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Geo creating better user experience with motion detection algorithm


Brian Gannon

Brian Gannon

Geo Semiconductor Inc. has been enabling new markets that are changing the world. In automotive, it is into HUDs, Fisheye cameras and digital calibration. In cloud/Skype camera, it is into home monitoring, doorbell cameras, and Skype TV.

According to Brian Gannon, VP Marketing & Business Development, Geo is a four-year old company, built from 20+ years of development  and $300 million+ investment. It has over 50+ customers in production worldwide. All of this IP allows Geo to provide unique, end-to-end solutions to create new markets. He was speaking at the ongoing 13th Global Electronics Summit at Santa Cruz, USA.

Geo has been creating better user experience with motion detection algorithm. Geo’s eWARP processor is a highly efficient hardware block that can be programmed to do any geometric transformation of pixels in real-time.

The eWARP processor is fundamental to camera and projection systems. For the camera, it is correcting distortions, such as wide angle, fisheye, lateral color, etc. It takes care of ePTZ, fisheye, panoramic dewarping and scaling. It is also stitching/blending cameras. Geo provides 3D alignment for stereoscopic cameras as well. Finally, it takes care of the camera optical alignment.

For the projection, the eWARP processor is correcting distortions such as projection optics and keystone correction. It also takes care of ultra short throw, stitching/blending – tiled displays, curved displays and color correction.

Geo provides the only solution that can concatenate multiple transforms. It does multiple independent geometric corrections. An example is enabling real-time ePTZ. There are custom layouts and views, along with real-time HD resolutions up to 60fps. There are up to eight multiple images.

Wide angle lens correction is possible with zero content loss. The heads-up display (HUD) solution corrects for windshield and projector. It simultaneously corrects for any distortion created by the windshield, projector or mirror — instantly and digitally. It removes any alignment parts and electronics in the HUD system. Calibration can be automated to save labor costs.

Geo’s powerful automation software also reduces labor costs and cycle time. For instance, a single eWARP IC can correct, align and dewarp four automotive VGA cameras.

Motion sensors driving MEMS growth


In a recent report, iSuppli predicted that driven by new demand from consumer electronics (CE) and wireless applications, the global market for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) will expand to $8.8 billion in 2012, up from $6.1 billion in 2006.

I caught up with Jérémie Bouchaud, Director and Principal Analyst, MEMS, iSuppli Corp., to find out more about the dip in the fortunes of the mainstay products and the latest trends in the MEMS market, especially, the significance of consumer electronics applications such as motion sensors for gaming, laptops and DSCs, and mobile handsets.

Will the mainstay products for MEMS actuators, inkjet heads and DLP chips, will lose market share? Or, is it a slight dip?

Jérémie Bouchaud says that MEMS actuators, include inkjet and DLP, and also RF MEMS switches. While selling prices stay constant, MEMS inkjet heads are losing shipments at a rate of 6 percent per year over the forecast period, so the market grows only slightly at 0.4 percent CAGR from 2006-2012.

DLP shipments continue to grow, but price erosion is running at 10 percent CAGR, which means that the market is shrinking at close to 5 percent per year to 2012. RF MEMS switches are the one bright spot that helps the market for this type of MEMS device to recover slightly in 2012. RF MEMS switches will grow at 100 percent CAGR over this time to top $260 million in 2012.

The new wave is partly founded in the rapid rise of consumer electronics applications such as motion sensors for gaming, laptops and DSCs, and mobile handsets. How much share are these segments likely to garner?

According to the analyst, all types of sensors in wireless communications and consumer electronics (inertial, pressure, microphones, filters, oscillators etc) exceed $1,5 billion: or 17 percent of the total MEMS market.

“Specifically, the motion sensing opportunity, including accelerometers and gyroscopes, for consumer applications like MEMS accelerometers for mobile phones (e.g., image rotation such as in iPhone and Nokia phones), gaming (Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3), etc., and gyros (mostly digital still cameras and camcorders, gaming like Playstation 3) will grow at over 20 percent CAGR from 2006 to 2012 to exceed $680 million, about 8 percent of the total market,” he said.

iSuppli has also mentioned automotive as a key area for MEMS. What kind of growth does it see for automotive?

Bouchaud adds that automotive will grow at 8 percent CAGR to reach $2.1 billion in 2012, up from 1,3 billion in 2006. The market is largely driven by mandates for tire pressure monitoring, electronic stability control systems and reduced emissions, accelerating growth for pressure and inertial sensors.

So, will “new players have a chance to address a relatively open market”, and if yes, what would those markets be?

Bouchaud indicates that the consumer electronics market is more open than the automotive sector, which features established, long-term supply arrangements, and production cycles lasting five or more years.

CE applications are characterized by fast time-to-market and short product lifetimes. For example, mobile phones that change yearly or even more frequently, and supply agreements satisfied by fast manufacturing ramp-up and ability to meet seasonal demand spikes, and often several suppliers in the same product, (e.g. ST and ADI in Wii). As sensor specifications are more relaxed than automotive, price and footprint are most decisive.

Will there be a growth in dedicated mass production facilities then?

According to him, several large MEMS players, e.g., STMicroelectronics, Freescale and Bosch Sensortec, have or are now invested in upgrading to 8″ production facilities to meet the higher demand from the consumer sector. By 2011, at least 12 companies will operate at this larger wafer size.

“Some companies like Analog Devices are at the limit of their current capacity, due to its strong automotive sensor offering, and has recently decided to work with non-MEMS CMOS foundries like TSMC, a first in the industry. UMC will also join the MEMS community, partnering with Asian Pacific Microsystems,” he says.

And, how would the new entrants be investing in R&D? Will they be doing enough?

The analyst says that R&D rates run high in automotive (12-15 percent of MEMS revenues) and even higher in consumer (can be 15-20 percent). The high R&D rate is needed to sustain leading edge products in fast moving markets. Deep R&D pockets are needed, a luxury that is not available to all.

Elaborating a bit more on the market consolidation, he says: ” Today, the share of the MEM revenues in the hands of the top 30 MEMS companies grew at about the same rate as the market. The markets that drive growth in MEMS are consumer electronics and automotive sensors.

“The sensors will be increasingly commoditized due to extreme price pressure in both sectors, and iSuppli expects the production of MEMS devices for these two markets to be concentrated among fewer companies in the future. One facet is manufacturers attempting economies of scale by combining sales in automotive and consumer areas, e.g. at Bosch, and in future with Freescale and ST.

“Other companies are pioneers and hold a strong market position for a relatively long time. Examples are TI with DLP chips and Knowles with MEMS microphones. We also expect more M&As in the near future to exacerbate the consolidation.”

Are we about to reach end of Moore’s Law?


Here is the concluding part of my discussion with Sam Fuller, CTO, Analog Devices. We discussed the technology aspects of Moore’s Law and

Sam Fuller

Sam Fuller

‘More than Moore’, among other things.

Are we at the end of Moore’s Law?
First, I asked Fuller that as Gordon Moore suggested – are we about to reach the end of Moore’s Law? What will it mean for personal computing?

Fuller replied: “There is definitely still life left in Moore’s law, but we’re leaving the golden age after the wonderful ride that we have had for the last 40 years. We will continue to make chips denser, but it is becoming difficult to continue to improve the performance as well as lower the power and cost.

“Therefore, as Moore’s law goes forward, more innovation is required with each new generation. As we move from Planer CMOS to FinFET (a new technology for multi-gate architecture of transistors); from silicon to more advanced materials Moore’s law will still have life for the next decade, but we are definitely moving into its final stages.

“For personal computing, there is still a lot of innovation left before we begin to run out of ideas. There will continue to be great advances in smart phones, mobile computing and tablets because software applications are really just beginning to take advantage of the phenomenal power and capacity of today’s semiconductors. The whole concept of ‘Internet of things’ will also throw up plenty of new opportunities.

“As we put more and more sensors in our personal gadgets, in factories, in industries, in infrastructures, in hospitals, and in homes and in vehicles, it will open up a completely new set of applications. The huge amount of data generated out of these sensors and wirelessly connected to the Internet will feed into the big data and analytics. This would create a plethora of application innovations.”

What’s happening in the plane?
The plane opportunity – 90nm – 65nm – 45nm – 22nm – 20nm – 14/18nm – is starting to get difficult and probably won’t work at 12nm, for purely physics reasons. What is Analog Devices’ take on this?

Fuller said: “You are right! We have been going from 45 nm down to lower nodes, it’ll probably go down to 10 nm, but we are beginning to run into some fundamental physics issues here. After all, it’s a relatively finite number of atoms that make up the channels in these transistors. So, you’re going to have to look at innovations beyond simply going down to finer dimensions.

“There are FinFETS and other ways that can help move you into the third dimension. We’re getting to a point where we can put a lot of complexity and a number of functions on a single die. We have moved beyond purely digital design to having more analog and mixed signal components in the same chip. There are also options such as stacked dies and multiple dies.

“Beyond integration on a single chip, Analog Devices leads in advanced packaging technologies for System in a Package (SiP) where sensors, digital and analog/mixed signal components are all in a single package as the individual components would typically use different technology nodes and it might not be practical to do such integration on a single die.

“So, the challenge often gets described as “More than Moore”, which is going beyond Moore’s law, bringing those capabilities to do analog processing as well as digital and then integrating sensors for temperature sensing, pressure sensing, motion sensing and a whole range of sensors integrated for enabling the ‘Internet of Things’.

“At Analog Devices, we have the capability in analog as well as digital, and having worked for over 20 years on MEMS devices, we are particularly well positioned as we get into ‘More than Moore’.”
Read more…

Round-up 2013: Best of semiconductors, electronics and solar


Virtex UltraScale device.

Virtex UltraScale device.

Friends, here’s a review of 2013! There have been the usual hits and misses, globally, while in India, the electronics and semiconductor industries really need to do a lot more! Enjoy, and here’s wishing everyone a Very Happy and Prosperous 2014! Be safe and stay safe!!

DEC. 2013
What does it take to create Silicon Valley!

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

Xilinx announces 20nm All Programmable UltraSCALE portfolio

Dr. Wally Rhines: Watch out for 14/16nm technologies in 2014!

Outlook 2014: Xilinx bets big on 28nm

NOV. 2013
Indian electronics scenario still dull: Leaptech

Connecting intelligence today for connected world: ARM

India poses huge opportunity for DLP: TI

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

OCT. 2013
Apple’s done it again, wth iPad Air!

IEF 2013: New markets and opportunities in sub-20nm era!

SEPT. 2013
ST intros STM32F4 series high-performance Cortex-M4 MCUs

Great, India’s having fabs! But, is the tech choice right?

G450C

G450C

Now, India to have two semicon fabs!

Higher levels of abstraction growth area for EDA

AUG. 2013
Moore’s Law could come to an end within next decade: POET

What’s happening with 450mm: G450C update and status

300mm is the new 200mm!

JULY 2013
Xilinx tapes-out first UltraScale ASIC-class programmable architecture

JUNE 2013
EC’s goal: Reach 20 percent share in chip manufacturing by 2020!
Read more…

M/H can truly deliver ‘real TV’ experience!


Ronen Jashek, co-founder and VP Marketing, Siano Mobile Silicon.

Ronen Jashek, co-founder and VP Marketing, Siano Mobile Silicon.

Siano Mobile Silicon, based in Israel, is going strong in mobile digital TV space. Thanks to Rachel Glaser, of Ruderfinn, Israel, I managed an exclusive with Ronen Jashek, co-founder and VP Marketing, Siano Mobile Silicon.

First,  let’s understand what the US standard for mobile digital TV — ATSC-M/H (Advanced Television Systems Committee – Mobile/Handheld)– all about! Jashek said: “ATSC-M/H is a standard that was established on the foundation of ATSC, a digital technology that replaced Analog TV in the US back in 2009. ATSC is the US equivalent to other international standards, like DVB-T (Europe), ISDB-T Full-Seg (Japan), and others around the world.

“ATSC is targeted (and consequently, was designed to do just that) to deliver HD content to domestic, stationary applications (i.e., big-screen TVs at home) that primarily use fixed antennae. It therefore does not address issues that are related to mobile use-cases – mobility (being able to receive the signal while moving at high speeds), efficient power consumption (to address the mobile, battery-powered devices) and extremely high sensitivity and immunity to interface (which is required in a typical mobile use-case when “on the go”).  As a result, these aspects are exactly what M/H (Mobile/Handheld) is addressing. In a word, M/H can be considered the equivalent of DVB-H (again – in Europe), CMMB (in China) and ISDB-T 1-Seg (Japan and LatAm).

“ATSC-M/H was established by the ATSC standardization body, as a joint effort by its members, after realizing the need to secure a technology that would enable true mobile TV service to take off and flourish in the U.S. The various ATSC committees worked on the standard for several years, up until its final version was formally approved in the fall of 2010, paving the way to the deployment and launch of the M/H TV service.”

Given the considerable interest around mobile handheld TV, how significant is the mobile-ready programing? Jashek replied: “Based on the underlying M/H technology, US broadcasters now have the means to get their content out there – direct to consumers. Currently, there are about 60 cities with a total of close to 80 TV stations that are already airing mobile TV content.

“To date, however, most of this content is local – meaning, it’s produced and aired locally. But this is not nearly enough to generate a successful, enticing mobile TV market. Enter the Mobile Content Venture, the MCV – a coalition of the top US broadcasters (FOX, NBC, ION, and others) that set its mission on delivering the mobile TV service built on the broadcast technology and spectrum.

“Naturally, the content that can be delivered by this coalition is the best available premium content in the US Quoting their official plans – “At launch, the service will initially consist of at least two ad-supported, free-to-consumer channels in each DMA. Additional channels and markets are expected to be added.” There’s no doubt that once the MCV plans are in motion and materialize, the content will be extremely attractive to render the service successful.” Read more…

MEMS market overview: IHS iSuppli

November 14, 2011 2 comments

The  MEMS Executive Congress, MEMS Industry Group’s annual executive conference, was held on Nov. 2-3, 2011, in Monterey, USA. Here are the excerpts from a presentation on the MEMS market overview by Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst, MEMS & Sensors, IHS iSuppli. Thanks are also due to Maria Vetrano for providing me with this opportunity.

Source iSuppli MEMS Market Tracker – Q2 2011.

Source iSuppli MEMS Market Tracker – Q2 2011.

The market for MEMS has been growing, and is slated to grow at a CAGR of +10.5 percent from 2010-2015. Consumer and mobile MEMS market is slated to grow 22 percent CAGR from $1.5 billion in 2010 to $4.4 billion in 2015.

Smart phones remain the locomotive. MEMS content has increased in smart phones. The Accelero has migrated to feature phones. There will be limited opportunity in the gray handset market. Tablets are providing an additional market boost. There will likely be 275 million media tablets in 2015. The ‘full PC tablets’ in consumer laptops segment will also be impacted positively. Dangerous games — they peaked in 2010, will be down in 2011-2012, and go up again in 2014.

New MEMS devices in 2011 include MEMS thermopiles in handsets (TI), MEMS joysticks (Knowles) and RF MEMS switch/varactors. There will be new opportunities in sport/reha. However, IHS iSuppli not too excited about motion sensors for remote controllers and MEMS speaker — there will be no revenue by 2015.

Hottest of the hottest include motion sensors in handsets and tablets. There are likely to be a few more fat years’ for consumer MEMS. The fat years include the period from 2010-2013, which translates into robust smart phones sales and skyrocketing media tablets shipment.

The automotive MEMS market will grow at 8.5 percent CAGR from $1.90 billion in 2010 to $2.86 billion in 2015. Safety applications dominate, often with mandates. Examples are: ESC with (MEMS gyro, accelerometer, pressure sensors), airbags (accelerometer, pressure, ultrasound), and TPMS mandate in US since 2007, EU from 2012 and now China (from 2015).

Japan caused 2.2 million production drop globally, in 2011. Car production forecast has also been revised down in for 2012. China is driving sensor sales, e.g., basic MAP to lower emissions. Combo sensors are accelerating price erosion (7-8 percent, instead of 4 percent). Newcomers are finally breaking into safety sensor markets. Some examples are SensorDynamics for gyro, MEMSIC accelerometer in airbag-based ESC systems from Autoliv. Also, ST and Epson are gunning for safety applications. Read more…

Semiconductor supply chain dynamics: Future Horizons @ IEF2011


The last decade heralded a dramatic transformation in supply chain dynamics, driven by the complexity challenge of staying on the More Moore curve. On the demand side, the high cost of fabs persuaded almost all integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) to use foundries for their leading-edge wafer supply.

The ever-increasing process complexity and its negative impact on manufacturing yields forced the adoption of sophisticated foundry-specific design-for manufacturing (DFM) techniques, effectively committing new chip designs to a single foundry and process.

At the same time, the industry adopted a much more cautious lagging rather than leading demand approach to new capacity expansion, resulting in under-supply and shortages in leading-edge wafer fab capacity. To make matters worse, the traditional oxide-based planar transistor started to misbehave at the 130nm node, as manifested by low yields and higher than anticipated power dissipation, especially when the transistors were supposed to be off, with no increase in performance, heralding the introduction of new process techniques (e.g., high-k metal gates).

Even before these structural changes have been fully digested, supply chain dynamics have been further disrupted by the prospective transition to 450mm wafer processing, to extreme ultra violet (EUV) lithography, and from planar to vertical transistor design.

Transistor design
Since the start of the industry, adding more IC functionality while simultaneously decreasing power consumption and increasing switching speed—a technique fundamentally known as Moore’s Law—has been achieved by simply making the transistor structure smaller. This worked virtually faultlessly down to the 130nm node when quite unexpectedly things did not work as planned. Power went up, speed did not improve and process yields collapsed. Simple scaling no longer worked, and new IC design techniques were needed.

While every attempt was made to prolong the life of the classic planar transistor structure, out went the polysilicon/silicon dioxide gate; although this transition was far from plain sailing, in came high-k metal gates spanning 65nm-28nm nodes. Just as the high-k metal gate structure gained industry-wide consensus at 28nm, it too ran out of steam at the 22nm-16nm nodes, forcing the introduction of more complex vertical versus planar transistor design and making the IC design even more process-dependent (i.e., foundry-dependent). Dual foundry sourcing, already impractical for the majority of semiconductor firms, will only get worse as line widths continue to shrink. Read more…

Indian semicon market update shows 28.3 percent growth in 2010!


I am a bit amused to read the latest key findings on the Indian semiconductor market from ISA-Frost & Sullivan. Never mind!

Source: ISA-Frost

Source: ISA-Frost

The report concludes that products demonstrating potential for explosive growth include –mobile devices, telecom base stations, LCD TV, STB, EMS, CFL, LED lights and smart cards and products with low MI – notebooks, tablets, STBs routers, digital cameras, etc. need to be given preferential treatment for indigenous manufacturing.

India is becoming the hub for small car manufacturing. Incentives and encouragement need to be provided for enhancing automotive component manufacturing in the country to keep pace with automobile industry growth.

Products enabling energy efficiency need to be incentivized through tax breaks for R&D and product development thereby promoting indigenous manufacturing. Electronics and semiconductor MI stagnate at 50 percent;  the TAM growth is unlikely to match the TM growth in the near future! Continuing status quo — the electronics import bill to surpass crude import bill by 2020-21.

The need of the hour is a focused mission for local electronics manufacturing promotion. A National Electronics Development Plan is also required. As is required an electronics policy for ecosystem development; subsidies for manufacturing; funds for R&D; extended tax breaks; hardware development parks.

Otherwise, the report suggests that India’s semiconductor market grew by a phenomenal 28.3 percent in 2010.

Indian semiconductor market: Source: ISA-Frost

Indian semicon market: Source: ISA-Frost

The global semiconductor market’s cyclical trends has minimal impact on India. Mobile devices, telecom and IT/ OA contributed 82 percent to semiconductor TM in 2010.

Local manufacturing of telecom equipment by OEMs and EMS companies to propel related semiconductor consumption by a massive 50 percent during 2010 to 2012. Influenced by regulatory norms and sharpening competition, automotive segment to account for the highest growth in semiconductor demand at 31 percent from 2010 to 2012.

Sustained gulf between the semiconductor TM and TAM from 2010-2012 highlight the urgency to promote local manufacturing to drive higher growth in TAM.

The Total Semiconductor Market (TM) revenues are poised to grow from $6.55 billion in 2010to $9.86 billion in 2012. The market is expected to witness a CAGR of 22.7 percent.

During the corresponding period, the Total Semiconductor Available Market (TAM) revenues are expected to grow at a CAGR of 22.3 percent reaching revenues of $4.71 billion in 2012from $3.14 billion in 2010. Mobile devices and telecom are the key contributors to TAM while mobile devices and IT/ OA are the key contributors to TM.

Being an indispensable component in a wide range of products, the memory market leads the contribution to semiconductor revenues with 23.4 percent and 20.1 percent of TM and TAM, respectively.

One hopes that all of this is indeed correct, and the Indian semiconductor industry continues to grow in future!

What does it take to be an entrepreneur!


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

Rajesh Subramaniam, MD, Walden India Advisors.

Rajesh Subramaniam, MD, Walden India Advisors.

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

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

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

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

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

Is social media really helping semicon/VLSI firms?

November 10, 2010 16 comments

Right then. In my earlier post, I had highlighted 15 queries on how semicon/VLSI firms associate with social media. Already, I have a comment from Hillol Sarkar, CEO, AgO Inc., in California. Thanks a lot, sir. Friends, please keep all those comments coming! There’s no right or wrong answer, folks!

Now, as promised, here’s an honest attempt to answer some of the queries. Also, I am thankful to Karen Bartleson, senior director, Community Marketing, Synopsys, for commenting on some of my questions. Thank you for permitting me to use some of those comments.

By the way, Karen is speaking today evening at an EDA Consortium (EDAC) panel discussion at Doubletree Hotel, San Jose, California aptly titled: Does Social Media Reach the Engineers You Want or Waste Your Time? So, if you are somewhere nearby, do listen to what Karen and other panelists have to say. It should be fun! ;)

Let me also indulge in some shameless promotion for a moment! Hey Karen, please don’t forget to mention me and these posts, in case you see this! ;)

Now, to address those queries! Please bear with me everyone, as this is quite a long post!

How are firms using social media?
First, how are semicon/VLSI firms using the social media to build communities? Are such firms adopting social media strategies? What’s the success rate?

Well, some PR folks do chat up with me regarding social media activities. Sometimes, we discuss strategy. There is also some effort on part of certain companies. So, there has to be some strategy. However, am not quite certain of the success rate.

According to Karen Bartleson, Synopsys (an EDA company) is building communities via blogs. (it has thousands of readers globally) forums such as VMM Central (people can ask and answer questions about verification), LinkedIn (the SNUG group – owned by a user – has more than a thousand members), and the Facebook page (which has hundreds of fans and is growing fast – the emphasis is on people and events, not product announcements), and Twitter. Quite interesting.

Next, is the social media really helping reach out to design engineers?

As per an industry friend, social media offers additional channels to engage with engineers beyond the traditional ones. I’m not quite certain whether firms are using Twitter or Facebook to hire, but LinkedIn presents a strong case. I believe, the success ratio there is good.
Read more…

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