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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…

Focus on monolithic 3D-ICs paradigm shift for semicon industry

November 19, 2012 1 comment

Dr. Zvi Or-Bach.

Dr. Zvi Or-Bach.

MonolithIC 3D Inc. was established in 2009 by Dr. Zvi Or-Bach, a well-known Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur, as NuPGA. The NuPGA’s mission was to develop programmable logic technology with density, speed, and power approaching ASICs.

On the way, while developing improved FPGA technology, the NuPGA team discovered a path for practical monolithic 3D-ICs. Recognizing that this breakthrough and its many related innovations represented a paradigm shift for the entire semiconductor industry, Dr. Zvi Or-Bach changed the strategy to focus on monolithic 3D-ICs, and renamed the company MonolithIC 3D Inc.

Monolithic 3D is based in San Jose, California, USA, where I met Dr. Zvi Or-Bach, president and CEO. First, I asked him to elaborate on the technology breakthrough that allows the fabrication of semiconductor devices with multiple tiers of copper connected active devices utilizing conventional fab equipment.

Dr. Zvi Or-Bach said: “The challenge is that once interconnect made of copper (or aluminum) is in that wafer should not be process at higher than 400 degrees C. The common view is that forming single crystal transistors would require higher than 1,000 c. The common view is that forming transistor in monocrystalline silicon layer require higher than 800 c. MonolithIC 3D’s innovation is finding path to overcome the above challenge utilizing monocrystalline silicon layer and conventional fab equipment.”

MonolithIC 3D offers solutions for logic and memory technologies, with significant benefits for cost, power and operating speed. The benefits for logic is detailed in Monolithic’s blog: Is the Cost Reduction Associated with Scaling Over?

Monolithic 3D provides the equivalent of one node of scaling for every folding at fraction of the development and equipment costs. And, it provide additional benefits such as:
* Significant advantages for using the same fab, design tools.
* Heterogeneous integration.
* Process multiple layers together Nx cost improvement.
* Logic redundancy => 100x integration.
* Enable modular design.

Dr. Zvi Or-Bach added: “The benefits for memory is that allow processing multi-layers of  single-crystal memories at comparable lithography cost of single layer. As of today, lithography costs dominate process costs than monolithic 3D allow future scaling at ever reduce costs and higher memory capacity.”

The company believes in collaboration with existing players in the semiconductor industry. MonolithIC 3D is not an IC producer, but rather, a technology innovator, who also file many patents which are available to be license by all industry players. Monolithic has been assigned a patent (8,294,159) developed by five co-inventors for a “method for fabrication of a semiconductor device and structure.  In fact, MonolithIC 3D has now been 20 granted patents of which 20 had been already issued.

PS: I am extremely grateful to Dr. Tim Majumdar, senior RF engineering manager and inventor,  who pointed me to this company.

What’s happening with global semicon industry?

August 13, 2011 1 comment

1H11/1H10 top 20 semiconductor sales leaders. Source: IC Insight, USA.

1H11/1H10 top 20 semiconductor sales leaders. Source: IC Insights, USA.

IC Insights recently released the 1H-11 top 20 semicon sales leaders. No surprises here, with Intel, Samsung, TSMC, TI and Toshiba as the top five leaders in that order. In all, 10 of the top 20 suppliers outperformed the total global semiconductor industry 1H11/1H10 growth rate of 4 percent.

The fabless companies — notably, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and so on, have registered positive growths. However, if you really look carefully, a lot of the companies thereafter have registered negative growth for the period 1H-11 over 1H-10.

What’s surprising to notice is the fact that at least seven companies — Renesas, Hynix, Micron, AMD, Infineon, Elpida and NXP have registered negative growth! This, during a period when the semiconductor industry was said to be on the rebound?  Whatever the reasons, they are all in the red!

Now, we are not spent from discussing an industry turnaround, which is perhaps there!  Also, the forecast for 2H-11 isn’t something to go overboard. IC Insights expects the 2H11/1H11 semiconductor market to grow only 6 percent, that is, a full-year 2011 semiconductor industry growth rate of 5 percent.

Closer to home, as usual, there are no Indian firms in the global top 20 list. As things stand, they may not even make it to the list, at least, for quite a while. One hopes that this situation somehow changes. Wonder, how did the India Semiconductor Association (ISA)-Frost & Sullivan study come up with a figure of 28.3 percent growth in 2010! Perhaps, I am mistaken in my calculations somewhere!!

Growth forecast down for global semicon industry?

August 1, 2011 Comments off

There are two different sets of predictions about the global semiconductor industry. First, IC Insights lowered its growth forecast for 2011 from 10 percent to 5 percent and the 2011 IC market forecast from 10 percent to 4 percent. Following this, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), announced that global sales of semiconductors were $24.7 billion for June 2011, a 1.5 percent decrease from the prior month when sales were $25 billion and 0.5 percent decrease from a year ago.

Sales in Q2-11 were down 2 percent compared to the prior quarter. Despite these, the global semicon industry registered growth of 3.7 percent during H1-2011, noted SIA. These are indeed interesting!

Brian Toohey, president, SIA, remarked, “Despite this month’s modest contraction in sales, the industry saw a 3.7 percent increase in the first half of 2011 sales compared to the same period last year which saw record breaking growth.”

At first glance, these lower predictions could be attributed to the still-recovering Japan. IC Insights has lowered projections owing to poor performance by the global economy in the first half of 2011. On the other hand, SIA is hopeful of the inclusion of more green and smart technology in vehicles, although it is still a few years away.

Besides Japan, IC Insights has listed the Arab unrest and higher oil prices, surge of natural disasters in the US, and European debt crises and US debt ceiling deadline as the economic headwinds during H1-2011. Will those go away so soon?

While the global GDP growth during H2-2011 is not likely to go back to the levels registered during the first three quarters of 2011, it is expected that there may be some improvement.

IC Insights’  forecast also assumes that the issues mentioned will be resolved and none of those will cause any serious negative financial situation for the global economy in H2 of 2011.

Just last month, Dr. Wally Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor Graphics, said: “There is more new capacity coming into foundries by 2012. Investment in memory has been modest. However, fabless companies should find more capacity in 2012.” One hopes this holds true!

Renesas Mobile inaugurates R&D centre in Bangalore

May 11, 2011 Comments off

Renesas Mobile Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Renesas Electronics Corp., announced the inauguration of its research and development (R&D) centre in Bangalore, India which develops 2G, 3G and 4G modem technologies.

(L-R): Heikki Tenhunen, senior VP, Alan Frederiksen, MD, Renesas Mobile India,  Shinichi Yoshioka, senior executive VP and COO, and Jean-Marie Rolland, CTO and executive VP, Sales and Marketing.

(L-R): Heikki Tenhunen, senior VP, Alan Frederiksen, MD, Renesas Mobile India, Shinichi Yoshioka, senior executive VP and COO, and Jean-Marie Rolland, CTO and executive VP, Sales and Marketing.

Renesas Mobile was established on December 1, 2010 as a 100 percent subsidiary company of Renesas Electronics. As part of the Renesas group, it has the support of the world’s largest embedded microcontroller player in the semiconductor world. Renesas Mobile focuses on platforms for smart phones, feature phones, car infotainment and embedded connected devices enabling people to stay connected in the cloud computing era.

The company integrates the former Mobile Multimedia Business Unit of Renesas with the former Nokia Wireless Modem Business Unit. The Nokia Wireless Modem Business Unit has been acquired by Renesas Electronics as announced on July 1st, 2010.

Introducing Renesas Mobile Corp., Heikki Tenhunen, senior VP, said that Renesas Mobile offers advanced and innovative products and services for mobile phones, car infotainment solutions, consumer electronics and industrial applications.

The company’s mission is to develop, productize and deliver advanced triple- and dual-mode communication centric semicon chipsets and platforms based on chipsets to provide innovative solutions and drive mew oppurtunities for customers. Renesas Mobile aims to be a world leader in mobile platforms by evolving its proven modem, application processor and SoCs, and associated services via its global business channel.

The Renesas-Nokia combine has since gone on to make unrivalled connected experiences a reality — by way of powerful multi-tasking, rich multimedia, newly emerging technologies — such as cloud computing, 3D, augmented reality, etc., PC like Internet experience, smaller form factor and longer battery life, and remain always connected!

Renesas’ mobile expertise includes the following:
* Excellent device experience, supporting over 400 mobile handsets to date;
* Key components verified at ‘system‘ level quality for platform release;
* Complete reference design easy to start application development;
* Market proven multimedia software package and multiple OpenOS integration support;
* Competitive SoC implementation performance; over 470 mn transistors in mobile LSI (G4);
* Leading-edge process (45nm, 28nm, 22nm) balancing own fab and partners (TSMC, etc.). Read more…

More ‘fabless IC billionaires’ in 2010, says IC Insights! Is India listening?

December 22, 2010 5 comments

Brilliant! There’s no other word to describe the first part of this headline!

As per IC Insights’ forecast of 2010 billion-dollar fabless IC suppliers, excerpted from a ranking of top 50 fabless IC suppliers in its ‘ 2011 edition of The McClean Report’, as many as 13 fabless IC suppliers are tipped to cross the $1-billion mark in sales in 2010! As per IC Insights, this is a significant step up — from 10 companies in 2009 and eight in 2008.

Leading fabless IC suppliers. Source: IC Insight, USA.

Leading fabless IC suppliers. Source: IC Insight, USA.

Just sit back and admire this table. There are nine firms from the US — Qualcomm, Broadcom, AMD, Marvell, Nvidia, Xilinx, Altera, LSI and Avago, three from Taiwan — MediaTek, Novatek and MStar, while ST-Ericsson is Europe’s lone representation in this stellar list.

In this august club of IC billionaires, no surprises, but Qualcomm retains the top place for the third consecutive year. Broadcom moves up a place. AMD should become the world’s third largest player.

Broadcom at 53 percent, Marvell at 34 percent, Xilinx at 39 percent, Altera at 63 percent, Avago and Novatek at 40 percent each are top performers. However, MStar of Taiwan steals the show with an estimated 75 percent growth in 2010.

Qualcomm, Nvidia and LSI have performed well, especially  the last two – coming pff a difficult 2009. Taiwan’s MediaTek has seen the biggest slip — down to 3 percent in 2010 from 22 percent in 2009.

There is no representation from Japan in the fabless IC billionaires club. IC Insights has indicated that the fabless/foundry hasn’t caught on in Japan and is unlikely to do so in the near future. However, Taiwan and China based firms should sooner or later find their way into this club.

I will now come to India! Read more…

June ’10 global semicon update: Forget 2010, ~30 percent’s in the bag! What about 2011?

July 4, 2010 Comments off

Here are the excerpts from the Global Semiconductor Monthly Report, June 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.

April set the ball rolling for a blockbuster second quarter making what will now be five successive quarters of growth. Our 3 percent Q2 growth forecast looks increasingly timid, with 6-8 percent more likely. Virtually all forecasters are now pitching 2010’s growth at the 30 percent level, so there is little left to argue about other than guessing the exact final number.

Whether the ‘final’ number is 28 or 38 percent really makes no odds; it is the underlying trend that counts, something we forecast correctly over 18 months ago.

The real issue now is “What about 2011?” We are clearly now in a boom and the next phase is bust, but when, how deep and how fast will it collapse? We are currently reappraising this and our 2011 forecast, with the analyses to be presented at our forthcoming IFS2011 Mid-Term International Forecast Seminar in London on 20th July.

Forget all of the intellectual arguments about expanded geographical customer base, broader application range and the smoothing effects these would have, all that is hogwash. The industry boom-bust cycles persist and will continue to do so all the while demand dynamics are measured in weeks and the supply-side in quarters making it impossible to ever balance supply and demand.

Semiconductor industry dynamic: Future Horizons

Semiconductor industry dynamics: Future Horizons

At this point it is pertinent to revive a slide I first presented at the IEEE meeting in Boston in 1975. This slide is as valid today as it was 35 years ago.

After four quarters of growth, the industry now finds itself in the full flood of a classic market boom. Order books are full, customers are building stocks, double ordering is rife, capacity is strained, lead times increasing and deliveries are stretched.

Inventory replenishment started in Q2-2009, due to the severe inventory overdepletion in Q4-2008/Q1-2009, and was over by Q4-2009 to be replaced by inventory building in 1H-2010, driven by lead-time extension. Typically every week of extra lead-time adds at least half a week to WIP.

Double, even triple, ordering (due to supply shortages) only really started in 1H-2010 and is definitely getting worse, but double ordering is NOT double shipping, yet. For that to happen, supply needs to catch up with demand. That leaves just one item missing from the 1975 list … ‘prices stabilise’, the worldwide semiconductor and IC ASP trends. Read more…

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