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Three things in Indian semicon: Vinay Shenoy

April 2, 2014 Comments off

Vinay Shenoy

Vinay Shenoy

There have been a variety of announcements made by the Government of India in the last one year or so. In the pre-90s period, the country showed just 1 percent GDP growth rate. It was adverse to FDI and had a regulated market. All of this led to deregulation under the late PM, PV Narasimha Rao.

The Indian government was averse to foreign investment, which was opened up around 1994. Since then, we have seen 6-8 percent growth, said Vinay Shenoy, MD, Infineon Technologies (India). He was delivering the keynote at the UVM 1.2 day, being held in Bangalore, India.

Around 1997, India signed the ITA-1 with the WTO. Lot of electronic items had their import duty reduced to zero. It effectively destroyed the electronics manufacturing industry in India. We were now reduced to being a user of screwdriver technology. In 1985, the National Computer Policy, and in 1986, the National Software Policy, were drafted. The government of India believed that there existed some opportunities. The STPI was also created, as well as 100 percent EoUs. So far, we have been very successful in services, but have a huge deficit on manufacturing.

We made an attempt to kick off semicon manufacturing in 2007, but that didn’t take off for several reasons. It was later revived in 2011-12. Under the latest national policy of electronics, there have been a couple announcements – one, setting up of two semicon fabs in India. The capital grant – nearly 25-27 percent — is being given by the government. It has provided a financial incentive – of about $2 billion.

Two, electronics manufacturing per se, unless it is completely an EoU, the semicon industry will find it difficult to survive. There is the M-SIPS package that offers 25 percent capital grant to a wide range of industries.

Three, we have granted some incentives for manufacturing. But, how are you going to sell? The government has also proposed ‘Made in India’, where, 30 percent of the products will be used within India. These will largely be in the government procurements, so that the BoM should be at least 30 percent from India. The preferential market policy applies to all segments, except defense.

Skill development is also key. The government has clearly stated that there should be innovation-led manufacturing. The government also wants to develop PhDs in selected domains. It intends to provide better lab facilities, better professors, etc. Also, young professors seeking to expand, can seek funding from the government.

TSMC promotes small IP companies. Similarly, it should be done in India. For semicon, these two fabs in India will likely come up in two-three years time. “Look at how you can partner with these fabs. Your interest in the semicon industry will be highly critical. The concern of the industry has been the stability of the tax regime. The government of India has assured 10 years of stable tax regime. The returns will come in 10-15 years,” added Shenoy.

The government has set up electronics manufacturing clusters (EMC). These will make it easy for helping companies to set up within the EMC. The NSDC is tying up with universities in bringing skill-sets. The industry is also defining what skills will be required. The government is funding PhDs, to pursue specialization.

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

December 6, 2013 Comments off

Dr. Wally RhinesIt is always a pleasure speaking with Dr. Walden (Wally) C. Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics Corp. The last time I met him was at Santa Cruz, USA, during a global electronics forum in April this year. First, I asked him regarding the outlook for the global semiconductor industry in 2014, as well as the EDA industry.

Outlook for global semicon industry in 2014
Dr. Rhines said: “The outlook for the global semicon industry in 2014 is modestly positive. Most analysts will see single digiit growth. In memory, we have short supply vs. demand. While we had consolidation of the wireless industry, we still have volumes of handsets, tablets, etc. In the US, tablets are said to be the biggest growth area during Xmas.

“When you look at any product, you look at what more can it do. You look at more and more features that can be added. We have speciallization in ARM-based chips. There are enough change dynamics that show demand. The iPad bridged the gap between the portable PC and phone. The infrastructure of apps has now made a huge infrastructure. If you are dependant on apps, there can be a differentiator.

“Wearable electronics is another great opportunity. However, it is still a small market. The electronic watch is interesting. We are in an era where there are some things that are key, and some require figuring out. There will be more and more need for specific devices, rather than only applications in future. The same thing was with the PC, which went from custom to specific needs.”

In that case, how is the global semiconductor industry performing having entering the sub 20nm era?

He said that 2014 is going to be a big year. There will be releases of 14/16nm technologies. This will be the year when customers will be doing tests. There are companies in all regions of the world that will be doing such stuff.

Have FinFETs gone to 20nm? Are those looking for power reduction now benefiting?

Dr. Rhines said: “The big advantage is leakage. FinFET dramatically impacts current leakage. Now, attention will shift to dynamic power. It will once again be predominantly the consumer of power in large chips.

Outlook for EDA industry
Now, let’s see what’s the outlook for the global EDA industry in 2014.

Dr. Rhines said: “Whenever you create new technologies, you will need EDA. So, EDA will grow. New designs will also need EDA. There will be new EDA tools. EDA is now addressing thermal and stress issues in verification and design. Caliber PERC is our main product here. The upgrades are good for EDA. There are new things they have to adopt, in these tools.”

Let’s talk a bit about embedded. Mentor released the new version of Sourcery CodeBench. What does it stand to gain?

Raghu Panicker, sales director, Mentor Graphics India said the Sourcery CodeBench is a real-time operating system (RTOS). That product is gaining momentum. Large MNC customers like Qualcomm are adopting this. Among small firms, there are medical, energy meter companies that are handling it as well.

Dr. Rhines added that Sorcery CodeBench is indicative of a trend – it is very open source based. It is now 20,000 downloads a month, so that is a big community.

Next is there any scope for the growth of biomems and optical telecom industry?

He said that both areas are interesting. Biomems are still a fairly small market. It is going to be evolutionary. As for optical telecom, over the last year or two, all participants have gone into a silent mode. Mentor is working with a number of customers.

Five trends to rule in 2014
Now, it was quiz time. First, the top five trends in the EDA industry during 2014. Dr. Rhines said:
* Growth of emulation for verification. The market is growing at over CAGR of 25 percent. Emulation is really big. It will be a big game changer for EDA.
* 16/14nm.
* Continued pressure on power as we go to FinFETs.
* Power reduction.
* Yield analysis for 14/16nm. A near range can be security.

Now, the top five trends for semiconductors in 2014! Dr. Rhines mentioned these as:
* Move to 14/16nm and cost.
* Growth in hybrid functions is another trend.
* Basic IoT.
* Security – how you verify designs.
* Continued commoditization of wireless apps.
Read more…

Ph.D candidates in VLSI industry! Is enough being done?


“Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.” – John Ruskin.

“Great men’s honor ought always to be measured by the methods they made use of in attaining it.” – François Duc De La Rochefoucauld.

The 26th International Conference on VLSI Design 2013 is starting tomorrow at Hyatt Regency, Pune. Over the years, it has served as a forum for VLSI folks to discuss topics related to VLSI design, EDA, embedded systems, etc. The theme for the VLSI and embedded systems conference is green technology.

That brings me to a point raised by one reader of this blog- what’s the future of  Ph.D candidates in the VLSI industry! First, do not believe when you are told that you can only join academics in case you are a Ph.D. You can certainly switch over to R&D at the various VLSI companies! Or, you can start on your own, by developing something noteworthy!!

As for the current scenario, especially in India, students, or well, Ph.D holders should seriously consider developing useful projects for  use in India, and globally. It seems all too very easy for folks to join some large MNC in India or overseas, as according to such people: their jobs are done!

For some strange reason, semiconductor/VLSI development seems to have remained in the backburner in India! I was surprised on visiting a center in Bangalore to find students – actually, some Ph.D. holders – working on projects that may never even see the light of the day! That leads to the question: are the tutors guiding them enough? Do we even have systems in place that backs development?

Having spent a long time in the Far East, I have seen young Chinese and Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese men and women take to VLSI earnestly. How did they manage to do that? Mainly, by starting their own companies and developing some product!

Now, this is something not yet evident in India! Has anyone else asked this question? And, can the Indian VLSI community make this happen? It should not be very difficult, if the head, hand and heart are there in the deed!

As John Ruskin says, “Fine art is that in which the hand, the head, and the heart of man go together.”

François Duc De La Rochefoucauld. says, “Great men’s honor ought always to be measured by the methods they made use of in attaining it.”

Hope these words make sense! Developing and designing solutions is a fine art where the hand, the head and the heart must be in sync. And, if you have really developed a solution or a product, what were the methods you used to attain that! Answering these two questions are tough, but the answers really lie within us!

My question remains: do students (in India) really spend time for developing projects, or do they simply copy or buy projects?

Coming back to the VLSI conference, this year’s program will play host to the 4th IEEE International Workshop on Reliability Aware System Design and Test (RASDAT) as well. There will be discussions around topics such as design-for-test, fault-tolerant micro architecture, low power test, reliability of CMOS circuits, design for reliability, dependability and verifiability, etc.

A semiconductor company will likely be introducing a portable and affordable analog design kit. Students will no longer be required to go to expensive labs for developing projects. There should be lot of simulation tools, online course materials, community support, lab materials, etc. to use using the analog design kit. There should be a string of announcements too, so let’s wait for the event to start!

Please keep reading my blog! ;)


Friends, I am really touched by the love and the concern that all of you have shown! Yes, I am very well aware that my blog has not been updated!! The fact is: one of my former employer has offered me a job!!! 😉

So, what do you say, dear friends? Should I continue blogging? Actually, the new job that I’ve got into does not allow me to post. Thought, I’d mention this right here! 😉 Besides, my job profile covers the entire world, and there are quite a few folks working with me. I need to do some hand holding as well, as there are several newbies in the team. All of that will take away a lot of my time! I also have had to change cities, moving from South to North, and travelling from West to South every morning!

No matter! I shall continue to write on electronics, semiconductors, telecom, solar and components, and the like, in my new role as well. Since it will be for a leading publication of India, I am sure you all can track me down very, very easily! 😉

In the meantime, please do keep reading this blog, my dear friends. Do post your comments, as well, and I shall do my very best to reply.! Take care!! 😉

Smarter systems in third era of computing!

September 19, 2011 2 comments

Jeff Chu, director of Consumer, Client Computing at ARM.

Jeff Chu, director of Consumer, Client Computing at ARM.

Over 1.8 billion ARM cores were shipped in chips during Q1-2011. Consumers are now driving computing. The Internet of things envisages 100 billion+ units by 2020, according to Jeff Chu, director of Consumer, Client Computing at ARM, who was speaking on ‘Smarter systems for smarter consumers: 3rd era of computing’ at the ARM Technical Symposium.

ARM’s ecosystem has benefitted. Tablets have changed the competitive landscape. New OSs such as Android Honeycomb, Google Chrome OS and RIM QNX are enabling innovation. Also, Microsoft Windows 8 will likely transform PCs forever.

Consumers are always demanding more as they want choices. There are a range of devices available. These come in a lot of cool form factors, along with applications and services. There is a growing software ecosystem as well. It is all about smarter systems.

Smarter systems require a balanced approach. High-performance, low power CPUs are critical. The GPU is now critical and more important than the CPU. Video is now moving to 3D. All of these functions require processors that perform. ARM multicore enables the best of both worlds, allowing a perfect balance of peak performance and optimum power.

ARM offers a broad range of application processors. It also has power optimized MALI GPUs. ARM is providing choices in silicon solutions — such as ARM Cortex A8, A9 or ARMv7A. ARM also has the TrustZone security to keep everything safe. A whole lot of software is also required. ARM’s application diversity really delivers here. ARM also maintains a leadership in Android with over 550K ARM devices shipped.

Momentum is leading to innovation. New devices and user experience is based on open source hardware. Local innovation has led to regional designs. As a result, we are now witnessing broader adoption and expanding markets. Enterprise needs are being met by thin clients. There are also a growing number of ARM SoCs.

ARM is building on the smartphone ecosystem. ARM works with OEMs and software developers to create an ecosystem.

ARM connecting the world!

September 19, 2011 2 comments

John Cornish, VP and GM, Design Division ARM.

John Cornish, VP and GM, Design Division ARM.

ARM is connecting the world today, according to John Cornish, VP and GM, Design Division ARM. Over 4 billion people are using ARM-powered mobile phones currently. He was speaking at the ARM Technical Symposium in Bangalore, India.

Looking at the end user product demand in 2010, there were 3.7 billion SoCs in mobile phones, 15.3 billion embedded and other SoCs, 1.5 billion SoCs in enterprises, 230 million units in client computing devices, etc. The end user product demand in 2015 will be 7.3 billion SoCs in mobile phones, 21.6 billion embedded and other SoCs, 750 million SoCs in client computing, 2.7 billion SoCs in enterprises, 1.2 billion SoCs in DTVs/STBs, and 110 million server and 140 million desktop and PC SoC devices.

It is well known that there are and will be billions of Internet connected devices. Mobile is now the nexus of this revolution. The computing revolution is driving computing, content and the cloud.

ARM is said to be scaling across the digital world. For instance, ARM technology is suitable for application processors across a huge range of devices. Chip suppliers can develop for multi-industrial applications. Also, OEMs can re-use software across  mobile/consumer devices.

Despite all of this, there is still some way to go. As of now, 5.1 billion inhabitants of the planet don’t have access to the Internet, and 2.2 billion don’t have a mobile phone.

Cornish listed certain challenges such as the need for greater energy efficiency, greater software efficiency,  improved security and diversity of solutions vital to address the opportunity.

Regarding smart energy-connected systems, he mentioned smart home energy management (HEM), smart meters, smart appliances, smart heating, home area networking, etc. “We will need smart devices that can be embedded on anything,” he added. Read more…

Categories: ARM, embedded, mobile devices, SoCs

Vision technology can add valuable capabilities to electronic products: Jeff Bier, EVA

June 8, 2011 Comments off

Jeff Bier,  co-founder and president, Berkeley Design Technology Inc.

Jeff Bier, co-founder and president, Berkeley Design Technology Inc.

Following my post on the formation of the Embedded Vision Alliance (EVA), I managed to speak with Jeff Bier, president, Berkeley Design Technology (BDTI), who went on to speak more about the Alliance’s capabilities.

First, the mission and vision of the Alliance.  Bier said: “The mission of the Embedded Vision Alliance is to transform the electronics industry with products that–through vision technology–are more intelligent and aware of their environments, and create significant new markets for electronic equipment and components. The goal of the Alliance is to speed the adoption of computer vision capabilities in electronic products.

“The strategy of the Alliance is to inspire and empower engineers to incorporate vision capabilities into their products by providing practical information, insights, skills, and standards.”

I asked Jeff Bier whether the Alliance had restricted itself to markets such as automotive driver assistance, home surveillance, and gaming systems? “No,” he said! “We believe that vision technology can add valuable capabilities to electronic products in many markets – as well as enabling the creation of entirely new kinds of products. Automotive driver assistance, surveillance, and gaming systems are examples of vision applications where products already exist at consumer price points – and in some cases these products are already shipping in high volume.

“While we certainly believe that there will be more such products in these markets in the future, we also believe that there will be compelling vision-based products in other markets, ranging from smartphones to consumer electronics to medical devices to digital advertising.”

In that case,  what kind of applications can one expect getting covered in retail and entertainment, medical applications, especially. Bier replied, “The Embedded Vision Alliance doesn’t intend to try to pick winners among embedded vision applications – but rather, to enable as many players as possible.”  Here are some examples (including some existing products and some that are just ideas):

Retail: Digital signs that measure the success of an advertisement in attracting and retaining a viewer’s attention – and that select among a number of ads depending on the gender and age of the viewer. Vending machines that exclude minors from purchasing prohibited items, such as alcoholic beverages.

Entertainment: There are some awesome possibilities here, such as toys that recognize which child is playing with them and respond based on that child’s preferences. Video games that put the person inside the game, or inside the television program, for example.

Medical: Systems that watch hospital rooms and warn caregivers when they’ve forgotten to wash their hands, to cut down on infections. Machines that recognize medications and help elderly people take the right medication at the right time. Exercise equipment that detect a person’s heart rate and respiration rate without requiring electrodes.

Now, implementing embedded vision is going to pose a challenge! I asked Bier how the Alliance will overcome this. He replied: “We don’t expect to overcome it all by ourselves, but we hope to help, by providing design engineers get the kinds of practical information, insights, and skills required to implement embedded vision—and by providing a centralized place for such resources. This kind of information is difficult to come by today – by far the majority of computer vision information available today is theoretical, academic work.

“The first project of the Alliance is the web site, http://www.embedded-vision.com.  The web site will deliver a variety of information including technical articles, product information, discussion forums, and demonstrations. In the near future, we will begin to deliver additional resources, such as newsletter and online seminars.”

Finally, the Alliance needs to create opportunities for technology providers to reach out to embedded vision system designers in the coming months. “Definitely”, said Bier.  “The web site is already beginning to provide such opportunities, and we will continue to do so there as well as with other initiatives, such as educational seminars and on-line conferences.”

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