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SEMICON Europa 2014 calls for innovators


SEMICON Europa 2014 will be held at Grenoble, France, on October 7-9 October, 2014. The event will see over 400 exhibitors, which means, the exhibition area has expanded by over 40 percent vs. 2013. There will be over 70 programs featuring 300+ speakers. SEMI expects 6,000+ visitors.

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A feature of the event will be the Innovation Village that will feature 35 start-ups. I have been just informed that four start-ups have cancelled. So, that leaves 31 start-ups: ActLight, Aryballe, Avalun, Bluwireless Technology, CALAO Systems, Enerstone, Euresis, Epigan, Evaderis, Exagan, Feeligreen, Genes’Ink, Grapheat, Gridbee, Heyday, Hotblock Onboard, Imagsa Technology, Irlynx, Madci, Metablue Solution, Nessos, Nocilis Materials, Noivion, PETsys Electronics, Pollen Technology, Scint-X, Sepcell, Silicon Line GmbH, Smoltek, Sol Voltaics and Wavelens.

A few start-ups are given below:

ActLight SA: It focuses in the field of CMOS photonics.

AVALUN SAS: It currently develops the LabPad®, a next – generation mobile point-of-care (POC) device.

CALAO Systems: It is the specialist of onboard connected computers.

eVaderis: It offers energy efficient, low power mixed – signal data – centric control processors.

Enerstone: It works with rechargeable battery manufacturers and integrators to improve the charge quality of their batteries.

Exagan: It is a leading supplier of Gallium Nitride based transistor devices.

Feeligreen: It provides micro – current devices for dermo – cosmetics and dermo – therapeutics.

Grapheat: It is a young startup specialized in the production and integration of monolayer high – quality of graphene on wafers and substrates for specific applications.

Gridbee Communications: It is developing Innovative long range Mesh Network solution for connected objects.

Heyday: It develops semiconductor ICs for the power conversion market.

Irlynx: It develops and commercializes infrared sensors.

Nessos Information Technologies SA: Nessos is a highly qualified software development company.

Nocilis Materials: It offers various silicon based semiconductor materials.

Noivion: It developed and patented a new thin film deposition technique named Ionized Jet Deposition (IJD).

PETsys Electronics SA: It developed new PET detectors for next generation of medical PET scanners.

Pollen Technology: It is a software company.

Scint-X: It develops and produces cutting – edge structured scintillators.

Silicon Line: A leading global provider of innovative ultra – low power optical link technology for mobile and consumer electronics markets.

Smoltek AB: It offers a proprietary conductive nano – scale carbon technology.

Wavelens: It is developing disruptive optical MEMS solutions.

On October 7, there will be a five-minute pitch for each start-up participating. It will be followed by a panel discussion: ‘Fundraising for the Future Champions of European Electronics: Strategies, Challenges and Opportunities. Day two will host the Innovation conference.

Categories: Semiconductors

Cadence Quantus solution meets 16nm FinFET challenges


Cadence Design Systems Inc. recently announced the Quantus QRC extraction solution had been certified for TSMC 16nm FinFET.

So, what’s the uniqueness about the Cadence Quantus QRC extraction solution?

Quantus

Quantus

KT Moore, senior group director – Product Marketing, Digital and Signoff Group, Cadence Design Systems, said: “There are several parasitic challenges that are associated with advanced node designs — especially FinFET – and it’s not just about tighter geometries and new design rules. We can bucket these challenges into two main categories: increasing complexity and modeling challenges.

“The number of process corners is exploding, and for FinFET devices specifically, there is an explosion in the parasitic coupling capacitances and resistances. This increases the design complexity and sizes. The netlist is getting bigger and bigger, and as a result, there is an increase in extraction runtimes for SoC designs and post-layout simulation and characterization runtimes for custom/analog designs.

“Our customers consistently tell us that, for advanced nodes, and especially for FinFET designs, while their extraction runtimes and time-to-signoff is increasing, their actual time-to-market is shrinking and putting an enormous amount of pressure on designers to deliver on-time tapeout. In order to address these market pressures, we have employed the massively parallel technology that was first introduced in our Tempus Timing Signoff Solution and Voltus IC Power Integrity Solution to our next-generation extraction tool, Quantus QRC Extraction Solution.

“Quantus QRC Extraction Solution enables us to deliver up to 5X better performance than competing solutions and allows scalability of up to 100s of CPUs and machines.”

Support for FinFET features
How is Quantus providing significant enhancements to support FinFET features?

Parasitic extraction is at the forefront with the introduction of any new technology node. For FinFET designs, it’s a bit more challenging due to the introduction of non-planar FinFET devices. There are more layers to be handled, more RC effects that need to be modeled and an introduction of local interconnects. There are also secondary and third order manufacturing effects that need to modeled, and all these new features have to be modeled with precise accuracy.

Performance and turnaround times are absolutely important, but if you can’t provide accuracy for these devices — especially in correlation to the foundry golden data — designers would have to over-margin their designs and leave performance on the table.

Best-in-class accuracy
How can Cadence claim that it has the ‘tightest correlation to foundry golden data at TSMC vs. competing solutions’? And, why 16nm only?

According to Moore, the foundry partner, TSMC, asserts that Quantus QRC Extraction Solution provides best-in-class accuracy, which was referenced in the recent press announcement:

“Cadence Quantus QRC Extraction Solution successfully passed TSMC’s rigorous parasitic extraction certification requirements to achieve best-in-class accuracy against the foundry golden data for FinFET technology.”

FinFET structures present unique challenges since they are non-planar devices as opposed to its CMOS predecessor, which is a planar device. We partnered with TSMC from the very beginning to address the modeling challenges, and we’ve seen many complex shapes and structures over the year that we’ve modeled accurately.

“We’re not surprised that TSMC has recognized our best-in-class accuracy because we’re the leader in providing extraction solutions for RF designs. Cadence Quantus QRC Extraction Solution has been certified for TSMC 16nm FinFET, however, it’s important to note that we’ve been certified for all other technology nodes and our QRC techfiles are available to our customers from TSMC today.”

On-chip networks: Future of SoC design


Selection of the right on-chip network is critical to meeting the requirements of today’s advanced SoCs. There is easy IP integration with IP cores from many sources with different protocols, and an UVM verification environment.

John Bainbridge, staff technologist, CTO Office, Sonics Inc., said that it optimizes the system performance. Virtual channels offer efficient resource usage – saves gates and wires. The non-blocking network leads to an improved system performance. There are flexible topology choices with optimal network to match requirements.

Power management is key with advanced system partitioning, and an improved design flow and timing closure. Finally, the development environment allows easy design capture and has performance analysis tools.

For the record, there are several SoC integration challenges that need to be addressed, such as IP integration, frequency, throughput, physical design, power management, security, time-to-market and development costs.

SGN exceeds requirements
SGN met the tablet performance requirement with fabric frequency of 1066MHz. It has an efficient gate count of 508K gates. There are Sonicsfeatures such as an advanced system partitioning, security and I/O coherency. There is support for system concurrency as well as advanced power management.

Sonics offers system IP solutions such as SGN, a router based NoC solution, with flexible partitioning and VC (Virtual Channel) support. The frequency is optimized with credit based flow control.

SSX/SLX is message based crossbar/ShareLink solutions based on interleaved multi-channel technology. It has target based QoS with three arbitration levels. The SonicsExpress is for power centric clock domain crossing. There is sub-system re-use and decoupling. The MemMax manages and optimizes the DRAM efficiency while maintaining system QoS. There is run-time programmability for all traffic types. The SonicsConnect is a non-blocking peripheral interconnect.

Status of power semiconductor devices industry

December 3, 2012 2 comments

Power2There are more available solutions than ever in power devices, according to Alexandre Avron, market and technology analyst, Yole Développement. The landscape is moving, and its moving quite fast, from every region of the world.

There are many opportunities for power device manufacturers. This is the time for strong strategic planning and making the best choices. He was speaking at a seminar on the power semiconductor devices industry, in Lyon, France.

IGBTs and SJ MOSFETs
Silicon is not dead and will still live for a long time. Standard device design are slowly disappearing (planar IGBT, planar MOSFET). IGBT and SJ MOS are highly mature technologies. Rules of competition are evolving.

Historic players need to keep on innovating. New entrants have a different business model: there are more and more foundries, with fab-less and fab-light players. IGBT is still a key asset: master and secure IGBT supply is necessary for system makers. SJ MOSFETS will be used in more and more systems, taking market shares to planar MOSFET.

About SiC and GaN, there is still a big question mark: Where and when? With time, it is becoming clearer. SiC will target medium and Power3high power. From our point of view, medium power (1200V base) is a mean to arrive to high power (+3.3kV). R&D has to go through this to reach higher voltage. The main issue is still on current ratings (having a high impact on cost).

GaN will target low and medium power, and will probably allow extraordinary power supplies designs (Tiny supplies, very high frequency systems). It is almost ready for 600V, but not yet at 1200V. It leaves room for SiC to develop and expand.  Major players are involved on both fields — SiC and GaN. They need to be present on both domains, as there will be an overlap, but the split is unclear: we will probably experience a very fine segmentation, not only by voltage or current, but also by frequency, ruggedness, system size, temperature of operation or maybe culture or history.

SiC is now here. First full SiC PV inverters are available. First field tests for SiC in rail traction is ongoing. GaN is under qualification. According to the most advanced players, 600V GaN devices samples are tested by system makers.
Read more…

Steve Jobs: Master of the game!


Steve Jobs. Source: Apple.

Steve Jobs. Source: Apple.

This morning, I woke up to find the headline staring at me: Steve Jobs has died! RIP, Steve Jobs!

I first had a look at the Apple Mac while at SBP Consultants & Engineers back in 1988. I was pleasantly surprised to find a computer that could do desktop publishing that well! By then, Jobs had gone out of Apple, fired by John Sculley, then Apple’s CEO, sometime in 1985.

Jobs only returned to Apple in 1996, a time when he had floated PIXAR and of course, NeXT — the company that Apple eventually bought and with that, returned Jobs to Apple. The rest, as they say, is history!

First, Jobs, and of course, Apple, brought color to computers, when the iMac line was launched. I remember seeing the entire line in Hong Kong! The iMacs were followed by the ‘now very well known’ iBook!

Next, Jobs focused on the music industry, and that led to the creation of the revolutionary iPod, as well as the Apple Store. I remember several suppliers in Hong Kong and China telling me that they were grateful to Apple for ‘rewriting the musical devices history’ with the iPod. Those suppliers were very much in business, and continue to remain so, till today.

And then, the iPhone happened in 2007! The iPhone 4S, launched yesterday, serves as a reminder of Jobs’ vision and strategy. The iPhone caught everyone in the telecom industry napping! Suddenly, there was a rush to produce iPhone clones or iPhone-like phones. Of course, this also hit a major telecom player in a big way!

Today, smartphones are all the rage! But, believe it or not, no one, yes, no one, has actually come close to what Apple and Steve Jobs have managed to do with the iPhone.

The revolutionary iPad, which hit the streets in 2010, literally gave a new lease of life to computing! It also opened a new section – tablets – in front of the computing world. Today, all of the tablets that you get to see from numerous players is only because of Jobs’ and Apple’s magnificient vision!

This August, Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO. Who knew that he would pass away to eternity in early October? There is a message on Apple’s site, which I am pasting here:

“Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.”

Round-up 2010: Best of solar photovoltaics

December 30, 2010 2 comments

Solar photovoltaics (PV) constantly reminds me of the early days of the telecom industry. Perhaps, the similarity lies in practically anyone and everyone wants to enter the solar/PV industry as well, just like it happened in telecom — before the industry consolidation started to happen.

In India, a lot more talk has happened since the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM) was unveiled. With 2010 now drawing to an end, here’s presenting the top posts for solar PV from the year that is about to leave all of us!

Want to enter solar off-grid business? Build your own solar LED lanterns and emergency lights! — This was a smashing superhit! So many folks have accessed this post and quite a few commented! Definitely, my no. 1 post for the year and among my top 10 posts for 2010!

Union budget 2010: Solar, UIDs all the way!

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

India to miss NSM target? No, it’s likely a mistake (in reporting)! – The faux pas of the year! ;)

SEMI India benchmarks India’s NSM on global FIT best practices — Goes on to show why SEMI continues to be a top notch industry association!

RoseStreet Labs develops breakthrough multiband solar cell technology! — I enjoyed writing this post a lot!

Solar PV heats up in India — NVVN signs MoU with 16 developers; new guidelines for solar projects — First clear signs that India is indeed hot, as a solar market.

Unique solution required for grid-tie inverters in India!

Solarcon India 2010: Timely implementation of phase 1 critical to success of JN-NSM

Need to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity in solar: Deepak Gupta

Is there a case for polysilicon manufacturing in India?

India has bright future in solar PV, other RE: Stan Meyers, SEMI

Pressing need to address solar project financing in India: D. Majumdar, IREDA

TÜV Rheinland opens South Asia’s largest PV testing lab in Bangalore

Need to look at smart grid standards from an Indian context: Venkat Rajaraman, Su-Kam

Bluetooth set as short range wireless standard for smart energy! — This should be interesting, as and when it happens!

Top 15 producers of c-Si and thin film solar PV modules, and outlook 2011

There’s more to come in the new year, now that NVVN has released a list of projects under the JN-NSM. I am more keen to see how JN-NSM takes off in the new year, and am sure, so are you!

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy, joyous and prosperous 2011! :)

STMicroelectronics unveils STM32 F-2 series of MCUs


STM32 F-2 block diagram.

STM32 F-2 block diagram.

STMicroelectronics has unveiled its roadmap for ARM Cortex-M4 and -M0 with products sampling from mid 2011 onward and production by end of 2011. It has also unleashed the full performance of the Cortex-M3 with its latest STM32 F-2 series.

According to Vinay Thapliyal, technical marketing manager, MCU, STMicroelectronics, India, there are over 30 new part numbers, pin-to-pin and software compatible with existing STM32 devices.

He said: “Today, we already have 110 parts running for the F-1 series, which is currently existing and in full production. Now, we are extending the family. This time, we have launched the F-2 family — the highest performance family — to unleash the ultimate performance of Cortex-M3.” Naturally, the F-2 series is benefiting the existing F-1 devices.

As mentioned, 30 new devices will be launched. They are already ramping now. “All of these belong to the high-performance, low-power family. We will also be revealing our roadmap for M4 and M0 — to be  in production by end of 2011, with sampling by middle of 2011.”

ST’s F-2 series will further enhance real time preformance. Thapliyal added that ST has built in ART accelerator into these devices. This will deliver 150 DMIPS (Dhrystone MIPS) at 120MHz.

The adaptive real-time memory accelerator unleashes the Cortex-M3 core’s maximum processing performance equivalent to 0-wait state execution Flash up to 120 MHz.

The ART accelerator is a pre-fetch queue and branch cache mechanism that stores the first instructions and constants of the branches, interrupt and subroutine calls. The penalty occurs the first time those events occur like for any pipelining mechanism.

After that, the instructions stored in cache are pushed immediately in the pref-etch queue upon recognition of a stored branch address. In addition, the embedded Flash is organized in 128-bit rows, allowing up to 8 (16-bit) instructions to be read per access. Read more…

What does it take to be an entrepreneur!


Why exactly do (or did) you choose to become an entrepreneur? Do you have a brilliant product idea? Do you see a large unmet opportunity for your idea?

Rajesh Subramaniam, MD, Walden India Advisors.

Rajesh Subramaniam, MD, Walden India Advisors.

Or, did you leave your job and become an entrepreneur as you either hated your boss or job? Did you think it is fashionable to be on your own? Did you think you could become a ‘trend setter’? Will a VC fund that great idea of yours? Is that idea going to be sustainable in the long run? Well, the reason could just about be anything!

Rajesh Subramaniam of Walden India Advisors Pvt Ltd presented an interesting talk on ‘What does it take to be an entrepreneur’ during the CDNLive India University conference — apparently aimed at the several students among the audience.

Ideation and execution
The first thing as an entrepreneur is to have clear ideation and execution. Ideation and a clear path to execution are the most important attributes to get you started. The idea should be conceived from a real gap that exists in the system, and not what you perceive it to be! Also, it is advised that you always stay with demand, not supply.

Subramanian  advised budding entrepreneurs to talk to as many people to see validity of your hypothesis. If you cannot sell your product, then nobody can. Also, if it is not scalable, it is not going to get out of your garage.

Also, you are not going to cut much ice in case you turn out to be a ‘me-too’ company. Always look for that differentiator! Finally, God is in execution — as they say: “In God we trust, the rest we check.” Read more…

Norton cybercrime report: Time to take back your Internet from cybercriminals!


Do you possess sound Internet etiquette? Are you careful while using social networking sites? Do you trust others and share your online details? How many of you think cybercrimes are ‘usual’ going to ‘critical’? Are you even aware of any cybercrime? Who would you turn to for help, if you were attacked online?

Norton from Symantec today released the Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact in India. It covers 14 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, USA, covering 7,066 adults. This report tries to answer some (or most) of the questions above!

Norton collaborated with Anne Collier, independent expert advisor on Internet safety.

Effendy Ibrahim, Internet safety advocate and consumer business lead, Asia, highlighted the key points of yhe Norton Cybercrime Report. These include:

* A silent digital epidemic — of victims who feel powerless.
* People feel ripped off and pissed off — and lacking confidence that criminals will be brought to justice.
* Moral compasses not pointing true north — a grey area when it comes to online morals and ethics.
* People trying to protect themselves, but coming up short —  Common sense is not the best defence.

The silent epidemic

Cybercrime -- the silent epidemic!

Cybercrime -- the silent epidemic!

Globally, 65 percent of the people have fallen victim to cybercrime! However, nobody seems to be talking about it! In India, 76 percent have fallen victim to cybercrimals. Only 3 percent of the global poplulation do not expect to fall victim. In India, this number is only 8 percent!

Also, 79 percent globally do not expect cybercriminals to be brought to justice. And, 57 percent Indians do not expect cybercriminals to be brought to justice either! Not very encouraging figures!

Falling victim to cybercrime can leave people feeling angry, annoyed, frustrated, violated, cheated, upset, helpless, and so on and so forth. I’ve experienced this feeling, and it was definitely similar!

Some other interesting findings from Norton’s report. Indian adults feel highly responsible for phishing — 85 percent, online scams — 81 percent, and computer viruses/malware attacks — 88 percent. It seems that Indians practice bad Internet etiquette!

And, when in trouble, who do the victims contact in India? The survey says, 46 percent call their bank, 40 percent contact the website, and 37 percent call the police!

Around a quarter of victims take a DIY approach to sorting cybercrime. Unfortunately for them, the Norton experts say that the actions they are taking won’t necessarily help them, and may not even be safe.

For instance in India, 53 percent restrict the websites they visit. This only limits people’s enjoyment of the Internet. Security software, with a search advisor tool, will let you know if a site is safe.

Next, 38 percent get a family member or a friend to sort things out. Well, many threats go undetected by out-of-date or incomplete security solutions. So unless your friends are security experts, chances are that you will still be vulnerable. Finally, 32 percent try to identify the criminal and seek justice. This is not easy. Therefore, it is always advisable to work with law enforcement agencies, rather than go it alone. Read more…

Philips focuses on how interoperability, content sharing drive CE devices!

August 10, 2010 1 comment

Nataraj Kumar of Philips.

Nataraj Kumar, PIC.

Recently, I had the pleasure of interacting with Nataraj Kumar, director, Consumer Lifestyle, Philips Innovation Campus (PIC), where we discussed things such as Philips technology in interoperability, and the role of this technology in the Philips development ecosystem.

Content sharing platform and consumer behaviour are two key areas of focus for the Dutch electronics giant, Philips. As you know, connectivity and interoperability, as well as certification, play key roles in the overall make up of CE devices as well. To ensure that all devices work smoothly, consumer electronics manufacturers have to be very careful regarding testing and interoperability issues.

Last month, Philips had organized the Philips Connectivity Plugfest-02 at the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore, India. It attracted 31 companies who showcased 90 devices focusing on connectivity technologies — HDMI, USB, Bluetooth and DLNA.

As you can see, the focus was on content sharing over multiple devices — all of whom need to operate and function in unison — and that’s where the interoperability factor comes in!

In fact, more than 70 percent of the companies participating in the Plugfest-02 focused on HDMI. According to Nataraj Kumar, there were 42 products related to HDMI, while there were 23 products focused on USB. Bluetooth had 17 products and there were four related to DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance).

In contrast, the Philips Connectivity Plugfest-01, held in June 2009 at the same venue, had attracted 15 companies who showcased 40 devices focusing on technologies such as Bluetooth, HDMI and DLNA!

Strong current focus on HDMI

Obviously, high-definition multimedia interface (HDMI) has been gaining in importance. Now, with HDMI 1.4 doing the rounds, the interest naturally has to be on the higher side. HDMI 1.4a, released on March 4, 2010, and adds two additional mandatory 3D formats for broadcast content, which was deferred with HDMI 1.4 in order to see the direction of the 3D broadcast market. It has also defined the mandatory 3D formats for broadcast, game, and movie content, respectively.

As per Nataraj Kumar, HDMI 1.4 supports the audio return channel, provides 3D support, as well as an HDMI Ethernet channel.

Elaborating on the Plugfest-02, he said that there were a range of CE devices, such as TV sets, graphic cards, active HDMI cables, control boxes, products that get into DVD players, etc.

He said: “We made a matrix of every company, and presented each company 45 minutes. Within that period, each company had to pick up its product — or source — and carry it to a synchronization device, which receives and displays data. Then they evaluated a variety of test cases that were already pre-defined by Philips.”

Most of the participating companies at Plugfest-02 were able to test successfully for interoperability and perhaps, also identify problems that could be later resolved.

Just how well is Philips geared up for HDMI is visible from its well equipped Interoperability and Certification Center (ICC) lab (sorry folks, no pictures).

The Philips’ ICC lab has the facility to handle HDMI 1.4 compliance testing. It also offers HDMI 1,4 CEC compliance testing, HDMI HDCP compliance testing, and HDMI and HDMI CEC interoperability testing.

The ICC lab offers interoperability testing with CE devices for Bluetooth, as well as Bluetooth profile testing. For USB, it offers USB interoperability testing, while for DLNA, it offers DLNA interoperability testing for 1.0 and 1.5, respectively. The lab offers RF4CE (radio frequency for consumer electronics) interoperability testing as well.

It must be mentioned here that the Bangalore ICC lab is a unique center within Philips. It ensures the certification and interoperability of Philips’ products before their commercial launch. This center is already involved in the design and development of several products.

Now, I couldn’t find any company showcasing WHDI (wireless home digital interface) capabilities. Perhaps, the technology is still very new! And what about Philips’ interest in this technology?

On inquiring, Nataraj Kumar said that Philips is exploring opportunities as to what the WHDI standard can do for home entertainment. Should Philips participate in this specification, it would possibly look into WHDI’s standardization process as well. Read more…

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