Friday, September 30, 2011

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

Chatting with Soni Saran Singh, executive director, NMTronics, is a pleasure. The company has managed to maintain leadership in the Indian electronics industry with 55 percent market share.

NMTronics has taken initiatives in bringing interest among Indian entrepreneurs for local mobile phone manufacturing, and is a pioneer in providing turnkey solutions for mobile phone manufacturing. According to Singh, the Indian government is making some initiatives by introducing a domestic manufacturing policy. Hence, the company sees huge potential in mobile phone manufacturing in the coming years.

How does NMTronics see the Indian electronics industry performing in 2012 and beyond? Soni Saran Singh said: "With miniaturization becoming part and parcel of each electronic gadgets, with more and more sophistications coming day by day, there is no end for electronics manufacturing growth. As an equipment supplier, our role will continue to bring in the latest technology equipment to meet those challenges. The industry is in the trend to shift to handle more complex, more volume assemblies.

"With MNCs in this segment already having set the example of quick ramp up with developed ecosystems, it is the time for the local Indian companies to adopt those initiatives for increased domestic manufacturing. The government also has to introduce some local manufacturing policy and there is a need to set up the necessary infrastructure faster in terms of uninterrupted power, water and good connectivity for the industries to go with their investments.

"There are few products like MP3 players, flat panel displays, memory cards, gaming consoles, cameras, etc., which are yet to be see light in Indian manufacturing. When I see this, I feel there is a lot yet to come to India and therefore, foresee lots of new investments to happen in the year 2012 and beyond."

What about the Indian semiconductor industry? According to Singh: "Everyone knows that semicon is a very big opportunity for India, considering the market size and the increasing application of semiconductors in our day to life. Semiconductor consumption in India is estimated at $43 billion, which will grow multifold in next few years to reach about $80 million. We have been closely monitoring the industry for over a decade now, but India has restricted itself to only design and R&D when it comes to the semiconductor industry.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Symantec releases latest Intelligence Report!

Symantec presented its latest Intelligence Report with the following highlights:

* Spam – 74.8 percent in September (a decrease of 1.1 percentage points since August 2011).
* Phishing – One in 447.9 emails identified as phishing (a decrease of 0.26 percentage points since August 2011).
* Malware – One in 188.7 emails in September contained malware (an increase of 0.04 percentage points since August 2011).
* Malicious Web sites – 3,474 Web sites blocked per day (an increase of 1 percent since August 2011).
* 44.6 percent of all malicious domains blocked were new in September (an increase of 10.0 percentage points since August 2011).
* 14.5 percent of all Web-based malware blocked was new in September (a decrease of 2.9 percentage points since August 2011).
* Malicious emails masquerade as office printer messages.
* Spammers exploit WordPress vulnerability to promote pharmaceutical spam Web sites Fake Offers with Fake Trust Seals. (One hopes WordPress is aware of this and taking remedial action!)
* Spammers and malware authors making increasing use of obfuscated JavaScript.Source: Symantec.

The spam rate was 74.8 percent, as against last month's 75.9 percent. The top five geographies are Saudi Arabia 84 percent, Russian Federation 79.9 percent, Malaysia 79.8 percent, Luxembourg 79.1 percent and Italy 78.6 percent. The top five verticals targeted are automotive 77.8 percent, education 77.2 percent, marketing/media 76.4 percent, non-profit 76.4 percent and manufacturing 76.2 percent.

As for spam sources, US leads with 47.5 percent of spam originating from there. India at 9.6 percent, UK at 8.1 percent, Brazil at 7.6 percent, Russian Federation at 6.7 percent, China at 5,4 percent, Germany at 4.3 percent, Vietnam at 3.8 percent, Japan at 3.8 percent and Canada at 3 percent, make up the top 10 countries.

As for virus, 72 of email-borne malware was associated with variants of generic polymorphic malware, including Bredolab, Sasfis, SpyEye and Zeus variants.

New malware and spyware sites are appearing per day. Around 44.6 percent of all malicious domains blocked were new in September; an increase of 10 percentage points compared with August. Also, 14.5 percent of all Web-based malware blocked was new in September; a decrease of 2.9 percentage points since August.

Next, 20.8 percent of the most frequently blocked malware last month was identified and blocked using generic detection.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Global semiconductor sales expectation for 2011 and 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.

Various industry watchers most recent 2011 sales growth forecast updates are dropping: from low positive single digits to even lower positive single digits or to low negative single digits. Therefore, the soon to be released WSTS August sales number will be pivotal in pointing directionally to where the 2011 sales growth forecast estimate, as seen by the Cowan LRA model, will end up. Consequently, per the subject the following analysis should assist in providing some insight into next month’s model run update via my monthly look-ahead scenario analysis matrix.

It’s that time of the month again; namely, time for previewing next month’s global semiconductor sales forecast update for both 2011 and 2012 based upon August’s “actual” sales expectation by exercising the “look ahead” forecasting capability of the CowanLRA Model. August’s upcoming global semiconductor sales will be pivotal in determining the sales growth outcome for both the third quarter and the full year of 2011.

In particular, will 2011 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 third quarter guidance being announced by many semiconductor suppliers?

Presented here is a “snap shot” of 2011′s global semiconductor sales and sales growth forecast prospects as a function of August’s “actual” sales forecast estimate range as derived via the Cowan LRA forecast model. Moreover, as part of this month’s update, the model has been extended in order to include a view of what 2012’s sales growth prospects might look like, thereby providing a six-quarter look ahead that allows the model to also capture the four quarters of 2012.

It should be mentioned that August 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 Wednesday, October 5th.

In advance of the WSTS’s release of its August HBR, Cowan has presented his monthly analysis leveraging the Cowan LRA forecasting model that projects worldwide semiconductor sales for 2011 (as well as 2012); namely, by providing a “look ahead” scenario for year 2011′s sales forecast range as a function of next month’s (in this case August’s) assumed range of “actual” global semiconductor sales estimates.Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

The output of this “look ahead” modelling analysis is detailed in the scenario analysis matrix displayed in the table here. A discussion of these results is provided in the paragraphs immediately following Table 1 here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ST launches STM32 F4 series of MCUs

STMicroelectronics has launched the STM32 F4 series of microcontrollers (MCUs), based on the latest ARM Cortex-M4 core. This adds to the signal-processing capabilities and faster operations to the portfolio of STM32 MCUs.

The STM32 F4 series brings the world’s highest performance Cortex-M MCUs at 168 MHz FCPU/210 DMIPS and 363 Coremark score.

Vinay Thapliyal, technical marketing manager-India, Microcontroller Division, Greater China and South Asia region, STMicroelectronics Marketing Pvt Ltd, said that the series extends the ST'M32 portfolio of 250+ compatible devices already in production, including the F1 series, F2 series and ultra-low-power L1 series, respectively. ST is said to have 45 percent of the market share by units.

The STM32 F4 series of MCUs are re-inforced on five pillars:
* Real-time performance -- 168MHz/210 DMIPS.
* Outstanding power efficiency.
* Superior and innovative peripherals.
* Maximum integration - 1Mbyte Flash, 192 Kbyte SRAM.
* Extensive tools and hardware -- CMSIS DSP library, Matlab support, various IDE starter kits, RTOS and stacks.

A Coremark study says that STM32 F4 gives the best acceleration and highest speed. Thapliyal added, "We are ready for the market." It takes ART to be #1 in performance: It is a combination of core, embedded Flash design, process, acceleration techniques, etc.

ST's ART Accelerator, an adaptive real-time memory unleashes the Cortex M4 core's maximum processing performance equal to 0-wait state execution, and Flash upto 168MHz. Real-time performance is the 32-bit multi AHB bus matrix. The layers are independent of each other.

The STM32 F4 series boasts a high-performance digital signal controller. The MCU leads to the ease of use of C programming, interrupt handling and ultra-low power. The FPU facilitates single precision, ease of use, better code efficiency, faster time to market, eliminates scaling and saturation, and easier support for meta-language tools. The DSP is based on Harvard architecture, single-cycle MAC and barrel shifter.

It also boasts of an outstanding power efficiency. The 230 μA/MHz, 38.6 mA at 168 MHz executing Coremark benchmark from Flash memory (with peripherals off), has been made possible with:
* ST’s 90nm process allowing the CPU core to run at only 1.2 V.
* ART Accelerator reducing the number of accesses to Flash.
* Voltage scaling to optimize performance/power consumption.
* VDD min down to 1.7 V.
* Low-power modes with backup SRAM and RTC support.

The low power in real-life applications is not just low-power mode. There is also a need to consider the percentage of time spend in low-power (LP) mode and in Run mode. If competitors are claiming better low-power modes, these are only an advantage if the overall system is spending more than 90 percent of the time doing nothing in low-power mode.

Superior and innovative peripherals includes, among others, two USB OTGs, two full duplexes PWMs at 168MHz, ADC at 2.4MSPS.

As for maximum integration, the 1-Mbyte Flash and 192-Kbyte SRAM memories available in the product accommodate advanced software stacks and user data, with no need for external memories. The 4-Kbyte SRAM battery back-up is used to save the application state and calibration data (SRAM block used as an EEPROM). In addition, the 528 bytes of OTP memory make it possible to store critical user data, such as the Ethernet MAC addresses or cryptographic keys.

ST is providing an evaluation board for full product feature evaluation. This includes a hardware evaluation platform for all interfaces. There is a possible connection to all I/Os and all peripherals. A Discovery kit for cost-effective evaluation and prototyping is also available at $14.90. A large choice of development IDE solutions from the STM32 and ARM ecosystem is also available.

The STM32 F4 portfolio consists of the 405 and 415 families that supports 64, 100 and 144 pins, and the 407 and 417 families that supports 100, 144 and 176 pins.

Application areas served by the STM32 F4 series include points of sale/inventory management, building, security/fire/HVAC, industrial automation and solar panels, test and measurement, consumer, communication, transportation and medical.

The final Cortex-M MCU volume in 2010 was 144 million units. Growth into 2011 continues to be strong and healthy. STM32 already has ~ 45 percent of market share in cumulated Cortex-M shipments.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Smarter systems in third era of computing!

Over 1.8 billion ARM cores were shipped in chips during Q1-2011. Consumers are now driving computing. The Internet of things envisages 100 billion+ units by 2020, according to Jeff Chu, director of Consumer, Client Computing at ARM, who was speaking on ‘Smarter systems for smarter consumers: 3rd era of computing’ at the ARM Technical Symposium.

ARM’s ecosystem has benefitted. Tablets have changed the competitive landscape. New OSs such as Android Honeycomb, Google Chrome OS and RIM QNX are enabling innovation. Also, Microsoft Windows 8 will likely transform PCs forever.

Consumers are always demanding more as they want choices. There are a range of devices available. These come in a lot of cool form factors, along with applications and services. There is a growing software ecosystem as well. It is all about smarter systems.

Smarter systems require a balanced approach. High-performance, low power CPUs are critical. The GPU is now critical and more important than the CPU. Video is now moving to 3D. All of these functions require processors that perform. ARM multicore enables the best of both worlds, allowing a perfect balance of peak performance and optimum power.

ARM offers a broad range of application processors. It also has power optimized MALI GPUs. ARM is providing choices in silicon solutions -- such as ARM Cortex A8, A9 or ARMv7A. ARM also has the TrustZone security to keep everything safe. A whole lot of software is also required. ARM's application diversity really delivers here. ARM also maintains a leadership in Android with over 550K devices shipped.

Momentum is leading to innovation. New devices and user experience is based on open source hardware. Local innovation has led to regional designs. As a result, we are now witnessing broader adoption and expanding markets. Enterprise needs are being met by thin clients. There are also a growing number of ARM SoCs.

ARM is building on the smartphone ecosystem. ARM works with OEMs and software developers to create an ecosystem.

ARM connecting the world!

ARM is connecting the world today, according to John Cornish, VP and GM, Design Division ARM. Over 4 billion people are using ARM-powered mobile phones currently. He was speaking at the ARM Technical Symposium in Bangalore, India.

Looking at the end user product demand in 2010, there were 3.7 billion SoCs in mobile phones, 15.3 billion embedded and other SoCs, 1.5 billion SoCs in enterprises, 230 million units in client computing devices, etc. The end user product demand in 2015 will be 7.3 billion SoCs in mobile phones, 21.6 billion embedded and other SoCs, 750 million SoCs in client computing, 2.7 billion SoCs in enterprises, 1.2 billion SoCs in DTVs/STBs, and 110 million server and 140 million desktop and PC SoC devices.

It is well known that there are and will be billions of Internet connected devices. Mobile is now the nexus of this revolution. The computing revolution is driving computing, content and the cloud.

ARM is said to be scaling across the digital world. For instance, ARM technology is suitable for application processors across a huge range of devices. Chip suppliers can develop for multi-industrial applications. Also, OEMs can re-use software across mobile/consumer devices.

Despite all of this, there is still some way to go. As of now, 5.1 billion inhabitants of the planet don't have access to the Internet, and 2.2 billion don't have a mobile phone.

Cornish listed certain challenges such as the need for greater energy efficiency, greater software efficiency, improved security and diversity of solutions vital to address the opportunity.

Regarding smart energy-connected systems, he mentioned smart home energy management (HEM), smart meters, smart appliances, smart heating, home area networking, etc. "We will need smart devices that can be embedded on anything," he added.

ARM delivers on four main aspects -- provider of GPU technology, has the highest performing GPU market, enables better interconnect and provider of physical IP for highly optimized processor implementation.

ARM has reached scalability with its Cortex processors that provides compatibility across a diverse range of applications. The Cortex-M0 family is enabling mixed signal. The Cortex-R family includes the R5 and the R7, which will be released at the end of 2011. The Cortex-A family is in screens everywhere. The Cortex-A15 has introduced the cache coherent interconnect. Cornish advised that ARM's processor optimization pack (POP) includes the core optimized physical IP, certified benchmarking and implified knowledge.

GPU computing brings 100s of GFLOPs of processing power into the hands of developers. It is driving heterogenous computing to handle complex use cases. The ARM partnershio is said to enable strength in diversity -- thereby enabling richer end-product offerings. The OS, web and applications are all optimized for ARM.

TrustZone, a system-wide approach to security, on high performance computing platforms for a huge array of applications, including secure payment, digital rights management (DRM), and web-based services.

The ARM Connected Community currently has 850+ partners. The ecosystem is built and evolved over many years. The flexible, diverse ARM ecosystem is continuously evolving to enable new paradigms across new markets.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Renesas enhancing localization of products in India!

Renesas Electronics was among the worst hit companies during the Japanese earthquake in March this year. To its credit, Renesas restarted production at its quake-hit factories by mid-June. For the record, Renesas' Naka factory had been the worst-affected by the March 2011 earthquake. The Naka factory produces around 20 percent of MCUs and SoC solutions, and about 10 percent of analog and power devices.

According to Jeffrey Soh, director - South Asia & Pacific Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Singapore Pte. Ltd, power shortages had been created by the earthquakes. "The Naka plant was the most affected. It has been housing 65nm and 90nm process technologies. We have had very good support from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI)," he said.Jeffrey Soh and Sunil Dhar, Renesas.

On June 1, 2011, the Naka factory started production again. "We are now in full recovery. We still have to recover a lot of backlog," noted Soh. From the earthquake to the recovery of the Naka plant, Renesas was able to start the production of automotive processors. The massive earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami in March saw Renesas strengthen its business continuity plan (BCP) and re-inforce the risk management system. "We have now taken up BCP. The earthquake only accelerated the BCP," said Soh.

So, what's the outlook like for 2012? According to Jeffrey Soh, there are double challenges. First, there is the high Yen. However, the high Yen has forced Renesas to be even more competitive. "We expect the Japanese government will roll out a recovery plan," Soh, noted.

Renesas' situation in India
Elaborating on Renesas' India plans, Jeffrey Soh said: "We plan to grow in India. We have spent the last five years cultivating the Indian localization. Here, we are developing all India based solutions." Out of the 30 products that have been developed in India so far, Renesas has been able to help 16 companies up until now.

"We have built a company that works on the localization of products. We are soliciting a lot of Japanese support to enhance the Indian localization of products," he added.

According to him, besides mobile communications, healthcare and medical electronics, automotive electronics and smart energy, Renesas is also looking at developing the power electronics segment in India.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sensationally low turnout at electronica/productronica India 2011!

I've spent two days at electronica/productronica 2011, going on at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, and I must say that I am disappointed by the crowds or lack of crowds! This is said to be the premier show for electronics in India, isn't it? The venue is as central as one can expect. Even then?To start off, I missed the opening ceremony. That was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Local Mobile Phone Manufacturing-Opportunity or Challenge.’ With all due respects to the participants, it was one of the worst panel discussions I've ever attended! Perhaps, it was of some use to those present in the auditorium.

Later, while going around the various exhibition halls, I was asked by quite a number of friends in the electronics industry whether it was wise for them to have participated, given that the turnout had been so very low! Now, I am no one to answer that question!! However, it seems that there is very little interest left in the Indian electronics industry. It may sound pessimistic, but so it is!

The Indian telecom equipment manufacturing sector is going through a critical phase where the benefits of development of the telecom sector's growth have not been carried over to the manufacturing domain. There is also a need to encourage indigenous R&D and creation of Indian IPR/patents. Was anything remotely close to this on display? I don't think so!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Electronica/Productronica 2011, here I come!

I am back in New Delhi, covering the electronica/productronica 2011 show! This is my second time at the show, however, the first time in New Delhi, as the previous year's edition was held in Bangalore.

Is there anything new that I see? Perhaps, not as yet! However, I shall reserve comment till I visit the show.

What I do notice is more or less a similar, or familiar set of names of exhibitors, if the one put up by the organizers on their website is correct. Maybe, there are a few additions, but that's all I can say, for now!

STMicroelectronics seems to have become a new addition, as is Renesas Electronics Singapore Pte Ltd. One other addition seems to be SiPlace, Of course, the show is graced by familiar names, such as Bergen Associates, element14, EMST Marketing, Inde Enterprises, Juki India, Leaptech, Murata, NMTronics, NXP, QUAD Electronics, Rohde & Schwarz, RS Components, Sumitron and so on!

There is one other difference! Most of these firms are multinational companies (MNCs) or arms of the MNCs. While I don't have anything against them, one is tempted to ask the question: where are the Indian companies? Specifically, where are the Indian electronics manufacturing companies?

We all love to talk about how India should play a major role in electronics manufacturing. However, seriously, how much of this is actually happening in India? More precisely, where are the home grown Indian manufacturing units?

I noticed that one of the sessions is going to be a panel discussion titled: Local mobile phone manufacturing: Opportunity or challenge!! Wonder, what will come out of the session! There's another on EMS - where, again, the weight lies with the MNCs. Of course, there are two speakers -- N. Jehangir from SFO and Raminder Singh from QUAD, in the final session. The other session on automotive electronics also seems to be loaded with speakers from MNCs.

Can India really get to become a global hub for EMS? Well, let's just wait and see what exactly do these august gentlemen in the two panel discussions have to say!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Symantec announces Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus 2012

It’s no longer a PC-centric world. It's a world centered on people and information. There is cloud apps explosion, device explosion and information explosion. However, this world is also infested with threats.

Last year, information grew by 62 percent to nearly 800,000 petabytes. Symantec identified more than 286 million new threats last year. Eighty (80) percent of online adults have been a victim of cybercrime in their lifetime. Seventeen (17) percent of adults online have experienced cybercrime on their mobile phone. Norton has now expanded beyond the PC. Norton Everywhere protects people across locations, devices and digital experiences.Source: Norton from Symantec.

Symantec announced Norton Internet Security and Norton AntiVirus 2012 products. A new feature is Norton Management, that brings the power of the cloud to you. Yet another feature is Identity Safe, which has improved login and form fill, major usability enhancements, and the vault can be synced to the cloud for anywhere access.

Some other features include Download Insight, Bandwidth Awareness. It also has an improved Simplified User Interface, as well as a Settings Interface Makeover. “Norton Secured” security badge is a new feature. The badge appears right in search results, indicating when a website owner’s identity has been verified and the site is malware free.

Powered by the largest community of users, 210 million users have contributed to Insight. Symantec is tracking over 3.1 billion executable files. Users perform 2 billion file lookups a day. Symantec also blocks 6.3 million malicious files each month. In fact, 3.1 billion attack attempts were blocked in 2010.

Norton’s Exclusive four layer protection stops threats while people are browsing and before it can write to your computer. It even scans links in Facebook feeds and search results.

Norton 2012 Protection highlights include network intrusion prevention, SONAR behavioral protection (4th generation), Insight reputation and anti-virus engine.

Norton from Symantec has listed the following reasons:
* The cloud expands beyond protection to enable the richest Norton user experience to date.
* Performance exceeds 2011’s all time highs.
* Norton has added significant new protection capabilities.
* It has also improved usability by addressing the issues that are important to customers.

Norton cybercrime report 2011: Exposing the true scale!

According to the Norton Cybercrime report 2011, there are 1 million+ victims a day, including 50,000 victims every hour, 820 per minute and 14 per second. The total bill for cybercrime footed by online adults in 24 countries topped $388 billion over the past year. Gaurav Kanwal, country sales manager, India & SAARC, Consumer Products and Solutions, Symantec presented the report that covers 24 countries and 20,000 people. The most at risk are said to be the millennial males.

The total cost of global cybercrime was worth $114 billion annually. Based on the value victims surveyed placed on time lost due to their cybercrime experiences, an additional $274 billion was lost. Some of the prominent countries bearing the cash cost of cybercrime include USA -- $32 billion, Brazil -- $15 billion, China -- $25 billion, India -- $4 billion, and Australia, Japan and Mexico -- $2 billion each.Cybercrime hotspots: Source: Norton Cybercrime report 2011.

In India, the most common and most preventable type of cybercrime remains computer viruses or malware. It was 60 percent overall and 75 percent had occured in the last 12 months. The three most preventable crimes are said to be viruses/malware at 60 percent, scams at 20 percent and mobile threats at 17 percent. In India, over 29.9 million people fell victim to cybercrime last year, suffering $4 billion in direct financial losses and an additional $3.6 billion in time spent resolving the crime.

The Norton Cybercrime report also reveals that 10 percent of adults online globally (17 percent in India) have experienced cybercrime on their mobile phone. Besides the threats on mobile devices, increased social networking and lack of protection are said to be some of the main culprits behind the growing number of cybercrime victims.

The top six countries found to be in emerging danger due to cybercrimes include China at 85 percent, South Africa at 84 percent, Mexico at 83 percent, and Brazil, India and Singapore at 80 percent each, respectively.

It was also reported that 43 percent of Indian adults do not have an uptodate security software suite to protect their personal information online. Despite the huge costs of cybercrime, many people are not investing in adequate security software that protects against computer viruses and other preventable cybercrimes.

Globally, over a third of adults (35 percent) do not feel safe online from cybercrime attacks. This rises to 50 percent of French adults, 53 percent of Brazilian adults, 64 percent of Indian adults and 88 percent of Japanese adults. Also, a whopping 94 percent of Indians believe that more needs to be done to bring cybercriminals to justice.

Now, 43 percent of Indians say they need to access the Internet daily. And, 47 percent of the Indian social network users think they would lose contact with friends if they had to live without their social networks.

“Two things worry me. Mobile applications and crimes will be committed from or against mobile phones. As use of smartphones grow we are going to basically have computerised wallets and I would see that as being both a target and means of attack,” says a global user.

Cybercrime makes victims feel just as angry and upset as physical crime. Yet, people are not taking adequate protection. China, Singapore and South Africa are among today's cybercrime capitals. These also happen to be countries with the highest number of free AV software users, and people accessing the Internet and becoming a cybercrime victim via another mobile device.

With the growth in Internet access over mobile devices, coupled with a lack of protection for personal data is likely to lead to a corresponding global rise in cybercrime via mobile devices in the years to come.

Global semicon sales forecast: 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.

The WSTS posted July 2011's HBR (Historical Billings Report) on its website last Sunday, September 04, 2011 thereby allowing the monthly update of the latest global semiconductor sales forecast estimates for 2011 and 2012 via exercising the Cowan LRA forecasting model that reflects July 2011's monthly sales numbers including any sales revisions to previously reported sales results.

According to the WSTS's July HBR, July's actual sales came in at $23.495 billion with a corresponding July 3MMA sales at $24.850 billion.Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

It should be highlighted that the previous five months (February through June) experienced varying upward sales revisions from last month's published HBR, as highlighted in the table here. Thus, the total YTD cumulative sales revision is upward by almost $1.0 billion bringing the YTD sales through July to $174.055 billion. This represents a 2011 YTD sales growth of 3.2 percent compared to the same time period in 2010.

The Cowan LRA model's sales forecast estimates for July as determined by last month's model run were $24.410 billion (actual) and$25.007 billion (3MMA), respectively. Consequently, the model's July MI (Momentum Indicator) came in at minus 3.7 percent which "improved" from last month's MI of minus 7.9 percent. This indicates (mathematically speaking) that the semiconductor industry's July actual sales came in lower than the model's previous month's forecasted expectation by $0.915 billion and 2011's sales growth could continue to trend downward for the rest of this year all be it at a slower rate compared to last month's MI.

Plugging the latest actual sales numbers abstracted from the July HBR into the forecasting model produces the following updated sales and sales growth forecast estimates for the remaining two quarters of 2011 as well as the four quarters of 2012 and full year:Source: Cowan LRA model.

The key take-aways from comparing the latest forecast results versus previous month's forecast numbers (in the above table) are highlighted below:
* 2011's updated global semicon sales forecast estimate fell marginally by $0.146 billion to $313.217 billion (from last month's sales forecast estimate of $313.363).
* Correspondingly, 2011's sales growth forecast estimate dropped by 0.049 percentage points to 4.995 percent (from last month's 5.044 percent sales growth forecast estimate).
* August 2011's actual sales forecast expectation is $26.177 billion, which corresponds to an August 3MMA sales estimate of $25.686 billion assuming no (or very minor) sales revisions to either June or July's published actual sales compared to July's just published HBR by the WSTS.
* 2012's global semicon sales forecast estimate fell by $4.270 billion to $339.443 billion (from last month's sales forecast estimate of $343.713).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Magma announces Silicon One strategy

Magma Design Automation has introduced the Silicon One technology solutions for Magma users in India. This was announced by Rajeev Madhavan, chairman and CEO on the sidelines of the MUSIC 2011 in Bangalore, India, today.

Silicon One aims at making silicon profitable, especially for Magma's customers. It is a presentation of innovative solutions for advanced analog and digital design challenges. Magma outlined five technologies: Talus, Tekton, Titan, FineSim and Excalibur. The solutions work off a unified database for designing chips that combine analog, digital, memory, etc. Just about a week ago, Magma launched the global Silicon One seminar series in the US, Canada, Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, Israel and Europe, from Sept. 20 to Nov. 10.

"We are making solutions that customers can use. The global EDA industry is currently worth $4.5-$5 billion today, growing at a rate of 10 percent." As of now, 21 of the top 25 customers use Magma tools. It happens to be key EDA supplier to some household names in wireless.

Magma currently employs 696 people, of whom 77 percent are in application engineering or R&D. India has 220 (32 percent) employees as of now.

According to Madhavan, Silicon One is a platform of EDA solutions for emerging silicon. The three main pillars are: integration -- with a unified data model comprising capacity, concurrent optimization and chip finishing; completeness -- comprising full flow IP characterization, design implementation and design verification; and throughput -- comprising concurrent analysis and verification.

Magma has built three categories of solutions. These are:

SoC/ASSP: Building killer applications with an entire SoC.
AMS: Building analog mixed signal chips for mobility market.
Memory: Building high-speed memory chips for consumer applications.

Madhavan added: "We are mapping Silicon One solutions to the market. We are touching every single point of the silicon. We are providing a series for platforms -- such as digital design (Talus), analog verification (FineSim), analog design (Titan), digital sign-off (Tekton) and yield management (Excalibur). We have the opportunity to be a dominant yield management company."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Need to work toward sustainable future: imec

At an ISA CXO Conclave, Luc Van den hove, president and CEO, imec, said that we need to work toward a sustainable future. Started in 1984, Leuven, Belgium-based imec performs world leading research in nanoelectronics. He touched upon some research programs currently undertaken by imec.

Green radio is for low-power wireless communications. Technologies would be 1000K energy efficient. He added: "We are also developing low cost, low-power reconfigurable radios. Further, we feel that videos will dominate mobile phones."

Another innovation, E-Nose, can be used for air quality, safety, food and well being. Human++ BAN life sciences, is yet another innovation. Now, the cost of healthcare is said to be exploding. By 2030, over 1 billion people will be over 65+ years. imec is developing body area network. According to imec, wearable wireless sensors can grow to over $400 million by 2014.

imec is working on technologies ranging from bio sensors to lab-on-chip. "We are also working on implantable devices such as microprobes," said Van den hove.

imec is also working on the NVision technology. According to estimates, there will likely be 78.1 million 3D TVs by 2012. Van den hove said, "we are developing holographic visualization."

On energy, he said that renewable energy was growing in importance. "We are working on solar, storage, switching, etc. As an example, we have replaced Ag (silver) with Cu (copper) metallization." Organic solar cells is yet another technology imec's working on.

In power electronics, imec is working on GaN power devices. "We also have a program for boosting chip performance and system functionality," he added. "We are also exploring the third dimension -- DRAM on logic."

CMORE, is said to be more than CMOS, as well as MEMS, sensors, photonics, SiGe based metals/devices. In organic electronics, imec and Holst have developed the first plastic microprocessor, which was introduced in 2011. imec has research programs for full ecosystems as well.

Van den hove noted: "We also celebrate the launch of imec India. We want to develop sustainable nanoelectronic solutions. For example, rural India drives the mobile phone growth. India is also driving e-health."

In Arise Labs, imec has provided the nanoelectronic platform, technology and design expertise, application programming and strong industry network.

Arise Labs -- an imec, Wipro initiative! Does it fit the bill?

Belgium's imec Corp. has collaborated with India's Wipro Technologies to form the Arise Labs. Besides, imec has also opened its India office in Bangalore, according to Luc Van den hove, president and CEO, imec, at an India Semiconductor Association (ISA) CXO Conclave this evening.

On this same day, Cadence Design Systems (India), announced with imec Europractice IC Service, to develop a shuttle program for Cadence University Software Program members. Without a doubt, this news is of more importance, but Cadence, as well as imec, surprisingly, chose to underplay it, for now. Nevertheless!

On the Arise Labs event, Dr. Pradip Dutta, chairman, ISA raised an interesting query in his opening remarks: How do we bring the research quotient into the Indian semiconductor industry? He added that imec had most recently become an ISA member. imec has a huge focus on R&D as well.According to him, innovation to incubation to wealth creation was key!

Dr. Anurag Srivastava, CTO and senior VP, Wipro Global IT Business, said that emerging markets comprised 80 percent of the global population. Around 50 percent of the population in emerging markets was below 25 years of age. The rural population comprised 75 percent, and 64.7 percent users were those involved in high-tech adoption.

Overcoming challenges were essential to sustaining growth. In this regard, new service models and solutions were required to overcome challenges. As an example, remote health monitoring could be used to address this challenge.

There is now an opportunity for new service models. These could be in some of the following ways:
* Quality and reach of education through technology.
* Affordable healthcare through remote patient care and telemedicine.
* Address growing energy needs at affordable rates.

Dr. Srivastava laid out certain technologies that could be solutions for emerging markets. These are: intelligent machine to machine cyber convergence, natural user experience (NUE) technology, big data, web science and nano technologies. The ecosystem for emerging market solutions include the following: medical, securities, automotive and aerospace, energy, and HPC/cloud.

He announced the Arise -- Applied Research & Intelligent System Engineering, an R&D collaboration between imec and Wipro, that should try and take on all of the above mentioned challenges.

Coming back to the original headline of this post -- does it fit the bill? Perhaps, no! Here's why!

The Cadence-imec collaboration is likely to allow Indian universities with unprecedented access to advanced technologies, enabling students to work with state-of-the-art process and design techniques through to silicon tape-out. Also, as part of the agreement, Cadence will offer support to its University Software Program members by providing flows and methodologies, while imec will provide access to IC technologies down to 65nm, SPICE models, design rules, PDKs, and standard cell libraries.

Wonder, what kept them from even mentioning it!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Lessons to learn from Solyndra debacle!

Am sure you all have heard about Solyndra, which has shut its manufacturing facility and will file for bankruptcy.

According to reports available, Solyndra's case has been an overall failure of the business. However, I will put it as -- too much, too soon! Also, this move should come as a warning to all solar/PV companies -- established as well as start-ups.

Perhaps, Solyndra had a problem of escalating costs of manufacturing the PV modules. Maybe, it could not find a way to balance that cost against the actual selling cost.

According to IMS Research, the global PV module industry recently suffered from a huge oversupply. This led to fierce price competition and the average prices dropped by about 20 percent in a single quarter. Now, will such a scenario help Solyndra? Perhaps, not!

Closer home, in India, there are said to be a lot of solar/PV players. How many of these players, who have petitioned for a license, do you think will last the course? Another interesting pointer: how many of these players will actually survive the very first year? Or, even the second?

There is something called consolidation, which simply means -- there are a lot of players in the market, but very few are going to last the course - isn't it? If that's the case, then why have so many players in the first place? The answer perhaps lies somewhere between how many players are actually relevant and how many players are actually competing for honours!

Deepak Gupta, secretary, MNRE, government of India, had mentioned during Solarcon India 2010 that there is a need to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity. Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Hon’ble Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, had added that “India should develop its technology right here! Don’t import third rate technology!” Wonder, how much of these advices are being followed!

Well, if these advices aren't being followed, then make no mistake: there will be some Solyndra-like cases in India too! I hope I am wrong!!