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Can 2014 be a major year for global semicon industry?


The year 2014 is expected to be a major year for the global semiconductor industry. The industry will and continue to innovate!

Apparently, there are huge expectations from certain segments such as the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable electronics. There will likely be focus on the connected car. Executives have been stating there could be third parties writing apps that can help cars. Intel expects that technology will be inspiring optimism for healthcare in future. As per a survey, 57 percent of people believe traditional hospitals will be obsolete in the future.

Some other entries from 2013 include Qualcomm, who introduced the Snapdragon 410 chipset with integrated 4G LTE world mode for high-volume smartphones. STMicroelectronics joined ARM mbed project that will enable developers to create smart products with ARM-based industry-leading STM32 microcontrollers and accelerate the Internet of Things.

A look at the industry itself is interesting! The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics Inc. (WSTS) is forecasting the global semiconductor market to be $304 billion in 2013, up 4.4 percent from 2012. The market is expected to recover throughout 2013, driven mainly by double digit growth of Memory product category. By region, all regions except Japan will grow from 2012. Japan market is forecasted to decline from 2012 in US dollar basis due to steep Japanese Yen depreciation compared to 2012.

WSTS estimates that the worldwide semiconductor market is predicted to grow further in 2014 and 2015. According to WSTS, the global semiconductor market is forecasted to be up 4.1 percent to $317 billion in 2014, surpassing historical high of $300 billion registered in 2011. For 2015, it is forecasted to be $328 billion, up 3.4 percent.

All product categories and regions are forecasted to grow positively in each year, with the assumption of macro economy recovery throughout the forecast period. By end market, wireless and automotive are expected to grow faster than total market, while consumer and computer are assumed to remain stagnant.

Now, all of this remains to be seen!

Earlier, while speaking with Dr. Wally Rhines of Mentor, and Jaswinder Ahuja of Cadence, both emphasized the industry’s move to 14/16nm. Xilinx estimates that 28nm will have a very long life. It also shipped the 20nm device in early Nov. 2013.

In a 2013 survey, carried out by KPMG, applications markets identified as most important by at least 55 percent of the respondents were: Mobile technology – 69 percent; Consumer – 66 percent; Computing – 63 percent; Alternative/Renewal Energy – 63 percent; Industrial – 62 percent; Automotive – 60 percent; Medical – 55 percent; Wireline Communications – 55 percent.

Do understand that there is always a line between hope and forecasts, and what the end result actually turns out to be! In the meantime, all of us continue to live with the hope that the global semiconductor will carry on flourishing in the years to come. As Brian Fuller, Cadence, says, ‘the future’s in our hands; let’s not blow it!’

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…

ST intros STM32F4 series high-performance Cortex-M4 MCUs


STMicroelectronics has introduced the STM32F4 series STM32 F4x9 and STM32F401, which are high-performance Cortex-M4 microcontrollers (MCUs).

On the growth drivers for GP MCUs, the market growth is driven by faster migration to 32 bit platform. ST has been the first to bring the ARM Cortex based solution, and now targets leadership position on 32bit MCUs. An overview of the STM32 portfolio indicates high-performance MCUs with DSP and FPU up to 608 CoreMark and up to180 MHz/225 DMIPS.

Features of the STM32F4 product lines, specifically, the STM32F429/439, include 180 MHz, 1 to 2-MB Flash and 256-KB SRAM. The low end STM32F401 has features such as 84 MHz, 128-KB to 256-KB Flash and 64-KB SRAM.

The STM32F401 provides thebest balance in performance, power consumption, integration and cost. The STM32F429/439 is providing more resources, more performance and more features. There is close pin-to-pin and software compatibility within the STM32F4
series and STM32 platform.

The STM32 F429-F439 high-performance MCUs with DSP and FPU are:
• World’s highest performance Cortex-M MCU executing from Embedded Flash, Cortex-M4 core with FPU up to 180 MHz/225 DMIPS.
• High integration thanks to ST 90nm process (same platform as F2 serie): up to 2MB Flash/256kB SRAM.
• Advanced connectivity USB OTG, Ethernet, CAN, SDRAM interface, LCD TFT controller.
• Power efficiency, thanks to ST90nm process and voltage scaling.

In terms of providing more performance, the STM32F4 provides up to 180 MHz/225 DMIPS with ART Accelerator, up to 608 CoreMark result, and ARM Cortex-M4 with floating-point unit (FPU).

The STM32F427/429 highlights include:
• 180 MHz/225 DMIPS.
• Dual bank Flash (in both 1-MB and 2-MB), 256kB SRAM.
• SDRAM Interface (up to 32-bit).
• LCD-TFT controller supporting up to SVGA (800×600).
• Better graphic with ST Chrom-ART Accelerator:
– x2 more performance vs. CPU alone
– Offloads the CPU for graphical data generation
* Raw data copy
* Pixel format conversion
* Image blending (image mixing with some transparency).
• 100 μA typ. in Stop mode.

Some real-life examples of the STM32F4 include the smart watch, where it is the main application controller or sensor hub, the smartphone, tablets and monitors, where it is the sensor hub for MEMS and optical touch, and the industrial/home automation panel, where it is the main application controller. These can also be used in Wi-Fi modules for the Internet of Things (IoT), such as appliances, door cameras, home thermostats, etc.

These offer outstanding dynamic power consumption thanks to ST 90nm process, as well as low leakage current made possible by advanced design technics and architecture (voltage scaling). ST is making a large offering of evaluation boards and Discovery kits. The STM32F4 is also offering new firmware libraries. SEGGER and ST signed an agreement around the emWin graphical stack. The solution is called STemWin.

ST launches STM32 F4 series of MCUs

September 22, 2011 5 comments

The STM32 F4 series of MCUs.

The STM32 F4 series of MCUs.

STMicroelectronics has launched the STM32 F4 series of microcontrollers (MCUs), based on the latest ARM Cortex-M4 core. This adds to the signal-processing capabilities and faster operations to the portfolio of STM32 MCUs.

The STM32 F4 series brings the world’s highest performance Cortex-M microcontrollers at 168 MHz FCPU/210 DMIPS and 363 Coremark score.

Vinay Thapliyal, technical marketing manager-India, Microcontroller Division, Greater China and South Asia region, STMicroelectronics Marketing Pvt Ltd, said that the series extends the ST’M32 portfolio of 250+ compatible devices already in production, including the F1 series, F2 series and ultra-low-power L1 series, respectively. ST is said to have 45 percent of the market share by units.

The  STM32 F4 series of MCUs are re-inforced on five pillars:
* Real-time performance — 168MHz/210 DMIPS.
* Outstanding power efficiency.
* Superior and innovative peripherals.
* Maximum integration – 1Mbyte Flash, 192 Kbyte SRAM.
* Extensive tools and hardware — CMSIS DSP library, Matlab support, various IDE starter kits, RTOS and stacks.

A Coremark study says that STM32 F4 gives the best acceleration and highest speed. Thapliyal added, “We are ready for the market.” It takes ART to be #1 in performance: It is a combination of core, embedded Flash design, process, acceleration techniques, etc.

ST’s ART Accelerator, an adaptive real-time memory unleashes the Cortex M4 core’s maximum processing performance equal to 0-wait state execution, and Flash upto 168MHz. Real-time performance is the 32-bit multi AHB bus matrix. The layers are independent of each other.

The STM32 F4 series boasts a high-performance digital signal controller. The MCU leads to the ease of use of C programming, interrupt handling and ultra-low power. The FPU facilitates single precision, ease of use, better code efficiency, faster time to market, eliminates scaling and saturation, and easier support for meta-language tools. The DSP is based on Harvard architecture, single-cycle MAC and barrel shifter.

It also boasts of an outstanding power efficiency.  The 230 μA/MHz, 38.6 mA at 168 MHz executing Coremark benchmark from Flash memory (with peripherals off), has been made possible with:
* ST’s 90nm process allowing the CPU core to run at only 1.2 V.
* ART Accelerator reducing the number of accesses to Flash.
* Voltage scaling to optimize performance/power consumption.
* VDD min down to 1.7 V.
* Low-power modes with backup SRAM and RTC support.

The low power in real-life applications is not just low-power mode. There is also a need to consider the percentage of time spend in low-power (LP) mode and in Run mode. If competitors are claiming better low-power modes, these are only an advantage if the overall system is spending more than 90 percent of the time doing nothing in low-power mode.

Superior and innovative peripherals includes, among others, two USB OTGs, two full duplexes PWMs at 168MHz, ADC at 2.4MSPS.

As for maximum integration, the 1-Mbyte Flash and 192-Kbyte SRAM memories available in the product accommodate advanced software stacks and user data, with no need for external memories. The 4-Kbyte SRAM battery back-up is used to save the application state and calibration data (SRAM block used as an EEPROM). In addition, the 528 bytes of OTP memory make it possible to store critical user data, such as the Ethernet MAC addresses or cryptographic keys. Read more…

Trends in embedded — smart and green energy: ST


Vivek Sharma, STMicroelectronics.

Vivek Sharma, STMicroelectronics.

It is a such a pleasure interacting with Vivek Sharma, VP, Greater China & South Asia-India Operations, and director, India Design Centers, STMicroelectronics. While presenting the latest trends in embedded technologies, he hoped that there could eventually be a fab in India, by 2015. Speaking about ‘More Moore’ and ‘More than Moore’, he talked about 3D heterogeneous integration and smart sensors – that provide new, high-growth opportunities. Sharma largely touched upon smart and green energy.

India’s opportunities to leapfrog are immense, especially with a median age of 25.9 years. As for the Indian consumption context, India’s share is ~3 percent worldwide consumption levels 2009/2010. It is said to be $45 billion or ~3 percent in electronics and $6.7 billion or ~2.5 percent in semiconductor consumption.

Taking a look at leveraging of electronics by nations, (as per 2005 data) Taiwan leads with 15.5 percent of GDP, followed by South Korea at 15.1 percent, China at 12.7 percent, Thailand at 12.4 percent, Germany at 8.3 percent, USA at 5.4 percent, Japan at 4.5 percent, and India at 1.7 percent, respectively.

“More than Moore” diversification has been taking place, especially, by combining SoC and SIP to produce higher value systems.

3D heterogeneous integration has been taking place by integrating multiple functions via 3D/TSV. This involves the vertical stacking and connection of various materials, technologies and functional components together:
* Bio, MEMS and other sensors.
* Digital processing (MCUs, MPUs).
* RF transceivers for data transmission.
* Micro-battery (i.e., thin film).
* Other analog ICs and mixed technologies.

Advantages include integrated multi-functionality, more interconnections, reduced power consumption, smaller packaging, increased yield and reliability, and reduced overall costs.

Smart system integration is another trend, which enables combining “More than Moore” and “More Moore” technologies in a single smart system — from multi-package on board to multi-chip on package.

ST intros STM32L ultra-low-power Cortex‑M3 devices


STM32L ultra-low-power Cortex‑M3 devices.

STM32L ultra-low-power Cortex‑M3 devices.

STMicroelectronics has introduced the STM32L advanced ultra-low-power Cortex-M3 based MCU platform.

Built on cutting-edge proprietary process – robustness, it is part of a wide 32-bit product portfolio. The MCU platform is based on the just-enough energy concept and has an all inclusive package applications.

STM32L 32- to 128-Kbyte products are entering full production in the second half of March 2011. It is part of the industry’s largest ARM Cortex-M 32-bit microcontroller family with six STM32 families. STMicroelectronics is developing the STM32L portfolio up to 384 Kbytes of embedded memory. The STM32L is also Continua ready for its USB peripheral driver.

STM32L’s robustness has been derived from an automotive qualified process. It is all inclusive for ultra-low-power applications, and comes with hardware integrated features and software library packages. STM32L also has a ‘just-enough energy concept’, which includes undervolting, user controlled and an innovative architecture, all of this for less than 1 µA.

ST’s ultra-low-power EnergyLite platform features ST’s 130nm ultra-low-leakage process technology. It makes use of shared technology, architecture and peripherals. The company’s ultra-low-power portfolio for 2011 will be in production second half of March 2011. Many others will also be in production in the second half of April 2011. In fact, there will be over 100 part numbers from 4- to 384-Kbyte flash, and from 20 to 144 pins.

STM32L is based on ultra-low-power architecture, which is all inclusive for ultra low power applications. It also features ultra-low voltage, with power supply down to 1.8 V with BOR and also down to 1.65 V without BOR.The analog functional can be down to 1.8 V and the reprogramming capability can be down to 1.65 V.

STM32L is also flexible and secure, featuring +/- 0.5 percent internal clock accuracy when trimmed by RTC oscillator. It has up to five clock sources and has the MSI to achieve very low power consumption at seven low frequencies.

It also feattures dynamic voltage scaling in Run mode. The voltage scaling optimizes the product efficiency. User selects a mode (voltage scaling) according to external VDD supply, DMIPS performance required and maximum power consumption. It features the energy saving mode as well, down to 171 µA/DMIPS from Flash in Run mode. Read more…

ST focuses on four key growth areas


Carlo Bozotti, president and CEO, STMicroelectronics.

Carlo Bozotti, president and CEO, STMicroelectronics.

According to Carlo Bozotti, president and CEO of STMicroelectronics, there are four key growth areas for the company:
* Smart meters and energy saving.
* Smart consumer devices.
* Trust and data security.
* Healthcare and well being.

Bozotti was speaking at the STMicroelectronics’ media roundtable held this evening at the Greater Noida, India office.

Year 2010 goes down in ST’s history as a year of records. Both ACCI and IMS surpassed the $1 billion mark in quarterly revenue. Year 2010 was also a year of recovery — with ST achieving $1,3 billion revenue and a net operational cashflow of $961 million. ST also improved its net financial position to $1.7 billion.

In 2011, ST promises to expand and continue to grow its customer base. This year, ST predicts that the global semicon industry will grow 5-8 percent.

ST forsees its second major block of growth in manufacturing. It has aggressive ramp-up planned in application areas, such as:
* MEMS.
* Smart power automotive field.
* New platforms and solutions in smartphones and tablets.

Even ST-Ericsson, which was in restructuring mode, is now secure. This year, said Bozotti, it will be a year of transition from old, legacy products to new.

The last priority is to achieve 3D SoCs, complex MCUs and twin MEMS. Bozotti noted that the company plans to combine accelerometer and gyroscope in a single application. It will also add innovative solutions to smartphones and tablets.

As for R&D, Bozotti claimed that the company will remain committed. “We strongly commit to R&D in both good and bad times,” he noted. Read more…

Round-up 2010: Best of semiconductors

December 31, 2010 2 comments

Right then, folks! This is my last post for 2010, on my favorite topic – semiconductors. If 2009 was one of the worst, if not, the worst year ever for semiconductors, 2010 seems to be the best year for this industry, what with the analyst community forecasting that the global semicon industry will surpass the $300 billion mark for the first time in its history!

Well, here’s a look at the good, the bad and the ugly, if available for otherwise what has been an excellent year, which is in its last hours, for semiconductors. Presenting a list of posts on semiconductors that mattered in 2010.

Top semiconductor and EDA trends to watch out for in 2010!

Delivering 10X design improvements: Dr. Walden C. Rhines, Mentor Graphics @ VLSID 2010

Future research directions in EDA: Dr. Prith Banerjee @ VLSID 2010 — This was quite an entertaining presentation!

Global semicon industry on rapid recovery curve: Dr. Wally Rhines

Indian semicon industry: Time for paradigm shift! — When will that shift actually happen?

Qualcomm, AMD head top 25 fabless IC suppliers for 2009; Taiwan firms finish strong!

TSMC leads 2009 foundry rankings; GlobalFoundries top challenger!

ISA Vision Summit 2010: Saankhya Labs, Cosmic Circuits are Indian start-ups to watch at Technovation 2010!

ISA Vision Summit 2010: Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 unveiled; great opportunity for India to show we mean business! — So far, the Karnataka semicon policy has flattered to deceive! I’m not surprised, though!

Dongbu HiTek comes India calling! Raises hopes for foundry services!!

Indian electronics and semiconductor industries: Time to answer tough questions and find solutions — Reminds me of the popular song from U2 titled — “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for”!

What should the Indian semicon/electronics industry do now? — Seriously, easy to say, difficult to manage (ESDM)! ;)  Read more…

STMicroelectronics unveils STM32 F-2 series of MCUs


STM32 F-2 block diagram.

STM32 F-2 block diagram.

STMicroelectronics has unveiled its roadmap for ARM Cortex-M4 and -M0 with products sampling from mid 2011 onward and production by end of 2011. It has also unleashed the full performance of the Cortex-M3 with its latest STM32 F-2 series.

According to Vinay Thapliyal, technical marketing manager, MCU, STMicroelectronics, India, there are over 30 new part numbers, pin-to-pin and software compatible with existing STM32 devices.

He said: “Today, we already have 110 parts running for the F-1 series, which is currently existing and in full production. Now, we are extending the family. This time, we have launched the F-2 family — the highest performance family — to unleash the ultimate performance of Cortex-M3.” Naturally, the F-2 series is benefiting the existing F-1 devices.

As mentioned, 30 new devices will be launched. They are already ramping now. “All of these belong to the high-performance, low-power family. We will also be revealing our roadmap for M4 and M0 — to be  in production by end of 2011, with sampling by middle of 2011.”

ST’s F-2 series will further enhance real time preformance. Thapliyal added that ST has built in ART accelerator into these devices. This will deliver 150 DMIPS (Dhrystone MIPS) at 120MHz.

The adaptive real-time memory accelerator unleashes the Cortex-M3 core’s maximum processing performance equivalent to 0-wait state execution Flash up to 120 MHz.

The ART accelerator is a pre-fetch queue and branch cache mechanism that stores the first instructions and constants of the branches, interrupt and subroutine calls. The penalty occurs the first time those events occur like for any pipelining mechanism.

After that, the instructions stored in cache are pushed immediately in the pref-etch queue upon recognition of a stored branch address. In addition, the embedded Flash is organized in 128-bit rows, allowing up to 8 (16-bit) instructions to be read per access. Read more…

Reshaping the embedded world: Vivek Sharma, ST


Vivek Sharma, regional VP, Greater China & South Asia region -- India Operations and Director, India Design Center, STMicroelectronics.

Vivek Sharma, regional VP, Greater China & South Asia region -- India Operations and Director, India Design Center, STMicroelectronics.

It was a pleasure to catch up with Vivek Sharma, regional VP, Greater China & South Asia region — India Operations and Director, India Design Center, STMicroelectronics, on the sidelines of the 4th Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) 2010 in Bangalore. We had a wonderful discussion on the trends that are reshaping today’s embedded world.

Sharma said: “Moore’s Law has governed many new things. In fact, it has ruled the roost. The industry has been able to push up complexity within a chip and also bring down costs.” As an example, during the last two decades, cost and complexity have combined to create the mobile device — which has turned out to be a disruptive application. The world recently added its 5 billionth mobile subscriber in July 2010. There is likely to be a whopping 50 billion connected devices by 2020!

SiP reshaping embedded world

Touching upon ‘more than Moore”, Sharma added that shrinking will keep on happening. System-in-package is a reality today and is reshaping the embedded world. It can allow more shrinking in size and push down costs.

Borrowing from wikipedia, for those interested, a system-in-a-package or system in package (SiP), also known as a chip stack MCM, is a number of ICs enclosed in a single package or module, and performs all or most of the functions of an electronic system.

3D heterogenous integration and  TSV

3D heterogenous integration and  through-silicon via (TSV) is another trend reshaping the industry. 3D packaging with 3D TSV interconnects provides another path toward “More than Moore”, with relatively smaller capital investments.
3D-ICs stack multiple chips together and interconnect them using through-silicon via (TSV) structures, thereby providing much more functions in a smaller footprint.

MEMS key segment
MEMS is yet another sector which is reshaping the industry. Sensors play a major role in our lives. “If we can develop good sensors, they can change our lives,” said Sharma.

“Accelerometers and gyroscopes are two key segments with substantial growth. MEMS takes advantage of the electrical and mechanical properties of the silicon.’ Sharma added that all MEMS gyroscopes take advantage of Coriolis effect. In 2009, ST introduced over 30 multi-axis gyroscopes.

For the statistically inclined, earlier this year, Dr. Robert Castellano of the Information Network said in their report 3-D TSV: Insight On Critical Issues And Market Analysis, that while the overall equipment market will grow at a CAGR of nearly 60 percent between 2008-2013, the metrology/inspection sector is expected to grow nearly 80 percent. On the device side, TSVs for MEMS is expected to grow nearly 100 percent in this time frame. Read more…

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