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!’
Xilinx Inc. has announced of its 20nm All Programmable UltraScale portfolio with product documentation and Vivado Design Suite support.
Neeraj Varma, director-Sales, India, Xilinx, said: “We are enabling All Programmable and smarter systems. We are using smart IP. We are aligning to produce smarter systems. We are helping customers to differentiate their products faster.
“In future, we will go with concurrent nodes with FPGAs, SoCs and 3D ICs. As per our estimates, 28nm will have a very long life. We shipped the 20nm device in early Nov. 2013. It complements 28nm or new high-performance architectures. 16nm complements 20nm with FinFET, multiprocessing, memory.”
Strategy execution has kept Xilinx a generation ahead. As of Dec. 2013, its 20nm portfolio is available to customers. There are two major announcements from Xilinx.
* Xilinx 20nm All Programmable UltraScale portfolio now available with ASIC-class architecture and ASIC-strength design solution.
* Xiilinx doubles industry’s highest capacity device to 4.4 mn logic, delivering density adantage, a full generation ahead.
KINTEX UltraSCALE – XCKU035, 040, 060, 075, 100, 115.
VIRTEX UltraSCALE – XCVU065, 080, 095, 125, 145, 160.
There is a family migration path. There is scalability for derivative applications. You can leverage PCB investment across platforms. It is future-proof with migration path to 16nm. For making these happen, Xilinx is using the TSMC 20SoC.
Varma added, “We have increased the logic cells in Kintex and Virtex, and added 100G Ethenet blocks and 150G Interlaken blocks.”
The second announcement – highest density in FPGAs in industry. The XCVU440 is the largest in the industry by 4X, a full generation ahead, and uses 50M equivalent ASIC gates. Xilinx is delivering an ASIC-class advantage through silicon, tools and methodology.
There is UltraSCALE ASIC-class architecture, and ASIC-class capabilities. There is also the Vivado ASIC-strength design suite.
UltraFAST is the design methodology. UltraSCALE will support networking, digital video and wireless.
Interconnect bottlenecks impede next generation performance.
* Routing delay dominates overall delay.
* Clock skew consumes more timing margin.
* Sub-optimal CLB packing reduces performance and utilization.
Varma added: “We have solved these issues – as UltraSCALE re-architects the core. There is 90 percent utilization now with maximum performance. We added next-generation routing, ASIC-like clocking – have clocks by segment, and logic cell packing.
“Block-level innovations optimize critical paths for massive bandwidth and processing. We are going to support DDR4, and there will be a lot more security features.”
The Vivado design suite accelerates productivity. Analytical placer solves the interconnect issue.
UltraSCALE apps include:
VIRTEX: 400G OTN switching, 400G transponder, 400G MAC-to-Interlaken bridge, 2x100G Muxponder, ASIC prototyping.
KINTEX: 4×4 mixed mode radio, 100G traffic manager NIC, super high-vision processing, 256-channel ultrasound, 48-channel T/R radar processing.
We are in December, and its time for outlook 2014! First, I met up with Neeraj Varma, director-Sales, India, Xilinx. He said: “We expect the 28nm to do really well. From Apr. 13-Mar. 14, we expect revenues worth $250 milion from the 28nm line.
“We are now looking at the embedded market – and expect about $2 billion serviceable available market (SAM). We are looking at $8 billion SAM at the ASIC/ASSP displacement market, and of course $6 billion SAM for core PLD.” After a long time, Xilinx has been seeing positive capex. “We are entering a growth cycle for service providers and enterprises,” he added.
A macro view of capex equipment spend is driven by LTE 27.2 percent at 2011-16, and optical networks 15.9 percent. The other areas include data center, enterprise switching and routing, and service provider switching and routing. Next, 3D ICs will enable Nx100G OTN, 400G OTN, MuxSAR, as well as top of the rack switch, I/O virtualization.
Earlier, there were less than 50 ASICs start in communications in the top 10 OEMs. There were less than 20 28nm ASIC starts in at top 10 OEMs. As of 2012, less than 50 percent of the top 16 ASSPs vendors were losing money. Customer needs are diverse now. Companies end up over designing a chip. People end up paying for what trey are not using.
Xilinx is offering the SMARTCORE IP for smarter networks and data centers. “40 percent of our wins have been achieved by integrating or displacing ASICs and ASSPs,” he said. “We have 25 percent total wins across a broad set of apps/portfolio.”
Some other gains for Xilinx:
* Xilinx gained 3 percent increase in PLDs.
* In wired and data centers, it has 12-percent CAGR from 2013-16.
* In wireless, it has 10-12 percent CAGR.
* In automotive smarter vision, it has 20 percent CAGR growth.
* In industrial, scientific and medical (ISM), it has 12 percent CAGR growth.
* In FY13E-FY16E, Xilinx expects to grow 8-12 percent, and has plans to increase the R&D revenue to 8.6 percent.
Xilinx Inc. has taped-out the first 20nm All Programmable Device with first UltraScale ASIC-class programmable architecture. It is said to be the semiconductor industry’s first 20nm device, and the PLD industry’s first 20nm All Programmable device. Xilinx implemented the industry’s first ASIC-class programmable architecture called UltraScale.
These milestones expand on Xilinx’s industry first 28nm tape-out, All Programmable SoCs, All Programmable 3D ICs, and SoC-strength design suite. Xilinx already has several firsts in the 28nm space, such as:
* First 28nm tape-out.
* First All Programmable SoC.
* First All Programmable 3D IC.
* First SoC-strength design suite.
Neeraj Varma, director-Sales, India, said that Xilinx’s global market share in the 28nm portfolio was 65 percent in March 2013. With the launch of the industry’s first 20nm All Programmable Device with first UltraScale ASIC-class programmable architecture, there are improvements such as 1.5-2x performance and integration, and a year ahead of the competition. It handles massive I/O bandwidth, massive memory bandwidth, massive data flow and routing, and fastest DSP processing. The architecture will scale — from monolithic to 3D IC, planar to FinFET, and ASIC-class performance.
The UltraSCALE architecture points to high performance smarter systems. For example, 1Tps in OTN networking, 8K in digital video, LTE-A in wireless communications, and digital array in radar. There will be requirements for massive packet processing over 400 Gbps wire-speed, massive data flow over 5Tbps, as well as massive I/O and memory bandwidth over 5Tbps, and DSP performance over 7 TMACs.
The mandate for ASIC-class programmable architecture is to remove bottlenecks for massive data flow and smart processing, high throughput with low latency, and efficient design closure with greater than 90 percent utilization without performance degradation. These are the benefits of applying leading edge ASIC techniques in a fully programmable architecture.
ASIC-like clocking maximizes performance margin for highest throughput. UltraSCALE ASIC-like clocking enables clock placement virtually anywhere on the die, making the clock skew problem go away. Also, highly optimized critical paths remove bottlenecks in DSP and packet processing. There is greatly enhanced DSP processing, high-speed memory cascading, and hardened IP for I/O intensive functions.
Next generation power management features also enable a leap in performance. The process node is up to 35 percent static at 20nm. There are more buffers for granular or coarse clock gating. Block RAM is dynamic power gating, hardened cascading. For transceivers, there are architectural optimizations. There is efficient packing and utilization of the logic fabric. For DSP, there are wider multipliers and fewer blocks per function. As for memory, there is DDR4, which operates at 1.2v vs.1.5v, voltage scaling.
The Xilinx KINTEX UltraSCALE will power 4×4 mixed-mode radios, 100G traffic manager NICs, super high-vision processing, 256-channel ultrasound and 48-channel T/R radar processing. The Xilinx VIRTEX UltraSCALE will power 400G OTN switching, 400G transponder, 400G MAC-to-Interlaken bridge, 2x100G muxponder and ASIC prototyping.
Xilinx worked with TSMC to infuse high-end FPGA requirements into the TSMC 20SoC development process, just as it had done in the development of 28HPL. The Xilinx Vivado Design Suite early access supporting UltraScale architecture-based FPGAs is now available. Initial UltraScale devices will be available in Q4-2013.
Today, the challenge is all about abstraction and putting automation around it. Productivity is automation and abstraction. Tom Feist, senior marketing director, Design Methodology Marketing, Xilinx said that the company’s strategy has been about All Programmable abstractions. He was speaking at the ongoing 13th Global Electronics Summit being held in Santa Cruz, USA.
Today’s hardware design abstractions include accelerated time to integration, abstracting hardware. For IP abstractions, Xilinx has introduced the IP integrator. It enables IP re-use and time to integration. The Vivado uses multiple plug-and-play IP. Vivado IP integrator is co-optimized for platforms and for silicon, respectively.
Vivado IP integrator has features such as correct-by-construction and automated IP systems. Vivado high-level synthesis allows C/C++ abstractions. Xilinx introduced the OpenCV library, accelerating smarter vision. It supports frame-level processing library for PS. It also supports pixel processing interfaces and basic functions for analytics.
Mathworks has model based abstraction. The automatic C and HDL code generation is supported from the same algorithmic level.
Hardware/software partitioning is supported for Zynq-7000 AP SoCs. There are comprehensive video, motor control and signal processing IP libraries. There are automated workflows targeting Xilinx platforms.
Xilinx is also working with National Instruments. The automated C and HDL code generation is from the same graphical syntax in the LabVIEW IDE. It automatically generates a hardware implementation to meet requirements, abstracting Xilinx tool flow. There is a comprehensive software, hardware and I/O platform for creating control and monitoring systems.
Abstraction evolution has evolved to system level abstraction. It is abstracting all hardware through an increasing layer of automation.
All Programmable realization empowers software and systems engineers. There is a common compilation environment for heterogenous systems. It consumes C, C++ or OpenCL and libraries with user directives. There is automated flow — the user determines the program modules that run on various components.
The Vivado Design Suite 2013 abstractions with IP based design, C, C++, SystemC and OpenCV is new. Mathworks and National Instruments system level design abstractions with new levels of automation is emerging. Xilinx’s vision has been to empower the software and systems engineers by extending abstractions and automation.
Xilinx Inc. has announced solutions for significant and growing gaps in ASIC and ASSP offerings targeting next-generation smarter networks and data centers. It has been acquiring and developing a SmartCORE IP portfolio and a critical mass of application specialists and services that leverage Xilinx’s All Programmable FPGAs, SoCs, and 3D ICs.
To find out more about how are Xilinx’s solutions targeting growing ASIC and ASSP gaps for next-gen smarter networks and data centers, I spoke with Neeraj Varma, director, Sales-India, Xilinx. He said: “Over the past several years, Xilinx has been making a transition from the leading FPGA vendor to a provider of All Programmable Solutions for Smarter Systems. With its All Programmable 7 Series FPGAS, All Programmable SoCs and the VivadoTM Design Suite, Xilinx now offers a comprehensive set of solutions that provide end-to-end system implementation.
“Through strategic acquisitions, investments in silicon products and IP development, Xilinx has started to replace entire ASSPs and ASICs in the communications market by offering a complete IP cores portfolio which allows customers to design Smarter Systems for networking, communications and data center applications.
“Xilinx is calling this set of IP cores, SmartCORE IP, because they are the critical application-specific building blocks needed to develop smarter networking and communications systems. We are responding to market need and that need has accelerated recently as the viability of ASICs and more recently ASSPs have been severely challenged. Xilinx is a generation ahead in SoC and tools and its leadership at 28nm borne out with revenue ramp.”
Developing SmartCORE IP portfolio
What is meant by Xilinx acquiring and developing a SmartCORE IP portfolio and a critical mass of application specialists and services?
According to him, 28nm design process devices require a new and a different set of tools to exploit all the capabilities. That was one of the reasons for Xilinx to invest heavily in resources and time to come up with the Vivado Design Suite, to be able to support the large designs and get them into production with minimal effort and ease.
Vivado supports the growing use of IP blocks to reduce the complexity of the designs which are very critical in the implementation of complex networking and communications systems. This is one of the main reasons Xilinx spent years to develop strategic partnerships and making acquisitions such as Omiino (OTN IP solutions), Modelware (Traffic Management and Packet processing IP solutions), Sarance (Ethernet and Interlaken IP solutions) and Modesat (Microwave and Eband backhaul IP solutions) to offer a comprehensive set of IP cores to design Smarter Systems for networking, communications and data centre applications.
How are the solutions going to address the challenges with ASICs and ASSPs?
He said that ASICs and ASSPs targeting the communications, networking, and data center equipment markets have been disappearing at a surprisingly rapid pace due to many factors, including escalating IC-design costs and the need for much greater levels of intelligence and adaptability—all driven by wide variance in application and device requirements.
Additionally, the equipment markets no longer accept “me too” equipment design, which means that ASSP-based equipment design has almost vanished due to limited flexibility. These growing gaps are pervasive across all markets.These challenges, coupled with the rapidly increasing design costs and lengthy design cycles for both ASICs and ASSPs have created significant solution gaps for equipment design teams.
ASSPs and ASICs are either too late to market to meet OEM or operator requirements, are significantly overdesigned to satisfy the superset requirements of many diverse customers, are not a good fit for specific target applications, and/or provide limited ability for customers to differentiate their end products. Equipment vendors face many or all of these gaps when attempting to use the solutions offered by ASIC and ASSP vendors.
Components Direct is a leading source for authorized end-of-life and excess electronic components. The products are guaranteed grade A factory sealed direct from the manufacturer and inventoried in a ESD 20.20 certified and ISO 9001 certified state-of-the art-facility. Components Direct is headquartered in Milpitas, CA with locations in the US and Asia.
It has a leading cloud-based platform for excess and obsolete (E&O) inventory. In 2012, Avnet and Components Direct entered in a strategic relationship. Components Direct is the exclusive channel for Avnet’s factory authorized excess and end-of-life components.
Compared to leading industry giants, such as Element14 and RS Components, Components Direct, currently, doesn’t have a detailed menu showcasing listed products, at least not on the home page, as yet. One hopes that’ll make an appearance soon.
Speaking on the mission of Components Direct, Anne Ting, executive VP, Marketing said: “Components Direct is the premier authorized distributor for excess and end-of-life electronic components. We are the only company working directly with manufacturers and their franchised distributors to offer 100 percent guaranteed traceable E&O components as well as technology services to combat counterfeit components and other gray market activity.
“For our supplier partners, we enable them to put excess product back into the control of an authorized source, as opposed to the gray market. For buyers, we provide them with a secure, authorized one-stop shop for excess, obsolete and unsold factory components.”
Combating gray market
How important is it to combat the gray market? Why will this endeavor stop/lessen gray market activity?
According to Ting, the gray market is a serious and growing problem. As early as 2008, a study by KPMG and the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA) stated that as much as $58 billion of technology products were passing through the gray market, and the problem has only gotten worse.
The gray market is rampant throughout all industries, with everyone from engineers, to procurement professionals and consumers impacted negatively when the products they purchase are advertised as new and authentic, but in reality could be used, refurbished or even worse, counterfeit.
In fact, a 2012 study by market research firm IHS found that over 12 million counterfeit electronics and semiconductor components
have entered the distribution chain since 2007, with 57 percent of all counterfeit parts obsolete or end-of-life components. Many of these parts make their way into mission-critical industries, such as defense and aerospace, where a malfunctioning counterfeit part can mean the difference between life and death.
While provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act have enabled the government and trade groups to make some progress towards regulating the supply chain to ensure that components are only sourced directly from the manufacturers or their franchised distributors, the problem has not abated. The Act empowers the federal government to hold contractors financially responsible for replacing counterfeit products.
This, together with other changes, puts more responsibility on suppliers of electronic component to have risk mitigation procedures in place. The issue is become more topical and the industry must act in order to comply with the new legislation.
Components Direct takes this problem seriously, and provides supplier insights and tools to help combat gray market activity. In a recent study we conducted for a leading semiconductor supplier of both analog and digital devices, we discovered that over 124 million units of their product were floating in the gray market across 6,500 plus part numbers.
Over 70 percent of the products were found in Asia, and 20 percent also appeared in both North America and EMEA. The product age spanned many years with date codes of less than one year accounting for 22 percent of their gray market product. A further 5 percent had date codes over 11 years, demonstrating that whether you were an OEM looking for the newest product, or a military sub-contractor looking for obsolete components, no end customer is immune to the presence of unauthorized product.
Components Direct’s technology tools and services track gray market activity and provide suppliers with unprecedented visibility to their product leakage in the gray market by part number, region, data code etc. This data enables our suppliers to trace leakage in their supply chain and lessen potential unauthorized product from getting into the gray market.
Additionally, Components Direct provides suppliers and buyers with a secure, factory authorized channel for selling or purchasing 100 percent guaranteed traceable components. “We only sell products that come directly with manufacturers or their franchised distributors and all our products are inventoried in an ESD 20.20 and ISO 9001 certified facility,” said Ting.As an extension of the manufacturer, Components Direct provides the supply chain buyer with complete confidence and peace of mind that all products originate directly from the manufacturer and have been properly stored, handled and packaged. Sourcing from an authorized source like Components Direct eliminates the risks surrounding product quality, reliability and liability. Read more…
Singapore based Plunify claims that chip design companies can design faster and better using cloud computing. Stressing on the company’s go-to-market strategy, Plunify’s founder, Harn Hua Ng, said the Plunify partners with tool vendors, their distributors and complementary sales representatives.
Since pay-as-you-go business models are rare in the semiconductor industry, we went through several steps, of which the first was to better understand the market, the available tools and stake-holders:
* How is the market reacting to cloud computing and licensing schemes?
* What are current tool capabilities with regards to multiple CPUs/servers? Which parts of the chip design workflow can best take advantage of scalable, parallel features?
* What tools are more suitable for a cloud environment?
With these in mind, the next step was to build the cloud platform and the application clients to address immediate concerns – security, accessibility and cost.
“Then, we partner with tool vendors, their distributors and sales reps to bring our solutions to end-users. Companies of different sizes
view the advantages of cloud computing differently, so solutions need to be customized accordingly. Some see Plunify as solving longer term IT problems of scaling and provisioning; while others use us as an immediate way to speed up their design workflows. We are still in the process of learning about the market.”
How can the on-demand cloud computing platform dramatically accelerate chip design workflows? According to Harn Hua Ng, one immediate benefit is an almost instantaneous fulfillment of peak demand IT requirements, for example, a urgent request to do 100 synthesis builds to fix a problem due yesterday. Or if the problem cannot be fixed, at least the design team will find out in a day rather than potentially in three months’ worth of runtime without a cloud solution. The longer term acceleration is a gradual parallelization of the design workflow.
Currently, chip designers tend to visualize the design workflow as a chain of mostly serial steps with many dependencies, just because many steps can be time-consuming (both in terms of runtime and time taken to analyze intermediate results).
With an on-demand compute platform, designers can have more room to experiment and to optimize, more readily incorporating agile practices in hardware development.