Algorithm-to-chips is Algotochip’s mission. It turns algorithms into chips by converting your behavioral algorithm C-code into architecture C-code into RTL into GDS-II.
Speaking about architecture evolution at the 13th Global Electronics Summit at Santa Cruz, USA, Satish Padmanabhan, CTO and founder, Algotochip, said that the interconnect between CPU and all the HA blocks needs to be determined.
The market approach includes building an ecosystem with leading IP providers in targeted markets. Some areas Algotochip is looking at are LTE and smart grid markets.
Nitto Denko is committed to support Algotochip moving forward. Year 2013 will see significant investment increases in terms of engineering resources, as well as sales and marketing organization to cover USA, China and Japan.
Algotochip is showing that its technology is sound in improving system hardware and software partitioning and first time right design. The LTE turbo decoder performances in terms of throughput, power and gates count is showing the benefits of Algotochip BlueBox. The company is now building an ecosystem around its technology.
ARM Holdings and Tensilica are the first of the few partners that Algotochip wants to collaborate with to improve the overall time-to-market of digital design of the SoC, ASIC and FPGA, etc.
As per James Stansberry, VP & GM Broadcast Products, Silicon Labs, there was the emergence of CMOS RF design in late 1990s. He was speaking at the Globalpress Electronics Summit 2013, being held in Santa Cruz, the US.
CMOS strengths can be maximised in low-cost/high-volume wafer processing, low-power and high density logic that scales with lithography, and switched device architectures enable high-performance ADCs and DACs. Large RAM arrays and NVM are also available.
CMOS weaknesses can be minimized if the noise level at given current (1/f noise), there are low Q integrated inductors, Ft still lags SiGe and GaAs at same power level, and there is lower dynamic range with shriking supply voltages.
There are design LNAs, mixers, VCOs, PLLs and ADCs to compensate for CMOS constraints. It is recommended to use digital logic to detect and correct RF and baseband performance deficiencies. Optimizing a CMOS receiver means to design for cost without power or performance compromise and leverage digital signal processing to optimize RF.
Silicon Labs’ multiband radio receiver solution allows the power of integration. It leads to over 80 percent BoM savings. No manual alignment is required. There is minimal rework and superior RF performance. The BoM cost = -$0.10. Silicon Labs will be introducing the Si468x FM digital radio next week.
Advancing digital radio market
The software-defined radio (SDR) is to support multiple digital radio standards. It also supports worldwide analog FM and RDS/RBDS. It is compatible with iBiquity and NRSC-5 standards for FM digital radio and also compatible with Eureka 147 DAB/DAB+.
It is flexible and cost effective, as the radio-on-a-chip solution is available in WLCSP and QFN packages. It supports module or on-board designs. Silicon Labs is looking to broadening digital radio penetration. It can be seen in handheld clock and tabletop radios and clocks, mobile phones, tablets, PMPs and PNDs, and boom boxes and mini/micro systems.
The insulated-gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) is a three-terminal power semiconductor device. The main trends impacting IGBT include the power stack trend, revolution of Chinese IGBT, growth of IGBT use in consumer applications, and competition from SiC and GaN based devices, respectively.
According to Alexander Avron, Yole Developpement, current density of the IGBT has been multiplied by 3.5 in 20 years. IGBT technology is now very mature, using trenches and thin wafer. Wafer size for IGBT production is still growing and Infineon is currently the leader.
Infineon expects a cost advantage of 20-30 percent by increasing the wafer size from 8- to 12-inches. For Infineon, the 12-inch production line is for MOSFETSs, and they will probably produce IGBT 600V on thin wafer. Fairchild and IR prefer to remain at 8-inch.
A new generation release is always a low voltage product (600-900V). Main improvements have been in losses reduction. In the IGBT supply chain, vertically integrated companies are Japanese only, besides a few, like ABB. Only a few companies, like Danfoss, take advantage of doing module and inverter for motor drives. In a cost-driven market, there is not much competitive advantage in developing own module.
Trends impacting IGBT
Power stack trend - The need for more modularity and higher performance made components makers (active and passive) to join and create consortiums or JVs. It is trending toward more integration.
Revolution of the Chinese IGBT - First Chinese companies are starting to manufacture IGBTs using standard technology and low cost, perfect for a local market. Asian players are becoming a greater part of the IGBT market. While they do not make a lot of devices as yet, it is expected that they will quickly gain market shares in low cost local businesses.
Some new entrants include CSMC, Hua-Hong NEC, PSMC, BYD, Grace Semiconductor, Alpha & Omega Semiconductor, etc. Many Chinese companies are very close to or already able to manufacture their own IGBTs. This will grow and create a Chinese IGBT.
Growth of IGBT use in consumer applications - IGBTs are becoming more part of the consumer lifestyle. Renewable energies and EV/HEV are good examples. Pioneers of HV IGBT have the best market shares. Margin for HV IGBT modules is high. It is first in the EV/HEV and renewables markets. New markets are targeted by all players.
The ASP evolution of consumer markets has dropped down very fast as compared to the industrial markets. Also, DLB or direct lead bonding is a specific technology from Mitsubishi Electric to produce epoxy molded power modules for hybrid and electric cars. Mass production is targeted for 2013.
Competition from SiC and GaN - Next generation devices are becoming available. They will displace IGBT, but not at all the levels and in all the applications. Characteristics of GaN-based inverters are: they primarily target medium voltage apps (200-600V range). SiC diodes are already in production, mainly coupled with IGBT. Penetration of SiCs in wind turbines will happen later than expected.
As for the 2006-2020 power devices market forecast, Yole expects a more stable growth by 2020. There was an unanticipated slowdown in 2012. The market share in 2011 was Mitsubishi 27 percent, Infineon 23 percent, Fuji Electric 11 percent, etc. The IGBT market share was Infineon 35 percent, Mitsubishi 32 percent, Hitachi 12 percent, ABB 9 percent, respectively.
Yole estimates that at least 15 companies – foundries, fab lights and fabs — are working on IGBT development in China.
Ms. Fatima Toor, analyst, Lux Research, recently presented on opportunities in turbulent PV equipment market, in association with SEMI, USA.
Global PV market trends
Bankruptcies are galore. Eg. Solyndra, Abound Solar, Konarka, etc. Global trade wars are also on the rise. There are US tariffs on Chinese solar cells. There is also an EU investigation on Chinese solar panels. Then, there are Chinese investigations on US, EU and Korean polysilicon dumping. Government incentives have been lowered in the EU, but raised in Asia and Americas. Following Barack Obama’s re-election in the US, the environmentalists are again upbeat about green energy.
Global PV demand increase will be driven by Asia and Americas in the coming years. Emerging markets will grow over six times in size from 2011-2017. Crystalline Si will be the dominant installed PV technology, at least till 2017. Gap between demand and supply will close.
The Q3-12 geographical capacity distribution would be across PV value chain. China leads in polysilicon, cells and modules supply. Chinese equipment manufacturers market share has been on the rise, ramping up competition for Western equipment suppliers.
Lux Research sampled 493 PV manufacturers. Of these, 40 percent are based in the EU, 28 percent are based in China, 17 percent are in the US and 15 percent are in the Rest of the World.
Opportunities for equipment manufacturers in current market state
Cost, efficiency and price are fundamental drivers of PV industry. Innovations across the value chain will enable higher margins for PV industry. The desire for cell and module manufacturers to reduce costs and differentiate will drive opportunities for equipment manufacturers.
Crystalline Si technology: Innovations across crystalline Si value chain would enable opportunities for equipment suppliers. Fluidized bed reactor (FBR) process requires 10 lWh/kg and is a continuous process. Why is FBR only 6 percent of total polysilicon capacity today? The reasons are:
* No off-the-shelf FBR reactors are available.
* Process complexity requires that Si granules can be polluted by impurities.
* There is an opportunity for equipment manufacturers to develop off-the-shelf FBR equipment that will enable reduced production costs for polysilicon.
* GCL announced developing its FBR technology.
* Samsung Fine Chemicals and MEMC have partnered to set up FBR polysilicon production due to its lower production costs.
Monocrystalline silicon (c-Si) ingot growth using Czochralski (CZ) method is high cost and results in pseudo-square c-Si wafers. Plate seed for qc-Si ingot growth with mc-Si grains on the edges and c-Si in the middle. ReneSola has technology with wafer capacity of 2GW of which 1.6GW is qc-Si Virtus wafers and 0.4GW are c-Si wafers. ReneSola is likely to be one of the Chinese companies to survive the shakeout due to its strategy and technology.
Opportunities exist to optimize qc-Si ingot growth. Modified directional solidification (DS) furnace makers claim 90 percent c-Si and 10 percent mc-Si yields during qc-Si ingot growth. In reality, 60 percent c-Si and 40 percent mc-Si results in high wafer binning and sorting costs. This provides an opp for equipment manufacturers to improve the c-Si yield to higher than 90 percent. The Qc-Si capacity is likely to increase in the coming years as DS furnace manufacturers innovate.
The global market of medical image sensors will grow from $68 million in 2011 to $112 million in 2017, a growth of 64.7 percent. Whereas the contribution in value of the global endoscopy market represents only a few 10 percent of the medical image sensors market in 2011, 90 percent is related to x-ray applications.
These are among some of the conclusions drawn by Benjamin Roussel, technology and market analyst – MedTech, Yole Développement, France, in a seminar on how CCD, CMOS and a-Si are reshaping the global medical imaging market.
He added that image sensor innovations are reshaping the medical imaging industry as it permit the entry of news market players, the development of news products in line with both patient and physicians requirements. The medical image sensors market is currently evolving. Emerging technologies are expected to go mainstream in the future, fueled by new applications with high growth rates.
X-ray and endoscopy apps
Medical applications are vast and numerous, such as microscopy, endoscopy, x-ray based methods, MRI, ultrasound imaging and nuclear medicine. Medical image sensors are integrated into larger products — medical devices. Depending on the market the medical device aims for, the image sensors functions change. For example, while power consumption is critical for camera pill devices, for reusable endoscopes it’s temperature and humidity resistance.
The objective of the segmentation is to organize the medical image sensors market into well defined segments. Each one of those have their own drivers and set of requirements, and identify which applications present a real opportunity for micro-system technologies. X-ray image sensors price are, on average, 1,000 times larger than endoscopic image sensors.
Dynamics of image sensors
The global medical image sensor market will grow from $68 million in 2011 to $112 million in 2017. The global medical image sensors market in volume will grow from 1.4 Munits in 2011 to 4.6 Munits in 2017, fueled by emerging endoscopy products: camera pills and disposable endoscopes.
The CCD medical image sensors market dedicated to endoscopy will grow from $4 million in 2011 to $5 million in 2017. In parallel, the total CMOS medical image sensors market will continue to grow sharply from $1 million in 2011 to $3.5 million in 2017. The medical IS market for x-ray application will grow from $63 million to $103 million in 2017. The CMOS x-ray image sensors revenue will continue to grow at a 12 percent CAGR 2012-2017 and reach $44 million in 2017.
Medical image sensors technology is the gateway for new entrants in endoscopy market. CMOS camera, 3D imaging and multispectral are the three different trends that will shape the future of endoscopes. Likewise, the current move to CMOS, the move from indirect to direct conversion of x-ray (no scintillator, no fiber optic plate), and the move toward single photon detectors are the trends likely to shape the future of x-ray systems.
The MEMS market is on a growing curve again, and many changes are happening on the technical side, business model side and supply chain side. MEMS will continue to see steady, sustainable double digit growth for the next six years: 13 per cent CAGR in revenues and 20 per cent CAGR in units. MEMS will grow to $21 billion market by 2017.
Every year brings new business to the MEMS landscape. Combo sensors are coming. The MEMS market is still very fragmented, with a number of high volume MEMS applications still limited today. However, a whole range of new MEMS devices has now reached the market and new ‘emerging MEMS’ devices are coming..
MEMS applicable to mobile devices (RF MEMS switches, oscillators, auto-focus) have the possibility to ramp up to large volumes quickly. Growth will also come from existing sensors that are expanding into new market spaces: e.g. pressure sensors for consumer.
Consumer/mobile applications are driving about 50 per cent of the total volume. Telecom and medical applications will grow faster with expected CAGR of ~20 per cent in the next five years. Industrial MEMS applications represent significant opportunities with grow of ~13 per cent likely.
MEMS in 2011
Four devices represented over 50 per cent of units shipped in 2011. Microphones, accelerometers, gyroscopes and magnetometers represented more than 50 per cent of MEMS units shipped in 2011.
Accelerometer, gyroscope and electronic compass growth is coming from the detection of movement, which is reaching every applications, from mobile phones to pacemakers to smart munitions. Microphone has found a sweet spot in the mobile phone business, replacing the electric condenser type of microphones.
All these devices are about to be combined with other sensors and electronic functions/processing in order to add more value. Multi-microphone arrays with noise cancellation functionalities are now a new feature in smartphones. Accelerometers plus gyroscopes plus electronic compasses are being combined (in a SiP package, in the near future, in silicon SoC) to bring a higher level of functionality at even lower costs.
Invensense achieved the same MEMS size when moving from 2-axis to 3-axis gyros (ITG-3200). As for MEMS accelerometer roadmap, new packaging concepts (such as metal-to-metal wafer bonding, WLP/TSV technologies) are driving the ‘Moore law’ of the MEMS technology roadmap.
In an example of STM accelerometer using TSV technology, by removing the area reserved for I/O pads, the TSV process allows the MEMS die area to be shrinked by 25 per cent compared to the standard accelerometer. However, TSV adds major manufacturing changes that increase the final wafer cost by about $90. The wafer extra cost cumulated with a shrinked MEMS die, makes the final die cost still competitive.
In the 2011 MEMS ranking of the top 30 players, TI, STMicro, HP and Bosch are the ‘big 4′ players with annual revenues of > $700 million. The top 30 accounts for ~80 per cent of total MEMS market. More than 25 players generate annual revenues from $50 million to $300 million.
As for 2011 MEMS foundry rankings, some MEMS IDMs have been successful in developing a MEMS foundry business beyond internal needs. STMicro is by far the no. 1 with key customers such as HP (related to ink-jet MEMS manufacturing). Sony has Knowles’ silicon microphone wafer manufacturing business.
Pure play MEMS foundries include Silex (SW), DALSA (CA), apm (TW), IMT (US), tMt (TW) and DNP (JP). CMOS wafer foundries are entering the MEMS manufacturing space with TSMC (TW), umc (TW), Globalfoundries (SG), SMIC (CH), X-Fab (GE) and Semefab (UK).
The 2011 MEMS foundry services accounted for ~6 per cent of the total MEMS market ($623 million). In 2010, the ratio was similar. Now, there are more and more fabless companies in the MEMS space! There are over 70 fabless MEMS companies.
According to Yole Developpement, France, the number of devices packaged with ‘fan-in WLCSP will exceed 25 billion units in 2012, exceeding more than 2 million 300mm equivalent wafers. Yole recently held a seminar on wafer level chip scale package (WLCSP).
Yole estimates the fan-in WLCSP industry value to be over $1.9 billion in 2012. This includes wafer level services (including test) and die level services, as well as the service margin. This market value is expected to keep on growing at a 2010-2016 CAGR of 12 percent, despite decreasing prices. However it does not grow equally across all device types.
The use of fan-in WLCSP for a given application tends to be more and more standardized: it is now clear, for example, that the penetration rate of fan-in WLCSP for connectivity devices in handsets is close to 100 percent, while some players still proposed QFN or BGA solutions a couple of years ago for this same application.
The maximum die size increased recently, and it is now common place to find 36mm² fan-in WLCSP devices in smartphones and tablets. The world record is 50mm² with 309 balls. Any fan-in WLCSP device larger than 4mm in side needs to be underfilled on the PCB. According to Yole, fan-in WLCSP is a maturing technology and market. It still grows faster than the average semiconductor packaging market mainly thanks to the fast growth rates of smartphones and tablet PCs in which WLCSP considerably helps save space and costs. Read more…
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.
According to Dr. Milan Rosina, Yole Developpement, high concentration PV (HCPV) does not follow the same way as PV. Adapted applications and installations in suitable regions are necessary. There are synergies between HCPV, LED, automotive and PV industries. New market entrants could help in the business development Dr. Rosina was speaking at an HCPV seminar organized by Yole.
More than 80 companies are currently working in developing HCPV technology. More than 30 firms are developing new modules and systems. Large-scale installations are underway. There is large potential for the LCOE cost decrease. Positive track record from the large-scale installation could significantly improve the bancability of HCPV systems. However, strong competition with flat-module PV will remain.
Earlier, touching upon solar electricity generation and HCPV at a glance, he said that cells based on III-V materials have currently the best efficiencies, both in laboratory and in industrial production. A world record efficiency of 43.5 percent under concentrated light was obtained in 2011 by Solar Junction of USA. Commercially available cells are produced by Spectrolab of USA, Emcore of USA and Azur Space of Germany that reach 39-40 percent efficiency.
III-V cells have been used since 1997 to power satellites in space. They are too expensive to be used in standard terrestrial applications. Therefore, these are combined in terrestrial applications with light concentration systems in order to increase the efficiency and to decrease the cost per watt. The interest of HCPV is to use only a small amount of III-V material and to concentrate the light onto very efficient cells.
Drivers and barriers
Marker drivers and advantages of HCPV include high power production (MWh/y per watt installed) in high DNI areas due to high system efficiency, sun tracking, amd low temperature coefficient. There is reduced consumption of (costly) semiconductor material due to the use of optical concentrating system. Other advantages include system modularity, ,inimal water use, low environmental impact, promising LCOE potential in the high DNI areas, and large potential for efficiency increase and cost reduction.
As for market barriers, HCPV is still a niche market. There are geographical limitations for installations (high DNI required). It is best adapted for ground-mounted power plants only. There is high system price to contend with, as well as low product maturity and lack of standards and independent track records. Finally, there is competition with all electricity sources, especially with CSP and PV.
HCPV systems are targeting the utility market, e.g. electricity production on a large scale. An HCPV system is a multicomponent and multidisciplinary system. System components include solar cell, receiver module, concentrating optics and HCPV module. High-precision assembly of all elements into the module is the key factor for reaching full module and system performance. The tracking system is equally important. Read more…
The Singapore Semiconductor Industry Association (SSIA) recently held its 2011 Summit. Estimating the global semiconductor industry in 2012, the SSIA agrees with Future Horizon forecasts stating that 2011-Q3 will be flat (+/- 1 percent), and that 2011-Q4 will show a slight decline (-1/-2 percent) with total year growth of 1 percent as compared with growth of 2010 +32 percent.
Pasquale Pistorio, honorary chairman, ST Microelectronics, who spoke at SSIA’s Summit, described expectations for 2012 as including a low first half, followed growth of +8 percent and 2013 growth of 22 percent. “The industry will reach the elusive $400 billion mark in 2013,” noted Pistorio. The global semiconductor market will be $313 billion in 2012.
Meeting semicon industry challenges
According to the SSIA, the semiconductor industry challenges going forward include:
* Industry growth in an uncertain market: The semiconductor industry is cyclical – and this poses challenges. “Excessive investment in inventory during expansion or economic slowdown, or both, has been the way of life in this industry,” said Pistorio. “The semiconductor industry is characterized by big market swings. In 2001, the swing was +69 percent. Now is a new swing. This is the first correction of this decade. This is the nature of the industry – this is business as usual.”
* Growth of emerging semiconductor companies: With semiconductor startups declining in number and VCs becoming more and more hesitant to invest funds in getting them off the ground, a different approach is needed to enable these innovative entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in the semiconductor market.
To encourage growth in this sector, SSIA will become involved in a semiconductor-focused company incubator to guide the creation of growth of Singapore- based fabless semiconductor startups; create an SSIA emerging company board with a focus on better meeting the needs of emerging semiconductor companies and facilitating coordination with established Singapore semiconductor companies; and coordinate with Singapore government agencies and the Economic Development Board on infrastructure support initiatives for emerging semiconductor companies.
Asian semiconductor industry worth $177 billion in 2012
Estimating the Asian semiconductor industry in 2012, the SSIA said that Singapore plays a significant role in the overall. The Asian semiconductor market is expected to be $177 billion in 2012. According to SSIA projections, the 2012 Singapore semiconductor market will be approximately $44.6 billion.
Year 2010 was a record year for Singapore’s electronics industry. The industry attained historic highs in both manufacturing output and value-added. Electronics manufacturing output grew 26.9 percent in 2010 to reach S$89.9 billion, far surpassing the global industry growth of 9.3 percent. The electronics industry was also the largest contributor to Singapore’s 2010 GDP from the manufacturing sector, with its share of GDP increasing to 7 percent from 5.7 percent in 2009.
The strong growth of Singapore’s electronics industry was enabled through industry transformation. Over the years, the electronics industry has transformed to manufacture higher value-added products and R&D. This is illustrated through two main sectors – semiconductors and data storage.
Singapore’s semiconductor industry posted a nominal growth of 49.8 percent, outpacing the global semiconductor industry’s 32.5 percent growth in 2010. As a result, Singapore’s manufacturing output share of global semiconductor revenues increased from 11.2 percent in 2009 to 13.5 percent in 2010.