Last week (March 11, 2013), Cadence Design Systems Inc. entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Tensilica Inc., a leader in dataplane processing IP, for approximately $380 million in cash.
With this acquisition, Tensilica dataplane processing units (DPUs) combined with Cadence design IP will deliver more optimized IP solutions for mobile wireless, network infrastructure, auto infotainment and home applications.
The Tensilica IP also complements industry-standard processor architectures, providing application-optimized subsystems to increase differentiation and get to market faster. Finally, over 200 licensees, including system OEMs and seven of the top 10 semiconductor companies, have shipped over 2 billion Tensilica IP cores.
Talking about the rationale behind Cadence acquiring Tensilica, Pankaj Mayor, VP and head of Marketing, Cadence, said: “Tensilica fits and furthers our IP strategy – the combination of Tensilica’s DPU and Cadence IP portfolio will broaden our IP portfolio. Tensilica also brings significant engineering and management talent. The combination will allow us to deliver to our customers configurable, differentiated, and application-optimized subsystems that improve time to market.”
It is expected that the Cadence acquisition will also see the Tensilica dataplane IP to complement Cadence and Cosmic Circuits’ IP. Cadence had acquired Cosmic Circuits in February 2013.
What are the possible advantages of DPUs over DSPs? Does it mean a possible end of the road for DSPs?
As per Mayor, DSPs are special purpose processors targeted to address digital signaling. Tensilica’s DPUs are programmable and customizable for a specific function, providing optimal data throughput and processing speed; in other words, the DPUs from Tensilica provide a unique combination of customized processing, plus DSP. Tensilica’s DPUs can outperform traditional DSPs in power and performance.
So, what will happens to the MegaChips design center agreement with Tensilica? Does it still carry on? According to Mayor, right now, Cadence and Tensilica are operating as two independent companies and therefire, Cadence cannot comment until the closing of the acquisition, which is in 30-60 days.
The other day, I was engaged in an interesting discussion regarding the Indian semiconductor industry. The obvious question: can fabless semiconductor take India to the top?
Well, it all depends on the definition of ‘top’! Does it mean the role of India-based semiconductor companies as a percentage of the semiconductor market globally? Or, do we take India as a system/gadget maker and thus, as a percentage of that market??
Fabrication is increasingly expensive, much involved and the actual global fabrication players (i.e. those who (also) own a fabrication plant) are declining and will be about three to four companies, and about 10, if we include all off those Chinese fabs.
And, India continues to slip back in having a ((proper) fab!
Now, India’s contributions to global electronics and semiconductors will continue to increase as the MNC subsidiary companies’ hub, and not quite as India-based companies, who are coming out with something that will shake the world in terms of that chip(s)!
If India has domestically consuming gadgets, that are more India specific, that could need devices available less outside. For that purpose alone, a local fab could be essential. However, such requirements appear less each day!
So, yes! Fabless semiconductor could be the way forward for India, in terms of contribution to its economy. However, in terms of India becoming a global player through such chips conceptualized in India, for India and the world, the chance is lesser, for now!
Well, hasn’t the Indian semiconductor industry been shouting ‘fabless’ from the rooftops for some years now? Let us see how India has progressed so far!
One, in terms of having local fab, the answer is NO! Two, in terms of increasing its percentage of contribution to global semiconductors, electronics from India, YES, an increasing role and value (though these are embedded software too).
In terms of having India-based companies working toward developing chips, YES again, in terms of smaller, analog, components that are crucial (like Cosmic Circuits), and YES, in terms of having IP-based companies (like Innovative Logic India for USB3.0) and, YES in terms of increasing service companies.
Many more companies are coming up, and some started directly here in India, such as Apsconnect, Techvulcan, etc. In terms of the actual solutions, YES again, as we have developed solutions in medical, automation, etc.
However, the answer to the question remains NO in terms of having chips come out of India, as yet!
Now, what happens to the fab-lite strategy? Well, it continues, globally. From an India perspective, it is actually in a way, validation of the earlier belief. There is less direct importance to manufacturing from themselves, but more about the actual value add they do OR can do.
Now, given this situation, let us also look at the key growth drivers in Indian electronics, especially, since we are talking about fabless and fab-lite.
The obvious one is to develop solutions for the India market. It is likely that these can be for outside markets as well. This ability will actually make India develop solutions for global markets. Also, these are not semiconductors per se, but, (embedded) solutions based on them.
The above situation can slowly lead to a fabrication and manufacturing ecosystem in India. India should also try to position itself at the higher end of the solutions, markets, services, etc., so that its value contribution can be much more.
Friends, is there a way out of the current situation that India finds itself?
Actually, this is normal process of growth in the chosen path. India continues to think about low end, less (or no) risk options of services. There is only so much growth, revenue, profit possible in those areas unless one goes up the market.
India has not done that as it could be, as an ecosystem in all. India should focus on its own internal requirements. That could mean growth and an increasing role for India, globally, as well!
Besides manufacturing, the big issue lies in marketing of such products. A senior statesman from a leading Indian electronics firm once asked me, “How will India compete in marketing of these products compared to the Chinese or Taiwanese manufacturers, who have more than 30 years of experience in these industries?”
How one wishes that India had at least two wafer fabs by now, what with the technology nodes constantly upping their ante. Even if someone does decide to put up a fab, it will be extremely expensive and has to be cutting-edge. However, as I said, one should never give up hope!
And then, there is the Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme (M-SIPS).
The newly announced M-SIPS is long awaited and much needed. The key is to now turn this ‘gazette notification’ into implementation, by the regulators, and utilisation by the industry.
It is understandable that the government can only do so much, particularly, under the given circumstances. With that kept in mind, this is a yet another good start! Hopefully, instead of just commenting on this policy, the industry sincerely works to benefit from it by properly utilizing it.
Why just think of digitalization of TV! The number of set-top boxes required across the country will be huge! Or, think of electrification of roads all over India. The number of LEDs required are likely to be massive. These are just two examples of the many possible. The Indian electronics industry needs to move fast, and now!
Hasn’t all of this been very easy to say, difficult to manage!
According to Steve Bailey from CommVault, IT managers are said to be walking on a tightrope between resources and data growth! Conversely, the resources for CIOs are much lesser, compared to the data growth, which is explosive!! Find all of this hard to believe? Well, ask around!
IT storage professionals are actually considered to be somewhat of ‘tightrope walkers’, given the fact that they have to perform tremendous balancing acts while driving projects — all along with the budget allocated to them.
As per a survey conducted by CommVault, the IT organizations are prioritizing managing data growth (i.e., data reduction) first, followed by network and equipment, disaster recovery, applications/software, data backup and recovery and backup of virtual server environments. Managing data growth remains a major budgetary priority for the IT managers. Besides, all of the data has to be managed by organizations without the benefit of adding IT staff!
There’s hardly anything that anyone, let alone the IT staff, can do to curtail the data growth. And now, the advent of mobile devices, virtual servers and the increasing use of social media have added to the creation of even newer and massive data!
By the way, have you visited media houses, small IT shops or companies, small retail stores, and so on? IT protection is, most of the times, way of the mark. Why, there are even media houses that have poor IT infrastructure! In fact, some of the offices even had their web site spammed quite often in the past. I have little idea right now, but I do hope they have improved their IT defence. Some commentators have even expressed the need for next-generation firewalls as the need of the hour!
Apparently, managing the IT side of things or the IT infrastructure is considered not so important by many of the small organizations. Don’t you think that it is necessary that they too protect their organizations? Forget about the absence of IT storage professionals in such organizations!
If one may add, vendors either seem to charge these companies exorbitantly, or, they are least bothered if such companies get into ‘IT trouble’. The fact is: such companies are small in nature, and do not have that much money to spend on IT. Or, at least, that’s not their main game! It takes a great deal of convincing on part of vendors, I am sure, to get such companies to protect their IT infrastructures.
So, how do the CIOs and the IT managers manage all of this exploding data (and devices, of course)? Certainly, this calls for a seamless process — from backup to recovery to archiving data. There is a need to develop and have a single platform to manage and protect data. This needs to be done across heterogenous applications, hypervisors. operating systems and infrastructure — from a single console.
Well, how do you help the smaller companies, especially those located in smaller and sometimes, remote areas and cities? The answer is simple: vendors really need to take upon themselves the trouble of going down to such places, meet companies, and at least, sound them out on the IT solutions on offer. That will be a start!
Interesting, but not surprising! Wireless is now leading in the global semiconductor spends!! I was having a chat with a Frost & Sullivan executive this morning, and he mentioned telecom. Of course, that’s the key driver!!
According to IHS iSuppli, wireless has now displaced computers as the top semiconductor spending area for OEMs in 2011. And, this trend may continue in 2012, going by early indications. Noteworthy in the wireless march has been the tremendous success of Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
As per IHS iSuppli, the global spending by the world’s top OEMs on microchips for wireless products was $58.6 billion in 2011, up 14.5 percent from $51.2 billion in 2010. This has led to wireless leading computers as the world’s largest OEM semiconductor spending segment in 2011. Notably, tablets and mobile handsets have led the way!
With many more companies developing smartphones and tablets, this trend does not appear to buck any time soon. It is further expected that the wireless segment will continue to generate the highest growth over the next two years. Smartphones are definitely a part of this, as are tablets.
Back in late 2000, at the ITU World Telecom in Hong Kong, the first mobile phones with Internet browsing were being touted. As were 3G and Bluetooth! Those were the days when ‘WAP is CRAP’ made more headlines and bore the brunt of many ‘telecom jokes’. Why, in early 2002, I even wrote an article for Electronics Business Manufacturing Asia (EBN Asia), on Bluetooth, which was still trying to find its bearings. I can’t locate that article anymore, but some of the comments in that article are worth remembering. One comment was whether Bluetooth and WiFi could co-exist!
One magazine had said, “The future of Bluetooth wireless technology is becoming decidedly mixed as proponents and analysts continue to question not only how soon the short-range technology will take off, but also whether the technology is fundamentally sound.”
Thankfully, all of those days are behind us! Today, Bluetooth is firmly entrentched, as is WiFi. And, on the mobile phone!!
In 2003, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) unveiled a new ‘five-minute ready’ program created to challenge and guide Bluetooth product developers and manufacturers in the Asia Pacific region to deliver devices that give consumers a “five-minute out-of-the-box experience.” I had met up with Anders Edlund, marketing director for Bluetooth SIG in Singapore, and had a clear understanding of the technology. Today, I believe, the Bluetooth SIG is advancing standardization of active 3D glasses using Bluetooth!
Redpine Signals Inc. has entered the M2M (machine-to-machine) market with its first fully-featured Wi-Fi module. Let’s find out what the Wi-Fi module is all about, and specifically, M2M!
According to Redpine, the M2M market is different from the traditional mobile and PC Wi-Fi market – in the sense that it requires ‘self-contained’ hardware and software. Traditional Wi-Fi implementations from other leading vendors who sell into PCs and mobile phones don’t meet this requirement since PCs and Mobile phones are equipped with strong host processors that do a bulk of the Wi-Fi processing.
Redpine is a pioneer in this market and was the first to announce a 802.11n Wi-Fi module, which was self-contained. The ‘WiseConnect’ module builds upon its Connect-io-n product legacy and provides additional features like Wi-Fi Direct, enterprise security, SEP2.0 and embedded access point. Features supported and other capabilities include:
Self-contained: All hardware including antenna and crystal required for emissions certification (like FCC and IC) are integrated. All software required for Wi-Fi certification (like security supplicant) are included in the module. This makes the process of integrating the WiSeConnect module into an embedded system very easy.
Ultra-low power and high performance 802.11n: Single-stream 802.11n solution. Best-in-class transmit power of 18dBm and receiver sensitivity down to -98dBm, enabling excellent range. With shutdown power of less than 0.01mW, associated mode power of less than 3mW and active operational power of less than 30mW (UART 115K baud), the module enables ultra-low-power wireless battery operated applications.
Wi-Fi Direct: Wi-Fi Direct enables point to point link establishment without the necessity of connecting to an access point. With the prevalence of more and more smartphones and tablet PCs, it is desirable to directly interface the end-machines without going through the hassle of configuring and connecting to the AP (a.k.a bluetooth). Also, Wi-Fi Direct brings in a lot of power-save features that are desirable for the M2M sensor market.
SEP2.0: Integrating a high-energy home appliance or an in-home display or thermostat into the smart grid is made possible through the provision of SEP 2.0 communications in the WiSeConnect module.
Embedded AP: Provides an access-point functionality with limited number of stations (e.g., 8) for usage in embedded applications.
Host interfaces include SDIO, SPI, USB2.0 and Ethernet.
Commenting on the the future of Wi-Fi Direct, the Redpine spokesperson said that it is very bright. In addition, it is useful to note that all future Wi-Fi Alliance certifications like Wi-Fi Display have Wi-Fi Direct as a pre-requisite.
Finally, how is this solution going to benefit enterprises? He added that as an example, many hospitals have existing enterprise Wi-Fi networks used for intranet and Internet access. Wireless enablement of the medical devices has many advantages – for example it allows limited patient mobility while having all vitals streamed wirelessly to the monitors.
Secure streaming of data to and from a medical device to the servers and displays using enterprise security is enabled by embedding WiSeConnect modules into these devices. The advanced security features in WiSeConnect provides this and many other such benefits across multiple enterprises.
Xilinx Inc. has announced its first Zynq-7000 Extensible Processing Platform (EPP) shipments to customers. It showcased the first public demonstration of a Zynq-7000 EPP at the ARM European Technical Conference, in Paris, France. where attendees saw the device running a Linux-based application. Xilinx has recently started shipping Zynq, to at least three customers.
The Zynq-7000 family is the world’s first EPP. It combines an industry-standard ARM dual-core Cortex-A9 MPCore processing system with Xilinx 28nm unified programmable logic architecture. This processor-centric architecture delivers a complete embedded processing platform that offers developers ASIC levels of performance and power consumption, the flexibility of an FPGA and the ease of programmability of a microprocessor.
Dave Tokic, senior director, partner Ecosystems and Alliances, said the company had made a number of investments. It has adopted a two-pronged approach: focusing on how it developed the ecosystem, and what it could do by itself. ”We need a tool flow applicable across all customers. Our technologies are enabling much more complex designs. We are also raising the bar for the EDA providers. We do provide early access to our tools, etc.”
Tokic added that the company has also invested a lot in training and certification in India. “Our partners are some very good companies. We have 24 members in our program. Eight of those are certified members.” Some of the partner companies include Wipro, TCS, Corel, Mistral, CMC, GDA Technologies (L&T), Mechatronics, etc.
Lawrence Getman, VP of Processing Platforms, added that Xilinx has been seeing how to potentially leverage a cloud. “We are continuing to develop the IP ecosystem. We are also looking to engage expert service needs.”
Commenting on developments, Getman said that Xilinx’s Virtex-7 series FPGAs are based on the high performance low power (HPL) process by TSMC. Xilinx wants to foster more collaborative approach in future for acquiring and working with customers.
Microsoft has launched a program for developers where they can build applications (apps) for mobile and win a Windows Phone. It also showcased some of the latest Windows Phones from leading handset vendors.
Microsoft calls the Windows Phone as People vs. Icons — it puts people first. The mobile phone itself has a load of features, such as People Hub, Groups, Threads, Better email, Calendar, Bing Vision, IE9 and Pictures Hub. There’s more, in form of XBOX Live, Multitasking, Music + Videos, Custom Ringtones, Office 365, Live Tiles, Voice to text, My Windows Phone, SharePoint, Local Scout, Remote Wipe.
According to Harish Vaidyanathan, Microsoft, the company has moved up from zero (0) to 30,000 apps in just 12 months.
Microsoft also highlighted ‘i Unlock Joy’ for students. The Windows Phone is designed to put people in the center – making it easier for them to connect and share with friends, family and colleagues, so they never miss a moment. Here’s your chance to unlock your creativity — build apps for the latest Windows Phone, and win the latest mobile phone.
Microsoft has unveiled a program for developers and students where they can participate and build apps, and win a Windows Phone. For students, the program runs till December 31, 2011, while it runs till March 31, 2012 for developers.
Windows Phone will present your apps to people in smarter and easier ways. The new Metro UI design helps developers create breathtaking apps and makes them easier to discover and use. “I Unlock Joy” program is definitely your chance to become the users’ favourite and get a brand new Windows Phone.
Developers can download the complete set of developer tools to build Windows Phone apps. They can choose the tools and technology for app development. They can also become a member of the Windows Phone Marketplace with an annual membership fee of $99 and get access to the App Hub and certification process. Developers can submit an unlimited number of certified paid apps and up to 100 free apps as registered App Hub member.
In case you are a woman developer, you too have a chance to win a Windows Phone by developing just 1 app (for first 100 female participants). Women are required to submit their apps on the Marketplace by March 31, 2012.
To participate, be aware that you are a technology professional – software developer, project manager or software architect – working and residing in India. You are not an employee, intern, agent or a relative of an employee of Microsoft Corp. (India) or Microsoft Corp. or any of their affiliates; You are not involved in any part of the execution or administration of this program.
You can participate in the program by:
* Submitting three (3) new Windows Phone Apps that get published at the Windows Phone Marketplace by March 31, 2012;
* Submitting two (2) new Windows Phone Apps that you have ported from existing Android and/or iPhone apps, which get published at the Marketplace by March 31, 2012; and
* If you are a woman developer, submitting one (1) new Windows Phone App based on Entertainment, Fashion, Leisure, Gaming, Recreation or Travel Themes, which gets published at the Marketplace by March 31, 2012.
So, fill up the Registration Form posted on Microsoft’s website with all the required information. You need to register on the App Hub with a $99 annual membership fee, which entitles you to publish and manage apps at Windows Phone Marketplace. Your app should get certified on App Hub and published at Windows Phone Marketplace on or before March 31, 2012. To participate, developers need to go through the application submission checklist.
PS: I shall refrain from commenting on the Windows Phone, for now!
The Department of IT, Government of India, recently organized a workshop on electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM), conducted by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA). Dr. Ajay Kumar, joint secretary, Dept. of IT, Government of India, touched upon some major initiatives to promote ESDM. These include:
* Setting up two semiconductor wafer fabs for manufacture of chips.
* Introducing Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme to encourage manufacture of high-priority electronic products in India.
* Provide incentives for setting up of electronics manufacturing clusters.
* Setting up of the National Electronics Mission (NEM).
* Providing Preferential Market Access to domestically manufactured electronics products for government procurement and procurement by government licensees.
* Setting up of “Electronic Development Fund”.
Some of the other initiatives to promote ESDM include:
* Draft National Policy for Electronics, 2011 released for public consultation on October 3, 2011. Comments invited till end October.
* Additional items included under ESDM for benefit of Special Focus Scheme under the Foreign Trade Policy recently.
* Mandating health and safety standards for 16 major electronic items under finalization in consultation with BIS.
* Private sector participation in human resource development being promoted.
* Sector specific initiatives for set-top boxes, medical electronics, avionics, industrial electronics, automotive electronics, LEDs, strategic electronics for defense, space and nuclear.
* Awareness creation and interest generation domestically and globally.
* Renaming the Department as Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY).
The semiconductor design industry in India consists of VLSI design, board/hardware design and embedded software development. The size was estimated at $6.5 billion in 2009 and is expected to log a CAGR of 17.3 percent over the next three years to reach $10.6 billion in 2012. Nearly 2,000 chips are being designed each year and more than 20,000 engineers being engaged in various aspects of chip designing and verification. Read more…