, the PV inverter market would become two different markets.

Speaking about market trends, he said that trends will be driven by reduction of feed-in tariff, which hurries the end users to sign contracts. Over 2 million are likely to be sold in 2012. The total market in 2010 was slightly below €3.3 billion, and will overpass €3.5 billion by 2012.

Over 75 percent of the market is owned by the top 10 PV inverter players. Five of these are German, eight are European, and two are American. Eighty percent of EU inverters are made in Europe and 20 percent are made in the USA. Asian players will likely increase their supply for the EU market. Japanese players currently have very small implantation in the EU. However, Yole believes that their market share would reach 15 percent within the next three years.

On technological trends, Legouic touched upon the neutral-point-clamped (NPC) architecture. The NPC architecture uses diode to clamp the DC bus voltage in two equal voltages. The benefits are:
* allowing the use of lower 600V devices instead of 1200V,
* reducing dynamic losses, and
* SJ MOS can be used for outer switches for their higher frequency performances.

The NPC architecture is nearly always used for 10-50kW inverters.

Using the SiC free-wheeling diode can increase efficiency from up to 2 percent. More and more are used for low- to medium-power range. Benefits include much better recovery time and reduction in IGBT switching losses.

On the DC/DC stage component chart, he added that according to STMicroelectronics, we can assume that when the maximum input voltage of an inverter is below 650V, the DC/DC stage is MOSFET-based. Over 650V, the inverter can be considered to be built with a 1200V IGBT.

As for implementation of new technologies, such as SiC vs. GaN, 900-1200V will be the targeted range for over 10kW inverters. SiC diodes are already implemented in residential and commercial inverters.

In 2012, silicon will represent more than 90 percent of the modules market, and about 75 percent of the wafer market. SiC will be mostly driven by diodes. Components will be at an early stage of adoption.

Brice Legouic concluded that micro-inverters are also a place for technical innovation. Enphase is a global leader with about 30 percent market share in the US residential segment. The conversion architecture is totally different from standard inverters. The SiC diodes are implemented and represent a huge market for device makers as micro-inverter quantities are important.

Other expected products have shown significant improvements in the integration of the same silicon chip of several functions, such as command and driver IC, power conversion and RF components for communications in a PV plant.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Solar installations: How long will boom last?

Dr. Henning Wicht, senior director and principal analyst, PV, IHS iSuppli Corp., presented a paper at PV Taiwan 2011. Let’s take a look at how long is the boom in solar installations likely to last!

According to Dr. Wicht, the solar market is forecasted to reach 21.9 GW in 2011. In 2011, global installations will record again and reach 21.9 GW. Germany and Italy will remain the leading markets. The USA and China are growing strongly. Worldwide PV installation forecast, updated May 20, 2011 is currently at around 25 percent. It will then likely dip to -10 percent in 2012, before finally moving up to 32-33 percent in 2015. The upside potential of 6.5 GW in 2012 may result in 27 GW of installations.

Installations in 2012 are forecasted at 20.5 GW (-11 percent). However, historically the photovoltaic market never declined. Even in 2009, the most challenging year, the market grew by 33 percent. Can it repeat again?

In that case, what’s the situation in the world right now? He replied: “In China, the support of domestic supplier industry will be the driver, while there will be expansion of solar subsidy programs. The forecast for 2012 is 2.4GW and the upside potential for 2012 is 1 GW. Germany will see pro REE politics. There will be re-opening of the ground installation market segment; and lifting of installation target to 5 GW, the upper edge of the target corridor. The 2012 forecast is 5 GW and the upside potential for 2012 is 1 GW. Italy will also see pro REE politics. There will likely be a target corridor of 2-3 GW. The 2012 forecast is 2.5 GW and the upside potential is 2 GW.”

Also, Japan will see pro REE politics. There will be an expansion of solar subsidy programs. The 2012 forecast is 1.6 GW and the upside potential is 1 GW. The rest of the world (RoW) will see an enhanced support of REE at the expense of nuclear energy. There will also be implementation of incentives and funding for solar. The 2012 forecast is 9 GW and the upside potential is 1.5 GW. In total, the realistic upside potential (50 percent) is estimated at 24 GW for 2012, and the total upside potential is estimated at 27 GW.

“Now, if we re-look at the global PV installation forecast, it is likely to be 21.9 GW in 2011, 24.17 GW in 2012, 28.23 GW in 2013, 32.3 GW in 2014 and 43.05 GW in 2015. In 2011, the installations in Europe will reach 63 percent, but will decrease to 33 percent in 2015.”

Let’s have a look at the emerging solar/PV market situation at the moment. According to Wicht, the solar emerging markets in 2014 include: Americas at 1,300 MW, Europe/Middle East at 2,150 MW, Africa at 950 MW, Asia 3,440 MW and Australia 775 MW.

So, where are prices going for modules, cells, wafers and poly? He said: “First, module prices will not stop falling. At the end of Q3 2011, modules are offered at 0.8€/W (factory gate). The residential systems are priced at 2.0€/W in Germany.”

The year end 2011 forecast, as of July 2011 shows the silicon (spot) price at $50-55/kg, wafer at $0.54/Wp (multi), cell at $0.80/Wp (for tier 2 players) and module at EUR 0.85/Wp (multi, top 10 players). The year end 2011 forecast, as of Sept. 2011 will show silicon (spot) price at $48-55/kg, wafer at $0.43~0.48/Wp (multi), cell at $0.72/Wp (for tier 2 players) and module: at EUR 0.80/Wp (top 10 players). Currently, the most profitable segments of the value chain lies at the tail ends in polysilicon and in the balance of system/inverter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lava Mobiles launches classy S12 smartphone!

Lava Mobiles has introduced the classy S12 smartphone. The phone's smooth curvature and slim arc back gives it an easy palm-fit. It is only 1.3cm thick and has a matte leather finish.The S12 runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo) and works on quad GSM band 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, UMTS 2100 MHz. It supports 3G, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA 384 kbps. It uses a Qualcomm 7227 600MHz processor, and is WiFi, A-GPS and EDGE/GPRS enabled. The Lava S12 allows connecting to the Internet with either 3G or WiFi. It has a 3.2-inch HVGA (480x320) display.

Some other features include 5MP camera with 2X zoom, Android music player, Android video player, Bluetooth v2.1, Android browswer, 120MB storage and extenal memory expandable up to 32GB.

The home screen has the feature to change to an engaging 3D user interface, allowing the user to switch between various screens using a single gesture.

Like many other smartphones, the Lava S12 allows users the opportunity to do much more than simply calling or messaging. For business, there is Moneycontrol, while users can access Gmail, as well as Google Maps and Latitude. There is Google Places as well, besides a Voice Search app.

Users can download froma a range of Hungama.com content, such as songs, ringtones, videos and wallpapers. Saavn allows you to listen to latest Bollywood songs, etc., and has a smart search that delivers fast results. TuneWiki is yet another app that plays music, and streams Internet radio and videos. Then, there is YouTube, and a year's free subscription of Zenga TV - that allows you to watch MTV, Colors, Headlines Today, Movies, etc. The TOI app provides news.

For those who book air or rail tickets, there's Ngpay. You can also use it to book movie tickets or for shopping. For the social networking buffs, the S12 has Facebook, Twitter and Nimbuzz apps built in.

Those looking to do some work on the move can take the help of Adobe Reader. The SlideIT feature is an innovative keyboard. It can be used to send/type emails, SMSs, or for chatting.

I could not find a stylus, and wonder how easy it will be for users to type. Perhaps, this is the only drawback.

The S12 has in-built smart sensor technology as well. Its Pocket Mode feature makes the incoming call alert convenient, and the Quiet ringer on gesture feature can silence phone calls by simply sliding a hand over the phones.

The phone uses a 1,300 mAh, Lithium-ion battery. It supports a talk time of GSM up to 650 minutes and UMTS up to 485 minutes, and a stand-by time of GSM up to 590 hours and UMTS up to 650 hours. The phone itself weighs 120g with the battery and measures 117 x 57.5 x 13.4mm. The Lava S12 can be bought online from Lava Mobiles' website for Rs. 8,500.

Friday, October 21, 2011

DIT outlines initiatives to promote ESDM in India

The Department of IT, Government of India, recently organized a workshop on electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM), conducted by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA). Dr. Ajay Kumar, joint secretary, Dept. of IT, Government of India, touched upon some major initiatives to promote ESDM. These include:

* Setting up two semiconductor wafer fabs for manufacture of chips.
* Introducing Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme to encourage manufacture of high-priority electronic products in India.
* Provide incentives for setting up of electronics manufacturing clusters.
* Setting up of the National Electronics Mission (NEM).
* Providing Preferential Market Access to domestically manufactured electronics products for government procurement and procurement by government licensees.
* Setting up of “Electronic Development Fund”.

Some of the other initiatives to promote ESDM include:
* Draft National Policy for Electronics, 2011 released for public consultation on October 3, 2011. Comments invited till end October.
* Additional items included under ESDM for benefit of Special Focus Scheme under the Foreign Trade Policy recently.
* Mandating health and safety standards for 16 major electronic items under finalization in consultation with BIS.
* Private sector participation in human resource development being promoted.
* Sector specific initiatives for set-top boxes, medical electronics, avionics, industrial electronics, automotive electronics, LEDs, strategic electronics for defense, space and nuclear.
* Awareness creation and interest generation domestically and globally.
* Renaming the Department as Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY).

The semiconductor design industry in India consists of VLSI design, board/hardware design and embedded software development. The size was estimated at $6.5 billion in 2009 and is expected to log a CAGR of 17.3 percent over the next three years to reach $10.6 billion in 2012. Nearly 2,000 chips are being designed each year and more than 20,000 engineers being engaged in various aspects of chip designing and verification.