At an ISA CXO Conclave, Luc Van den hove, president and CEO, imec, said that we need to work toward a sustainable future. Started in 1984, Leuven, Belgium-based imec performs world leading research in nanoelectronics. He touched upon some research programs currently undertaken by imec.
Green radio is for low-power wireless communications. Technologies would be 1000K energy efficient. He added: “We are also developing low cost, low-power reconfigurable radios. Further, we feel that videos will dominate mobile phones.”
Another innovation, E-Nose, can be used for air quality, safety, food and well being. Human++ BAN life sciences, is yet another innovation. Now, the cost of healthcare is said to be exploding. By 2030, over 1 billion people will be over 65+ years. imec is developing body area network. According to imec, wearable wireless sensors can grow to over $400 million by 2014.
imec is working on technologies ranging from bio sensors to lab-on-chip. “We are also working on implantable devices such as microprobes,” said Van den hove. imec is also working on the NVision technology. According to estimates, there will likely be 78.1 million 3D TVs by 2012. Van den hove said, “we are developing holographic visualization.”
On energy, he said that renewable energy was growing in importance. “We are working on solar, storage, switching, etc. As an example, we have replaced Ag (silver) with Cu (copper) metallization.” Organic solar cells is yet another technology imec’s working on.”
In power electronics, imec is working on GaN power devices. “We also have a program for boosting chip performance and system functionality,” he added. “We are also exploring the third dimension — DRAM on logic.”
CMORE, is said to be more than CMOS, as well as MEMS, sensors, photonics, SiGe based metals/devices. In organic electronics, imec and Holst have developed the first plastic microprocessor, which was introduced in 2011. imec has research programs for full ecosystems as well.
Van den hove noted: “We also celebrate the launch of imec India. We want to develop sustainable nanoelectronic solutions. For example, rural India drives the mobile phone growth. India is also driving e-health.” In Arise Labs, imec has provided the nanoelectronic platform, technology and design expertise, application programming and strong industry network.
I received an interesting news alert from the Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA), formerly, Fabless Semiconductor Association, which spoke about how fabless companies, only, were funded in July 2011. Well, it also led me to this feeling that each time there is any new electronics or related segment being talked about globally, it seems that the Indian semiconductor industry is slowly losing the plot! One surely hopes not!!
May I take your attention back to Pravin Desale’s speech during Mentor Graphics’ U2U conference of December 2009. He had cited some numbers during his speech, borrowing heavily from GSA. According to the GSA Dec. 2008 figures, distribution of fabless IC companies is: Canada 29, USA 606, Europe 151, Israel 61 and Asia 510 — China 222, Taiwan 196, Korea 47, Japan 16, Taiwan 16, Singapore 7, Malaysia 4, and India 2-28 (two fabless companies and 28 design services/IC providers).
Agreed that these numbers should have changed a bit, if not, a lot.
Now, when the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) was formed on Oct. 28, 2004, members at the BangaloreIT.com that November, dwelt upon the need for fabless companies.
Somshankar Das, e4e, had said that for building fabless semiconductor companies in India, the country had a major advantage, as Indian talent was a large part of the global semiconductor industry. Some other advantages in favor of India at that time (Nov. 2004), were: local IC design service firms, who were creators of selective IP as well. Development of smart chips with embedded software was ongoing. Next, the US-funded cross border semiconductor firms were setting up development centers in India. Dr. Bobby Mitra, TI, had cited the need for microelectronics as the national agenda.
Well, where are we today? Why hasn’t the fabless semiconductor industry grown in India? Just two months ago, I wrote on how, China’s fabless market was set to double by 2015. Is any such movement even happening in India? At least, I am not aware, in case it were!
The establishment of fabless semiconductor companies is one good way to drive the growth of the semiconductor industry in India.
I still have the photograph of the founding members of the ISA, which is pasted above. The original participants were: Dr. Ananda, Dr. Madhu Atre, S. Uma Mahesh, Rajendra Khare, Dr. Sridhar Mitta, Dr. Anand Anandkumar, V. Veerappan, S. Janakiraman and Dr. Satya Gupta. Today, the ISA only has Dr. Satya Gupta as a representative. One hopes the others have not been left behind in the run of events following the ISA’s formation!
By the way, why am I referring to the original ISA, and fabless companies? Perhaps, there is a very deep significance!
Last week, I was alerted to a news on a local daily, which simply read: Government invites EoI for semiconductor fabs! With all due respect, what is the need for an Expression of Interest (EoI) in the first place? At least, I fail to understand!!
Having spent most of my life in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, I’ve seen plenty of fabs come up in the past decade, and before. Why? In the 1990s, no one used to even give a second look at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), which [I don't know if many are aware] started operations in 1987.
Back in the mid- to late-1990s, I had the pleasure of attending several trade shows at the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC), Taiwan. In fact, I tracked the rise of the Taiwanese and Chinese companies in telecoms and semiconductors. Back then, no one even noticed TSMC, as well as the Chinese backed Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC). However, the art of manufacturing, which had found its bearings in Taiwan, were steadily shifting to China. I even remember visiting Huawei in the middle of 2000, and later ZTE.
By 2000, many of the Taiwanese firms had moved their operations to China for managing cheaper labor costs. Today, China has assumed gigantic proportions, hasn’t it? Today, even TSMC is in the list of top 10 global semiconductor companies. I had even written a post congratulating TSMC for making it to the top 10 R&D spenders during 2010.
What exactly does this EoI from the government of India set out to achieve? Well, for starters, the EoI should come from the technology companies on whether they are interested to start a fab in India. By the way, do you know what happened to the SIPS or the Indian semiconductor policy announced in 2007? It sank without a trace! A Karnataka Semicon Policy was unveiled with great fanfare last year. The result? No takers!! Read more…
It has been a pretty disappointing year for me, so far, owing to one or another family related problems. I’ve only flattered, to deceive, as one would put it! Not that I’m out of my troubles, but am sure I can ‘play my game as usual’, hopefully, without any further disruptions.
First, I have been closely following the global semiconductor industry, despite my troubles, and there’s really nothing new worth reporting, at least, so far! Hope the next month and the rest of the year are better! But first, my take on the Indian semiconductor industry, which has now started to disappoint! At least, yours truly!
Last July, I had done a post, where, Len Jelinek, director and chief analyst for semiconductor manufacturing at iSuppli, (now IHS iSuppli) had said to a question on the need for a foundry for the Indian semiconductor industry that: “If there is a foundry built in India, it will have to start at mature technology, which they will have to underprice just to get business. Financially, this makes no sense for any investor, except for the government, which can protect the foundry (their investment) through tariffs.”
It is going to be a year since the remark was made!
This February, at the ISA Vision Summit, one heard a well known personality voice concern that the manufacturing sector suffers from a confidence deficit. A part of the software successes have been due to a brand developed. He said: “We have the advantage of a great brand, and need to make use of it in the electronics manufacturing sector. The government recognizes the need to convert Indian into a global destination.”
Where is the recognition to help create Indian into a global destination happening? Does it really take so long to develop a semicon policy in the first place? It is strange that perhaps, six and a half years since it was set up (Oct. 30, 2004), the ISA has still not found any takers for a fab in India!
Elsewhere, I mentioned that the latest ISA-Frost report on the status of the Indian semiconductor industry does not sound accurate! I don’t have anything personal against the Indian arms of MNCs, but why are they made even part of the report? I don’t recall seeing a similar report from China or Japan or Taiwan, that does a similar thing!
Where are the Indian semiconductor companies in the first place? One of India’s major semicon firms, the Srini Rajam-led Ittiam Systems, recorded a growth of Rs. 52 crore in 2010, while another significant ODM player, SFO Technologies from Kochi, Kerala, was said to be achieving Rs. 750-800 crore in 2010. What about the other Indian companies? To be accurate: what’s even happening with the Karnataka Semicon Policy? And, don’t some of the other Indian states deserve similar policies?
There are certain things that the Indian semicon industry needs to do, unless it wants to be written out of reckoning in the global context.
1) Focus on the needs of the Indian semicon companies only!
2) Prepare industry reports that highlight the capabilities of Indian semicon firms only; it does not matter how small those firms are! At least, we will have correct reports presenting the right picture.
3) I mentioned 10 points the Indian semicon industry needs to focus on in a post “Long wait for Indian semicon industry?” Perhaps, some, if not all, need to be paid attention to!
I am also told that the ISA president, Ms Poornima Shenoy is leaving, to start a new business. My best wishes to her for a successful career!