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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…

Congrats TSMC, for raising R&D spend! But, what about Indian firms?

January 18, 2011 Comments off

Source: IC Insights, USA.

Source: IC Insights, USA.

Congratulations to TSMC  for making it to the top 10 R&D spenders during 2010! If you look at the IC Insights’ table (see here), you’d understand what I am referring to!

First, the table itself. It has no major surprises, barring TSMC, which again is not really a surprise. As IC Insights itself says, “The industry is increasingly dependent on the success (and hopefully not, failure) of the foundries to continue advancing their IC manufacturing capabilities.”

TSMC has jumped up from 19th to the 10th place in the latest R&D spend. IC Insights expects that TSMC’s R&D spending in 2011 will grow another 20 percent, putting its budget over $1.1 billion for the year.

Otherwise, the top 9 in the list consist of Intel, Samsung, ST, Renesas, Broadcom, Toshiba, Qualcomm, TI and AMD — all big, strong players. However, TSMC, is the only foundry in that list, at the 10th spot.

Now, all of this makes great reading! Everyone connected with the global semiconductor industry is very well aware of TSMC’s strengths and capabilities.

The more TSMC grows in stature, the more will its capabilities grow. A lot of firms have already exited the manufacturing industry, leaving that to the likes of TSMC and others, and some more are due soon.

However, I am thoroughly disappointed by some folks who touch upon India missing out on the R&D story.  More of that in a bit!

First. where is the R&D strength of India? There are firms, based outside the country, managed by Indians, who seem to look down on the country. I even received an email from a gentleman, which says: ‘Without semiconductors, India cannot gain technological advantage. Semiconductor should be funded by the defense budget.” I am appalled!

Well, we are trying, aren’t we? There are names that come to the mind — Procsys, Ittiam, SoftJin, eInfochips, MindTree, and so on! Yes, I know they aren’t exactly world beaters. But hey, they are all doing their own thing reasonably well!

More ‘fabless IC billionaires’ in 2010, says IC Insights! Is India listening?

December 22, 2010 5 comments

Brilliant! There’s no other word to describe the first part of this headline!

As per IC Insights’ forecast of 2010 billion-dollar fabless IC suppliers, excerpted from a ranking of top 50 fabless IC suppliers in its ‘ 2011 edition of The McClean Report’, as many as 13 fabless IC suppliers are tipped to cross the $1-billion mark in sales in 2010! As per IC Insights, this is a significant step up — from 10 companies in 2009 and eight in 2008.

Leading fabless IC suppliers. Source: IC Insight, USA.

Leading fabless IC suppliers. Source: IC Insight, USA.

Just sit back and admire this table. There are nine firms from the US — Qualcomm, Broadcom, AMD, Marvell, Nvidia, Xilinx, Altera, LSI and Avago, three from Taiwan — MediaTek, Novatek and MStar, while ST-Ericsson is Europe’s lone representation in this stellar list.

In this august club of IC billionaires, no surprises, but Qualcomm retains the top place for the third consecutive year. Broadcom moves up a place. AMD should become the world’s third largest player.

Broadcom at 53 percent, Marvell at 34 percent, Xilinx at 39 percent, Altera at 63 percent, Avago and Novatek at 40 percent each are top performers. However, MStar of Taiwan steals the show with an estimated 75 percent growth in 2010.

Qualcomm, Nvidia and LSI have performed well, especially  the last two – coming pff a difficult 2009. Taiwan’s MediaTek has seen the biggest slip — down to 3 percent in 2010 from 22 percent in 2009.

There is no representation from Japan in the fabless IC billionaires club. IC Insights has indicated that the fabless/foundry hasn’t caught on in Japan and is unlikely to do so in the near future. However, Taiwan and China based firms should sooner or later find their way into this club.

I will now come to India! Read more…

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!!

Global semicon could decline by over 5pc in 2009!

December 4, 2008 Comments off

The year 2008 will soon be relegated to history, albeit with the dubious distinction of handing out an extremely unforgettable year for the memory chip makers!

This trend was starkly evident, as a major downturn in this segment caused revenue to fall for nearly all suppliers and contributed to negative results for the overall semiconductor industry, according to recently released preliminary market-share figures from iSuppli Corp. (The memory market is being dealt with in the next blog!)

The key question remains as to whether the semicon industry has really lost the money-making ability? According to Dale Ford, senior vice president, market intelligence services, for iSuppli, the semiconductor industry goes through cycles of revenue growth and profitability. He says, “It would not be correct to extrapolate the current challenges of the semiconductor industry and say that the industry has “lost its money-making ability.”

iSuppli expects that the the industry will experience some level of restructuring during this downturn that will help it emerge to renewed revenue growth and profitability.

Revenue to drop 2 percent
Given the current scenario, it is taken for granted now that the global semicon revenue will likely decline in 2008. Ford says: “iSuppli predicts that the semiconductor industry will decline by 2 percent in 2008. However, it is possible for the decline to worsen as more companies revise down their fourth quarter guidance.”

The primary reasons for the decline are the over supply of memory ICs and resulting steep price declines and the global financial/economic crisis that has impacted consumer spending and the production of electronic equipment.

Fabless flies high
Coming down to the top 20 semiconductor suppliers (see table above), it would be interesting to see how the fabless companies have fared overall.

Ford says that Qualcomm, Broadcom and nVidia are predicted to be the only fabless companies in the top 20 semiconductor suppliers in 2008.

“Qualcomm and Broadcom are expected to see their revenues grow by 19.6 percent and 26.4 percent, respectively. Only nVidia is expected to see a decline in revenues with a projected contraction of 0.5 percent,” he adds.

There are some non-memory players in the top 20, who have registered declines. While it is not possible to comment on every single company, Ford mentions that the declining revenues are due to a variety of factors, including divestiture of business units, declining markets, and lost market share.

Fab spend and outlook 2009
Critically, there is a need to also see how the fab spends are looking like in 2009.

According to SEMI’s recent World Fab Forecast, spending on fab construction projects in 2008 is likely to decline by 41 percent year-over-year (YoY), as projects are pushed out or put on hold. In 2009, the Americas and Japan are expected to be the only regions with positive growth rates for construction spending.

Ford adds, “Currently, we see fab spending declining significantly in 2009.”

Overall, what’s the outlook going to be like for the global semiconductor industry in 2009! Ford concludes: “We have not released a formal forecast to the press at this time. However, I will say that we expect the semiconductor market to decline by more than 5 percent in 2009.”

Karnataka semicon policy very soon!

July 25, 2008 Comments off

The government of Karnataka will be announcing a semiconductor policy very soon, according to Katta Subramanya Naidu, the minister for Excise, Information, BWWB, IT and BT, government of Karnataka, while delivering the opening address at the ISA Excite organized by the India Semiconductor Association.

Over the last several years, India has been a destination favored by almost all leading global semiconductor companies for setting up their development centers for semiconductors and embedded designs.

The size of the Indian semicon design industry is currently $6 billion across VLSI and board design, and embedded software, with the potential to be around $9 billion by 2009. There are nearly 200 companies and it employs over 130,000 professionals, all over India, with the potential to employ over 180,000 by 2009. The Indian semicon design industry has a CAGR of nearly 22 percent versus the global average of 7-8 percent.

Nearly 90 percent of the VLSI design work is done out of Bangalore alone. Appropriately, the ISA is headquartered in Bangalore, the heart of India’s chip industry. The minister said: “The conducive work environment policies and high-quality talent are the important attractions for both MNCs and Indian companies to set up shop here. We value the contribution of our technology leaders and engineers to build the economy of the state and make it a global leader. Bangalore is next only to Silicon Valley, California, in terms of the work done here.”

New centers likely
In future, the government of Karnataka wants to look at Mysore, Mangalore and Hubli as important centers to be developed. “These are centers of education with high quality and quantity of engineering talent. Our government is working on improving the connectivity to these cities to help attract investment there, as well as the expansion of companies from Bangalore to other towns within Karnataka,” he added.

Welcome the ISA initiative to launch Excite, a program for the semiconductor and ecosystem companies, he noted that it was a good platform to understand the technology trends and to collaborate with the right partner.

He said: “Karnataka today is at the crossroads. We have the direction and leadership of Hon’ble chief minister Yeddyruppa. He is extremely committed to the cause of making Karnataka as the most preferred destination for the semiconductor industry and electronics hardware manufacturing. My (BJP) government would be glad to extend any support for your business plans in the state.”

Semicon policy soon
The state government plans to announce a semiconductor policy in the very near future, actually. It has also earmarked land for a hardware technology park near the new airport (in Devanahalli).

The government is also thinking in the lines of finishing schools in PPP mode as the semiconductor industry is technology driven, and demands continuous training and re-skilling of the workforce.

Initiatives in Karnataka
The minister pointed out that his government has been taking several pro-active steps for further accelerating the growth of these sectors, as well as for their expansion in tier II and III cities. For these two sectors, the government proposes to identify and set apart exclusive IT/BT zones in Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli-Dharwad, Belgaum, Shimoga and Gulbarga.

Yeddyruppa, the state chief minister, has made an announcement of a number of initiatives to boost the growth and development of IT/BT. A bio-IT park on a 100-acre plot is proposed to be developed with private participation near Bangalore. IT parks, with private participation, would be set up in tier II and III cities. A massive IT city on the lines of the Electronics City near Bangalore is under consideration. Similarly, BT parks are proposed to be set up in Mangalore, Dharwad and Bidar. KEONICS, a government of Karnataka undertaking, will play a major role in development of the IT city, IT parks and computer literacy campaigns.

He added that the state government believes in formulating initiatives and policies in consultation with the industry. The existing Mahithi IT policy is also being revised with inputs from the Vision Group on IT headed by N.R. Narayana Murthy of Infosys.

“The state government would be happy to see IT and BT developments happening in tier II and III cities. We are taking steps to improve and upgrade the infrastructure in these cities. The CM is personally reviewing the construction and upgradation of airports in Mysore, Shimoga and Gulbarga, which will provide vital air connectivity, essential for the growth of industry and business,” he noted.

The NASSCOM-Kearney report has identified 43 potential locations in the country for IT development. The report also suggests measures to be taken to make these locations attractive for IT investments. Recommendations, such as improving the quality of education, imparting employable skills to the uneducated youth, improving infrastructure, particularly, air connectivity, etc., would be taken into consideration.

The minister said: “Our government would take all the necessary steps to ensure that there is no flight of investment to other states, and to make Karnataka the most attractive region for IT/BT investments. We want the semiconductor industry to grow and flourish in the state.”

Participative semicon policy likely
Elaborating on the proposed semiconductor policy for Karnataka, Ashok Kumar C. Manoli, principal secretary to the government, said: “When you look at India, it is software, and when you look at China, it is hardware. We should make a beginning and try and become the global capital for both hardware and software. We need to design such a policy that design activities continue and also facilitate manufacturing.”

He added: “We will come up with a very participative semiconductor policy. It will also look at addressing infrastructure requirements for manufacturing setups.” According to him, the hardware industry is the foundation for the entire revolution, which the government is looking at. He requested all companies present at the ISA Excite to participate at the forthcoming BangaloreIT.com event, and added that the state government was committed and fully geared up to deliver.

Announcing the ISA Excite initiative, Sanjeev Keskar, country sales manager, Freescale Semiconductor India Pvt Ltd, said: “We need to collaborate with the right partner. The ISA felt the need to arrange an ecosystem meet. Telecom and healthcare are the two drivers of importance.” The ISA has plans to take Excite to other cities too, possibly, New Delhi, focusing on industrial and consumer.

The one-day ISA Excite event had an exhibition running simultaneously, featuring about 40 companies. These included ARM, Farnell, Ittiam Systems, Broadcom, Cosmic Circuits, Windriver, Wipro, HCL, AMDL, LSI Logic, TI, NXP, Cisco, Synopsys, SemIndia, Freescale, Open Silicon, MindTree, AMD, Analog Devices, RFMD, Cir-Q-Tech, NewEra, STPI, etc.

Top 20 global semicon companies — DRAM, Flash suppliers drop out

May 16, 2008 Comments off

IC Insights recently published the May update to The McClean Report, featuring the Top 20 global semiconductor companies. Not surprisingly, there have been some significant movers and shakers. The most telling — quite a few of the major DRAM and Flash suppliers have dropped out of the Top 20 list!

First the movers! Fabless supplier Qualcomm jumped up four spots, ranking as the 10th largest semiconductor supplier in Q1-08. Next, Broadcom, the third largest fabless supplier, also moved up four positions, up to the 20th position. Panasonic (earlier, Matsushita), moved up to the 19th position, while NEC of Japan moved up to the 13th position.

TSMC, the leading foundry, moved up one position, registering the highest — 44 percent — year-over-year Q1-08 growth rate, besides being ranked 5th. Nvidia, the second largest fabless supplier, was another company registering a high YoY growth rate of 37 percent, and moved into the 18th position. Some others like Infineon, Sony and Renesas also climbed a place higher each, respectively. The top four retained their positions — Intel, Samsung, TI and Toshiba.

And now, the shakers! The volatile DRAM and Flash markets have ensured the exit of several well known names such as Qimonda, Elpida, Spansion, Powerchip, Nanya, etc., from the list of the top 20 global semiconductor companies, at least for now.

Among the others in the list, the biggest drops were registered by NXP, which dropped to 14th from 11th last year, and AMD, which dropped two places, from 10th to 12th. Two memory suppliers — Hynix and Micron — also slipped two places, to 9th and 15th places, respectively. STMicroelectronics also slipped from 5th to 6th. IBM too slipped out of the top 20 list.

The top 20 global semiconductor firms comprises of eight US companies (including three fabless suppliers), six Japanese, three European, two South Korean, and one Taiwanese foundry (TSMC). Also, looking at the realities of the foundry market, TSMC’s lead is now unassailable. If TSMC was an IDM, it would be No. 2, challenging Intel and passing Samsung, said one analyst, recently, a thought shared by many.

IC Insights has reported that since the Euro and the Yen are strong against the dollar, this effect will impact global semiconductor market figures when reported in US dollars this year.

There are some other things to watch out for. Following a miserable 2007, the global DRAM module market is likely to rebound gradually in 2008 due to the projected recovery in the overall memory industry, according to an iSuppli report. That remains to be seen.

Some new DRAM camps — such as Elpida-Qimonda, and Micron-Nanya — have been formed. It will be interesting to see how these perform, as will be the performance of ST-backed Numonyx.

Further, the oversupply of NAND Flash worsened in Q1-08, impacted by the effect of the US sub-prime mortgage loan and a slow season, according to DRAMeXchange. The NAND Flash ASP fell about 35 percent compared to Q4-07. Although the overall bit shipment grew about 30 percent compared to Q4-07, the total Q1-08 sales of branded NAND Flash makers fell 15.8 percent QoQ to US$3.24bn. Will the NAND Flash market recover and by when?

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