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Is GaN-on-Si disruptive technology?


The mass adoption of GaN on Si technology for LED applications remains uncertain. Opinions regarding the chance of success for LED-On-Si vary widely in the LED industry from unconditional enthusiasm to unjustified skepticism. Although significant improvements have been achieved, there are still some technology hurdles (such as performance, yields, CMOS compatibility, etc.).

The differential in substrate cost itself is not enough to justify the transition to GaN on Si technology. The main driver lies in the ability to manufacture in existing, depreciated CMOS fabs in 6” or 8”. For Yole Développement, if technology hurdles are cleared, GaN-on-Si LEDs will be adopted by some LED makers, but it will not become an industry standard.

Yole is more optimistic about the adoption of GaN on Si technology for power GaN devices. Contrary to LED industry, where GaN on Sapphire technology is the main stream and presents a challenging target, GaN on Si will dominate the GaN based power electronics applications. Although the GaN based devices remain more expensive than Si based devices, the overall cost of GaN device for some applications are expected to be lower three years from now according to some manufacturers.

Source:  Yole Développement, France.

Source: Yole Développement, France.

In 2020, GaN could reach more than 7 percent of the overall power device market and GaN on Si will capture more than 1.5 percent of the overall power substrate volume, representing more than 50 percent of the overall GaN on Si wafer volume, subjecting to the hypothesis that the 600 V devices would take off in 2014-2015.

GaN targets a $15 billion served available device market. GaN can power 4 families of devices and related applications. These are blue and green laser diodes, LEDs, power electronics and RF (see image).

Regarding GaN-on-Si LED, there will be no more than 5 percent penetration by 2020. As for GaN-on-GaN, it will be less than 2 percent. Yole considers that the leading proponents of LED-On-Si will successful and eventually adopt Si for all their manufacturing. Those include Bridgelux/Toshiba, Lattice Power, TSMC and Samsung. It expects that Silicon will capture 4.4 percent of LED manufacturing by 2020.

GaN wafer could break through the $2000 per 4” wafer barrier by 2017 or 2018, enabling limited adoption in applications that require high lumen output other small surfaces.

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…

300mm is the new 200mm!


300mm fabs.

Buyers of 300mm fabs.

300mm is the new 200mm, said GlobalFoundries’ David Duke, during a presentation titled ‘Used Equipment Market’ at the recently held Semicon West 2013 in San Francisco, USA. Used semiconductor equipment sourcing and sales is a very interesting challenge.

Qimonda, Spansion, Powerchip and ProMOS had jumpstarted the market. Now, there is a broadening user base. There is an unexpected uptake by analog and power device producers to achieve economies of scale. There has been legacy logic scaling. Also, the 200mm fabs are being upgraded to 300mm with used equipment. Many 300mm tools can “bridge” to 200mm easily.

Parts tools are seeding the ecosystem. Third parties are also able to support refurb as well as tool moves. However, we need more! Software licensing is becoming a smaller hurdle. There has been no over-supply yet!

So, what are the ‘rough’ rules of thumb for 300mm? First, there are approximately 1,500 individual tools in the open market. Few sellers know the values as the market is still developing. Twenty percent of the transactions drive 80 percent of sales. Today, the number of 300mm buyers is around  1/10th the number of 200mm buyers!

Lithography has been the biggest difference. Leading edge DRAM is far more expensive in lithography. Lithography has seen the most dramatic financial effects with explosive pricing in technology (immersion) and the need for capacity (two-three critical passes vs. one with dual/triple gate patterning. As of now, financial shocks and bankruptcies are the main drivers for used 300mm.

Next, 200mm is now the new 150mm! The 200mm OEM support is starting to dry up. It is nearly impossible to compete in productivity vs. 300mm. Oversupply is causing values to stay suppressed. The only bright spot being: there is still strong demand for complete fabs. The 200mm market split is roughly by 40 percent Asia and 60 percent rest of the world.

So, what are the likely alternative markets for 200mm and 300mm fabs? These are said to be MEMs and TSV, LEDs and solar PV.

That brings me to India! What are they doing about fabs over here? This article has enough pointers as to what should be done. Otherwise, the world is already moving to 450mm fabs! Am I right?

Non-mainstream packaging in MEMS, LED and power electronics


Source: Yole, France.

Source: Yole, France.

The number of MEMS and sensors going into mobile, consumer and gaming applications is expected to continue to skyrocket. As a result, OSAT and Wafer foundry players are getting more and more interest in MEMS module packaging, as volume and complexity of MEMS SiP modules is increasing dramatically, said Dr. Eric Mourier, Yole Developpement.

It implies that IDMs needs to find second source partnersand qualify some OSATs in order to secure their supply chain. Also, standardization(coming from both foundries, OSAT, WLP houses or substrate suppliers) is critical and necessary to implement in order to keep the packaging, assembly, and test cost of MEMS modules under control. There are many different players with different designs, and it’s not likely we’ll see one solution adopted by all the players.

As for wafer-level packaging (WLP) for LEDs, WLP has not been strongly deployed in the LED industry due to associated technical challenges. In the short-term, there is ESD integration in Si substrate. In the long-term, LED drivers could be integrated at the package level for Intelligent lighting. Ultimately, there are wafer-to-wafer manufacturing schemes for certain packaget types.

Real production of HB-LEDs with a mixed approach of WLP+through silicon vias (TSV) is just starting. There are some Taiwanese players such as TSMC, Xintec, Visera, Touch MicroTech and Sibdi, and South Korea-based LG Innotek. Additional players in the semiconductor and MEMS industry are seeking to enter the field.

New sapphire apps can trigger an investment cycle!

December 10, 2012 1 comment

Too many new entrants on sapphire for LED market with unrealistic capacity plans. Most underestimated the technical challenges! Prices are likely to remain low through 2013. Many new entrants will fail in 2013-2014: rationalization (M&A, bankruptcy, attrition). In the long term, vertical integration is desirable to avoid margin stacking, said Eric Virey, senior market and technology analyst, LED Materials and Sevices, Yole Developpement. He was presenting a seminar on how new sapphire applications can trigger an investment cycle.

According to him, adoption of CFL and LED stretches the replacement cycle and cannibalizes lamp volume sales. As for LED manufacturing capacity, with respect to nitride MOCVD reactors, 2009 and 2010 saw increases in Taiwan and Korea in late driven by LCD display market. The years 2010-2012 saw phenomenal increase in China. Government subsidies are likely to build up epitaxy capacity in the mainland, which should be more than $1.5 billion.

YoleCurrently there are ~110 companies with epitaxy capacity. Many will likely disappear! The current excess MOCVD capacity will be fully absorbed by mid-2014. The MOCVD reactor installation will resume mid-late 2013. The global MOCVD utilization rate is 61 percent. There is wide variability between leaders and tier 2 players in China. The Q4-2012 LED sapphire consumption was worth 3.9 million two inch equivalent per month.

As for companies in sapphire wafer, 130+ companies are involved in the sapphire substrate (established or development stage). Less than 30 currently are deriving meaningful revenue from LED substrates. The capacity is ~80 percent higher than demand. It could get worse in 2013! Prices are likely to remain low. Many new entrants will disappear, and others will scale back. A few will succeed.

Conditions for survival through 2013 include, having a lot of cash, be qualified in supply chain, achieve <$4/mm cost (2” basis), and serving other market could be a plus. As for wafer price trends, the finished wafers following similar trends. The 6” is now offered for <$200, but price can vary significantly based on specifications. There are said to be simulated 4” core cost structure for various manufacturers.
Read more…

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.

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!

Strategic roadmap for electronics enabling energy efficient usage: Venkat Rajaraman, Su-Kam

September 16, 2010 1 comment

Venkat Rajaraman, CEO, Su-kam.

Venkat Rajaraman.

I am very grateful to Venkat Rajaraman, CEO, Su-kam Power Systems Ltd, for sharing his thoughts, as well as those of Dr. Ajay Mathur, director general, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), presented at the India Semiconductor Association’s (ISA) conference titled ‘Electronics enabling Energy Efficiency E3′, in New Delhi.

In his presentation, Rajaraman said that if Graham Bell were alive today, he won’t even recognize his invention. Mobile devices have changed, the switching technology is vastly different and so is the communication medium.

However, if Thomas Alva Edison were alive today, he would be very happy! He would see that his invention in pretty much the same form. Of course, there are more generating stations, more transmission and distribution lines, but the technology is fundamentally the same.

This scenario is quite changing. Yesterday’s era was all about industrialization – more automation, less labor, etc. Also, the more energy you consume, the lesser it costs to produce. Energy was considered inexhaustible then. Now, there is a paradigm shift. It is all about energy conservation! We know that the energy cost is rising and the resources are finite.

The energy industry will change more over the next 15 years than it has in the last 100! The decisions made now to the next few years will determine whether the transition is considered a success!

So, these changes are not about simple energy efficient appliances, smart meters, renewables, etc. It requires a complete socio-economic and mindset change, and that’s the hard part of the problem.

Rajaraman added that there seem to be far too many stakeholders in energy efficiency implementations — financial Institutions, technologies solution providers, beneficiary industries, energy audit companies, measurement and verification systems, government/subsidy bodies, etc.

A plant owner is not attracted enough to make the investment in energy efficiency. There are questions such as who will own the results, who will deliver it, how will it be delivered? Herein lies the problem and the opportunity!

There have been several interventions from the BEE. They have been attacking this problem from policy perspective in a clinical precision manner. BEE has been doing a great job in coming out with policies that comprehensively covers such issues.

Rajaraman concluded that simple technological and policy interventions alone are not going to be enough. It needs a social and mindset change. He concluded: “Give a man one CFL/LED, you secure one CFL/LED worth of energy savings! Teach a man to love his CFL/LED, you inspire a life time of energy efficient behavior!”

Su-Kam has been doing simple interventions regarding energy efficiency – such as, replacing DG sets with inverters, LED lighting, etc.

I will later add a separate post on Dr. Ajay Mathur’s thoughts.

Solar PV likely showstopper at electronica India 2010 and productronica India 2010


Don’t be surprised that given the major strides undertaken by India in solar PV,  this industry and its pavilion could well turn out to be the showstopper or the lead attraction, besides LEDs and other electronic components, at the upcoming electronica India 2010 and productronica India 2010 – which will be held in the sprawling Bangalore International Exhibition Center on Sept. 7-10.

For those interested, since its debut in 2009, this show has been split into two sections – productronica India — devoted to production technologies, SMT and EMS/contract manufacturers, PCB, solar and PV, laser, etc., and electronica India – focused on components, semiconductors, assemblies, LEDs and materials.This year, there are going to be three added attractions or special exhibit areas, namely:

* Solar pavilion.
* LED pavilion.
* Laser pavilion.

Solar PV main attraction
A report on the ‘Solar PV Industry 2010: Contemporary Scenario and Emerging Trends’ released by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) with the support of the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA), lays out the strengths and challenges of the Indian solar PV market:

* Even though the industry operates at a smaller scale as compared to other solar PV producing nations, production in India is very cost effective as compared to global standards.

* With Government initiatives such as the SIPS scheme and JN-NSM in place to promote application of solar PV in domestic market, the Indian solar PV industry is likely to gain further edge over other solar PV producing nations.

* There is no manufacturing base in India for the basic raw material, that is, silicon wafers.

* Over the last five years, China has emerged as the largest producer of solar cells in the world. The country currently has about 2,500 MW of production capacity for solar PV as compared to India’s 400 MW.  Taiwan, with annual capacity of 800 MW, is also emerging as a major threat to the Indian industry.

* Price reduction is another major challenge for the industry as this would have greatly impact the future growth of the market.

The recently concluded Solarcon India 2010 threw up several interesting points as well. Industry observers agreed that the timely implementation of phase 1 of the historic Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM) is going to be critical for the success of this Mission.

The MNRE stressed on the need to develop an indigenous solar PV manufacturing capacity in solar, and build a service infrastructure. Strong emphasis is also being placed on R&D, and quite rightly. Notably, the Indian government is working toward tackling issues involved with project financing as well.

All the right steps and noises are currently being taken and made in the Indian solar PV industry. If these weren’t enough, the TÜV Rheinland recently opened South Asia’s largest PV testing lab in Bangalore!

This year, an exhibitor forum on PV and solar will also take place at the Solar PV pavilion during  electronica India 2010 and productronica India 2010.
Read more…

Market opportunities for Indo-UK collaboration in semicon, electronics, green energy


Dave Gorshkov, sector champion, UKTI.

Dave Gorshkov, sector champion, UKTI.

If you can recall, the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) has been steadfastly pursuing a strategic initiative in India, with the intention to be a part of the growing electronics market in India.

In fact, UKTI partnered the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) during the ISA Vision Summit 2010 to explore the potential of how the UK and Indian semiconductor industries can work together to create powerful solutions for customers in India, the UK and the rest of the world.

UKTI, along with ISA, organized an industry meeting with Dave Gorshkov, sector champion for the UK government on ICT, electronics and semiconductors, UKTI, to discuss market opportunities for possible Indo-UK collaboration in the future.

UK areas of opportunities
According to Gorshkov, some of the UK areas of opportunities include central and regional government support, G-Cloud, Digital Britain and 21CN (BT’s 21st Century Network program), green data centers and smart grid opportunities, intelligent transport (ITS), congestion charging, CCTVs, etc.

There are several opportunities as well in the upcoming international sports events such as the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, the 2014 Commenwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England and Cardiff (Wales), and the 2018 World Cup Soccer (UK has bid for this).

Now, all of these sporting events indeed present a host of opportunities, not only for India, but for other interested nations, won’t they? Read more…

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