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Global semiconductor companies delivering platforms: Jaswinder Ahuja, Cadence


Jaswinder Ahuja.

Jaswinder Ahuja.

Some time ago, Cadence Design Systems Inc. had announced the EDA360 vision! As per Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate VP and MD of Cadence Design Systems India, the Cadence vision of EDA360 is said to be well and alive. The organization has been aligned around the EDA360 vision.

The EDA360 is a five-year vision for defining the trends in the EDA industry, based on what Cadence is observing in the industry and the direction in which, it feels, the industry will go.

At Cadence,  the Silicon Realization Group is headed by Dr. Chi-ping Hsu. The SoC Realization Group is headed by Martin Lund, and Nimish Modi is looking after the System Realization Group. Cadence’s focus has been on in-house development and innovation. Tempus has been a major announcement from the Silicon Realization Group.

What’s going on with EDA360?
There has been a renewed thrust in the SoC Realization Group at Cadence. Already, there have been three acquisitions this year — Cosmic Circuits, Tensilica and Evatronix. Cadence is buying the IP part of the business from Evatronix. This acquisition is ongoing and will be announced in June 2013.

On the relationship between the electronics and the EDA industries, Ahuja said the electronics industry is going through a transition, and that the EDA industry needs to change. The importance of system-level design has increased. Companies are currently focusing on optimizing the end user experience.
Read more…

IT in smaller companies need help too!

April 21, 2012 Comments off

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!

Top 10 Indian embedded companies!

February 7, 2011 8 comments

It has been over two years since I wrote the piece — Top 10 embedded companies in India! It has been the most read, and by far, the most commented.  Now, it is time to do a review, or, more suitably, a recap!

First, who are the top 10 (Indian) embedded systems and software companies in India? My list, in no particular order, would read something like this:

1. Ittiam
2. Sasken
3. CMC
4. C-DAC
5. L&T EmSyS
6. ProcSys
7. eInfochips
8. Mistral
9. iWave Systems/Global Edge
10. Vayavya Labs

There are several firms in Pune and Hyderabad, who probably deserve a name.  There may be some folks may not agree with this list, but I would go with these, for now. The next change could be two years down the road!

Some may even question the presence of CMC and C-DAC in this list. However, CMC has well over 30+ years of extensive experience in providing consulting, design and development services and testing services in real-time systems.

C-DAC has capabilities in high-performance computing as well as grid computing. It also has unit focusing on professional electronics, including embedded and VLSI products.

Ittiam and Sasken remain in the top 5 category. ProcSys is a new entrant, besides iWave, Global Edge and Vayavya Labs.

Now, may I know if you have any doubts, as well as moves, additions and/or changes (MAC)? ;)

Need to develop robust Indian semicon industry, led by local companies!

December 17, 2010 1 comment

I came across an article titled “Global Semiconductor Companies Turn to India for Growth” published on India Knowledge@Wharton. Isn’t this reason why global semiconductor companies enter a specific market in the first place — to grow their own markets and regions? So, why should it be different with India?

India is very well known globally for its talent, chip design capabilities (especially in the Indian arms of the global semicon firms) and as the world’s embedded bastion!

This particular article is brilliantly written, and kudos the author. The clinching paragraph is tucked away at the end, starting with: “None of the global players, however, is currently looking at setting up a semiconductor fabrication plant, or “fab,” in India.”

What’s happened up until now in the Indian semicon industry? If one were to look at the Special Incentive Package Scheme (SIPS), which was introduced back in Sept. 2007 by the government of India, it was geared toward encouraging investments for setting up semicon fabs, and other micro and nanotechnology manufacturing industries in India!

It also defined the “ecosystem units” as units, other than a fab unit, for manufacture of semiconductors, displays including LCDs, OLEDs, PDPs, any other emerging displays; storage devices; solar cells; photovoltaics; other advanced micro and nanotechnology products; and assembly and test of all the above products.

A Karnataka Semicon Policy was announced in early Feb. 2010, during the India Semiconductor Association’s ( ISA) Vision Summit.

Next, the government of India’s thrust on solar/PV, via the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM), has at least ensured the country’s solar/PV future.

What has happened since all of these policies? Really, nothing much, at least from the perspective of the Indian semicon industry. If it has, at least, I am unaware, and my apologies for this ignorance.

Of course, solar/PV seems to be going from strength to strength! Recently, NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Ltd (NVVN) put out the list of selected solar projects under the JN-NSM Phase 1, Batch 1. But that’s another story!

On this very blog, there are several posts that speak of India’s ability or inability to build a fab. At first, folks said that semicon fabs were on their way in India, and that the story isn’t disappearing. However, somewhere along the line, that particular vision took a beating and fabs simply disappeared from the Indian semicon radar! Read more…

Can Indian companies build $50 netbooks for Indian consumers?

December 6, 2009 7 comments

Friends, how many among you are using netbooks? I would guess, some of you, surely! And how many of you have seen Shanzhai netbooks? Well, Shanzhai refers to Chinese imitation and pirated brands and goods, particularly electronics! Anyhow!

Why did I bring up this topic about developing a $50 netbook for Indian consumers? Recently, I had got into a conversation with Dr Satya Gupta, co-founder and CEO of Concept2Silicon Systems, and formerly, co-founder and VP Engineering and Technology at Open-Silicon, on this subject. Later, I did a little research on whether there are cheaper netbooks in China. Of course, there are!

Late September, it was reported that Shenzhen Imore (http://www.imore.cn/) had introduced a 10.1 inch netbook, the Webook A600, with a DVD-ROM. The specs are:
CPU Intel Atom N270 1.6G
Chipsets Intel 945GSE
RAM 1GB DDR2
HDD 160GB
Screen 10.1 inch 1024×600
CD-ROM COMBO
Wireless 802.11b/g/n
Ports 2×USB2.0, VGA, Internet, card-reader, ear phone, mic
Battery 2600mAh
Others 1.3mp camera
Size 260mm×193mm×31mm

First, is 1GB RAM enough? I am told that it doesn’t help with performance, especially, when using Vista, instead of XP. Those who are users of netbooks should be able to throw some more light on this aspect.

Now, I need to know: Who, in India, is capable of producing $50 netbooks? It can really be a huge market, especially, if the maker(s) can come up with what the Shanzhai makers are really doing — which is, not waiting for others to tell them what to do, but make what they think will be popular among consumers!

Features in a $50 netbook
That brings me to the features that Indian users may want to see in netbooks. But first, can an Indian company try to build its own microprocessor, which is somewhat close to the Atom N270? How about using SSD, instead of HDD? What about the display — STN or TFT? What sort of applications should be supported by the netbook? All high end or simply basic apps? What about gaming features? Should a $50 netbook support high-end graphics for gaming? Should it have a DVD-ROM?

Let’s start with the basics. To improve the quality of education in India, $50 netbooks would just be the right solution! These would be simply great for digital classrooms/virtual classrooms for education; for use in rural areas in e-governance — applications such as email, web browsing and chatting, printing of forms, etc.; maybe, it could help in telemedicine too. At least, the Web camera should be able to beam live images and audio — definitely not of extremely high quality, but certainly, something that would be helpful in places that aren’t connected with medical centers. Think high-volume, low mix product family, too!

Here, I recall a statement made by BV Naidu, chairman, ISA, during the recently held conference on embedded electronics during BangaloreIT.biz. He had said: “Our local markets should provide opportunities for the local companies. Access to global markets will help us grow.” Here’s just the perfect opportunity to roll things off!

Consider this aspect too — producing locally made netbooks could well boost the electronic components and accessories ecosystem industry in India, which is currently moderate.

During the same conference, Ittiam’s Srini Rajam gave an indication for the MIDs/netbooks opportunity — a price target of Rs 12,500, with an opportunity forecast of 2 million units per year. Can the price tag of Rs. 12,500 be brought down further? Perhaps, yes!

India is said to be the global leader in embedded design. Well, here is an opportunity for the Indian embedded developers to produce something brilliant for the country.

So, what features should a $50 netbook have? Surely, email, instant messaging and voice chat, and Web browsing, OpenOffice, perhaps, for Office applications, and some low end games. Do we need anything more than this? Gaming? Perhaps, no, but having it won’t be a bad idea either. Storing MP3 songs? Maybe, a few. If more, the better! Do we need a DVD-ROM? Let the maker (or market) take a call on that! I’d say, yes, given the Indian (and global) habit of watching movies on the notebook (or netbook).

Now to the specs for such low-end netbooks. Do we need the Intel Atom processor? Which Indian company can build an inexpensive processor to handle such applications? Will a STN LCD do? Perhaps, yes. Or, even, TFT, if the LCD modules are made available cheaper. What about the screen size? Maybe 8.2 or 10.2 inch — have your pick! And the RAM? Perhaps, 2GB, supporting XP, or Vista, if it is not hindering performance. Next, memory — 160GB or 320GB HDD, or even SSD — if these are inexpensively available. Should it have a DVD-ROM? Perhaps, yes. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity — perhaps, yes!

As they say, India is home to core competencies — from chip design to software and system design. The strong growth of the domestic market adds the vital dimension. With the right EMS strategy, the volume market can be served with world class solutions.

You know what? All of this may seem quiet fancy! However, this is probably the kind of opportunity that exists in India. Perhaps, netbook lovers may find these features and suggestions rather queer. However, think consumers, think literacy, think telemedicine, think rural areas, think simple PC applications, think local manufacturing! It may all start to make some sense!

We have ultra low-cost mobile phones. Why not ultra low-cost netbooks? The price tag of Rs. 10,000-18,000 for a netbook can be brought down to Rs. 2,000-3,000, with some local flavored innovation. What do you think?

ISA delegation to UK — excellent platform for India based semiconductor/embedded design solution companies


The India Semiconductor Association (ISA) recently led a delegation to the UK from Sept. 28-Oct. 2, in association with the UKTI. The objective of this delegation was to provide a platform for Indian and UK based chip design and embedded software companies to explore opportunities for collaboration.

The first day’s highlight was a networking reception with attendees of the earlier RAE Solar Thermal Powerplants seminar, where the delegation exchanged business information.

The next day involved a trip to Bath — to the Bath Ventures Innovation Center. A networking lunch was hosted by Silicon South West — the organization that provides regular networking events and news, and national and international promotion for the South West of England’s microelectronics sector — the largest concentration of silicon designers outside of the Silicon Valley.

Following the networking lunch, the ISA delegation was introduced to the local semiconductor sector by Silicon South West. Simon Bond, founder of Silicon South West, Low Carbon South West and Mobile Innovation Camp, and Innovation Center Director for Bath Ventures, presented an overview of the semiconductor sector in the region, and the role Silicon South West and Bath Ventures, in particular, play in the evolution of the sector in the region and more widely. Read more…

Growing might of Indian embedded companies!


I am always delighted when people leave comments, especially suggesting some names or things that I may have overlooked. One such name I may have missed, especially from the line-up of the formidable embedded systems and software industry of India is Procys, a company, where, a reader has suggested that: “most of the employees of Intel or TI for that matter would have served at Procsys once at least!”

First of all, many thanks for that reminder, friend. However, please don’t forget that I am merely a blogger putting down my thoughts. My list of India’s top 10 embedded companies is probably not the final list! Nor am I connected with any media house to qualify as someone who’s list should be considered as an authority!

I just want to remind readers that this blog is merely an honest attempt to be part of the Indian technology ecosystem. As I said, I don’t represent any media house. My thoughts are personal and do not represent the industry status or opinion.

I’ve mentioned earlier the difficulties I’ve had to face, and continue to face, while blogging! Why, some people have outrightly looked down on my blogging! ;) Some others have said — What are you writing? If it is not about IT, who will read that stuff? Don’t try to do such things in India! :)

However, it pleases and humbles me to find that some readers of this blog think so! ;) All I can say is a warm thanks to all of those who care to stop by this blog!

What pleases me even more is the continuing interest in the now known might of the Indian embedded systems and software (and services) industry.

According to the ISA-IDC report of 2007 on the Indian semiconductor and design industry: the embedded software industry in India accounts for a $5.98 billion or 81 percent of the projected share of overall revenues in 2008. This has been further projected to grow to $7.29 billion or 81 percent of the projected share of overall revenues in 2009! That is quite a substantial growth!

This may be a tough year in comparison. However, have full faith in India’s embedded systems and software industry. It will continue to rule for a while, am sure!

Top 10 embedded companies in India


Right then! This topic should be of interest to several folks in India as well as overseas! Especially, those who are looking to tap the renowned Indian talent in embedded systems and software.

It is very well known that all the leading MNCs are present in India, and well, do great work in embedded systems and software. Definitely, any top 10 list of such companies would include the likes of:

* Intel
* Texas Instruments
* Freescale
* Philips
* Samsung
* LG Electronics
* And some of the other leading multinational companies.

However, my exercise is NOT to look for the leading MNCs in this domain, but to find out who are the leading Indian companies ‘working’ in the embedded systems and software space.

Some immediate ones that would spring to mind could be the likes of Ittiam, Sasken, Mistral, KPIT, Symphony, Mphasis, eInfochips, Infosys, TCS, HCL Technologies, Wipro, etc., perhaps.

There are so many others, including Yindusoft, Dexcel Designs, Ample Communications. Ibex, EmLabs, eSpark Infotech, i Micro System, Adamya Computing, etc.

However, I am not very sure how all of these companies are currently performing, nor is it possible for me to find out in a short time. Nevertheless, having been in close touch with some of these companies, it is quite possible that the downturn could be hitting some of the smaller companies, and maybe, even the bigger ones. Well, it is a downturn after all, and spends are not that high!

It is widely hoped that the very strong Indian embedded industry will overcome these problems and shine brightly in the new year.

In my list of the leading Indian companies in the embedded space, I am clubbing some of the larger companies, which are also into other activities, such as IT and outsourcing services.

In no particular order, my top 10 companies in the embedded systems and software space in India would be:

1. Tata Elxsi/Sasken
2. Ittiam Systems
3. Infosys/TCS
4. HCL Technologies/Wipro
5. KPIT Cummins Infosystems
5. Mphasis/BFL
6. Symphony
7. Sonata Software
8. Mistral/eInfochips
9. Dexcel Designs
10. Robosoft/Yindusoft

Yes, do feel free to disagree, friends! :) Again, I know this may not be a perfect list!

There are several companies in the embedded space within India who have been really doing outstanding work. I will try my best to contact as many of these companies and find out what these folks are presently working on!

I will also TRY and revise this list, IF I am able to round up as many companies, and am able to rank them, based on the solidity of their current projects, and NOT on the revenue gained in 2008. Again, I agree, this criteria may not appeal to all, but then it is my list :)

Therefore, feel free to disagree, folks… and please add several names of these great Indian companies in the embedded systems and software space, along with their email IDs, so I can easily touch base with them!

PS: One reader has mentioned about whether these companies have great products! Well, would be great if the companies could come up and say how great their products are!!

Thanks for the feedback, Mr. Nair, and good to have new names… :)

Another reader had mentioned ProcSys! Many thanks for those names, friends!

Top 20 global solar photovoltaic companies

October 14, 2008 Comments off

Alright folks! This has taken some time coming, but it is worth the wait! Presenting the Top 20 solar photovoltaic companies during Q1-2008. May I add here that I am extremely grateful to iSuppli’s Jon Cassell for giving me this opportunity.

I was also fortunate enough to discuss this table with Dr. Henning Wicht, Senior Director, Principal Analyst, iSuppli Deutschland GmbH, in Munich, Germany.

Parameters for rankings
First up, what were the parameters used by iSuppli to determine the top 20? According to Dr. Wicht, the top 20 cell-companies have been ranked by production in 2007 and by announced production capacity 2010. He clarified, “Ranking by revenue is not applicable because many integrated manufactures publish compound revenues for cells, modules and systems.”

Yes, there have been several announcements in the solar/PV space, in India, and globally, and some names could be missing here. However, the new cell manufacturing projects will be included as soon as they are announced.

Coming back to the topic, it is necessary to examine the role of subsidies. While photovoltaics have been getting cheaper, Dr. Wicht said that subsidies were still necessary to support the PV markets. “It shows that the time grid parity shortens faster than expected earlier. As an example, for Germany, the grid parity might be achieved in 2015, which is two years earlier than expected in 2007.”

That is to say, the support programs are benefical, both to support markets to become independent sustainable and to develop the regional industry.

Global interest in solar/PV
Critically, there seems to have developed a sudden interest in solar/PV, starting late 2007, when this (solar) has been around for some time. How has this happened?

According to Dr. Wicht, raising CO2 levels generated through fossil energy, CO2 certificates, rising prices of fossil fuels, political dependency from oil exporting countries drove the Kyoto protocol to reduce CO2.

“Renewable energy is a major pillar to achieve that goal. European governments have been frontrunners to implement and execute that goal. That said, solar has been around for a while. Japan was the first significant market. However, on a global basis, it took off in Europe from 2005 onward,” he noted.

With the spate of initiatives in solar/PV, can it not turn out to be a case of too many folks entering the same line?

Sure, over and undersupply happens along the supply chain! The iSuppli market research figures out imbalances, which drive prices/margins up and down.

Also, isn’t there a chance of solar/PV getting commoditized, or has it already become one? Well, PV modules are a commodity product, said the analyst. The market is still in its infancy and it will continue to grow for the next 10 years and further. The overall saturation will come, but still some years to go.

Is solar helping semicon?
Some industry folks have been saying that the solar/PV initiatives are not really helping the overall semicon industry, a statement I agree with as well. Also, it may only be benefitting some of the equipment makers.

Dr. Wicht said: “Indeed, semicon fabs are not able to produce competitively solar cells and the solar need for semiconductor devices is rather low. The semiconductor companies, however diversify into PV, e.g., Qimonda with a new cell production. Intel is investing in several PV companies, LG is investing in Conergy, etc., or supplying devices for power conversion, e.g, National Semiconductor. However, the overall impact on the semicon devices market is rather low!

Solar, semicon on par?
iSuppli made a forecast some time back regarding investments in solar and semiconductors being on par by 2010.

The investments for solar cell production raising up to several hundreds of Mio USD, up to 1 Bio $ per production site. That is coming close to a semiconductor fab. The total capex of semiconductor is still 10 times larger than PV. However, PV is rising much faster.

Top 20 global semicon companies — DRAM, Flash suppliers drop out

May 16, 2008 Comments off

IC Insights recently published the May update to The McClean Report, featuring the Top 20 global semiconductor companies. Not surprisingly, there have been some significant movers and shakers. The most telling — quite a few of the major DRAM and Flash suppliers have dropped out of the Top 20 list!

First the movers! Fabless supplier Qualcomm jumped up four spots, ranking as the 10th largest semiconductor supplier in Q1-08. Next, Broadcom, the third largest fabless supplier, also moved up four positions, up to the 20th position. Panasonic (earlier, Matsushita), moved up to the 19th position, while NEC of Japan moved up to the 13th position.

TSMC, the leading foundry, moved up one position, registering the highest — 44 percent — year-over-year Q1-08 growth rate, besides being ranked 5th. Nvidia, the second largest fabless supplier, was another company registering a high YoY growth rate of 37 percent, and moved into the 18th position. Some others like Infineon, Sony and Renesas also climbed a place higher each, respectively. The top four retained their positions — Intel, Samsung, TI and Toshiba.

And now, the shakers! The volatile DRAM and Flash markets have ensured the exit of several well known names such as Qimonda, Elpida, Spansion, Powerchip, Nanya, etc., from the list of the top 20 global semiconductor companies, at least for now.

Among the others in the list, the biggest drops were registered by NXP, which dropped to 14th from 11th last year, and AMD, which dropped two places, from 10th to 12th. Two memory suppliers — Hynix and Micron — also slipped two places, to 9th and 15th places, respectively. STMicroelectronics also slipped from 5th to 6th. IBM too slipped out of the top 20 list.

The top 20 global semiconductor firms comprises of eight US companies (including three fabless suppliers), six Japanese, three European, two South Korean, and one Taiwanese foundry (TSMC). Also, looking at the realities of the foundry market, TSMC’s lead is now unassailable. If TSMC was an IDM, it would be No. 2, challenging Intel and passing Samsung, said one analyst, recently, a thought shared by many.

IC Insights has reported that since the Euro and the Yen are strong against the dollar, this effect will impact global semiconductor market figures when reported in US dollars this year.

There are some other things to watch out for. Following a miserable 2007, the global DRAM module market is likely to rebound gradually in 2008 due to the projected recovery in the overall memory industry, according to an iSuppli report. That remains to be seen.

Some new DRAM camps — such as Elpida-Qimonda, and Micron-Nanya — have been formed. It will be interesting to see how these perform, as will be the performance of ST-backed Numonyx.

Further, the oversupply of NAND Flash worsened in Q1-08, impacted by the effect of the US sub-prime mortgage loan and a slow season, according to DRAMeXchange. The NAND Flash ASP fell about 35 percent compared to Q4-07. Although the overall bit shipment grew about 30 percent compared to Q4-07, the total Q1-08 sales of branded NAND Flash makers fell 15.8 percent QoQ to US$3.24bn. Will the NAND Flash market recover and by when?

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