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Round-up 2013: Best of semiconductors, electronics and solar

December 31, 2013 Comments off

Virtex UltraScale device.

Virtex UltraScale device.

Friends, here’s a review of 2013! There have been the usual hits and misses, globally, while in India, the electronics and semiconductor industries really need to do a lot more! Enjoy, and here’s wishing everyone a Very Happy and Prosperous 2014! Be safe and stay safe!!

DEC. 2013
What does it take to create Silicon Valley!

How’s global semicon industry performing in sub-20nm era?

Xilinx announces 20nm All Programmable UltraSCALE portfolio

Dr. Wally Rhines: Watch out for 14/16nm technologies in 2014!

Outlook 2014: Xilinx bets big on 28nm

NOV. 2013
Indian electronics scenario still dull: Leaptech

Connecting intelligence today for connected world: ARM

India poses huge opportunity for DLP: TI

SEMICON Europa 2013: Where does Europe stand in 450mm path?

OCT. 2013
Apple’s done it again, wth iPad Air!

IEF 2013: New markets and opportunities in sub-20nm era!

SEPT. 2013
ST intros STM32F4 series high-performance Cortex-M4 MCUs

Great, India’s having fabs! But, is the tech choice right?

G450C

G450C

Now, India to have two semicon fabs!

Higher levels of abstraction growth area for EDA

AUG. 2013
Moore’s Law could come to an end within next decade: POET

What’s happening with 450mm: G450C update and status

300mm is the new 200mm!

JULY 2013
Xilinx tapes-out first UltraScale ASIC-class programmable architecture

JUNE 2013
EC’s goal: Reach 20 percent share in chip manufacturing by 2020!
Read more…

What does it take to create Silicon Valley!

December 29, 2013 1 comment

I was pointed out to a piece of news on TV, where a ruling chief minister of an Indian state apparently announced that he could make a particular state of India another Silicon Valley! Interesting!!

First, what’s the secret behind Silicon Valley? Well, I am not even qualified enough to state that! However, all I can say is: it is probably a desire to do something very different, and to make the world a better place – that’s possibly the biggest driver in all the entrepreneurs that have come to and out of Silicon Valley in the USA.

If you looked up Wikipedia, it says that the term Silicon Valley originally referred to the region’s large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers, but eventually, came to refer to all high-tech businesses in the area, and is now generally used as a metonym for the American high-technology sector.

So, where exactly is India’s high-tech sector? How many Indian state governments have even tried to foster such a sector? Ok, even if the state governments tried to foster, where are the entrepreneurs? Ok, an even easier one: how many school dropouts from India or even smal-time entrepreneurs have even made a foray into high-tech?

Right, so where are the silicon chip innovators from India? Sorry, I dd not even hear a word that you said? Can you speak out a little louder? It seems there are none! Rather, there has been very little to no development in India, barring the work that is done by the MNCs. Correct?
hsinchuOne friend told me that Bangalore is a place that can be Silicon Valley. Really? How?? With the presence of MNCs, he said! Well, Silicon Valley in the US does not have MNCs from other countries, are there? Let’s see! Some companies with bases in Silicon Valley, listed on Wikipedia, include Adobe, AMD, Apple, Applied Materials, Cisco, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel, Juniper, KLA-Tencor, LSI, Marvell, Maxim, Nvidia, SanDisk, Xilinx, etc.

Now, most of these firms have setups in Bangalore, but isn’t that part of the companies’ expansion plans? Also, I have emails and requests from a whole lot of youngsters asking me: ‘Sir, please advice me which company should I join?’ Very, very few have asked me: ‘Sir, I have this idea. Is it worth exploring?’

Let’s face the truth. We, as a nation, so far, have not been one to take up challenges and do something new. The ones who do, or are inclined to do so, are working in one of the many MNCs – either in India or overseas.

So, how many budding entrepreneurs are there in India, who are willing to take the risk and plunge into serious R&D?

It really takes a lot to even conceive a Silicon Valley. It takes people of great vision to build something of a Silicon Valley, and not the presence of MNCs.

Just look at Hsinchu, in Taiwan, or even Shenzhen, in China. Specifically, look up Shenzhen Hi-Tech Industrial Park and the Hsinchu Science Park to get some ideas.

Components Direct offers guaranteed traceable E&O inventory!


Components Direct is a leading source for authorized end-of-life and excess electronic components. The products are guaranteed grade A factory sealed direct from the manufacturer and inventoried in a ESD 20.20 certified and ISO 9001 certified state-of-the art-facility. Components Direct is headquartered in Milpitas, CA with locations in the US and Asia.

It has a leading cloud-based platform for excess and obsolete (E&O) inventory. In 2012, Avnet and Components Direct entered in a strategic relationship. Components Direct is the exclusive channel for Avnet’s factory authorized excess and end-of-life components.

Compared to leading industry giants, such as Element14 and RS Components, Components Direct, currently, doesn’t have a detailed menu showcasing listed products, at least not on the home page, as yet. One hopes that’ll make an appearance soon.

Speaking on the mission of Components Direct, Anne Ting, executive VP, Marketing said: “Components Direct is the premier authorized distributor for excess and end-of-life electronic components. We are the only company working directly with manufacturers and their franchised distributors to offer 100 percent guaranteed traceable E&O components as well as technology services to combat counterfeit components and other gray market activity.

“For our supplier partners, we enable them to put excess product back into the control of an authorized source, as opposed to the gray market. For buyers, we provide them with a secure, authorized one-stop shop for excess, obsolete and unsold factory components.”

Combating gray market
How important is it to combat the gray market? Why will this endeavor stop/lessen gray market activity?

According to Ting, the gray market is a serious and growing problem. As early as 2008, a study by KPMG and the Alliance for Gray Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA) stated that as much as $58 billion of technology products were passing through the gray market, and the problem has only gotten worse.

The gray market is rampant throughout all industries, with everyone from engineers, to procurement professionals and consumers impacted negatively when the products they purchase are advertised as new and authentic, but in reality could be used, refurbished or even worse, counterfeit.

In fact, a 2012 study by market research firm IHS found that over 12 million counterfeit electronics and semiconductor components

Anne Ting

Anne Ting

have entered the distribution chain since 2007, with 57 percent of all counterfeit parts obsolete or end-of-life components. Many of these parts make their way into mission-critical industries, such as defense and aerospace, where a malfunctioning counterfeit part can mean the difference between life and death.

While provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act have enabled the government and trade groups to make some progress towards regulating the supply chain to ensure that components are only sourced directly from the manufacturers or their franchised distributors, the problem has not abated. The Act empowers the federal government to hold contractors financially responsible for replacing counterfeit products.

This, together with other changes, puts more responsibility on suppliers of electronic component to have risk mitigation procedures in place. The issue is become more topical and the industry must act in order to comply with the new legislation.

Components Direct takes this problem seriously, and provides supplier insights and tools to help combat gray market activity. In a recent study we conducted for a leading semiconductor supplier of both analog and digital devices, we discovered that over 124 million units of their product were floating in the gray market across 6,500 plus part numbers.

Over 70 percent of the products were found in Asia, and 20 percent also appeared in both North America and EMEA. The product age spanned many years with date codes of less than one year accounting for 22 percent of their gray market product. A further 5 percent had date codes over 11 years, demonstrating that whether you were an OEM looking for the newest product, or a military sub-contractor looking for obsolete components, no end customer is immune to the presence of unauthorized product.

Components Direct’s technology tools and services track gray market activity and provide suppliers with unprecedented visibility to their product leakage in the gray market by part number, region, data code etc. This data enables our suppliers to trace leakage in their supply chain and lessen potential unauthorized product from getting into the gray market.

Additionally, Components Direct provides suppliers and buyers with a secure, factory authorized channel for selling or purchasing 100 percent guaranteed traceable components. “We only sell products that come directly with manufacturers or their franchised distributors and all our products are inventoried in an ESD 20.20 and ISO 9001 certified facility,” said Ting.As an extension of the manufacturer, Components Direct provides the supply chain buyer with complete confidence and peace of mind that all products originate directly from the manufacturer and have been properly stored, handled and packaged. Sourcing from an authorized source like Components Direct eliminates the risks surrounding product quality, reliability and liability. Read more…

Indian ESDM industry likely to grow 9.9 percent CAGR in 2011-15

January 22, 2013 4 comments

The India Semiconductor Association (ISA), along with Frost and Sullivan, released the 6th ISA-F&S Report on the India ESDM Market (2011-2015). Evidently, the focus is on electronics and semiconductors industries in India.

Only a few economies have exhibited the strength to weather the harsh conditions prevailing in the global environment. Such economies are especially remarkable since they are vulnerable to headwinds given the significant size of their GDP. India, despite its temporary slowdown in the last year, has not only withstood the adverse environment, but has also been witnessing green shoots of recovery.

The Electronics Systems Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) sector ranks high among the various segments that have contributed to creating this bulwark. The ESDM industry in India has continued to chart its journey northwards. While the industry may not have achieved the exponential growth forecast by experts, its performance in the last few years can be termed an achievement in view of the overall slowdown of the Indian economy.

Source: ISA, India.

Source: ISA, India.

The ESDM industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.9 percent between 2011 and 2015 resulting in an industry size of $94.2 billion by 2015. Although the electronics product market is growing a very fast pace, ironically most of the demand is being fulfilled by imports. The growth potential of the services component will be determined to a great extent by India’s ability to undertake higher value-add activities and cost competiveness.

Resolute focus on the ESDM industry and favorable policies to incentivize investment, adoption of new technologies, catalyzing innovation and entrepreneurship, enhancement of skills and addressing the disability cost of developing ESDM products domestically are the key ingredients to elevating India to a leading player in the global arena.

Key drivers and challenges for Indian ESDM industry
The positive factors far outweigh the challenges that impact the Indian ESDM industry. The growth of the product markets is one of the key drivers where mobile devices, consumer electronics and IT/OA products continue to script some of the high growth rates globally.

Financial inclusion programs and rising standards of living have generated demand for new products besides increasing customer-base of existing ones. India is also recognized globally as a key source of high technology skills which are leveraged by global corporations for generating value.

The global economic downturn has had a profound impact on the ESDM industry in the past quarters. This is expected to be temporary, and given the strong domestic growth potential, is expected to be overcome over the next two quarters. Our continuing reliance on imports is impeding growth of domestic manufacturing, which in turn is a major hurdle to the creation of a viable domestic ecosystem. The high cost of developing products including duties, taxation, capital and infrastructure are leading to a slow pace of investment in this sector.

In a developing economy like India, where the government is driving force through its role of policy maker and facilitator, new and evolving policies for ESDM are anticipated to spur the industry into a higher growth mode. The recognition of the ESDM industry as a key contributor to the GDP is a major step forward. The national policies on telecom and electronics have the potential to bring about a major change in the domestic industry. Quick implementation of these policy initiatives will positively impact the development of the domestic product design and manufacturing industry.

The ESDM industry in India comprises of the following four key segments:

1. Electronic Products.
2. Electronic Components.
3. Semiconductor Design Services.
4. Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS).

The first two represents products, while the others highlight the manufacturing services and design services.
Read more…

Aftermath of Japanese earthquake: Implications for global electronics industry!

April 4, 2011 Comments off

This is a commentary on industry trends from Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons.

Importance of Japan
Japan is a major producer of semiconductor components accounting for around 22 percent of global semiconductor production. The Flash memory market sector – crucially mobile phones, iPads and their derivatives, digital cameras, and portable storage devices, account for approximately 50 percent of the market, almost all of which are produced by one Japanese firm, Toshiba/Sandisk.

Several of Japan’s major semiconductor companies locate their manufacturing spots in the northeast prefectures, for example Toshiba’s 8-inch wafer fab in lwate, Renesas Electronics’ factories in Aomori, Hoddaido and Yamagata, Elpedia Memory’s backend manufacturing facility in Akita and Fujitsu’s plants in Fukushima.

The effects of the devastating earthquake, which hit Japan on Friday 11th March, are already beginning to take hold on the global electronics industry. Damaged buildings and infrastructure and halts to some semiconductor fabs will without doubt have a knock on affect upon the global semiconductor supply chain, with many of the big names, i.e., Nokia, General Motors and Apple already experiencing supply shortages.

Many manufacturers, not directly hit by the earthquake, have experienced power failures interrupting production; just a microsecond power supply glitch can result in the scrapping of weeks of in-process production, and with manufacturers no longer holding inventory it will impact IC supply availability in Q2. To what extent, still remains to be seen. The impact will be felt both in the long and short term, affecting not only the semiconductor supply chain but nearly every other industry imaginable, as it is very rare these days to find an industry which is not reliant on chips.

Component prices
As in any shortage situation, component price increases are inevitable and this has already happened in memory, although it is not yet clear how much of this is panic profiteering and how much is sustainable. But shortages are inevitable and recovery due to the long production cycle times and already tight capacity – will not happen over night.

Automakers
The automotive semiconductor market grew 37 percent in 2010, clearly leaving the problematic 2009 behind. However the recent earthquake in Japan has once again awoken auto manufacturers concerns about the industry. Even before the earthquake purchasing managers had expressed concern about supply levels; inventories were unusually low, resulting in heightened concern from purchasing executives around the world.

It is difficult to estimate the extent auto manufacturers will be affected, but following an official announcement from Japan that car production will be down 33 percent from its normal monthly production level of 750k cars per month to 500k it looks as though the 2010 market growth may be short lived.

Toyota Motor Co, the worlds largest auto manufacturer, said all 12 Japanese assembly plants would remain closed until at least 26th March and it was not sure when they would re-open. Production lost between 14-26 March would be about 140,000 units. Read more…

ISA Vision Summit 2010: Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 unveiled; great opportunity for India to show we mean business!

February 2, 2010 4 comments

Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 released at ISA Vision Summit 2010 by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa and Hon’ble IT and BT Minister, Katta Subramanya Naidu, along with B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA and other dignitaries.

Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 released at ISA Vision Summit 2010 by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa and Hon’ble IT and BT Minister, Katta Subramanya Naidu, along with B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA and other dignitaries.

The much awaited Karnataka Semicon Policy was released today at the ISA Vision Summit 2010 by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa and Hon’ble IT and BT Minister, Katta Subramanya Naidu, along with B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA, and chairman and CEO, Sagitaur Ventures India Pvt Ltd, and other dignitaries.

Way back, on 25 July 2008, it was first mentioned that Karnataka could have its own semicon policy, as announced during the ISA ExCite event that day. The state semicon policy has taken own time coming — a little over 18 months!

Well, better late than never! The Indian state of Karnataka now has its own semiconductor poilcy, which was unveiled today at the ISA Vision Summit by the IT Department, Government of Karnataka, along with the ISA.

Karnataka’s target: $120 billion by 2020
Prior to the policy’s release, B.V. Naidu said: “The ISA welcomes the Karnataka Semicon Policy and we are happy that most of our recommendations to the government have been considered. This policy will play a significant role for achieving $120 billion electronic system design and manufacturing industry to grow in Karnataka.”

This means: of the national target of $400 billion by 2020 set by ISA for the Indian semiconductor industry, the Karnataka state is expected to achieve 30 percent!

Karnataka semicon policy features
Am very sure a lot of you are very keen to know about the policy! Presenting the salient features of the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010.

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, highlights key points of the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010.

Hon’ble Chief Minister of Karnataka, B.S. Yeddyurappa, highlights key points of the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010.

* To encourage setting up of semiconductor units in tier-2 cities, other than Mysore, Mangalore, Hubli, an incentive of investment-promotion-subsidy would be provided in accordance with the Karnataka Industrial Policy 2009-2014.
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide additional amount of Rs. 25 crores, toward 26 percent contribution to the KITVEN (Karnataka IT venture capital fund) IT Fund for raising funds from the market to assist startup semiconductor units engaged in design and embedded software.
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide financial assistance to firms for filing IP in accordance with the incentives provided in the industrial policy.
* Govt. of Karnataka will provide assistance of 50 percent of the total cost toward purchase of proposed equipment for augmenting the Orchid Tech Space in the STPI to a Characterization Lab. The remaining funds would come from the industry or mobilized through PPP business model. This Lab will be a one-stop solution for hi-tech facilities and will spur growth of R&D in future technology without financial burden to budding entrepreneurs.
* ATMP units will be encouraged with special incentives in the proposed ITIR near BIAL (Bangalore International Airport), Bangalore. (Special incentives for ITIR to be announced separately).
* Govt. of Karnataka would provide all encouragement and assistance to the solar PV manufacturing units under the Karnataka Renewable Energy Policy.
* To encourage setting up of ATMPs in the state, Govt. of Karnataka would provide incentives to units set up in the state by lowering the threshold investments for ATMPs/ecosystem units with investments above Rs. 400 crores and up to Rs. 1,000 crores. Incentives would be provided on a case-to-case basis approach based on specific employment potential.
* As a policy support, to encourage innovation and R&D in chip design, product development, telecom, etc., the Govt. will set up a fund known as ‘Karnataka Fund for Semiconductor Excellence’ of Rs. 10 crores. This fund will be available to the private companies covering up to 50 percent of their R&D expenses, subject to a limit of Rs. 10 lakhs per unit. This financial assistance would be subject to repayment of 10 percent of the profit (after tax) annually for a period of 10 years. Preference would be given to fresh engineering graduates by identifying talent through projects submitted in the college and start-up companies.
* A committe comprising of representatives of VTU, ISA, industry, scientists, and financial institutions would be set up to monitor the activities and functioning of the fund.
* Karnataka Power Corp. and Karnataka Renewable Energy Development Ltd would take steps to develop solar farms on joint ventures/PPP mode in Bijapur, Gulbarga, Raichur and Bellary districts.
* Govt. to set up a focused school under IIIT at a cost of Rs. 10 crores and strengthen the research labs in the institute at a cost of Rs. 5 crores with a contribution of 25 percent from the industry.
* Fiscal incentives would be provided to semiconductor units as per the Karnataka Industrial Policy 2009-2014.
— Investment promotion subsidy.
— Exemption from stamp duty to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Concessional registration charges to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Waiver off conversion fine to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Exemption from entry tax to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Incentives for export oriented enterprises for MSME, large and mega projects.
— Subsidy for setting up ETPs to MSME, large and mega projects.
— Interest free loans on VAT to large and mega projects.
— Anchor units subsidy to first two manufacturing enterprises with minimum employment of 100 members and a minimum investment of Rs. 50 crores.
— Special incentives for enterprises coming up in low HDI districts for large and mega projects.
— Interest subsidy to micro manufacturing enterprises.
— Exemption from electricity duty to micro and small manufacturing enterprises.
— Technology upgradation, quality certification and patent registration for micro and small manufacturing enterprises.
— Water harvesting/slash conservation measures to small and medium manufacturing enterprises in all zones.
— Energy conservation, small and medium manufacturing enterprises in all zones.
— Additional incentives to the enterprises following reservation policy of the state.
— Refund of cost incurred for preparation of project report for micro and small manufacturing enterprises.

Now, let’s take a look at what the Karnataka Semicon Policy 2010 achieved and areas that need clarity! Read more…

Building up industry knowledge!


Fate has been most kind to me. Fate has also been most kind to me in terms of bringing me in touch with several good folks who appreciate whatever little talent I possess.

One of my good friends, Alfred, once suggested that I speak to the team regarding building up industry knowledge.

May I also add that two of my very, very dear friends, Kevin Lau and Jo Kuo, felt great pride after reading my presentation, and thanked me profusely.

Well, it’s all worth it when you have friends such as these who take time to appreciate your efforts. They make my day, my life! Thanks guys!!

Here’s what I had to say regarding building up industry knowledge.

‘Speaking’ the supplier’s language

* From experience, suppliers open up to those who can share information on their industries/verticals.

* From experience, suppliers open up to those who can share information on other markets.

* From experience, suppliers open up to those who provide good suggestions.

* Suppliers DO NOT open up easily, if you cannot provide insights about verticals.

* Suppliers would respect you more if you could provide meaningful suggestions.

* Suppliers look for leads; develop a habit of providing those.

* Suppliers look for trust; provide that by exchanging relevant information.

* If covering components, try and get an insight on the industry, it helps!

* If covering electronics, computer or telecom, know industry background a bit; see how a supplier laps up all the information you may have.

* Supplier looks for trust too, provide it!

* Convert the supplier into a trusted ally.

* Try and understand what buyers need; it helps understanding supplier needs.

From experience, suppliers keen to know what’s happening in India and China? Can you provide that info?

China and India are strong cases, know more about them

Most of all, keep learning all the time.

Educate yourself!

No one can say, “I’ve a good knowledge about the industry.”

There is no end to learning.

Everyday, new things are happening.

How do we keep pace with so many new things happening in the verticals?

The best way is to educate yourself at work!

Education-at-work programs

* Bookmark relevant Web sites – visit them often.

* Sign up for newsletters and news – at least read the headlines.

* Flip through technology and other magazines you may get your hands on – there’s always something to learn.

* Build your network and get help.

* Visit Web sites of leading research firms, there’s lot of information out there.

* Visit Web sites of industry associations.

* Visit Web sites of industry events, look at the live coverage.

* Browse presentations of industry events, excellent way to track trends.

* Read relevant articles in print/on Web.

* If you don’t understand a technical term do search on the Web/dictionary.

* Listen to what suppliers say – you can pick up lots of points.

* Talk to your seniors, especially in sales and editorial – they have lot of information to share.

* Look up competitor Web sites and magazines – always have relevant stuff.

* Read flyers and memos from sales and marketing departments.

DEVELOPING SOUND INDUSTRY KNOWLEDGE TAKES LOT OF EFFORT AND TIME! BUT IT’S ALL WORTH IT!

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