Global semicon industry poised to grow 21 percent in 2018: Malcolm Penn

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According to Malcolm Penn, CEO, Future Horizons, UK, the global semiconductor industry will see 21.1 percent growth and is likely to reach $499.973 billion in 2018! “Year 2018 will see a continuation of the growth with our official forecast at 21 percent,” said Penn. There will be further double digit growth, barring economic collapse. This recovery has nowhere near yet run its course.

In 2017, the global semiconductor industry grew 22 percent hitting $413 billion ($415 billion upside).

Capex drivers
stratix-10The 2018 capex drivers include node migration from 16nm/14nm To 10nm/7nm logic nodes, 3D NAND, where Samsung alone will spend a staggering $14 billion, following $26 billion total In 2017, including 3D NAND, DRAM ($7 billion) and foundry ($5 billion).

China remains a hotbed of activity in fab equipment spending, with multinational and domestic chipmakers building new fabs. EUV lithography is moving closer to production. Traditional lithography with multiple patterning will dominate front-end equipment makers demand. 200mm fab capacity will remain tight in 2018, prompting the need for 200mm equipment, but 200mm tools will be hard to find.

Entering 2018
Entering 2018, a global financial crisis is unlikely. However, China debt and new borrowing is worryingly high. Any slowdown in China growth likely to impact elsewhere.

There is also a potential risk of 2007-09 Eurozone crisis. Big economy with slow growth/high public debt loses market confidence and/or needs bail out too big for Germany to stomach. Middle East conflicts could easily cause oil prices to soar, leading to recession in developed economies.

Further, central banks could trigger downturn. There can also be UK/EU/Global Brexit peripheral economic damage and fallout. No deal is better than a bad deal political brinkmanship. Forecast rests on assumption that major policy mishaps are avoided, and there are positive ongoing economic relationship between UK/EU. There is no significant increase/change in global economic barriers.

Tech trends
As for technology trends, Moore’s Law is still shrinking, and the hype’s exploding. There is still more hype than substance even in technical conferences. In logic devices, silicon area is ceasing to be the prime cost setter. Advances in design (using variance tools) and production (using metrology) mean that yields now so good that it can be worth using a larger die to remove a few process steps.

The ‘X nm’ or ‘node Y’ designations are becoming increasingly irrelevant. Many IC designs are so interconnect limited that smallest transistors are only needed in critical areas of speed or power. Intel pulled away a little due to better metallisation process. Samsung and TSMC are fast followers, but definitely need some divergence in processes again – so they are no longer clones of each other.

The exception is GlobalFoundries. As the smallest company, they need to focus on a single process. Others, including China, don’t spend enough on process R&D. Intel’s 10nm node is the first logic process to exceed the 100 million transistors per sq mm mark. There is still a 12-layer metallisation process, plus Fin and contacted gate. The industry seems to have stalled at 12-layers of metal. Is it impossible to reach layers higher than this, without actually reducing density?

Intel used cobalt for the first two layers of metallisation where all the short inter-gate connections are made. Cobalt provides a more reliable and repeatable conductivity in short interconnects where resistance of the contact dominates, not interconnect length. Another cobalt advantage is that it reduces electromigration. Instead of FEOL (front end of line), BEOL (back end of line) expertise will be the future semiconductor company key differentiator.

EUV (extreme ultraviolet lithography) is now cost effective. There will be new techniques with immersion being used at 10/12nm and beyond. Most layers will stay with 193nm immersion lithography, wherever possible.
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V-Guard working on digital strategy: Mithun Chittilappilly

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Kochi-based V-Guard Industries Ltd in Kerala state, is India’s leading consumer electrical and electronics major. It has evolved into a renowned consumer brand with market-leading products in select segments.

MithunMithun K. Chittilappilly, Managing Director of V-Guard Industries foresaw the need for market expansion beyond South of India, and consistently increased the footprint in other parts of the country. In 2012, the company established presence in Guwahati, and introduced new products, like solar inverters, switch gears and mixer grinders. His vision is to elevate V-Guard to the next level through long-term growth plans.

Chittilappilly said: “I joined the business in 2006. We have since grown. We had almost 50 percent revenue coming from voltage stabilisers. The revenue for voltage stabilizers has come down from 50 percent to 18 percent. Now, we are present pan India. We are also looking to diversify.

Strong player
“We have entered inverters and batteries, kitchen appliances, and switchgears. We have since become strong players in these segments, especially, water heaters. Today, the new categories are contributing 10-15 percent to the overall revenue. The wires and cables business is doing Rs 60 crore EBIDTA year-on-year. There was also a good boom in the construction industry from 2006-12. For water heaters, we have been doing business worth Rs. 8 crores.”

How did this come about? He added: “We changed the structure to several categories of business. Today, we have 2,000+ people on roll. We are fairly comfortable. We have two to three channels, such as electrical, battery, etc.

“We have DSIR-approved labs in Kochi. In Gurgaon, we have development teams for switchgear. We also have a separate team on industrial designs. We also have a team working on smart products, such as IoT.”

Elaborating, he added: “We are working on products that communicate with consumers. We have products that are connected, controlled and M2M capable. We are bringing capabilities like machine learning as well. We are also in the battery segment. The battery will be an expensive part of an electric car in the future.

“We are also building in auto diagnostics into devices. For instance, the next-gen water heater can communicate to the other water heater as well. In rural areas, farmers need to know when a pump should be switched on/off. We have automated that. We also need to ensure that the products are protected from natural disasters.”

Isn’t there competition from the MNCs? He noted that MNCs don’t bother much about Indian-based products. “Our retail is distributed. We have a great talent pool in India and we develop products. We are in the consumer electrical business and continue to do that well.”

“We have looked at automation, and find that robots prices are declining. We have distribution boards, where intelligent management is built in. We are looking at smart products that can make some difference to consumers. We are thinking of getting into modular switches, and smart home solutions. In kitchen appliances, if you have a mixer grinder, it can control speed.

“We are also working on a digital strategy for the company that includes looking at the predictive maintenance in plants, where AI comes in. AI may help reduce headcounts. We have to wait and see what happens.”

PSS complementary to UVM: Dr. Wally Rhines

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Here is the concluding part of my discussion with Dr. Walden Rhines, chairman and CEO, Mentor, A Siemens Company.

Has the PSS been formally released? What are its implications?

RhinesDr. Rhines said: “Accellera released an Early Adopter spec for public review at DAC in June, 2017 and is currently working on completing our work in preparation for a 1.0 release in 2018. Accellera plans to have a “1.0 Preview” version available in February, 2018 (@DVCon US) for another 30-day public review period. Then, they will do one more cleanup pass, and submit to the Accellera Board for approval in May 2018.

“The expectation is that the Board will approve the Portable Stimulus Standard 1.0 version in June, 2018, prior to the DAC. Mentor plans to have Questa inFact fully updated by then, to fully support the new standard when it comes out.

“As for the implications, we expect the Portable Stimulus standard to be the next advancement in abstraction and productivity for SoC verification. It is not expected to replace UVM, but rather be complementary to UVM to improve coverage closure, verification efficiency, and effectiveness at the block level.

“The ability to re-use the verification intent expressed in PSS from a block-level UVM environment to a software-driven, embedded-processor SoC environment, on multiple platforms (simulation, emulation, FPGA prototyping, etc.), will provide a quantum leap in productivity.

“Since the Portable Stimulus specifications are declarative, tools can fully analyze the verification-intent description at the system level and generate multiple correct-by-construction implementations of use case tests, on multiple platforms, from a single specification without requiring the verification team to rewrite the tests in UVM for the blocks and C for the system.

By the way, are the semiconductor/EDA companies re-looking at designs, rather than analyze more than 500,000 defective parts every day to identify design and process problems? If yes, how?

He said: “With today’s increased design complexity – they do both – re-look at designs before manufacturing and analyze afterwards. The complexity of today’s designs and manufacturing process requires multiple approaches to achieve high yields in each new node that is rolled out.

“Design for manufacturing and for yield are a must. However, the knowledge of the specific design practices that need to be followed for a new node is developed in multiple stages: in pre-silicon, test chips, first production design and when chips reach high production volume.

* Pre-silicon: Simulation models are used for initial design rules. Many assumptions are made and care must be taken to balance the benefit with potential overdesign for a process that will mature over time.

* Test chips: Early test chips try to mimic the major features of a real design, however, limited complexity and volume means some design rules can’t be discovered at this stage.

* First production design: Additional complexity of a real design and increased volumes expose more issues that need to be fed back to design for future revisions or the next design on a node.

* High production volume and additional designs introduced: High production volume and each subsequent design can benefit from the learnings at the previous stages. Many issues during this phase are resolved with process improvements, but continuous learning still remains key.

“The challenge is not eliminating the later learning phases, as this will never go away. Rather, the challenge is for the industry to maximize the learning at each phase and establish a continuous improvement cycle in design to take advantage of the knowledge gained. This is the foundational idea in closed-loop DFM, which is a process to maximize the design for manufacturing benefit throughout all phases.

Let’s also look at verification. What is the latest regarding coverage and power across all the aspects of verification?

Dr. Rhines added: “Actually, the recent trends have expanded to multiple concerns that cut across all aspects of verification, beyond coverage and power, such as security and safety. One driving force behind these trends is the convergence of computing, networking, and communications technologies. This is driving new markets, such as the Internet-of-things (IoT) ecosystem and automotive.

“A common theme across these emerging systems is the need for security, safety, and low power–whether you are talking about IoT edge devices or high-availability systems in the cloud. These new challenges have opened innovation opportunities, enabling us to rethink the way we approach verification. For example, concerning coverage, new statistical metrics have emerged providing deep system-level analysis capabilities that leverage data analytics techniques. This insight has become essential for system-level performance analysis.
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Semiconductor industry performance a pleasant surprise: Dr. Wally Rhines

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The year 2018 is nearly upon us! And, who better than Dr. Walden C. Rhines, CEO and chairman of the Board of Directors of Mentor, a Siemens business, a leading industry personality, to provide us with an outlook for the global semiconductor industry!

Dr. Wally Rhines and I chatted about the global semiconductor and EDA industries, the Accellera Portable Stimulus Standard (PSS), and a host of other issues.

Semicon industry in 2018
First, how is Mentor predicting the global semiconductor industry to perform in 2018?

Dr. Rhines said: “The semiconductor industry performance for 2017 has been a pleasant surprise for most industry observers. The year is finally winding down, with the expectations for growth in the low 20s on the average – nearly 3-4 times as much as most observers had predicted only one year ago.

“Unit growth has consistently been 7-9 percent in recent years since the great recession. However, ASPs have been pretty consistently declining until 2017, when they were driven up mostly by memory prices for DRAMs and FLASH. Memory, once again, is behind the 2017 boom cycle. However, the rest of the IC business has also been relatively strong with growth in the higher single digits (7-8 percent), which is stronger than we have experienced in recent years.

“Memory prices are expected to soften as additional capacity comes on-line in 2018, especially as the year continues into the second half. However, the remainder of the non-memory semiconductor market should continue to have strong performance similar to 2017 (~7-8 percent) as the market fundamentals remain strong.

“Over the last several years, the semiconductor industry has experienced a wave of consolidations. I believe that we are between major waves of growth that are typical of the semiconductor industry. Historically, new semiconductor growth is ushered in by new applications that become possible when the cost per function, or some other new capability, makes the new application possible.

“In recent years, the cost per transistor for semiconductors has decreased more than 35 percent per year, just as it has, on average, for most of the last 60 years. It’s likely that continuation of this trend will, in fact, enable future waves of new semiconductor applications.

“Packaging, as well as package/chip simulation, continue to be important issues. Next generation simulation, verification, and analysis for multi-chip packaging configurations is now available. Now, designers of chips can intelligently analyze the packaging and pin-out configurations that will be most effective for cost and performance, based on a steady flow of data between the packaging engineer and the chip designer.”

EDA segment in 2018
And, how is the EDA segment looking in 2018?

According to Dr. Rhines, the EDA License and Maintenance is having a strong year in 2017. The annual growth is over 9 percent through the most recent four quarters with available data (Q3 2016 – Q2 2017).

He said: “The Semiconductor IP component of EDA achieved growth of nearly 17 percent overall, over the same period, as would be expected since Semiconductor IP is an important part of the supply chain for the broader semiconductor market.

“With expectations for the world economy and the overall semiconductor industry remaining strong, I expect semiconductor investment into design to also remain strong. EDA License and Maintenance is accounted for within the semiconductor company R&D expense budgets. Those budgets have a strong correlation to EDA License and Maintenance revenue. Therefore, I expect similarly strong growth in 2018.
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What’s with names and numbers?

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What’s with names and numbers? It all started when a friend casually asked me whether I was destined to win so many awards! Now, I don’t even know why I have won so many awards for my blogs. Actually, it was 17 at last count, 16 international and one national. We did a numerology report. A table is given here for those interested.
First, my full name. PRADEEP CHAKRABORTY.
PRADEEP = 7+9+1+4+5+5+7 = 38/2
CHAKRABORTY = 3+8+1+2+9+1+2+6+9+2+7 = 50
So, PRADEEP CHAKRABORTY, added together is 38+50 = 88+8 = 16. And, 1+6=7.

Now, my favourite subject: SEMICONDUCTORS.
SEMICONDUCTORS = 1+5+4+9+3+6+5+4+3+3+2+6+9+1 = 61 – 6+1 = 7.
ELECTRONICS = 5+3+5+3+2+9+6+5+9+3+1 = 51 = 5+1 = 6.
ELECTRONIC = 5+3+5+3+2+9+6+5+9+3 = 50 = 5+0 = 5
COMPONENTS = 3+6+4+7+6+5+5+5+2+1 = 44 = 4+4 = 8. Total” 5+8 = 13/4.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: 2+5+3+5+3+6+4+ 4+3+5+9+3+1+2+9+6+5+1 = 76 = 7+6 = 4.

Three things are very clear! One, semiconductors has ALWAYS been my favorite for a number of reasons. The first reason is very simple – my name and the subject — 7 and 7, match! Two, electronics comes very close, and it also, somehow, runs the world. Three, so does the electronic components, but as the number 4 suggests, it is a subject difficult to grasp. The same applies to telecoms, as well.

Don’t agree with me? Well, as a question: please ask your friend: what does your phone do? He/she will come up with a long list. If you rephrase the question as to: what node is the platform (for a device) based on, the answer will be ‘silence‘! 😉

Okay, this is getting a bit boring! 🙂 Let’s have some fun with sports, eh?

ATHLETICS: 1+2+8+3+5+2+9+3+1 = 34/7. Difficult, but very entertaining. To excel, you need to work very hard.

BADMINTON: 2+1+4+4+9+5+2+6+5 = 38/2. A game favoured by romantics. Elegant to watch. Smash it! 😉

BASKETBALL: 2+1+1+2+5+2+2+1+3+3 = 22/4 – Fast paced. You need to be fast paced too!

BOXING: 2+6+6+9+5+7 = 35/8. This is a game for tough men and women who can take a pounding.

CHESS: 3+8+5+1+1 = 18/9. Played by few. Understood by few.

CRICKET: 3+9+9+3+2+5+2 = 33/6. A game for the masses. Interesting, that there are a handful of test teams in the world. Mostly, former British colonies.

FOOTBALL: 6+6+6+2+2+1+3+3 = 29/2. Very popular, but rough game, for the masses.

JUDO: 1+3+4+6 = 14/5 = Again, for the masses. Few practitioners in India, though

GYMNASTICS: 7+7+4+5+1+1+2+9+3+1 = 40/4. This one’s tough, but makes for great watching.

SWIMMING: 1+5+9+4+4+9+5+7 = 44/8. A tough game. Prefers folks who are very fit!

TAE-KWAN-DO: 2+1+5+2+5+1+5+4+6 = 31/4. Same as above.

TABLE TENNIS: 2+1+2+3+5+2+5+5+5+9+1 = 40/4. Fast paced! Same as above.

TENNIS: 2+5+5+5+9+1 = 27/9. A sport for the masses, featuring gladiators.

VOLLEYBALL: 4+6+3+3+5+7+2+1+9+9 = 49/4. This one’s needs tremendous agility. Well, which game doesn’t?

WEIGHTLIFTING: 5+5+9+7+8+2+3+9+6+2+9+5+7 = 77/5. For supermen and women.

Let’s look at sports. SPORTS: 1+7+6+9+2+1 = 26/8.

Sports itself, is a difficult discipline. So, how can anyone excel in any one among these sports, or well, in life? Simple. By doing hard work! 🙂 It all comes to those individuals who work hard nearly all their life.

Friends, I encourage all of you to try out your full name and full date of birth, (eg. 01-02-2011) separately, and respectively, to see where you stand in life! 🙂

Be aware! Numbers DO NOT make any man or woman. Only HARD WORK does! 🙂 You need to be agile, have the necessary skills, and speed, to excel in any field!

AGILE: 1+7+9+3+5 = 25/7.
SKILLS: 1+2+9+3+3+1 = 19/1.
SPEED: 1+7+5+5+4 = 22/4.
HARD WORK: 8+1+9+4+5+6+9+2 = 43/7.

Finally, in case I’ve made any mistakes, while adding up the numbers, kindly forgive me. I am NOT an astrologer. 🙂

Movie on my life? Naahh!! ;)

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That’s me! 🙂

This is extremely funny! An acquaintance recently called to check whether I would be interested in having a movie made on my life! Before he could finish, I replied, NO!

Some thoughts! First, why make a movie on me, a nobody? Two, I haven’t even achieved anything great like any sportsperson! Three, who will even watch the movie? Four, who will act my role??

The acquaintance said that I had won nine global awards for my blog, and that is a very great achievement! Hmmm, I have won eight global awards and one Indian award, that too from the film industry, of all people! 😉

In fact, I have won 21 awards so far, four at Global Sources, Hong Kong, and 17 for my blogs, including nine for Pradeep’s Point! However, I personally don’t think these would lead to any movie!

Come to think about it! So far, NO ONE in India has recognized my work, which is fine, given the lack of semiconductor- and electronics-related work and writings from India.

The one award that I did receive in India, was from the Indian film industry. I even recall asking my family: is everything all right with the Indian film industry? Why are they giving me this award??

Given the general lack of awareness, and well, the lack of overall support for me, at least, I can only think of three people who have supported me right through — Jo Kuo from Taiwan, and Usha Prasad and Aanchal Ghatak from India, besides my immediate family.

I don’t even want to mention the lack of ANY support from my relatives. Not their fault, as semiconductors is tough for anyone to understand, right?

I would like to thank the entire Asian Sources Media, now, Global Sources, Hong Kong, and all the folks there for helping me understand the intricacies of telecom, electronics, and semiconductors, and of course, the Global Sources’ tutelage. My thanks to the global electronics and semiconductor industries as well, without whom this would not have happened.

There is an interesting remark on my Facebook from a friend. It says: “Semicon needs to be in the mainstream. Such a miniscule component, but, at the heart of technology. Without semiconductors, we wouldn’t have this easy life.”

Very correct! Hope everyone appreciates this hard fact!

So, what will I do with any movie on my life? 🙂 Enjoy, everyone! This is ridiculous! 😉


Veloce structured around verticals

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Anoop Saha, Mentor, did a presentation on Veloce vertical solutions at the Emulation Conference in Bangalore.

MentorVeloce solutions are used across networking, storage, multimedia, mobile, CPU, automotive and military aeronautics. Veloce is structured around verticals to be segment focused, identify and address segment specific challenges, and identify gaps early on.

Veloce solutions are connecting the DUT to the external stimulus. iSolve speed adaptors connect real-life systems with the emulator. The Virtualab peripherals — VirtuaLab is the software representation of a speed adaptor. The Veloce transactor library – Veloce compatible verification IP. Transactors (VTL) to integrate with users UVM testbench and lower the abstraction layer.

In networking, for instance, the network switch is driving complexity. There is shift to SDN driving chip size and high port counts. Next, 5G is also driving new technology
and standards. Veloce for networking is offering solutions on top of core emulation platform. The verification flow is expanding to include Lab system validation. As of now, SDN is said to be creating a methodology shift. Mentor is said to be the only vendor with a complete offering.

Verification can no longer ignore firmware. Emulation enables earlier firmware development. Software debug is done with Codelink. The Veloce power app is used for broad base analysis. Veloce also offers complete solution for multimedia.

There has also been an industry shift from spec to benchmark. Many new apps target benchmarks for mobile devices. Examples are the AnTuTu benchmark, Geekbench for CPU and GPU benchmark, GFXBench, a GPU graphics centric benchmark, Android smartphone and tablet benchmark, etc.