Geo Semiconductor Inc. has been enabling new markets that are changing the world. In automotive, it is into HUDs, Fisheye cameras and digital calibration. In cloud/Skype camera, it is into home monitoring, doorbell cameras, and Skype TV.
According to Brian Gannon, VP Marketing & Business Development, Geo is a four-year old company, built from 20+ years of development and $300 million+ investment. It has over 50+ customers in production worldwide. All of this IP allows Geo to provide unique, end-to-end solutions to create new markets. He was speaking at the ongoing 13th Global Electronics Summit at Santa Cruz, USA.
Geo has been creating better user experience with motion detection algorithm. Geo’s eWARP processor is a highly efficient hardware block that can be programmed to do any geometric transformation of pixels in real-time.
The eWARP processor is fundamental to camera and projection systems. For the camera, it is correcting distortions, such as wide angle, fisheye, lateral color, etc. It takes care of ePTZ, fisheye, panoramic dewarping and scaling. It is also stitching/blending cameras. Geo provides 3D alignment for stereoscopic cameras as well. Finally, it takes care of the camera optical alignment.
For the projection, the eWARP processor is correcting distortions such as projection optics and keystone correction. It also takes care of ultra short throw, stitching/blending – tiled displays, curved displays and color correction.
Geo provides the only solution that can concatenate multiple transforms. It does multiple independent geometric corrections. An example is enabling real-time ePTZ. There are custom layouts and views, along with real-time HD resolutions up to 60fps. There are up to eight multiple images.
Wide angle lens correction is possible with zero content loss. The heads-up display (HUD) solution corrects for windshield and projector. It simultaneously corrects for any distortion created by the windshield, projector or mirror — instantly and digitally. It removes any alignment parts and electronics in the HUD system. Calibration can be automated to save labor costs.
Geo’s powerful automation software also reduces labor costs and cycle time. For instance, a single eWARP IC can correct, align and dewarp four automotive VGA cameras.
In a recent report, iSuppli predicted that driven by new demand from consumer electronics (CE) and wireless applications, the global market for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) will expand to $8.8 billion in 2012, up from $6.1 billion in 2006.
I caught up with Jérémie Bouchaud, Director and Principal Analyst, MEMS, iSuppli Corp., to find out more about the dip in the fortunes of the mainstay products and the latest trends in the MEMS market, especially, the significance of consumer electronics applications such as motion sensors for gaming, laptops and DSCs, and mobile handsets.
Will the mainstay products for MEMS actuators, inkjet heads and DLP chips, will lose market share? Or, is it a slight dip?
Jérémie Bouchaud says that MEMS actuators, include inkjet and DLP, and also RF MEMS switches. While selling prices stay constant, MEMS inkjet heads are losing shipments at a rate of 6 percent per year over the forecast period, so the market grows only slightly at 0.4 percent CAGR from 2006-2012.
DLP shipments continue to grow, but price erosion is running at 10 percent CAGR, which means that the market is shrinking at close to 5 percent per year to 2012. RF MEMS switches are the one bright spot that helps the market for this type of MEMS device to recover slightly in 2012. RF MEMS switches will grow at 100 percent CAGR over this time to top $260 million in 2012.
The new wave is partly founded in the rapid rise of consumer electronics applications such as motion sensors for gaming, laptops and DSCs, and mobile handsets. How much share are these segments likely to garner?
According to the analyst, all types of sensors in wireless communications and consumer electronics (inertial, pressure, microphones, filters, oscillators etc) exceed $1,5 billion: or 17 percent of the total MEMS market.
“Specifically, the motion sensing opportunity, including accelerometers and gyroscopes, for consumer applications like MEMS accelerometers for mobile phones (e.g., image rotation such as in iPhone and Nokia phones), gaming (Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3), etc., and gyros (mostly digital still cameras and camcorders, gaming like Playstation 3) will grow at over 20 percent CAGR from 2006 to 2012 to exceed $680 million, about 8 percent of the total market,” he said.
iSuppli has also mentioned automotive as a key area for MEMS. What kind of growth does it see for automotive?
Bouchaud adds that automotive will grow at 8 percent CAGR to reach $2.1 billion in 2012, up from 1,3 billion in 2006. The market is largely driven by mandates for tire pressure monitoring, electronic stability control systems and reduced emissions, accelerating growth for pressure and inertial sensors.
So, will “new players have a chance to address a relatively open market”, and if yes, what would those markets be?
Bouchaud indicates that the consumer electronics market is more open than the automotive sector, which features established, long-term supply arrangements, and production cycles lasting five or more years.
CE applications are characterized by fast time-to-market and short product lifetimes. For example, mobile phones that change yearly or even more frequently, and supply agreements satisfied by fast manufacturing ramp-up and ability to meet seasonal demand spikes, and often several suppliers in the same product, (e.g. ST and ADI in Wii). As sensor specifications are more relaxed than automotive, price and footprint are most decisive.
Will there be a growth in dedicated mass production facilities then?
According to him, several large MEMS players, e.g., STMicroelectronics, Freescale and Bosch Sensortec, have or are now invested in upgrading to 8″ production facilities to meet the higher demand from the consumer sector. By 2011, at least 12 companies will operate at this larger wafer size.
“Some companies like Analog Devices are at the limit of their current capacity, due to its strong automotive sensor offering, and has recently decided to work with non-MEMS CMOS foundries like TSMC, a first in the industry. UMC will also join the MEMS community, partnering with Asian Pacific Microsystems,” he says.
And, how would the new entrants be investing in R&D? Will they be doing enough?
The analyst says that R&D rates run high in automotive (12-15 percent of MEMS revenues) and even higher in consumer (can be 15-20 percent). The high R&D rate is needed to sustain leading edge products in fast moving markets. Deep R&D pockets are needed, a luxury that is not available to all.
Elaborating a bit more on the market consolidation, he says: ” Today, the share of the MEM revenues in the hands of the top 30 MEMS companies grew at about the same rate as the market. The markets that drive growth in MEMS are consumer electronics and automotive sensors.
“The sensors will be increasingly commoditized due to extreme price pressure in both sectors, and iSuppli expects the production of MEMS devices for these two markets to be concentrated among fewer companies in the future. One facet is manufacturers attempting economies of scale by combining sales in automotive and consumer areas, e.g. at Bosch, and in future with Freescale and ST.
“Other companies are pioneers and hold a strong market position for a relatively long time. Examples are TI with DLP chips and Knowles with MEMS microphones. We also expect more M&As in the near future to exacerbate the consolidation.”
DVCon India 2014 has come to Bangalore, India, for the first time. It will be held at the Hotel Park Plaza in Bangalore, on Sept. 25-26. Dr. Wally Rhines, CEO, Mentor Graphics will open the proceedings with his inaugural keynote.
Gaurav Jalan, SmartPlay, chair – promotions committee took time to speak about DVCon 2014 India.
Focus of DVCon 2014 India
First, what’s the focus of DVCon 2014 India? According to Jalan, DVCon has been a premiere conference in the US contributing to quality tutorials, papers and an excellent platform for networking. DVCON India focuses on filling the void of a vendor neutral quality conference in the neighbourhood – one that will grow over time.
The idea is to bring together, hitherto dispersed, yet substantial, design, verification and ESL community and give them a voice. Engineers get a chance to learn solutions to the verification problems, share the effectiveness of the solutions they have experimented, understand off the shelf solutions that are available in market and meet the vendor agnostic user fraternity. Moving forward the expectation is to get the users involved as early adopters of upcoming standards and actively contribute to them.
Trends in design
Next, what are the trends today in design? Jalan said while the designs continue to parade on the lines of Moore’s law there is a lot happening beyond the mere gate count. Defining and developing IPs with a wide configuration options serving a variety of application domains is a challenge.
The SoCs are crossing multi billion gate design (A8 in iPhone6 is 2 billion) with multi-fold increase in complexity due to multiple clock domains, multiple power domains, multiple voltage domains while delivering required performance in different application modes with sleek foot print.
Trends in verification
Now, let’s examine the trends today in verification. When design increases linearly, verification jumps exponentially. While UVM has settled dust to some extent on the IP verification level, there is a huge of challenges still awaiting to be addressed. The IP itself is growing in size limiting the simulator and encouraging users to move to emulators. While UVM solved the methodology war the VIPs available are still not simulator agnostic and expecting a emulator agnostic VIP portfolio is still a distant dream.
SoC verification is still a challenge not just due to the sheer size but because porting an env from block to SoC is difficult. The test plan definition and development for SoC level itself is a challenge. Portable stimulus group from Accellera is addressing this.
Similarly, coverage collection from different tools is difficult to merge. Unified coverage group at Accellera is addressing this. Low power today is a norm and verifying a power aware design is quite challenging. UPF is an attempt to standardize this.
Porting a SoC to emulator to enable hardware acceleration so as to run usecases is another trend picking up. Teams now are able to boot android on an SoC even before the silicon arrives. With growing analog content on chip the onus is on the verification engineers to ensure the digital and analog sides of the chip work in conjunction as per specs. Formal apps have picked so as to address connectivity tests, register spec testing, low power static checks and many more.
Accelearating EDA innovation
So, how will EDA innovation get accelerated? According to Jalan, the semiconductor industry has always witnessed that startups and smaller companies lead the innovation. Given the plethora of challenges around, there are multiple opportunities to be addressed from both the biggies and the start-ups.
The evolution of standards at Accellera definitely is a great step so as to bring the focus on real innovation in the tools while providing a platform for the user community to come forward sharing the challenges and proposing alternates. With a standard baseline that is defined with collaboration from all partners of the ecosystem, the EDA companies can focus on competing on performance, user interface, increased tool capacity and enabling faster time to market.
Forums like DVCON India help in growing awareness on standard promoted by Accellera while encouraging participants from different organizations and geographies join to contribute. Apart from tools areas where EDA innovation would pick up include new IT technologies and platforms – Cloud, Mobile devices.
Next level of verification productivity
Where is the next level of verification productivity likely to come from? To this, Jalan replied that productivity in the verification improves from different aspects.
While faster tools with increased capacity comes from innovation at EDA end, standard have played an excellent role in addressing it. UVM has helped in displacing vendor specific technologies to improve inter-operability, quick ramp up for engineers and reusability. Similarly on power format, UPF has played an important role in bridging the gaps.
Unified coverage is another aspect where it will help in closing early with coverage driven verification. IPXACT and SystemRDL standards help further in packaging IPs and easier hand off to enable reuse. Similarly other standards on ESL, AMS etc help in closing the loop holes that prevent productivity.
New, portable stimulus specification now being developed under Accellera that will help in easing out test development at different levels from IP to sub system to SoC. For faster simulations, the increase in adoption of hardware acceleration platforms is helping verification engineers to improve regression turn around time.
Formal technologies play an important role in providing a mathematical proofs to common verification challenges at an accelerated pace in comparison to simulation. Finally events like DVCON enables users to share their experiences and knowledge encouraging others to try out solutions instead of struggling with the process of discovering or inventing one.
More Indian start-ups
Finally, do the organizers expect to see more Indian start-ups post this event? Yes, says Jalan. “We even have a special incubation booth that is encouraging young startups to come forth and exhibit at a reduced cost (only $300). We are creating a platform and soon we will see new players in all areas of Semiconductor.
“Also, the Indian government’s push in the semiconductor space will give new startups further incentive to mushroom. These conferences help entrepreneurs to talk to everyone in the community about problems, vet potential solutions and seek blessings from gurus.”
What does the future hold for MEMS? How can the MEMS indistry stay profitable and innovative in the next five years? The MEMS market is still in a dynamic growth with an estimated 12.3 percent CAGR over 2013-2019 in $US value, growing from $11.7 billion in 2013 to $24 billion in 2019.
This growth, principally driven by a huge expansion of consumer products, is mitigated by two main factors. First, due to a fierce competition based on pricing, the ASPs are continuously decreasing.
Second, innovation is slow and incremental, as no new devices have been successfully introduced on the market since 2003. Fierce competition based on pricing in now ongoing putting thus extreme pressure on device manufacturers.
Some trends are still impacting MEMS business. These are:
* Decrease of price in consumer electronics; ASP of MEMS microphones.
* Component size is still decreasing.
However, successful companies are still large leaders in distinct MEMS categories, such as STMicroelectronics, Knowles, etc. But maintaining growth in consumer electronic applications remains a challenge.
The market for motion sensor in cell phones and tablets is large and continuously expanding. Discrete sensors still decline, but will still be used in some platforms (OIS function for gyros). Next, 6- and 9-axis combos should grow rapidly. Because of strong price pressure and high adoption rate, the total market will stabilize from 2015.
STMicroelectronics, InvenSense and Bosch are still leaders in 3-axis gyros and 6-axis IMUs. It seems difficult for new players to compete and be profitable in this market. The automotive, industrial and medical applications of MEMS are driving growth of MEMS business. MEMS for automotive will grow from $2.6 billion in 2012 to $3.6 billion in 2018 with 5 percent CAGR.
MEMS industry is big and growing. Strong market pull observed for sensors and actuators in cell phones, automotive, medical, industrial.
• Not limited to few devices. A new wave of MEMS is coming!
• Component and die size are still being optimized while combo approaches become mainstream. And several disruptive technology approaches are now in development to keep going in term of size and price decrease.
• But the MEMS industry has not solved a critical issue: how to increase the chance of new devices to enter the market?
–RF switch, autofocus, energy harvesting devices, fuel cells… are example of devices still under development after over 10 years of effort.
–How to help companies to go faster and safer on the market with new devices?
Here is the concluding part of my discussion with Sam Fuller, CTO, Analog Devices. We discussed the technology aspects of Moore’s Law and
‘More than Moore’, among other things.
Are we at the end of Moore’s Law?
First, I asked Fuller that as Gordon Moore suggested – are we about to reach the end of Moore’s Law? What will it mean for personal computing?
Fuller replied: “There is definitely still life left in Moore’s law, but we’re leaving the golden age after the wonderful ride that we have had for the last 40 years. We will continue to make chips denser, but it is becoming difficult to continue to improve the performance as well as lower the power and cost.
“Therefore, as Moore’s law goes forward, more innovation is required with each new generation. As we move from Planer CMOS to FinFET (a new technology for multi-gate architecture of transistors); from silicon to more advanced materials Moore’s law will still have life for the next decade, but we are definitely moving into its final stages.
“For personal computing, there is still a lot of innovation left before we begin to run out of ideas. There will continue to be great advances in smart phones, mobile computing and tablets because software applications are really just beginning to take advantage of the phenomenal power and capacity of today’s semiconductors. The whole concept of ‘Internet of things’ will also throw up plenty of new opportunities.
“As we put more and more sensors in our personal gadgets, in factories, in industries, in infrastructures, in hospitals, and in homes and in vehicles, it will open up a completely new set of applications. The huge amount of data generated out of these sensors and wirelessly connected to the Internet will feed into the big data and analytics. This would create a plethora of application innovations.”
What’s happening in the plane?
The plane opportunity – 90nm – 65nm – 45nm – 22nm – 20nm – 14/18nm – is starting to get difficult and probably won’t work at 12nm, for purely physics reasons. What is Analog Devices’ take on this?
Fuller said: “You are right! We have been going from 45 nm down to lower nodes, it’ll probably go down to 10 nm, but we are beginning to run into some fundamental physics issues here. After all, it’s a relatively finite number of atoms that make up the channels in these transistors. So, you’re going to have to look at innovations beyond simply going down to finer dimensions.
“There are FinFETS and other ways that can help move you into the third dimension. We’re getting to a point where we can put a lot of complexity and a number of functions on a single die. We have moved beyond purely digital design to having more analog and mixed signal components in the same chip. There are also options such as stacked dies and multiple dies.
“Beyond integration on a single chip, Analog Devices leads in advanced packaging technologies for System in a Package (SiP) where sensors, digital and analog/mixed signal components are all in a single package as the individual components would typically use different technology nodes and it might not be practical to do such integration on a single die.
“So, the challenge often gets described as “More than Moore”, which is going beyond Moore’s law, bringing those capabilities to do analog processing as well as digital and then integrating sensors for temperature sensing, pressure sensing, motion sensing and a whole range of sensors integrated for enabling the ‘Internet of Things’.
“At Analog Devices, we have the capability in analog as well as digital, and having worked for over 20 years on MEMS devices, we are particularly well positioned as we get into ‘More than Moore’.”
Siano Mobile Silicon, based in Israel, is going strong in mobile digital TV space. Thanks to Rachel Glaser, of Ruderfinn, Israel, I managed an exclusive with Ronen Jashek, co-founder and VP Marketing, Siano Mobile Silicon.
First, let’s understand what the US standard for mobile digital TV — ATSC-M/H (Advanced Television Systems Committee – Mobile/Handheld)— all about! Jashek said: “ATSC-M/H is a standard that was established on the foundation of ATSC, a digital technology that replaced Analog TV in the US back in 2009. ATSC is the US equivalent to other international standards, like DVB-T (Europe), ISDB-T Full-Seg (Japan), and others around the world.
“ATSC is targeted (and consequently, was designed to do just that) to deliver HD content to domestic, stationary applications (i.e., big-screen TVs at home) that primarily use fixed antennae. It therefore does not address issues that are related to mobile use-cases – mobility (being able to receive the signal while moving at high speeds), efficient power consumption (to address the mobile, battery-powered devices) and extremely high sensitivity and immunity to interface (which is required in a typical mobile use-case when “on the go”). As a result, these aspects are exactly what M/H (Mobile/Handheld) is addressing. In a word, M/H can be considered the equivalent of DVB-H (again – in Europe), CMMB (in China) and ISDB-T 1-Seg (Japan and LatAm).
“ATSC-M/H was established by the ATSC standardization body, as a joint effort by its members, after realizing the need to secure a technology that would enable true mobile TV service to take off and flourish in the U.S. The various ATSC committees worked on the standard for several years, up until its final version was formally approved in the fall of 2010, paving the way to the deployment and launch of the M/H TV service.”
Given the considerable interest around mobile handheld TV, how significant is the mobile-ready programing? Jashek replied: “Based on the underlying M/H technology, US broadcasters now have the means to get their content out there – direct to consumers. Currently, there are about 60 cities with a total of close to 80 TV stations that are already airing mobile TV content.
“To date, however, most of this content is local – meaning, it’s produced and aired locally. But this is not nearly enough to generate a successful, enticing mobile TV market. Enter the Mobile Content Venture, the MCV – a coalition of the top US broadcasters (FOX, NBC, ION, and others) that set its mission on delivering the mobile TV service built on the broadcast technology and spectrum.
“Naturally, the content that can be delivered by this coalition is the best available premium content in the US Quoting their official plans – “At launch, the service will initially consist of at least two ad-supported, free-to-consumer channels in each DMA. Additional channels and markets are expected to be added.” There’s no doubt that once the MCV plans are in motion and materialize, the content will be extremely attractive to render the service successful.” Read more…
The MEMS Executive Congress, MEMS Industry Group’s annual executive conference, was held on Nov. 2-3, 2011, in Monterey, USA. Here are the excerpts from a presentation on the MEMS market overview by Jérémie Bouchaud, director and principal analyst, MEMS & Sensors, IHS iSuppli. Thanks are also due to Maria Vetrano for providing me with this opportunity.
The market for MEMS has been growing, and is slated to grow at a CAGR of +10.5 percent from 2010-2015. Consumer and mobile MEMS market is slated to grow 22 percent CAGR from $1.5 billion in 2010 to $4.4 billion in 2015.
Smart phones remain the locomotive. MEMS content has increased in smart phones. The Accelero has migrated to feature phones. There will be limited opportunity in the gray handset market. Tablets are providing an additional market boost. There will likely be 275 million media tablets in 2015. The ‘full PC tablets’ in consumer laptops segment will also be impacted positively. Dangerous games — they peaked in 2010, will be down in 2011-2012, and go up again in 2014.
New MEMS devices in 2011 include MEMS thermopiles in handsets (TI), MEMS joysticks (Knowles) and RF MEMS switch/varactors. There will be new opportunities in sport/reha. However, IHS iSuppli not too excited about motion sensors for remote controllers and MEMS speaker — there will be no revenue by 2015.
Hottest of the hottest include motion sensors in handsets and tablets. There are likely to be a few more fat years’ for consumer MEMS. The fat years include the period from 2010-2013, which translates into robust smart phones sales and skyrocketing media tablets shipment.
The automotive MEMS market will grow at 8.5 percent CAGR from $1.90 billion in 2010 to $2.86 billion in 2015. Safety applications dominate, often with mandates. Examples are: ESC with (MEMS gyro, accelerometer, pressure sensors), airbags (accelerometer, pressure, ultrasound), and TPMS mandate in US since 2007, EU from 2012 and now China (from 2015).
Japan caused 2.2 million production drop globally, in 2011. Car production forecast has also been revised down in for 2012. China is driving sensor sales, e.g., basic MAP to lower emissions. Combo sensors are accelerating price erosion (7-8 percent, instead of 4 percent). Newcomers are finally breaking into safety sensor markets. Some examples are SensorDynamics for gyro, MEMSIC accelerometer in airbag-based ESC systems from Autoliv. Also, ST and Epson are gunning for safety applications. Read more…
The last decade heralded a dramatic transformation in supply chain dynamics, driven by the complexity challenge of staying on the More Moore curve. On the demand side, the high cost of fabs persuaded almost all integrated device manufacturers (IDMs) to use foundries for their leading-edge wafer supply.
The ever-increasing process complexity and its negative impact on manufacturing yields forced the adoption of sophisticated foundry-specific design-for manufacturing (DFM) techniques, effectively committing new chip designs to a single foundry and process.
At the same time, the industry adopted a much more cautious lagging rather than leading demand approach to new capacity expansion, resulting in under-supply and shortages in leading-edge wafer fab capacity. To make matters worse, the traditional oxide-based planar transistor started to misbehave at the 130nm node, as manifested by low yields and higher than anticipated power dissipation, especially when the transistors were supposed to be off, with no increase in performance, heralding the introduction of new process techniques (e.g., high-k metal gates).
Even before these structural changes have been fully digested, supply chain dynamics have been further disrupted by the prospective transition to 450mm wafer processing, to extreme ultra violet (EUV) lithography, and from planar to vertical transistor design.
Since the start of the industry, adding more IC functionality while simultaneously decreasing power consumption and increasing switching speed—a technique fundamentally known as Moore’s Law—has been achieved by simply making the transistor structure smaller. This worked virtually faultlessly down to the 130nm node when quite unexpectedly things did not work as planned. Power went up, speed did not improve and process yields collapsed. Simple scaling no longer worked, and new IC design techniques were needed.
While every attempt was made to prolong the life of the classic planar transistor structure, out went the polysilicon/silicon dioxide gate; although this transition was far from plain sailing, in came high-k metal gates spanning 65nm-28nm nodes. Just as the high-k metal gate structure gained industry-wide consensus at 28nm, it too ran out of steam at the 22nm-16nm nodes, forcing the introduction of more complex vertical versus planar transistor design and making the IC design even more process-dependent (i.e., foundry-dependent). Dual foundry sourcing, already impractical for the majority of semiconductor firms, will only get worse as line widths continue to shrink. Read more…