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

October 15, 2013 1 comment

Future Horizons hosted the 22nd Annual International Electronics Forum, in association with IDA Ireland, on Oct. 2-4, 2013, at Dublin, Blanchardstown, Ireland. The forum was titled ‘New Markets and Opportunities in the Sub-20nm Era: Business as Usual OR It’s Different This Time.” Here are excerpts from some of the sessions. Those desirous of finding out much more should contact Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizons.

Liam BritnellLiam Britnell, European manager and Research Scientist, Bluestone Global Tech (BGT) Materials spoke on Beyond Graphene: Heterostructures and Other Two-Dimensional Materials.

The global interest in graphene research has facilitated our understanding of this rather unique material. However, the transition from the laboratory to factory has hit some challenging obstacles. In this talk I will review the current state of graphene research, focusing on the techniques which allow large scale production.

I will then discuss various aspects of our research which is based on more complex structures beyond graphene. Firstly, hexagonal boron nitride can be used as a thin dielectric material where electrons can tunnel through. Secondly, graphene-boron nitride stacks can be used as tunnelling transistor devices with promising characteristics. The same devices show interesting physics, for example, negative differential conductivity can be found at higher biases. Finally, graphene stacked with thin semiconducting layers which show promising results in photodetection.

I will conclude by speculating the fields where graphene may realistically find applications and discuss the role of the National Graphene Institute in commercializing graphene.

Jean-Rene Lequepeys, VP Silicon Components, CEA-Leti, spoke on  Advanced Semiconductor Technologies Enabling High-Performance Jean-Rene Lequepeysand Energy Efficient Computing.

The key challenge for future high-end computing chips is energy efficiency in addition to traditional challenges such as yield/cost, static power, data transfer. In 2020, in order to maintain at an acceptable level the overall power consumption of all the computing systems, a gain in term of power efficiency of 1000 will be required.

To reach this objective, we need to work not only at process and technology level, but to propose disruptive multi-processor SoC architecture and to make some major evolutions on software and on the development of
applications. Some key semiconductor technologies will definitely play a key role such as: low power CMOS technologies, 3D stacking, silicon photonics and embedded non-volatile memory.

To reach this goal, the involvement of semiconductor industries will be necessary and a new ecosystem has to be put in place for establishing stronger partnerships between the semiconductor industry (IDM, foundry), IP provider, EDA provider, design house, systems and software industries.

Andile NgcabaAndile Ngcaba, CEO, Convergence Partners, spoke on Semiconductor’s Power and Africa – An African Perspective.

This presentation looks at the development of the semiconductor and electronics industries from an African perspective, both globally and in Africa. Understanding the challenges that are associated with the wide scale adoption of new electronics in the African continent.

Electronics have taken over the world, and it is unthinkable in today’s modern life to operate without utilising some form of electronics on a daily basis. Similarly, in Africa the development and adoption of electronics and utilisation of semiconductors have grown exponentially. This growth on the African continent was due to the rapid uptake of mobile communications. However, this has placed in stark relief the challenges facing increased adoption of electronics in Africa, namely power consumption.

This background is central to the thesis that the industry needs to look at addressing the twin challenges of low powered and low cost devices. In Africa there are limits to the ability to frequently and consistently charge or keep electronics connected to a reliable electricity grid. Therefore, the current advances in electronics has resulted in the power industry being the biggest beneficiary of the growth in the adoption of electronics.

What needs to be done is for the industry to support and foster research on this subject in Africa, working as a global community. The challenge is creating electronics that meet these cost and power challenges. Importantly, the solution needs to be driven by the semiconductor industry not the power industry. Focus is to be placed on operating in an off-grid environment and building sustainable solutions to the continued challenge of the absence of reliable and available power.

It is my contention that Africa, as it has done with the mobile communications industry and adoption of LED lighting, will leapfrog in terms of developing and adopting low powered and cost effective electronics.

Jo De Boeck, senior VP and CTO, IMEC, discussed Game-Changing Technology Roadmaps For Lifescience. Jo De Boeck

Personalized, preventive, predictive and participatory healthcare is on the horizon. Many nano-electronics research groups have entered the quest for more efficient health care in their mission statement. Electronic systems are proposed to assist in ambulatory monitoring of socalled ‘markers’ for wellness and health.

New life science tools deliver the prospect of personal diagnostics and therapy in e.g., the cardiac, neurological and oncology field. Early diagnose, detailed and fast screening technology and companioning devices to deliver the evidence of therapy effectiveness could indeed stir a – desperately needed – healthcare revolution. This talk addresses the exciting trends in ‘PPPP’ health care and relates them to an innovation roadmap in process technology, electronic circuits and system concepts.
Read more…

Elliptic intros world’s first commercial touchless gesturing technology!

November 13, 2012 1 comment

Source: Elliptic Labs, USA.

Source: Elliptic Labs, USA.

Palo Alto, US-based Elliptic Labs has introduced the world’s first commercial touchless gesturing technology using ultrasound, designed for electronic devices and Windows 8. Elliptic’s breakthrough technology is the first of its kind commercially available and has been incorporated in the Windows 8 Gesture Suite, introduced today. So, what’s this new technology from Elliptic Labs really all about?

Well, OEMs now have a commercially available technology to integrate gesture recognition in their terminals – with extremely low power and robust detection of hand gestures. The technology is based on ultrasound, and requires a small number of low-cost components (microphones, transducers) for integration in the terminal.

The actual gesture recognition is done on the host CPU, running a power-efficient detection software provided by Elliptic labs. Ultrasonic gesture recognition has a perfect fit with Windows 8 user interface, and the company provides gestures for very simple interaction with a Windows 8 terminal with the new Modern/METRO user interface.

With this technology, you can command a laptop simply by gesturing in front of the computer, and to the sides and above the screen. A key feature of ultrasound is that Elliptic Labs supports gestures not only in the front of the computer, but also to the sides and above, enabling intuitive interactions with the terminal.

Another advantage of ultrasound is that it works in complete darkness, and in direct sunlight, which is challenging for camera-based solutions, and very important for mobile use. Yet another great news is the availability of a Software Development Kit (SDK), so that the OEMs and ISVs can adapt the technology to their particular applications. Elliptic Labs has provided a Starter Kit to get started with ultrasound gestures in minutes!

Mobiles and tablets groove!
This technology can also be used in laptops, mobiles and tablets. A Windows 8 laptop can be operated by simple gestures, which is

Source: Elliptic Labs, USA.

Source: Elliptic Labs, USA.

usually found on touch screens. The OEMs and ISVs can now create new and intuitive user interfaces for a Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer as they wish.

With the SDK, game developers can quickly port their games to support ultrasound controls, and business applications can leverage gestures for quick browsing, selection, and general operation of software. Mobiles and tables can also leverage ultrasound gestures, as the SDK is being made available also for the Android operating system.

Ultrasonic approach!
Elliptic Labs has made use of the ultrasonic approach, which apparently, makes life easier for batteries. The amount of information from a few microphones is much smaller than the amount of information from camera-based solutions. The algorithms for ultrasound gesture recognition can execute with less instructions, resulting in significant lower power usage.

As a result, the ability to do gesture recognition can be “always on”, so users can rely on gestures for all applications of the terminal. The aspect of power consumption is of particular importance for mobile terminals.

Elliptic is a leader in ultrasonic touchless gesturing for consumer electronic devices. Its patented, low-power, responsive new technology is superior to the limited, camera-based approaches on the market. The Windows 8 Gesture Suite enables a touchless version of all touchscreen gestures in the new operating system. Combined with Elliptic’s SDK, the technology gives OEMs the flexibility to create disruptive new ways to interact with devices.

Elliptic’s ultrasound technology uses sound waves and microphones to detect movement, similar to how radar detects objects. The technology is not limited to detecting movement within camera view — it detects natural hand movements that extend beyond the camera, surrounding a device screen.

MIPS driving Android to digital home @ Computex 2011!

June 2, 2011 Comments off

MIPS Technologies Inc. is having a good run at the ongoing Computex 2011. First, with Taiwan’s Silicon Integrated Systems Corp. (SiS), it announced the latest milestone in driving the Android platform into the digital home. It launched the MIPS Application Development (MAD) Program designed to promote rapid development of applications on the MIPS architecture.

MIPS, along with Ingenic Semiconductor, a leading China-based CPU provider for mobile multimedia applications, have brought the Android 3.0, also known as ‘Honeycomb’, to Ingenic’s new JZ4770 mobile applications processor, which leverages a MIPS-Based XBurst CPU running at 1GHz. Honeycomb is the newest version of the Android operating system designed specifically for tablets and other large format products. MIPS and Ingenic will work together on porting Honeycomb to the Ingenic chip for tablets.  Lastly, MIPS and Actions Semiconductor Co. Ltd, one of China’s leading fabless semiconductor companies that provides solutions for portable consumer electronics, are collaborating to bring Android 3.0, also known as “Honeycomb,” to a new 1.3GHz MIPS-Based chipset from Actions.

Jennifer Bernier-Santarini, senior PR manager, MIPS.

Jennifer Bernier-Santarini, senior PR manager, MIPS.

So, how is MIPS aligning with SiS to drive the Android into the home? Jennifer Bernier-Santarini, senior PR manager for MIPS, said that SiS is a long-time MIPS licensee, and like many of the licensees, is innovating with Android on the MIPS architecture for the digital home and for mobile/portable products.

Over the years, as MIPS has introduced new high performance cores, SiS has progressively and quickly licensed these cores for its products. Its newest chip for Internet TV leverages dual-core MIPS processors along with the latest technologies including support for high-end graphics and enhanced video processing, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, video on demand recording, plus interoperability with mobile devices.

Santarini added: “SiS recently licensed our 1074K core, which combines a superscalar architecture with coherent multiprocessing, for its next generation product. SiS works with other leading IP companies including MIPS’ partner Imagination Technologies to build the most advanced technologies into its products. Earlier this year, SiS announced support for MIPS’ new Android based SmartCE platform for connected entertainment on DTVs, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes and other home products. We are continuing to work with SiS through our Android on MIPS community on further development and optimizations around its Android on MIPS products.”

MIPS has also launched the MAD Program designed to promote rapid development of applications on the MIPS architecture.

Santarini added: The MIPS Application Development (MAD) Program is the latest offering from MIPS designed to promote rapid development of applications on the MIPS architecture. Initially we will focus on Android applications for MIPS-Based mobile devices. We are providing performance and compatibility testing so that applications developers can ensure their applications run smoothly on the MIPS architecture and provide an ideal user experience. Through the program, we are also offering technical support and a MAD Kit of tools for MIPS application development.

“Ultimately, applications developers will want to ensure that their apps run across all of the major architectures, so we are making it easy for them to do this. We will soon be announcing some other initiatives to further build the applications ecosystem for Android on MIPS-Based mobile devices with a focus on the China market, where there is not currently an official Android market. Stay tuned for that news.” Read more…

Evolution of wireless market and emerging trends: Qualcomm

May 17, 2011 Comments off

Matt Grob, SVP, corporate R&D, Qualcomm.

Matt Grob, SVP, corporate R&D, Qualcomm.

At the ISA CXO Conclave, Matt Grob, SVP, corporate R&D, Qualcomm, said that the company is a world leader in next-generation mobile technologies. It is celebrating 25 years of driving the evolution of wireless communications. It is making wireless more personal, affordable and accessible to people everywhere. Qualcomm is also the world’s largest fabless semiconductor company, #1 in wireless, and #9 in semiconductors.

Qualcomm’s unique business model is to be a technology enabler for the entire mobile value chain. It has continued strategic R&D investments, totalling more than $15.4 billion in 2010.

Industry trends
The 2G to 3G migration is currently taking place, with over 3.1 billion 3G subscriptions likely in 2015.  As for the emerging region growth, China leads with 640 percent, followed by Latin America at 465 percent and India at 168 percent, respectively.

Qualcomm is also said to be enabling the mobile broadband in India with 3G and LTE. Besides growing the LTE TDD ecosystem in region, it is building partnerships for long-term strategy and establishing 3G/LTE as best technology path for operators. Qualcomm is also driving the device evolution and growing the market by creating more choices for operators and consumers. It is developing low-cost 3G handsets for emerging markets using 1+ GHz mobile processors and supporting multiple popular OS.

The smartphone industry momentum has ensured that the ecosystem is benefitting from and driving growth. There has been as much as >25 percent YoY data revenue growth from leading operators. OEMs have launched 100+ new smartphones in the first half of CY 2010. The total mobile apps downloads from developers is likely to move up from 7 billion in 2009 to 50 billion by 2012.

Is this a war of tablets, or Apple OS vs. Google Android?

September 3, 2010 Comments off

The iPad; Courtesy: Apple

The iPad; Courtesy: Apple

So, the Apple iPad has some serious competitors, or so, it seems! From Korea and Japan, especially, in form of first, Samsung and now, Toshiba. Well, it has a competitor from India too!

Samsung's Galaxy Tab

Samsung's Galaxy Tab

First, Samsung announced its Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablet at the ongoing IFA 2010 in Berlin. Very soon, Toshiba followed with its Folio 100 Android tablet, also at the IFA.

There’s a news on the Web about yet another Samsung tabllet, titled Honeycomb, which should be coming soon.
Viewsonic, reports Gizmodo, is showing two tablets at the IFA — the ViewPad 100, a 10-inch model that dual boots Windows Home Premium 7 and Android 1.6, and the ViewPad 7 running on Android 2.2.

OlivePad - VT100, India’s first 3.5G Pad.

The OlivePad - VT100, India’s first 3.5G Pad.

Now, those in India would be quite familiar with Olive Telecom’s OlivePad – VT100, India’s first 3.5G Pad. It supports 3.5G, Wi-Fi, HSUPA and Bluetooth, and features an inbuilt 3-megapixel camera and a front camera. The Olive Pad can be used as a touch notebook.

Hey, what’s happening? We literally have an ongoing war of the tablets (tablet PCs) on our hands. Not that anyone’s complaining!
The other interesting point is the emergence of Google Android as a leading operating system (OS) in this domain, trying to take on the Apple iOS 3.2!
Maybe, more tablets are on their way.

I’ll compare some specs of the few tablets mentioned here, along with the iPad, a bit later, time permitting.

As of now, it seems the game’s on between the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab! There, I’ve joined this debate!!

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