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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…

Spark’s back on Indian electronics!!


Well, well, well! Post the announcements by the Government of India last week of two 300mm fabs in India, there have been a spate of announcements again, this week! Here’s what they are!

Yesterday evening, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved setting up of Information Technology Investment Region (ITIR) near Hyderabad.

The Phase I of this project will be from 2013 to 2018 and Phase II will be from 2018 to 2038. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has delineated an area of 202 sq. kms. for the proposed ITIR in three clusters/ agglomerations viz.:

(i) Cyberabad Development Area and its surroundings,
(ii) Hyderabad Airport Development area and Maheshwaram in the south of Hyderabad, and
(iii) Uppal and Pocharam areas in eastern Hyderabad. The ITIR will be implemented in two phases.

Next, the Government of India finalized the setting up of a ‘Ultra-Mega Green Solar Power Project’ in Rajasthan in the SSL (Sambhar Salts Ltd, a subsidiary of Hindustan Salts Ltd – a Central Public Sector Enterprise under the Department of Heavy Industry, Ministry of Heavy Industries & Public Enterprises) area close to Sambhar Lake, about 75 kms from Jaipur.

Further, India was recognized as ‘Authorizing Nation’ under the international Common Criteria Recognition Arrangement (CCRA) to test and certify electronics and IT products with respect to cyber security. India has become the 17th nation to earn this recognition.

Then again, the ‘HTML 5.0 Tour in India’ has now reached Hyderabad.

Also, India has offered to help Cuba develop its renewable energy resources. This has been conveyed to Marino Murillo, vice president of the Republic of Cuba at Havana, by Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Minister of New and Renewable Energy, during his trip to Cuba.

All of this is really brilliant stuff!

At least, I have never seen or heard about so much activity happening, especially in the electronics and solar PV sectors. One sincerely hopes that all of these initiatives will allow India to come to the forefront of the global electronics industry.

The spark seems to be coming back to the India electronics industry, after a very, very long wait! It is hoped that this stays on!!

Round-up 2012: Best of electronics, semiconductors and solar

December 31, 2012 2 comments

Friends, here is the round-up of 2012, where the best of electronics, semiconductors and solar PV are presented. Best wishes for a very happy and prosperous new year! :)

Also, a word on the horrendous Delhi rape that has shaken up India. I am ashamed to be a man and a part of India’s society. My family and I are extremely sorry that the brave girl is no more! May her soul rest in peace. May God deliver justice, and quickly!

DECEMBER 2012
Opportunities in turbulent PV equipment market

Global semiconductor industry outlook 2013: Jaswinder Ahuja, Cadence

Next wave of design challenges, and future growth of EDA: Dr. Wally Rhines

Global medical image sensors market to grow 64 percent by 2017

Status of power semiconductor devices industry

NOVEMBER 2012
Global solar PV industry to remain under pressure in 2013!

Dr. Wally Rhines on global semiconductor industry outlook 2013

Focus on monolithic 3D-ICs paradigm shift for semicon industry

Xilinx announces 20nm portfolio strategy

Elliptic intros world’s first commercial touchless gesturing technology!

Global semiconductor industry outlook 2013: Analog Devices

IMEC’s 450mm R&D initiative for nanoelectronics ecosystem

OCTOBER 2012
III-V high mobility semiconductors for advanced CMOS apps

Yet another electronics policy for India?

IEF 2012: Turning recession into opportunity!

Global semicon sales to drop 1.7 percent in 2012?

Virtual prototyping ready for masses

MEMS to be $21 billion market by 2017: Yole

TSMC on 450mm transition: Lithography key!

SEPTEMBER 2012
Cadence Allegro 16.6 accelerates timing closure

Dr. Wally Rhines on global EDA industry

Solarcon India 2012: Solar industry in third wave!

AUGUST 2012
Apple wins big vs. Samsung in patent war!

Can being fabless and M-SIPS take India to top?

JULY 2012
Is Europe ready for 450mm fabs?

APRIL 2012
Xilinx intros Vivado Design Suite

MARCH 2012
Cadence releases latest Encounter RTL-to-GDSII flow

WLCSP market and industrial trends

FEBRUARY 2012
Top 10 semiconductor growth drivers: Intersil

Ingredients for successful fabless Indian semiconductor industry: Dr. Wally Rhines

Tariffs will slow growth in domestic demand for PV systems: The Brattle Group

Wireless leads in global semicon spends!

JANUARY 2012
India to allow imports of low-priced Chinese solar cells? Or, is it beaten?

Solarcon India 2012: Solar industry in third wave!

September 3, 2012 1 comment

SEMI, USA.

SEMI, USA.

There are three phases of PV industry development, including formation, regional development and globalization, according to Bettina Weiss, VP, Global PV Business Unit, SEMI, USA. She was delivering the opening keynote at the ongoing Solarcon India 2012 event in Bangalore, India. The event runs till September 5.

According to her, in the first stage, discoveries lead to inventions. Inventions find niche and high-value applications. Technology, and not manufacturing is the key driver here. For regional development, new industries seen as source for economic development. Markets develop through government subsidies. Global supply chains and regional clusters of excellence develop as well.

State of global  PV industry
The government policy support for PV has been strong till 2011. However, it may fall of during 2012-16. The supply-demand balance was generally stable till 2011, which could likely see structural overcapacity in 2012-16. The demand, which has been over 70 per cent till 2011, will likely see -20 per cent growth from 2012-16.

While there were many ‘saviour’ markets, such as Spain (2008), Italy (2010) and Germany (2009-11), Europe may prove to be not enough to absorb excess capacity in 2012-16. Poly, scale and the learning curve had been competitive till 2011, and are likely to give way to non-poly costs, technology and efficiency during 2015-16. While the gross margin was consistently above 20 per cent till now, the path to profitability remains unclear for the period 2012-16.

As for the cell and module makers performance, sharp price declines since 2011 have stimulated record installations globally. The effect on PV manufacturers have been severe. The entire supply chain has been plagued with collapsing margins.

Revenue to shipment ratio declined for five consecutive quarter since Q1 ’11. The list of insolvencies keeps growing. The outlook for 2012 is that volume/shipment upside is likely, but the path to profitability is still unclear.

Then, there is the ongoing solar trade war!

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) levied anti-dumping tariffs against Chinese solar module imports, with tariffs ranging from 31 per cent to 250 per cent. In response to the US tariffs, China’s Ministry of Commerce, on July 21, 2012, announced that it will start its own AD and CVD investigation on imported solar-grade polysilicon from US, and is initiating an AD investigation on these imports from South Korea. The EU Commission will decide by mid-September whether to accept a similar complaint and launch an investigation.
Read more…

India to allow imports of low-priced Chinese solar cells? Or, is it beaten?

January 23, 2012 4 comments

As per reports on the Internet, the Government of India has said that it has no objections to companies importing low-priced Chinese solar cells, so long as the cells imported meet the prescribed quality standards!

Oh, well! This is yet another blow to the battling group of the domestic manufacturers. A week before, their plea for seeking imposition of import duty on finished solar equipment was rejected! Is this yet another admission of defeat, this time by the Indian government, at the hands of the hard-working Chinese solar PV manufacturers? Looks like it!

Now, I am not sure what has actually transpired! However, this was very much along the cards and expected! At least, I have seen all of this happen in the Indian telecom and later, electronics industries. Therefore, why should the solar PV industry be any different? Besides, it is a clear indication of the rising might of the Chinese, globally!

Get it clear: as of now, there is no country or manufacturer, that can take the gigantic risks that the Chinese industry is so used to taking, and succeeding, in the long run! Unless the other manufacturers of the world are able to take necessary risks and continue to produce products on par or better than those from China, this story will be repeated, again and again!

Whether the Jawaharlal Nehru-National Solar Mission succeeds in the long run — that remains a major question! However, the fact that remains as of now is: there is no country as strong as China, as far as solar PV is concerned, especially in manufacturing!

The Indian government’s stance is directly opposite to the USA, which has reportedly taken China to the World Trade Organisation over dumping of solar cells and panels.

In fact, today, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM), supported by more than 150 US employers of more than 11,000 workers, applauded an analysis by Hari Chandra Polavarapu, MD of solar and clean-technology research for brokerage firm Auriga USA, that underscores the importance of holding China accountable to international trade law.

Polavarapu’s target is China’s alleged campaign of underwriting development of massive solar manufacturing capacity – without cultivating a significant domestic market – then wielding exports of artificially low-priced product as a “battering ram” to knock down the US solar manufacturing industry.

Polavarapu contends in a series of research and analysis notes that China’s alleged actions against foreign domestic industries not only distort markets but also sap the power of competition to drive efficiency and innovation. Polavarapu characterizes China as a “state sponsor of predatory capitalism and asymmetric warfare” that “does not help in weeding out inefficient players but poisons the profit pool for everyone.”

What a contrast!

Now, I am not the judge, sitting with any decision! We, as a nation decide what is best for us!

In telecom, there are so many overseas makers, when there was room to cultivate local ones, back in the late 1990s. However, that never happened! In components, we tried our best to ‘kill’ the few local manufacturers by reducing import duty to zero. In electronics, we never did try to develop any local industry with earnest. Perhaps, the logic was: the presence of strong global players!

Solar PV industry recommended to stay optimistic; US govt. supports India’s clean energy initiative!

November 9, 2011 1 comment

Solarcon India 2011 started today in Hyderabad, with Jim Brown, president, Utility Systems Business Group, First Solar Inc., stating that the global solar PV industry is in a bit of the state of turmoil. Some are driven by pure supply-demand. He recommended the industry to be strategically optimistic. He cautioned that not everyone who’s playing in this field, will go on to survive the next two to three years. First Solar reiterated its optimism regarding its own prospects in the industry.

Dr. Bharat Bhargava drives home a point!

Dr. Bharat Bhargava drives home a point!

Commending Solarcon as a flagship event for the Indian solar PV industry, Dr. Bharat Bhargava, director – Photovoltaics, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, said that the policies and programs started by the Indian government are now yielding results. The Jawaharlal Nehru-National Solar Mission has seen the participation of the industry, the academia and the funding agencies, showing that the success of the program lies in the hands of the people involved.

When the Indian solar PV industry started, the country was said to have only 2MW.  By the end of October this year, India had 125 MW. By 2013, it will likely reach 2GW, according to Dr. Bhargava.

He apprised the audience regarding the REC (renewable energy certificate) program. Initially, the REC was for three years, but was later extended to five years. As of now, experts are consulting to enable it to increase to seven years. He estimated that the Indian solar PV industry might even go up to 100GW, instead of 20GW, and encouraged everyone to work together and make this happen.

Francisco J. Sanchez, Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, USA, stated that a lot of excitement is in the air! “We are

Francisco J. Sanchez shows commitment to Indian solar PV industry.

Francisco J. Sanchez shows commitment to Indian solar PV industry.

committed to India and its solar industry. There are opportunities to do big things in this industry.” He added that solar has achieved a triple bottom line.

According to Sanchez, the solar industry is  worth $17 billion in India and it is growing. India is spending $19 billion by 2022 to produce 20GW of solar energy. There will be a lot of engineers, manufacturers, etc., who can monitor and contribute to the growth of the industry. He advised that India will need to add 150GW of capacity over the next five years. Therefore, India is well placed to seize opportunities with trade partnerships.

He said: “The US government fully supports India’s clean energy initiative. There is an abundance of opportunities in solar. We can achieve much more in partnerships. We are committed to working with you. It is a huge opportunity for both countries.

“Some of the obstacles include repositioning for success, where companies indulge in unfair trade practices. When the market is open for competition, it creates thousands of jobs, and the market is growing quickly, helping many. It is all about chance and choice. We have a chance to build a great industry. We need to work together in partnership and share value. We will work together for the good of India and its consumers. We hope that India will take the same approach. India now has the chance to build an exciting industry for the future.”

Solarcon India 2011 begins with record exhibitors

November 9, 2011 2 comments

Presenting the excerpts from the welcome address by Debasish Paul Choudhury, president, SEMI India, at the ongoing Solarcon India 2011, being held in Hyderabad.

This year’s show features a larger exhibition, a three-day dual track conference, and will feature three concurrent technical programs. The theme for this year’s exposition, representing the widening solar value chain in India, is “Showcasing the Solar Eco‐System: From Polysilicon to Power Plants.”

Solarcon India 2011 opens in Hyderabad, India.

Solarcon India 2011 opens in Hyderabad.

The exhibition with over 115 exhibitors from eight countries, compared to 81 exhibitors in SOLARCON India 2010, covers the entire solar value chain, will provide you an opportunity to see a wide range of new products and services offered by Indian and international companies, under one roof.

This year’s show, as many of you are aware, is certified by the US Department of Commerce (US DOC), and features an exclusive US Pavilion with 14 leading US companies participating in the exhibition. I am also delighted to welcome a 35-member Clean Tech Delegation led by the USA’s Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, Francisco J. Sanchez to the show.

I am delighted to have in our midst two other distinguished guests – Dr. Bharat Bhargava, director – Photovoltaics, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy, Government of India, who is widely credited to be the architect of the India’s National Solar Mission. In the same vein, I am happy to welcome Jim Brown, president, Utility Systems Business Group, First Solar Inc., the world’s largest thin film module manufacturer, with us this morning.

Featuring more than 70 speakers drawn from the industry, academia and government, the conference is themed “Charting India’s Roadmap to Solar Leadership — Translating Potential into Reality.” The conference attracts high-profile participation of solar energy leaders from all segments of the industry supply chain, academia and governments from India and around the world.

The three-day conference also includes an LED Lighting summit, co-organized with Frost & Sullivan, which will focus on SSL (solid state lighting) technology with speakers from among LED manufacturers, LED suppliers, researchers and others.

The climate in which we are holding the show this year has not been without its challenges – on two fronts: the events in Hyderabad on the one hand (which have now, we are grateful to all parties involved, returned to complete normalcy) and the considerable stress that the solar industry is under due the slowdown in the European economies, regulatory changes in the major solar markets and manufacturing over capacity resulting in a fall in PV system prices over the last two to three quarters.

This show and the support it has received are proof that the long term prospects for the solar industry remain most bright in India.

ESDM all over again? When will Indian semicon and electronics industries learn??


Today, the government of India released the National Policy on Electronics titled: Policies to drive national agenda for ICTE: National policy on Electronics 2011 (NPE 2011). One glance is sufficient to note: it is the same old thing in new bottles! There is the dreaded ‘ESDM’ all over again! Easy to say, (but) difficult to manage — electronics system design and manufacturing!

Oh! Where were those folks about 15-20 years ago, who have written this policy, especially when the world had started to make the first movements toward a solid electronics infrastructure back in the mid- to late-1990s? India was and still remains a good 15-20 years behind, as far as electronics and semiconductor industries are concerned! Yes, I am very well aware that there are certain Indian electronics manufacturing companies. They all do creditable work for the global MNCs!

Now, I’ve been requested to write nice things about ESDM! So be it!! First, ESDM does not exist!! Frankly, there is no need to coin any new and special terminology to boost the electronics and semiconductor industries!!!  At least, I don’t see any other booming global economy of the world that has coined a special term to do that!! So, why India? All that those nations have done is to focus on R&D and product development, instead of resorting to any terminology! Perhaps, it would be wise for India to follow that path, if it so wishes!

Second, please get specialists to develop the national electronics policy. Else, can I do it?? I am not qualified, though! Besides, I am just a small-time blogger who people don’t really notice!!

Third, where is the electronic components industry in India? It has been said in the policy that ‘electronic components, which are basis of an electronic product, are low volume low weight, cheap and easy to transport across the globe. Moreover, under Information Technology Agreement-1 (ITA-1) of the World Trade Organization, which came into force in 1997, a large number of electronic components and products are bound with zero tariffs making trade unrestricted across international borders. Also, the electronics manufacturing is characterized by high volume and low margins. All these have resulted in the electronics hardware industry being globally integrated with few large global players catering to a large part of the world.’

I am sorry, I don’t agree!

Can you show me one single Indian company manufacturing quality electronic components? There used to be some, in the early 1990s, but those have long vanished! Has anyone ever wondered why? Were their components not good enough? Were the tariffs higher than average? Was it global competition that forced them to exit? Please find out the reasons!

Without the presence of a solid local electronic components industry, forget about ever developing a good, strong and robust Indian electronics and semiconductor industries! Read more…

Electronica/Productronica 2011, here I come!

September 12, 2011 3 comments

I am back in New Delhi, covering the electronica/productronica 2011 show! This is my second time at the show, however, the first time in New Delhi, as the previous year’s edition was held in Bangalore.

Is there anything new that I see? Perhaps, not as yet! However, I shall reserve comment till I visit the show.

What I do notice is more or less a similar, or familiar set of names of exhibitors, if the one put up by the organizers on their website is correct. Maybe, there are a few additions, but that’s all I can say, for now!

STMicroelectronics seems to have become a new addition, as is Renesas Electronics Singapore Pte Ltd. One other addition seems to be SiPlace, Of course, the show is graced by familiar names, such as Bergen Associates, element14, EMST Marketing, Inde Enterprises, Juki India, Leaptech, Murata, NMTronics, NXP, QUAD Electronics, Rohde  & Schwarz, RS Components, Sumitron and so on!

There is one other difference! Most of these firms are multinational companies (MNCs) or arms of the MNCs. While I don’t have anything against them, one is tempted to ask the question: where are the Indian companies? Specifically, where are the ‘so-called’ Indian electronics manufacturing companies?

We all love to talk about how India should play a major role in electronics manufacturing. However, seriously, how much of this is actually happening in India? More precisely, where are the home grown Indian manufacturing units?

I noticed that one of the sessions is going to be a panel discussion titled: Local mobile phone manufacturing: Opportunity or challenge!! Wonder, what will come out of the session! There’s another on EMS – where, again, the weight lies with the MNCs. Of course, there are two speakers — N. Jehangir from SFO and Raminder Singh from QUAD, in the final session. The other session on automotive electronics also seems to be loaded with speakers from MNCs.

Can India really get to become a global hub for EMS? Well, let’s just wait and see what exactly do these august gentlemen in the two panel discussions have to say!

Great union budget 2010-11, but very little (or nothing) for semicon!


The Union Finance minister has tabled the Union Budget 2011-12 this morning in the Indian Parliament. Some of the key features include:

* Hike in exemption IT limit from Rs 1.6 lakh to Rs 1.8 lakh.
* Air travel expensive — service tax increased.
* TV, mobile phones cheaper.
* Battery-operated hybrid vehicles cheaper.
* Plan to provide rural broadband connectivity to all 250,000 panchayats in the country in three years.
* Connectivity to all 1,500 institutions of higher learning and research through optical fiber backbone to be provided by March, 2012.
* Special grant provided to various universities and academic institutions to recognise excellence.
* From 1st October, 2011 10 lakh Aadhaar numbers will be generated per day under the UID program.

IT infrastructure
* Various IT initiatives taken for efficient tax administration. These include  e-filing and e-payment of taxes, adoption of ‘Sevottam’ concept by CBEC and CBDT, web based facility for tax payers to track the resolution of refunds and credit for pre-paid taxes and augmentation of processing capacity.
*„ Under Mission mode projects, funds released to 31 projects received from States/UTs for computerisation of Commercial taxes. This will allow States to align with roll out of GST.
*„ Bill to amend the Indian Stamp Act proposed to be introduced shortly.
*„ A new scheme with an outlay of Rs. 300 crore to be launched to provide assistance to States to modernise their stamp and registration administration and roll out e-stamping in all the districts in the next three years.
*„ A new simplified form ‘Sugam’ to be introduced to reduce the compliance burden of small tax payers falling within presumptive taxation.
*„ Three more benches of Settlement Commission to be set up to fast track the disposal of cases.
* Steps initiated to reduce litigation and focus attention on high revenue cases

Environment
* Full exemption from basic Customs Duty  and a concessional rate of Central Excise Duty extended to batteries imported by manufacturers of electrical vehicles.
„* Concessional excise duty of 10 percent to vehicles based on fuel cell technology.
*„ Exemption granted  from basic custom duty and special CVD to critical parts/assemblies needed for hybrid vehicles.
*„ Reduction in excise Duty on kits used for conversion of fossil fuel vehicles into Hybrid vehicles.
*„ Excise duty on LEDs reduced to 5 percent and special CVD being fully exempted.
*„ Basic customs duty on solar lantern reduced from 10 percent to 5 percent.

Besides mobile phone and TV, several other components have been made cheaper. These include laser printers, solar lanterns, hybrid vehicles, LED lights, etc. Air travel, hotels and getting treated in big hospitals have become expensive owing to service tax.

There is also a proposal to launch a National Mission for hybrid and electric vehicles. That should be interesting!

As of now, there is nothing on the Indian semiconductor industry.

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