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Renesas enhancing localization of products in India!

September 17, 2011 1 comment

Jeffrey Soh and Sunil Dhar, Renesas.

Jeffrey Soh and Sunil Dhar, Renesas.

Renesas Electronics was among the worst hit companies during the Japanese earthquake in March this year. To its credit, Renesas restarted production at its quake-hit factories by mid-June. For the record, Renesas’ Naka factory had been the worst-affected by the March 2011 earthquake. The Naka factory produces around 20 percent of MCUs and SoC solutions, and about 10 percent of analog and power devices.

According to Jeffrey Soh, director – South Asia & Pacific Business Unit, Renesas Electronics Singapore Pte. Ltd,  power shortages had been created by the earthquakes. “The Naka plant was the most affected. It has been housing 65nm and 90nm process technologies. We have had very good support from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI),” he said.

On June 1, 2011, the Naka factory started production again. “We are now in full recovery. We still have to recover a lot of backlog,” noted Soh. From the earthquake to the recovery of the Naka plant, Renesas was able to start the production of automotive processors. The massive earthquake in Japan and the resulting tsunami in March saw Renesas strengthen its business continuity plan (BCP)  and re-inforce the risk management system. “We have now taken up BCP. The earthquake only accelerated the BCP,” said Soh.

So, what’s the outlook like for 2012? According to Jeffrey Soh, there are double challenges. First, there is the high Yen. However, the high Yen has forced Renesas to be even more competitive. “We expect that the Japanese government will also roll out a recovery plan,” Soh, noted.

Renesas’ situation in India
Elaborating on Renesas’ India plans, Jeffrey Soh said: “We plan to grow in India. We have spent the last five years cultivating the Indian localization. Here, we are developing all India based solutions.” Out of the 30 products that have been developed in India so far, Renesas has been able to help 16 companies up until now.

“We have built a company that works on the localization of products. We are soliciting a lot of Japanese support to enhance the Indian localization of products,” he added.

According to him, besides mobile communications, healthcare and medical electronics, automotive electronics and smart energy, Renesas is also looking at developing the power electronics segment in India.

Aftermath of Japanese earthquake: Implications for global electronics industry!

April 4, 2011 Comments off

This is a commentary on industry trends from Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons.

Importance of Japan
Japan is a major producer of semiconductor components accounting for around 22 percent of global semiconductor production. The Flash memory market sector – crucially mobile phones, iPads and their derivatives, digital cameras, and portable storage devices, account for approximately 50 percent of the market, almost all of which are produced by one Japanese firm, Toshiba/Sandisk.

Several of Japan’s major semiconductor companies locate their manufacturing spots in the northeast prefectures, for example Toshiba’s 8-inch wafer fab in lwate, Renesas Electronics’ factories in Aomori, Hoddaido and Yamagata, Elpedia Memory’s backend manufacturing facility in Akita and Fujitsu’s plants in Fukushima.

The effects of the devastating earthquake, which hit Japan on Friday 11th March, are already beginning to take hold on the global electronics industry. Damaged buildings and infrastructure and halts to some semiconductor fabs will without doubt have a knock on affect upon the global semiconductor supply chain, with many of the big names, i.e., Nokia, General Motors and Apple already experiencing supply shortages.

Many manufacturers, not directly hit by the earthquake, have experienced power failures interrupting production; just a microsecond power supply glitch can result in the scrapping of weeks of in-process production, and with manufacturers no longer holding inventory it will impact IC supply availability in Q2. To what extent, still remains to be seen. The impact will be felt both in the long and short term, affecting not only the semiconductor supply chain but nearly every other industry imaginable, as it is very rare these days to find an industry which is not reliant on chips.

Component prices
As in any shortage situation, component price increases are inevitable and this has already happened in memory, although it is not yet clear how much of this is panic profiteering and how much is sustainable. But shortages are inevitable and recovery due to the long production cycle times and already tight capacity – will not happen over night.

Automakers
The automotive semiconductor market grew 37 percent in 2010, clearly leaving the problematic 2009 behind. However the recent earthquake in Japan has once again awoken auto manufacturers concerns about the industry. Even before the earthquake purchasing managers had expressed concern about supply levels; inventories were unusually low, resulting in heightened concern from purchasing executives around the world.

It is difficult to estimate the extent auto manufacturers will be affected, but following an official announcement from Japan that car production will be down 33 percent from its normal monthly production level of 750k cars per month to 500k it looks as though the 2010 market growth may be short lived.

Toyota Motor Co, the worlds largest auto manufacturer, said all 12 Japanese assembly plants would remain closed until at least 26th March and it was not sure when they would re-open. Production lost between 14-26 March would be about 140,000 units. Read more…

Disruptions to global electronics supply chain following Japan’s quake!


The IHS iSuppli held a seminar to discuss “How Big of a Threat to the Global Recovery and Key Industries Is the Disaster in Japan and the Turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa?”.

One of the participants, Dale Ford, senior VP, IHS iSuppli, presented on the “Disruptions to the electronics supply chain”, following Japan’s quake, where he pointed out that those companies close to the epicenter of the earthquake would need as much as four to six months to return to normalcy!

Ford listed equipment and building damage, infrastructure damage, electricity, water and roads, as well as workforce disruption, and safety, food and gas as the areas mainly impacted.

The time for full shipment restoration ranges from one to two months, on to four to six months for the areas impacted most, especially, equipment and building damage.

Now, it is well known that Japan plays a major role in the global electronics supply chain. Japan offers 20.8 percent of global production. It supplies 60 percent of the worldwide silicon wafers. Its TFT LCD panel capacity equals 12 percent of the world supply. It is also said to be a leader in battery technology and production.

The key component and material production facilities currently closed in Japan include:

Silicon production
a) Kamisu, Ibaraki, Shin-Etsu
b) Nishigo, Fukushima, Shin-Etsu
c) Utsunomiya, Tochigi, MEMC
d) Yonezawa, Yamagata, SUMCO

Display manufacturing
a) Hitachi Displays
b) Panasonic LCD
c) Tohoku Pioneer

Semiconductors
a) Aizu Wakamatsu, Fukushima
On Semiconductor (Logic)
Fujitsu (Analog, Discrete, Memory)
Texas Instruments (Analog, Optical)

b) Atsugi, Kanagawa
Mitsumi (Analog, Logic)

c) Goshogawara, Aomori
Renesas Electronics (Logic) Read more…

Impact of Japan’s quake and tsunami on global semiconductor industry


It has not even been a week since the unwanted happenings in Japan. Already. there are reports of nuclear emergency! One hopes it does not turn out to be that way!!

On the semiconductor front, DRAMeXchange of Taiwan has reported that Japan’s earthquake and electrical brownouts could affect silicon wafer supply and global DRAM capacity. WitsView reported that the recovery process of infrastructure in Japan will affect the resurgence of upstream panel supply chain. LEDinside observed that the earthquake generally has not done much damage to the LED industry.

EnergyTrend reported that the earthquake in Japan has relatively slight impact on the global solar industry compared to the other industries. The supply chain sectors influenced are mainly mono silicon and poly silicon suppliers. However, it has sent out a warning: the nuclear crisis in Fukushima continues to appear unsettling. If the radiation leakage widens to Kanzai of Japan, where many solar cell manufacturers are located, the global supply of solar cells may be affected.

The more important impact may be on Japan’s production of components for LCD panels, says IHS iSuppli.

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami has also stunned the global semiconductor industry, given that Japan has been a pioneer and leader in the global chip industry.

The preliminary assessment of Texas Instruments’ manufacturing sites in Japan revealed that the fab in Miho suffered substantial damage during the earthquake. Teams are working to reinstate production in stages, reaching full production in mid-July. TI’s fab in Aizu-wakamatsu was also damaged, but already is being re-started with full production estimated by mid-April. TI’s third fab in Hiji is undamaged and running at normal capacity.

Sony Group Operations are said to have been affected by the Pacific coast of Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and related power outages. For Elpida, the Hiroshima Plant suffered little impact as it is located in Hiroshima in the southwest of Japan, However, the Akita Elpida memory plant is not in operation as of the time of the  announcement due to power shut down caused by the earthquake, and it is hoped that normal business will resume when the power returns.

Iwate Toshiba Electronics did not report any casualties, but as of March 15, there was power lost, with limited partial recovery to start from March 13. One hopes, some power has been restored. And, as of March 15, 12:00pm, seven factories out of 22 of the Renesas Group’s factories in Japan have temporarily shutt down production.

The Shin-Etsu group reported that as of 1pm,, March 15 (Japan Time), necessary inspections were being carried out at Shin-Etsu Chemical Kashima Plant (Kamisu, Ibaraki Pref.) and Shin-Etsu Handotai Shirakawa Plant (Nishigo Village, Fukushima Pref.), both of which were out of operation.

It is implementing inspections of the facilities and equipments at the both plants putting the utmost priority on safety. However, damages were founded at some production equipment at the both plants until now. At present, it is still unclear how long it will take to restore such damaged equipments and facilities at the both plants.

Mitsui Chemicals Group reports the following effects of the Kanto-Tohoku earthquake on its operations.Operations at the Kashima Works (Kamisu City, Ibaraki Prefecture), has been suspended since the earthquake. Operations will be resumed after assessment of damage by the earthquake and tsunami.

At its Ichihara Works (Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture), production at ethylene plants is according to schedule. However, the operations at Mitsui DuPont Polychemicals and Chiba Phenol plants have been suspended since the earthquake. After assessing effect of scheduled “rolling” blackout, operations will be resumed.

At the Mobara Branch Factory (Mobara City, Chiba Prefecture), operations at acrylamide and paint toner binder resin plants have been suspended since the earthquake. After assessing effect of scheduled “rolling” blackout, operations will be resumed. All other facilities are operating according to schedule.

Japan has the enviable track record of bouncing back from adversity. Let’s all hope and pray for an encore!

Japanese quake and tsunami — too devastating to watch on TV!

March 13, 2011 Comments off

I’m shocked — seeing the devastating images on TV from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami! The images on TV from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami are just too depressing! I am really worried for some of my friends from that part of the world! Shinpai da!!

Japan's earthquake and tsunami: Courtesy: STAR News, India.

Japan's earthquake and tsunami: Courtesy: STAR News, India.

It is being reported on TV that the quake has shifted the earth off Japanese coast by 8cm (or is it inches?). There are likely to be severe aftershocks. The official Japanese death toll is currently 801, with thousands missing. There are threats of a nuclear meltdown. Over 200,000 people have so far been evacuated from the area.

The natural disaster is unprecedented, says the Japanese prime minister. The earthquake has knocked out electric power to an estimated over 6 million homes. Sendai is among the worst affected areas.  There is widespread flooding and destruction in Natori city, Miyagi prefecture. There are concerns of fuel and food shortages in Japan as well.

NHK has been showing devastating images of the tsunami that has struck Japan post the earthquakes. Staffers at Fukushima Daichi plant are still working to lower the reactor temperatures. About 9,500 are said to be mising at Minamisanriku. The world is said to be already mobilizing to help victims of Friday’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami on Japan, reports CNN.

According to IHS iSuppli, the Japanese DRAM manufacturing accounts for 10 percent of the global supply based on wafer production. The two major DRAM fabs in Japan, operated by US based-Micron and Japan’s Elpida, have not been directly affected, according to preliminary indications from IHS iSuppli contacts. Japanese companies, mainly Toshiba Corp., account for 35 percent of global NAND flash production in terms of revenue.

The more important impact may be on Japan’s production of components for LCD panels. Japan accounts for a very high share of components uses in LCD panels and LCD-based products, including glass, color filters, polarizers, cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

I have contacted the few friends I have in Japan, one, an ex-Global Sources employee, and the rest from the Japanese semiconductor/electronics industry.  Hope all of  them are safe and sound. Hope to be back with more!

PS: I just heard from my friend, Yoshio Washizu. An ex-Global Sources colleague, he lives in southern Japan, in Kyushu Island, and is not affected by the monster earthquake.

He says: “What happened in the eastern Japan is simply unreal. I have to go to Tokyo later this week and stay there until Sunday, I am not so keen on doing so, though. The earthquake badly shook Tokyo as well. And it is forecasted there is a 50 percent chance of us having the aftermath in the next five days. So I’m a little bit uncomfortable.”

Stay safe, my friend!

Clearly, mixed signals in OEM semiconductor design activities!

July 12, 2009 Comments off

Friends, here is the full report on iSuppli’s recent activity titled “Mixed Signals in OEM Design Activities”.

Min-Sun Moon, senior analyst, Semiconductor Spend and Design, iSuppli, discussed how the “values” of design activities are discerned globally and how design decisions are made by a given country.

This report should be of particular interest to the Indian semiconductor design industry as it is apparent there is considerable scope for growth and development.

It is very well documented that everyone has been hit hard by the economic downturn. The electronic OEMs are no exception. They have also reduced shipments. The average selling prices (ASPs) of semiconductor devices have dropped dramatically as well.

Top six design influencing countries
As per iSuppli’s Design Activity Tool, the top six countries leading in the design influence are as follow: USA, Japan, China/Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Germany. The United States retains the no. 1 position, followed by Japan and China.

The dramatic changes in ASPs of chips and products meant an almost about 5 percent drop in semiconductor spend in 2008, and above 21 percent drop in semiconductor spend by the top OEMs in 2009. Hence, design activities by top OEMs dropped significantly.

The USA apparently has been going through a tough period, and it does not seem to have a bright future in 2009-10 due to drop in design spends. However, in 2010, it should post about 9-10 percent growth. The top design influencers in the USA include HP, Dell, Apple and Motorola.

China seizes opportunity
According to Moon, Japan retained the second position. However, China has seized the opportunity during the recession. It has some growth compared to other countries who have had negative growth this year.

China still remains one of the most attractive markets for OEMs to enter. Many top OEM have either opened or expanded R&D centers in China in the last few years.

However, because of the recession, the expansion by OEMs slowed down in China during 2009. Nevertheless, the Chinese market continues to grow. In the next few years, China will grow and the other countries will have some positive growth as well, but their growth will be slower than that of China.

China has also been showing interesting signs. Some Chinese companies are trying to enter new markets, such as automotive.

China is currently the third largest country in terms of design influence. The design share is about 10 percent in 2009. China could get close to Japan and the USA, but it will not happen in the near future though.

Top five countries in 2009
In 2009, the top five countries by design influence spend share are as follows: USA — 31 percent, Japan — 25 percent, China/Hong Kong — 10 percent, Taiwan — 8 percent, South Korea — 7 percent, and the Rest of the World — 19 percent.

Mixed signals are apparent in the design activities by country. For instance, this year, the USA has been losing market share. A large percent of design activities are moving to the Asia Pacific region. Some business in the USA is being continued or reduced — and being moved to other regions — in order to maintain the business and lower the cost of operations.

Japan’s design spend share increased from 22 percent (approximately $40 bn in 2008) to 25 percent in 2009. Japan is bringing a lot of design activities back home.

Taiwan used to be third largest in the design influence, but has now dropped to the fourth position, with share in design spend reaching 8 percent in 2009. China also contributed to the changes here. However, it is still better than others as some OEMs are still outsourcing to some ODMs located in Taiwan.

Identifying targets by regions
iSuppli gave examples of designing with sensors and actuators, and LEDs, as these are very popular currently.

According to Moon, designs using sensors and actuators have been more than 30 percent in the USA, while Japan has more than 25 percent. It is over 20 percent in Europe, while such designs have been less in Asia Pacific — above 15 percent.

The biggest influencers for sensors and actuators in the USA are said to be Apple, HP and TRW Automotive.

For LEDs, more use has been happening in Japan — over 30 percent. As an example, there are more LED TV design activities in Japan. The biggest influencers for LEDs in Japan are Canon and Sony.

Changes due to M&A
Another trend visible in the design spend share has been the changes due to mergers and acquisitions.

As an example, we have the Mitac Group, which acquired Magellan’s consumer products division. In 2008, Mitac Group had 78 percent spend in Taiwan, and 18 percent in the USA. After acquiring Magellan, Taiwan’s design spend share became 57 percent and USA’s became 13 percent. On the other hand, France’s share grew to 17 percent and Russia’s to 7 percent. This indicates that country-wise, budgets do get changed. This is just one example.

These are indeed very interesting numbers and facts, and as mentioned earlier, India has a considerable opportunity as an influencer in the semiconductor design spend going forward.

Seeking jobs in embedded! Can anyone help?


Ever since I have blogged about embedded companies in India, I’ve received a few messages, regarding jobs in the embedded segment in India. Some others have dropped hints about companies who haven’t made my list!

It seems the companies are not hiring, or they’ve put hiring on freeze. Does it mean that not many projects are going on currently? Or, is there a way for freshers to make a start somewhere? For starters, those who want their companies listed in any top 10 list, are they even trying to help freshers or those looking for better jobs in the embedded space? What is their policy for hiring?

Or, are they too dependent on design services, so much that they do not have enough products to work on or develop! Or, maybe, they don’t have many ongoing projects? I have had so many people tell me “India should do product development in semiconductors!” So, is that really happening? Or, is it merely a statement?

I did come across this web site called Dev Seeker, which is said to list jobs in embedded. DevSeeker also has a page that lists some of the embedded companies in India.

I also came across a blog on Monster, which lists several posts from some freshers, as well as some others who have actually asked folks to send in their resumes.

There is another web site from KBS Consultants, which has listed some jobs in the embedded segment. Another site, called GotAChance, also has links to jobs in the embedded space. Another search led me to a site called ITJobs.

By the way, I’ve no way of knowing whether any of the sites are updated, or, if they are, how frequently are those getting updated with the latest information. Sincerely hope that all of these sites are getting updated frequently!

Whenever I speak with semiconductor professionals, they don’t stop raving about India’s might in embedded. If that’s the case, why are so many talented people not being able to find jobs? Or even worse, how do freshers get to make a start? I am not sure if companies offer freelance work for embedded software engineers. However, it is an option that could be considered.

There are several companies in China and Japan who are seeking fresh and good talent in the embedded space. A Japanese delegation visited India last August for the India-Fukuoka (Japan) IT, Embedded Software and Semiconductor Business Workshop 2008. Some of companies are:

* Daichi Institution Industry Co. Ltd
* DISCO (Dai Ichi Seitosho Co. Ltd) Corp.
* Inoueki Co. Ltd
* JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization)
* Kyushu Economic Research Center
* CLAIR (The Japan Council of Local Authorities for International Relations), Singapore

Prior to that, last May, the India Semiconductor Association (ISA) and the UK Trade & Investment and Science & Innovation Network launched a study titled “Scope for collaboration between India and the UK in semiconductor driven industry 2008.

I am also aware that China and Taiwan require lot of talent in embedded software and systems. They can surely make use of the talent available in India.

I am sure that all of these folks would be able to help out at least some of those looking to make a career in embedded systems and software. Otherwise, what’s the end result of making such trips to India and talking about India’s talent in embedded! Freshers need to make a start somewhere, so please help as many as possible.

To all of those freshers starting out to make a career, try and get the relevant experience, and the money will follow. Do not pursue it the other way round.

This is a request to the global embedded systems and software fraternity — there are quite a lot of talented and fresh engineers in India in the embedded systems and software segment, who are also seeking jobs. Give them, or at least, some of them, a chance! Can you kindly help them?

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