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Top 20 semicon rankings Q2-09 — TSMC climbs up, AMD slips down!

July 31, 2009 Comments off

Very interesting, isn’t it? And I am not surprised! TSMC deserves to move up the top 20 semiconductor companies rankings!! It seems that AMD especially needs to really get its act together.

First, to the rankings. Recently, IC Insights released the list of the top 20 semiconductor sales leaders during Q2-09.Source: IC Insights

In this list, there are four fabless semiconductor companies — Qualcomm, Broadcom, MediaTek and Nvidia in the top 20, and one foundry — TSMC, perhaps, emphasizing the growing influence of TSMC as well as the fabless semiconductor companies.

AMD slips! Again?
I had written a couple of posts some time back on AMD and Intel, where the former had commented on the EC ruling on Intel, and also how both were at each other’s throats, and had asked the question — how will all of this help the market?

Well, one hopes that AMD will come back very much stronger in the next quarter, despite its uninspiring guidance for 3Q09, saying that it expects its sales to be “up slightly” from 2Q09.

TSMC, Hynix, MediaTek shine
Coming back to the table, the clear movers are TSMC, and no surprises there, as well as Hynix and MediaTek. In fact, with a little better Q3 performance, TSMC could well move up to the third position, overtaking both Texas Instruments and Toshiba.

Look at the last column — the 2Q09/1Q09 percentage change — TSMC has grown by a whopping 93 percent! One other thing! TSMC is reportedly eyeing business opportunities in solar photovoltaics and LEDs in a bid to diversify its revenue channels. Should these happen, expect TSMC to move up higher!

The closest to TSMC in terms of growth are Hynix at 40 percent and Qualcomm at 36 percent, respectively. MediaTek, another impressive mover, grew by 20 percent. Of course, there is Samsung as well, with 29 percent growth.

ST, Micron, Nvidia and NXP have done well too! According to IC Insights, Nvidia replaced Fujitsu in the Q2-09 top 20 rankings. And that brings us to the shakers or those who fared poorly.

Fujitsu, AMD, Freescale slide!
I’ve already touched upon AMD. Fujitsu cited flash memory and automotive device sales to have suffered immensely this quarter. However, it hopes Q3 will be better and said that customer demand was picking up. So, it could well be back in the Top 20 during Q3.

Yet another slip was in store for Freescale. It slipped from 16th position in 2008 to 18th position during Q1-09, and slid further to 20th position in Q2-09. Perhaps, overdependance on automotives has been its undoing.

An interesting statistic from IC Insights — Fujitsu, with -9 percent and Freescale, with -2 percent growth, were the only two top-20 companies from Q1-09 to register a 2Q09/1Q09 sales decline!

Wonderful industry guidance
It is heartening to see 19 of the 20 companies registering positive growth this quarter. It won’t be improper here to commend IC Insights on its wonderful industry guidance!

In an IC Insights study from late December 2008, it was very vocal in advising firms to adopt a quarterly outlook! It also forecast a significant rebound in the IC market beginning in the third quarter of the year!

IC Insights also stood out by pointing out in early July that H2-09 is likely to usher in strong seasonal strength for electronic system sales, a period of IC inventory replenishment, which began in 2Q09, and positive worldwide GDP growth.

IC Insights had marked 4Q08 as the beginning of the downturn/collapse and Q1-09 as the bottom of the cycle. This quarter (Q2) has largely been a replenishment phase for the inventories. Going by that count, Q3 could well see a true seasonal increase in demand. IC Insights also said that during Q4-09, market growth will mirror the health of the worldwide economy and electronic system sales.

There is light, after all, at the end of the tunnel! Wonder why are the industry folks continue to tell each other — we still aren’t having a good time! Maybe, it is time for them to shed their pessimism and from holding back on investments, and move on to show steely optimism, and indulge in really aggressive buying and selling! After all, work and progress will happen ONLY if you work!!

SMB strategies from Intel, ASUS and Gigabyte

June 27, 2009 Comments off

Small businesses (SMBs) are said to be facing many critical decisions in the currently tough economic climate. One of these include how to address computer needs. To better understand the environment, Techaisle recently conducted a study research that demonstrated how SMBs are responding to the economic meltdown and what factors are influencing their PC decision making.

The research study on SMBs was recently highlighted by executives from Intel, ASUSTek and Gigabyte during a webinar.

Speaking on the global economic impact on SMBs, Robert Crooke, GM and VP, Business Client Group, Intel Corp., said that the new study demonstrated significant issues for SMBs who are trying to extend their PC lives beyond three years.

According to the study, there have been 58 percent more virus attacks for desktop and notebook PCs; up to 38 percent more SMBs have been experiencing system failures; SMBs have had to shell out up to $709 as the average annual maintenance cost on older PCs.

He added that now, the payback for new PCs is approximately one year. In this regard, both ASUSTeK and Gigabyte have announced new SMB strategies.

The small businesses are optimistic about a recovery, however, there is no consensus on when that would happen! According to the study, 85 percent of small businesses expect an economic recovery!

However, Crooke added that holding refresh for recovery may not be the right strategy! IT budgets are still positive, although the SMBs are keeping their PCs for longer.

Net projected 2009 global SMB IT budget growth rate: 4.6 percent
o Net projected emerging market 2009 growth rate: 9 percent
o Net projected mature market 2009 growth rate: 3.4 percent
Source: Techaisle, 2009

Extending the replacement has been causing more security incidents! The older systems experience a higher frequency of virus attacks, and more incidents means more downtime. That further higher rates of system failure (see image). On the contrary, new systems can provide payback in as short as one year!Source: Intel

Crooke announced the Intel Core 2 Duo with Intel vPro technology-based system starting at $699 for desktops and $830 for notebooks. These would reduce maintenance cost and security risk.

Other aspects to consider for SMBs would be: up to 23 percent reduced downtime from viruses, improved energy efficiency, enhanced productivity — average system downtime can be reduced 32 percent, and lower total cost of maintenance.

Intel also announced the Core 2 Duo systems starting at $540 for desktops and $700 for notebooks… Key aspects to consider for SMBs would include reduced maintenance cost and security risk, improved energy efficiency, and improved productivity.

Gigabyte’s commitment
Next, stressing Gigabyte’s commitment to support SMBs, Tony Liao, Associate Vice President of Sales & Marketing, discussed the company’s high quality motherboards for this market segment.

According to him, the key challenges facing SMBs include increasing security incidents, increasing maintenance costs and limited budgets.

However, there are future growth opportunities for SMBs, as they are helping lead the economic recovery. ALso, SMBs will enter a PC upgrade cycle starting this year.

Gigabyte is delivering SMB platforms to help them improve security and productivity, and reduce costs. These include:
o Intel vPro Technology, Intel Matrix Storage.
o Intel IT Director provides intuitive dashboard for small-business owners.
o Gigabyte unique technologies: Ultra Durable 3, Ultra TPM, DualBIOS, Dynamic Energy Saver.

Gigabyte has partnered with Intel to provide SMBs with tools to help them grow even during the economic uncertainty. The company is said to be leading the global channel MB business with quality, innovative products, stable supply and excellent service/support. It now provides a complete line of boards purpose-built for SMBs.

Liao said Gigabyte is offering a full range of motherboard solutions to meet different business needs, delivering best quality and technology innovations for added value. Up and down the SMB stack, the Intel IT Director provides a dashboard for SMB owners.

In terms of security leadership, the Gigabyte motherboards with DualBIOS provide the best protection from BIOS failures. A 100 percent of the company’s motherboards are currently shipping with DualBIOS.

As for the network monitor dashboard, the company has bundled the Intel IT Director into its SMB line up. IT-D is an intuitive software tool that monitors networked PCs for potential IT problems. Run as an easy-to-use dashboard, the IT Director will check that the anti-virus and firewall applications are installed on each networked PC.

ASUS focusing on SMBs
ASUS also provided a brief on SMB solutions. Joe Hsieh, Corp. VP of Motherboard Business Unit, Sales & Marketing, said ASUS and Intel recognize the growth opportunities presented by channel SMB segments.

He said SMBs can respond quickly as business conditions change, and small and mid-size companies have an advantage in a volatile and uncertain economic climate. IT is firmly entrenched as a strategic asset among SMBs and will be viewed as a strategic asset, a cost cutter and a means of increasing employee productivity. Service and responsiveness are key to customer retention for SMBs.

ASUS has introduced a comprehensive range of SMB-ready motherboard solutions. It has a complete, purpose-built set of building blocks for system builders to target SMB customers.

ASUS offers a complete line up products for SMB, bundled with Intel IT Director — an intuitive software tool that monitors networked PCs for potential IT problems.

The payback for new PCs can approach one year, following these fresh announcements of new SMB strategies from ASUSTek and Gigabyte.

Categories: ASUS, Gigabyte, Intel, SMB strategies Tags:

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!

Semicon recovery in sight? Hope both Intel and AMD are ready — for today, and tomorrow!

June 11, 2009 Comments off

Where were we? Yes, the famous Intel and AMD server battle, and Computex!

Is server battle the only ground Intel and AMD are and should be looking at? Perhaps, not! Has AMD won the server battle? Perhaps, yes, in this particular round, for now, as statistics may suggest. However, statistics also have a bad habit of hiding certain vital statistics — like conditions, etc.

A couple of days ago, iSuppli reported that Intel had lost some share in the global microprocessor segment in Q1-2009. AMD, in fact, had managed a comeback.

As per iSuppli, Intel suffered a 2.5 point drop in share. Its global revenue dropped to 79.1 percent, down from 81.6 percent in Q4-2008. During the same period, AMD moved up from 10.5 percent to 12.8 percent — an increase of 2.3 points.

AMD’s turnaround has been attributed to its strong performances in each area of its microprocessor portfolio, particularly, notebooks. This is impressive, given the downturn and the weakness in the PC and server markets. So, is AMD a winner in the servers market? Not so soon!

The gap between Intel and AMD is still quite significant. We’ve had the EC ruling, we’ve had the various server platform launches, and we are done with Computex.

Recovery in the offing?
There have been indications from other quarters that the global semiconductor equipment market is likely to begin recovery by October 2009. Also, latest data from SEMI suggests an increase in investments for fab construction projects and fab equipping in H2-2009, with the trend continuing into 2010.

Further, iSuppli has also reported that after three quarters of contraction, the pure-play foundry semiconductor manufacturing industry will probably enjoy robust growth during the second quarter.

Given all of these interesting statistics and developments within the global semiconductor industry, a likely recovery for the industry could well be in the offing!

So, if AMD and Intel are done with their server wars, the real game is likely to begin shortly! Maybe, it is time for both to get over the “today and tomorrow affair,” and focus on the future. I hope both are adequately prepared for today, and tomorrow!

Whose (server) round is it anyway? Intel’s or AMD’s?

June 8, 2009 Comments off

What a week, what a day, what a show! I am referring to the recent developments at Intel and AMD — to their respective product launches and announcements, and of course, to Computex, in Taipei, Taiwan! Oh, and to the ongoing battle between AMD and Intel in the global servers market!

First Intel… Late May, Intel previewed the Nehalem-EX, a processor that will be at the heart of the next generation of intelligent and expandable high-end Intel server platforms, which will deliver a number of new technical advancements and boost enterprise computing performance.

The Nehalem-EX is said to feature up to eight cores/16 threads, 24MB of shared cache, integrated memory controllers, four high-bandwidth QPI links, Intel Hyper-Threading, Intel Turbo Boost, and 2.3B transistors. The Nehalem-EX is said to be on track for H2-09 production.

Some time later, Intel put out an in a local news daily, about “Sponsors of Tomorrow” — a global campaign that conveys the message that gigantic advances of the digital age have been made possible by silicon — the key ingredient in microprocessors.

And guess what, AMD promptly came up with an invitation to its Istanbul launch, stating that a smarter product today would help battle the slowdown, rather than look at tomorrow!

Quite appropriately, soon after, AMD launched its Istanbul six-core Opteron processor this week, which delivers up to 34 percent more performance-per-watt.

AMD’s poking fun at Intel didn’t really quite go down well at some quarters. I have always respected and appreciated — may the best one, win, and if you really have the guts, do it yourself! And let the market decide who is the winner!!

I would surely expect the two heavyweights of the global semiconductor industry to not resort to such tactics. Instead, it would do both of them good to focus on their core businesses. Poking fun at each other will not bring in the dollars!

One AMD executive even went to the extent of highlighting the ‘today vs. tomorrow’ story on the dias, adding that when Intel comes out with an eight-core processor, AMD will come out with a 12-core processor. And, most importantly, that Intel is talking about tomorrow, but AMD is talking of today! Quite interesting!!

So, who is the winner of round one — according to me, no one!

Now, switch to Computex Taipei, Taiwan! First AMD announced a flurry of launches — such as its two new dual-core desktop processors. This was followed by a new chip for HDTV-on-the-PC reception.

Similarly, Intel made a flurry of announcements too, starting with the introduction of four new processors for ultra-thin laptops. Later, Intel’s Sean Maloney outlined the industry growth opportunities, especially, future growth throughout the computing and communications industries, particularly in mobile and wireless.

Let’s continue this in the next post, lest this grows too long! ;)

Pine Trail — Intel’s next-gen Atom platform for netbooks, nettops

May 26, 2009 Comments off

Last week, Intel had announced the first new details around a next generation Atom platform for netbooks and nettops, while also reiterating that Moblin version 2 beta is available for download.

Welcome Pine Trail
The next Atom platform, due out later this year and codenamed Pine Trail, will feature a three-to-two chip partition for better performance and lower average power, plus increased graphics performance and a smaller overall footprint.Source: Intel

This morning, Sujan Kamran, Regional Marketing Manager, Intel Asia Pacific, introduced the Pine Trail to India as well! The image here presents the Pine Trail roadmap.

According to Kamran, the netbook and nettop categories are now firmly established and the Intel Atom processor has become the is processor of choice. This has led to an unprecedented ramp of tens of millions of units, backed by significant momentum and ecosystem support. There have been nearly 300 design wins across netbook and nettop segments.

Entering the next phase indicated that while netbooks are still a growth driver, opportunities are still lying untapped with large markets being underserved. Hence, Intel expected a strong year ahead for nettops with broad adoption likely. This presents a perfect scenario for a new Atom processor platform!

Kamran said that with the Pine Trail, Intel had moved on to a two-chip solution. The graphics and memory controller now move into the processor, leading to package area and power savings. There is now an increase in the performance of the core CPU. The two-chip architecture enables 4L PCB routing. The fanless potential enables reducing the BOM. All of this leads to easier design with package area reduction.

Moblin project and v2.0
Kamran also touched upon the Moblin — an optimized Linux operating system project that delivers a visually rich Internet and media experience on Intel Atom processor based devices, such as MIDs, netbooks/nettops, in-vehicle infotainment, and embedded systems.

Currently, Moblin-based netbooks are already in the market. The Moblin v2 alpha and beta releases expand the community’s innovations. Moblin v2.0 Beta is now released!

It is optimized for Intel Atom processor-based devices — fast boot, improved footprint and battery life optimization. It also features a complete user interface for Intel Atom processor-based netbooks and nettops now and extending to all Intel Atom processor-based devices. Besides, it has a broad ecosystem momentum.

Elaborating the Moblin v2.0 beta experience, Kamran said that the M-zone replaces the desktop — it is the entry point to the netbook and the nettop. It allows easy and personalized social networking, as well as simplified internet and rich media consumption. The solution is customizable for OEMs and service providers.

For those interested, Moblin v2.0 Beta is available for download!

PS: Intel today previewed the Intel Xeon ‘Nehalem-EX’ processor. Hope to bring you an overview soon!

AMD on EC’s ruling on Intel — will it help AMD break into the top ranks?

May 20, 2009 Comments off

As promised, dear friends, here is AMD’s comment on the recent European Commission’s (EC) ruling on Intel! It still remains to be seen how this ruling will ultimately help consumers and AMD in the long run. Nevertheless, here goes!

On the EC’s recent ruling on Intel, according to Ramkumar Subramanian, VP, Sales & Marketing, AMD India, after an exhaustive investigation, the EU came to one conclusion — Intel broke the law and consumers were hurt. With this ruling, the industry will benefit from an end to Intel’s monopoly-inflated pricing and European consumers will enjoy greater choice, value and innovation.”

Fair enough! So, what course of action should the industry now take?

Subramanian says: “We believe that the EC’s decision signals an inflection point in the IT industry. The ruling has the very real potential to transform the industry from being artificially organized around a monopoly that seizes nearly all the profit, into a marketplace democracy that puts consumers first. We also see the very real potential for a step change in the long-term pace of innovation and differentiated value propositions.

“The final ruling — years in the making — is about how Intel deliberately used its monopoly power and profits to control a critically important global industry. How it has decided what and from whom consumers are allowed to buy computers. How Intel severely punishes computer manufacturers and others in the IT ecosystem that do not play by its rules. That is what Europe is putting a stop to. We applaud them for doing so, and if you buy computers and value innovation, so should you.”

I am more interested to know how this EC fine on Intel will go along in any way in improving the global processor market.

The AMD executive adds: “The size of the fine is a clear sign that this was not a close call for the Commission. That Intel’s conduct was of a very serious nature. But it is not the size of the fine that matters.

“What matters are the remedies that Intel now has been ordered to implement, and implement immediately! No illegal conditioned rebates, no coercion, no threats or intimidation to OEMs or retailers.”

Great! So, how will this help AMD improve its position?

Subramanian notes: “We firmly believe that the EC’s bold action to wrest control of the market from Intel to consumers triggers an inflection point that will reset the way business is done across the IT industry. The EC’s ruling forces Intel to immediately change its business practices — this is a punch they cannot slip.

“Every antitrust regulator in the world is now looking over Intel’s shoulder to ensure consumers are protected. And in this equation, everyone wins but Intel.”

Even then, how will this ruling benefit consumers? Will it in any way influence them to buy more AMD products?

He says: “The intent of the ruling is to protect consumers. A consumer’s best friend is competition. Competition is the fuel for innovation, and innovation is the fuel of the IT industry. So first and foremost, we expect that true competition will increase the pace and quality of innovation.

“All market participants — OEMs, retailers and end customers alike — are now free to make choices purely based on the merits of a given product, and are no longer held captive by the “System Intel” designed to keep the industry locked in, the consumers locked out and competition locked down.”

Now, AMD has welcomed this fine of EUR1 060 000 000 (EUR1.06bn) imposed by the EC on Intel! That is fine, but how will all this help the industry or the chip market? Or even improve/reduce market shares?

Subramanian adds: “All we have ever wanted is competition on the merits of the products. We have proven that despite Intel’s deliberate tactics to block AMD’s access to the marketplace, we have still been able to either out-innovate or remain competitive at the technology level with a rival roughly 10x our size and resources.

“Japan, Korea and the European Union all agree that Intel limited AMD’s market share through bribes and threats, and that business model needs to end. We are ready for a new marketplace in which consumers and products rule, not Intel.

“We firmly believe that we have what it takes to grow our business — all we, and the industry, need is an opportunity to let natural market forces work.”

Recently, there was this report of chaos reigning among the top 20 semiconductor company rankings!

According to the report, AMD jumped into the top 10 group, moving up three spots from 12th in 2008 to 9th in 1Q09. However, AMD is also one of the few top semiconductor companies that has stated it expects 2Q09 sales to be worse than in 1Q09. How long will it stay in the top 10?

If AMD does intend to beat Intel, fine or no fine, it probably needs to do much more! I hope all of this to be beneficial for AMD in the long run! Time will tell!

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