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India poses huge opportunity for DLP: TI

November 14, 2013 Comments off

Kent Novak

Kent Novak

Texas Instruments has been a leader in DLP or digital light processing, a type of projector technology that uses a digital micromirror device. Kent Novak, senior VP, DLP Products, Texas Instruments (TI) mentioned that DLP became the no. 1 supplier of MEMS technology in 2004.

The DLP pico projectors business started in 2009. Now, pico is going into gaming systems, etc. In 2011, it went into the cinema industry. In India, out of 10,000 screens, close to 7,000 are now digital. In 2012, new DLP development kit was launched allowing developers to embed the DLP chip into non-traditional applications in new markets. In 2013, TI started working on DLP automotive chips.

He said: “DLP is an array of millions of digital micromirrors. We ship around 45 million devices. We see India as a growth opportunity for cimemas. In DLP front projection business, we have 60 percent share in India. Only 5 percent of Indian classrooms have projectors, making room for growth.”

In low power pico projection, TI has 95 percent market share in India for standalone pico projection. A phone with pico projection was launched in India with iBall at 35 lumen.

DLP technology is available in India in:
Industrial: Machine vision can improve quality control in the Indian manufacturing sector.
Medical: Intelligent illumination systems for cost effective blood analysis.
Safety: Cost effective, accurate chemical analysis of food and industrial.
Automotive: Infotainment and safety solution being qualified.

DLP in automotive displays has several applications, such as wide field of view head up display (HUD) – app available by 2016, free shape interactive active console – app available by 2017, and smart headlights. Some other features include:

* High image quality: consistent contrast, brightness over lamp.
* Full, deep, accurate cover over lifetime.
* Easily enlarges larger display areas.
* High power efficiency.
* DLP technology automatically reduces reflection.

New market opportunities
There are said to be several new opportunities for DLP. These are in:

Industrial: Machine vision, spectroscopy, interactive display, 3D printing, intelligent lighting, digital light exposure.
Infotainment: Mobile phones, tablets, camcorders, laptops, mobile projection, ultra slim TVs.
Gaming: Dual console gaming, interactive gaming, near eye display.
Digital signage: Interactive surface, storefront interactive, retail engagement.
Automotive: Head up display, interactive display, intelligent lighting.
Medical: Spectroscopy, 3D printing, intelligent lighting.

TI has DLP LightCrafter family of evaluation modules. It enables faster development cycles for end equipment requiring smalll form factor, lower cost and intelligent, high-speed pattern display. The DLP LightCrafter 4500 features the 0.45 WXGA chipset. The DLP chip can enable new and innovative intelligent display apps. If your solution uses, programs or senses light, DLP could be a fit.
DLP catalog offers programmable, ultra-high speed pattern. “DLP is light source agnostic. We use whatever’s most efficient for brightness,” he added.

Embedded Vision Alliance (EVA) is born!

May 31, 2011 Comments off

The Embedded Vision Alliance is born! Over 15 leading technology companies, including some really big names in semiconductors, have come together in Oakland, USA, to ‘ speed the adoption of computer vision capabilities in electronic products’.

BDTI, Xilinx, and IMS Research initiated the Embedded Vision Alliance (EVA) and are being joined by Analog Devices, Apical, Avnet Electronics Marketing, CEVA, CogniVue, Freescale, National Instruments, NVIDIA, Texas Instruments, Tokyo Electron Device, MathWorks, Ximea, and XMOS as founding members.

According to a release, the ability of machines to see and understand their environments—what we call “embedded vision”—promises to transform the electronics industry with products that are more intelligent and aware of their environments, and to create significant new markets for electronic equipment and components.

This new consortium, called the Embedded Vision Alliance, will enable the proliferation of embedded vision technology by providing design engineers with information, practical know-how, and industry standards.

Tim Erjavec, senior director, FPGA Platform Product Marketing, Xilinx, said: “It was clear to both BDTI and us that the adoption of an array of technologies in  intelligent video, video analytics, computer vision and other complementary technologies are making their way into many more application than ever before. In looking at integrating the right solution to a given problem in various applications, the lack of readily available information to get started or evaluate is apparent.

“Further, what is available is very diverse, in many cases very complex and not aggregated at any one place. So, in order to help system designers in designing-in “vision” into their applications, we saw the opportunity to aggregate many of the contributing technologies, products, companies and expertise into one place. Thus, the alliance and new website was formed and launched last week.”

While the participants in this Alliance need to be congratulated for their foresight, one wonders what took them so long!

Also, I do not see any Indian company in the list, although, the embedded systems and software industry here is quite large. Names, such as Ittiam, Tata Elxsi, etc., should be part of this Alliance, but they are absent, as of now!

Now, the EVA’s commitment is to vision technology and enabling customers to develop the industry’s most innovative hardware, development tools and software to make vision application development easier. One of the founders has commented that embedded vision will be used on automobiles to prevent accidents and to security cameras to prevent crimes. Should this happen, embedded vision will surely proliferate across a multitude of markets! We are all waiting really patiently for such days!

Forging win-win industry-academia collaboration in VLSI education

November 18, 2010 2 comments

Despite all the talk of semicon/VLSI going around in India, is the correct curriculum really being taught in the various institutes? Is the academia able to prepare students to be better equipped to tackle today’s world’s problems? Does the student have sufficient skills that the Indian (and global) semicon industry recruiters are looking for? Is the student, and the academia semiconductor-industry ready sufficiently?

Panel discussion on industry-academia collaboration in VLSI education.

Panel discussion on industry-academia collaboration in VLSI education.

There was a lively panel discussion titled: Forging win-win industry-academia collaboration in VLSI education during the post lunch session of CDNLive India University conference.

I remember last year’s CDNLive India panel discussion quite clearly! There was an entertaining session on how to prepare the students to be semiconductor industry read. It remains a top read till date!

This year’s panel discussion was moderated by Dr. C.P. Ravikumar, technical director, University Relations, Texas Instruments India.

The panelists were:
* Prof Ajit Kumar Panda, NIST Behrampur, Orissa.
* K Krishna Moorthy, MD, National Semiconductor India
* Dr K. Radhakrishna Rao, head, analog training, TI.
* R. Parthasarathy, managing director, CADD Centre.

Starting the discussion, Dr. Ravikumar said that the semicon industry is currently seeing fast paced growth. New knowledge is getting added every year. The semicon industry has been present in India for over 25 years now, and counting.

There is a varied expectations from the academia in India. For instance, should they teach fundamentals or skills? Do they have silicon experience, or can the institute bring this about on its own? What is important — going up or down the abstraction level?

Or, should VLSI education be introduced at the graduate level or should it be in the Masters leel? There are several gaps in the curriculum itself. What can the industry do about those gaps?

Dr. Ravikumar said: “TI is celebrating 25 years. The kinds of problems TI is working on today are vastly different from the times when it had started in India. Today, it is doing large SoCs. The industry has hige expectations from the academia.

People, he added. seem to have diverse opinion on VLSI. Even at abstraction levels, we can talk about power, circuit design, larger blocks, etc. You will likely hear different sort of viewpoints depending on who you are talking to.

He said: “A lot of effort is being put into the formation of new M Tech programs in VLSI across various institutes. Wheher the students passing out from these institutes will find employment in the Indian semiconductor industry- is also a point of debate. Again, I’ve seen VLSI being talked about in the graduate level as well.”

Since there were four panelists, I shall add their views in a separate post. Stay tuned, folks! 😉

India’s teaching community contemplates SoC design

November 4, 2010 11 comments

The VLSI Society of India recently organized a two-day faculty development workshop on SoC design, — Train-the-Trainer program — on Oct. 30-31, 2010, at the Texas Instruments India office, in co-operation with PragaTI (TI India Technical University) and Visweswaraya Technological University (VTU).

Dr. C.P. Ravikumar, TI, addressing the teachers at the workshop.

Dr. C.P. Ravikumar, TI, addressing the teachers at the workshop on SoC design.

I am highly obliged and very grateful to the VLSI Society of India and Dr. C.P. Ravikumar, technical director, University Relations, Texas Instruments India, for extending an invitation. Here is a report on the workshop, which the VSI Secretariat and Dr. Ravikumar have been most kind to share.

System-on-chip (SoC) refers to the technological revolution, which allows semiconductor manufacturers to integrate electronic systems on the same chip. System-on-board, which has been the conventional implementation of electronic systems, uses semiconductor chips soldered onto printed circuit boards (PCBs) to realize system functionality.

Systems typically include sensors, analog frontend, digital processors, memories and peripherals. Thanks to the advances in VLSI technology, these sub-systems can be integrated on the same chip, reducing the footprint, cutting down the cost, improving the performance and power efficiency.

While the industry has adopted SoC design for many years, the academic community around the world (India not being an exception) has not caught up with the state-of-the-art. Electrical/electronics engineering departments continue to teach a course on VLSI design, where the level of design abstraction is device-level, transistor-level, or gate-level.

Register-transfer-level (RTL) design using hardware description languages is taught in some Masters’ programs, but colleges often do not have the lab infrastructure to carry out large design projects; very few Indian universities have tie-ups with foundry services to get samples. A semester is too short a time to complete a large project.

The complexity of modern-day design flow is not easy to impart in a single undergraduate course. Masters’ programs are particularly relevant in VLSI, but the M.Tech programs in the country languish due to several reasons.

Ground realities
“M.Tech programs do not attract top students who are highly motivated,” said a professor who attended the two-day faculty development program organized by VLSI Society of India. “Almost all undergraduate programs today have a course on VLSI technology and design. But since we get students from different backgrounds, they do not have the pre-requisites. So, a course on VLSI design at M.Tech level will have a significant overlap with an undergraduate course on VLSI design.”

“Faculty members need training,” said another teacher. “When a new course is introduced, significant time is needed for preparation.  Prescribed textbooks for a new course are often not available. Internet search for course materials often returns too much material and it is hard to decide what to use. Colleges that have autonomy can decide their own curriculum, but in a university setup, the faculty face a major challenge. We are evaluated on how well our students fare in the exams. Yet, our students have to face an exam made by a central committee.”

“Having a common exam poses many problems in setting up a relevant question paper. The format of the question paper is fixed. The students get a choice of answering five questions from a set of eight. Due to the common nature of the question paper, the questions tend to demand descriptive answers.”

Faculty development workshop on SoC design
About 30 faculty members interested in system-on-chip design took part in the faculty development workshop. The attendees came from about 25 different colleges from VTU, VIT University, and Anna University. The workshop was conducted in co-operation with the Viswesaraya Technological University (VTU) and sponsored by Texas Instruments, India.

The premise for the workshop was that a course on SoC design is required at the Masters’ level, since industrial practice has clearly moved in that direction. The RTL-to-layout flow, which continues to be relevant for IPs that constitute an SoC, aspects of SoC design, which relies on IP integration, are not covered in any course.

The workshop provided a forum for industry-academia interaction. Several professionals from the industry took part in the workshop and answered questions from the faculty members.  Read more…

TI on green power and MCUs


Here’s the second part of the TI roundtable, held recently.

Green power and TI

Ramprasad Ananthaswamy, director, Power Management Products, Texas Instruments India, discussed the various aspects of green power. The notion of energy and power management has become central to every country’s foreign policy, including India. The current demand is 2.1 billion units, and rising, while only 1.85 billion units are currently available.

The power IC landscape is rapidly evolving – new technologies are being developed. Even well established mega-markets are changing process technologies that are used – driven, for example, by the integration of added sensor functionality.

Ananthaswamy highlighted TI’s role in green power. TI, along with leading energy harvesting vendors, are creating a complete ecosystem allowing designers to not only envision but also create a battery-less world. Also, TI’s LED lighting portfolio and worldwide technical support network are helping LED designers achieve their goals faster.

Think MCUs

Shailesh Thakurdesai, business development manager – Microcontrollers, touched upon the role of MCUs. For instance, are you aware that an average person touches approximately 300 microcontrollers in a day? Almost every electronic device that an average person touches through the course of the day features an MCU. MCUs are everywhere — in applications like personal healthcare and fitness, security, automotive safety & infotainment and consumer electronics.

From energy harvesting to aiding cutting-edge medical applications to bringing healthcare into homes, MCUs have helped to make a difference in the way people use electronics. In the energy segment, MCUs are used in:

* Street/ commercial LED lighting, home lighting etc.
* UPS, battery chargers and inverters.
* Energy harvesting, renewable energy generation, solar micro inverters etc.
* Metering – energy, water, gas.
* MCUs help arm modern-day electronics with longer battery life, portability and functionality.

In healthcare, it can be used for applications like personal healthcare and fitness equipment, portable healthcare devices like digital thermometers, handheld ultrasound, blood pressure meters, etc. It is also used in consumer electronics like mobile phones, computers, TVs, toys, etc. Read more…

Analog and MCUs stand out: Dr. Bobby Mitra, TI


Dr. Biswadip (Bobby) Mitra, president & MD, TI India.

Dr. Biswadip (Bobby) Mitra, president & MD, TI India.

It is always a pleasure to listen to Dr. Biswadip (Bobby) Mitra, president and managing director, Texas Instruments India. Therefore, when Texas Instruments India invited me to a media roundtable today, it was an event to look forward too. However, the famous Bangalore traffic jam held me up so long that I missed out on most of Dr Mitra’s keynote! Nevertheless, I did catch some bits of it toward the end.

Dr. Mitra noted that LEDs and lighting applications are becoming a key area for growth in India. He added that the industrial segment is just right in terms of applications in electronics growth.

In telecom, analog and MCUs stand out. “Every single customer has to use analog as part of its system design. Our no. 1 position in analog gives us a unique position,” he added.

MCUs play a very important role in a huge number of areas — from consumer appliances, energy meters, lighting products etc. There is a huge customer base in India where very large application specific innovation has been happening.

In India, TI has set up a strong sales network across 14 locations, giving it a pan-India presence. Dr. Mitra added: “We want to tap the India market with sales support and applications support. You need to work hand in hand with the OEMs. We also need to get closer to our customers.” TI India supports both Indian and MNC OEMs.

“The amount of system designs being done by the MNC OEMs in India is pretty high. The third area — design houses — these OEMs are their customers. The fourth area belongs to the EMS players,” he said.

Today was virtually a walk into TI India’s ‘kitchen.’  The roundtable participants were shown demos of some really cool products and applications, especially the handheld pico projector, which also played 3D cinema!

The sessions were largely focused on analog, low power and energy efficiency, metering, solar PV/solar inverters, LEDs, medical electronics, etc. — all key areas of focus for the Indian electronics and semiconductor industries.

I will add bits from the other speakers at this event later. Stay tuned folks!

India needs to develop the right products: Dr. Bobby Mitra @ VLSID 2010

January 5, 2010 Comments off

The 23rd International Conference on VLSI Design and the 9th International Conference on Embedded Systems (VLSID 2010) kicked off this week at the NIMHANS Convention Center in Bangalore.

Inaugurating the conference today, wirelessly, along with the other distinguished guests, Dr. Biswadip (Bobby) Mitra, President & Managing Director, Texas Instruments India, said that the technology behind the conference has already started. This year, the conference is being taken to greater heights — VLSID 2010 is being webcasted live for the first time! Dr. Mitra added, “Taking the conference to the people is absolutely wonderful.”

L-R: Dr. Mahesh Mehendale, Dr. Hermann Eul, Dr. Bobby Mitra, Prof. Dimitri A. Antoniadis, Dr. Ruben A. Parekhji, Prof. Niraj Jha and Srivaths Ravi at the VLSID 2010 opening ceremony.

L-R: Dr. Mahesh Mehendale, Dr. Hermann Eul, Dr. Bobby Mitra, Prof. Dimitri A. Antoniadis, Dr. Ruben A. Parekhji, Prof. Niraj Jha and Srivaths Ravi at the VLSID 2010 opening ceremony.

Delivering the opening keynote, Dr. Mitra presented his views on how he foresees the change in India from a VLSI design community to a semiconductor community.

He said: “So far, the industry and the academia have been focused on developing products right. As we enter the new decade, another new vector is likely to become a guiding point — that is, developing the right products. We will be developing better chips for our customers the sooner we can better understand their system aspects.”

He urged the Indian semiconductor/VLSI community to continue developing products right, and also to develop products that really benefit the customer. “Understanding the end application is going to be very vital.”

According to him, India’s growing importance in semiconductors would be critical during this decade. However, India, as a market for semiconductors, will help everyone in learning more — when the customer is at your doorstep. The amount of consumption in semiconductors in India has been amazing so far, and will only grow in future.

He added that companies based in India — both MNCs and local — have been really innovating. India is a not-to-be-missed market! He concluded, “The time to invest in the Indian semiconductor market is now, not later!”

Later, welcoming the delegates, Dr. Mahesh Mehendale, General Co-chair VLSID 2010 and Texas Instruments Fellow & Director, Center of Excellence for Digital Video, Texas Instruments India, said that Bangalore had really emerged as hub for semiconductors and IT. In fact, 2010 indicates 25 years since this revolution started.

Commenting on this year’s conference, he said: “Our aim was to push this conference nationally and globally, by taking the conference to the desktops.” Dr. Ruben A. Parikhji, Program Co-chair, apprised delegates of the technical sessions.

This was followed by two technical keynotes:

* Nanoelectronics challenges for the 21st century, by Prof. Dimitri A. Antoniadis, MIT, and
* Deep submicron CMOS technology – the challenges for semiconductor IDM, Prof. Dr. Hermann Eul, Member of Management Board, Infineon.
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