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Pradeep’s Point: 2012 in review

December 31, 2012 2 comments

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Semiconductors, especially, is very technical in nature, and therefore, I do not think many people visit my blog. Many, many thanks are due to all of my readers for making this blog so very successful. I would like to thank WordPress, especially when I was unable to blog as much as I would like to for nearly eight months. I hope to keep blogging regularly in the new year. Happy new year to all of my readers, well wishers and friends! ;)

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 95,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Pradeep’s Thoughts — Photonics in Asia


Friends, I did mention some time ago that I shall start blogging or talking about photonics — yet another subject close to my heart!

Well, that dream has been realized, thanks to Photonics.com — the world’s leading site on the subject, from Laurin Publishing, USA.

Announcing:Pradeep’s Thoughts — Photonics in Asia! (www.photonics.com)

How many of you are aware that some of the best work done in photonics in Asia is carried out in India? Are you aware that one of the best institutes in the country is located down south — in Cochin — known as the International School of Photonics at Cochin University of Science and Technology.

It is in this very institute that the Photonics Society of India (PSI) was founded in 2000, which also administers the society. The PSI is a professional organization of people, institutions and companies working with photonics in India.

The PSI has some very distinguished gentlemen at the helm. Professor P. Radhakrishnan, International School of Photonics, is its president. He is assisted by Dr. Reji Philip, vice president, and associate professor, Optics Group, Raman Research Institute, Bangalore. Professor V. P. N. Nampoori, International School of Photonics, is general secretary.

In fact, it was a pleasure to recently visit the famous Raman Research Institute (RRI) in Bangalore, where I had the good fortune of interacting with some of the best and renowned researchers that India has on this subject.

The various kinds of equipment the RRI has at the labs is mind boggling! Makes you wonder — these folks are really bright and highly talented to be doing such exemplary work.

Enough said! May I take this opportunity to thank Laurin Publishing for helping me realize another dream. I hope you all enjoy my Photonics Blog! Thanks for your support, as always, dear friends.

All of my blogs are now up for sale! ;)


My dear friends, I am now in the process of selling off Pradeep’s Point! as well as all of my other blogs! :)

As most of you are probably aware, Webstatsdomain.org estimated Pradeep’s Point! at a whopping $19.1 billion in July 2014. As I write this post, the number has slightly reduced to $16.6 billion. Pradeep’s Point! is my flagship blog! ;)

It’s been a long time! I started Pradeep’s Point! back in 2007, having just returned to India after my second stint in Hong Kong and China. Actually, it was initially placed under Blogspot as Pradeep Chakraborty’s Blog – when it won the first international award – Pradeep Chakraborty’s Blog was selected as the best in the world in the Electronic Hardware category for 2008-10, by Electronics Weekly, UK. I remember and would again like to thank all of those folks who voted for me to the first ever international title! :)

Next, Pradeep Chakraborty’s Blog received an Honorable Mention @ Blognet Awards 2009! That’s also the time when someone succeeded in adding malware to that blog, and there was absolutely no fault of mine, and it was later removed by Google! I recall spending an entire night migrating the content to WordPress, where I had a secondary blog – Pradeep’s Point!

I moved on to WordPress, migrated all of the posts, and Pradeep’s Point! was reborn, or rather, born!

Thereafter, it has been hugely satisfying journey for me! I managed to pick up at least one international award / international recognition for all of my blogs, every year, till this year! ;) These are:

* PC’s Semicon Blog awarded the Top Digital Media Blog by Online IT Degree (in November 2010).

* Green Gadget of Texas, USA, awarded Pradeep’s Point! as the “Featured Tech Site” for 2011!

* In 2012, Gorkana, UK, selected Pradeep’s Point! as the Blog Influencer 2012!

* PC’s Telecom Blog listed among Best VoIP blogs by HostedSwitch, USA.

* In Feb. 2013, PC’s Electronic Components Blog selected as 100 Top Resources for Electrical Engineers on ElectricalEngineeringSchools.org, USA.

* In August 2014, PC’s Electronic Components Blog was ranked 11th in the "Top 101 Best Resources for Electrical Engineers.”

Now, this year, the huge estimation of Pradeep’s Point! by Webstatsdomain.org! :)

As I write, two folks – from Bangalore — are trying to gather funds to buy Pradeep’s Point! Although, my personal preference is for a very good friend! :)

The other five blogs up for sale are:
* PC’s Semiconductors Blog. (Won an award)
* PC’s Solar Photovoltaics Blog.
* PC’s Electronics Blog.
* PC’s Electronic Components Blog. (Won two awards)
* PC’s Telecom Blog. (Won an award)

I hope that the blogs will all remain, as will the content, but the owner (or owners) will be different! Perhaps, the blogs could have a different name!

Maybe, the new owners will try and keep me on board, too! ;) (I hope, they do).

I already have feelers, again from Bangalore, for buying out PC’s Semiconductors Blog and PC’s Electronic Components Blog. Again, I would prefer, if a friend, hopefully, tried to buy all of them, together! One blog definitely can’t do without the other – that’s my estimation! ;) Well, let’s see what happens!

So, my dear friends, once again, it has been a pleasure serving you all via my blogs! Now, they are in the process of being sold off. Whoever buys those, will definitely have a great future! :) (In case, I change my mind, the blogs will remain as they are! ;) )

About time ;) I guess!! Thanks everyone, for your tremendous love and continuous support! :)

"I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail, than to attempt to do nothing and succeed!" — Robert H. Schuller.

Yes, I definitely agree! :)

Categories: Semiconductors

Cadence Quantus solution meets 16nm FinFET challenges


Cadence Design Systems Inc. recently announced the Quantus QRC extraction solution had been certified for TSMC 16nm FinFET.

So, what’s the uniqueness about the Cadence Quantus QRC extraction solution?

Quantus

Quantus

KT Moore, senior group director – Product Marketing, Digital and Signoff Group, Cadence Design Systems, said: “There are several parasitic challenges that are associated with advanced node designs — especially FinFET – and it’s not just about tighter geometries and new design rules. We can bucket these challenges into two main categories: increasing complexity and modeling challenges.

“The number of process corners is exploding, and for FinFET devices specifically, there is an explosion in the parasitic coupling capacitances and resistances. This increases the design complexity and sizes. The netlist is getting bigger and bigger, and as a result, there is an increase in extraction runtimes for SoC designs and post-layout simulation and characterization runtimes for custom/analog designs.

“Our customers consistently tell us that, for advanced nodes, and especially for FinFET designs, while their extraction runtimes and time-to-signoff is increasing, their actual time-to-market is shrinking and putting an enormous amount of pressure on designers to deliver on-time tapeout. In order to address these market pressures, we have employed the massively parallel technology that was first introduced in our Tempus Timing Signoff Solution and Voltus IC Power Integrity Solution to our next-generation extraction tool, Quantus QRC Extraction Solution.

“Quantus QRC Extraction Solution enables us to deliver up to 5X better performance than competing solutions and allows scalability of up to 100s of CPUs and machines.”

Support for FinFET features
How is Quantus providing significant enhancements to support FinFET features?

Parasitic extraction is at the forefront with the introduction of any new technology node. For FinFET designs, it’s a bit more challenging due to the introduction of non-planar FinFET devices. There are more layers to be handled, more RC effects that need to be modeled and an introduction of local interconnects. There are also secondary and third order manufacturing effects that need to modeled, and all these new features have to be modeled with precise accuracy.

Performance and turnaround times are absolutely important, but if you can’t provide accuracy for these devices — especially in correlation to the foundry golden data — designers would have to over-margin their designs and leave performance on the table.

Best-in-class accuracy
How can Cadence claim that it has the ‘tightest correlation to foundry golden data at TSMC vs. competing solutions’? And, why 16nm only?

According to Moore, the foundry partner, TSMC, asserts that Quantus QRC Extraction Solution provides best-in-class accuracy, which was referenced in the recent press announcement:

“Cadence Quantus QRC Extraction Solution successfully passed TSMC’s rigorous parasitic extraction certification requirements to achieve best-in-class accuracy against the foundry golden data for FinFET technology.”

FinFET structures present unique challenges since they are non-planar devices as opposed to its CMOS predecessor, which is a planar device. We partnered with TSMC from the very beginning to address the modeling challenges, and we’ve seen many complex shapes and structures over the year that we’ve modeled accurately.

“We’re not surprised that TSMC has recognized our best-in-class accuracy because we’re the leader in providing extraction solutions for RF designs. Cadence Quantus QRC Extraction Solution has been certified for TSMC 16nm FinFET, however, it’s important to note that we’ve been certified for all other technology nodes and our QRC techfiles are available to our customers from TSMC today.”

India needs to learn from Intersolar North America show!


Intersolar North America successfully concluded its seventh annual show in the heart of the United States’ largest solar market, California. More than 17,000 visitors from 74 countries visited 530 exhibitors.

Abundant solar radiation in India!

Abundant solar radiation in India!

The show had the latest innovations in the photovoltaic, energy storage, balance of systems, mounting and tracking systems, and solar heating and cooling market sectors.

It just shows how the USA has evolved as a leading market for solar PV over the years. One could feel USA creeping up on China! Which brings me to the other significant news.

Recently, there was news regarding the USA-China solar dispute. USA has won huge anti-dumping tariffs in the US-China solar panel trade case. A preliminary decision by the US Department of Commerce has imposed significant tariffs on Chinese solar modules in the anti-dumping portion of the case.

The decision has also closed SolarWorld’s “loophole,” which is said to have allowed Chinese module manufacturers to use Taiwanese cells in their modules, circumventing US trade duties.

Will this affect the Chinese PV module suppliers? Perhaps, not that much. Why so? China itself has a very huge domestic market for solar PV. They can continue to do well in China itself. It can also sell solar PV modules in India, as well, besides other regions in the Asia Pacific.

That brings me back to Intersolar North America 2014. Why was there such a low presence of Indian companies? The exhibitor list for the show reads only two — Lanco Solar Pvt Ltd and Vikram Solar Pvt Ltd. Where are the others?

If one looks at the Ministry for New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) website, there is a notification stating that a National Solar Mission (NSM) is being implemented to give a boost to solar power generation in the country. It has a long-term goal of adding 20,000 MWp of grid-connected solar power by 2022, to be achieved in three phases (first phase up to 2012-13, second phase from 2013 to 2017 and the third phase from 2017 to 2022).

Well, the MNRE has also put up a release stating complaints received about the non-function of the systems installed by channel partners. Without getting into details, why can’t Indian suppliers get to the ground and work up solidly? Some of the complaints are actually not even so serious. System not working. Channel partner not attending complaint! And, plant not working due to inverter (PPS) burnt down. These should be attended to quickly, unless, there is some monetary or other issue, which, at least, I am not aware of!

The CNA Corp.s Energy, Water, & Climate division released two studies earlier this week, which found that cost-effective options that power plants can use to cut water use can also help plants reduce CO2 emissions.

The first report, Capturing Synergies Between Water Conservation and Carbon Dioxide Emissions in the Power Sector, focuses on strategy recommendations based on analyses of water use and CO2 emissions in four case studies, which are detailed in the second report, A Clash of Competing Necessities: Water Adequacy and Electric Reliability in China, India, France, and Texas.

CNA’s Energy, Water, & Climate division released two studies, which found that cost-effective options that power plants can use to cut water use can also help plants reduce CO2 emissions.

“It’s a very important issue,” said lead study author Paul Faeth, director of Energy, Water, & Climate at CNA. “Water used to cool power plants is the largest source of water withdrawals in the United States and France, and a large source in China and India.”

“The recommendations in these reports can serve as a starting point for leaders in these countries, and for leaders around the world, to take the steps needed to ensure the reliability of current generating plants and begin planning for how to meet future demands for electric power.”

India needs to learn from the Intersolar North America show. It also needs to look carefully at CNA’s reports. It is always great and good work that attracts global attention. India has all of the requred capabilities to do so!

SEMI materials outlook: Semicon West 2014


Source: SEMI, USA.

Source: SEMI, USA.

At the recently held Semicon West 2014, Daniel P. Tracy, senior director, Industry Research and Statistics, SEMI, presented on SEMI Materials Outlook. He estimated that semiconductor materials will see unit growth of 6 percent or more. There may be low revenue growth in a large number of segments due to the pricing pressures and change in material.

For semiconductor eequipment, he estimated ~20 percent growth this year, following two years of spending decline. It is currently estimated at ~11 percent spending growth in 2015.

Overall, the year to date estimate is positive growth vs. same period 2013, for units and materials shipments, and for equipment billings.

For equipment outlook, it is pointing to ~18 percent growth in equipment for 2014. Total equipment orders are up ~17 percent year-to-date.

For wafer fab materials outlook, the silicon area monthly shipments are at an all-time high for the moment. Lithography process chemicals saw -7 percent sales decline in 2013. The 2014 outlook is downward pressure on ASPs for some chemicals. 193nm resists are approaching $600 million. ARC has been growing 5-7 percent, respectively.

For packaging materials, the Flip Chip growth drivers are a flip chip growth of ~25 percent from 2012 to 2017 in units. There are trends toward copper pillar and micro bumps for TSV. Future flip chip growth in wireless products are driven by form factor and performance. BB and AP processors are also moving to flip chip.

There has been growth in WLP shipments. Major applications for WLP are driven by mobile products such as smartphones and tablets. It should grow at a CAGR of ~11 percent in units (2012-2017).

Solder balls were $280 million market in 2013. Shipments of lead-free solder balls continues to increase. Underfillls were $208 million in 2013. It includes underfills for flip chip and packages. The increased use of underfills for CSPs and WLPs are likely to pass the drop test in high-end mobile devices.

Wafer-level dielectrics were $94 million market in 2013. Materials and structures are likely to enhance board-level reliability performance.

Die-attach materials has over a dozen suppliers. Hitachi Chemical and Henkel account for major share of total die attach market. New players are continuing to emerge in China and Korea. Stacked-die CSP package applications have been increasing. Industry acceptance of film (flow)-over-wire (FOW) and dicing die attach film (DDF) technologies are also happening.

 

Semicon West 2014: SEMI World Fab forecast report


Fabs

Fabs

Christian Gregor Dieseldorff, senior analyst, Industry Research & Statistics  Group at SEMI, presented the SEMI World Fab Forecast at the recently held Semicon West 2014, as part of the SEMI/Gartner Market Symposium on July 7.

Scenarios of fab equipment spending over time has been  20-25 percent in 2014, and 10-15 percent in 2015. At this time, worldwide fab equipment spending is about same in 1H14 vs 2H14. As for fab construction projects, 2013 was a record year with over $9 billion.

New fabs: construction spending (front end cleanrooms only!)
2013: record year with over $9 billion.
2014: -22 percent to -27 percent (~$6.6 billion)
2015: -22 percent to -30 percent (~$5 billion +/-).

Fab equipment spending front end (new and used)
2014: 20 percent to 25 percent (~$35 billion to $36 billion) – if $35 billion, then third largest on record.
2015: 10 percent to 15 percent (~$40 billion) – if $40 billion, then largest in record.

Installed capacity for front end fabs (without discretes)
2014: 2 to 3 percent
2015: 3 to 4 percent
Future outlook beyond 2015: less than 4 percent.

SEMI World Fab Forecast report status and activity outlined that there were 1,148 front end facilities (R&D to HVM) active and future. Also,
* There are 507 companies (R&D to HVM).
* Including 249 LEDs and Opto facilities active and future.
* There are 60 future facilities starting HVM in 2014 or later.
* Major investments (construction projects and/or equipping): 202 facilities in 2014, 189 facilities in 2015.

A slow down of fab closures is expected from 2015 to 2018 for 200mm fabs and 150mm fabs.

Semiconductor capital spending outlook 2013-18: Gartner


At Semicon West 2014, Bob Johnson, VP Research, Gartner, presented the Semiconductor Capital Spending Outlook at the SEMI/Gartner Market Symposium on July 7.

First, a look at the semiconductor revenue forecast: it is likely to grow at a 4.3 percent CAGR from 2013-2018. Logic continues to dominate, but growth falters. As per the 2013-2018 CAGRs, logic will be growing 3.5 percent, memory at 4.5 percent, and other at 6.3 percent.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson

As for the memory forecast, NAND should surpass DRAM. At 2013-2018 CAGRs, DRAM should grow -1.1 percent, while NAND should grow 10.8 percent. Smartphone, SSD and Ultramobile are the applications driving growth through 2018. SSDs are powering the NAND market.

Among ultramobiles, tablets should dominate through 2018. They should also take share from PCs. Next, smartphones have been dominating mobile phones.

Looking at the critical markets for capital investment, smartphones are the largest growth segment, but have been showing signs of saturation. The revenue growth could slow dramatically by 2018. Ultramobiles have the highest overall CAGR, but at the expense of PC market. Tablets are driving down semiconductor content. Desktop and notebook PCs are a large, but declining market. This also requires critical revenue to fund logic capex. Lastly, SSDs are driving NAND Flash growth. The move to data centers is driving sustainable growth.

In capital spending, memory is strong, but logic is weak through 2018. The 2014 spending is up 7.1 percent, driven by strong memory market. Strength in NAND spending will drive future growth. Note that memory oversupply in 2016 can create next cycle. NAND is the capex growth driver in memory spending.

The major semiconductor markets, which justify investment in logic leading edge capacity, are now running out of gas. Ultramobiles are cannibalizing PCs, smartphones are saturating and both are moving to lower cost alternatives. It is increasingly difficult to manufacture complex SoCs successfully at the absolute leading edge. Moore’s Law is slowing down, while costs are going up. Breakthrough technologies (i.e., EUV) are not ready when needed. Much of the intelligence of future applications is moving to the cloud. The data centers’ needs for fast, low power storage solutions are creating sustainable growth for NAND Flash.

The traditional two-year per node pace of Moore’s Law will continue to slow down. Only a few high volume/high performance applications will be able to justify the costs of 20nm and beyond. Whether this will require new or upgraded capacity is uncertain. 28nm will be a long lived node as mid-range mobility products demand higher levels of performance. Finally, the cloud will continue to grow in size and influence creating demand for new NAND Flash capacity and technology.

Categories: Semiconductors

How Intel competes on today’s fabless ecosystem?


The SEMI/Gartner Market Symposium was held Semicon West 2014 at San Francisco, on July 7. Am grateful to Ms. Becky Tonnesen, Gartner, and Ms Agnes Cobar, SEMI, for providing me the presentations. Thanks are also due to Ms Deborah Geiger, SEMI.

Dean Freeman, research VP, Gartner, outlined the speakers:

• Sunit Rikhi, VP, Technology and Manufacturing Group, GM, Intel Custom Foundry Intel, presented on Competing in today’s Fabless Ecosystem.

• Bob Johnson, VP Research, Gartner, presented the Semiconductor Capital Spending Outlook.

• Christian Gregor Dieseldorff, director Market Research, SEMI, presented the SEMI World Fab Forecast: Analysis and Forecast for Fab Spending, Capacity and Technology.

• Sam Wang, VP Research Analyst, Gartner, presented on How Foundries will Compete in a 3D World.

• Jim Walker, VP Research, Gartner, presented on Foundry versus SATS: The Battle for 3D and Wafer Level Supremacy.

• Dr. Dan Tracy, senior director, Industry Research & Statistics, SEMI, presented on Semiconductor Materials Market Outlook.

Let’s start with Sunit Rikhi at Intel.

As a new player in the fabless eco-system, Intel focuses on:
* The value it brings to the table.
* How it delivers on platforms of capability and services.
* How it leverage the advantages of being inside the world’s leading Integrated Device Manufacturer (IDM)
* How it face the challenges of being inside the world’s leading IDM.

Intel sunit-rikhiIntel has leadership in silicon technologies. Transistor performance per watt is the critical enabler for all. Density improvements offset wafer cost trends. Intel currently has ~3.5-year lead in introducing revolutionary transistor technologies.

In foundry capabilities and services platforms, Intel brings differentiated value on industry standard platforms. 22nm was started in 2011, while 14nm was started in 2013. 10nm will be starting in 2015. To date, 125 prototype designs have been processed.

Intel offers broad capability and services on industry standard platforms. It also has fuller array of co-optimized end-to-end services. As for the packaging technology, Intel has been building better products through
multi-component integration. Intel has also been starting high on the yield learning curve.

Regarding IDM challenges, such as high-mix-low-volume configuration, Intel has been doing configuration optimization in tooling and set-up. It has also been separating priority and planning process for customers. Intel has been providing an effective response for every challenge.

Some of Intel Custom Foundry announced customers include Achronix, Altera, Microsemi, Netronome, Panasonic and Tabula.

What’s the future of MEMS?


MEMS market.

MEMS market.

What does the future hold for MEMS? How can the MEMS indistry stay profitable and innovative in the next five years? The MEMS market is still in a dynamic growth with an estimated 12.3 percent CAGR over 2013-2019 in $US value, growing from $11.7 billion in 2013 to $24 billion in 2019.

This growth, principally driven by a huge expansion of consumer products, is mitigated by two main factors. First, due to a fierce competition based on pricing, the ASPs are continuously decreasing.

Second, innovation is slow and incremental, as no new devices have been successfully introduced on the market since 2003.  Fierce competition based on pricing in now ongoing putting thus extreme pressure on device manufacturers.

Some trends are still impacting MEMS business. These are:

* Decrease of price in consumer electronics; ASP of MEMS microphones.
* Component size is still decreasing.

However, successful companies are still large leaders in distinct MEMS categories, such as STMicroelectronics, Knowles, etc. But maintaining growth in consumer electronic applications remains a challenge.

The market for motion sensor in cell phones and tablets is large and continuously expanding. Discrete sensors still decline, but will still be used in some platforms (OIS function for gyros). Next, 6- and 9-axis combos should grow rapidly. Because of strong price pressure and high adoption rate, the total market will stabilize from 2015.

STMicroelectronics, InvenSense and Bosch are still leaders in 3-axis gyros and 6-axis IMUs. It seems difficult for new players to compete and be profitable in this market. The automotive, industrial and medical applications of MEMS are driving growth of MEMS business. MEMS for automotive will grow from $2.6 billion in 2012 to $3.6 billion in 2018 with 5 percent CAGR.

MEMS industry is big and growing. Strong market pull observed for sensors and actuators in cell phones, automotive, medical, industrial.

• Not limited to few devices. A new wave of MEMS is coming!
• Component and die size are still being optimized while combo approaches become mainstream. And several disruptive technology approaches are now in development to keep going in term of size and price decrease.
• But the MEMS industry has not solved a critical issue: how to increase the chance of new devices to enter the market?

–RF switch, autofocus, energy harvesting devices, fuel cells… are example of devices still under development after over 10 years of effort.
–How to help companies to go faster and safer on the market with new devices?

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