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VLSI/embedded systems design contest rolls out at RV-VLSI Design Center

February 13, 2010 1 comment

The RV VLSI Design Center, Bangalore, and Mentor Graphics have jointly started a new initiative on BE projects and design contests as part of the education initiative in India. The first ever inter-collegiate design contest in VLSI/embedded systems was inaugurated today by Dr. H.P. Khincha, Vice Chancellor, Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), at the RV VLSI Design Center, an RV Academic Research Institution.

India's first ever inter-collegiate design contest in VLSI/embedded systems inaugurated at the RV-VLSI Design Center, Bangalore.

India's first ever inter-collegiate design contest in VLSI/embedded systems was inaugurated today at the RV-VLSI Design Center, Bangalore.

The RV-VLSI, with the support of VTU and industry academia alliance partners such as Mentor Graphics, has constituted this design contest. It is open to all colleges under the VTU.

A set of projects of relevance to the industry has been identified by RV-VLSI and VTU. Students have to choose a project based on personal interest and guidance from their college guides. RV-VLSI offers pre project training to these students and will subsequently guide them in the execution of the project at the center.

Venkatesh Prasad, CEO, RV-VLSI Design Center, said that 133 students from nine colleges have registered for projects. To ensure that students have necessary skills required to execute the projects efficiently, each student will undergo an intense 100 hours pre-project training at the center. After its completion, the students will regroup into their respective teams and start the execution of the project under the guidance of the RV-VLSI faculty.

Opportunity for budding entrepreneurs
Anil Gupta, member – Executive Council, India Semiconductor Association (ISA), said that India could have a potential of consuming $300-$400 million in electronics by 2020, from the current consumption of about $40-$45 billion. Only 3 percent of this $40 billion is currently being made in India. “The opportunity is in front of us to grab,” he said. “So far, we have done a terrible job of making use of this opportunity.”

Encouraging students to also focus on enterpreneurship, he advised them of the great opportunity and challenge ahead of us to see how much we (India) can contribute toward this $400 billion opportunity. We would also need to learn to compete with the Samsungs, Toshibas, iPhones, etc. He mentioned the ISA Technovation Awards 2010, which witnessed a number of Indian start-ups demostrating their products. Read more…

Need for Indian semicon industry to think beyond embedded and design services

January 1, 2010 Comments off

Howdy, folks! Warm greetings for a very happy and prosperous new year and wish you all the success in 2010.

A friend recently called me a ‘maverick’ blogger! I wonder why! Nevertheless, let’s start off the new year with a topic that has been coming up for discussion time and again.

It is said: Indian industry should think beyond embedded and design services. What should those be? What is that extra or more that the Indian industry should do to grab the attention of overseas players? I had the pleasure of discussing this aspect with Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate vice president and managing director, Cadence Design Systems (I) Pvt. Ltd.

India should become next innovation hub

Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate vice president and managing director, Cadence Design Systems (I) Pvt. Ltd

Jaswinder Ahuja, corporate VP and MD, Cadence Design Systems (I) Pvt. Ltd

According to Jaswinder Ahuja, the Indian semiconductor industry has come a long way from the early eighties when a few companies set up centers to offshore non-critical design work to India.

“Today, India is a preferred destination for chip, board, embedded software design and development. Captive design centers and design services companies now own end-to-end design. Fabless companies and IP providers have also emerged, resulting in the gradual, steady rise of India’s semiconductor ecosystem. India now needs to move to the next level i.e., become the next innovation hub for experimenting and launching new products,” he said.

The mobile phone revolution in India has taught us that India is a very large, viable and profitable market if all elements of the ecosystem align and there is appropriate innovation at the technology and business level.

The Indian market has some unique characteristics and provides Indian entrepreneurs a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to innovate, create and capture value by building products and solutions for the local market, which can then be extended to global emerging and developed markets.

He added that Indian companies also need to get comfortable with collaborating across the value chain within India and globally. “Sectors like energy, healthcare, communications and education hold immense potential and we are already starting to see early signs of Indian companies innovating for the Indian market.”

All of this does make a lot of sense!

Yes, like you, I too am looking forward to seeing lot of product development and innovation. It is definitely not going to serve anyone by making negative statements as to what hasn’t happened in India so far! We all know what’s happened and what hasn’t! It would serve everyone’s purpose if much more attention was paid in India to actually developing and building products and solutions for India, which would solve local problems.

The second part of this discussion will look at the top semicon/EDA trends to watch out for in 2010.

Round-up 2009: Best of EDA, embedded systems and software, design trends

December 29, 2009 Comments off

Friends, the next installment in this series on the round-up of 2009 lists my top posts across three specific fields that are very important within the semiconductor industry — electronic design automation (EDA), embedded systems and software, and some design trends. Here you go!

EDA

Synopsys on Discovery 2009, VCS2009 and CustomSIM

State of global semicon industry: Hanns Windele, Mentor

New routing tool likely to cover upcoming MCMM challenges: Hanns Windele, Mentor

Cadence’s focus — systems, low power, enterprise verification, mixed signal and advanced nodes

Zebu-Server — Enterprise-type emulator from EVE

State of the global EDA industry: Dr. Pradip Dutta, Synopsys

Mentor’s Wally Rhines on global EDA industry and challenges

Mentor’s Wally Rhines on EDA industry — II

Cadence’s Lip-Bu Tan on global semicon, EDA and Indian semicon industry

Indian EDA thought leaders can exploit opportunities from tech disruption!

EMBEDDED SYSTEMS & SOFTWARE

Top 10 embedded companies in India — By the way, this happens to be the most read article of the year!

NI LabView solves embedded and multicore problems!

Intel’s retail POS kiosk provides unique shopping experience

ISA Vision Summit 2009: Growing influence of embedded software on hardware world

MCUs are now shaping the embedded world!

Embedded electronics: Trends and opportunities in India!

Growth drivers for embedded electronics in India

DESIGN TRENDS

Microcontrollers unplugged! How to choose an MCU

Xilinx rolls out ISE Design Suite 11 for targeted design platforms!

TI’s 14-bit ADC unites speed and efficiency

ST/Freescale intro 32-bit MCUs for safety critical applications

Again, I am certain to have missed out some posts that you may have liked. If yes, please do point out. Also, it is not possible for me to select the top 10 articles for the year. If anyone of you can, I’d be very delighted.

My best wishes to you, your families and loved ones for a happy and prosperous 2010.

P.S.: The next two round-ups will be on solar photovoltaics and semiconductors. These will be added tomorrow, before I disappear for the year! ;)

Focus on Indo-Japan ties in embedded, design and automotive

November 26, 2009 1 comment

Recently, the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), in collaboration with Japan External Trade Organization JETRO, recently took a business delegation to Fukuoka, Japan, on November 11-13, 2009, to promote the Indian embedded, automotive and design companies, and to attend the 9th International Workshop on Microelectronics Assembling and Packaging (MAP 2009).

Indian electronics industry
During the inaugural session, N. Krishnan, director, STPI, and leader of the Indian delegation, made a presentation on “Electronics Industry in India-an Overview”.

According to him, the Indian electronics industry is on a growth path. The domestic production is at $20 billion in 2008-09 and exports at $4 billion, representing a growth of 21 percent over the previous year. All the global top 10 fabless design companies have India operations and 22 of the top 25 semicon companies have design/development centers.

India is now emerging as a preferred destination for manufacturing. A good electronics ecosystem is building up and there is a shift to increased local value addition. He also touched upon the highlights of the Indian semiconductor policy. These include:

* The government will bear 20 percent of the capital expenditure during the first 10 years for units located inside SEZs and 25 percent for those outside it. Window open till March 2010.
* For semiconductor manufacturing (wafer fabs) plants, the policy proposes a minimum investment of $625 million and $220 million for ecosystem units, including ATMP.
* There is a ceiling of three fab units and 10 ecosystem units for incentives under the policy.
* Key benefit is the grant of the SEZ status.
* There has been an overwhelming response to the Government’s policy – 17 proposals have been received envisaging an investment of $35 billion, with 15 proposals received relating to solar PV manufacturing.
* Government of India has given in-principle approval to 12 proposals.
* There is a great opportunity to leverage the policy incentives for ATMP operations.

Advantages of outsourcing to India
Krishnan highlighted the SEZ incentives, which includes no license required for import, exemption from customs duty on import of capital goods, raw materials, consumables, spares, etc., exemption from central excise duty on procurement of capital goods, raw materials, consumable spares etc. from the domestic market, supplies from DTA to SEZ units treated as deemed exports, reimbursement of central sales tax paid on domestic purchases, etc.

What about the advantages of outsourcing to India? According to him, these include an overall 7-10 cost reduction compared to the current scenario, as well as assembling only when required and building products that are required, so there is no waste.

India is already a proven case for IP, embedded systems and IC design, besides boasting of a skilled employee base and strong R&D capabilities. All of these provide Japanese companies a major opportunity to reduce cost and improve customer satisfaction. Read more…

Growth drivers for embedded electronics in India

November 23, 2009 2 comments

The strength of India’s embedded systems and software industry is well known globally. Naturally, interest is extremely high in this area.

Keeping that in mind, the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), recently organized a conference on “Embedded Electronics: Trends and opportunities in India”, during the BangaloreIT.biz event.

Speaking on the global electronics systems design and manufacturing ecosystem, BV Naidu, chairman, ISA, estimated the global electronics industry at $1.75 trillion for 2009, and projected to reach $2 trillion in 2014. The annual growth rate has been 3 percent for 2004-09.

India lags behind in (electronics) numbers!
India’s story is starkly revealed in its numbers. While the electronics industry is the key to national growth, India is extremely small in this segment. Taking telecom/electronics hardware production as a share of GDP, China has a GDP share of 12.7 percent, while India only has 1.7 percent share.

Even smaller countries, such as Korea — 15.1 percent, Taiwan — 15.5 percent, and Israel — 23.6 percent, respectively, have much higher GDPs. The share of USA is 5.4 percent, Japan — 4.5 percent, and Germany — 8.3 percent, respectively.

India’s domestic production, excluding imports, is $10.8 billion during 2009. Consumption reached $45 billion in FY09 and the demand is likely to reach $125 billion in FY 2014. The expected domestic demand will likely grow 22 percent from 2009-2020, reaching $400 billion by 2020. Exports reached $4.4 billion in FY09, and it is likely to reach $15 billion in FY14 and $80 billion in FY20, growing at 31 percent.

The trade imbalance is projected to increase to $323 billion by 2020 as the imports of electronic products are likely to increase to 16 percent of the GDP. As a result, it is important for some Indian companies to play a major role.

It has the potential to leapfrog!
There exists a tremendous potential for India to leapfrog technologies and lead. Potential exists in several areas such as wireless, smart meters (AMI), LEDs, green energy/energy efficiency, affordable devices/telemedicine, digital classrooms/virtual classrooms for education, digitization in terms of electronic society/unique ID/TV, radio, etc., integrated surveillance systems, and low-cost zero emission cars.

Touching on the VLSI/electronics ecosystem, Bangalore itself is home to over 90 companies in VLSI and embedded. However, most of these are arms of MNCs. High-tech manufacturing does not exist, as yet. However, the solar PV industry has been attractive recently, and high-tech manufacturing is likely to grow there. The silicon fab, however, may take some more time.

Within the Indian electronic system design industry, there are companies such as Ittiam, SemIndia, etc., who focus on made in India and made for India. Naidu called upon the government to encourage the domestic manufacturing and systems companies.

In this respect, the electronic components and accessories ecosystem industry is currently moderate. It used to be 15 percent and has now grown to 35 percent. That means, 35 percent of the costs of production can be sourced and managed using components from India.

India has managed to attract some EMS companies, especially to Sriperumbudur, an industrial town in the Kanchipuram district, Tamil Nadu. However, low end products are being developed, or rather, work that is at the low end of the value chain is being done. That needs to change! Here, embedded software can play a key role.

 

Segment-wise projections for the Indian electronics industry. Source: India Semiconductor Association (ISA)

Segment-wise projections for the Indian electronics industry. Source: India Semiconductor Association (ISA)

“Our local markets should provide opportunities for the local companies. Access to global markets will help us grow,” he added. He presented segment-wise projections for the Indian electronics industry up to 2020 (see table). Read more…

Embedded electronics: Trends and opportunities in India!

November 4, 2009 2 comments

I know this particular topic and headline is going to get lots of page views. However, I’ve something better in mind to tell all of you, especially those having an interest in embedded systems and software in India.

The headline is actually the theme of the India Semiconductor Association’s (ISA) E3 conference, which will be held during the forthcoming BangaloreIT.biz event next week!

What’s in store? Probably lots!

In the opening session, industry thought leaders from Ittiam Systems and SemIndia will be setting the tone on design and manufacturing perspective. The second session is actually a panel discussion — to be moderated by S. Janakiraman, President and Group CEO, Product Engineering Services, MindTree. The panelists are from KPIT Cummins, National Semiconductor, Wipro and Delphi. It should be interesting!

I will add some more thoughts on the trends and opportunities in the Indian embedded systems and software industry, although, I’ve mentioned those quite a few times in the past!

India’s strength in embedded
India’s strength in embedded is two-fold — embedded design – in both hadware and software. Also India’s manufacturing demand for electronic products is growing at 13 percent CAGR as per ISA-F&S report 2008.

Design of embedded systems and software
India is emerging as the chip design center for most global companies. There are three types of embedded activities currently happening in India. These are:

* Embedded products designed, developed and manufactured by Indian companies for local markets or for exports — such as local product companies.
* Design projects executed by Indian design services companies for global companies — such as Wipro, KPIT, etc.
* Transnational R&D companies functional in India, who are doing captive design projects for parent companies from India. — Delphi, Cisco, Intel, etc.

Verticals of growth
Coming to manufacturing part, this growth is happening across five-six verticals:

* IT and office automation (OA) — where desktops and laptops are the growth drivers.
* The second area is telecom — wireless infrastructure for GSM and CDMA; also mobile phone manufacturing is emerging as a big segment.
* Next comes consumer electronics, which is driven by STBs, MP3 playerrs, TV and audio systems, etc.
* In industrial electroncis — it is being driven by UPS, energy meters, etc.
* In automotive — we have over 7 million two-wheelers being manufactured in India. The electronic content within them is growing.
* Another opportunity is in medical electronics, smart cards — now with the national ID project as well as metros coming in, and also e-passports.
* Even defence and aerospace are growing areas.

Trends and opportunities in India
The emerging trends are in security surveillance, solar energy, and LED lighting.

* Surveillance — video and security surveillance are gaining strongly.
* Solar — basically, along with solar panels, you will need MPPT charge controllers as well as solar inverters. These will fuel growth.
* LED lighting — meant to replace kerosene lamps with LED, as well as street LED lighting and auto LED lighting, along with lanterns.

On the software side, India has more of software than hardware engineers. The reason being, In India, more work based on developing applications, programming of MCUs, device driver development, etc. are majorly happening here.

 

Hence, embedded software is a bigger element of the Indian industry.

ISA delegation to UK — excellent platform for India based semiconductor/embedded design solution companies


The India Semiconductor Association (ISA) recently led a delegation to the UK from Sept. 28-Oct. 2, in association with the UKTI. The objective of this delegation was to provide a platform for Indian and UK based chip design and embedded software companies to explore opportunities for collaboration.

The first day’s highlight was a networking reception with attendees of the earlier RAE Solar Thermal Powerplants seminar, where the delegation exchanged business information.

The next day involved a trip to Bath — to the Bath Ventures Innovation Center. A networking lunch was hosted by Silicon South West — the organization that provides regular networking events and news, and national and international promotion for the South West of England’s microelectronics sector — the largest concentration of silicon designers outside of the Silicon Valley.

Following the networking lunch, the ISA delegation was introduced to the local semiconductor sector by Silicon South West. Simon Bond, founder of Silicon South West, Low Carbon South West and Mobile Innovation Camp, and Innovation Center Director for Bath Ventures, presented an overview of the semiconductor sector in the region, and the role Silicon South West and Bath Ventures, in particular, play in the evolution of the sector in the region and more widely. Read more…

Growing might of Indian embedded companies!


I am always delighted when people leave comments, especially suggesting some names or things that I may have overlooked. One such name I may have missed, especially from the line-up of the formidable embedded systems and software industry of India is Procys, a company, where, a reader has suggested that: “most of the employees of Intel or TI for that matter would have served at Procsys once at least!”

First of all, many thanks for that reminder, friend. However, please don’t forget that I am merely a blogger putting down my thoughts. My list of India’s top 10 embedded companies is probably not the final list! Nor am I connected with any media house to qualify as someone who’s list should be considered as an authority!

I just want to remind readers that this blog is merely an honest attempt to be part of the Indian technology ecosystem. As I said, I don’t represent any media house. My thoughts are personal and do not represent the industry status or opinion.

I’ve mentioned earlier the difficulties I’ve had to face, and continue to face, while blogging! Why, some people have outrightly looked down on my blogging! ;) Some others have said — What are you writing? If it is not about IT, who will read that stuff? Don’t try to do such things in India! :)

However, it pleases and humbles me to find that some readers of this blog think so! ;) All I can say is a warm thanks to all of those who care to stop by this blog!

What pleases me even more is the continuing interest in the now known might of the Indian embedded systems and software (and services) industry.

According to the ISA-IDC report of 2007 on the Indian semiconductor and design industry: the embedded software industry in India accounts for a $5.98 billion or 81 percent of the projected share of overall revenues in 2008. This has been further projected to grow to $7.29 billion or 81 percent of the projected share of overall revenues in 2009! That is quite a substantial growth!

This may be a tough year in comparison. However, have full faith in India’s embedded systems and software industry. It will continue to rule for a while, am sure!

Embedded systems seminar focuses on India’s embedded might

May 12, 2009 Comments off

This fourth seminar on embedded systems, organized recently in Bangalore by EDN Asia, Singapore, Reed Business, was further testament to India’s already proven embedded might.

Welcoming the delegates, Kirtimaya Varma, editor-in-chief, EDN Asia, noted that Bangalore continues to be a city of overwhelming importance for EDN Asia. “We believe that this city is well on its way of evolving from the electronics design hub of India to the electronics design hub of the world. We always look forward to this seminar as an opportunity for us to interact with the local design industry in India.

“Notwithstanding the severe recession, ISA-IDC estimates that the embedded software revenue is poised to grow from about $6 billion in 2008 to $7.3 billion in 2009. While most industrial segments are laying off staff, the embedded software workforce is projected to rise from about 126,000 in 2008 to 150,000 in 2009. These figures show the inherent strength of the embedded design industry in India.

“However, most of the embedded software activities in India are at the lower end of the value chain. But for the last few years large Indian companies are moving towards the higher end activities in specific domains. This is expected to expand the embedded software market. Besides, the growing consumer and automotive markets and increased expenditures in telecom and defense will also contribute towards the growth of embedded in the coming years.”

There were a series of presentations, led by V.R.Venkatesh, senior VP, head of product engineering services, Wipro Technologies. The other tracks were:

* Debug embedded systems with industry’s most advanced Mixed Signal Scopes (MSO) — Venkat Prasad, Agilent Technologies
* Small yet Highly Functional – Keeping Your System Cost Low with Embedded ICs — Lou Kai Chee, Fujitsu Microelectronics Asia Pte Ltd
* Highest Quality MCU Portfolio Drives your Ideas to Business — Ravi Kishore Ivaturi, Infineon Technologies
* Introducing nanoWatt XLP MCUs for eXtreme Low Power — Kanad S. Joshi, Microchip Technology Inc.
* Low Power Flash FPGA Technologies — Jijeesh M, Actel Corp.
* Embedded Processing with Xilinx — Akshat Jain, Xilinx

Having represented EDN Asia for quite a number of years in the past, I was extremely pleased to be part of this show. Another reason, Kirti Varma of EDN Asia and yours truly — our association goes back a really long time — starting from 1991 at Electronics For You, New Delhi, through to Global Sources and later, Reed Business!

I hope to add more information on some of the tracks, time permitting!

Categories: Semiconductors Tags:

MCUs are now shaping the embedded world!

March 20, 2009 Comments off

As promised, here’s a discussion I had with STMicroelectronics (ST) on its new 8-bit microcontroller, the STM8S — the STM8S105 and STM8S207 MCUs for industrial and consumer applications. The discussion focused on how MCUs are now beginning to shape the embedded world.

Addressing this specific query, Patrice Hamard,8-bit Product Line Marketing Manager, STMicroelectronics, said that ST is reshaping the microcontroller with a solid offer on 8bit that has a strong overlap with STM32 in terms of feature and price. “Therefore, we are going to cover the need for embedded functions with only two architectures. Compared to the previous segmentations (8-, 16- and 32-bit), we are changing it to become 8- and 32-bit only,” he clarified.

On the STM8S, Hamard said that the key application areas addressed by the MCU are industrial and appliances in consistent with the robustness and the reliability. He said: “The STM8S family is supporting 5V as well as 3V, thereby making it ideal for the platform evolution as well as a good offer for the consumer and mass market. The cost advantage given with the fine lithography also allows us to propose this family to key customers in PC peripherals and consumer applications.”

Rich feature set an imperative in MCUs
Rich feature set is an imperative in the MCU market. How is the STM8S meeting this requirement?

According to him, the feature set is driven by the need to reduce the bill of materials (BoM). The robustness allows simple design and board layout with less filtering. The clock controller gives low noise emission figure, thereby reducing the need for shielding. The precise clock allows the suppression of the external resonator. The embedded true E²Data suppresses the need for additional E²PROM. Safe reset (no grey area) makes the reset system safer suppressing the need for external reset circuit.

The clock system, as well as the two independent watchdogs will contribute to pass safety regulations together with ST’s class B libraries. All communications peripherals are available as well — (U(S)ART, I²C, SPI, CAN, LIN), advanced 16-bit timers and timebase, fast and precise 10-bit ADC.

Finally, the 8-bit core is one of the most efficient with 20MIPS at 24MHz. Built around the 8-bit data path, the micro has 16bit registers and 32bit memory memory width.

So, how does the STM8 deliver high performance with excellent code compactness?

Hamard said that thanks to the new CISC instruction set designed in collaboration with ST’s C compiler partners, the compactness has been significantly improved. The Harvard architecture with its three-stage pipeline allows to reach up to 20MIPs @ 24MHz.

ST is offering family demonstration boards and instrument cluster reference designs as well. In fact, there are currently solutions available in ST with the STM8S/128-EVAL, as well as with third parties like raisonance with the REVA KIT. Many reference designs are complete or in progress demonstrating motor control (sensorless brushless DC motors), power management, smart card protocol, capacitive sensing, etc.

Demand for low-power MCUs
According to Hamard, the trend of low power is coming from the increase of the application base on battery in consumer and personal care, combined with a strong demand for power meters (electricity, water and gas). Energy saving is important and electronics can contribute a great deal to reduce the overall energy consumption.

“The STM8S is not specifically aiming low power applications even though the features of the family are good for many low power devices. It is in our plan to introduce later this year a dedicated family to address low voltage/low power arena,” he added.

Why 8-bit?
Considering that there are 8- vs. 16- vs. 32- bit MCUs, and also that affordable prices are perhaps the reason that the Asian region is witnessing a migration to 16-bit architectures. In this scenario, why 8-bit?

Hamard said: “Everything depends on what we consider to be “affordable” and who we are talking to. For large quantity and simple functions, affordability is between $0.20 cents to $0.50 cents. By construction, a 16-bit device cannot be as effective as an 8-bit product. We even believe that the microcontroller prices will decrease and address applications served with few discrete devices. The main reason is the consistency of architecture.

“The construction of the 32- and 16- are very similar, especially with the new generation of ARM-based products. The only reason to go from 8- to 16-bit is for performance improvement. We say that our 32-bit portfolio is already overlapping the 8-bit segment in performance and in price, leaving no room for the third core structure.

“Taking a closer look at our portfolio, you will realize that our 32-bit is also providing 16-bit instruction set, and our 8-bit is built with 16-bit register, 24-bit memory address bus, etc.”

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