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Archive for April, 2011

Citrix roundtable on balanced globalization


Citrix held a roundtable titled: Balanced Globalization, in Bangalore. The participants were:

Martin Duursma, VP, Citrix Labs and CTO Office Chair, Citrix Labs. He has been with Citrix for over a decade.

Gordon Payne, senior VP and GM, Desktop Division Desktop Division. He has been with Citrix since 2004 and and helped ramp Citrix to a number one position in Secure Remote Access. Since then he has held a number of senior general management roles across multiple Citrix products and business units.

Klaus Oestermannm, VP and GM, Networking & Cloud. Oestermann has been with Citrix for seven years and held various other positions within the company, including sales director for the Nordic Region of Europe, senior director of worldwide channel strategies and development, and senior director of enterprise and ISV partners. Oestermann has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT industry.

Yet another plan for semicon fabs in India?


Interesting! I am a bit surprised to read the news item that India is planning to build its own commercial semiconductor fabs, worth Rs. 25,000 crores or $5 billion.

One of the lines in the release by the PIB, Government of India, states that the electronics hardware sector is capital intensive and facing several disabilities and barriers Therefore, the proposal will have significant impact in resolving these issues and help Indian electronics hardware industry to develop localized content/value addition.

Hasn’t this line been repeated time and again? And, what has been the result? Let’s hope that India does not forget the mistakes committed during the initial semicon policy or SIPS.

Coming back to the PIB release, it is stated that the Empowered Committee shall submit its recommendations to the Government by 31.7.2011.  Why does the Committee need so much time? Hasn’t pages and pages been written about India’s semicon policy? I wonder whether folks have even looked into all of this properly!

Next, the timing itself! In a post last April, I had mentioned that  the Indian semiconductor policy, which was announced back in 2007, had supposedly expired on March 31, 2010! What have the so-called industry caretakers been doing up until now? One does not plan to release a revised policy more than a year post its expiry! It should be immediate!!

It was also proposed to extend the deadline of India’s semicon policy up to March 2015! Whatever happened to that?

Where will the proposed semiconductor fab or fabs be set up? At FabCity in Hyderabad? I don’t think so!

One good thing to come out of all this — there is still some hope for having a fab in India. I am using the word ‘hope’ as there are many, including myself, who feel that all of this is perhaps, a wee bit late call!

As of now, India could possibly look globally for any fab or fabs to buy out! It simply does not have the time to build one!  By the time this Committee comes out with its responses by end July 2011, it will be too late. Here’s why!

Let’s say that some folks could actually invest money to build a fab. This will be followed by trying to find a land, and then, possible investors. By the time all of this happens, it will be a good 12-18 months, or possibly, 2013. Next, what’s going to be the nature of the fab that India builds? Is it 200nm, or 300nm, or 28nm? How much would a state-of-the-art fab actually cost? Has any study been done of where the global industry would be by the time a semicon fab start in India?

These, and many more such questions need to answered.

‘Long wait’ for Indian semiconductor industry?


I still don’t quite understand the submission made by the IT Taskforce on recommendations for the Indian hardware and electronics manufacturing! The first proposal was submitted by this Taskforce, back in Nov. 2009! Now, a leading daily comes out with a report about a new prescription to boost electronics manufacturing. What is all this?

By itself, isn’t this a ‘long wait’ for the Indian semiconductor and electronics industries?

I repeat: Have we really done enough, even in  the past, to even boost electronics hardware manufacturing in the country? If yes, then where are the mini Hsinchus and Shenzhens within India? N. Vittal had said something similar (such as developing mini Hong Kongs and Singapores) some years ago, but that seems ages ago, now!

Back in April 2010, I had written a post titled: Did you know that the Indian semicon policy had expired and now requires an extension? The next thing one heard was in July 2010: Indian industry proposes to extend deadline of India’s semicon policy up to March 2015!

What is really happening with the Indian semiconductor industry? First up, the semiconductor indusrty is NOT the IT industry. However, it appears that it is being treated like one!

Did anyone really look into the reason why fabs never happened in round 1 of the SIPS? Perhaps, not! I had asked a question, back in Feb. 2009: The Indian silicon wafer fab story seems dead and buried. Should we revive it?

Lest I be repetitive, and boring, I had suggested a 10-point program for the Karnataka semicon policy — in another blog post — on June 29, 2008. The points were:

1. A long-term semiconductor policy running 20-25 years or so.
2. Core team of top Indian leaders from Indian firms and MNCs, as well as technology institutes in Karnataka to oversee policy implementation.
3. Incentives such as government support, including stake in investments, and tax holidays.
4. Strong infrastructure availability and management.
5. Focus on having solar/PV fabs in the state.
6. Consider having 150/180/200mm fabs that tackle local problems via indigenous applications.
7. Develop companies in the assembly testing, verification and packaging (ATMP) space.
8. Attract companies in fields such as RFID, to address local problems and develop local applications.
9. Pursue companies in PDP, OLED/LED space to set up manufacturing units.
10. Promote and set up more fabless units.

All that one needs to do is to simply extend this all across India, rather than waste time in devising policies that have either expired, or well, take ages to see the light of the day! We should also refrain from discussing wafer fabs for now, and focus on fabless. Although, if we do attract and develop a local fab, that would be great for India!

Wonder, whether anyone in India is even listening!

Study on semiconductor design, embedded software and services industry in India


The India Semiconductor Association (ISA) has released a study on semiconductor design, embedded software and services industry, along with Ernst & Young.

According to the report, the key challenges constraining the growth of the semiconductor design industry are summarized under five major issues:
i) Quality, availability and maturity of talent.
ii) Absence of a startup and SME ecosystem.
iii) Lack of a semiconductor ecosystem.
iv) Lack of adequate infrastructure, policies and implementable incentives.
v) External issues such as competition from Asian countries and protectionist policies by some countries.

The report then goes on to tackle each one of these issues in detail under elaborate recommendations.

These recommendations require the concerted and co-ordinated efforts by the government, industry and academia to aid India reach the next level of growth and achieve the specific goals envisaged for the industry. The goals are:

Goal 1:
Maintain leadership in semiconductor design by incubating 50 fabless semiconductor companies, each with the potential to grow to $200 million in annual revenues by 2020.

Goal 2: Build on India’s favorable intellectual property protection image and make it among the top 5 destinations for intellectual property creation in the semiconductor design industry.

Goal 3: Capitalize on indigenous demand in strategic sectors to provide impetus to the Indian fabless semiconductor industry.

Goal 4: Sustain and nurture high-class semiconductor design manpower at a growth rate of 20 percent year-on-year to double its current output levels to reach a workforce size of 400,000 in the next five years.

The very first goal itself is a bit far fetched, but not that it can’t be achieved. To reach anywhere close to this goal, a concerted all round effort would be required from all in the industry. The fourth goal would have been better as the first goal, but never mind.

The second goal looks fine, but it is the third goal that seems a bit far off. This is April 2011, and still, there are talks about capitalizing on the indigenous demand in strategic sectors in order to provide impetus to the Indian fabless semiconductor industry?

I recall a discussion in mid-2005 where an industry expert mentioned that fabless was the way forward for the Indian industry! Between then and now, fabs were supposed to come up, but they failed. Nevertheless, one must not give up hope! Read more…

March’s ‘one-two-three’ calamity! What now for chip industry?


This is a summary by Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons. For those who wish to know more, please get in touch with me or Future Horizons.

 

Malcolm Penn, Future Horizons.

Malcolm Penn, Future Horizons.

It was all going so well at the beginning of March when January’s WSTS results were released. The oil and North African issues were being taken in their stride. Then, less than two weeks later, the earthquake and tsunami disaster struck Japan and by the close of the month, the Gaddafi Libyan regime was under western international airstrike siege.

Given the fragility of industry’s confidence since the Lehman Brothers crisis, the industry has weathered these ‘incidents’ with remarkable sanguinity, with concerns focused purely on supply not demand-side issues. In our view this underlines what we have been saying all along; the 2010 recovery and 2011 outlook were both stronger than most people thought.

The industry’s biggest problems in 2011 were always going to be supply not demand driven; the situation in Japan has simply amplified and accelerated their coming.

The chip industry took March’s one-two-three knocks with remarkable calm, hit first by the spike in oil prices following the politic unrest bordering on civil wars in North Africa, then the dreadful 11 March earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, culminating on 19 March with a multi-state coalition military intervention in Libya to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973.

Last year, any of these events would probably have been enough to deal the industry a knockout blow, as with the September 2008 Lehman Brothers collapse; this time around, despite the still fragile global economic confidence, the industry seems to have taken these events in its stride.

Whilst it is far too early to quantify exactly what the industry impact will be, the oil price and North Africa situation pales into insignificance when compared with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. Japan is too important a cog in the global electronics industry for its impact not to have serious global repercussions. It has also brought to a head the far deeper industry problems that we have long warned of – man-made in the corporate boardrooms – that could (should) have been avoided.

In this aspect, Japan’s disasters do have parallels with the Lehman Brothers collapse and its impact of worldwide finance; we hope that the current disruption to manufacturing worldwide from will force a rethink of how the world manages production. Read more…

Aftermath of Japanese earthquake: Implications for global electronics industry!


This is a commentary on industry trends from Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons.

Importance of Japan
Japan is a major producer of semiconductor components accounting for around 22 percent of global semiconductor production. The Flash memory market sector – crucially mobile phones, iPads and their derivatives, digital cameras, and portable storage devices, account for approximately 50 percent of the market, almost all of which are produced by one Japanese firm, Toshiba/Sandisk.

Several of Japan’s major semiconductor companies locate their manufacturing spots in the northeast prefectures, for example Toshiba’s 8-inch wafer fab in lwate, Renesas Electronics’ factories in Aomori, Hoddaido and Yamagata, Elpedia Memory’s backend manufacturing facility in Akita and Fujitsu’s plants in Fukushima.

The effects of the devastating earthquake, which hit Japan on Friday 11th March, are already beginning to take hold on the global electronics industry. Damaged buildings and infrastructure and halts to some semiconductor fabs will without doubt have a knock on affect upon the global semiconductor supply chain, with many of the big names, i.e., Nokia, General Motors and Apple already experiencing supply shortages.

Many manufacturers, not directly hit by the earthquake, have experienced power failures interrupting production; just a microsecond power supply glitch can result in the scrapping of weeks of in-process production, and with manufacturers no longer holding inventory it will impact IC supply availability in Q2. To what extent, still remains to be seen. The impact will be felt both in the long and short term, affecting not only the semiconductor supply chain but nearly every other industry imaginable, as it is very rare these days to find an industry which is not reliant on chips.

Component prices
As in any shortage situation, component price increases are inevitable and this has already happened in memory, although it is not yet clear how much of this is panic profiteering and how much is sustainable. But shortages are inevitable and recovery due to the long production cycle times and already tight capacity – will not happen over night.

Automakers
The automotive semiconductor market grew 37 percent in 2010, clearly leaving the problematic 2009 behind. However the recent earthquake in Japan has once again awoken auto manufacturers concerns about the industry. Even before the earthquake purchasing managers had expressed concern about supply levels; inventories were unusually low, resulting in heightened concern from purchasing executives around the world.

It is difficult to estimate the extent auto manufacturers will be affected, but following an official announcement from Japan that car production will be down 33 percent from its normal monthly production level of 750k cars per month to 500k it looks as though the 2010 market growth may be short lived.

Toyota Motor Co, the worlds largest auto manufacturer, said all 12 Japanese assembly plants would remain closed until at least 26th March and it was not sure when they would re-open. Production lost between 14-26 March would be about 140,000 units. Read more…

Lattice inaugurates new India office; to develop ECP5 products


Lattice India GM, Sidhartha Mohanty and Lattice president and CEO, Darin G. Billerbeck at the opening of the India office.

Lattice India GM, Sidhartha Mohanty and Lattice president and CEO, Darin G. Billerbeck at the opening of the India office.

Today, Lattice Semiconductor Corp. announced the official inauguration of Lattice India in a ribbon cutting ceremony in Koramangala, Bangalore, that included Lattice president and CEO, Darin G. Billerbeck, and Lattice India GM, Sidhartha (Sid) Mohanty.

Billerbeck noted: “We build mostly custom built products, and in future, we would be building more low cost products. We are now restructuring the company. In fact, we just completed our strategic long-term roadmap (SLR).

He added: If you look at India, we develop low-cost applications over here. It also helps in giving us better communications with customers. It is now an option for India to do hardware design. Some of our products will stay on 65nm for a long time.”

In FPGAs, Lattice is strong on the ECP3 family, a third generation high value FPGA, which offers the industry’s lowest power consumption and price of any SERDES-capable FPGA device.

The LatticeECP3 FPGA family offers multi-protocol 3.2G SERDES with XAUI jitter compliance, DDR3 memory interfaces,

Inaugurating the Lattice India office in Bangalore.

Inaugurating the Lattice India office in Bangalore.

powerful DSP capabilities, high density on-chip memory and up to 149K LUTS, all with half the power consumption and half the price of competitive SERDES-capable FPGAs. The entire LatticeECP3 family is manufactured using Fujitsu’s advanced low power process technology.

Billerbeck noted that some of the ECP3 and ECP4 products will stay on the 65nm line. “ECP3 is already in production, while the ECP4 will be next. ECP5 family will come out in the next two years from now, and focus on 28nm.”

He noted: “We are not in an ‘arms race’ with the likes of Intel. Xilinx, etc. Our focus: We want to win in the low power. Our value proposition is in low power and communication spaces. We also want to be innovative.”

According to him, Altera had a great last year. Even Xilinx can bounce back. Lattice also has much more cash. It can do acquisitions now, if it so wishes. “People are now looking at new growth opportunities in smaller companies, so that’s a great opportunity. Our software team is very good. The guy in San Jose is very good.” Read more…

India is World Cup Cricket champion! Yaayyy!!


India has won the World Cup Cricket championship for 2011! Yaayyy!!

It was just brilliant! When Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni clouted that second ball of the 49th over from Nuwan Kulasekara over long on for a huge six, the World Cup of cricket was finally ours! After 28 years!! Wow, take that!!!

India win the World Cup of Cricket, 2011!

India win the World Cup of Cricket, 2011!

Chasing a ‘huge’ score of 275 runs at the start of the Indian innings, the first blow came off the very second ball, when Virender Sehwag was adjudged LBW to a sharp in-cutter from Lasith Malinga. That grand old man of Indian cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, kept playing some great shots, till the first ball of the 6th over, when his poke was well held by a diving Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan keeper-cum-captain. The sight of Malinga celebrating that wicket stands out in memory! The reason: Sri Lanka never got a second chance thereafter!

So good were Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni, that India never lost track of the target, post that dismissal! In between, Virat Kohli, the young turk, played a nice cameo, and later, Yuvraj Singh (who is six days younger to me ;)) played really special knocks, that took India to a very historic win, after 28 long years!

Never before has a team won a World Cup final chasing a target of 275 runs. Australia scored 274, before being all out in the 1975 final to the West Indies, chasing 291 runs. Never before has a team, with a centurion – Mahela Jayawardene – lost in a final! Never has a host nation won the World Cup playing at home, although Sri Lanka, a co-host, won in 1996 vs. Australia, at Lahore. The last time India won the World Cup, in 1983 vs. West Indies, no player scored a century. This time, again, no Indian player scored a century!

There should be many other firsts. However, I am too overwhelmed to even mention them! For now, let’s all savour the famous win crafted by India over Sri Lanka at the new-look Wankhede Stadium!

For me, personally, I have been privileged to view both the triumphs — the 1983 win at Lords against West Indies as a young boy, and now this, in 2011! Which one was better? Perhaps, 1983! Why? Simply because the conditions were really challenging, and India had to face a much, much deadlier bowling attack as well as a lethal batting line-up!

For now, let us all celebrate India’s second World Cup triumph over Sri Lanka at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium! I simply can’t sleep tonight for sure!! ;)

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