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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.

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…

Global semiconductor industry to grow 7.9 percent in 2013

January 28, 2013 1 comment

Malcolm Penn

Malcolm Penn

According to Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizons, the outlook for the global semiconductor industry in 2013 is likely to be +7.9 percent. This means, the global semiconductor industry will likely grow to $315.4 billion in 2013.

Should this happen, it would be significant, given that this is the third year in a row that the market failed to break the $300 billion barrier! The global semiconductor clocked around $292.3 billion in 2012, as against $299.5 billion In 2011.

I asked Malcolm Penn the rationale behind this. He said, the rationale is exactly the same as that for 2012. There is said to be no change to last year’s fundamental market analyses. That’s not all! There are likely to be exactly the same (economic) downside risks as well.

The unit demand, capacity and ASPs are all ‘positively aligned’. Here, it is advised that one should never underestimate the economy’s capacity to derail the chip market. Even the downside forecast has been to break the $300 billion barrier.

The global chip industry growth is driven by four factors. These are economy, which is on hold due to complete loss of confidence, unit demand, which is back on the 10 percent per annum treadmill (inventory gone), fab capacity, which is currently tight (very), especially at the leading technology edge, and ASPs, which are structurally following the usual ups and downs.

There is a very safe, long-term bet, provided companies execute properly. As it is, most firms don’t, as they are too pre-occupied with chasing short-term targets.

Finally, if the year 2013 does show a recovery, the global semiconductor market will likely go ballistic in 2014.

Round-up 2012: Best of electronics, semiconductors and solar

December 31, 2012 2 comments

Friends, here is the round-up of 2012, where the best of electronics, semiconductors and solar PV are presented. Best wishes for a very happy and prosperous new year! 🙂

Also, a word on the horrendous Delhi rape that has shaken up India. I am ashamed to be a man and a part of India’s society. My family and I are extremely sorry that the brave girl is no more! May her soul rest in peace. May God deliver justice, and quickly!

DECEMBER 2012
Opportunities in turbulent PV equipment market

Global semiconductor industry outlook 2013: Jaswinder Ahuja, Cadence

Next wave of design challenges, and future growth of EDA: Dr. Wally Rhines

Global medical image sensors market to grow 64 percent by 2017

Status of power semiconductor devices industry

NOVEMBER 2012
Global solar PV industry to remain under pressure in 2013!

Dr. Wally Rhines on global semiconductor industry outlook 2013

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

Xilinx announces 20nm portfolio strategy

Elliptic intros world’s first commercial touchless gesturing technology!

Global semiconductor industry outlook 2013: Analog Devices

IMEC’s 450mm R&D initiative for nanoelectronics ecosystem

OCTOBER 2012
III-V high mobility semiconductors for advanced CMOS apps

Yet another electronics policy for India?

IEF 2012: Turning recession into opportunity!

Global semicon sales to drop 1.7 percent in 2012?

Virtual prototyping ready for masses

MEMS to be $21 billion market by 2017: Yole

TSMC on 450mm transition: Lithography key!

SEPTEMBER 2012
Cadence Allegro 16.6 accelerates timing closure

Dr. Wally Rhines on global EDA industry

Solarcon India 2012: Solar industry in third wave!

AUGUST 2012
Apple wins big vs. Samsung in patent war!

Can being fabless and M-SIPS take India to top?

JULY 2012
Is Europe ready for 450mm fabs?

APRIL 2012
Xilinx intros Vivado Design Suite

MARCH 2012
Cadence releases latest Encounter RTL-to-GDSII flow

WLCSP market and industrial trends

FEBRUARY 2012
Top 10 semiconductor growth drivers: Intersil

Ingredients for successful fabless Indian semiconductor industry: Dr. Wally Rhines

Tariffs will slow growth in domestic demand for PV systems: The Brattle Group

Wireless leads in global semicon spends!

JANUARY 2012
India to allow imports of low-priced Chinese solar cells? Or, is it beaten?

Global semiconductor industry outlook 2013: Analog Devices

November 12, 2012 4 comments

What does 2013 have in store for the global (and Indian) seniconductor industries? Will it do better than 2012 or will it be even? I had a chat with Somshubhro Pal Choudhury, managing director, Analog Devices India Pvt. Ltd recently on this subject. First, I asked about the trends in the global semiconductor industry.

Somshubhro Pal Choudhury, MD, Analog Devices India Pvt. Ltd.

Somshubhro Pal Choudhury, MD, Analog Devices India Pvt. Ltd.

Industry trends
Choudhury said: “Consumer and telecom have driven the growth incessantly for the past decade for the semiconductor industry and will continue to do so. Over the next three years, industry analysts estimate the global industry will grow approximately 6 percent 2013-2016 CAGR.

“Portability and wireless connectivity will continue to drive a significant portion of the industry growth. Increasingly, automotive market is becoming very lucrative as the quantity of electronics going inside automobiles is increasing phenomenally in safety, power train, smart vision and fuel efficiency applications, not to mention the use of wireless connectivity.

“Medical electronics is getting smaller, smarter with better diagnostic technologies while the demand is increasing with aging population, increased longevity and lifestyle oriented diseases. Applications such as in-home patient monitoring will use wireless connectivity to stay in contact with physicians and emergency services.

“Industrial automation, energy and defense sectors are growing with more factory automation, solar energy focus worldwide, electronic warfare and so on. Intelligent, connected, and energy-efficient systems are leading to higher electronics content, with sensors and motors distributed throughout the industrial complex being connected wirelessly.

“Finally, the wireless and wired networks that transmit and receive all these channels of data will be a major driver of growth over the next few years with proliferation of 4G and increasing amount of fiber.”

Outlook for 2013
How is the outlook for 2013 going to shape up? What are the technologies likely to make an appearance and why?

According to Chowdhury, the 4G LTE deployment should be a major applications area driving 2013. To that end RF, high-speed signal processing, and power management will be important technologies to advance the price/performance of 4G networks. MEMS technology continues to find new applications in medical, defense and industrial applications over and beyond the tablets, handsets, gaming consoles and airbag sensors in cars.

Will there be further consolidations within the industry? He added that M&A will continue to play a role in the industry. The companies in the industry are not hampered by their financial abilities to acquire businesses, but identifying complementary opportunities and successfully integrating them is not without risk.

And how does the global EDA industry look like doing in 2013? As per Choudhury, the EDA industry continues to innovate and that pace will continue in 2013. These innovations are not only driven by the challenges of moving to the next node, but also for mixed signal designs, in analog-digital co-simulation and verification domain.
Read more…

Global semicon market set for slowdown due to deteriorating business climate!

August 16, 2010 1 comment

Now that’s going to be very interesting, should it happen! After close to two quarters of robust growth experienced by the global semiconductor industry, a slowdown was bound to be around the corner!!

I was going through a report sent out today, by Dr. Robert N. Castellano, president of The Information Network, New Tripoli, USA, of the same title, and decided to get his thoughts.

Deteriorating business climate

Dr. Robert N. Castellano, president, The Information Network.

Dr. Robert N. Castellano, president, The Information Network.

According to The Information Network, The business climate for the semiconductor industry is deteriorating, as per its upcoming report, titled, “Hot ICs: Market Analysis and Forecast of the Top 15 IC Sectors”.

As per the report, along with fellow DRAM manufacturers Samsung, Hynix, Elpida, Micron, etc., will suffer from slowing sales of electronic gadgets and PCs. In the CPU sector, the slowdown in PC sales will affect Intel and AMD. Foundries such as TSMC and UMC will also be impacted.

As sales drop in electronic gadgets, the most pronounced affect will be in the DRAM sector, where sales grew 135 percent in Q2 2010 compared to Q2 2009. The drop in semiconductor sales will usher in a corresponding drop in semiconductor equipment and materials sales.

The front-end market will suffer pushouts and the lithography sector will be impacted most, where sales of $35 million immersion DUV tools have flooded the market of late.

Slowdown likely in world economies

I quizzed Dr. Castellano as to why the semiconductor business climate is deteriorating.

He said: The semiconductor industry is directly correlated with the economies of the world, and there is a direct correlation with semiconductor sales and worldwide GDP. Our leading indicators (LI) point to a slowdown in the world economies.

“As these proprietary LIs are correlated with semiconductor revenues, we will se a slowdown in the next few months. We are already seeing signs of a slowdown in the PC and LED indistriies. Numerous public companies have given forward guidance that the next quarter will show some weakness.”

Given the good two quarters this year, how certain is The Information Netwok that the semicon market is now set for slowdown? Dr. Castellano cited similar reasons as above, adding: “Our LIs have an extremely accurate correlation with transition times. We have developed these LIs over the past 15 years.”

What’s the impact on foundries and silicon wafers?

So, how will all of this impact the foundries?

Dr. Castellano said: “Foundries make their money from two sources: sales of ICs from fabless IC companies and sales of ICs from IDMs who do not have sufficient in-house capacity or sufficient technology capabilities for newer ICs. The macroeconomic effect will stymie sales for both revenue sources.”

Does The Information Network foresee an overcapacity situation in silicon wafers during 2011?

“No. We are forecasting 8.4 BSI (billion square inches) of Si wafers in 2010, which is up slightly from the 8.2 BSI in 2008. So, the Si manufacturers have the capacity already on hand. Semiconductor wafers will face competition from solar wafer  consumption, which will double in 2010, but polysilicon is plentiful, and the two sectors, for the most part, use different crystal growing methods,” he added. Read more…

18pc Q2 vs. Q1 sequential growth… this improves 2009 to -14pc: Semicon update July. ’09

September 2, 2009 Comments off

Here are the excerpts from the Global Semiconductor Monthly Report, July 2009, provided by Malcolm Penn, chairman, founder and CEO of Future Horizons. There are a lot of charts associated with this report. Those interested to know more about this report should contact Future Horizons.

Fig. E1: 12/12 Worldwide IC Monthly Growth Rates

Fig. E1: 12/12 Worldwide IC Monthly Growth Rates

Figure E1 shows the 12/12 worldwide monthly growth rates for IC sales in dollars, units and ASP for January 1997 to May 2009 inclusive. They need to be looked at in conjunction with the other 12/12 and rolling 12-month charts provided in the Market Summary section of this report.

Following hot on the heels of April’s 16 percent month-on-month sales growth, May grew a further 0.9 percent sequentially (0.4 percent for ICs), putting June on track to break through the US$20 billion barrier, for the first time since the chip market collapsed last September.

It would also set up Q2-09 to show 18 percent quarter on quarter growth, joining only three such precedents in the history of the industry when such a strong second-quarter growth spurt has occurred. The big question now is: “Is this the start of the chip market recovery or a blip on the statistics radar screen?” The short answer is both, the industry’s not out of the woods yet, but the chip market will recover faster than the economy. The stage is now set for a strong market rebound in 2010-11.

We are clearly in the midst of a serious industry recession but different from all previous historical precedents. As we have counselled before, going into this recession (the 12th in the industry’s 60-year history) the industry was in structurally good shape; that is something that has rarely happened before.

In addition, while the economy clearly drives the overall market for semiconductor devices, the correlation is poor meaning chips march to their own drum not just the economic pulse. Both of these factors mean that the chip market can (and will) recover much faster than the economy as a whole.

With the benefit of hindsight, the whole world clearly over-reacted to the 14 September 2008 Lehman Bros collapse, something again with hindsight the US officials probably now regret letting happen, and the massive destocking that followed masked the underlying residual demand. For sure markets too were down but they only declined not evaporated completely. The impact on IC unit demand was a victim of this uncertainty. Read more…

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