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Cadence releases latest Encounter RTL-to-GDSII flow


Rahul Deokar, product management director, Cadence.

Rahul Deokar, product management director, Cadence.

Cadence Design Systems recently introduced the latest release of Cadence Encounter RTL-to-GDSII flow for high-performance and giga-scale designs, including those at the latest technology node, 20 nanometers.

Rahul Deokar, product management director, said: “We are addressing designer challenges in – high performance design, giga-scale design and advanced node design. The first challenge is the PPA – power performance and area. Next challenge is to handle giga-scale designs with efficient turnaround time. The third key challenge is fast time-to-market on advanced 28nm/20nm design.”

With this latest release, Cadence provides the industry’s best PPA. Second, it is providing 1 billion gates on designer desktops. Third, it provides the fastest path to 20nm digital design. In the new announcement, there are three new technologies – GigaOpt + CCOpt, GigaFlex, and 20nm double patterning.

Cadence has introduced “GigaOpt” – a common optimization engine that unifies physical synthesis and optimization. GigaOpt provides designers globally optimal results across the front-end and back-end of the design flow. And that results in the benefit of the industry’s best PPA for high-performance design. GigaOpt has been designed from scratch to be multi-threaded, which makes it ultra fast and ultra scalable.

Another innovation, CCOpt, is the first and only technology in EDA to unify clock tree synthesis and physical optimization. CCOpt is now an integral part of the Encounter flow accelerating design closure with the best PPA. CCOpt facilitates:
* 10 percent improvement in design performance and total power.
* 30 percent reduction in clock power and area.
* 30 percent reduction in IR drop.

The Encounter flow now allows 1 billion gates to be enabled on the designer’s desktops. This is done with the new GigaFlex abstraction technology. It is the first and only technology in EDA that enables flexible, accurate abstraction adaptable to the flow stage. There is 10X capacity and TAT gains on 100 million+ instance designs. GigaFlex abstraction technology allows accurate, early physical modeling, concurrent top-and-block interface optimization, and concurrent hierarchical closure and late-stage ECO. Read more…

Latest Cowan LRA model’s forecast for global semicon sales in 2012

February 8, 2012 1 comment

This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

The latest Cowan LRA model parameter update incorporates 2011′s monthly sales results, thereby incorporating 28 years of historical, global actual monthly semiconductor sales as gathered, tracked and published by the WSTS.

Cowan has carried out the necessary mathematical computations in order to update the complete set of linear regression parameters embedded in the Cowan LRA forecast model. This update to the model’s parameters thus reflects 28 years (1984 to 2011) of historical global semiconductor sales numbers.

Therefore, the table given here has provided summarizes the latest model’s 2012 sales and sales growth expectations as a function of the model’s range (low, expected and high) for January 2012′s sales forecast estimates as put out by the updated model.

Note that the Cowan LRA Model’s expected 2012 sales growth (of 3.3 percent) relative to 2011 sales is slightly less bullish than the WSTS’s adjusted autumn 2011 sales growth forecast of 3.6 percent versus WSTS’s autumn 2011′s forecasted sales growth of 2.6 percent.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Symantec releases latest Intelligence Report!


Source: Symantec Intelligence Report.

Source: Symantec Intelligence Report.

Symantec presented its latest Intelligence Report with the following highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cowan LRA model: Overview plus latest global semicon sales forecast numbers


This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

August 2010′s ‘actual’ global semiconductor sales numbers are scheduled to be released by the WSTS, namely the August HBR (Historical Billings Report) on or about October 4.

In anticipation of the WSTS release Cowan has shared an analysis feature of the Cowan LRA Model for forecasting worldwide semiconductor sales; namely, the ability to provide a ‘look ahead’ scenario analysis for 2010′s global semiconductor sales forecast as a function of next month’s (in this case August’s) actual global semi sales estimate.

The specifics of the scenario analysis are presented in the following paragraphs and detailed in the scenario analysis matrix table provided here.

Source: Cowan's LRA Model.

Source: Cowan's LRA Model.

In order to demonstrate this capability, Cowan has selected a range in possible August 2010 sales; in this particular scenario analysis, a sales range from $23.95 billion to $26.95 billion in increments of $0.5 billion was chosen as listed in the first column of the table.

This estimated range of actual sales is ‘centered around’ the actual August sales forecast estimate of $25.448 billion as determined by last month’s (July) run of the model. The corresponding August 3MMA sales forecast estimate that the model put forth is $25.723 billion.

The overall year 2010 sales forecast estimate for each assumed estimated August sales number over the selected range of August actual sales estimates is calculated by the model, and is shown in the second column of the table.

The third column reveals the resulting yr-o-yr sales growth estimates compared to year 2009′s actual sales (of $226.3 billion).

The fourth and fifth columns show the corresponding three Month Moving Average (3MMA) sales estimate and the associated year-on-year sales growth relative to August 2009′s 3MMA sales (of $19.381 billion), respectively.

Finally, the sixth column lists the associated Momentum Indicator (MI), which is defined and discussed below.

July 2010’s actual semiconductor sales (of $24.568 billion) came in higher (by $1.180 billion) than the model’s last month’s July 2010 sales forecast estimate (of $23.388 billion) representing a plus 5 percent delta comparing July 2010′s actual sales number (published by the WSTS) to the projected forecast estimate ‘put forth’ by the Cowan LRA forecasting model and reported last month. This percent delta represents the Cowan LRA Model’s MI.

The MI is defined as the percent difference between the actual sales for a given month — in this case July 2010’s just published actual global sales of $24.568 billion and the forecasted sales estimate for July 2010, that is, $23.388 billion, which was calculated and published last month.

The MI can be either positive or negative and is a measure of the percent deviation of the actual monthly sales number from the previous month’s prediction derived by the model’s linear regression analysis of the past 26 years of historical, actual monthly global “sales experience” as gathered and published, each month, by the WSTS.

Note: August 2010’s sales forecast estimate is projected to be $25.448 billion. Read more…

EDA Tech Forum 2010: Delivering the latest in 10X design improvements


Pravin Madhani, GM, Place and Route Division, Mentor.

Pravin Madhani, GM, Place and Route Division, Mentor Graphics.

I’ve just returned from Mentor Graphics’ EDA Tech Forum 2010, titled: Delivering the latest in 10X design improvements. The opening keynote by Pravin Madhani, GM, Place and Route Division, Mentor, could have been better — well, Dr. Walden C. Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor, had also delivered a similar lecture at this year’s VLSID 2010 conference.

However, the other two keynotes — by Dr. Kota Murali, lead scientist & program manager of nanotech, IBM India, and Manjunath Hebbar, VP & Head – Strategic Services, HCL Technologies Ltd, lived up to their billing.

The photomask industry is between the proverbial hard rock and the hard place. For instance, at 32nm, the mask cost works out to be $2 million today. In his keynote, Madhani said that the manufacturing industry would surely figure out a way to control mask costs.

Even fab costs are pretty high today — estimated at $50 billion in 2010, that is ~10 percent of the annual market. The global fab industry continues to figure out how to decrease costs. While design costs are projected to grow logarithmically, cost per function will continue to decline long after Moore’s Law is obsolete.

So, will we have any use for so many transistors? Down the years, growth in unit volumes has always distinguished the semiconductor industry. The semicon industry has been growing at 13 percent (10-year CAGR), while transistors have grown at 49 percent. These sit very well, as compared to say, computers – 9.3 percent, steel — 5.3 percent, and automobiles — 0.1 percent. The 49 percent transistor growth drives the semicon industry.

Madhani said that the note/netbook market seems to have several years of growth ahead. The Apple iPad has also created a new segment. Cell phone adoption has been in high-growth mode in the emerging markets. Smartphones are changing the video dynamics.

So, will applications require 10K more transistors by 2018? And, do we have the necessary design tools? Well, there will likely be a ~10K increase in transistors over the next eight years, going up to 40 billion transistors by 2018. Therefore, the industry will require tools ready now in order to design for 2018.

Four principal areas will require 10X improvements in design methodologies — system level design, verification, embedded software development, and back-end physical design and test. A 10X increase in the number of transistors will also require 1000X increase in verification.

In summary, reduction in costs per functionality will continue on a predictable learning curve long after Moore’s law is obsolete. The industry will also witness ~10X increase in transistors over the next eight years, leading up to 40 billion transistors by 2018.

Latest global semicon sales forecast estimates: Cowan’s LRA model


This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

Here are the latest forecast results for 2010 global semicon sales estimates associated with the forecasting model — the Cowan LRA model for predicting worldwide semicon sales.

The table provided below summarizes the latest updated global semiconductor sales forecast estimates derived from the Cowan LRA Model and is based upon the just published (by the WSTS) February 2010 actual sales results.

Source: Cowan LRA model.

Source: Cowan LRA model.

The updated sales forecast estimate for 2010 (of $298.88 billion) shows a large drop from last month’s forecast estimate (of $316.20 billion).

This corresponds to a decrease in the year-over-year sales growth estimate of 7.6 percentage points, namely from 39.7 percent to 32.1 percent.

Source: Cowan LRA model.

Source: Cowan LRA model.

It should be noted — the latest WSTS actual monthly sales numbers for Feb. reveal a (strong) downward revision to last month’s Jan sales (down $0.530 billion) as summarized here.

It should be emphasized that each month’s actual global sales number published by the WSTS is a “lagging indicator” since it is released a full month after the fact.

The Cowan LRA Model, however, “turns” this lagging monthly sales number into a “leading indicator” by virtue of its near-term forecasting capability looking out over the next five quarters.

This is the “beauty” of the model and, therefore, makes it dynamic in the sense that it can be run each month utilizing the most recent actual global S/C sales number published by the WSTS.  Thus it allows “rigorous tracking” of the near-term sales forecast outlook for the global semiconductor industry on an “almost” real-time basis.

Consequently, the model’s monthly sales forecasts do not “sit still” but “evolve” with each month’s latest sales number.  Since conditions change rapidly and unexpectedly in the semiconductor industry, market forecasters are hard pressed to keep up with these changes.

Three things in Indian semicon: Vinay Shenoy


Vinay Shenoy

Vinay Shenoy

There have been a variety of announcements made by the Government of India in the last one year or so. In the pre-90s period, the country showed just 1 percent GDP growth rate. It was adverse to FDI and had a regulated market. All of this led to deregulation under the late PM, PV Narasimha Rao.

The Indian government was averse to foreign investment, which was opened up around 1994. Since then, we have seen 6-8 percent growth, said Vinay Shenoy, MD, Infineon Technologies (India). He was delivering the keynote at the UVM 1.2 day, being held in Bangalore, India.

Around 1997, India signed the ITA-1 with the WTO. Lot of electronic items had their import duty reduced to zero. It effectively destroyed the electronics manufacturing industry in India. We were now reduced to being a user of screwdriver technology. In 1985, the National Computer Policy, and in 1986, the National Software Policy, were drafted. The government of India believed that there existed some opportunities. The STPI was also created, as well as 100 percent EoUs. So far, we have been very successful in services, but have a huge deficit on manufacturing.

We made an attempt to kick off semicon manufacturing in 2007, but that didn’t take off for several reasons. It was later revived in 2011-12. Under the latest national policy of electronics, there have been a couple announcements – one, setting up of two semicon fabs in India. The capital grant – nearly 25-27 percent — is being given by the government. It has provided a financial incentive – of about $2 billion.

Two, electronics manufacturing per se, unless it is completely an EoU, the semicon industry will find it difficult to survive. There is the M-SIPS package that offers 25 percent capital grant to a wide range of industries.

Three, we have granted some incentives for manufacturing. But, how are you going to sell? The government has also proposed ‘Made in India’, where, 30 percent of the products will be used within India. These will largely be in the government procurements, so that the BoM should be at least 30 percent from India. The preferential market policy applies to all segments, except defense.

Skill development is also key. The government has clearly stated that there should be innovation-led manufacturing. The government also wants to develop PhDs in selected domains. It intends to provide better lab facilities, better professors, etc. Also, young professors seeking to expand, can seek funding from the government.

TSMC promotes small IP companies. Similarly, it should be done in India. For semicon, these two fabs in India will likely come up in two-three years time. “Look at how you can partner with these fabs. Your interest in the semicon industry will be highly critical. The concern of the industry has been the stability of the tax regime. The government of India has assured 10 years of stable tax regime. The returns will come in 10-15 years,” added Shenoy.

The government has set up electronics manufacturing clusters (EMC). These will make it easy for helping companies to set up within the EMC. The NSDC is tying up with universities in bringing skill-sets. The industry is also defining what skills will be required. The government is funding PhDs, to pursue specialization.

How’s global semicon industry performing in sub-20nm era?


Early this month, I caught up with Jaswnder Ahuja, corporate VP and MD, Cadence Desiign Systems India. With the global semiconductor industry having entered the sub-20nm era, there are a lot of things happening, and Cadence is sure to be present.

Performance in sub-2onm era
First, let’s see how’s the global semiconductor industry performing after entering the sub-20nm era.

Jaswinder Ahuja

Jaswinder Ahuja

Ahuja replied: “Increased demand for faster, smaller, low-power chips continues to drive the geometry shrink as one of the ways to manage the low-power, higher performance goals in smaller form factors—in other words, PPA is driving the move to advanced node design.

“At Cadence, we are seeing a lot of interest in the wireless space, which includes smartphones, tablets, and consumer devices. In this market, you must support different standards, the device must be really fast, it must have Internet access, and all this must be done at lower power so the that it does not drain the battery. We’re also seeing interest for advanced nodes in other segments such as computing and graphics processors.”

When speaking of advanced nodes, let’s also try and find out what Cadence is doing in helping achieve 10X faster power integrity analysis and signoff.

Cadence Voltus IC power integrity Solution is a full-chip, cell-level power signoff tool that provides accurate, fast, and high-capacity analysis and optimization technologies to designers for debugging, verifying, and fixing IC chip power consumption, IR drop, and electromigration (EM) constraints and violations.

The Voltus solution includes innovative technologies such as massively parallel execution, hierarchical architecture, and physically aware power grid analysis and optimization. Beneficial as a standalone power signoff tool, Voltus IC Power Integrity Solution delivers even more significant productivity gains when used in a highly integrated flow with other key Cadence products, providing the industry’s fastest design closure technology.

Developed with advanced algorithms and a new power integrity analysis engine with massively parallel execution, Voltus IC Power Integrity solution:
* Performs 10X faster than other solutions on the market.
* Supports very large designs—up to one billion instances—with its hierarchical architecture.
* Delivers SPICE-level accuracy.
* Enhances physical implementation quality via physically aware power integrity optimization.

Supported by major foundries and intellectual property (IP) providers, Voltus IC Power Integrity Solution has been validated and certified on advanced nodes processes such as 16nm FinFET and included in reference design flows such as for 3D-IC technology. Backed by Cadence’s rigorous quality control and product release procedures, the Voltus solution delivers best-in-class signoff quality on accuracy and stability for all process nodes and design technologies.

FinFETs to 20nm – are folks benefiting?
It is common news that FinFETs have gone to 20nm and perhaps, lower. Therefore, are those folks looking for power reduction now benefiting?

Ahuja replied that FinFETs allow semiconductor and systems companies to continue to develop commercially viable chips for the mobile devices that are dominating the consumer market. FinFETs enable new generations of high-density, high-performance, and ultra-low-power systems on chip (SoCs) for future smart phones, tablets, and other advanced mobile devices. Anyone who adopts FinFET technology will reap the benefits.

Foundry support for FinFETs will begin at 16nm and 14nm. In April of this year, Cadence announced a collaboration with ARM to implement the industry’s first ARM Cortex-A57 processor on TSMC’s 16nm FinFET manufacturing process. At ARM TechCon 2012, Cadence announced a 14nm test chip tapeout using an ARM Cortex-M0 processor and IBM’s FinFET process technology.
Read more…

Indian electronics scenario still dull: Leaptech


Suresh Nair

Suresh Nair

Leaptech Corp. was established to help the electronics and semiconductor manufacturing companies in India achieve global standards by adopting the latest technologies available worldwide. It represents the world’s leading companies offering automation equipment for PCB assembly, semiconductor, automotive and final assembly automation.

Suresh Nair, director, said that Leaptech is helping the electronics, semiconductor and automotive manufacturing companies in India by bringing in world class technologies from across the globe in assembly automation, the technologies, which are state-of-the-art.

“We provide both pre-sales and post-sales support to all the systems and solutions that we offer, complete post-sales support includes installation, commissioning, training, production support and process support through our factory trained engineers strategically located in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai.”

Leaptech provides audit and reconditioning services to enable customers improve productivity and uptime on their existing automated through hole and SMT assembly machines. Nair added: “We do provide audit and reconditioning services to customers where the machines were sold/supported by us. We may not be able to handle machines sold by other suppliers since that will be a breach of contract with out own principals.”

As for the training on operational and maintenance aspects of through hole insertion and SMT machines, Leaptech also provide complete training on machines for operation, periodical maintenance, trouble shooting as well as preventive maintenance.

Leaptech offers consultancy services for new electronics setup as well as for new projects in the existing facility, which includes all detailing as well as knowhow on the process of assembly/production. our expert team is upto date with all latest trends in this industry.

Connected mobile devices
It will be interesting to get Leaptech opinon regarding connected mobile devices. Nair said that connected mobile devices would grow for sure in the immediate future. Growth in the long term may depend on the contents of this segment and how interesting it is to the users.

With regard to automotive electronics driving energy efficiency, he added that Leaptech mostly sells automation equipment and the scope for these equipment toward energy efficiency for automotive sector is limited.

Indian electronics scenario in 2014 and beyond
According to Nair, the Indian electronics scenario is still dull and this may continue in the next year as well. Things could improve once the new manufacturing policy announced by the government starts seeing some investments.

To boost electronics manufacturing in India, it requires a simple action plan: make all finished electronics products imports more expensive and give incentives to local manufacturing.

However, he felt that nanotech will not emerge as a disruption in India, at least, not in the near future. It may make some impact in the long run.

SEMICON Europa 2013: Where does Europe stand in 450mm path?


SEMICON Europa was recently held in Dresden, Germany on Oct. 8-10, 2013. I am extremely grateful to Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons for sharing this information with me.

Semicon Europa 2013SEMICON Europa included a supplier exhibition where quite a few 450mm wafers were on display. One highlight was a working 450mm FOUP load/unload mechanism, albeit from a Japanese manufacturer. These exhibits did illustrate though that 450mm is for real and no longer a paper exercise.  There was also a day-long conference dedicated to 450mm in the largest room. This was crowded throughout the time and a large number of papers were given.

Paul Farrar of G450C began with a presentation about Supply Chain Collaboration for 450mm. His key message was there are 25 different tools delivered to G450C of which 15 are installed in the NFN cleanroom. This number will grow to 42 onsite and 19 offsite by Q1 2015.

He stated that Nikon aims to have a working 193i litho machine in 2H 2014 and install one in Albany in 1H 2015. Farrar also reported a great improvement in wafer quality which now exceed the expected M76 specification, and prime wafers to the M1 spec should be available in Q3 2014. There has also been good progress on wafer reclaim and it is hoped some wafers can be reused up to 10 times, although at least three is the target.

Metrology seems to be one of the most advanced areas with eight different machines already operational. The number of 450mm wafers in their inventory now stands at over 10,000 with these moving between the partners more rapidly. It was immediately noticeable from Farrar’s speech that G450C is now recognising the major contribution Europe is making to 450mm and is looking for more collaborations.

Facilities part of F450C
Peter Csatary of M&W then dealt with the facilities part of G450C, known as F450C. This group consists of:
• M&W (co-ordination)
• Edwards
• Swagelok
• Mega Fluid Systems
• Ovivo
• CH2MHILL
• Haws Corp.
• Air Liquide
• Ceres Technlogies
• CS Clean Systems

F450C is seen as streamlining communications with the semiconductor companies and their process tool suppliers. The group will focus on four key areas, namely Environmental Footprint, Facility Interface Requirements, Cost and Duration, and Safety and Sustainability.

One interesting point raised was that 450mm equipment is inherently more massive and one suggestion has been that ceiling mounted cranes will be required to install and remove equipment. This of course means that fab roofs would need to be stronger than previously. This topic was discussed at the latest F450C meeting subsequent to this conference.

Another new concept is that of a few standardised 3D templates and adapter plates to allow fab services to be pre-installed before the equipment is placed. An interesting point made elsewhere by M&W is that the current preference is to place a fab where there are already other fabs in existence so that the infrastructure to transport products, materials and services is already in place, as are basic utilities such as power, natural gas and water supply.

However, the scale of the expected utility demand at 450 mm ups the stakes as for example a large 300 mm facility uses about 4 million gallons of water per day, whereas a 450 mm fab will use almost double that, putting immense strain on a location’s infrastructure should there be other fabs in the region. This could affect future site selections.

An outcome of this phenomenon is that the reduction, reclaim and re-use of materials will no longer be driven only by the desire to be a good corporate citizen, but will also be driven by cost control and to ensure availability of required resources such as power, water, specialty gases and chemicals.
Read more…

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