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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…

Flip Chip: An established platform still in mutation!


Flip-Chip is a chip packaging technique in which the active area of the chip is ‘flipped over’ facing downward, instead of facing up and bonded to the package leads with wires from the outside edges of the chip.

Any surface area of the Flip-Chip can be used for interconnection, which is typically done through metal bumps. These bumps are soldered onto the package and underfilled with epoxy. The Flip-Chip allows for a large number of interconnects with shorter distances than wire, which greatly reduces inductance.

According to Lionel Cadix, market and technology analyst, Yole Developpement, France, metal bumps can be made of solder (tin, tin-lead or lead-free alloys), copper, gold and copper-tin or Au-tin alloys. The package substrates are epoxy-based (organic substrates), ceramic based, copper based (leadframe substrates), and silicon or glass based.

Source: Yole Developpement, France.

Source: Yole Developpement, France.

In the period 2010-2018, Flip-Chip will likely grow at a CAGR of 19 percent. In 2012, laptop and desktop PCs were the top end products using Flip-Chip. It represents 50 percent of the Flip-Chip market by end product with more than 6.2 million of wafer starts. PCs are followed by smart TV and LCD TVs (for LCD drivers), smartphones and high performance computers.

The Flip-Chip market in 2012 is around $20 billion, selling 20 billion units approximately in 12’’ equivalent wafers. Taiwan is so far the no. 1 producer. At least 50 percent of the Flip-Chips devices get into end products. By 2018, the Flip-Chip market should grow to a $35 billion market, selling 68 billion units.

Applications and market focus
Looking at the applications and market focus, Flip-Chip technology is already present in a wide range of application, from high volumes/consumer applications, to low volumes/high end applications. All these applications have their own requirements, specifications and challenges!

Some of these are military and aerospace, medical devices, automobiles, HPC, servers, networks, base stations, etc, in low volumes. It is present in set-top boxes, game stations, smart TVs/displays, desktops/laptops and smartphones/tablets in high volumes. Flip-chip applications are also in imaging, logic 2D SoCs, HB-LEDs, RF, power, analog and mixed-signal, stacked memories, and logic 3D-SiP/SoCs.

In computing applications, for instance, the Intel core i5 is the first MCM combining a 77mm2 CPU together with a 115mm2 GPU in a 37.5mm side package. Solder bumps with a pitch of 185μm are used for the slicon to substrate (1st) interconnect. This MCM configuration is suitable for office applications, with relatively low demanding processing powers. For mobile/wireless applications, there are opportunities for MEMS in smartphones/feature phones. Similarly, Flip-Chip is available for consumer applications.

For microbumping in interposers for FPGA there is a focus on Xilinx Virtex 7 HT. Last year, Xilinx announced a single-layer, multi-chip silicon interposer for its 28nm 7 series FPGAs. Key features include two million logic cells for a high level of computational performance, and high bandwidth, four slice processed in 28 nm, 25 x 31mm, 100 μm thick silicon interposer, 45 um pitch microbumps and 10 μm TSV, and 35 x 35 mm BGA with 180 μm pitch C4 bumps.

Even if the infrastructure had been ready for full 3D stacking, the 2.5D Interposer would still have been the right choice for FPGAs since the ’10,000 routing connections’ would have used up valuable chip area, making the chip slices larger and more costly than they are now. Virtex 7 HT will consist of three FPGA slices and two 28 gbps SerDes chips on an Interposer capable of operating at 2.8 Tb/sec.

Read more…

Freescale-Bosch launch airbag reference platform


Freescale Bosch airbag reference platform.

Freescale Bosch airbag reference platform.

Freescale and Bosch, the two automotive leaders, are jointly enabling emerging markets with reference platforms.

Freescale has a strong presence in automotive, offering MCUs and MPUs, sensors and analog. It also has a comprehensive software enablement. Bosch also has a strong presence in semiconductors and sensors, offering airbag systems, vehicle dynamics systems, engine management systems, transmission control systems, electric power steering, electric drives control, alternator electronics and IP.

The two companies have jointly introduced the airbag reference platform in India, on the sidelines of the Freescale Technology Forum 2011. It is said to be everything that you need to add your crash algorithm and make it your airbag solution.

Both the companies are leveraging their global leadership positions and system expertise to provide customers with automotive reference platforms specifically designed for emerging markets.

Airbags are ranked among the most efficient life saving passive safety applications. There is an increasing demand for mobility in emerging markets. That makes airbags necessary for reducing injuries and fatalities. Freescale and Bosch, the two global automotive leaders, are working in partnership to enable emerging market customers to provide greater occupant safety through these airbag reference platforms.

The proven design helps accelerate time to market, is affordable and scalable, based on the latest generation technology, and meets the latest automotive quality standards. It has the complete bill of materials with jointly developed firmware.

Freescale Qorivva MPC560xP MCU family
* Scalable MCU family for safety applications.
*  e200z0 Power Architecture core @ 64 MHz.
*  Scalable memory, up to 512 KB Flash.
* LQFP package.

Bosch CG1xx Airbag ASSP family
* Scalable airbag ASSP family.
* Power supply for complete ECU.
*  Up to four satellite sensor interfaces (PSI5).
*  Up to 12 firing loops integrated.
*  Up to six analog interfaces.
* Safing block + Watchdog.
• Works with Sensors from Freescale and Bosch.

Customer benefits include Safing concept proven with Freescale and Bosch sensors. There is a faster time to market using airbag system evaluation software. Some other benefits include ECU level debug and test over serial communications interfaces, fully supported application level debug and test using MCU ecosystem, and a friendly GUI.

Xilinx intros Zynq-7000 family of extensible processing platform (EPP)


Xilinx's Zync-7000 series.

Xilinx's Zync-7000 series.

Xilinx Inc. has unveiled the Zynq-7000 family, the industry’s first Extensible Processing Platform (EPP). It is supported by an extensive ecosystem of tools and IP providers.

According to Tim Erjavec, senior director, platform soluutions and service marketing, the Zynq-7000 family tightly integrates a complete ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor-based system with 28nm, low-power programmable logic for system architects and embedded software developers to extend, customize, optimize, and differentiate their systems.

Back in April 2010, Xilinx had announced a new class of devices featuring an extensible processing platform and a processor-centric solution. Now, in March 2011, the first Xilinx EPP family and brand has been announced.

Embedded designers are said to be asking for more. There will be a combined market of $12,74 billion by 2014, featuring automotive driver assistance, intelligent video surveillance, industrial control, telemetry and guidance, enterprise femtocell, broadcast cameras, multifunction printers, aerospace avionics, etc.

Zynq-7000 device portfolio includes the 7010, 7020, 7030 and 7040. These have faniliar design environments, familiar software programming model, familiar hardware design flow, besides flexible accelerators and IP such as common AXI-4 interface and a broad ecosystem featuring tools, OSs and IPs.

Zynq-7000 family highlights include a complete ARM processing system, featuring a dual ARM Cortex-A9 and ontegrated memory controllers and peripherals. A tightly integrated programmable logic extends the processing system, scalable density and performance and features over 3000 internal interconnects. There is also a flexible array of I/O, featuring a wide range of external multi standard I/O, high performance integrated serial tranceivers, and ADC inputs.

Built with state-of-the-art 7 series programmable logic featuring 430K to 3.5 million equivalent ASIC gates and 30K-235K logic cells. It also enables massive parallel processing with up to 760 DSP engines delivering over 910 GMACs.

The flexible internal I/O includes 54 processor I/Os, 350 multi-standard and high performance I/Os, flexible memory interfaces and high performance untegrated serial tranceivers.

A wide range of Zync-7000 applications are supported, such as driver assistance, factory automation, broadcast camera, smart surveillance systems, consumer equipment, AVB routers, switches and cameras, and military radios and medical imaging.

The Zync-7000 software development environment includes the ARM development environment. ARM ecosystem support and other, vast off-the-shelf software and libraries. The hardware design environment includes the Xilinx ISE Development Suite, plug and play IP portfolio, hardware abstraction layer, and drivers and APIs.

The Zync program status includes the early access program open with over 200 applicants, with the ISE 13.1 Development Suite and the emulation platform. Initial devices are said to be available by 2H 2011. Some of the publically announced Zynq early access customers include Agilent, iVeia, National Instruments, etc.

Lattice intros Platform Manager family


Lattice's Platform Manager.

Lattice's Platform Manager.

Lattice Semiconductor Corp. has introduced the Platform Manager family — its third-generation mixed-signal devices.

Lattice’s Platform Manager product family consists of two devices — the LPTM10-1247 and the LPTM10-12107, respectively. The LPTM10-1247 device monitors 12 voltage rails and supports 47 digital I/Os. The LPTM10-12107 device monitors up to 12 voltage rails and supports 107 digital I/Os.

The programmable devices will simplify board management design significantly by integrating programmable analog and logic to support many common functions, such as power management, digital housekeeping and glue logic.

By integrating these support functions, Platform Manager devices reduce the cost of these functions compared to traditional approaches, and improves system reliability. It  provides a high degree of design flexibility that minimizes the risk of circuit board re-spins.

More to follow.

HDS unveils industry’s first 3D scaling virtual storage platform (VSP)


Last week at the Hitachi Information Forum event, Hitachi Data Systems Corp. (HDS) introduced the Hitachi Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) — said to be the industry’s first three-dimensional (3D) scaling platform. These claim to enable organizations to scale up, out and deep for unprecedented levels of agility and cost savings in their virtualized data centers.

The VSP, along with the Hitachi Command Suite management software, offers best-in-class performance, capacity and open, multivendor storage virtualization for large businesses and enterprise organizations.

The event was graced by Randy DeMont, executive VP, Worldwide Sales, Services and Support and Phil Gann, director, Solutions, Products and Services, APAC, who discussed the VSP, along with Kevin Eggleston, senior VP and GM, APAC and Vivekanand Venugopal, VP and GM, India, Hitachi Data Systems.

More details later.

Cadence Virtuoso IC6.1.4 design platform comes with several enhancements


Last week, Cadence Design Systems Inc. introduced the Virtuoso IC6.1.4 — with dramatic improvements to the Virtuoso IC design platform — that reduces overall design time and ensures high-quality production ICs.

These enhancements are said to benefit design teams working along the full spectrum of design complexity, from the most advanced-node, cutting-edge designs to more traditional chips.

This release has been extended to work efficiently at advanced nodes down to 28 nanometers and now supports 64-bit processing for improved capacity and performance. The Virtuoso Space-Based Router has been integrated into the Virtuoso Layout Suite cockpit, making it easier to access.

I got into a conversation with Steven Lewis, marketing director, Cadence, to find out more about this release.

Steven Lewis, marketing director, Cadence Design Systems.

Lewis said: “Virtuoso IC61 was first shipped in October, 2006, over three years ago. IC614 is the latest release of this platform. IC61 is based on OpenAccess as a database with a Qt based GUI. Also, in IC61 a common design constraint system is key to design spanning schematics, layout, routing, circuit optimization, and all other Virtuoso applications.”

The IC 614 has a number of significant areas of enhancements. These include:

1) Significant improvements to analog design environment
— A number of key enhancements have gone into ADE to make it even easier to use and to improve performance. Areas like: data presentation, multi-testbench support, analysis and signoff quality validation, data sheet generation, simulation results comparisons, and intelligent selection of sensitivity to statistical variations to dramatically reduce the number of simulations needed.

2) Native integration of the Catena interconnect engine
— This enables integration of the Cadence Space-based Router into VLS-GXL, including the common design-constraint system, runtime OA database and OA techfile for design rules. In addition, the Wire Editor, which is based on this technology, is available to every VLS XL Layout Designer.

3) Metric-Driven Productivity
— IC 6.1.4 is all about productivity, productivity, productivity. Many users of VLS spend six to eight hours a day in front of this cockpit and incremental improvements have a significant cumulative effect. IC 6.1.4 will:
* Reduce the mouse miles that a layout designer sees.
* Reduce the mouse clicks required for an operation.
* Reduce the menu depth for an operation.

And, how will the IC6.1.4 gain capacity, performance and usability boosts to shrink design cycles?

According to Lewis, there are a number of enhancements to frequently used features, like a new Layer Palette, improved Repeat Copy, enhancements to Via Placement, a new Smart Ruler, and PCell Caching. Additionally, there are improvements to the connectivity, constraint-aware editing and verification, and capacity with the 64-bit port. Read more…

Xilnx intros six new development kits for Targeted Design Platforms


Xilinx's development kits for Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 FPGA families.

Xilinx's development kits for Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 FPGA families.

Xilinx recently announced six new development kits as part of its Targeted Design Platforms (see July 2009 archive).

These kits will enable developers to focus on innovation and differentiation, while designing with FPGAs. The development platforms for Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 FPGA families are said to significantly shorten the time taken to reach optimal levels of system performance, while ensuring lower levels of power consumption during SoC development.

High development costs are driving ASSPs to ultra high volume markets. There is also a growing ASIC/ASSP application gap. Vamsi Boppana, senior director and CTO, Xilinx India, said that new FPGA powered application needs on the horizon include communications, smart grid, automotive infotainment, green IT surveillance, cloud computing, intelligent video, security infrastructure, etc.

Neeraj Varma, country manager, sales, India, Australia and New Zealand, Xilinx India, added that the kits are targeting embedded, DSP and building of systems requiring high-speed serial connectivity by providing design teams with optimized tool suites tuned to their design flow, fully functional IP and Targeted Reference Designs common to their areas of expertise.

In the Virtex-6 series, Xilinx is offering the connectivity kit, the embedded kit, both of whom are available, and the DSP kit — which will be released in January 2010. In the Spartan-6 series, it is offering the connectivity kit, the embedded kit, both of whom are available, and the DSP kit — which will be released in March 2010.

The kits support development of designs with Virtex-6 series FPGA family for compute intensive, high-speed, high-density SoC applications, or the Spartan-6 FPGA family for applications where size, power and cost are key considerations, besides performance.

Each kit is supported by an edition of the ISE Design Suite v11.4 (see April 2009 archive), which delivers a 25 percent runtime reduction for Spartan-6 FPGA designs and a 30 percent runtime reduction large, complex and highly utilized Vetex-6 SoC designs over the previous release.

Boppana added that the anatomy of a domain-specific kit includes:
* Scalable development board
– Enable migration up or down in same FPGA package,
– FMC connectors – extend base board functionality, enables ecosystem,
– Pre-configured with working Targeted Reference Design.

* Domain optimized design environment
– ISE Design Suite
> Hardware development flow supporting RTL or block level abstraction
> Embedded software development flow
> Advanced connectivity setup and analysis tools

* Targeted Reference Designs
– Optimized for system performance, power savings, and cost
– Enables system evaluation, performance measurement and analysis

* Complete documentation, source code, and IP cores

Targeted applications for the embedded design kits include wireless baseband and radio, image processing, processor acceleration for Virtex-6 and industrial control/security, automotive control, consumer for Spartan-6.

Boppana also touched upon the case study of one of Xilinx’s customers — Tata Elxsi. Using the pre-verified MicroBlaze processor sub-system with DDR3 memory controller and Gigabit Ethernet, Tata Elxsi was able to get the software up and running on the SP605 board within a few hours. It was also able to witness over 50 percent performance improvement compared to previous generation design.

Target applications for the connectivity design kits include wired communications, video switches, routers, etc. for Virtex-6 and Ethernet routers, industrial control hubs, storage, etc., for Spartan-6.

Target applications for the DSP design kits include wireless radio, radar, medical MRI/CT/PET equipment, image recognition, etc., for Virtex-6 and femto/pico cell communications, consumer video, industrial camera, etc., for Spartan-6.

Hence, engineering teams can now finish their designs faster and focus on differentiation. The kits include all the hardware and software that designers need. This includes fully tested/supported Targeted Reference Designs.

Categories: FPGA market, FPGAs, Xilinx

Top 5 high growth markets driving (semicon?) recovery, and top 10 hot and emerging technology platforms

October 14, 2009 11 comments

Today, I received two wonderful reports — one, highlighting the top 5 high growth markets driving (semiconductor) recovery, and two, the top 10 hot and emerging technology platforms well poised to profoundly impact manifold sectors across the globe while offering potential high RoI for investors!

First, semiconductors! Semico Research has come up with a report that highlights the top 5 high growth segments driving growth and recovery in the semiconductor segment. For the record, 2009 is likely to see the global semiconductor industry decline by 12.5 percent. The top 5 segments according to Semico Research are:

* Netbooks

* Portable navigation devices (PNDs)

* Digital TVs

* DVD recorders

* Video game consoles

Hey, there really seems to be a lot of light at the end of the tunnel for the consumer electronics industry!

On netbooks, I think Intel needs to be given most, if not, all of the credit. Here’s what iSuppli has to say in its fast facts for Intel’s Q3 results:

* Intel also capitalized on the continued rise in demand for netbook PCs. The company dominates the netbook microprocessor market with its Atom chip. iSuppli predicts global netbook shipments will rise to 22.2 million units in 2009, up 68.5 percent from 13.2 million in 2008.

* While Atom represents only a small share of Intel’s total revenue, its profitability is disproportionately high. “Netbook microprocessors are a high-margin product because they utlilize old technology,” said Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst, compute platforms, for iSuppli. “The Atom is based on the old Pentium M microprocessor and uses a mature manufacturing process. Because of this, Intel is getting very high yields and an extremely high margin on the Atom.”

On PNDs, SatNav has recently introduced a Bluetooth enabled multifunction PND. Also, In-Stat reports that the worldwide unit shipments for PNDs will reach approximately 56 million units in 2012.

However, iSuppli has just sent out a story to me, saying that PNDs have now entered a period of slowing growth, spurring companies throughout the supply chain to re-evaluate their business models. Interesting!

As for digital TVs, according to DisplaySearch, developed markets are starting 2009 with strong growth and emerging markets are transitioning from CRT to LCD TVs faster than expected. However, plasma (PDP) TV is expected to fall about 2 percent Y/Y to 14.1 million in 2009 after strong 28 percent growth in 2008. As per iSuppli, OLED-TV revenue will likely rise by a factor of 240 by 2015—but still remain a niche. Let’s see!

DisplaySearch’s total global TV forecast is 200.4 million units in 2009, down 3 percent Y/Y, the first decline in total shipments in recent memory as the global recession and rising unemployment continue to take a toll on demand. However, the slowdown will be temporary as the worldwide economy emerges from recession and new markets enter the initial stages of the flat panel and digital TV transition.

Among DVDs, Samsung has introduced its first internal Blu-ray disc combo drive with BD-R and 8X BD-ROM read speed. Also, Flex-DVD is the latest technology in the DVD replication industry. This single layer format has the same capacity of a DVD-5 (4.7GB for standard size and 1.1GB for 3″ Mini DVD), but is half the thickness of the standard DVD.

Video game consoles — I find it quite interesting! It has been reported that the only products to see a decline in unit shipments in the second quarter were handheld video games, video game consoles, etc. Watch this market segment!

Now, to the top 10 hot and emerging technologies! According to a report from Frost & Sullivan, these are:

* Nanomaterials

* Flexible electronics

* Advanced batteries and energy storage

* Smart materials

* Green IT

* CIGS solar

* 3D integration

* Autonomous systems

* White biotech

* Lasers

Flex-DVD, above, is a great example of flexible electronics. Green IT — although a much abused term, it has certainly been on the top of the charts for quite some time now. Battery technologies and energy storage — yes, certainly. There are rightful places for CIGS solar — a point also made by Dr. Robert Castellano of The Information Network — and smart materials, as well as lasers and white biotech.

Well, what do you think folks? Do you agree with these top 5 and top 10 lists?

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…

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