Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's this EoI got to do with semicon fabs in India?

Last week, I was alerted to a news on a local daily, which simply read: Government invites EoI for semiconductor fabs!

With all due respect, what is the need for an Expression of Interest (EoI) in the first place? At least, I fail to understand.

Having spent most of my life in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, I've seen plenty of fabs come up in the past decade, and before. Why? In the 1990s, no one used to even give a second look at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), which [I don't know if many are aware] started operations in 1987.

Back in the mid- to late-1990s, I had the pleasure of attending several trade shows at the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC), Taiwan. In fact, I tracked the rise of the Taiwanese and Chinese companies in telecoms and semiconductors!

Back then, no one even noticed TSMC, as well as the Chinese backed Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC). However, the art of manufacturing, which had found its bearings in Taiwan, were steadily shifting to China. I even remember visiting Huawei in the middle of 2000, and later ZTE.

By 2000, many of the Taiwanese firms had moved their operations to China for managing cheaper labor costs. Today, China has assumed gigantic proportions, hasn't it? Today, even TSMC is in the list of top 10 global semiconductor companies. I had even written a post congratulating TSMC for making it to the top 10 R&D spenders during 2010.

What exactly does this EoI from the government of India set out to achieve? Well, for starters, the EoI should come from the technology companies on whether they are interested to start a fab in India!

By the way, do you know what happened to the SIPS or the Indian semiconductor policy announced in 2007? It sank without a trace! A Karnataka Semicon Policy was unveiled with great fanfare last year. The result? No takers!!

This time around, the Government has requested companies to send in their details, technology experience, including alliances, technology proposed, manufacturing capacity reports and quantum of investment involved (for the proposed project).

The fact that local consumption is likely to spike immensely is very well known to everyone. However, here's where the enthusiasm fizzles out, or so it seems. How much of this local consumption will actually see products getting manufactured in India? And, that too, by Indian companies?

Not that I have anything against foreign companies running fabs, but what benefit is it going to bring to India, except, say, foreign investment? Where is the Indian managed fab? When will we actually see one, if I may ask? Why? India still does not have a fabless local industry! When will that aspect be paid attention to?

Isn't it strange that six and a half years since it was set up (Oct. 30, 2004), the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) has yet to find any takers for a fab in India? A fab needs 24x7 power and water -- those are the basic requirements. Which Indian state is capable of providing all of that at the moment?

Forget the EoI, there are certain things that the Indian semiconductor industry needs to do, lest it gets written out of reckoning in the global context.
1) Focus on the needs of the Indian semicon companies only! (How many times do I repeat myself?)
2) Prepare industry reports that highlight the capabilities of Indian semicon firms.
3) I mentioned 10 points the Indian semicon industry needs to focus on in a post “Long wait for Indian semicon industry?”

At best, the Indian industry may still attract one or two global firms to set up some smaller units here. Beyond that, it looks difficult! However, I will keep my fingers crossed, being overly optimistic!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Devices needing semicon on rise: Dr. Chi-foon Chan, Synopsys

According to Dr. Chi-Foon Chan, president and COO, Synopsys Inc., there are five reasons for the global semiconductor industry to be optimistic. These are:

* Devices that need semiconductors are on a rise. Eg: telecom -- Apple iPad, tablet PC. Everything requires semiconductors.
* Digital media, growing downloads.
* Microprocessors
* Data storage
* Networks.

Dr. Chan was delivering the keynote at last week's Synopsys User Group (SNUG) India conference.

Key design challenges today include developing high performance chips with low power, design complexity, and shrinking design cycle. Some other challenges are:
* SoC.
* Exploding cost of verification.
* Smart and fast verification.
* Challenges in advanced verification.
* IP and its re-use -- power/performance, complexity, schedule.
* Growth in IP business leading to high-quality IP.
* Toward physics – TCAD.
* Yield loss is a digital issue and is big money.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Will you remain mobile (on phone) all the time?

Perhaps, most of you will! I won't!! And I stand by it!

This evening, by chance, I had a very interesting conversation. It centred round the mobile phone. Especially, the features. Well, at the end of the conversation, it led to me remarking the statement that forms the caption of this story.

First, let me make it clear that I started off my career in telecoms, at the time when there was neither any Internet nor mobile phones. My first look at a mobile phone was way back in 1992, the same year I first saw the Internet -- in its early avataar!

However, nothing, till today, has made me give up my liking for acquaintances and good conversation. If I am correct, the way mobile phones are now targeted and advertised, it seems you should remain mobile all the time! And now, with the social networks booming, the mobile phones have become a great way to stay connected via such networks.

I don't really know about you and the young generation of today, but I am sure -- I can live without being bothered (or bombarded) with phone calls and messages of all kinds. Nor do I really think that highly of social networks. Trust me: I started Twitter only middle of last year -- after already winning two world titles. Even Facebook, I joined only at a friend's insistence. Till today, I only use that to wish friends on their birthdays.

So, let's get back to mobile phones. Will you remain mobile all the time? To do what? Work? Play? Chat? What's being forgotten here is: all of these activities are done on your mobile phone -- which is meant for you to communicate.

Sometimes, I am puzzled, when folks show me their latest phones that have over 100 applications. When I ask how many they use, their answer (combined) veers toward some five or six good ones. And also, those applications are in permanent use -- like some mail or chat function, or some social network. Has anyone even given a thought to any other areas besides these?

I have even seen some executives carry presentations on their mobiles. Please carry on doing so -- it's worth the task.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Wavion offers gamer changer in Wi-Fi offloading

Wavion has introduced the WBSn family -- said to be supporting the industry’s first two-way beamforming with 802.11n. A Gigabit outdoor Wi-Fi system, it offers carrier grade end-to-end solution. Other features include leading interference immunity suite and seamless mobile data offload.

Tal Mierzon, Wavion’s CEO, said the company is uniquely positioned as carrier grade Wi-Fi solution, and Wavion’s solution revolutionizes the unlicensed wireless broadband access (WBA) market. The solution features two-way beamforming 802.11n technology. It is said to feature the widest and homogeneous coverage, has highest capacity, and provides leading interference immunity. It also features NLOS performance and indoor penetration.

Wavion promises 50 percent CAPEX and 50 percent OPEX savings. The solution has seen rapid sales growth with numerous large scale deployments in more than 70 countries. It offers end-to-end carrier grade wireless networks for a variety of applications, based on its omni-direction and sector base stations.

An estimate of the global wireless broadband market reveals that smartphones and tablets are driving exploding data and video traffic. There is an increasing operators’ usage of Wi-Fi for data offloading and backhauling, in order to reduce cost, improve QoS, and enable service expansion.

Next, there is a $1 billion and growing total addressable outdoor Wi-Fi equipment market. The technology choice (Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE, Femto) driven by capacity, availability and cost. Also, the “White Space” initiative and unlicensed spectrum favors Wi-Fi. Further, Wi-Fi and LTE are turning out to be complementary solutions for carriers.

A new carrier Wi-Fi market is emerging. Developed countries are characterised by 3G data offloading, data loads are increasing exponentially (doubled in 2010), and broadband to rural communities.

Developing countries are seeing low cost broadband access for metro and rural areas, while the residential and SME users are also getting smarter. Also, there are synergies with existing cellular infrastructure.

Globally, the first tier carriers will need to use licensed and unlicensed (Wi-Fi) frequencies to meet their capacity and cost goals. Wavion estimates this market to be $500 million in two years. According to Wavion, the WBSn is tailor-made for carrier Wi-Fi.

Wavion's mission is to provide wider coverage, higher capacity and lower cost outdoor Wi-Fi solutions for carrier-grade broadband applications. Founded in 2000 and privately held, its headquarter is Yokneam, Israel, with global presence in the US, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, India, China, Philippines, Singapore, Africa and Russia.

Wavion's product line-up includes end-to-end outdoor Wi-Fi solutions leveraging powerful beamforming, 802.11n and interference mitigating technologies, full suite of access, backhaul and CPE solutions spanning 700MHz, 2.4GHz and 5GHz interoperable across 802.11a/b/g/n.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mobile as the nexus: Warren East, ARM

ARM's CEO, Warren East, presented this evening at an ISA invited conference on Mobile As The Nexus!

East said the industry is in a transformational mode. Mobile devices are now connecting ubiquitous environments, cloud computing, services and storage. We have the opportunity to reshape the value chain and create growth. Rapid pace of product revolution demands choice and re-use. Low power, low cost and differentiation drives innovation across markets. Scalable solutions enable smarter systems for expanding opportunities. East added that a flexible, diverse ARM ecosystem is evolving to enable new paradigms across new markets.

Focusing on the 2020 opportunity with ARM, he noted that ARM is growing into new markets and product categories. Today's processors are driving shipments beyond 2015. All of this presents a tremendous opportunity for those who want to work with ARM.

Earlier, he said that currently, over 4 billion people were globally connected by ARM-powered mobile phones. Smartphones will leapfrog PCs in the developed world. Over 1.8 billion ARM processor cores were shipped in Q1-2011. Over 25 billion ARM based chips have been shipped so far. The table applications revenue is likely to top $15 billion by 2015.

There are over 850 ARM Connected Community partners, The ARM Cortex family has now been licensed 186 times. ARM currently has 10 percent of the mobile computing market.

However, East cautioned that there is still some way to go! Around 5.1 billion people don’t have the Internet, 2.2 billion folks don’t have mobile phones and 1.4 billion of the global population don’t have electricity.

Monday, June 13, 2011

"Look ahead" to May 2011's predicted yearly global semicon sales: Cowan LRA model

(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.)

May 2011's "actual" global semiconductor sales is scheduled to be released by the WSTS, via its monthly HBR (Historical Billings Report), on or about Tuesday, July 5th.

In anticipatation of the upcoming May sales release by the WSTS, Cowan demonstrated an analysis capability of the Cowan LRA Model for forecasting worldwide semiconductor sales; namely, the ability to provide a "look ahead" scenario analysis for 2011's global semi sales forecast range as a function of next month's (in this case May's) "actual" global semiconductor sales estimate.

The detailed results of the "look ahead" analysis are summarized in the scenario analysis matrix provided in the table below. These results are also discussed in the subsequent paragraphs:Source: Cowan LRA model.

In order to demonstrate this "look ahead" forecast capability, an extended range in possible May 2011's "actual" sales is selected a-priori; in this particular scenario analysis, a May 2011 sales range (from $23.065 billion to $26.065 billion, in increments of $0.25 billion, was chosen) as listed in the first column of the above table.

This estimated range in possible "actual" April sales numbers is "centered around" the projected May sales forecast estimate of $24.565 billion as gleamed from last month's Cowan LRA Model run (based upon April's published "actual" sales numbers). The corresponding May 3MMA sales forecast estimate is projected to be $25.474 billion (NOTE - assumes no, or minor. revisions in either March's or April's previously published "actual" sales numbers released last month by the WSTS).

The overall year 2011 sales forecast estimate for each of the assumed May sales over the pre-selected range of 'actual' sales estimates is calculated by the model, and is shown in the second column of the table. The third column reveals the associated year-on-year sales growth estimates compared to year 2010's actual sales result of $298.315 billion.

The fourth and fifth columns show the corresponding May 3MMA, three Month Moving Average, sales estimates and the corresponding yr-o-yr sales growths relative to May 2010's 3MMA sales of $24.701 billion, respectively. Finally, the sixth column lists the model's Momentum Indicator, MI, defined as the percentage delta between the actual May sales result and the previous month's sales projection for May.

Therefore, as the above scenario analysis table lays out, depending on the actual WSTS (to-be-released) May 2011 global semi sales number, the forecasted 2011 sales estimate, as determined by the model, could vary between a low of $317.947 billion and a high of $325.778 billion. The corresponding 2010 to 2011 sales growth forecast estimate would then vary between 6.6 percent and 9.2 percent, respectively.

Note: Last month's previously published Cowan LRA Model's 2011 sales growth forecast estimate, which was based upon April 2011's 'actual' sales (of $23.519 billion), came in at (plus) 8 percent based upon the model's 2011 sales forecast estimate of $322.328 billion as shown in the table below:Sources: WSTS & Cowan LRA Forecasting Model (June 2011).

Consequently, using this analysis capability, the model generates a "sensitivity output" of the "expected" 2011 sales forecast estimate range (and yr-o-yr forecasted sales growth) as a function of the yet-to-be-announced (but assumed) May 2011 "actual" sales numbers. Therefore, using this scenario table, one can "select" a May sales number (in the pre-selected range shown) and immediately see what the model would anticipate for a year 2011 sales forecast estimate along with its corresponding sales growth expectation in advance of the actual (to-be-published) 'actual' May 2011's sales result.

Finally, stay tuned for the WSTS to publish (anticipated on or about July 5th, 2011) the May 2011 'actual' sales number. One can then easily ascertain the model's latest forecast outlook as abstracted (or extrapolated) from the provided scenario table even before I run the Cowan LRA forecasting model and subsequently publish the updated forecast numbers.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Chinese fabless market set to double! And India’s?

I received a report from IHS iSuppli, which stated that China's fabless market is likely to double by 2015! Well done, China, and all kudos.

According to the report, there are 3Cs - China, Consumer and Convergence -- that China has been focusing on. However, there are three more Cs -- Culture, Content and Contribution -- that the report urges China to focus on.

The report states: "The companies must accommodate and adjust to the differing cultures of overseas customers. They must learn more about end-content sectors that drive the growth of technology markets. And China’s fabless firms must take advantage of government contributions to the industry, given that Beijing has instituted a range of policies designed to improve the fabless industry in areas including investments, tax rates and capital investments."

Having taken its own sweet time, the Chinese fabless industry is coming up well, and fast! However, what is the state of the fabless market in India?

If one goes back to Dec. 2009, Pravin Desale, VP and MD India operations, LSI Corp., while speaking at Mentor Graphics' U2U conference, had said that India has only two (2) fabless firms. If this number, or even a number below double digit is considered to be correct, then India surely has a lot of catching up to do!

Now, who are the leaders in the fabless semiconductor business globally? That's Qualcomm, Broadcom, even AMD (as per 2010 reports), MediaTek and Marvell. Four of these companies are based in the USA, leaving MediaTek as the only Asian (Taiwan) representative.

Do Indian companies have the necessary experience of designing complete chips from scratch? Perhaps, some may have. Can the Indian companies get the silicon manufactured easily (local manufacturing) and later, debugging it? Here comes the first major gray area! Do the Indian companies have easy access to tools? Perhaps, some, most of them, have that access today!

Now, guess what? The last para -- I had written about 7 years ago! ;)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

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

Following my post on the formation of the Embedded Vision Alliance (EVA), I managed to speak with Jeff Bier, president, Berkeley Design Technology (BDTI), who went on to speak more about the Alliance's capabilities.

First, the mission and vision of the Alliance. Bier said: "The mission of the Embedded Vision Alliance is to transform the electronics industry with products that–through vision technology–are more intelligent and aware of their environments, and create significant new markets for electronic equipment and components. The goal of the Alliance is to speed the adoption of computer vision capabilities in electronic products.

"The strategy of the Alliance is to inspire and empower engineers to incorporate vision capabilities into their products by providing practical information, insights, skills, and standards."

I asked Jeff Bier whether the Alliance had restricted itself to markets such as automotive driver assistance, home surveillance, and gaming systems? "No," he said! "We believe that vision technology can add valuable capabilities to electronic products in many markets – as well as enabling the creation of entirely new kinds of products. Automotive driver assistance, surveillance, and gaming systems are examples of vision applications where products already exist at consumer price points – and in some cases these products are already shipping in high volume.

"While we certainly believe that there will be more such products in these markets in the future, we also believe that there will be compelling vision-based products in other markets, ranging from smartphones to consumer electronics to medical devices to digital advertising."

In that case, what kind of applications can one expect getting covered in retail and entertainment, medical applications, especially. Bier replied, "The Embedded Vision Alliance doesn’t intend to try to pick winners among embedded vision applications – but rather, to enable as many players as possible." Here are some examples (including some existing products and some that are just ideas):

Retail: Digital signs that measure the success of an advertisement in attracting and retaining a viewer’s attention – and that select among a number of ads depending on the gender and age of the viewer. Vending machines that exclude minors from purchasing prohibited items, such as alcoholic beverages.

Entertainment: There are some awesome possibilities here, such as toys that recognize which child is playing with them and respond based on that child’s preferences. Video games that put the person inside the game, or inside the television program, for example.

Medical: Systems that watch hospital rooms and warn caregivers when they’ve forgotten to wash their hands, to cut down on infections. Machines that recognize medications and help elderly people take the right medication at the right time. Exercise equipment that detect a person’s heart rate and respiration rate without requiring electrodes.

Now, implementing embedded vision is going to pose a challenge! I asked Bier how the Alliance will overcome this. He replied: "We don’t expect to overcome it all by ourselves, but we hope to help, by providing design engineers get the kinds of practical information, insights, and skills required to implement embedded vision—and by providing a centralized place for such resources. This kind of information is difficult to come by today – by far the majority of computer vision information available today is theoretical, academic work.

"The first project of the Alliance is the web site, www.embedded-vision.com. The web site will deliver a variety of information including technical articles, product information, discussion forums, and demonstrations. In the near future, we will begin to deliver additional resources, such as newsletter and online seminars."

Finally, the Alliance needs to create opportunities for technology providers to reach out to embedded vision system designers in the coming months. "Definitely", said Bier. "The web site is already beginning to provide such opportunities, and we will continue to do so there as well as with other initiatives, such as educational seminars and on-line conferences."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Celebrating the World IPv6 Day!

June 8 happens to be World IPv6 Day. On this day, tomorrow, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai and Limelight Networks will be among some of the major global organizations offering content over IPv6 networks on a 24-hour test flight! World IPv6 Day's goal is to motivate organizations -- ISPs, hardware vendors, OS vendors, web companies, etc., to prepare their services for IPv6, as IPv4 addresses run out!

Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is a version of the Internet Protocol (IP) that is designed to succeed Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4). The growth of the Internet has mandated a need for more addresses than is possible with IPv4. IPv6 allows for vastly more addresses.

Thanks to Lauren Willard at Sterling Communications, I got into a conversation with Dave Kresse, CEO of Mu Dynamics, on the eve of the IPv6 Day. Mu Dynamics has been working with network operators and service providers for years now to ensure that their networks are up for IPv6.

Wednesday, the company will be announcing a free solution for network operators and service providers to ensure that their networks will operate smoothly both during the transition to IPv6 and once it's complete. Mu is doing all of this in conjunction with the leading lab for IPv6 testing in the nation - UNH-IOL InterOperability Lab.

Talking about the significance of the World IPv6 day from Mu's perspective, Kresse says that everybody has been talking about IPv6 for the longest time, and a majority of our customers have been focusing on it for awhile. The IPv6 World Day bring additional visibility to the exhaustion of the IPv4 addresses and for those who have not started to make the transition, they are definitely behind the game.

As for Mu's role in IPv6, he adds: "For the last several years, our proven testing solution has helped network equipment manufacturers and operators around the world with their IPv6 testing and certification. The Mu Test Suite for IPv6 is comprehensive suite of automated testings solutions and test content assisting customers and prospects to test, certify and validate their products and services for conformance, security and resiliency."

So, what is the upcoming solution from Mu all about? Dave Kresse notes: "Mu Dynamics has partnered with the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab to provide Free IPv6 Test cases for Network Equipment Manufacturers and Operators to test their devices and services. The offering is a comprehensive set of test cases to validate that the networking devices and services support IPv6."

On the role of the specific labs or lab - UNH-IOL InterOperability Lab - he says: "The offering (upcoming solution) is a combination of UNH-IOL test content, such as NUST USGv6 NPD for testing security devices ability to handle IPv6 and the IPv6 forums, which was developed by Mu for IPv6 Ready test content for hosts and routers, which has also been endorsed by UNH. The offering by Mu combines both of sets of test content for USGv6 and IPv6 Ready testing."

Finally, what's the way ahead going to be like? According to him: "The rumors of IPv6 causing a worldwide catastrophe are greatly overblown, in our opinion – we know because we’ve testing for years and we have seen the results with our customers. There will be some issues and some potential security risks, but we have seen with our customers they have been prepping for the IPv6 transition for years."

For those interested, the UNH comprehensive test cases for certifying and testing devices and services is available on http:\\testcloud.mudynamics.com .

Slew of EDA announcements @ DAC 2011

The Design and Automation Conference (DAC) 2011, kicked off in San Diego, USA, with its usual slew of announcements. Leading the pack were Magma Design Automation and Cadence Design Systems, along with Synopsys, Mentor Graphics, and several others.

Magma Design Automation Inc. announced a partnership with Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS to develop process-independent Titan FlexCell models of the Institute's analog intellectual property (IP) cores. It also announced the availability of a netlist-to-GDSII reference flow for GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 28nm super low-power (SLP) high-k metal-gate (HKMG) technology.

Magma announced the immediate availability of the Titan Analog Design Kit for TSMC 180nm and 65nm processes, that implements Titan’s model-based design methodology with Titan FlexCells, which are modular, process- and specification-independent, reusable analog building blocks.

Magma Design Automation also launched Silicon One, an initiative to bring focus to making silicon profitable for customers by providing differentiated solutions and technologies that address business imperatives facing semiconductor makers today – time to market, product differentiation, cost, power and performance.

Silicon One’s initial focus is on five types of devices that are key to electronic products that are most prevalent today:
* Analog/mixed-signal (AMS)
* Memory
* Processing cores
* SoCs.

Cadence Design Systems Inc. isn't far behind either! It announced an array of new technologies incorporated into the new TSMC Reference Flow 12.0 and AMS Reference Flow v2.0 that ensure 28nm production readiness. Cadence also announced a close collaboration with TSMC that will extend its interface IP offering. With Imec, in Belgium, Cadence announced a new technology that delivers an automated test solution for design teams deploying 3D stacked ICs (3D-ICs).

Cadence also announced the immediate availability of verification IP (VIP) for ARM’s new AMBA 4 Coherency Extensions protocol (ACE), extending its popular VIP catalog and speeding the development of multiprocessor mobile devices. Cadence further outlined the technologies and steps required to move the industry to advanced node design, with a particular focus on 20nm and 28nm design.

Mentor Graphics announced that the Catapult C high-level synthesis tool now supports the synthesis of transaction level models (TLMs). It also announced a unified embedded software debugging platform, from pre-silicon to final product, based on the integration of the Mentor Embedded Sourcery CodeBench embedded software development tools with Mentor’s leading electronic system level (ESL), verification, and hardware emulation products. These include the Mentor Graphics Vista Virtual Prototyping product, Veloce hardware emulator, prototype target boards, and end products or any combination thereof.

Mentor Graphics announced support for 3D-IC in TSMC’s Reference Flow 12.0 (RF12). Solutions for both silicon interposer and through silicon via (TSV) stacked die configurations are now supported by the Calibre physical verification and extraction platform and the Tessent IC test solution.

ARM and Synopsys Inc. have signed an expanded multi-year agreement extending ARM's access to Synopsys' innovative EDA technology. ARM will also provide Synopsys with access to the ARM Cortex-A15 processor to maximize performance and energy efficiency of SoCs built by ARM's Partners using this advanced ARM processor and Synopsys tools.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

MIPS driving Android to digital home @ Computex 2011!

MIPS Technologies Inc. is having a good run at the ongoing Computex 2011. First, with Taiwan's Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SiS), it announced the latest milestone in driving the Android platform into the digital home. It launched the MIPS Application Development (MAD) Program designed to promote rapid development of applications on the MIPS architecture.

MIPS, along with Ingenic Semiconductor, a leading China-based CPU provider for mobile multimedia applications, have brought the Android 3.0, also known as 'Honeycomb', to Ingenic's new JZ4770 mobile applications processor, which leverages a MIPS-Based XBurst CPU running at 1GHz.

Honeycomb is the newest version of the Android operating system designed specifically for tablets and other large format products. MIPS and Ingenic will work together on porting Honeycomb to the Ingenic chip for tablets. MIPS and Actions Semiconductor Co. Ltd, one of China's leading fabless semiconductor companies that provides solutions for portable consumer electronics, are collaborating to bring Android 3.0, also known as "Honeycomb," to a new 1.3GHz MIPS-Based chipset from Actions.

So, how is MIPS aligning with SiS to drive the Android into the home? Jennifer Bernier-Santarini, senior PR manager for MIPS, said that SiS is a long-time MIPS licensee, and like many of the licensees, is innovating with Android on the MIPS architecture for the digital home and for mobile/portable products. Over the years, as MIPS has introduced new high performance cores, SiS has progressively and quickly licensed these cores for its products. Its newest chip for Internet TV leverages dual-core MIPS processors along with the latest technologies including support for high-end graphics and enhanced video processing, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, video on demand recording, plus interoperability with mobile devices.

Santarini added: "SiS recently licensed our 1074K core, which combines a superscalar architecture with coherent multiprocessing, for its next generation product. SiS works with other leading IP companies including MIPS’ partner Imagination Technologies to build the most advanced technologies into its products. Earlier this year, SiS announced support for MIPS’ new Android based SmartCE platform for connected entertainment on DTVs, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and other home products. We are continuing to work with SiS through our Android on MIPS community on further development and optimizations around its Android on MIPS products."

MIPS has also launched the MAD Program designed to promote rapid development of applications on the MIPS architecture.

Santarini added: "The MIPS Application Development (MAD) Program is the latest offering from MIPS designed to promote rapid development of applications on the MIPS architecture. Initially, we will focus on Android applications for MIPS-Based mobile devices. We are providing performance and compatibility testing so that applications developers can ensure that their applications run smoothly on the MIPS architecture and provide an ideal user experience. Through the program, we’re also offering technical support and a MAD Kit of tools for MIPS application development.

"Ultimately, applications developers will want to ensure that their apps run across all of the major architectures, so we are making it easy for them to do this. We will soon be announcing some other initiatives to further build the applications ecosystem for Android on MIPS-Based mobile devices with a focus on the China market, where there is not currently an official Android market. Stay tuned for that news."

Tablets likely to transform ICT industry landscape: Computex 2011

According to Stephen Su, general director of IEK (Industrial Economics & Knowledge Center), Taiwan, tablets are likely to transform the ICT industry. He was delivering a keynote at the Computex 2011 pre-show conference being held in the city's well known Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC).Tablets are now said to be moving from 'experience' to 'industry.' Tablets will provide more innovative user-interface experiences as well. More cost will be spent on the user interface on tablets, as far as BoM is concerned, he added.

Further, tablets are likely to change the transactional model of the ICT industry, and will emerge as the new 'service platform' for the integration of ICT and the other industries as well.

In this scenario, Taiwan is now well poised to once more play a leading role among mobile devices. The country not only has leading mobile device manufacturing capabilities, it can also supply most of the required electronic components, said Su.

The next step will be to strengthen the technology of key components, terminal design, application platform and service innovation. In future, Taiwan could go on to become te leading development and innovation center in the world, he added.

Earlier, he said that there was a cross-over evolution among mobile devices. In smartphone usage, messaging and apps had overtaken voice. As for non-voice usage, heavy media content was currently being accessed regularly on the Apple iPad than the iPhone.

The iPad users are said to be spending more time with media content other devices. The users' response has shown that the iPad truly affects the usage of other devices, besides smartphones. Smartphones will soon impact the growth of mobile phones, PMPs and PNDs. However, the tablet will mostly affect the netbook and e-reader, while gradually impacting the notebook, Su noted.

Consequently, there has been a transition in the mobile device industry -- from product to the ecosystem. More companies are now creating their own ecosystems, such as Apple, RIM (Blackberry), Nokia Ovi, Samsung, etc.

Three types of smartphone platforms -- closed, hybrid and open -- are shaping up for the ecosystem based competition. Innovative applications are said to be leading the development of key components.

Mobile devices are now focusing more on the experience, than on the product. Cloud services are being offered around the clock for experience offering.

As a result, tablets are likely to transform the ICT industry, noted Su, as it is now moving from 'experience' to 'industry.'

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Embedded Vision Alliance (EVA) is born!

The Embedded Vision Alliance is born! Over 15 leading technology companies, including some really big names in semiconductors, have come together in Oakland, USA, to ' speed the adoption of computer vision capabilities in electronic products'.

BDTI, Xilinx, and IMS Research initiated the Embedded Vision Alliance (EVA) and are being joined by Analog Devices, Apical, Avnet Electronics Marketing, CEVA, CogniVue, Freescale, National Instruments, NVIDIA, Texas Instruments, Tokyo Electron Device, MathWorks, Ximea, and XMOS as founding members.

According to a release, the ability of machines to see and understand their environments—what we call "embedded vision"—promises to transform the electronics industry with products that are more intelligent and aware of their environments, and to create significant new markets for electronic equipment and components.

This new consortium, called the Embedded Vision Alliance, will enable the proliferation of embedded vision technology by providing design engineers with information, practical know-how, and industry standards.

Tim Erjavec, senior director, FPGA Platform Product Marketing, Xilinx, said: It was clear to both BDTI and us that the adoption of an array of technologies in intelligent video, video analytics, computer vision and other complementary technologies are making their way into many more application than ever before. In looking at integrating the right solution to a given problem in various applications, the lack of readily available information to get started or evaluate is apparent.

"Further, what is available is very diverse, in many cases very complex and not aggregated at any one place. So, in order to help system designers in designing-in “vision” into their applications, we saw the opportunity to aggregate many of the contributing technologies, products, companies and expertise into one place. Thus, the alliance and new website was formed and launched last week."

While the participants in this Alliance need to be congratulated for their foresight, one wonders what took them so long!

Also, I do not see any Indian company in the list, although, the embedded systems and software industry here is quite large. Names, such as Ittiam, Tata Elxsi, etc., should be part of this Alliance, but they are absent, as of now!

Now, the EVA's commitment is to vision technology and enabling customers to develop the industry's most innovative hardware, development tools and software to make vision application development easier. One of the founders has commented that embedded vision will be used on automobiles to prevent accidents and to security cameras to prevent crimes. Should this happen, embedded vision will surely proliferate across a multitude of markets! We are all waiting really patiently for such days!