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Electronica/Productronica 2011, here I come!

September 12, 2011 3 comments

I am back in New Delhi, covering the electronica/productronica 2011 show! This is my second time at the show, however, the first time in New Delhi, as the previous year’s edition was held in Bangalore.

Is there anything new that I see? Perhaps, not as yet! However, I shall reserve comment till I visit the show.

What I do notice is more or less a similar, or familiar set of names of exhibitors, if the one put up by the organizers on their website is correct. Maybe, there are a few additions, but that’s all I can say, for now!

STMicroelectronics seems to have become a new addition, as is Renesas Electronics Singapore Pte Ltd. One other addition seems to be SiPlace, Of course, the show is graced by familiar names, such as Bergen Associates, element14, EMST Marketing, Inde Enterprises, Juki India, Leaptech, Murata, NMTronics, NXP, QUAD Electronics, Rohde  & Schwarz, RS Components, Sumitron and so on!

There is one other difference! Most of these firms are multinational companies (MNCs) or arms of the MNCs. While I don’t have anything against them, one is tempted to ask the question: where are the Indian companies? Specifically, where are the ‘so-called’ Indian electronics manufacturing companies?

We all love to talk about how India should play a major role in electronics manufacturing. However, seriously, how much of this is actually happening in India? More precisely, where are the home grown Indian manufacturing units?

I noticed that one of the sessions is going to be a panel discussion titled: Local mobile phone manufacturing: Opportunity or challenge!! Wonder, what will come out of the session! There’s another on EMS – where, again, the weight lies with the MNCs. Of course, there are two speakers — N. Jehangir from SFO and Raminder Singh from QUAD, in the final session. The other session on automotive electronics also seems to be loaded with speakers from MNCs.

Can India really get to become a global hub for EMS? Well, let’s just wait and see what exactly do these august gentlemen in the two panel discussions have to say!

Very fitting finale to Harry Potter!


What a writer, J.K. Rowling! What a movie, the Harry Potter series! And, of course, what an illustrious star-cast!

I’ve just returned home after watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part II. And, I can’t stop thinking about the movie! Actually, I can’t stop thinking about the entire series! What a classic this has turned out to be!

Those who haven’t ever read the series, there’s nothing to worry! Your friends will surely commentate alongside you! 😉

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part II

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part II

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part II starts off from where Part I ended. Thereafter, it turns literally into a roller-coaster ride. Starting from the journey to the Gringotts Wizarding Bank, with Hermione Granger impersonating Bellatrix, little time has been wasted for Harry, along with Hermione and Ron Weasley, to return to Hogwarts school. We are introduced to Aberforth Dumbledore, the younger brother of late Prof. Albus Dumbledore, and to late Ms. Ariana, their sister, who actually goes and fetches Neville Longbottom from the school.

Now starts the real fun!

Right from the time where Harry confronts Helena Ravenclaw or the ‘Grey Lady’, the Death Eaters attacking Hogwarts, the very brave resistance and defense put up by the school inhabitants led by Prof. Minerva McGonagall, the tragic death of Severus Snape at the hands of Voldermort and his pet snake, Nagini, and Snape’s final meeting with Harry, following which Harry views Snape’s pensieve and learns about Snape’s love for his mother, Lily Potter, up to the time Harry enters the Forbidden Forest to meet his death! Its all breathtaking!!

The scene at the Forbidden Forest, where Voldermort appears to have ‘killed’ Harry, is quite chilling! Thereafter, it is all about the good triumphing over evil! You too need to watch the movie, isn’t it? 😉

All the right messages seem to have been made in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part II. Heroes require help to overcome evil, and so does Harry. Every person has a chance to do what’s right — as shown by Harry — even though that chance or choice may not be correct or right. Friends are shown standing up for each other, although, in the end, several (or some) fall, notably, Remus Lupin, and his wife Nymphadora Tonks, and Fred Weasley. Some battles are personal — again, Harry, and greater than one person. Harry’s rescue of his arch-rival, Draco Malfoy, from the Room of Requirement, is a great example of helping someone in great need!

What about the 3D effects? While I am not the right person to comment, one feels the movie would have still looked very fine, minus the 3D effects, but never mind!

As with all good things, the Harry Potter series of movies has now come to an end. And boy, don’t you feel it? It has been a decade long journey – first, with the books, and later, with the movies. As Harry Potter feels at the end of the book: All was well!

Categories: Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling

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!

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…

Top 10 Indian embedded companies!

February 7, 2011 8 comments

It has been over two years since I wrote the piece — Top 10 embedded companies in India! It has been the most read, and by far, the most commented.  Now, it is time to do a review, or, more suitably, a recap!

First, who are the top 10 (Indian) embedded systems and software companies in India? My list, in no particular order, would read something like this:

1. Ittiam
2. Sasken
3. CMC
4. C-DAC
5. L&T EmSyS
6. ProcSys
7. eInfochips
8. Mistral
9. iWave Systems/Global Edge
10. Vayavya Labs

There are several firms in Pune and Hyderabad, who probably deserve a name.  There may be some folks may not agree with this list, but I would go with these, for now. The next change could be two years down the road!

Some may even question the presence of CMC and C-DAC in this list. However, CMC has well over 30+ years of extensive experience in providing consulting, design and development services and testing services in real-time systems.

C-DAC has capabilities in high-performance computing as well as grid computing. It also has unit focusing on professional electronics, including embedded and VLSI products.

Ittiam and Sasken remain in the top 5 category. ProcSys is a new entrant, besides iWave, Global Edge and Vayavya Labs.

Now, may I know if you have any doubts, as well as moves, additions and/or changes (MAC)? 😉

Round-up 2010: Best of solar photovoltaics

December 30, 2010 2 comments

Solar photovoltaics (PV) constantly reminds me of the early days of the telecom industry. Perhaps, the similarity lies in practically anyone and everyone wants to enter the solar/PV industry as well, just like it happened in telecom — before the industry consolidation started to happen.

In India, a lot more talk has happened since the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JN-NSM) was unveiled. With 2010 now drawing to an end, here’s presenting the top posts for solar PV from the year that is about to leave all of us!

Want to enter solar off-grid business? Build your own solar LED lanterns and emergency lights! — This was a smashing superhit! So many folks have accessed this post and quite a few commented! Definitely, my no. 1 post for the year and among my top 10 posts for 2010!

Union budget 2010: Solar, UIDs all the way!

NI DAQ workshop: Sun tracker suitable for Indian (and global) solar/PV industry

India to miss NSM target? No, it’s likely a mistake (in reporting)! — The faux pas of the year! 😉

SEMI India benchmarks India’s NSM on global FIT best practices — Goes on to show why SEMI continues to be a top notch industry association!

RoseStreet Labs develops breakthrough multiband solar cell technology! — I enjoyed writing this post a lot!

Solar PV heats up in India — NVVN signs MoU with 16 developers; new guidelines for solar projects — First clear signs that India is indeed hot, as a solar market.

Unique solution required for grid-tie inverters in India!

Solarcon India 2010: Timely implementation of phase 1 critical to success of JN-NSM

Need to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity in solar: Deepak Gupta

Is there a case for polysilicon manufacturing in India?

India has bright future in solar PV, other RE: Stan Meyers, SEMI

Pressing need to address solar project financing in India: D. Majumdar, IREDA

TÜV Rheinland opens South Asia’s largest PV testing lab in Bangalore

Need to look at smart grid standards from an Indian context: Venkat Rajaraman, Su-Kam

Bluetooth set as short range wireless standard for smart energy! — This should be interesting, as and when it happens!

Top 15 producers of c-Si and thin film solar PV modules, and outlook 2011

There’s more to come in the new year, now that NVVN has released a list of projects under the JN-NSM. I am more keen to see how JN-NSM takes off in the new year, and am sure, so are you!

Here’s wishing everyone a very happy, joyous and prosperous 2011! 🙂

Indian medical electronics equipment industry to grow at 17 percent CAGR over next five years: ISA

December 2, 2010 10 comments

The India Semiconductor Association (ISA) has released a sector report on the opportunities in the Indian medical electronics field, titled: “Current status and potential for medical electronics in India”, 2010, at the Narayana Hrudayalaya campus in Bangalore.

The Indian healthcare market (FY ’09) has been valued at Rs. 300,000 crores ($63 billion). Of this, healthcare delivery makes up 72 percent, pharmaceutical industry 20 percent, health insurance 5 percent, medical equipment 1.4 percent, medical consumables 1.1 percent, and medical IT 0.2 percent, respectively.

Medical equipment market in India. Source: ISA.

Medical equipment market in India. Source: ISA.

Medical electronics has been valued at Rs. 3,850 crores ($820 million) of the overall Indian healthcare market of Rs. 300,000 crores. The Indian medical equipment market is estimated to grow at around 17 percent CAGR over the next five years and reach about Rs. 9,735 crores ($2.075 billion).

As per the ISA report, the Indian healthcare industry currently contributes to 5.6 percent of GDP, which is estimated to increase to 8-8.5 percent in FY 13.

The domestic market for medical equipment currently stands at Rs. 3,850 crores ($820 million). Annually, medical equipment worth Rs. 2,450 crores ($520 million) is manufactured in India, out of which Rs. 350 crore ($75 million) is exported.

Growth of the medical equipment market is directly proportionate to growth of healthcare delivery, which was Rs. 216,000 crores ($45.36 billion) in 2009  Siemens, Wipro GE and Philips are leaders in the space with 18 percent, 17 percent and 10 percent share, respectively. However, 45 percent of the market is addressed by smaller, niche domestic players.

The report was released by Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, CMD, Narayana Hrudayalaya, in the presence of Dr. Bobby Mitra, ISA chairman, Poornima Shenoy, ISA president and Vivek Sharma, convener of the ISA Medical Electronics Segment. Read more…

Is enough being done for Indian industry-academia collaboration in VLSI education?

November 20, 2010 14 comments

Do you, as a semiconductor/VLSI/EDA company, run university or educational programs for colleges and institutes? Am sure, you do!

Well, are you providing these various colleges and institutes with the latest tools and EDA software? Perhaps, yes! So, do you regularly check whether your tool is being used properly, or at all? What do you do if the tool remains unopened or unused? Okay, before all of that, are you even guiding the faculty and students to tackle real world problems associated with chip design?

Do the students (and the faculty) know the intricacies of 22nm, 32nm, 45nm, and so on? Are you able to assist students in taping out? Right, is the syllabus taught in all of these colleges good enough to produce the kind of talent and skills that the semiconductor/VLSI industry requires currently, and in the future? Is everything being taught, the latest?

As they say — it takes two to tango… and, it takes two hands to clap! To the Indian academia — how many among you are “really” serious about being trained on a regular basis by the semicon/VLSI/EDA industry? What have you all done about it so far, all of these years? How many colleges and institutes among you (and do you) regularly put up or raise your hand to the industry and say — we lack the knowledge in a particular area and need training – please help us!

The question is: what are you, as a semicon/VLSI/EDA company, doing about training the various faculty and the students in various colleges and institutions across India? Do you have a proper program in place for this activity? Well, is enough being done regarding the industry-academia collaboration in VLSI education in India? What more needs to be done?

Are you, as a college or institute teaching VLSI, happy with the quality of talent coming out? Are you really satisfied with the quality of B.Tech/M.Tech projects? Do you seek industry’s help regarding training on a regular basis? What steps do you take to reach out to them? And, what are you doing about it all? Do you take that initiative seriously?

For that matter, are there easy-to-use systems that enable effective and industry-relevant education? Are those being made use of properly? Can entry barriers be lowered for students and faculty so they can explore an IP idea that has business potential? How many of the colleges have done this? I know of some folks trying to develop such solutions, but that’s a separate story for another day!

Coming back on track, apparently, some semicon companies and few well known Indian institutes are really exceeding themselves, but the same story does not hold true everywhere. Why is it so?

There could be a variety of reasons, and not all are listed here. Is it a lack of initiative on part of the industry and the institutes? Don’t they even talk to each other? Are institutes not able to approach semicon companies and vice versa? Or, is it the locations of the institutes themselves? Is it that not all institutes are concerned about teaching their students how to solve real world chip design problems?

An industry friend had once remarked: As of the last three-four years, students from the Eastern part of India have no clear pathway that they can pursue to get into VLSI design. The reasons are — there are no training institutes in the East, which can teach Synopsys or Cadence tools or even the basics of Xilinx FPGA design.

A very interesting panel discussion titled Forging win-win industry-academia collaboration in VLSI education was held during the Cadence CDNLive India University conference.

Moderated by Dr. C.P. Ravikumar, technical director, University Relations, TI India, the panelists were Dr Ajit Kumar Panda from NIST Behrampur, K Krishna Moorthy, MD, National Semiconductor India, Dr K. Radhakrishna Rao, head, analog training, TI. India and R. Parthasarathy, MD, CADD Centre.

I have already covered Dr. Ravikumar’s remarks separately.

Let’s see what the other panelists have to say about all of this, and whether they have answers to all of the questions or problems. Well, this is another long post, so please bear with me! 😉 Read more…

Industry should enable key capabilities of EDA360: John Bruggeman

November 16, 2010 2 comments

John Bruggeman, CMO, Cadence Design Systems.

John Bruggeman, CMO, Cadence Design Systems.

Delivering his keynote at the ongoing CDNLive India 2010, John Bruggeman, CMO, Cadence Design Systems, said: “Everything is changing very rapidly in the way you never expected. That was Lip-Bu’s comment. Cadence’s EDA360 is a vision for the industry. EDA360 is a vision — a transformation is underway. This isn’t a vision for Cadence or marketing, but for the entire industry.”

According to him, the semiconductor and EDA industries have new and complex problems, and there is a growing need to come together to solve those problems.

Application driven model rules
Touching on application driven models, Bruggeman gave an example of his new TV, which came preloaded with eight applications, such as YouTube, Pandora, NetFlix, etc.

Interestingly, there was also a link within the TV on to the application store where one could buy up to 200 additional applications.

“This is very important – it is at the heart of the fundamental sea change that is happeing in the industry,” he said. “Users want apps. They want to take their devices and want to be able to cusomize those into doing things they are most interested in. Users want their devices to have apps and content that they can customize.”

The fact that one can link to an app store – from either a washing machine or a toaster — that’s the seminal shift!

He added: “The life expantancy of a TV set in North America is 15.1 years. Wouldn’t it be better if I got revenue once every month, or week or day? An application driven model means a continuous revenue model!” Read more…

Is social media really helping semicon/VLSI firms?

November 10, 2010 16 comments

Right then. In my earlier post, I had highlighted 15 queries on how semicon/VLSI firms associate with social media. Already, I have a comment from Hillol Sarkar, CEO, AgO Inc., in California. Thanks a lot, sir. Friends, please keep all those comments coming! There’s no right or wrong answer, folks!

Now, as promised, here’s an honest attempt to answer some of the queries. Also, I am thankful to Karen Bartleson, senior director, Community Marketing, Synopsys, for commenting on some of my questions. Thank you for permitting me to use some of those comments.

By the way, Karen is speaking today evening at an EDA Consortium (EDAC) panel discussion at Doubletree Hotel, San Jose, California aptly titled: Does Social Media Reach the Engineers You Want or Waste Your Time? So, if you are somewhere nearby, do listen to what Karen and other panelists have to say. It should be fun! 😉

Let me also indulge in some shameless promotion for a moment! Hey Karen, please don’t forget to mention me and these posts, in case you see this! 😉

Now, to address those queries! Please bear with me everyone, as this is quite a long post!

How are firms using social media?
First, how are semicon/VLSI firms using the social media to build communities? Are such firms adopting social media strategies? What’s the success rate?

Well, some PR folks do chat up with me regarding social media activities. Sometimes, we discuss strategy. There is also some effort on part of certain companies. So, there has to be some strategy. However, am not quite certain of the success rate.

According to Karen Bartleson, Synopsys (an EDA company) is building communities via blogs. (it has thousands of readers globally) forums such as VMM Central (people can ask and answer questions about verification), LinkedIn (the SNUG group – owned by a user – has more than a thousand members), and the Facebook page (which has hundreds of fans and is growing fast – the emphasis is on people and events, not product announcements), and Twitter. Quite interesting.

Next, is the social media really helping reach out to design engineers?

As per an industry friend, social media offers additional channels to engage with engineers beyond the traditional ones. I’m not quite certain whether firms are using Twitter or Facebook to hire, but LinkedIn presents a strong case. I believe, the success ratio there is good.
Read more…

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