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May 2010 global semicon update: Four quarters of sequential growth, yet still no one believes! Wake up, says Future Horizons

June 1, 2010 Comments off

Here are the excerpts from the Global Semiconductor Monthly Report, May 2010, provided by Malcolm Penn, chairman, founder and CEO of Future Horizons. There are a lot of charts associated with this report. The report also covers market trends. Those interested to know more may contact Future Horizons.

March’s total semiconductor sales came in at $26,533 billion, slightly above our February expectation, closing the quarter at $69,181 billion. This was up 2.8 percent over Q4-2009 and one of the strongest first quarter performances ever in what is normally a negative growth quarter. We have now had four straight quarters of industry growth, yet still no one believes in the strength of the recovery!

Of course, something unexpected can always go wrong but the industry fundamentals have never been better aligned. Just as 2001 ushered in the conditions for the so-called the perfect (semiconductor) storm, 2010 is now wallowing in the inverse effect. Surprisingly, few firms are tough. Most are too timid, too cautious or too scared. Welcome to the brave new world of semiconductor company ambivalence and life-threatening risk aversion. “Hello”.

Future Horizons presented its review and forecast for the global semiconductor market on the first day of their ongoing 19th International Electronics Forum (IEF) 2010 in Dresden, Germany, May 6-8. Our overall prediction was that the 2010 chip market would have a barnstorming year; only a disaster of the Lehmann Brothers scale could now derail the market.

The overall five-year forecast presented was:

* 2010: +31 percent, with still some scope for upwards revision.
* 2011: +28 percent; based on: peak of the structural cyclical boom (could stretch into 2012).
* 2012: +18 percent; based on: normal cyclical trash cycle starting 2H-2012 (1H-2013?).
* 2013: +3 percent based on: market correction in full flow (could be negative, cap ex overspend and inventory build depending).
* 2014: +12 percent; based on: start of the next cyclical recovery (single digit, if 2013 is negative).

This would take the industry to around $300 billion in 2010 with a CAGR of 11.8 percent between 2010-14. It would also signal a 180-degree reversal in the industry’s fortunes following its ‘zero growth’ 2000-09 lost decade of growth. Moreover, despite the apparent bullishness of these numbers, given the now unavoidable 2010-11 fab shortage, the growth upside for 2010-12 is still huge.

The real tragedy however of what ought to have been good news for the industry was: (a) still, no one believes in the numbers; and (b) it was entirely predictable.

We first presented this forecast in January 2009, at the high point of the industry’s economic and business uncertainty. The only change we have made in the last 17 months was to increased 2010’s growth number from 15 to 31 percent number. Whilst all other industry analysts, business leaders, trade associations and economists alike wrestled with what was happening, we alone never lost faith in the industry or what the underlying fundamentals were saying.

This cycle’s forecast was the easiest we have ever had to make. All we had to do for the IEF meeting was to adjust for the fact that the 2009 recovery was faster and steeper than even we had dared to predict. The bottom line? The industry fundamentals may often get distorted by events but they never lie, ignore them at your peril.

We were ridiculed for our optimism in January 2009 and throughout the year when we stuck to our guns. We never stopped believing in the numbers however and never subscribe to industry fashion, trend or sentiment, despite this sometime being out on a limb with industry consensus.

We are proud of the fact only we got this analysis right but equally sad that no one had the courage to listen. This was not forecast luck either; this was simply doing what we do best, making a considered analysis and then believing in what the forecast tells us.

TSMC enables business growth through effective and collaborative innovation

May 27, 2010 Comments off

Dr. Jack Sun, CTO and vice president, R&D, TSMC.

Dr. Jack Sun, CTO and VP, R&D, TSMC.

While speaking on ‘Enabling business growth through effective and collaborative innovation’, at the recently held International Electronics Forum (IEF) 2010 in Dresden, Germany, Dr. Jack Sun, CTO and vice president, R&D, TSMC said that TSMC leads and invests heavily in competitive, energy efficient, and eco-friendly technologies to enable product innovation, such as CMOS platform scaling (40/28/20nm/FinFET, low-R,ELK..), More-than-Moore, and integrated package/3D-IC.

He added that TSMC strives for manufacturing excellence and capacity, and economy of scale, to support customers’ innovation and business growth. The company is also pushing the acceleration of EUV and Multi-Ebeam capabilities for cost-effective density scaling. His clear message was, “We must and can collaborate to innovate and overcome the technical and cost challenges.” That is, a collaborative innovation among the government, the industry and the academia is required to overcome the cost hurdle.

Earlier, he said that the IC industry will continue to grow — with a 22 percent growth likely in 2010, reaching $276 billion. During 2011-2014, he estimated a 4.2 percent CAGR for the IC industry and 7.2 percent CAGR for fabless companies.

Dwelling on the application and technology trend, Dr. Sun pointed out that the trend is SoC and heterogeneous integration at chip, package, and product level with embedded power-efficient processors, hardware accelerators, and special features.

TSMC continues to further expand its offering by including packaging services and silicon foundry services. This will allow the fabless semiconductor companies to achieve ‘More than Moore’ gains in integration by using TSMC as a foundry partner.

Dr. Sun also detailed the how TSMC enables innovation by providing best-in-class technology and design solutions.

* ‘Green’ CMOS technology platform – Moore’s Law.
— High density energy-efficient transistors and interconnect $ most desirable for embedded SoC.
— Pushing reduced-cost lithography and 450mm.
* Eco-friendly fine-pitch integrated packaging technology and 3D-IC
* Special/derivative technologies to interact with the external world – More-than-Moore.
— MCU, MEMS, RF, analog, BCD power, CIS, Display Driver, etc.
— Re-use and leverage compatible CMOS platform backbone and IP
* Open innovation platform and ecosystem of IPs.

TSMC’s 20nm and 28nm leadership
TSMC’s CMOS platform leadership clearly highlights future 20nm technology as well as 28nm leadership. Dr. Sun also highlighted how customers innovate with TSMC 40nm. Currently, there are more than 60 customer product tape-outs. More than half are in production with D0 <0.1 ~ 0.18. The monthly 40nm CyberShuttle has delivered >780 blocks for design/IP verification.

While on TSMC 28nm technology highlights, Dr. Sun said that the 28LP (poly/SiON) yield is approaching mature level on 64Mb SRAM. Also, the 28nm HKMG (28HP/28HPL) development is on track. Here, TSMC developed Gate-Last process with N+/P+ work function and superior performance, yield, manufacturability, variability,and reliability.

Also, it achieved double-digit 64Mb yield, good Vccmin, close-to- targets transistors, and good pre-qual reliability.

Dr. Sun added that a steady stream of shuttles have been running since the first one was launched in Jan’09. Almost every shuttle is 100 percent utilized. This implies an intensive customer engagement by TSMC. Over two dozen customers are said to be working with TSMC on 28nm technology across all application segments.

Now, on to TSMC’s 20nm highlights. The key technology features include planar transistors with 2nd-generation HKMG and 5th-generation strained Si; low-resistance ultra-shallow junction with M0 and enhanced millisecond anneal and silicide; and enhanced ELK and 2nd-generation Low-R interconnect.

Some other 20nm tehchnology highlights include immersion lithography with innovative patterning and layout solutions to achieve 2x density over 28nm, with the EDA tool likely to be ready by mid 2010. Also, the design rules are compatible for EUV and Multi-Ebeam insertion for selected layers in 2013-2014. Wow, this is really something! Read more…

GlobalFoundries enabling the next wave of ‘foundry’ innovation

May 20, 2010 Comments off

According to Mojy Chian, Senior Vice President, Design Enablement, GlobalFoundries, continued innovation in the foundry business demands a new approach. He was speaking at the recently held International Electronics  Forum (IEF) 2010 organized by Future Horizons in Dresden, Germany.

GlobalFoundries is bringing a highly integrated model to foundry, which involves the extension of customer operations, early customer-foundry engagement, as well as close collaboration and joint technology development. This would enable faster time to volume and market, leading to smooth ramps to mature yields. Chian added that design, manufacturing, and EDA/IP solutions must work in unison to accomplish this.

According to him, the industry desperately needs a new approach. Here, he discussed GlobalFoundries’ 28nm collaborative innovation, which involves four phases.

Phase 1: Exploration

* For advanced technology, foundry engagement begins 2.5 years before product tapeout.
* Starts with exploration of design architecture, specification, and methodology.
* Foundry value proposition drives corresponding process selection.
* Early engagement locks in the process to the customer’s design requirements.

Phase 2: Optimization
* Design architecture and IP development begins.
* Performance, power, density, cost, TTM targets analyzed.
* Trade-off analysis of design and process targets, TTM, and manufacturability.
* Design and process technology are co-optimized.

Phase 3: Iteration
* Initial process and design test structures taped out.
* Process targets frozen – PDK 0.1 is released.
* Design implementation methodology finalized.
* Design performance and power targets are defined.

Phase 4: Implementation
* Concurrent and target-driven process and design implementation.
* Fine tuning of process and design – design implementation in high gear.
* Test chips taped out, chip level validation, PDK 0.2, 0.5, 0.9, and 1.0 released.
* Incremental march towards process qualification and risk production.

The ultimate goal: process qualified on same day as tapeout! Target-driven technology development and design enablement are at the core of accelerating time-to-market.

Design Enablement at GlobalFoundries is said to be an unique approach to bridging the gap between design and manufacturing. There is close collaboration and early engagement. Although product engineering heritage is not typically found at foundries, GlobalFoundries has been able to make use of the best practices from Chartered’s foundry experience.

All of this leads to optimized performance, leakage and yields, accelerated time to market, reduced design and manufacturing risks, integrated system-level functionality.

New frontiers in MEMS around the human body


At the recently held International Electronics Forum (IEF) 2010, organized by Future Horizons in Dresden, Germany, Benedetto Vigna, Group Vice President and General Manager, MEMS, Sensors and High Performance Analog Division, STMicroelectronics, made a wonderful presentation on how MEMS can be useful for the human body, especially from the medical electronics point of view.

MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) is a three-dimensional device embedded in silicon, and uses silicon’s mechanical (and electrical) properties. It supports multifunctional systems of actuators, electronics and sensors.

Three critical waves of MEMS
Vigna highlighted the three very important waves of MEMS — automotive airbags, consumerization, and MEMS in, on, around the body! The last part especially is the most interesting one!

Automotive airbags formed the 1st wave of MEMS. The application supported big and not-so-precise accelerometers. Additional automotive applications followed, such as tyre pressure sensors and stability control. Vigna heralded consumerization as the 2nd wave of MEMS. There have been high-volume fabrication techniques, leading to higher performance/greater reliability at lower costs. He specifically pointed out the ‘Wii effect’! In this case, the high-volume commitment of vendors + UI benefits led to consumerization of MEMS.

Vigna added that MEMS has seen a speeding spiral of success in recent times. Earlier, it took 25 years from labs to fabs. Now, three product generations are developed and released in 12 months!

Another instance or example of the 2nd MEMS wave include the move from keyboard and mouse to free motion. In this case, the MEMS sensors change interaction with consumer electronics and propel new applications. There are now:
* Motion user interfaces in phones, games and remotes.
* Advanced navigation and location-based services.
* Free-fall protection in portable devices.


MEMS market
Vigna focused a moment on the MEMS motion sensors market 2009-2013 and the MEMS market. As far as the MEMS motion sensors market is concerned, accelerometers are likely to grow at 14.5 percent CAGR for the period 2009-2013. On the other hand, gyroscopes are likely to grow at 17.3 percent CAGR during 2009-2013.

Cell phones and CE is the major market segment in both cases, registering 19.5 percent CAGR and 25.4 percent CAGR, respectively, followed by automotive at 10.7 percent CAGR and 12.3 percent CAGR, respectively.

It is to be noted that in 2009, the overall MEMS market was almost flat compared to 2008, but volumes rose significantly, showing increasing penetration of MEMS in consumer devices.

Current trends in MEMS
Coming on to the current trends, MEMS is now pushing the limits of size and power — motion sensors are squeezing the footprint to 2×2 mm and current consumption well below 10uA in full operating mode. Multiple sensor integration is another trend. The integration of motion, magnetic, pressure and temperature sensors in a single package brings more degrees of freedom.

Embedded intelligence is the third key trend. The on-chip processing capabilities are enabling smart autonomous sensors and decreasing power consumption at the system level. Finally, software, is now the ‘S’ in MEMS! Vigna said that hardware and software integration is a key added value and differentiating factor. Read more…

Thrive or survive…going for gold in post-recession recovery: Malcolm Penn @ IEF2010, Dresden


Malcom Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons.

Malcom Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons.

According to Malcom Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons, 2010 — a barnstroming year — will likely see the global semiconductor industry grow by 31+ percent. He was delivering the company’s forecast at the ongoing 19th International Electronics Forum (IEF) 2010 in Dresden, Germany, which ends here tomorrow. He said it would take a disaster of the scale of Lehmann Brothers to derail this now!

Some of the other forecasts made by Malcolm Penn include:
* 2011: +28 percent; based on: peak of the structural cyclical boom (could stretch into 2012).
* 2012: +18 percent; based on: normal cyclical trash cycle starting 2H-2012 (1H-2013?).
* 2013: +3 percent based on: market correction in full flow (could be negative, cap ex overspend and inventory build depending).
* 2014: +12 percent; based on: start of the next cyclical recovery (single digit, if 2013 is negative).

Given the now unavoidable 2010-11 fab shortage, the growth upside for 2010-12 is huge!

The forecast track record of Future Horizons is quite interesting. As per forecasts made during the IFS2010 in Jan.2010, the chip fundamentals was said to be in very good shape. The industry was starting its recovery with shortages. Also, the ASPs had already stopped faling. The inventory levels were at an all-tme low. Finally, the capacity was tight, and spending, weak!

All of this added up to two years of very strong growth in prospect. Penn had said: “It doesn’t get much better than this. But, despite what the numbers say, still no-one believes beyond the next quarter!  “Ah but” is still driving the industry consensus!

Industry fundamentals don’t lie — believe in them or die! The capacity famine was instigated two+ years ago — well before the crasj, today’s shortage was inevitable. The recovery dynamics will continue to strengthen. Future Horizons’ forecast is now +31 percent ~$300 billion. The next trash dynamic has still not yet triggered. It is unlikely to happen before 2011, meaning, 2012 impact. However, the economic uncertainty remains the biggest risk. Also, the global financial system is fundamentally flawed. Read more…

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