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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…

CSSPs — custom to catalog solutions from Quicklogic


Andy Pease.

Andy Pease.

QuickLogic is a Silicon Valley-based fabless semiconductor company. It is an innovator of CSSPs or customer-specific standard products. It is focused on high-growth mobile markets such as consumer,  enterprise and mobile enterprise.

Speaking at the ongoing 13th Global Electronics Summit in Santa Cruz, USA, Andy Pease president and CEO, QuickLogic, said it does all the drivers that actually need to be inside all the application processors. It is trying to solve the OEM dilemma for mobile market. There are the Android + ARM camp and the Windows + x86 camp, respectively. One way to solve the problem is to do software overlay to Android/Windows.

CSSPs enables the OEM hardware differentiation. It allows fastest time-to-market for custom silicon. It also extends the battery life. The reference designs showcases proven system blocks and capabilities. It is a known good starting point for CSSP development.

The application development dilemma includes optimizing for the specific vertical vs. horizontal markets. When does the integration happen for new standards? Also, how long does a company need to keep mature standards?

QuickLogic has inrtroduced catalog CSSPs. These are ready-to-integrate solutions. They are architectured, developed and verified with application processor vendors.

Platform diversity enables solutions 100 percent programmable for ultimate flexibility. Hybrid programmable/ASIC is provided for common applications requiring some customization. The go-to-market strategy includes complete solutions. It includes software drivers, firmware and application reference codes. It is a collaborative customer model.

A partner challenge could be to re-position its existing AP in new, adjacent markets and applications. QuickLogic’s solution is to provide custom design and software drivers to bridge the AP with camera interface to different types of image capture devices.

Another example is in SD memory. The premier challenge is to adapt the existing baseband processor to emerging market requirements. QuickLogic’s solution is to develop multiple custom designs and software drivers to bridge the baseband with SD memory.

Catalog CSSPs emable the OEM engineers expanded functionality beyond the application processor’s native capability. They expand the served available market of application/embedded processor companies. It scales QuickLogic’s resources across multiple end markets, applications and customers.

Succeeding with enterprise mobility


It has been proclaimed that today’s connected world demands relationships, not just eyeballs, at the Mobile World Congress 2012. There have been messages such as ‘If you pepper consumers with stuff they are not interested in, you will get vigilante consumers who will shut you out’. And, the ‘connected consumer value proposition is not being fully developed’.

Also, another report has stated that the average volume of video traffic on the mobile networks has risen by 10 percentage points since this time last year – up to 50 percent. Android devices are said to be generating more advertising transactions and corresponding data volume on mobile networks than the Apple iOS devices.

The oncoming rise in data-hungry devices is set to be the most disruptive force. However, driving revenues will present the biggest challenge. Next, consider this: Compared to smartphones, tablets seem to generate much more traffic – this is also set to increase as tablets evolve, more applications become available, and those tablets increasingly use cellular networks instead of Wi-Fi for access.

Already, there are several challenges, if you have noticed, right? Also, where does it leave the poor CIO? Does the CIO rejoice at these news, or does he ponder?

Now, I was reading the CIO Guide: Making a Business Case for Deploying a High-Performance Networking Infrastructure by Sufian Dweik, Regional Manager – Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at Brocade Communications. He clearly says that a modern enterprise network should meet four basic requirements:
* non-stop networking to maximize business uptime;
* unmatched simplicity to overcome today’s complexity;
* optimized applications to increase business agility; and
* investment protection to provide a smooth transition to new technologies while leveraging existing infrastructure. Read more…

Nominum launches world’s first purpose-built suite of DNS-based solutions for mobile operators


Late last month, Nominum launched the world’s first purpose-built suite of DNS-based solutions for mobile operators at the Mobile World Congress 2012 in Barcelona Spain.

Doug Miller, GM, Mobile Solutions, Nominum, said that Nominum has been in the mobile space for many years now. The news at MWC was to announce the new Nominum Mobile Suite, which takes the lessons learned and best practices from working closely with the top mobile providers in the world to craft purpose-built solutions designed to solve very specific mobile provider needs.

He added: “With the demand on mobile networks at its highest and only growing by the day, mobile providers face specific issues their fixed line counterparts simply do not. For example, the concept of spectrum efficiency is a mobile issue and something Nominum can help with via solutions crafted around our core engines, platforms and applications. There are other examples like this built on both network and subscriber needs.”

DHCP and DNS core engines
So, what are the DNS and DHCP core engines all about? According to Miller, typically when people think of core engines such as DNS and DHCP, the need to respond to queries and enable basic mobile routing and provisioning come to mind. These engines were considered single-purpose network functions. Nothing more, nothing less. However, although these functions are still vital, beyond the base requirements, there are a number of considerations that must also be taken into account.

At the base level, these engines must be considered for latency and availability to ensure the fastest and most reliable network services. Without considering this, the network may have lower performance or potentially become unavailable in its entirety. Further, the concept of network orchestration must be considered. Without these engines, mobile networks simply do not work. This is very different from fixed networks that are not as reliant on DNS as mobile networks. In the case of mobile, there are a number of control plane functions that must be considered.

Arguably more important than these functions is the ability to deliver business-impacting solutions. The concept of spectrum efficiency was already mentioned, but consider the ability to report on customer and network activity. This is a function that was simply never considered when talking about DNS and DHCP. However, with these elements in place, an entirely new world of reporting and analytics is opened up without the need for additional hardware components being added to the network that create additional complexity or add new risks.

Similarly, these engines can also be the basis for subscriber affinity solutions that generate new revenue and add a new dimension to the battle on churn by creating stickiness not possible previously. Simply put, DNS and DHCP can and should be leveraged for more than they have been historically for true business value. Read more…

LG intros Optimus Sol E730 smartphone in India


LG has introduced the Optimus Sol E730 smartphone in India. Packed with loads of features the phone runs on the Android OS, v2.3.4 (Gingerbread), and uses a Qualcomm MSM8255 Snapdragon processor. It supports GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, as well as HSDPA 900/2100 MHz. Measuring a sleek 122.5×62.5×9.8mm, it weighs about 110g. The ultra AMOLED capacitive touchscreen supports 256K colors. The panel is 480 x 800 pixels and 3.8 inches (~246 ppi pixel density).

LG Optimus Sol E730.

LG Optimus Sol E730.

Some other significant features include: Corning Gorilla Glass protection, card slot microSD, up to 32GB, 2GB memory included, with internal memory worth 1 GB storage, 2 GB ROM and 512 MB RAM. For data, it uses GPRS Class 10 (4+1/3+2 slots), 32-48 kbps amd EDGE Class 10, 236.8 kbps. Speed offered by the LG Optimus Sol E730 include HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps; HSUPA, 2.9 Mbps. For WLAN users, there is support for Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, etc.

The phone comes with a 5MP camera, which however, pales, (as would many other released and to be launched mobile smartphones) when compared to the recently announced Nokia 808 PureView that has 41MP sensor with high-performance Carl Zeiss optics and new pixel oversampling technology.

Some of the camera features in the LG Optimus Sol E730 include geo-tagging and face detection. Again, videos can be made using the 720p@30fps capability, which otherwise dwarfs against the Nokia 808 PureView’s full HD 1080p video recording and playback with 4X lossless zoom and the world’s first use of Nokia Rich Recording.

Well, this phone too does not have a stylus! Actually, all or most of the Android OS based smartphones are coming without the stylus, and one wonders why! The phone uses a standard Li-Ion 1500 mAh battery, with stand-by time of up to 100 hours and talk time up to 4 hours.

As for the applications or apps, they are all standard now on smartphones! Even the LG Optimus Sol E730 is packed with loads! Besides the regular ones — such as Alarm/Clock, Browser, Camera, Contacts, E-mail, Facebook, FM Radio, GMail, Google Search, Maps, Messaging, Music, News and Weather, there are some new ones as well. For instance, SmartShare alllows you to play and share content from any wireless device via this mobile phone. It requires Wi-Fi settings to operate.

The LG Optimus Sol was priced at Rs. 19,000 at the time of release.

Wireless leads in global semicon spends!

February 1, 2012 2 comments

Interesting, but not surprising! Wireless is now leading in the global semiconductor spends!! I was having a chat with a Frost & Sullivan executive this morning, and he mentioned telecom. Of course, that’s the key driver!!

According to IHS iSuppli, wireless has now displaced computers as the top semiconductor spending area for OEMs in 2011. And, this trend may continue in 2012, going by early indications. Noteworthy in the wireless march has been the tremendous success of Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

As per IHS iSuppli, the global spending by the world’s top OEMs on microchips for wireless products was $58.6 billion in 2011, up 14.5 percent from $51.2 billion in 2010. This has led to wireless leading computers as the world’s largest OEM semiconductor spending segment in 2011. Notably, tablets and mobile handsets have led the way!

With many more companies developing smartphones and tablets, this trend does not appear to buck any time soon. It is further expected that the wireless segment will continue to generate the highest growth over the next two years. Smartphones are definitely a part of this, as are tablets.

Back in late 2000, at the ITU World Telecom in Hong Kong, the first mobile phones with Internet browsing were being touted. As were 3G and Bluetooth! Those were the days when ‘WAP is CRAP’ made more headlines and bore the brunt of many ‘telecom jokes’. Why, in early 2002, I even wrote an article for Electronics Business Manufacturing Asia (EBN Asia), on Bluetooth,  which was still trying to find its bearings. I can’t locate that article anymore, but some of the comments in that article are worth remembering. One comment was whether Bluetooth and WiFi could co-exist!

One magazine had said, “The future of Bluetooth wireless technology is becoming decidedly mixed as proponents and analysts continue to question not only how soon the short-range technology will take off, but also whether the technology is fundamentally sound.”

Thankfully, all of those days are behind us! Today, Bluetooth is firmly entrentched, as is WiFi. And, on the mobile phone!!

In 2003, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) unveiled a new ‘five-minute ready’ program created to challenge and guide Bluetooth product developers and manufacturers in the Asia Pacific region to deliver devices that give consumers a “five-minute out-of-the-box experience.” I had met up with Anders Edlund, marketing director for Bluetooth SIG in Singapore, and had a clear understanding of the technology. Today, I believe, the Bluetooth SIG is advancing standardization of active 3D glasses using Bluetooth!

SonicWALL on securing mobile devices!


Shubhomoy Biswas, country director, SonicWALL India.

Shubhomoy Biswas, country director, SonicWALL India.

Welcome to the new year, everyone! :) Thanks to Dixita at MutualPR, I had a conversation with Shubhomoy Biswas, country director, SonicWALL India, regarding securing mobile devices.

First, users have come to expect secured access “anytime, anywhere”, whether over 2G or 3G networks or Wi-Fi, for both personal and business tasks. What is SonicWALL’s take on this?

Biswas said: “Smartphones and tablets operate in two worlds: they can connect to the corporate network over wireless, or bypass the network entirely using mobile cellular connections. This means they might download malware from the web over 3G/4G, and then disseminate it to the network over the corporate WiFi network. Transferring data in and out of the corporate network, smartphones are beyond IT control. At the same time,  IT needs to provide enterprise workers with secure access to network resources from tablets and smartphones.

“Today’s new workforce believes that their personal technology is better than what they have at work. Sixty-nine percent will use whatever application, device or technology they want, regardless of source or corporate IT policies. Less than half will stick to company-issued devices. This consumerization of IT has particularly affected the business use of smartphones and tablets.” Read more…

LogMeIn resolving IT challenges due to enterprise mobility!

November 29, 2011 1 comment

Anil Sharma, sales director, LogMeIn, India.

Anil Sharma, sales director, LogMeIn, India.

LogMeIn Inc., a provider of cloud services for data and devices, recently opened an office in Bangalore, India. Thanks to Mamata Sampath, I had a brief discussion with Anil Sharma, sales director, LogMeIn, India. LogMeIn provides cloud-based remote access, support and collaboration solutions to quickly, simply and securely connect millions of Internet-enabled devices across the globe — computers, smartphones, iPad and Android tablets, and digital displays. For instance, LogMeIn is working to resolve several IT challenges due to enterprise mobility.

First, I asked him about the challenges before enterprises due to the increasing mobile workforce. He said that mobility has become more complex for enterprises, and particularly for multinationals that need to manage the mobility of their staff across many countries. It has been observed that enterprise mobility is the biggest single trend across the tech industry investment, even outpacing the cloud computing trend. The increasing importance of the space is reflected in robust market traction predictions for India as well.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the enterprise mobility market in India was worth about Rs. 346 crore in FY2008-09 and is estimated to reach Rs 1,880 crore by FY 2015-16. Growth rates for the enterprise mobility market in India are estimated to be among the highest in the Asia region. There are simply more users with more devices using more applications.

In addition there has been a blurring of the boundaries between business and personal usage, and many IT managers struggle to enforce company policies while employees demand more consumer-like devices and applications. Their need for support in managing this complexity and cost has never been greater.

Some of the IT challenges faced due to enterprise mobility are: Securing information systems, integrating technologies, supporting devices, containing costs , controlling personal use, training users, justifying investments and limiting use.

When it comes to managing enterprise mobility, it has been noticed that the devices like tablets and smartphones are becoming “access” devices and enterprises are still figuring out how to best ensure data is neither lost nor accessed by unauthorized persons. Enforcing password policies and employing capabilities that allow IT helpdesk to remotely lock a lost or stolen device are musts.

Further, keeping data behind a firewall on the network (where it can be backed up regularly) helps ensure its integrity.  Software like LogMeIn’s remote access solution, Ignition, enables users maintain the high level of mobility that they have become accustom to and get access to the data on the corporate network via their tablet or smartphone, without actually downloading or storing that data on the device itself. Read more…

M/H can truly deliver ‘real TV’ experience!


Ronen Jashek, co-founder and VP Marketing, Siano Mobile Silicon.

Ronen Jashek, co-founder and VP Marketing, Siano Mobile Silicon.

Siano Mobile Silicon, based in Israel, is going strong in mobile digital TV space. Thanks to Rachel Glaser, of Ruderfinn, Israel, I managed an exclusive with Ronen Jashek, co-founder and VP Marketing, Siano Mobile Silicon.

First,  let’s understand what the US standard for mobile digital TV — ATSC-M/H (Advanced Television Systems Committee – Mobile/Handheld)– all about! Jashek said: “ATSC-M/H is a standard that was established on the foundation of ATSC, a digital technology that replaced Analog TV in the US back in 2009. ATSC is the US equivalent to other international standards, like DVB-T (Europe), ISDB-T Full-Seg (Japan), and others around the world.

“ATSC is targeted (and consequently, was designed to do just that) to deliver HD content to domestic, stationary applications (i.e., big-screen TVs at home) that primarily use fixed antennae. It therefore does not address issues that are related to mobile use-cases – mobility (being able to receive the signal while moving at high speeds), efficient power consumption (to address the mobile, battery-powered devices) and extremely high sensitivity and immunity to interface (which is required in a typical mobile use-case when “on the go”).  As a result, these aspects are exactly what M/H (Mobile/Handheld) is addressing. In a word, M/H can be considered the equivalent of DVB-H (again – in Europe), CMMB (in China) and ISDB-T 1-Seg (Japan and LatAm).

“ATSC-M/H was established by the ATSC standardization body, as a joint effort by its members, after realizing the need to secure a technology that would enable true mobile TV service to take off and flourish in the U.S. The various ATSC committees worked on the standard for several years, up until its final version was formally approved in the fall of 2010, paving the way to the deployment and launch of the M/H TV service.”

Given the considerable interest around mobile handheld TV, how significant is the mobile-ready programing? Jashek replied: “Based on the underlying M/H technology, US broadcasters now have the means to get their content out there – direct to consumers. Currently, there are about 60 cities with a total of close to 80 TV stations that are already airing mobile TV content.

“To date, however, most of this content is local – meaning, it’s produced and aired locally. But this is not nearly enough to generate a successful, enticing mobile TV market. Enter the Mobile Content Venture, the MCV – a coalition of the top US broadcasters (FOX, NBC, ION, and others) that set its mission on delivering the mobile TV service built on the broadcast technology and spectrum.

“Naturally, the content that can be delivered by this coalition is the best available premium content in the US Quoting their official plans – “At launch, the service will initially consist of at least two ad-supported, free-to-consumer channels in each DMA. Additional channels and markets are expected to be added.” There’s no doubt that once the MCV plans are in motion and materialize, the content will be extremely attractive to render the service successful.” Read more…

Lava Mobiles launches classy S12 smartphone!

October 26, 2011 1 comment

Lava S12 mobile phone.

Lava S12 mobile phone.

Lava Mobiles has introduced the classy S12 smartphone. The phone’s smooth curvature and slim arc back gives it an easy palm-fit. It is only 1.3cm thick and has a matte leather finish. The S12 runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo) and works on quad GSM band 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, UMTS 2100 MHz.

The S12 supports 3G, HSDPA 7.2 Mbps and HSUPA 384 kbps. It uses a Qualcomm 7227 600MHz processor, and is WiFi, A-GPS and EDGE/GPRS enabled. The Lava S12 allows connecting to the Internet with either 3G or WiFi. It has a 3.2-inch HVGA (480×320) display.

Some other features include 5MP camera with 2X zoom, Android music player, Android video player, Bluetooth v2.1, Android browswer, 120MB storage and extenal memory expandable up to 32GB. The home screen has the feature to change to an engaging 3D user interface, allowing the user to switch between various screens using a single gesture.

Like many other smartphones, the Lava S12 allows users the opportunity to do much more than simply calling or messaging. For business, there is Moneycontrol, while users can access Gmail, as well as Google Maps and Latitude. There is Google Places as well, besides a Voice Search app.

Users can download froma a range of Hungama.com content, such as songs, ringtones, videos and wallpapers. Saavn allows you to listen to latest Bollywood songs, etc., and has a smart search that delivers fast results. TuneWiki is yet another app that plays music, and streams Internet radio and videos. Then, there is YouTube, and a year’s free subscription of Zenga TV – that allows you to watch MTV, Colors, Headlines Today, Movies, etc. The TOI app provides news.

For those who book air or rail tickets, there’s Ngpay. You can also use it to book movie tickets or for shopping. For the social networking buffs, the S12 has Facebook, Twitter and Nimbuzz apps built in. Those looking to do some work on the move can take the help of Adobe Reader. The SlideIT feature is an innovative keyboard. It can be used to send/type emails, SMSs, or for chatting.

I could not find a stylus, and wonder how easy it will be for users to type. Perhaps, this is the only drawback!

The S12 has in-built smart sensor technology as well. Its Pocket Mode feature makes the incoming call alert convenient, and the Quiet ringer on gesture feature can silence phone calls by simply sliding a hand over the phones.

The phone uses a 1,300 mAh, Lithium-ion battery. It supports a talk time of GSM up to 650 minutes and UMTS up to 485 minutes, and a stand-by time of GSM up to 590 hours and UMTS up to 650 hours. The phone itself weighs 120g with the battery and measures 117 x 57.5 x 13.4mm. The Lava S12 can be bought online from Lava Mobiles’ website for Rs. 8,500.

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