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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.

SEP 2 IP-based energy management for home


What exactly is smart energy profile (SEP 2) IP-based energy management for the home? Introducing the SEP 2, Tobin Richardson, chairman and CEO, ZigBee Alliance said ZigBee smart energy is the standard of choice for home area networks (HANs).

ZigBeeAbout 40+ million ZigBee electric meters are being deployed. ZigBee smart energy is being enhanced by network/communications options, support for forward-looking developments, etc. SEP 2 is a joint effort with the HomePlug Alliance. There is a vision of MAC/PHY agnostic SmartEnergy profile.

Robby Simpson, SEP 2 Technical Working Group Chair, system architect, GE Digital Energy, provided the features and benefits of Smart Energy. Features include price communication, demand response and load control, energy usage information/metering data, prepayment metering, text messaging, plug-in electric vehicles, distributed energy resources, billing communication, etc.

Example applications are many, such as smartphones, ESI in the sky, tablets, TVs, plug-in electric vehicles, PCs, solar inverters, thermostats, energy management systems, smart meters, building management systems, smart appliances, etc. There is support for a variety of architectures. The use of IP eases convergence and architecture changes. A consortium for SEP 2 interoperability (CSEP) has been established.

Skip Ashton, ZigBee Arch. review committee chair, senior apps director,  Silicon Labs said implementations of SEP 2 are available from a number of companies and across several MAC/PHYs. All standard documents are available for review.

Jeff Gooding, Southern California Edison (SCE), spoke about creating SEP 2 energy ecosysyems. SEP 2 can bridge multi-platform customer technologies to create a rich ecosystem. SEP 2 customer focused solutions can allow the utilities and energy service providers to use any customer communication channel. SEP 2 pilots at SCE include a gateway pilot and a smart charging pilot. Both are separate pilots.

New apps in semicon — smart grid and secure transactions

January 13, 2011 Comments off

Happy new year and welcome to my blog.

Let’s start this year by looking at René Penning de Vries, senior VP and CTO of NXP, who spoke this morning at ISA’s CXO Conclave, titled New Applications in Semiconductors (Smart Grid & Secure Transactions) – Role semiconductors play to make our society a better place!

Dr. René Penning de Vries touched upon the role semiconductors play in two of the societal mega-trends: energy and security. In 21st century, IC industry has gone from business driven to society driven and semiconductors play key role in solving problems like energy shortage and security threat. In essence, semiconductors make our lives better.

The first part of this talk touched upon “smart grid”, it’s applications, and associated semiconductor innovations in AMS domain. The second part covered “secure transactions”, innovation, and transition in this domain from “IC hardware focus” to “HW-OS-Apps holistic”. Rene illustrated with real-life NFC example from the recent Google-NXP collaboration.

According to Rene, the IC industry is being driven from business to consumer, and now, to society. Some of the well known areas where ICs are being used today include health and wellness, transport and mobility, security and safety, energy and environment, communication and e-society.

Some of the key macro drivers in electronics include:
Energy efficiency: Includes efficient power conversion and low stand-by power, energy-saving lighting and back-lighting, energy conservation through demand side management, electric/lighter vehicles, and intelligent traffic management.

Connected mobile devices: Includes proliferation of mobile data usage, wireless infra build-out, smart mobile devices: always-on, multimedia, location-based, connected car, many broadcast and connectivity standards, and new user interfaces (e.g., touch, joystick).

Security: Includes secure mobile transactions and secure identity, authentication, tagging and tracking, car and home access, security and remote diagnostics, and radar and (body) scanning installations.

Health: Includes personal healthcare and portable emergency devices, connected hearing aids and implantable devices, car safety and comfort, and electronic diagnostics.

Key application areas include:
Wireless infrastructure: Wireless base stations, satellite, CATV infrastructure and radar.

Lighting:
Lighting, LED, backlightingIndustrial: Smart metering, white goods and home appliances, Pachinko, medical, industrial and ATE.

Mobile: Mobile handset, portable power supplies and hearing aids.Automotive: Car access and immobilizers, in vehicle networking, car entertainment, telematics, ABS, transmission and throttle control, and lighting.

Identification: Secure identity, secure transactions, tagging and authentication.Consumerr: TV, satellite, cable, terrestrial and IP set-top boxes, and satellite outdoor units.

Computing: Monitor, power supplies, personal computer TV. Read more…

Categories: energy, ICs, Mobile, NXP, NXP India, Security

Strategic roadmap for electronics enabling energy efficient usage: Venkat Rajaraman, Su-Kam

September 16, 2010 1 comment

Venkat Rajaraman, CEO, Su-kam.

Venkat Rajaraman.

I am very grateful to Venkat Rajaraman, CEO, Su-kam Power Systems Ltd, for sharing his thoughts, as well as those of Dr. Ajay Mathur, director general, Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), presented at the India Semiconductor Association’s (ISA) conference titled ‘Electronics enabling Energy Efficiency E3’, in New Delhi.

In his presentation, Rajaraman said that if Graham Bell were alive today, he won’t even recognize his invention. Mobile devices have changed, the switching technology is vastly different and so is the communication medium.

However, if Thomas Alva Edison were alive today, he would be very happy! He would see that his invention in pretty much the same form. Of course, there are more generating stations, more transmission and distribution lines, but the technology is fundamentally the same.

This scenario is quite changing. Yesterday’s era was all about industrialization – more automation, less labor, etc. Also, the more energy you consume, the lesser it costs to produce. Energy was considered inexhaustible then. Now, there is a paradigm shift. It is all about energy conservation! We know that the energy cost is rising and the resources are finite.

The energy industry will change more over the next 15 years than it has in the last 100! The decisions made now to the next few years will determine whether the transition is considered a success!

So, these changes are not about simple energy efficient appliances, smart meters, renewables, etc. It requires a complete socio-economic and mindset change, and that’s the hard part of the problem.

Rajaraman added that there seem to be far too many stakeholders in energy efficiency implementations — financial Institutions, technologies solution providers, beneficiary industries, energy audit companies, measurement and verification systems, government/subsidy bodies, etc.

A plant owner is not attracted enough to make the investment in energy efficiency. There are questions such as who will own the results, who will deliver it, how will it be delivered? Herein lies the problem and the opportunity!

There have been several interventions from the BEE. They have been attacking this problem from policy perspective in a clinical precision manner. BEE has been doing a great job in coming out with policies that comprehensively covers such issues.

Rajaraman concluded that simple technological and policy interventions alone are not going to be enough. It needs a social and mindset change. He concluded: “Give a man one CFL/LED, you secure one CFL/LED worth of energy savings! Teach a man to love his CFL/LED, you inspire a life time of energy efficient behavior!”

Su-Kam has been doing simple interventions regarding energy efficiency – such as, replacing DG sets with inverters, LED lighting, etc.

I will later add a separate post on Dr. Ajay Mathur’s thoughts.

Solar and wind solutions, micro fuel cells as energy alternatives

April 25, 2007 Comments off

Precisely! That’s the way the future of energy would likely be, should the industry manage to pull it off. These folks are really working hard to develop alternative energy sources to power a whole lot of equipment and devices.

The other day, we were discussing energy, when the subject of fuel cells cropped up. With electronics items and other equipment constantly undergoing design changes, thereby putting even more demand on battery power. Several alternative energy solutions are constantly being developed.

In fact, Motorola reports to have successfully conducted a year-long wind- and solar-powered cell site at its Swindon R&D facility in the UK. The trial concluded that an optimized solar and wind solution can generate enough power to drive a mid-sized base station (BTS) plus ancillaries. The next step would be a commercial customer trial using a six-carrier BTS cell site, being implemented in the first half of 2007.

I believe, nearly all mobile phone manufacturers, including Motorola, are also developing solar-powered handsets.

Coming back to power, the existing battery chemistries are constantly challenged to maintain performance levels or maybe, extend beyong the existing levels. While solar and wind solutions are among the options, fuel cells and even micro fuel cells are also in the fray.

Now, Frost & Sullivan’s report titled World Micro Fuel Cell Market for Industrial Portable Devices, finds that the market is likely to produce 75 million units by 2013, demonstrating a high market growth rate due to a ramp-up in commercialization. The micro fuel cell market for industrial portable devices has gained a boost with the significant growth of the heavy-duty device markets.

The report says that fuel cells for such devices should be able to operate safely for long periods under inclement weather and dusty conditions. They must be resistant to high shock and vibration, while surviving drops on hard surfaces as well.

The market is addressing the fuel cell standard concern by forming groups within prominent international standards organizations such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), dealing with electrical, electronic and related technologies.

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