Month: September 2016

Mid-term semiconductor industry update and forecast

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What’s the status of the global semiconductor industry in 2016? What are the forecasts for 2017? Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons, UK, presented his findings in London, UK, on Sept. 20, 2016.

Industry update
The IC ASPs are said to be the least understood statistic. The underlying ASP trend is 4-8 year cycle (2-4 Moore’s Law nodes). The crash is steep, and recovery has been punctuated by 1-2-year disruptions.

ASP recovery from penn12005 cyclical bust has been derailed by Lehmann, Euro Crisis, China, Brexit, much more. Penn recommended to beware the extrapolations and received ‘wisdom’,
especially on ASPs.

As for the current 2017 market outlook. there is an ongoing weak PC and smartphone market. The economy remains the industry’s biggest ever wildcard. Lack of industry confidence will bite everyone hard. The poor market growth is said to be the main driver for consolidation (M&A). The chip industry definitely needs a strong economy for growth.

Market forecast 2017
As for the semiconductor market forecast for 2017, the wheels fell off three times in March, Q3 and Dec. 2015. First, demand collapsed in March. This was followed by an ASP collapse and Jun-Sep hit Q3 sales value. The disastrous December made 2015 tip negative (-0.2 percent).

The wheels fell off again this time in Q1! Q3 has been holding up (despite Brexit uncertainty). The disastrous Q1 blew recovery hopes. It has been five years in a row that the market’s failed to recover. The overall economic confidence is clearly to blame.

The current 2017 market outlook is pegged at -1 percent, Lack of industry confidence will bite everyone hard. “Business as usual” means another bad year. As said earliet, the chip industry needs a strong economy for growth.

Tech trends
Well, Moore’s Law is still breathing, but Samsung and TSMC definitely made great efforts to catch up with Intel. Neither spends anywhere near enough on process R&D to research all of the possible next node options, thereby, relying on Intel and Imec Yield ramps are proving to be ‘challenging’, and ‘probably’ always will!

More on the Moore’s Law’, there is shrinking, that’s getting tough. E.g. TSMC FinFET transition has been step by step. Again, in 12nm FinFET, the first designs are now in tape out. However, all are still using the 20nm planar back end of line (BEOL) process. In contrast, Intel is now in early production of its full blown 12nm process and still has one generation lead.

There is a need to bring back a real International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) roadmap, with classic gate channel width reduction no longer a realistic measure of IC process scaling. There needs to be separate scaling trends for the front (transistor), and BEOL (interconnect) has further muddied the waters. The industry desperately needs a new way to measure real scaling and properly compare different processes and process modes.

Now, N14/16 and N12/10 were easy, bur N7 gets hard! For N7 CMOS on production schedule for 2019, Intel and Imec have prototypes of most structure and material options. The N7 node will require III-V materials as well.

N5 CMOS node is harder still. It is the first node where quantum tunnelling effects are dominant. The prototype CMOS devices are already made by Intel and Imec. Vertical GAA (gate all around) structure is likely with FinET on SOI.

The less said, the better for the N3 node. Both heterojunction TFET and GNR (graphene nanoribbon) TFET offer complementary devices allowing continued use of CMOS design techniques. Intel definitely selected the heterojunction TFET. Either could be introduced at N5 if CMOS alternatives underperform or for very low power applications.

Beyond CMOS processes, there areSpintronics options. These include SpinFET, all spin logic, domain wall logic, Spintronic majority, nano magnet logic and Spin wave.

Looking at the “beyond CMOS” era of N2.25, N1.8 & N1.3 (maybe smaller), numerous device structures are in early research. Orbitronics may offer a simpler option than Spintronics with the BiSFET (bilayer pseudo-spin field effect transistor). A simple graphene-based device not dependent on the need for a band-gap could even come to market before Spintronics logic devices.

As for 3D Flash process challenge, Samsung’s ‘getting there’ Plus Intel’s the ‘dark horse’.

In FD-SOI, is the third process lucky? The original 28nm process was developed by STMicroelectronics and second-sourced to first GlobalFoundries, and then Samsung. The second generation shrink development has been aborted by STM. The second generation 22nm FDX process was launched by GlobalFoundries Dresden, and is an improved 28nm ‘squeeze’.

The third generation 12nm FDX process was launched (10nm FinFET performance and lower power/cost of 16nm FinFET). However, the first customer tape outs won’t be until H1-2019. Little is currently known how the process works and is made. There is unlikely to be a pure FD-SOI process/transistor as the classic FD-SOI transistor would not scale this far.

Let us also have an update on 450mm fabs. Europe’s now turned off all 450mm ‘life support’. Intel’s still “interested”, but remains low key for now. The 300mm process technology has moved on dramatically. 3D Flash needs might still ‘make 450’s day”.

As for an update on EUV, the 12 latest generation machines are now installed (plus six older ones). And, 24 more are due to be installed next year. New techniques with immersion are being used at 10nm. For 7nm, there will probably be used for Fin Cut stage. Most layers will stay with 193 immersion, wherever possible. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve won IndyWood Media Excellence Award 2016!

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Friends, I have just won the IndyWood Media Excellence Award 2016, on 24th September, 2016, at the Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad, India.

award1This is my first award from and in India, and my 19th award, overall! The pleasure of winning my first-ever award in India is really huge and cannot be expressed in words.

My wife, Shima, and son, Prateek, were in attendance, and also captured the event on camera.

I personally have had a feeling that very few people in India read about electronics and semiconductors. Well, this has been taken care of, for now, by the Indian film community.

I am a little bothered as to why no one from the Department of Electronics, or even any of the electronics or the semiconductor associations in India has recognized my efforts. Or, maybe, they do not even have any award for the media. Fair enough! 😉

award2I am very grateful to IndyWood and Ramoji Film City for recognizing my efforts. I dedicate this award to my parents – late Mrs Bina Chakraborty (mother) and late Pramode Ranjan Chakraborty (father).

PS: I’m standing second from left, top row. I’m the tallest! 😉

Mellanox intros 100G Open Ethernet switch in India

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Mellanox Technologies, a leader for data center Ethernet interconnect solutions, has presented the 10/25/40/50 and 100GbE solutions in the Indian market. Mellanox introduced ‘SPECTRUM’, the Open Ethernet switch, with a switching capacity of 6.4 Tbits that can transfer 4.77 billion packets per second.

mellanoxThe company also revealed to the Indian audience its ConnectX-4 Lx Ethernet adapter and the LinkX family of Ethernet cables and transceivers.

Present in 30 countries, with 2,800+ employees, it has come out with this particular switch and also wants to approach customers beyond the enterprise.

‘SPECTRUM’ switch based on the 100GbE Ethernet switch ASIC of Mellanox, is recognized as the world’s leading Ethernet switch. It provides a flexible choice of ports at 10, 25, 40, 50 and 100Gb/s, and ensures zero packet loss. This will help users to fully utilize their network resources and maximize the efficiency of the applications in their data center.

Compatible with a range of network OSs, this switch provides customers with the freedom to choose the preferred network operating system. Spectrum is the most efficient solution for cloud-based applications, web 2.0, storage, database and machine learning.

Eyal Waldman, president and CEO, Mellanox, said: “In today’s world, the speed of access to information resources is the competitive advantage. Mellanox’ SPECTRUM based Ethernet switch enables datacentres to deliver the highest performance and lowest TCO. Implementing Mellanox’ solutions in data centers, we help create a solid foundation for improving the competitiveness of businesses in the fast-paced modern world of digital services.”

It is a clear move toward making data centers of today even more efficient. The switch has a low latency of <30ns. Mellanox boasts of partners such as Oracle, EMC, IBM, Dell, NetApp, etc. There is a constant engagement with high-performance computing (HPC). There is also a desire to show value for ecommerce, and financial technology.

Mellanox also provides security infrastructure for data centers. Waldman added that Mellanox is building the future infrastructure for compute and storage. Also, it is partnering with Nvidia for artificial intelligence.

As of now, Mellanox has about 1,000 installations in India. “We are located inside data centers,” added Waldman. Municipalities can also build clouds within their facilities, so they can have a much more secure environment.

The products unveiled by Mellanox, are expected to trigger adoption of high speed networking in the Indian data center industry. Spectrum based Ethernet switches, will ensure maximum performance, efficiency and throughput with lowest latency and the lowest power consumption; thereby reducing costs significantly. This will maximize RoI and ensure highest application performance, in datacenters powering the telecom, manufacturing and the cloud services market in India.

Over the course of the coming months, Mellanox will be looking to open an India design and development center for sales, marketing and support. This would also support the Indian customers.

Rohm intros BLDC motor solutions for India!

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rohmRohm Semiconductors has introduced the brushless (BL) DC motors for the Indian market.

At a gathering in Bangalore, Rohm detailed the line-up for energy efficient ceiling fans and room AC outdoor unit fans. Designed specifically in India, for India, the  use of BLDC motors can reduce power consumption of home appliances and industrial equipment by up to 50 percent.

Nakamura Daisuke, MD, Rohm Semiconductors (India), said that quality has always been the company’s top priority. Sixty percent of Rohm’s revenue come from Asia. Rohm started its India design center in 2014. The design center does 100 percent inhouse production – from IC chip design and layout to photomasking.

Britto Edward Victor, head, India Design Center, Rohm Semiconductors (India), added that India was currently the largest market for ceiling fans as well as air coolers. India has been estimated to produce 73 million ceiling fans per year by 2020. It currently produces 40 million ceiling fans at 10 percent growth year-on-year.

Using BLDC motors, instead of AC induction motors, could lead to a saving of 35W and ~50 percent in savings. Rohm has a smart integrated power module (IPM) for BLDC motors. Rohm also made the smallest package in the industry. The BLDC motors are designed for the Indian market and helps reduce the time to market.

Rohm has been providing analog, power, sensor, and mobile solutions. Rohm has been focusing on automotive, power and motor, as well as smartphones. Daisuke added that power emerged as a key area. Rohm started off with power and motors. Rohm also offers mobile solutions, called RASMID.


I’m now on EEWeb! ;)

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Friends, has just published my interview. Wow!!

That’s me! 🙂

It has been a long and splendid journey. I wish that my parents — Bina and Pramode Ranjan Chakraborty — were still alive! This is dedicated to both of you.

Special mention needs to be made of my wife, Shima Chakraborty, who has been my constant companion and source of strength, since my mother passed away.

What memories I have! Nani Narayanan of Motorola lent me his mobile phone so I could make my first call to my wife, Shima, in 1995, at a trade show. Of course, I was well into Apple, Telstra, Cisco, and some other global companies at the time.

Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (ARIB) was there, from Japan, to promote the use of PHS (personal handyphone system) in India in 1995. The Israel delegation was there in India, again in 1995, to sell security products. Anil Prakash and his PTC India chapter, visit to AT&T and Advantech with Pravin Rikhy.

I first heard of TSMC and other semiconductor majors in 1996, when I arrived in Hong Kong. I became friends with Intel, Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, and later, Mentor Graphics, Cadence and Synopsys. In Oct. 2006, at Global Sources, I selected the New Products Gallery at the China Sourcing Fair. My visit to Ericsson’s fab in Kista, Sweden, in 2000, Infineon’s fab in Dresden, Germany, 2002, Intel’s in 2008, Samsung in 2014! I happened to break the news of TD-SCDMA in 2000, and later, visited Siemens in 2002 to have a first look at the handset. Well, there are so many memories to share. I can go on! 🙂

I have to thank all of my classmates and members of my BHS cricket team, my guru, Keshtoda (Shankar Ghosh), Dabbu (Pushpendra), Raju (Rajkumar), Lippi (Rajiv) and recently, Kitty, Len, Raj, Geri, Geetanjali, Usha, Varsha, Sanjana, and so many others. At Global Sources, I have Claudius Chan, Daniel Tam, and so many others to thank.

A special thanks to Rob Gunayan and everyone at EEWeb!

NXP offers secure ADAS for automotive electronics

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NXP Semiconductors has been a major player in the automotive electronics industry. How has the automotive electronics market in India has evolved over the last few years?

Sanjay-NXP.jpgSanjay Gupta, senior director, NXP Semiconductors, said: The Indian automotive industry transforming at a significant pace, so much so that it has emerged as the seventh largest in the world. The automotive electronics industry is set to rise to Rs.13.04 lakh crore ($240 billion) by 2020. The growing consumer demand for performance, safety and infotainment systems in the vehicles has given rise to the inflated demands.

“Today, if we look at any modern car it contain up to 100 control units (ECUs), managing everything from infotainment to mission-critical systems. Innovation especially in this segment is growing and will also be instrumental in decreasing road safety concerns. One trend which is quite dominant is product innovation, which is evolving constantly.

“Today, manufacturers use innovations like smart objects, autonomous production, and access to the cloud to support customization on a large scale and manufacture products in close to real-time. This is further accelerated by the use of NFC, IoT and will increase automation dramatically. This paves way for complex electronic systems and providing cost competitive electronic solutions is a challenge and an opportunity for Indian automotive companies.

Future of automotive electronics in India
Let us examine the future of automotive electronics industry in India.

He added that there is a lot of potential for the automotive electronics segment in India especially with the advent of concepts like IoT and Smart Cities. Consumer demand for safety, connectivity, and infotainment in the vehicle are keeping auto electronics industry on their toes.

There has been a major thrust in the safety and infotainment/interior electronics space, with safety being mandated by governments and ratified by a consortium of automotive OEMs in recent times.

Consumer demand has also fueled developments in the lighting, emergency systems, and display space in the automotive interior and exterior electronics spaces. According to ReportsnReports, global auto electronics market is to grow at a CAGR of 14.42 percent during the period 2016-2020.

The technologies that are gradually pushing vehicular electronics toward navigating and communicating with each other have already been adopted from the aviation industry. Connected vehicular technologies are significant and considered the middle ground between purely mechanical components and pure electronics.

The auto industry is ever evolving and thrives upon new technological developments for growth as newer built in features in the car are grabbing eyeballs of potential buyers. For instance, we have seen a gradual phase out of mechanical and hydraulic systems from vehicles and entry of electronic or hybrid substitutes in passenger cars and commercial vehicles segment.

Consumers are moving toward technological developments which will make their life easy and hassle free. In the age of digital connectivity, the technology inside car plays an important role. Concepts like smart cities and IoT are turning into reality, and that is the reason behind digital technology acting as a growth driver for the overall auto industry.
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