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Global semicon sales to drop 1.7 percent in 2012?


This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

According to the WSTS’s August (posted Oct. 9th, 2012 on its website) actual global semiconductor sales of $23.013 billion, the updated monthly forecast expectation for full year 2012’s total global semiconductor sales is expected to be $294.6 billion as calculated by the Cowan LRA forecasting model.

This latest update to the 2012 sales forecast estimate corresponds to a year-over-year sales growth expectation of minus 1.7 percent, which dropped from the previous month’s year-over-year sales growth forecast estimate of minus 0.5 percent.

It is also lower than the joint WSTS/SIA Spring 2012 sales growth forecast (published in June of this year) of plus 0.45 percent which corresponds to a global sales forecast estimate of $300.9 billion. Therefore, the model’s latest monthly sales forecast output (based on the just announced August 2012’s actual sales) continues to project even more negative sales growth for 2012 compared to 2011 and has remained negative for the third month in a row.

The model’s previous month’s forecast expectation for August’s actual sales was $24.8 billion as shown in the first table. This forecasted sales number generated last month was much higher than the just published actual August sales of $23.013 billion (larger by $1.76 billion or down 7.1 percent). This results in an M.I. (Momentum Indicator) of minus 7.1 implying that the sales growth trend will be ‘marginally’ down (that is, more negative) over the near term forecast horizon.

Incorporating August’s just published actual sales number into the Cowan LRA forecasting model also produces the latest updated sales and sales growth forecast expectations for the remaining two quarters of 2012 as well as for the four quarters of 2013.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Table 1: Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

These results are summarized in the first table. Also provided in the table are the corresponding previous month’s sales and sales growth forecast numbers which were determined last month thereby providing sequential monthly forecast estimate comparisons.

As displayed in the Table 1, the latest projected full year 2012 global semi sales forecast estimate decreased to $294.6 billion from last month’s sales forecast expectation of $298.0 billion, a decrease of $3.5 billion or down sequentially by 1.2 percent. Correspondingly, the updated 2012 sales growth forecast expectation declined to minus 1.7 percent from last month’s sales growth forecast estimate of minus 0.5 percent, a decrease of 1.2 percentage points, still remaining in the negative territory; however, more negative than last month.

Also, next month’s September actual sales forecast estimate is projected to come in at $29.8 billion. Consequently, the resulting September’s actual sales forecast estimate equates to a September 3MMA sales expectation of $25.5 billion which is up from August’s 3MMA sales result of $24.3 billion. It should be emphasized that this forecasted September 3MMA sales number assumes no (or very minimal) sales revisions to either July or August’s actual sales numbers just published by the WSTS.

Additionally, year-to-date cumulative sales for 2012 (total yearly sales through August) came in at $189.5 billion compared to last year’s year-to-date cumulative sales number of $198.5 billion. This equates to a 2012 year-to-date (through August) sales growth result of minus 4.6 percent. This implies that global semiconductor sales for the second half of 2012 must exhibit  significant strength to reach last year’s sales number of $299.52 billion in order that the full year’s 2012 sales growth will break even with last year’s sales, let alone show a mildly positive sales growth for the year.
Read more…

Cadence Allegro 16.6 accelerates timing closure

September 26, 2012 1 comment

Cadence Design Systems Inc. has released the Allegro/OrCAD 16.6 that provides unmatched, scalable design solutions addressing technology challenges.

Allegro is meant for simple to more complex boards, for the geographically dispersed design teams. They also cater to the personal productivity needs for start-ups and small to medium companies. It provides high-speed, power aware SI, HDI managed design environments, that is meant for medium to large enterprises.

Allegro, Sigrity and OrCAD – major themes of Allegro PCB 16.6
The major themes of Allegro PCB 16.6 include the first ECAD collaborative environment for work-in-progress (WiP) PCB design using Microsoft SharePoint. It accelerates the timing closure for high-speed interfaces such as DDRx. There is support for advanced miniaturization techniques that embed passive and active components on inner layers of a PCB.

Cadence Allegro is meant for simple to more complex boards.

Cadence Allegro is for simple to more complex boards.

Regarding the percentage of enhanced miniaturization capabilities for embedding dual-sided and vertical components, Hemant Shah, product marketing director, Allegro PCB and FPGA Products, Cadence, said: “Components with dual-sided contacts offer customers the ability to connect to the components pins through the layer above or through the layer below. This provides routing flexibility. It also allows customers who want redundant connections on inner layers.”

There can be accelerated design implementation through flexible PCB team design capability. Leveraging GPUs for faster display, you can pan and zoom on dense PCBs, enabling greater design productivity.

Typical product creation environment includes the best-in-class hardware design environment for implementation, analysis and compliance sign-off. The design team collaboration capability encompasses design-chain partners. Design data can be integrated into corporate systems to manage cost and quality, and provide visibility. It allows on-time release into manufacturing to build products.

Allegro, OrCAD and Sigrity ensure product creation with the best-in-class PCB design environment. Design team collaboration and productivity is integrated at the PCB. Design data integration is done into corporate systems to manage cost and quality. There is on-time release into manufacturing to build products. Allegro, OrCAD and Sigrity are helping create market leading products.

Users can create the first ECAD collaborative environment using Microsoft SharePoint. Design creation and collaboration trends include geographically distributed teams, increase in outsourcing (OEMs-ODMs), product life cycle management tools are not designed/targeted for managing work-in-progress data. For every design engineer, there are 3X-5X collaborators, reviewers, etc.

The Allegro Design workbench integrates seamlessly to SharePoint 2010. The Team Design Authoring cockpit facilitates design data in and out of SharePoint providing WiP design data management. There is block level check-in, check-out, etc. SharePoint is already deployed in many companies. It is scalable from single server to cloud environment. It has rich platform for power users to configure and developers to customize.

By creating the first ECAD collaborative environment, users can reduce the product creation time by up to 40 per cent. Chances of first pass failure are also reduced from 25 per cent to 1 per cent. Users can accelerate the timing closure on high-speed, multi-Gigabit signals.
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Update on global semicon trends 2012-13


For the sake of completeness, that is, for a view of the complete 2013 semiconductor sales and sales growth forecast outlook, Mike Cowan, an independent semicon consultant, has extended his model to ‘capture’ the forecast sales numbers for the final two quarters of 2013.

Thus, the second half of 2013 sales forecast estimate came in at $170.6 billion, which represents a 10 percent increase over the (forecasted) 2H-2012 sales of $155.2 billion.

Therefore, the full year 2013 sales forecast outlook becomes $321.1 billion, which yields an expected year-on-year sales growth forecast estimate of 7.7 percent for 2013.

Quarterly, half year and full year forecast results for 2011, 2012, and 2013 are provided in the following table.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

As noted, all forecast numbers are italicized. Also note that a line has been included that provides the most recent (June 2012’s Spring 2012 Forecast Update) WSTS/SIA forecast results for comparative purposes.

Global semiconductor sales worth $298 billion in 2012?


This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

According to the WSTS’s July (posted Sept. 8th, 2012) actual global semiconductor sales of $23.977 billion, the latest monthly forecast expectation for 2012’s total global semiconductor sales came in at $298 billion as calculated by the Cowan LRA forecasting model.

This latest update to the 2012 sales forecast corresponds to a year-over-year sales growth expectation of minus 0.5 percent, which improved slightly from the previous month’s year-over-year sales growth forecast estimate of minus 0.85 percent. It is also lower than the joint WSTS/SIA Spring 2012 sales growth forecast of 0.45 percent, which corresponds to a global sales forecast estimate of $300.9 billion. Therefore, the model’s latest monthly forecast output (based on the just announced July 2012’s actual sales) continues to indicate negative sales growth for 2012 compared to 2011 for the second month in a row.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

The model’s previous month’s forecast expectation for July’s actual sales was $23.16 billion as shown in the first table. This forecasted sales number (generated last month) was lower than the actual July published sales of $23.98 billion (larger by $0.82 billion or up 3.5 percent).

This results in an M.I. (Momentum Indicator) of plus 3.5 implying that the sales growth trend will be “marginally” up (that is, slightly less negative) over the near term forecast horizon.

Inserting July’s just published actual sales number into the Cowan LRA forecasting model also produces the latest updated sales and sales growth forecast expectations for the remaining two quarters of 2012 as well as the first two quarters of 2013.

These results are summarized in the first table. Also provided in the table are the previous month’s sales and sales growth forecast numbers, which were derived last month, thereby providing sequential monthly forecast estimate comparisons.

As displayed in the first table, the latest projected full year 2012 global semiconductor sales forecast estimate increased to $298 billion from last month’s sales forecast expectation of $297 billion – an increase of $1 billion. Correspondingly, the updated 2012 sales growth forecast estimate improved to minus 0.5 percent from last month’s sales growth forecast estimate of minus 0.85 percent – a decrease of 0.35 percentage points, but still residing in negative territory.
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Cowan LRA model’s updated forecast for global semicon sales 2012


This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

Based on the WSTS’s June (posted August 5th, 2012) global semiconductor sales of $26.329 billion, actual sales number, the latest monthly forecast expectation for total global semiconductor sales calculated by the Cowan LRA forecasting model came in at $297 billion.

This represents a 2012 year-on-year sales growth forecast expectation of minus 0.85 percent, which declined from the previous month’s year-over-year sales growth forecast estimate of plus 0.1 percent. It is also lower than the joint WSTS/SIA Spring 2012 sales growth forecast of 0.45 percent, which corresponds to a global sales forecast estimate of $300.9 billion.

Consequently, the latest model’s forecast output is presently (based on June 2012’s actual sales) predicting negative sales growth for 2012 compared to 2011.

It should be pointed out that the model’s previous month’s forecast expectation for June was $27.65 billion. This forecasted sales (published last month) was much higher than the actual June sales result of $26.33 billion (lower by $1.32 billion or down 4.8 percent) resulting in an M.I. (Momentum Indictor) of minus 4.8, implying that the sales growth trend will be ‘mildly’ down over the near term.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Source: Cowan LRA model, USA.

Inserting June’s actual sales number into the Cowan LRA forecasting model also yields the latest updated sales forecast expectations for the remaining two quarters of 2012 and the first two quarters of 2013. These results are summarized in the table below. Also included in the table are previous month’s sales and sales growth forecast results for comparative purposes.

As displayed in Table 1, the latest projected full year 2012 global semiconductor sales forecast estimate fell to $297 billion from last month’s sales forecast expectation of $299.8 billion, a decrease of $2.8 billion.

Correspondingly, the updated 2012 sales growth forecast estimate went negative, dropping to minus 0.85 percent from last month’s slightly positive sales growth forecast estimate of plus 0.11 percent, a decrease of almost a full percentage point.

Also note that July’s actual sales estimate is forecasted to come in at $23.2 billion. Thus, July’s actual sales forecast estimate equates to a July 3MMA sales expectation of $24.15 billion, which is down slightly from June’s 3MMA sales result of $24.4 billion. It should be highlighted that this forecasted July 3MMA sales number assumes no (or very minimal) sales revisions to either May or June’s just published sales results by the WSTS.

Additionally with the ‘wrap up’ of the second quarter sales results, year-to-date sales for 2012 (cumulative sales through June) came in at $143 billion compared to last year’s year-to-date sales of $150.6 billion. This coincides to a 2012 year-to-date sales growth of minus 5.1 percent.

This implies that global semiconductor sales for the second half of 2012 must demonstrate some significant strength to reach last year’s sales result of $299.52 billion in order that the full year’s 2012 sales growth is to break even with last year’s sales, let alone show a mildly positive sales growth for the year. Read more…

SuVolta solving power problem in SoCs across multiple CMOS process nodes

December 7, 2011 6 comments

SuVolta Inc., based in California, USA, develops and licenses CMOS semiconductor technologies that significantly reduce the power consumption of integrated circuits (ICs). Back in June 2011, introduced the PowerShrink low-power platform and the first licensee, Fujitsu. Thanks to Amanda Crnkovich of The Hoffmann Agency, I interacted with Dr. Scott E. Thompson, CTO, SuVolta, on the deeply depleted channel (DDC) technology that delivers over 50 percent reduction in IC power consumption, while maintaining performance.

Dr. Scott E. Thompson, CTO, SuVolta.

Dr. Scott E. Thompson, CTO, SuVolta.

What’s DDC technology all about?
First, I asked Dr. Thompson what the DDC technology is all about? He said that SuVolta’s PowerShrink platform in planar, bulk CMOS provides dramatic improvements in variability and device performance, and is compatible with existing CMOS processes. It integrates using conventional fabrication equipment and materials, and enables the reuse of existing circuit IP infrastructure. SuVolta is focusing on solving the power problem in system-on-chips (SoCs) across multiple CMOS process technology nodes.

He added: “SuVolta’s DDC transistor reduces threshold voltage (VT) variability and enables continued CMOS scaling. The structure works by forming a deeply depleted channel when a voltage is applied to the gate. In a typical implementation the DDC channel has several regions – an undoped or very lightly doped region, a VT setting offset region and a screening region. Each implementation of SuVolta’s DDC transistor may vary depending on the wafer fabrication facility and specific chip design requirements.”

The DDC transistor has a much tighter distribution of threshold voltages. In addition, DDC transistors allow for the setting of multiple VTs, which is vital for today’s low-power products.

“Perhaps, the biggest benefit is in embedded SRAM memory blocks. For most chips, lowering supply voltage is limited by the SRAM. However, with a DDC transistor, conventional 6T SRAMs have been demonstrated operating below 500 milli Volts. This is significant as it is amongst the lowest voltage ever reported in a standard embedded SRAM,” added Dr. Thompson.

Impact on reducing IC power consumption in devices
So, what impact will all of this have on reducing IC power consumption in devices, such as smartphones, tablets, etc.? While the increased density in transistors enables more features for all types of devices, power has now become the biggest issue in semiconductors. This “power impasse” is critical or two reasons:

* Excessive power consumption limits battery life for mobile devices, and causes huge electricity bills for server farms.
* Devices are hitting their thermal (heat) limit, thus preventing more capabilities from being added. Power consumption directly creates heat. This is becoming a major problem in mobile devices, which have very strict thermal limits. To hit thermal limits, chip makers must forego adding additional content, or “throttle” the chip back to a slower speed.

The impact of excess power on consumers is profound: shorter battery life, lower-content mobile devices – fewer features and/or slower performance, higher electronics costs because transistors hit their scaling limit because of power, excessive energy bills and an increased global demand for energy.

Dr. Thompson added: “SuVolta’s PowerShrink platform enables semiconductor firms to cut chip power in half without sacrificing performance, losing functionality, or migrating to a more advanced, and costly, semiconductor process node. And, it does so using planar, bulk CMOS, and does not require development of new manufacturing facilities or IP blocks.” Read more…

NXP licenses Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach Ethernet technology for in-vehicle networking

November 12, 2011 2 comments

NXP Semiconductors N.V. recently announced an engagement in automotive Ethernet as the first automotive semiconductor supplier to license Broadcom’s BroadR-Reach Ethernet technology for in-vehicle networking.

Lars Reger, NXP.

Lars Reger, NXP.

Speaking exclusively on the engagement, Lars Reger, VP automotive business & strategy and general manager integrated in-vehicle networking, NXP Semiconductors, said: “We are convinced that Ethernet will only be successful on a mass-market level if we manage to find one uniform standard in the automotive industry. Car manufacturers around the world are really pushing towards this. As no. 1 supplier of in-vehicle networking semiconductors, NXP can make a big impact and take a leading role to this end. NXP has taken the decision, as the first automotive semiconductors company, to license BroadR Reach.

“This technology uses single-pair, unshielded cable which makes high-bandwith networking very cost-efficient. We will use the licensed IP as a basis for developing the physical layer chips for Ethernet. For the development process, we can rely on our expertise in automotive electronics and our application know-how to meet the automotive quality requirements.

“Altogether, this license will save NXP an significant amount in R&D cost. At the same time it will allow us to bring a full portfolio of Ethernet transceivers to the market in a much shorter time period. Ethernet will well complementary to other technology standards that NXP offers for in-vehicle networking, which are CAN, LIN, and FlexRay as each one has its specific advantages. In short: it’s the next logical portfolio enhancement and we will be in the market early 2013 with first samples.”

So, what does this arrangement set out to achieve? Reger said: “Ethernet will give a major boost to the connected car. With Ethernet, a networking technology will be available that is cost-efficient and yet powerful enough to cope with the huge amounts of data generated through modern infotainment systems, new camera-based driver assist systems like 360 degree cams, or traffic sign recognition.

“Ethernet technology, as it’s already well established in the consumer and business areas, will make it much easier to adapt existing technologies to automotive applications and to bring them into the car in much shorter development circles. NXP has a major interest to push this. As we combine in-vehicle networking with wireless technologies like broadcast reception, telematics, car-to-x, and car access technologies, we see a big market there for high performance mixed signal technologies – NXP’s focus area.” Read more…

DIT outlines initiatives to promote ESDM in India


The Department of IT, Government of India, recently organized a workshop on electronics system design and manufacturing (ESDM), conducted by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA). Dr. Ajay Kumar, joint secretary, Dept. of IT, Government of India, touched upon some major initiatives to promote ESDM. These include:

* Setting up two semiconductor wafer fabs for manufacture of chips.
* Introducing Modified Special Incentive Package Scheme to encourage manufacture of high-priority electronic products in India.
* Provide incentives for setting up of electronics manufacturing clusters.
* Setting up of the National Electronics Mission (NEM).
* Providing Preferential Market Access to domestically manufactured electronics products for government procurement and procurement by government licensees.
* Setting up of “Electronic Development Fund”.

Some of the other initiatives to promote ESDM include:
* Draft National Policy for Electronics, 2011 released for public consultation on October 3, 2011. Comments invited till end October.
* Additional items  included under ESDM for benefit of Special Focus Scheme under the Foreign Trade Policy recently.
* Mandating health and safety standards for 16 major electronic items under finalization in consultation with BIS.
* Private sector participation in human resource development being promoted.
* Sector specific initiatives for set-top boxes, medical electronics, avionics, industrial electronics, automotive electronics, LEDs, strategic electronics for defense, space and nuclear.
* Awareness creation and interest generation domestically and globally.
* Renaming the Department as Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY).

The semiconductor design industry in India consists of VLSI design, board/hardware design and embedded software development. The size was estimated at $6.5 billion in 2009 and is expected to log a CAGR of 17.3 percent over the next three years to reach $10.6 billion in 2012. Nearly 2,000 chips are being designed each year and more than 20,000 engineers being engaged in various aspects of chip designing and verification. Read more…

Global semiconductor sales expectation for 2011 and 2012


This is a continuation of my coverage of the fortunes of the global semiconductor industry. I would like to acknowledge and thank Mike Cowan, an independent semiconductor analyst and developer of the Cowan LRA model, who has provided me the latest numbers.

Various industry watchers most recent 2011 sales growth forecast updates are dropping: from low positive single digits to even lower positive single digits or to low negative single digits. Therefore, the soon to be released WSTS August sales number will be pivotal in pointing directionally to where the 2011 sales growth forecast estimate, as seen by the Cowan LRA model, will end up. Consequently, per the subject the following analysis should assist in providing some insight into next month’s model run update via my monthly look-ahead scenario analysis matrix.

It’s that time of the month again; namely, time for previewing next month’s global semiconductor sales forecast update for both 2011 and 2012 based upon August’s “actual” sales expectation by exercising the “look ahead” forecasting capability of the CowanLRA Model. August’s upcoming global semiconductor sales will be pivotal in determining the sales growth outcome for both the third quarter and the full year of 2011.

In particular, will 2011 exhibit positive yearly sales growth for the industry or will it turn negative as a number of market researchers have recently forecasted based upon downward third quarter guidance being announced by many semiconductor suppliers?

Presented here is a “snap shot” of 2011’s global semiconductor sales and sales growth forecast prospects as a function of August’s “actual” sales forecast estimate range as derived via the Cowan LRA forecast model. Moreover, as part of this month’s update, the model has been extended in order to include a view of what 2012’s sales growth prospects might look like, thereby providing a six-quarter look ahead that allows the model to also capture the four quarters of 2012.

Table 1: Source - Cowan LRA model.

Table 1: Source - Cowan LRA model.

It should be mentioned that August 2011’s “actual” global semiconductor sales number is scheduled to be released by the WSTS via its monthly HBR (Historical Billings Report) on or about Wednesday, October 5th.

In advance of the WSTS’s release of its August HBR, Cowan has presented his monthly analysis leveraging the Cowan LRA forecasting model that projects worldwide semiconductor sales for 2011 (as well as 2012); namely, by providing a “look ahead” scenario for year 2011’s sales forecast range as a function of next month’s (in this case August’s) assumed range of “actual” global semiconductor sales estimates.

The output of this “look ahead” modelling analysis is detailed in the scenario analysis matrix displayed in the table here. A discussion of these results is provided in the paragraphs immediately following Table 1 here. Read more…

Renesas enhancing localization of products in India!

September 17, 2011 1 comment

Jeffrey Soh and Sunil Dhar, Renesas.

Jeffrey Soh and Sunil Dhar, Renesas.

Renesas Electronics was among the worst hit companies during the Japanese earthquake in March this year. To its credit, Renesas restarted production at its quake-hit factories by mid-June. For the record, Renesas’ Naka factory had been the worst-affected by the March 2011 earthquake. The Naka factory produces around 20 percent of MCUs and SoC solutions, and about 10 percent of analog and power devices.

According to Jeffrey Soh, director – South Asia & Pacific Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Singapore Pte. Ltd,  power shortages had been created by the earthquakes. “The Naka plant was the most affected. It has been housing 65nm and 90nm process technologies. We have had very good support from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI),” he said.

On June 1, 2011, the Naka factory started production again. “We are now in full recovery. We still have to recover a lot of backlog,” noted Soh. From the earthquake to the recovery of the Naka plant, Renesas was able to start the production of automotive processors. The massive earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami in March saw Renesas strengthen its business continuity plan (BCP)  and re-inforce the risk management system. “We have now taken up BCP. The earthquake only accelerated the BCP,” said Soh.

So, what’s the outlook like for 2012? According to Jeffrey Soh, there are double challenges. First, there is the high Yen. However, the high Yen has forced Renesas to be even more competitive. “We expect that the Japanese government will also roll out a recovery plan,” Soh, noted.

Renesas’ situation in India
Elaborating on Renesas’ India plans, Jeffrey Soh said: “We plan to grow in India. We have spent the last five years cultivating the Indian localization. Here, we are developing all India based solutions.” Out of the 30 products that have been developed in India so far, Renesas has been able to help 16 companies up until now.

“We have built a company that works on the localization of products. We are soliciting a lot of Japanese support to enhance the Indian localization of products,” he added.

According to him, besides mobile communications, healthcare and medical electronics, automotive electronics and smart energy, Renesas is also looking at developing the power electronics segment in India.

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