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Global semicon industry trends in 2014: Analog Devices


Sam Fuller

Sam Fuller

I recently met Sam Fuller, CTO, Analog Devices, and had an interesting conversation. First, I asked him about the state of the global semicon industry in 2013.

Industry in 2013
He said: “Due to the uncertainties in the global economy in the last couple of years, the state of the global semiconductor industry has been quite modest growth. Because of the modest growth, there has been a buildup in demand. As the global economies begin to be more robust going forward, we expect to see more growth.”

Industry in 2014?
How does Analog Devices see the industry going forward in 2014? What are the five key trends?

He added: “I would talk about the trends more from an eco-system and applications perspective. Increased capability on a single chip: Given all the advances to Moore’s law, the capability of a chip has increased considerably in all dimensions and not just performance, be it the horsepower we see in today’s smartphones or the miniaturization and power consumption of wearable gadgets that were on show this year at CES.

“In Analog Devices’ case, as we are focused on high performance signal processing, we can put more of the entire signal chain on a single die. For our customers, the challenge is to provide their customers a more capable product which means a more complex product, but with a simpler interface.

“A classic example is our AD9361 chip, which is a single chip wideband radio transceiver for Software Defined Radio (SDR). It is a very capable ASSP (Application Specific Standard Products) as well as RF front end with a wide operating frequency of 70 MHz to 6 GHz.

“This chip, coupled with an all-purpose FPGA, can build a very flexible SDR operating across different radio protocols, wide frequency range and bandwidth requirements all controlled via software configuration. It finds a number of applications in wireless communication infrastructure, small cell Base stations as well as a whole range of custom radios in the industrial and aerospace businesses.”

Now, let’s see the trends for 2014!

More collaboration with customers: There is a greater emphasis on understanding customers’ end applications to provide a complete signal chain, all in a System on a Chip (SoC) or a System in a package (SiP). The relationship with our customers is changing as we move more towards ASSPs focused with few lead customers for target markets and target applications. While this has already been ongoing in the consumer industry with PCs and laptops, customers in other vertical markets like healthcare, automotive and industrial are and will collaborate more with semiconductor companies like Analog Devices to innovate at a solutions level.

More complete products: We have evolved from delivering just the silicon at a component level to delivering more complete products with more advanced packaging for various 3D chips or multi-die within a package. Our solutions now have typically much more software that makes it easier to configure or program the chips. It is a solution that is a combination of more advanced silicon, advanced packaging and more appropriate software.

With providing the complete solution, the products are more application specific and hence, the need for more collaboration with customers. For example, there may be one focused on Software Defined Radio, one for motor control, and one for vital signs monitoring for consumer health that we have launched recently.

We need it to be generic enough that multiple customers can use it, but it needs to be as tailored as possible to the customers’ needs for specific market segments. While because of the volume and standardization, availability of complete reference designs in the consumer world has been the norm, other market segments are demanding more complete products not-withstanding the huge variation in protocols and applications.

Truly global industry: The semiconductor and electronics industry has become truly global, so multiple design sites around the globe collaborate to create products. For example for Analog Devices, one of our premier design sites is our Bangalore product design center where we quite literally developed our most complex and capable chips. At the same time our customers are also global.

We see large multinational companies like GE, Honeywell, Cisco, Juniper, ABB, Schneider and many of our top strategic customers globally doing substantial system design work in Bangalore along with a multitude of India design houses. Our fastest growing region is in Asia, but we have substantial engagement with customers in North America and Europe. And our competition is also global, which means that the industry is ever moving faster as the competition is global.

Smarter design tools: The final trend worth talking about is the need for smarter design tools.  As our products and our customers’ products become more complex and capable, there have to be rapidly developing design tools, for us to design them.

This cannot be done by brute force but by designing smarter and better tools. There is a lot of innovation that goes on in developing better tool suites. There is also ever more capable software that caters to a market moving from 100s of transistors to literally billions of transistors for an application.

Top five trends likely to rule global semicon industry in 2014


Rich Goldman

Rich Goldman

What are the top five trends likely to rule the semicon industry in 2014 and why? Rich Goldman, VP, corporate marketing and strategic alliances, Synopsys, had this to say.

FinFETs
FinFETs will be a huge trend through 2014 and beyond. Semiconductor companies will certainly keep us well informed as they progress through FinFET tapeouts and ultimately deliver production FinFET processes.

They will tout the power and speed advantages that their FinFET processes deliver for their customers, and those semiconductor companies early to market with FinFETs will press their advantage by driving and announcing aggressive FinFET roadmaps.

IP and subsystems
As devices grow more complex, integrating third-party IP has become mainstream. Designers recognize as a matter of course that today’s complex designs benefit greatly from integrating third-party IP in such areas as microprocessors and specialized I/Os.

The trend for re-use is beginning to expand upwards to systems of integrated, tested IP so that designers no longer need to redesign well-understood systems, such as memory, audio and sensor systems.

Internet of Things/sensors
Everybody is talking about the Internet of Things for good reason. It is happening, and 2014 will be a year of huge growth for connected things. Sensors will emerge as a big enabler of the Internet of Things, as they connect our real world to computation.

Beyond the mobile juggernaut, new devices such as Google’s (formerly Nest’s) thermostat and smoke detector will enter the market, allowing us to observe and control our surrounding environment remotely.

The mobile phone will continue to subsume and disrupt markets, such as cameras, fitness devices, satellite navigation systems and even flashlights, enabled by sensors such as touch, capacitive pattern, gyroscopic, accelerometers, compasses, altimeters, light, CO, ionization etc. Semiconductor companies positioned to serve the Internet of Things with sensor integration will do well.

Systems companies bringing IC design in-house
Large and successful systems companies wanting to differentiate their solutions are bringing IC specification and/or design in house. Previously, these companies were focused primarily on systems and solutions design and development.

Driven by a belief that they can design the best ICs for their specific needs, today’s large and successful companies such as Google, Microsoft and others are leading this trend, aided by IP reuse.

Advanced designs at both emerging and established process nodes  
While leading-edge semiconductor companies drive forward on emerging process nodes such as 20nm, others are finding success by focusing on established nodes (28nm and above) that deliver required performance at reduced risk. Thus, challenging designs will emerge at both ends of the spectrum.

Part II of this discussion will look at FinFETs below 20nm and 3D ICs.

Dr. Wally Rhines on global semiconductor industry trends for 2013


It is always a pleasure speaking with Dr. Walden (Wally) C. Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics Corp. I met him on the sidelines of the 13th Global Electronics Summit, held at the Chaminade Resort & Spa, Santa Cruz, USA.

Status of global EDA industry

Dr. Wally Rhines.

Dr. Wally Rhines.

First, I asked Dr. Rhines how the EDA industry was doing. Dr. Rhines said: “The global EDA industry has been doing pretty well. The results have been pretty good for 2012. In general, the EDA industry tends to follow the semiconductor R&D by at least 18 months.”

For the record, the electronic design automation (EDA) industry revenue increased 4.6 percent for Q4 2012 to $1,779.1 million, compared to $1,700.1 million in Q4 2011.

Every region, barring Japan, grew in 2012. The Asia Pacific rim grew the fastest – about 12.5 percent. The Americas was the second fastest region in terms of growth at 7.4 percent, and Europe grew at 6.8 percent. However, Japan decreased by 3 percent in 2012.

In 2012, the segments that have grown the fastest within the EDA industry include PCB design and IP, respectively. The front-end CAE (computer aided engineering) group grew faster than the backend CAE. By product category, CAE grew 9.8 percent. The overall growth for license and maintenance was 7 percent. Among the CAE areas, design entry grew 36 percent and emulation 24 percent, respectively.

DFM also grew 28 percent last year. Overall, PCB grew 7.6 percent, while PCB analysis was 25 percent. IP grew 12.6 percent, while the verification IP grew 60 percent. Formal verification and power analysis grew 16 percent each, respectively. “That’s actually a little faster than how semiconductor R&D is growing,” added Dr. Rhines.

Status of global semicon industry
On the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. Dr. Rhines said: “The global semiconductor industry grew very slowly in 2012. Year 2013 should be better. Revenue was actually consolidated by a lot of consolidations in the wireless industry.”

According to him, smartphones should see further growth. “There are big investments in capacities in the 28nm segment. Folks will likely redesign their products over the next few years,” he said. “A lot of firms are waiting for FinFET to go to 20nm. People who need it for power reduction should benefit.”

“A lot of people are concerned about Japan. We believe that Japan can recover due to the Yen,” he added.
Read more…

Embedded systems trends and developer opportunities


Herb Hinstorff.

Herb Hinstorff.

Today, the world is transitioning from independent devices to  connected systems. Intel has been inside the embedded systems market for over 35 years, having developed 270+ CPUs and SoCs as well as 100+ chipsets.

Herb Hinstorff, director of Marketing, Developer Products Division, Intel Software, said that Intel has been engaged at all levels of the solution stack. He was speaking at the 13th Global Electronics Summit at Santa Cruz, USA.

There are tools to deliver on developer needs, such as debuggers, analyzers, compilers and libraries. There are tools to provide the deep system-level insights into power, reliability and performance.

On the debuggers side, they increase system and device stability and reliability. There is an efficient system, SoC-wide defect analysis and ultra-fast system-wide tracing for software debug. There is an integrated application level debugger. Overall, it speeds system bring-up and development. Analyzers focus on boosting reliability, power efficiency and performance, enabling differentiated designs, system-wide analysis and deep insights.

Compilers go on to optimize performance and efficiency. There is the industry-leading C/C++ compiler. It boosts system and application performance on Intel Atom, Core and Xeon processors. Compilers also take advantage of the multicore to boost performance.

There are libraries for performance and efficiency. Software building blocks increase the developer productivity and boost performance. There are specialized testing functions that handle signal processing, data processing, complex math operations and multimedia processing. Besides, there is future-proof software investments. The libraries provide an easy way to take advantage of the multicore capabilities to boost performance.

The Intel System Studio is an integrated software tool suite that provides deep, system-wide insights to help accelerate time-to-market, strengthen system reliability, and boost power effiency and performance. The JTAG interface has system and application code running Linux.

There is a continued broadening of the OS support, and a broader range of tools to match the expanding SoC capabilities. There is more extensive software based training and simulation, as well as market-specific libraries and APIs.

Given that the market is transitioning from independent devices to connected systems, more capable SoC platforms and complex software stacks require deeper and broader system-level insights and optimizations. Embedded developers can take advantage of the Intel System Studio to accelerate the time-to-market, strengthen system reliability, and boost power efficiency and performance of the Intel architecture-based embedded and mobile systems.

10 key trends for global PV industry

February 11, 2013 1 comment

Finlay Colville, vice president, NPD Solarbuzz, USA, recently presented the 10 key trends for the PV industry. According to him, the 10 key trends are:

1. PV demand growth. The industry has been characterized by strong growth rates of 25 percent to >100 percent Y/Y for the past decade. Now, the industry needs to plan for growth at more modest levels.

2. Globalization of PV demand. The emerging regions emerged for PV demand in 2012.

3. China end-market demand in 2013. China is forecast to account for approximately 25 percent global demand in 2013. The emerging demand is confined to a select group of countries across the three emerging regions.

4. Capacity imbalance reset. The nameplate capacity levels at the 60-GW level are often cited. However, the the PV industry currently has an ‘effective’ capacity of 41-42 GW. Therefore, demand needs to exceed 40 GW for proper reset.

Top module suppliers.

Top module suppliers.

5. Competitive shakeout. The top-10 module suppliers by MW for 2012 only comprised 50 percent of the year shipments. Also, a similar pattern is seen for c-Si cell production. We can expect another two years of shakeout on the supply side.

6. Cost and price rationalization. Every segment of the supply side is subject to price/cost pressure: from poly to BoS supply. Even reducing the silicon/nonsilicon costs of modules to 53c/W level by the end of 2013 may still result in negative gross margins.

7. Supply and demand rationalization. The poly suppliers have been operating at reduced utilization since 2H’12.

8. Evolution of PV technology roadmaps. Strong marketshare gains from standard c-Si multi ingot/wafers. The end-markets are driving module efficiencies and power ratings. The alternative growth methods have not gained traction and are being phased out.

9. Capital expenditure cyclic patterns. The PV process equipment suppliers have been impacted severely by overcapacity and overinvestments of 2010 and 2011. There is a strong chance that 2014 will end up as low as 2013. Also, technology-buy cycles don’t exist as yet in the PV industry.

10. Domestic protectionism counter measures. The effects of trade wars may yet have a profound effect on the PV industry into 2014. There will be direct effect of global overinvestment into domestic manufacturing. The other countries have an impact, but China and Europe decisions are key.

In summary, the PV industry is a 30-GW end-market today, and is forecast to grow to the 40-GW level in 2015. Europe demand is declining, but greater number of countries/territories expected to provide new PV demand. Demand in China during 2013 is essential for local suppliers.

The PV industry is capable of producing 12-15 GW per quarter. Supply and demand need a 40-GW+ market to balance. The shakeout phase is proceeding slowly, and will continue for the next two years. Reducing costs are not yet keeping up with price declines. ASP and ISP stabilization period is needed badly.

The end-market demand has become dependent on low ISPs. Also, multi c-Si based modules are dominating the industry. PV equipment suppliers are unlikely to see meaningful new order intake until 2014 or beyond. Finally, trade wars and domestic protectionism measures are crucially dependent on the EU and China decisions in 2013.

Update on global semicon trends 2012-13


For the sake of completeness, that is, for a view of the complete 2013 semiconductor sales and sales growth forecast outlook, Mike Cowan, an independent semicon consultant, has extended his model to ‘capture’ the forecast sales numbers for the final two quarters of 2013.

Thus, the second half of 2013 sales forecast estimate came in at $170.6 billion, which represents a 10 percent increase over the (forecasted) 2H-2012 sales of $155.2 billion.

Therefore, the full year 2013 sales forecast outlook becomes $321.1 billion, which yields an expected year-on-year sales growth forecast estimate of 7.7 percent for 2013.

Quarterly, half year and full year forecast results for 2011, 2012, and 2013 are provided in the following table.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

As noted, all forecast numbers are italicized. Also note that a line has been included that provides the most recent (June 2012′s Spring 2012 Forecast Update) WSTS/SIA forecast results for comparative purposes.

WLCSP market and industrial trends


WLCSP technology and industrial roadmap. Source: Yole Developpement, France.

WLCSP technology and industrial roadmap. Source: Yole Developpement, France.

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…

Trends to watch @ CES!


CES 2012 is just around the corner! Let us look at some trends.

First, according to Ovum,  the ultrabook is shaping up to be a CES 2012 show stopper. It is expected that 20-40 devices will be introduced. There will be more of mobile connecrted devices, which are likely to be more app friendly, have brighter screens and offer intuitive user interfaces. TV manufacturers are expected to  demonstrate capabilities of “smart” TVs.

According to Accenture, another big story is likely to be the TV market. The market is challenged by the fact that consumers are planning to buy fewer TVs next year, according to Accenture’s new survey of 10,000 consumers in 10 countries.

Consumers are also watching TV on TV screens less often, and say they are especially disinclined to buy TV sets until prices decline. The battle is on for consumers eyeballs and attention among the multitude of screens such as desktop and laptop PCs, smartphones and tablets. There will be a push to find more innovative ways to make TV content on TV screens more compelling involving cloud and online services.

Accenture also believes ultrabooks will be a big story at CES 2012. This is a promising product category because these are highly powerful yet thin and portable computers. Tablets and smartphone markets are continuing to grow, but the ultrabook market poses a threat to both.

Among the biggies, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd launched the Samsung AdHub advertising platform for Samsung Smart TV platform. Through the newly-announced AdHub service, brands can deliver 3D, video and interactive advertisements into the living room via Samsung’s market-leading Smart TVs. China’s Haier will display connected televisions as well as key new design features and introduce the expanded line of audio solutions.

Elsewhere, dbx-tv announced Total Cal, an audio measurement and calibration tool that custom-optimizes sound quality from TVs, regardless of speaker size or price point.

VoiceBox Technologies Inc. has entered into a strategic agreement with Toyota Motor Sales (TMS) USA, Inc. to develop innovative in-car voice products and capabilities. Quantenna Communications will showcase 802.11n MIMO technology optimized for service providers and 802.11ac chipset for retail applications. Alereon Inc. is demonstrating high-speed wireless connectivity from Android-based smartphones and tablets to integrated wireless monitors/docks as well as HDTVs.

The Mobile500 Alliance has unveiled a breakthrough end-to-end solution that will enable its member broadcasters to build new revenue streams through Mobile DTV (MDTV). The goal is to make the solution available to Alliance member companies after beta launch and evaluation in Seattle, USA.

Two Bosch Group companies, Bosch Sensortec and Akustica, will be jointly showcasing their consumer MEMS products. While, Qualcomm Innovation Center Inc. (QuIC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm, is expected to launch the Snapdragon GameCommand application to the Android market on January 10, 2012, the opening day of the CES.

Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) hosts an OMAP4470 processor-based tablet running on a pre-release version of Windows 8 at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, demonstrating how the latest OMAP 4 platform distinctly supports Microsoft’s new computing experience, Windows 8, that reimagines Windows. And, Sensible Vision, the leading supplier of face authentication software, will demonstrate its face recognition app for iOS and Android mobile devices at the CES 2012 Wall of Apps. FastAccess Anywhere securely replaces passwords with a face to quickly and conveniently log in to apps and web sites on mobile devices.

Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc. (TAEC), will be demonstrating the latest additions to its lineup of flash memory offerings – the TransMemory-EX series of USB flash memory products. The new drives are compliant with the new USB 3.0 standards – known as Super Speed USB. Initial storage capacities include a 32GB model and a 64GB model.

Qualcomm MEMS Technologies Inc. and The Shanghai Nutshell Electronic Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of Shanda Networking Co. Ltd, China’s largest interactive digital content provider, announced the first e-reader featuring mirasol display technology, the Bambook Sunflower, to be commercially available in China in the coming weeks.

The latest figures from GfK Digital World, in partnership with Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), reveal global spending on consumer technology devices will surpass $1 trillion in 2012 for the first time, increasing by 5 percent over 2011’s figure of $993 billion.

These are just a few of the multiple trends one can expect at this year’s CES!

PV inverter — innovations and market trends


France’s Yole Développement, recently organized a seminar on PV inverter – technical innovations and market trends. The speakers were Brice Legouic, Power Electronics Market & Technology Analyst, Yole and Paul Kleistead, Cree.

What are the trends for 2011-12? According to Legouic, a first step of standardization should take place at the added functionalities level. This includes MPP positioning with advanced solutions, monitoring, and anti-theft and protection. Two, players with a higher level of product quality will enter the EU market. These include Japanese players focusing on efficiency and reliability, but with more expensive inverters.

Yole also anticipates a double speed business to take place. If the residential segment is opened to Chinese manufacturers and industrial/solar farms are dedicated to high-end products, the PV inverter market would become two different markets.

Speaking about market trends, he said that trends will be driven by reduction of feed-in tariff, which hurries the end users to sign contracts. Over 2 million are likely to be sold in 2012. The total market in 2010 was slightly below €3.3 billion, and will overpass €3.5 billion by 2012.

Over 75 percent of the market is owned by the top 10 PV inverter players. Five of these are German, eight are European, and two are American. Eighty percent of EU inverters are made in Europe and 20 percent are made in the USA. Asian players will likely increase their supply for the EU market. Japanese players currently have  very small implantation in the EU. Yole believes that their market share could reach 15 percent within the next three years.

On technological trends, Legouic touched upon the neutral-point-clamped (NPC) architecture. The NPC architecture uses diode to clamp the DC bus voltage in two equal voltages. The benefits are:
* allowing the use of lower 600V devices instead of 1200V,
*  reducing dynamic losses, and
*  SJ MOS can be used for outer switches for their higher frequency performances.

The NPC architecture is nearly always used for 10-50kW inverters.

Using the SiC free-wheeling diode can increase efficiency from up to 2 percent. More and more are used for low- to medium-power range. Benefits include much better recovery time and reduction in IGBT switching losses. On the DC/DC stage component chart, he added that according to STMicroelectronics, we can assume that when the maximum input voltage of an inverter is below 650V, the DC/DC stage is MOSFET-based. Over 650V, the inverter can be considered to be built with a 1200V IGBT.

As for implementation of new technologies, such as SiC vs. GaN, 900-1200V will be the targeted range for over 10kW inverters. SiC diodes are already implemented in residential and commercial inverters. In 2012, silicon will represent more than 90 percent of the modules market, and about 75 percent of the wafer market. SiC will be mostly driven by diodes. Components will be at an early stage of adoption. Read more…

Designing systems to thrive in disruptive trends!


Srini Rajam, CEO, Ittiam Systems presented the guest keynote at the CDNLive! 2011 in Bangalore, India, titled ‘Designing Systems to Thrive in Disruptive Trends’. According to him, key factors for design project success include scope definition, realistic targets, good estimation and right resources. Today, smart system design enables being a step ahead in the world of disruptive system demands.

The concergence decade saw an affordable convergence of media and functions. The world also moved from the PC in 2000 to the smartphone in 2010. There has also been a convergence of audio, video and communications. The SoC and system design require performance, quality and price to work in tandem.

In the imagination decade, we have come to expect electronics to do whatever we fancy. In the smart system design era, we have come to anticipate a future system that will also work perfectly today.

Today, we are in the world of IP video communication. First, everything is evolving. There have been advances in video technology, SoC and infrastructure. Technologies designed elsewhere are being brought in. There is a virtually infinite range in quality and price levels. The video communication system holds the key dynamics. The SoC, software and system have entered into a synergistic relationship.

For smart system design, there is a need to look at the big picture. Scaling down is easier than scaling up. Smart system is built to achieve efficiency in scale down. The reference platform is needed for the development roadmap.

For designing, the system may function as a module in other system. Also, critical components of the system may evolve outside. Parts of the system may also get replaced by the ecosystem. As for the SoC, there must be a roadmap enabling application software portability. There should be modular scaling with plug and play of IPs/components. Tools for hardware-software co-development must be available from the early stages.

All of this would enable you to being a step ahead in the world of disruptive system demands.

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