Is it any other way, apart from this? I was quite surprised on being asked whether telecom growth somehow blocked globalization! Quite the opposite!!
Take the Indian telecom industry for instance! Those who have followed the Indian telecom closely — right from the days of C-DoT developing 256-switch RAX, down to the introduction of mobile phones — after massive overbidding by folks such as HFCL in 1994, to the introduction of the Internet in India — on the eve of India’s independence day in 1994 — the growth of satellite communications in the country in the mid and late nineties — remember DAMA? — to the introduction of CDMA in the early 2000s, to the great proliferation of mobile phones that we now see around us!
Does any of this indicate anywhere that India has not been able to globalize, thanks to telecom?
When C-DoT had introduced RAX in the late 1980s, it really brought about a telecom revolution. Today, we don’t talk of C-DoT in the glowing terms that it really deserves. Who would have ever imagined that mobile phones would take off the way they have done now! And well, we just can’t survive without the email and the Internet!
Let’s trace the global telecom history from the late 1980s a bit more. When AMPS gave way to GSM, you had the feature called roaming! People wondered what they would do with this feature? Today, we complain, if we can’t roam!
ARIB, Japan, had visited India in early 1994, to try and sell PHS. In those days, PHS and DECT were the hot WiLL technologies. Later, Japan, thanks to Takeshi Natsuno and NTT DoCoMo, saw the advent of i-mode, and well, it indicated the first signs of what mobile Internet would really do!
Pages and pages were written, screaming, “WAP is CRAP”! Now, all phones are WAP enabled and no one says a word! We love to surf on the mobile phone now, isn’t it? What about all those MMS messages, including the sleazy ones? You can do mobile blogging now, can’t you? Also, update your Twitter!
In optical networking, in the early nineties, PDH gave way to SDH! We later saw the advent of DWDM and also VCSELs. With the advent of 3G in the late nineties, we discovered W-CDMA. China came up with TD-SCDMA, another 3G technology. For some time, LAS-CDMA tried to make its mark, then I don’t know what happened to it!
How many of you know that a simple SMS led to the famous second people power revolution in the Phillipines in early 2001, a peaceful revolution that overthrew Philippine President Joseph (Erap) Estrada!
Why, I still remember, during a spot survey at a Frost & Sullivan’s telecom conference in Singapore in 2001, I was one among the three who used the mobile phone to check my Yahoo mails. I received such stares! Today, we can’t stop talking about Blackberry and iPhone! In Hong Kong, in the early 2000s, I used my Siemens WAP phone to locate Indian restaurants! When Nokia added GPS via HS-CSD in Hong Kong’s Citybus in 2000, it was sensational! Today, we talk about LBS and GPS, and all that!
I can go on and on with such anecdotes! If there was no telecom, the world would not have progressed in the manner it has done now. Still having doubts?
The worldwide semiconductor market for portable media players (PMPs) is poised to drop significantly from $7.5 billion in 2008 to $4.6 billion in 2013, representing a negative compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -9%, according to a new forecast from IDC.
A mature market, the economic slowdown, growing similarity with mobile phones and mobile Internet devices (MIDs), and inevitable cannibalization all contribute to the shrinking semiconductor opportunity in PMPs. Additionally, PMPs will no longer be the largest market for NAND flash memory.
While revenue for most of the semiconductor components will decline in line with the total decline in PMP unit shipments, wireless connectivity semiconductors will exhibit modest growth, driven by the increase in attach rate for FM, WLAN, and Bluetooth radios.
“As PMPs have grown in capabilities, the dividing line has blurred between multimedia phones and MIDs,” said Ajit Deosthali, research manager for Short Range Wireless Semiconductors at IDC. “Moving forward, one should expect the semiconductor players to focus on the larger multimedia phones and growing opportunity in MIDs.”
IDC’s study, Worldwide Portable Media Player Semiconductor 2009–2013 Forecast provides an analysis of the worldwide semiconductor market for PMPs by device type, from 2009 to 2013.
The study also forecasts the semiconductor bill of materials for audio-only and video-capable PMPs, and the PMP NAND flash revenue and shipments by capacity.
The fact that the ongoing economic gloom has brought some doom for the global chip market is well known. H1-2008 held up well, better than most had predicted. However, now, the economic gloom in the global financial system has managed to nick the US, and Europe, and lately, Japan, into recessionary conditions, taking the global chip industry along with it!
Some fear that the recession will be as bad as 2001 and that 2009 could re-enact 2001! However, Future Horizons’ Malcolm Penn differs, and I’d agree with him. In 2001, there was this huge dotcom collapse, coupled with the unfortunate happenings of 9/11, and a ‘massive inventory burn just as a huge amount of excess capacity was coming on stream.’
What’s the situation now? There’s no serious overcapacity, and the pre-slowdown utilization rate were in the 90 percent region. Capex was already in retrenchment, well before the slowdown. Nor are there any serious excess inventory in the supply chain.
So, that only leaves the problem of the global financial gloom. Lot of money is being thrown about at the problem, hoping that it would pull the world out of the mess it currently finds itself in.
But, can the industry afford to NOT innovate? This is the time to innovate and find new ways to come out of the hole it finds itself in. The industry must also reconcile to single-digit growths mostly, from now on, I guess.
There has been no new ‘killer device of mass use’ like the mobile phone. Simply, no one has been able to come up with any new device of such mass appeal! The mobile phone, as we knew it, was only meant for voice. Now, it ports a camera, an MP3 player, Internet browsing, email, etc. It gave birth to PDAs, and probably, now, mobile Internet devices (MIDs).
It amuses me a lot when I find companies talking about providing full Internet experience on the mobile phone. It amuses me even further when I find a lot of people and companies talking about how they expect people to be on the Internet all the time! Surely, there are other things to do in one’s life than simply staying hooked to the Internet! Or maybe, they have a crystal ball to gaze in, all the time!
The industry needs to be careful about all the predictions and technologies. Not all will succeed. What they should try their hand at is at being innovative! Or, has innovation completely gone out of the window?
This August, Texas Instruments India (TII) announced the industry’s smallest and thinnest 500-mA, step-down DC/DC converter solution, the TPS62601 converter, for space-constrained applications.
According to TI, It gives portable designers the ability to add more features and functions on a handheld device. The high-efficiency power management IC is the first 6-MHz, 500-mA converter to achieve a 13-mm2 solution size with an ultra-thin 0.6-mm total height.
I caught up with Ramprasad Ananthaswamy, Director, Power Management Products, Texas Instruments India, to find out a bit more about this so-called industry’s smallest and thinnest converter solution, and its essential design trends.
So what exactly is the TPS62601 power converter targeted toward? According to Ananthaswamy, the TPS62601, a high-efficiency power management IC is the first 6-MHz, 500-mA converter to achieve a 13mm2 solution size with an ultra-thin 0.6-mm total height.
The TPS62601 converter achieves up to 89-percent power efficiency and only 30-uA typical operating quiescent current, all from a 0.9×1.3mm chip scale package roughly the size of a flake of pepper. The synchronous, switch-mode device’s fixed frequency of 6 MHz allows the use of only one 0.47-uH inductor with a height of 0.6 m and two low-cost ceramic capacitors, without compromising performance and efficiency.
The device supports applications, such as memory modules, GPS modules, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules or other wireless micro-modules used in ultra-thin smart phones, digital still cameras, portable disk drives and media players.
Applications areas of this device include: Smart and media phones; Cell phones; Media players; Mobile Internet devices; DSCs; and Other portable communications devices.
This chip will help powering sources such as: WLAN modules; WiFi modules; Bluetooth modules; Memory modules; and Generic micro modules.
Essential design trends
There is a need to understand the essential design trends of the TPS62601 that makes it unique. Ananthaswamy added that the TPS62601 can deliver DC voltage regulation accuracy of +/- 1.5 percent. In addition, its excellent load transient response, wide input voltage range of 2.3V to 5.5V and 1.8V of output allows the device to effectively support single-rail voltage requirements as designers add new features and functions.
The converter also applies energy-saving techniques to help maximize battery run-time. For example, the converter automatically enters a power save mode during light-load operating conditions via an automatic pulse frequency modulation and pulse width modulation switching feature. In shutdown mode, the device’s current consumption is reduced to less than 1 uA.
Size and high-performance are important. The converter achieves up to 89-percent power efficiency and only 30-uA typical operating quiescent current, from a small chip scale package.
A high switching frequency of 6MHz reduces the size of the external components used around this chip, thereby reducing the total size of the power solution. A low quiescent current of 30 uA also makes it very attractive for portable applications requiring long run times.
Helping portable designers
Let us understand how the TPS62601 will actually enable the portable designers to add more features and functions on to a handheld device. Ananthaswamy says: “Portable system designers continue to desire more features on their devices, which require smaller, efficient DC/DC converters to maintain long battery life and system run-times. As the size of the total power solution is small, more PCB space becomes available for additional features that need to get added on to the cell phone. The TPS62601 gives portable designers access to the smallest, thinnest 500-mA DC/DC solution, which simplifies design and reduces board space and time-to-market.”
The converter also applies energy-saving techniques to help maximize battery run-time. For example, the converter automatically enters a power save mode during light-load operating conditions via an automatic pulse frequency modulation and pulse width modulation switching feature. In shutdown mode, the device’s current consumption is reduced to less than 1uA.
How well does the TPS62601 tackle power management issues? The biggest issue inside feature rich cell phones today is thermal management. This power converter, consuming only 30uA for its own operation, manages the thermal problem through efficient power conversion. “Better efficiency means less heat,” added Ramaswamy.
Elaborate on the energy-saving techniques that can help maximize battery run-time, he said: “Globally, switching regulators are efficient means of power conversion. This device is a buck derived switching regulator that efficiently converts the single cell Li-ion battery voltage to the one that is required by the various multimedia rich cell phone chips, like applications processors, GPS modules, digital multimedia broadcast chips, camera engines, WiFi etc.
“It can power all of these chips, while consuming as little as 30uA for its own operation. Depending on the input to output voltage ration, the conversion efficiency can also reach close to 90 percent. Less consumption, better conversion efficiencies, etc., all of these result in longer battery run times.”
Is it then safe to say that the maximizing battery run-time problem has been tackled with the TPS62601? Not exactly!!
According to Ramaswamy, the TPS62601 addresses part of the battery run-time issue. “With this initiative, TI has gone a step ahead in making the battery last longer,” he noted.
Making power converters efficient is only a part of the battery run-time issue. Along with making power converters efficient, one also has to look at how much power is consumed by the various chips that are used in a cell phone, the operating system that runs the cell phone and the overall power saving features that are built into the cell phone system. The speaker volume settings, backlight brightness settings and the duration of the backlight and some of the other user friendly settings have an effect on the battery run times.
The Apple iPhone and now, the iPhone 3G, has caught everyone’s imagination. You come across reports such as top alternatives to the iPhone. Or, about companies launching new mobile phones and those inadvertently getting compared to the Apple iPhone! Or even, reports of how newer mobile phones could ‘kill’ the iPhone!
Quite hilarious and nothing new here! It has happened quite a few times in the past!
Nothing will “kill” the Apple iPhone, and at least, not so fast! Nor is any iPhone killer anywhere close in sight!!
Public memory is indeed short!!
Quite a few years back, Apple launched the very colorful iMacs! All of a sudden, there was a slew of similar PCs with color or ‘color monitor covers’. Back then, Apple had rewritten the rules of the PC industry in some manner, besides re-invigorating the Apple brand itself.
Next came the iPod, and later, colorful iPods. It led to a surge in media players, MP3/MP4 players, etc., from other several players as well. Not to speak of the iPod giving birth to a whole new range of Mac accessories! The iPod continues to be in the news, and successfully so!
A similar thing has happened this time!
With the advent of the iPhone, and now iPhone 3G, we sometimes see reports of how the iPhone could influence the memory market! Or, how the impact of Apple’s iPhone 3G has been minimal on the chip market. Or, how it’s just one item in a very large and complex mix of products.
Or, how the Apple Safari works so very well on the iPhone. Or, how the Accelerometer allows viewing pictures in any way you wish. Or, how you can do wireless social networking! Or, how the mobile OS battle has heated up! Or, how the App Store has so many wonderful applications for the iPhone!
Has creativity gone out of the window?
My question is: Who has stopped the others from doing things differently? No one!
Public memory is indeed short! So many were quick to run down the Apple Newton, which was clearly ahead of its time. However, it led to the advent of a host of PDAs, though many may disagree with me on this thought, and so be it.
The first mistake that people commit are either comparing their products or the phone they buy with the iPhone! Why are you even comparing?
Apple has been very creative, so why is that so difficult to accept? Try and do better than Apple, if possible.
Perhaps, it would be better to concentrate on developing newer and better phones and other devices with even better features, rather than either comparing with or aping the iPhone, or even trying to beat it or ‘kill it’! Where’s the need?
Remember that Nokia phone model with changeable covers in 2000? Or, the Sony Ericssion T68? Likewise, each product is unique, has its deserved place in the sun, and also has its own shelf life.
The iPhone is a wonderful benchmark, for now. Do remember that the mobile phone design bar has constantly and consistently been raised.
Am sure, it would be no different this time!
No one told you that should NOT buy any other mobile phone. Did Apple ask you to buy the iPhone? It’s your choice! I don’t even have one!!
Alongside, we are also seeing a whole range of mobile phones, which are said to be good alternatives to the iPhone! Maybe they are.
Till then, Apple and iPhone deserve their place in the sun, make no mistake! Isn’t everyone trying to “ride” the iPhone wave anyway? That’s proof of life!
Finally, the wait’s over! The Indian government today announced the guidelines for 3G (third-generation mobile communications) spectrum as well as mobile number portability (MNP).
First, all players — Indian and global — have been invited to bid for 3G spectrum, making it a truly level-playing field. The condition for a foreign player or telecom operator is that it should have some experience in running 3G telecom services.
Those interested to know more about the guidelines for auction and allottment of spectrum for 3G telecom services, can download the documents from DoT’s site.
Apparently, the 3G guidelines allow 10 players in the Indian 3G space, including both Indian and foreign players.
Spectrum in the 2.1GHz band would be available for the 3G telecom services through bidding/auction. Spectrum shall be auctioned in blocks of 2x5MHz in the 2.1GHz band. As per the DoT guidelines, the number of blocks to be auctioned may vary from five to 10, subject to the availability in different telecom service areas. Should there be non-availability, the number of blocks may be less than five in a telecom service area.
The MNP allows mobile phone users/subscribers to change their operators, while retaining their mobile phone numbers.
As per the DoT guidelines, a customer can approach a ‘recipient operator’ to port his or her number. The ‘donor operator’ cannot re-use that customer’s ported number till such time the ported number is in use. The donor operator can only have the ported number once it has been surrendered by the ported customer.
Well, both of these announcements are going to add to India’s brilliant telecom success story.
As for the foreign players coming into the country, quite a few are already present. It would be great to see the likes of NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, China Telecom, China Mobile, Telefonica, etc., enter the 3G space in India. As for 3G technology itself, TD-SCDMA, HSPA, etc., should be considered as well.
Oh yes, there’s some good news for those itching to use the Apple iPhone 3G. Once, the 3G networks are in place, there’s nothing that can stop this from happening.
On the MNP front, a good majority of Indian subscribers are on prepaid. So, there may be quite a few changeovers happening! It could well prove to be a nightmare for the operators, but then, that’s the fun of having a level-playing field and the challenge of playing in the booming Indian telecom market.
Postscrpt: A reader, Abhshek, left a very interesting and relevant comment regarding 3G services that users could be charged heftily. I quite agree with him! The 3G operators would need to price their services right. It should be win-win for both operators and users.
To start off, service charges could possibly be on the higher side, as the 3G licenses won’t come cheap, and operators would also look at the revenue angle. However, over time, service charges are quite likely to come down, if the pattern of the Indian telecom history is repeated. Many thanks for your comment, Abhishek.
This title of this blog has actually been borrowed from a statement made by Gadi Singer, vice president of Intel’s Mobility Group and general manager of the company’s SOC Enabling Group, which I came across on SEMI’s site.
Is this a recent phenomena, or has the Apple iPhone led to a strong belief in this statement that the Internet is truly going mobile? And what was that craze for ‘WAP bashing’ some nine to ten years ago all about? Perhaps, it is a bit of both!
I was fortunate enough to use a WAP-enabled mobile phone back in Hong Kong, in 1999-2000, a Siemens model. I tried checking my Yahoo Mail on the phone with some success. Also, I found it very convenient to search for Indian restaurants in Tsim Sha Tsui. All of this, when the ‘WAP bashing’ was at its peak!
In 2001, at an event organized by Frost & Sullivan in Singapore, I was probably among the three people in a large audience found to be using the mobile phone for Internet access. This is so long back, that even I can’t recall for sure how many folks were really found to be using mobile Internet! Anyhow! Those were also the days when mobile Internet, as a theme, was quite popular at global telecom events, largely driven by the craze for NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode phones.
Well, no one really wanted to accept back then that the Internet was going mobile! Also, the flak that some of the European carriers had to take due to their obtaining various ‘quite expensive’ 3G licenses dimmed the concept of the mobile Internet.
We have come a long way since! While GPRS and 3G did bring some or quite large extent of the Internet to the mobile, possibly, the push really happened when this phenomena called social networking gathered steam.
The Apple iPhone, and now, the iPhone 3G, with its cool wireless social networking applications have truly ported the Internet to the mobile. The iPhone 3G is all the rage right now. Sales crossed the 1-million mark within three days, as per various reports on the Internet. That’s some speed! That’s also an outstanding indication of how people are making a dash for the phenomena called wireless social networking.
In the midst of all of this, 3G, and specifically, HSDPA (and W-CDMA), has come really come to stay. The telecom-media convergence has also happened very seamlessly in the background.
While the world’s leading semiconductor firms continue to churn out one excellent chip after another, especially for mobile phones/telecom, it is time to acknowledge the fact that the Internet has truly gone mobile!
One last word. Do find time to stand up and applaud the hard work put in by the semiconductor and software industry, who make all of this happen.
The global semiconductor industry can breathe a sigh of relief, hopefully, following the recent report by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), which has said that worldwide semicon sales were up sharply in August 2007.
According to the SIA press release, semicon sales grew to $21.5 billion in August 2007, an increase of 4.9 percent over August 2006, when sales were $20.5 billion, and an increase of 4.5 percent from July of this year when sales were $20.6 billion.
The release further adds that sales of NAND flash memory devices led the growth as supplies tightened and prices firmed. NAND flash sales were up by 48 percent compared to August 2006 and up by 19 percent from July of this year.
Yes, August is historically, the start of a long holiday season build by various manufacturers of electronics products, as SIA also mentions. This drives the demand for a wide range semicon related products.
Having spent considerable time in the Far East and Greater China region, I am well aware of the excitement that builds up starting September — for a whole line-up of Fall Electronics Shows across Asia. CEATEC, Japan, KES, Korea, Hong Kong Electronics Show, China Sourcing Fair, Taitronics, Taiwan — for Electronic Components and Finished (Electronics) Products.
There’s CEATEC in Japan, which is currently going on at full steam at Makuhari Messe Chiba. CEATEC — which is short for Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies － Providing Image, Information and Communications — really lives up to its billing.
Already, Toshiba has somewhat rocked the world at CEATEC by announcing plans to manufacture CMOS camera modules for mobile phones in-house. It will be commencing the mass production of world’s first CSCM (chip scale camera module) ultra-small camera module applying TCV (through chip via) technology. These modules are also being demoed at CEATEC.
Elsewhere, Broadcom has also fired a salvo, announcing breakthrough technology in form of the VideoCore 3 solution, which will likely be the first to deliver triple-play multimedia at ultra-low power levels for mobile phones. What this means is — once this solution is applied, your mobile phone would be capable of playing high-definition (HD) video, sport a 12Mpixel digital camera, and deliver ultra-low power 3D graphics for world-class gaming experience.
These are just few examples of happenings in the semiconductor, consumer electronics and components. They do augur well for the industry at large. As the SIA President George Scalise, says, “The semiconductor industry will continue to outpace overall economic growth with consumer demand leading the way.”
As per the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) and Frost & Sullivan (ISA-F&S), India’s 2007 annual growth in the semiconductor market is nearly triple the rate at which the global semiconductor market is currently expanding.
The actual total market (TM) was $2.69bn and total available market (TAM) was $1.26bn. By 2009, the TM will likely grow at a CAGR of 26.7 percent to $5.49bn and the TAM will grow at a CAGR of 36 percent to $3.18bn.
Anand Rangachary, managing director, South Asia & Middle East, Frost & Sullivan, said: “The global semiconductor total market is growing at a rate of 8-9 percent CAGR, whereas the India total market is growing at 26.7 percent CAGR till 2009. India, which represented 1.09 percent of the global semiconductor market in 2006 will be 1.62 percent by 2009. As domestic demand for all electronics products is growing India is emerging as one of the fastest growing region in the world.”
India is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. TAM growth rate at CAGR 36 percent, compared to 26.7 percent of TM CAGR signifies higher growth in local manufacturing of electronics products. In the industry, the technology change is so dynamic that every year, a new application/product gets launched, which changes the demand forecast by many ways (eg. launch of iPOD or iPhone/ WiMAX/GPON/LCD TV) as well as ASP changes.
The government rules change demand, and therefore ISA captures these changes on a real-time basis. Hence, ISA decided to have an annual update of the India market report. All of these changes are well captured in the current report and India’s growth looks almost three times compared to the global growth rate.
According to the report, the top five end-user products that are likely to drive growth are mobile handsets, desktops and notebooks, GSM base stations, set-top boxes and energy meters. Microprocessors, analog, memory and discretes are said to be the top four semiconductor products likely to drive revenues.
While these stats read great, I am wondering exactly how much of these handsets will be made in India. Rather, what percent of silicon going into these handsets will be made in India! Memory is said to be a driver of the revenue. Well, the DRAM market has been acting up.
Now, iSuppli reported in a recent report:
“Following a brief respite, market conditions for DRAM suppliers are set to take a turn for the worse in September, iSuppli Corp. predicts.
iSuppli previously forecasted that DRAM prices would undergo a downward correction in October, following the current period of relative strength that brought an end to a phase of severe erosion in the second quarter. However, iSuppli now believes the DRAM prices will begin to decline one month earlier, in September.
Near-term market conditions remain in a state of flux with a great deal of uncertainty in the supply chain as suppliers and distributors continue to work off a glut of DRAM inventory. Furthermore, sales momentum is waning in the DRAM spot market, as rising prices and falling supply of LCD panels cut into the available budget for memory in some PCs.
This is bad news for memory suppliers, which had been basking in the present period of relative pricing strength. Weak pricing in September will set the stage for further erosion in the fourth quarter. iSuppli now foresees the possibility of double-digit sequential price declines in the fourth quarter, erasing any increases that aided suppliers in the third quarter. Because of this, DRAM suppliers’ profitability will dwindle in the fourth quarter compared to the third, iSuppli predicts.”
I’d be very interested to see how much of these memory predictions turn out to be correct! If they aren’t, I wonder how memory is going to figure among the top four revenue drivers in the Indian semicon market, at least in the near and immediate future. Unless, I somehow missed a point somewhere!!