2021 trends to watch: Telecoms operations and IT

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Kris Szaniawski, Practice Leader, Service Provider Transformation, Omdia, presented the 2021 trends for telecom operations and IT, at the ongoing Omdia’s Future Vision conference.

First, there are plenty of telecom IT opportunities despite Covid-19. The crisis has impacted service provider spending plans, but technology never sleeps, and several key areas of telecoms IT will demand attention in 2021. The overall telecom IT vendor revenue is expected to grow by 2.3 percent in 2021—a welcome improvement on this year’s anticipated 0.6 percent decline—although still below the 4 percent CAGR for the period to 2025.

However, despite the overall sluggishness, there will be strong areas of growth, especially around anything to do with AI-driven network automation, data management, and monetization. Automating the increasingly complex network and service management environment has become a major priority for CSPs, along with the AI and data management capabilities required to support this.

Service providers also need to invest in customer engagement solutions to digitize and unify the customer experience, and the 5G monetization tools required to support a wide range of new services and business models. And, underlying it all is the continuing shift to the cloud, and the need to adopt cloud-native technologies and practices.

Telecom IT will see several strong areas of growth. AI and customer engagement will see a strong increase in investment in 2021, as well as areas such as network and data management and monetization. 58 percent of service providers are expected to increase spend on AI tools in 2021. And, 53 percent of service providers are to increase spend on customer engagement systems in 2021.

Key messages
There is growing service provider appetite for cloud and cloud-native telecom IT. Underpinning everything is the continuing shift to the cloud and the need to adopt cloud-native technologies and practices. Whichever cloud migration approach you choose, it is unlikely to go well without embracing Agile operating principles to support it.

AI investment finally starts to catch up with the hype. Automating the increasingly complex network and service management environment has become a major priority for service providers, along with the AI and data management capabilities required to support this shift.

Customer engagement resurgence is driven by Covid-19. Service providers are already under pressure to automate and digitize customer engagement, but this will not be sufficient if they do not also invest in the IT tools capable of supporting a consistent and unified customer engagement strategy.

5G monetization remains a priority. 5G monetization will continue to be prioritized. Service providers need the tools to support a wide range of new services and business models. This will require not just 5G-ready policy and charging systems, but also a broad mix of customer and partner management capabilities.

Recommendations for SPs and vendors
There were some recommendations for service providers and vendors.

Service providers need to start trialling, testing, and implementing Agile practices across the organization so that they are well prepared for their cloud migration. CSPs also need to take stock of and fill any gaps in in-house capabilities and IT skills.

Service providers need to look beyond performance, monitoring AI use cases. Utilizing AI to perform closed loop automation presents a much bigger opportunity to transform RAN and core operations into something more proactive.

Service providers should seek to convert the short-term shift to digital interaction into a permanent change in customer engagement. However, at the same time, they need to develop a consistent and unified customer engagement strategy and invest in solutions that allow them to deliver a consistent omnichannel experience.

Service providers need to invest in new 5G-ready policy and convergent charging systems if they have not already done so. Most 5G monetization solutions will need to include charging and policy capabilities and service providers need to also consider additional features such as customer management, partner management, product catalog, and analytics.

Vendors will need to provide CSPs with hands-on support to help them embrace Agile and DevOps principles and transform development practices. Vendors will need to provide strong training and support and offer easy-to-use tools to help close gaps in in-house IT expertise.

Vendors cannot focus on AI capabilities in isolation. They need to address the associated areas, including improving data management and embracing open APIs to enable CSPs to access and make effective use of data, as well as support a common analytics platform to help CSPs streamline analytics workflows.

Vendors should ensure that their customer engagement solutions provide a unified view across the customer journey. They should also be able to orchestrate the customer experience across any channel, business function or department.

Vendors will need to assist service providers with 5G monetization use cases. 5G will be characterized by complex B2C, B2B, and B2B2X business models, which will necessitate fast and flexible monetization systems. However, such flexibility will not be sufficient by itself; vendors will need to provide guidance with 5G monetization use cases and be prepared to codevelop such use cases with CSPs.

SP appetite growing
There will be growing service provider appetite for cloud and cloud-native telecom IT.

The shift to the cloud continues apace. We have now reached the point where in any given domain, 78 percent of service providers intend to primarily host their telecoms IT systems in the cloud, although of course systems do not equate to workload. The proportion of the workload in the cloud may still be relatively low, but there is clearly momentum.

By contrast, the adoption of cloud-native technologies has been slower. To get the most out of the cloud, applications should be cloud native. But, over the coming year, CSPs still intend to run a large proportion of telecoms IT systems on legacy monoliths, and on average only 29 percent intend to embrace microservices architectures in any given domain.

Nevertheless, there are encouraging signs of change. Omdia’s ICT Enterprise Insights 2020/21 survey shows that nearly 80 percent of CSPs believe that migrating IT systems to microservices-based architectures will be an “important” or “very important” project in 2021.

This growing interest in microservices and cloud-native IT needs to be accompanied by adoption of Agile, DevOps, and CI/CD practices if CSPs are to obtain the full benefits. Service provider interest in these is also growing, but they face a steep learning curve.

CSPs will also need support to establish Agile, DevOps, and CI/CD practices.

AI investment
AI investment finally starts to catch up with the hype. AI investment is turning into a service provider priority

Telecom AI has been much hyped, but it is only now that investment is starting to pick up, as service providers realise they need the automation tools, data analytics functions, and intelligence to support 5G network management, slicing, private mobile networks, and new business models. Covid-19 is also making it more of a priority for CSPs to improve operational efficiencies.

Nearly 80 percent of CSPs see the use of AI/analytics to automate network activities as an “important” or “very important” IT project for 2021, with nearly 60 percent of CSPs planning to increase investment in AI tools.

Automating network and service management processes is considered the most important OSS project over the next 18 months, as CSPs start to edge towards
integrated solutions that can support closed-loop automation.

Top AI use cases are expected to include network fault prediction and prevention, automation of end-to-end life-cycle management, and the management of network slicing. The range of use cases is growing fast, and soon the Telefonica CTIO will not be alone in claiming “We are building a new operating model using AI capabilities.”

AI and analytics will also support a variety of non-network use cases, including, using AI to support new business models such as contextual offer management, as well as automating and personalizing customer engagement.

Customer engagement resurgence
Customer engagement resurgence is being driven by Covid-19.

Service providers are already under pressure to automate and digitize customer engagement. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought major changes to the customer engagement environment as a result of retail outlet and contact center closures and a sudden shift to digital and remote working operations.

This has led to a resurgence of CSP investment in customer engagement tools. Over 80 percent of CSPs see end-to-end customer engagement solutions as an “important” or “very important” IT project for 2021, and almost as many plan to upgrade their customer engagement solutions over the coming year.

Furthermore, CSPs plan to incorporate AI and advanced analytics capabilities into their customer engagement strategies. Top AI investments include automating and personalizing customer engagements and deflecting calls from call centers (e.g., with chatbots).

Investment in customer engagement will not be limited to the B2C side of the business, as the top IT projects to improve B2B operations will focus on improving customer engagement for enterprise customers and enterprise end-users. Investments will include improving self-service portal capabilities and evolving self-service channels into new areas.

Customer engagement definitely needs to be more than just digital catchup.

5G monetization
Finally, 5G monetization remains a investment priority. 5G investment has not been derailed despite the impact of Covid-19. Omdia expects 5G RAN investments to surpass LTE by the end of 2021, and although total global market may peak in 2022 as initial China 5G rollouts finish, 5G as whole will continue to grow. This will of course drive the need for 5G monetization solutions. This fits with the longer-term pattern, with BSS revenue forecast to grow at a CAGR of 3.6% over the period to 2025.

CSPs will continue to invest in the BSS domain over the coming year in order to improve their ability to support network slicing, private mobile networks, IoT use cases, and the flexible pricing required to support new business models.

So, it’s no surprise that the two top BSS investment priorities over the coming year are upgrading billing systems to support new business models and investing in 5G-compatible rating and charging systems. Improving self-service capabilities and migrating revenue management systems to the cloud will also be important.

The feedback we have had from CSPs suggests that although billing is a current priority, and we will see increasing interest in 5G policy control (PCF) and 5G convergent charging (CHF), as well as increasing appetite to invest in integrating policy control and charging systems. The top two BSS priorities for 2021 are upgrading billing systems to support new business models, and investing in 5G-compatible rating and charging systems.

5G monetization is a more complex undertaking than many realize.

5 things that may surprise you — future vision for telcos

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Omdia’s Future Vision conference kicked off today. Enrique Blanco, Global CTO, Telefonica spoke about the future vision for telecom operators.

Blanco said that we are going through the various interfaces and building a new 5G infrastructure. It is all about how you are managing this network. We are working on how we will manage the data lake. We believe that 2022 will be an extremely amazing year for telecom. We need to fully align the skills.

One of our most valuable assets is the data. We are now powering data for our customers. We are trying to build use cases as fast as possible. We have signed some partnerships with Google. How we can go together, and how we can grow faster? How can we use the capabilities of the interscalers? We are also working with AWS in Germany.

Five things that may surprise you
Evan Kirchheimer, VP, Service Provider Research, Omdia, presented five things that may surprise you in 2021.

We tend to think mobile-first, but fixed growth is delivering in the post-pandemic world. We are in recovery mode, and V is the shape. There are four takeaways. There will be 2.5 billion more connections by 2025, for fixed broadband and mobile connections (excl. M2M) by 2025. 5G is already growing the mobile data opportunity. In 2025, over 30 percent of mobile subscriptions will be for 5G (3.3 billion out of 10.9 billion). Mobile data revenues will rise from 62 percent of mobile revenues to 78 percent, delivering another $170 billion in annual mobile data revenues by 2025.

Mobile ARPU will also stabilize. In many countries (e.g., the UK), data revenues delivered by 5G subscriptions will arrest the decline in mobile ARPU. It will still slip slightly globally, with an ARPC of $74 in 2025 vs. $79 in 2020. But, fixed is a critical growth story: Mobile data revenues will enable all mobile revenues to grow 8.5 percent by 2025. But, fixed broadband will grow 14 percent between 2020 and 2025, to $370 billion. Fixed broadband ARPC will increase from $270 to $285.

Bridging the digital divide is more critical than ever for growing our opportunity. Achieving, or exceeding, this growth requires us to bridge the digital divide. Telcos will increasingly look for a purpose. Omdia’s Environmental, Social and Governance tracker reveals investment in a number of CSR initiatives focused on the environment, including green energy, recycling, conservation and green bonds. But, inclusivity trumps them! Social welfare and digital inclusion are, in combination, the top priorities.

Edge will further erode the distinction between the cloud and the network. Hyperscalers are working more strategically with telcos; how tight will these ties become? The network/cloud interplay becomes deeper. Partnerships with network providers are a large chunk of overall partner activities, and they are more strategic and less about commercial partnerships for specific services than they used to be.

Bypass or going direct is sometimes an option. Hyperscalers are, of course, injecting cash directly into subsea fiber, the edge, backhaul and various parts of the access network.

We are now locked in an edgy embrace. From a service provider point of view, some of these approaches are difficult to refuse: “pipe or nothing”; but hyperscalers need the telcos, because they must physically locate more and more cloud infrastructure in the network. Witness the growing number of hyperscaler-telco
alliances and consortia. Cloud, network, both, will be there. Investment patterns bear witness to the clout of the new kids on the block.

Next, Webscalers take the lead. In Q3 2020, Amazon’s CapEx was higher than China Mobile’s. Google’s was more than Verizon, and Microsoft more than DT. The “edge cloud” drives spend. While AT&T and Verizon are investing aggressively to launch nationwide wireless 5G services, the main aim of Capex across provider types is for building infrastructure for cloud computing.

There will be common things across the ‘splinternet’. China mirrors this trend, as their ICPs saw 3Q20 capex increase 21 percent to $7.9 billion. Tencent’s $5.9 billion rolling 12-month capex makes it comparable in size to China Unicom. Fixed capex dominates. For 7 of the last 8 quarters, fixed capex has exceeded mobile, though 5G network buildouts have caused mobile capital intensity to increase – a trend we expect to continue.

Value add! It’s time to radically rethink your strategies, or prepare to struggle for $0.40/month more. Value add capitalizing on growth of services above the network layer has proven challenging.

On the enterprise side, it has been stagnant. After years of trying, most telcos have failed to forge strategic relationships with large enterprise beyond connectivity. For disruption, aggregators, brokers and SD-WAN/Internet/work from home are disrupting even core managed WAN (though often on multi-year contracts). Re-orgs, with many providers have re-re-re organized their business arms. Witness BTGS, AT&T, TEF and T-Systems.

On the consumer side, household spend grows outside the core. Globally, the average household will spend only $0.4 more in 2024 compared to 2019 on core comms and connectivity. But, households will spend an average of $2.60 more in 2024 on online video, digital music, digital games and smart home services – about a 10 percent increase in spend. There will be struggle beyond Pay TV. With Pay TV flat at best, SPs are competing against behemoths in online video, digital gaming and smart home.

There are still, however, considerable opportunities in new approaches and old standbys. In private networks, our trackers and analysis reveals a complex ecosystem is evolving, and hardening. An alternative, multi-party approach is needed. Alternative service providers and multi-party deals for private network deployment have largely disintermediated the telcos. As for the ecosystem, there is real opportunity if providers view partnerships and ecosystem players as critical to a successful private network strategy.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 has re-ignited the mobile money market, with some long-standing operators realizing growth. Orange’s revenues in Africa and Middle East in 2020 were up 5.2 percent YoY, amounting to a considerable Euro 507 million.

The “emergency aid effect” of government financial support during Covid-19 increased the penetration of banking services in Brazil by 20 percent in a matter of weeks, reaching 90 percent of the adult population. And, 100 percent of this increase is mobile banking.

Digital inside out: The next few years will bring a significant digital skill shift inside the telco. CSPs are starting to embrace cloud-native, but there is a lot of work left to be done. 77 percent of CSPs plan to host a portion of their OSS/BSS workload in the cloud in 2021. Most CSPs (32 percent) will host OSS/BSS in a hybrid cloud environment. CSPs are likely to put the BSS in the cloud.

Now, 78 percent of CSPs plan to embrace microservices architectures for OSS/BSS in 2021. 75 percent of CSPs plan to embrace DevOps and other agile operating principles in 2021. However, 61 percent of CSPs say that lack of in-house experts is hindering their move to the cloud.

Telcos are now digitizing from the inside out. Our industry is beginning to understand digital is about people with skills and outlooks, not just technology. Over 21 percent of the openings at BT mention agile skills. At Colt and Swisscom, there is over 100 percent penetration of digital skills required.

In pre-2020, 5G will deliver the growth shot we have been waiting for. In 2021 and beyond, fixed is doing the heavy lifting, and the growing. 5G will require wholesale re-thinking of fixed architectures as core dissipates to edge. Have you prioritized your fixed architecture?

There was a robust CSR. Now, don’t lose sight of your fundamental business and social purpose – there is no market growth without access. Are you aggressively addressing the divide in your region?

In the emerging cloud/network landscape, it’s the edge that will shape applications for 5G. Digital is also about employee transformation: some telcos are well into their journeys. Do you have a digital people as well as technology strategy?

Semiconductor industry could be worth trillion dollars by 2036

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Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) held a conference to make sense of the trends that shaped the global semiconductor market in 2020, and look ahead to what is in store for 2021.

The participants were Andrea Lati, VP, Market Research, VLSI Research, Dale Ford, Chief Analyst, Electronic Components Industry Association (ECIA), and CJ Muse, Senior MD, Head of Global Semiconductor Research, Evercore ISI. Falan Yinug, Director, Industry Statistics and Economic Policy, Semiconductor Industry Association, was the moderator.

Falan Yinug and Dale Ford (T). CJ Muse and Andrea Lati (B).

Tough 2020!
Andrea Lati, VLSI Research, said that for the IC trend, the growth has accelerated since November 2020 as component shortages had strengthened prices. DRAM and NAND started 2020 very strong. They dropped during the middle of the year. The rebound happened during H2-2020.

IC recovery has since been sustainable, including for analog, power, etc. IC inventories have also been improving. They were running 8 percent above a year ago, in December 2020. The chip price performance index (CPPI) was relatively flat in 2020 despite high inventories in memory. Steady increase in Q4-2020 bodes well for 2021 prospects.

Dale Ford, ECIA, said there was a whipsaw disaster in 2020 that required a nimble response. There was a supply chain impact in 2020 due to the government quarantine orders and directives on company’s workforce and operations. Things calmed down after a time. The index of concern was quite high by August 2020, but, it is now coming down. Q4-2020 data will see numbers improve.

CJ Muse, Evercore ISI, said the semiconductor industry had gone through a correction in 2019. We were set up very well during 2020. Things were not as bad as feared in 2020. TSMC revenues were flat in April. There was an over reaction in automotive production. By September, TSMC-Huawei embargo had happened.

What’s ahead in 2021?
Andrea Lati noted that there will be continued worldwide GDP growth in CY21 from 2H20. Cloud and hyperscale datacenter will be a key drivers for the semiconductor industry. Hyperscale capex is at an all-time high. Cloud investments are supported by strong financial performance. 5G proliferation will be another big driver. 5G smartphone shipments will double in 2021. There will be increasing deployments for 5G base stations.

VLSI Research has forecasted 12 percent growth in semiconductors for 2021. Memory will lead the way. There will be continued recovery in auto, industrial, etc. Capex remained top-heavy despite increased spending by Chinese manufacturers. TSMC will definitely increase the capex, along with Intel, among the top 10 spenders. Semiconductor and equipment recovery is on track. There is buildout of IT infrastructure, 5nm demand ramp, 5G growth, memory capacity buildout, etc.

Trillion-dollar industry by 2036?
Dale Ford felt that the annual revenue cycle trends are up, starting from Sept. 2019. Annual revenue growth profile continued steady through 2020. It broke positive in August 2020. There are now strong demand and technology drivers. Semiconductors sit right at the top of the profile. Average lead times have also improved, especially, for controllers and processors. There was an upward trend in analog and logic components. The demand for discrete components and automotive components are also in the news.

There has been solid start to the current cycle. Most cycles last about four years. The technology/market forces are aligning to support growth in 2020+. Semiconductor industry has become much more responsive to the market indicators. We have an opportunity to see the ‘swoosh’ scenario. There are concerns about the global economy. However, electronics and semiconductors have been the biggest beneficiaries of the free trade.

The long-term semiconductor growth trends are moving toward $439-$472 billion by January 2021. It can easily move to $750 billion by 2030, and perhaps, a trillion dollars by 2036. Some positives include medical equipment, data centers, telecom infrastructure and 5G, solid-state drives, touchless solutions, memory, and sensors. The triumvirate of cloud, 5G and IoT, will make the long-term future looks very bright.

CJ Muse said there was higher OSAT pricing throughout the year. PCs grew 13 percent in 2020. It will probably be flat in 2021. Semiconductors are benefitting from being the component for the new economy. There will be 30 percent growth in DRAM and 12 percent growth in NAND. Industrial is just beginning to recover. IoT and smartphone are going to see huge growth. The party is just getting started. 2021 will be a great year, followed by 2022. There will be more supply, leading to some buffer stocks.

The world economy is depending on semiconductors, as the last year has shown. The impact going forward, will be on the supply chain. There are applications of AI for supply chain management, and key performance indicators and predictors. We need to deal better with the Black Swan events in the future. The SIA is also looking at a study on the supply chain, which will be coming out soon.

Automotive issues
Ford added that the Covid-19 crisis needed agile and nimble response. We are dealing with an industry that deals with how long it takes to produce a chip. Automotive lines were being shut down. Demand came back stronger, than expected. They need products built on 200mm. Investments have been more on the leading-edge technologies.

For lack of a low-cost component, other things can get held up. TSMC, UMC, etc., are taking some steps, but that won’t solve matters that easily. There are challenging questions regarding chips that automotives need. Muse remarked that semiconductor contracts with automotive manufacturers are long lasting. These chips are built for the different vehicles. Chip makers may want to cut supply.

Semicon spends healthy
Andrea Lati noted that spending levels have been healthy. China has also come up strong. TSMC, Samsung, etc., are seeing sectoral trends. They anticipate greater demand ahead. We are looking at tight market conditions. We may end up looking good in 2021. That should drive more capacity increases.

Long-term growth factors for the global semiconductor industry are there. Dale Ford felt that the future is bright. There have been many products that have shaped the world. The markets won’t fail in the future for the lack of innovation and technology.

Lati felt there could be some geopolitical risks in some parts of the world. Muse added that rising prices will occur in 2021. Ford added that there can be a policy of bifurcation with China. There could be changes in supply chain, and that could be a concern.

TrendForce announces top 10 tech industry trends for 2021

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TrendForce has provided its forecast of 10 key trends in the tech industry for 2021.

As the DRAM industry officially enters the EUV era, NAND Flash stacking technology advances past 150L
The three major DRAM suppliers, Samsung, SK Hynix, and Micron, will not only continue their transition towards the 1Znm and 1alpha nm process technologies, but also formally introduce the EUV era, with Samsung leading the charge, in 2021. DRAM suppliers will gradually replace their existing double patterning technologies in order to optimize their cost structure and manufacturing efficiency.

After NAND Flash suppliers managed to push memory stacking technology past 100 layers in 2020, they will be aiming for 150 layers and above in 2021 and improving single-die capacity from 256/512Gb to 512Gb/1Tb. Consumers will be able to adopt higher-density NAND Flash products through the suppliers’ efforts to optimize chip costs.

While PCIe Gen 3 is currently the dominant bus interface for SSDs, PCIe Gen 4 will start gaining increased market share in 2021 owing to its integration in PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and motherboards featuring Intel’s new microarchitecture. The new interface is indispensable for fulfilling the massive data transfer demand from high-end PCs, servers, and HPC data centers.

Mobile network operators will step up their 5G base station build-out while Japan/Korea look ahead to 6G
The 5G Implementation Guidelines: SA Option 2, released by the GSMA in June 2020, delves into great technical details regarding 5G deployment, both for mobile network operators and from a global perspective. Operators are expected to implement 5G standalone architectures (SA) on a large scale in 2021.

In addition to delivering connections with high speed and high bandwidth, 5G SA architectures will allow operators to customize their networks according to user applications and adapt to workloads that require ultra-low latency. However, even as 5G rollout is underway, Japan-based NTT DoCoMo and Korea-based SK Telecom are already focusing on 6G deployment, since 6G allows for various emerging applications in XR (including VR, AR, MR, and 8K and above resolutions), lifelike holographic communications, WFH, remote access, telemedicine, and distance education.

Internet of Things evolves into Intelligence of Things as AI-enabled devices move closer to autonomy
In 2021, deep AI integration will be the primary value added to IoT, whose definition will evolve from Internet of Things to Intelligence of Things. Innovations in tools such as deep learning and computer vision will bring about a total upgrade for IoT software and hardware applications. Taking into account industry dynamics, economic stimulus, and remote access demand, IoT is expected to see large-scale adoption across certain major verticals, namely, smart manufacturing and smart healthcare.

With regards to smart manufacturing, the introduction of contactless technology is expected to speed up the arrival of industry 4.0. As smart factories pursue resilience, flexibility, and efficiency, AI integration will equip edge devices, such as cobots and drones, with even more precision and inspection capabilities, thereby transforming automation into autonomy. On the smart healthcare front, AI adoption can transform existing medical datasets into enablers of process optimization and service area extension.

For instance, AI integration delivers faster thermal image recognition that can support the clinical decision-making process, telemedicine, and surgical assistance applications. These aforementioned applications are expected to serve as crucial functions fulfilled by AI-enabled medical IoT in diverse settings ranging from smart clinics to telemedicine centers.

Integration between AR glasses and smartphones will kick-start a wave of cross-platform applications
AR glasses will move towards a smartphone-connected design in 2021 in which the smartphone serves as the computing platform for the glasses. This design allows for significant reduction in cost and weight for AR glasses. In particular, as the 5G network environment becomes more mature in 2021, the integration of 5G smartphones and AR glasses will enable the latter to not only run AR apps more smoothly, but also fulfill advanced personal audio-visual entertainment functionalities through leveraging the added computing power of smartphones. As a result, smartphone brands and mobile network operators are expected to venture into the AR glasses market on a large scale in 2021.

A crucial part of autonomous driving, driver monitoring systems (DMS) will skyrocket in popularity
Automotive safety technology has evolved from an application for car exteriors to one for car interiors, while sensing technology is moving towards a future where it integrates driver status monitoring with external environmental readings. Similarly, automotive AI integration is evolving past its existing entertainment and user assistance functions, into an indispensable enabler of automotive safety.

In light of the string of traffic accidents in which the drivers ignored road conditions due to their overreliance on ADAS (advanced driver assistance systems), which have recently skyrocketed in adoption rate, the market is once again paying close attention to driver monitoring functions.

In the future, the main thrust of driver monitoring functions will be focused on the development of more active, reliable, and accurate camera systems. By detecting the driver’s drowsiness and attention through iris tracking and behavioral monitoring, these systems are able to identify in real time whether the driver is tired, distracted, or driving improperly.

As such, DMS (driver monitoring systems) have become an absolute necessity in the development of ADS (autonomous driving systems), since DMS must serve multiple functions simultaneously, including real-time detection/notification, driver capability assessment, and takeover of driving controls whenever necessary. Vehicles with DMS integration are expected to enter mass production in the near future.

Foldable displays will see adoption in more devices as a means of upping screen real estate
As foldable phones progressed from concept to product in 2019, certain smartphone brands successively released their own foldable phones to test the waters. Although these phones’ sell-through performances have so far been mediocre owing to their relatively high costs – and, by extension, retail prices – they are still able to generate much buzz in the mature and saturated smartphone market. In the next few years, as panel makers gradually expand their flexible AMOLED production capacities, smartphone brands will continue to focus on their development of foldable phones.

Furthermore, foldable functionality has been seeing increasing penetration in other devices as well, specifically notebook computers. With Intel and Microsoft leading the charge, various manufacturers have each released their own dual-display notebook offerings. In the same vein, foldable products with single flexible AMOLED displays are set to become the next hot topic.

Notebooks with foldable displays will likely enter the market in 2021. As an innovative flexible display application and as a product category that features flexible displays much larger than previous applications, the integration of foldable displays in notebooks is expected to expend manufacturers’ flexible AMOLED production capacity to some degree.

Mini LED and QD-OLED will become viable alternatives to white OLED
Competition between the display technologies is expected to heat up in the high-end TV market in 2021. In particular, Mini LED backlighting enables LCD TVs to have finer control over their backlight zones and therefore deeper display contrast compared with current mainstream TVs. Spearheaded by market leader Samsung, LCD TVs with Mini LED backlighting are competitive with their white OLED counterparts while offering similar specs and performances.

Furthermore, given their superior cost-effectiveness, Mini LED is expected to emerge as a strong alternative to white OLED as a display technology. On the other hand, Samsung Display (SDC) is betting on its new QD OLED technology as a point of technological differentiation from its competitors, as SDC is ending its LCD manufacturing operations. SDC will look to set the new gold standard in TV specs with its QD OLED technology, which is superior to white OLED in terms of color saturation. TrendForce expects the high-end TV market to exhibit a cutthroat new competitive landscape in 2H21.

Advanced packaging will go full steam ahead in HPC and AiP
The development of advanced packaging technology has not slowed down this year despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. As the various manufacturers release HPC chips and AiP (antenna in package) modules, semiconductor companies such as TSMC, Intel, ASE, and Amkor are eager to participate in the burgeoning advanced packaging industry as well. With regards to HPC chip packaging, due to these chips’ increased demand on I/O lead density, the demand on interposers, which are used in chip packaging, has increased correspondingly as well.

TSMC and Intel have each released their new chip packaging architectures, branded 3D fabric and Hybrid Bonding, respectively, while gradually evolving their third-generation packaging technologies (CoWoS for TSMC and EMIB for Intel), to fourth-generation CoWoS and Co-EMIB technologies.

In 2021, the two foundries will be looking to benefit from high-end 2.5D and 3D chip packaging demand. With regards to AiP module packaging, after Qualcomm released its first QTM products in 2018, MediaTek and Apple subsequently collaborated with related OSAT companies, including ASE and Amkor. Through these collaborations, MediaTek and Apple hoped to make headways in the R&D of mainstream flip chip packaging, which is a relatively low-cost technology.

AiP is expected to see gradual integration in 5G mmWave devices starting in 2021. Driven by 5G communications and network connectivity demand, AiP modules are expected to first reach the smartphone market and subsequently the automotive and tablet markets.

Chipmakers will pursue shares in the AIoT market through an accelerated expansionary strategy
With the rapid development of IoT, 5G, AI, and cloud/edge computing, chipmakers’ strategies have evolved from singular products, to product lineups, and finally to product solutions, thereby creating a comprehensive and granular chip ecosystem. Looking at the development of major chipmakers in recent years from a broad perspective, the continuous vertical integration of these companies have resulted in an oligopolistic industry, in which localized competition is more intense than ever.

Furthermore, as 5G commercialization generates diverse application demands for various use cases, chipmakers are now offering full service vertical solutions, ranging from chip design to software/hardware platform integration, in response to the vast commercial opportunities brought about by the rapid development of the AIoT industry. On the other hand, chipmakers who were unable to position themselves in time according to market needs will likely find themselves exposed to the risk of overreliance on a single market.

Active matrix Micro LED TVs will make their highly anticipated debut in the consumer electronics market
The release of large-sized micro LED displays by Samsung, LG, Sony, and Lumens in recent years marked the start of micro LED integration in large-sized display development. As micro LED application in large-sized displays gradually matures, Samsung is expected to be the first in the industry to release its active matrix micro LED TVs, therefore cementing year 2021 as the first year of micro LED integration in TVs.

Active matrix addresses pixels by making use of the display’s TFT glass backplane, and since the IC design of active matrix is relatively simple, this addressing scheme therefore requires a relative low amount of routing. In particular, active matrix driver ICs require PWM functionality and MOSFET switches in order to stabilize the electrical current driving micro LED displays, necessitating a new and extremely expensive R&D process for such ICs. Therefore, for micro LED manufacturers, their greatest challenges at the moment in pushing micro LED to the end devices market lie in technology and cost.

Please note: These are all the predictions from TrendForce, Taiwan for 2021.

IoT will digitize physical into digital: SMC 2020

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The SEMI Strategic Materials Conference 2020, (SMC 2020) has now gone virtual! The conference commenced in the USA today.

Dave Anderson.

Welcoming the delegates, Dave Anderson, President, SEMI Americas said that the semiconductor materials market is expected to grow 6 percent to $56 billion by 2021.

The ongoing trade and geopolitical tensions are there. SEMI’s market data is also seeing export control issues. We have been continuously growing in the materials era. Advanced materials are required for the future. Evolution of advanced materials is also highly complex and a challenge. We are seeing areas growing such as AI, 5G, quantum computing, etc.

Ms. Rozalia Beica.

SMC Co-Chair, Ms. Rozalia Beica, CSO, Mobile Applications and Semiconductor Division, AT & S Austria Technologie & Systemtechnik, said that this is an amazing program. She thanked the various folks who helped set up the conference. She also introduced the first keynote speaker, Sean Ding, Alibaba Group.

Sean Ding, CTO of AIoT, Alibaba Group, presented the keynote on: Digitizing the physical world enables digital transformation. Everyone has questions as to what will happen in the next 10-20 years. There are two things – IoT and AI. In the IoT era, we need to build a physical world abstraction layer. IoT will digitize the physical world into the digital world. We will learn the digital world a lot more times. We will do autonomous driving in the digital world, for instance.

We will build computing networks to support these. There will be virtual data channel and hierarchical data mining. This should solve the Big Data of the fully connected world. IoT is a physical world abstraction layer. Cyber-physical system (CPS) is the virtual world.

Sean Ding.

In the next 20 years, we will digitize all the physical layers, including apps. IoT is a bridge from the physical world to the digital world. But, is that enough to sustain a business? There is also the need for a connection management platform.

Alibaba is mirroring the cloud to the edge. You don’t need large storage for your device. There is storage already on the edge. You get elastic storage and memory power. A usage case is from 4G to 5G. The peak rate is over 20 times, latency over 10 times, and density over 10 times. 5G will help everything become more smarter.

There are three key features of 5G — the enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine type communication (mMTC), and ultra-reliable and low latency communications (URLLC). You can now have smart refrigerator, camera, etc. The density of electronics and connectivity increases 10X from the PC and mobile eras.

There is an OS of the digital factory in the scheduling. There is asset tracking, fast optimization of tasks, materials and equipment, etc. There will be a full cycle of the industry data collection. You can collect the full lifecycle data from supply, research, etc. Alibaba has a pool of machines. Now, the man is the part of the workstation. The materials are delivered at the workstation. Alibaba was able to shorten the clothing design cycle from 9 months to two weeks.

Another typical example is the smart agriculture irrigation. There is the IoT digital farm architecture, as well. You can monitor the digital farm, including the digital field, campus, etc. You can build a digital supply chain and distribution channel. AIoT helps to build a digital agricultural twin world. The farmland sensing system can automatically issue daily work tasks. You can establish a credible blockchain IoT network to track and analyze the entire process of the agricultural products.

The edge intelligent decisions will solve problem of network coverage. AIoT makes the agricultural data visualization and efficient collaborative management. There is also the AlibabaCloud intelligent manufacturing for PV. There is intelligent manufacturing being done in Xiexin. There is pre-emptive monitoring for slicing machines, optimize the slicing parameters, and fault prediction for slicing machines. There is intelligent manufacturing for ZC Rubber, as well. You can significantly improve the quality of the rubber.

In summary, the industry is at the beginning of the next 20 years of revolution. Digitize the physical world is calling out for a new Moore’s Law. IoT must contribute to Industry 4.0 to empower productivity. New Moore’s Law needs more innovative materials to power 100X computation, communication, and storage. There should be a move to digitize the material manufacturing process to build nimble manufacturing process to respond to the highly fragmented IoT market.

Smart manufacturing and Industry 4.0 drivers for business outcomes

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Day 2 of the IoT World 2020 witnessed a panel discussion around Industry 4.0! The theme was: Smart Manufacturing as a Driver for Business Outcomes – Investing in Industry 4.0.

The participants were Steve Holdsworth, VP Strategic Initiatives, Crescent Electric Supply, Farid Bichareh, Co-chair, Smart Factory, IIC, Ms. Marylin Glass-Hedges, IT Industry 4.0 Lead, IT Performance Management, ITC/NO, Corporate, Daimler Trucks North America, and Alex West, Senior Principal Analyst, IIoT, Omdia, who was also the moderator.

Off to digital transformation
Opening the discussion, Alex West said that the manufacturing sector is facing headwinds. What are the challenges and potential with digital transformation? We have seen 40 percent of companies not getting any payback so far. What’s a good way of getting started?

Ms. Marylin Glass-Hedges, Daimler Trucks North America, said: “If you don’t know process, don’t go after the technology! You need to transform the culture first. Then, you say, why you need the technology! We need to bite the new technology and process, and the relevant use cases, one at a time. Having those conversations and workshops helps you to move. You need to go one step at a time. You need to look at IoT, security, etc. We are taking small steps right now.”

Farid Bichareh, IIC, agreed, adding: “A number of folks don’t get the outcomes they were looking for. There are different reasons for that. You first need to know the process and the pain points. If your project does not have proper justification, then you are probably in the wrong direction. You have to understand and change the momentum. It also introduces more information. More knowledge is required to understand all that. You have to look at a period of 3-5 years to build on the solution. You also need to be ready for changes and plan for those, from now.”

Steve Holdsworth, Crescent Electric Supply, noted: “It is important to understand the process. For example, the manufacturer may have some new device. They are encouraging individuals to get them to the market, even though the device may not be suitable. We need to be clear about the outcome. Then, we can provide technology that is best for the end user.”

In that case, asked West, what are the real barriers and hurdles? Ms. Marylin Glass-Hedges replied: “The legacy systems have to be separated. You have to understand the technologies, such as data factory layer. There are also the people that you need to be careful about. Next, tool control is an important thing. If you come into an environment that does not have tool control, it can be different. The idea is to do things differently. If there are new UIs for an operator, the architecture will know more about security.”

Farid Bichareh said: “People are very important in the IoT journey. You need to have everybody on your side. You need training for IoT and for manufacturers. The technology is changing, but the people who have the knowledge, you cannot find them that easily. People are not comfortable with changes. Training is also very important. People need to understand there is no threat to their work. The training is to help them in their productivity. Although, you may lose your job, if you do not acquire any knowledge. Training and knowledge transfer are very important.”

Dealing with vendors
Alex West asked another question as to how should the companies deal with multiple vendors? Steve Holdsworth said that the legacy portion of manufacturing process needs to be re-looked at. For example, are you using an MS or Linux-based system? Data needs to be shared seamlessly. Being able to marginalize that is key. Lot of manufacturers have also started to develop their own protocol. As technology continues to evolve, there will be connected factories.

Ms. Marylin Glass-Hedges added that they are currently going through the process. There are controllers, who need protocol to talk to each other.

Improving efficiency, processes
There was a debate regarding how do companies improve their efficiency and processes. Also, how will the use of industrial IoT improve the revenue streams?

Farid Bichareh said: “You have had social distancing for some time. That’s going to impact the revenue and production. Customer spending is currently low. You also need to look at some new business model. You are now looking for different options. Eg., for a manufacturer, you will look at the equipment-as-a-service. People are now facing liquidity challenges. They have to come back with business models. They have to understand how they move digitally forward.”

Ms. Glass-Hedges said that they would need to know what’s happening from anywhere. Technologies are going to help us do that. If you are not engaging in technology, you need to! You probably need to keep two half shifts, rather than single shifts. For instance, Industry 3.0 and 4.0 are allowing things to be controlled. People can also be trained. We need to be flexible enough and adjust. Companies are now having to adapt and adjust.

Steve Holdsworth added that ‘if it can’t be connected, it will be connected’! Everything will get connected! Pushing down the manufacturing chain, devices will also get connected. We need to understand the process and the products.

IoT businesses adopting to new normal: IoT World 2020

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There was a panel discussion at the ongoing IoT World 2020 around reshaping the technology and business, and how businesses in IoT are adapting to the new normal.

The speakers were: Joshua Builta, Research Director, IoT, Omdia, and moderator, Nash Chakraborty, Senior Director, Global Market Development, Siemens, Ms. Charlene Marini, VP and GM of devices, IoT Platform, ARM, Robert Schmid, Chief IoT Technologist, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Fabian Schmahl, President and CEO, thyssenkrupp Bilstein of America Inc.

Consumer adoption
Joshua Builta asked the panel regarding the impact in customer adoption of IoT. Nash Chakraborty, Siemens, said: “We have seen a mix of customer behavior. The majority are speeding up with digitalization. No pandemic is strong enough to force us to embrace digital transformation, though.

“Remote conditioning and monitoring, etc., are going on. Covid-19 is accelerating digital transformation. One of the customers wanted to reduce human interaction on the shop floor. We connected with an electronics company for solutions. The pandemic actually forced companies to act fast.”

Ms. Charlene Marini, VP and GM of devices, IoT Platform, ARM, noted that at the beginning, there was a re-look at the expenditures and priorities. The digital transformation projects have become very critical for the future. People are still remote, and not able to upgrade those PLCs.

Robert Schmid, Deloitte Consulting, added: “One of things we managed to do well was to take the ongoing projects and turn them around. We also started to shift to video. We were really able to continue projects. The transition to digital is ongoing. There is some hesitancy in the market. What does it mean for digital quality testing? We will see change in supply chain and in retail, as well.”

Remote monitoring
Next, Joshua Builta checked on what the companies are doing regarding the monitoring, etc. Is that posing a challenge? According to Ms. Marini, it is really about the business knowing what it wants to do. We are remote training, remote testing, etc. People are finding other ways. There are delays in supply chain, but that will happen.

Chakraborty said Siemens has designed all levels of training via e-learning and online methods. Virtual interactions can be done. Problems can be solved through remote diagnostics. It requires complete system, starting from the connectivity layer.

Fabian Schmahl, thyssenkrupp Bilstein, said: “This is a bigger challenge. Engineers are working from home. We were able to work, when everything was shut down. We adopted faster, and will handle things much better in the future. The IoT, or Industry 4.0, will help us in the future. When we looked at additive manufacturing, we looked at making masks.”

Adoption of IIoT
Builta agreed that IIoT is a major part. However, a segment of the manufacturing world has also been reluctant regarding adoption. Does this situation serve as an impetus?

Schmahl said there are roadmaps and strategies that have to be set and reset. There are also the other people who are looking at how to get started.

Schmid added that people definitely are looking at their supply chain a little differently. Shipping was so easy. That barrier has now gone up. People are re-looking at their supply chains. Tracking equipment has got more critical. Many of the med-tech companies have also lost their field reps.

Ms. Marini said that in hospitals, asset tracking is available. Those things are now getting accelerated. Remote patient monitoring is not that accelerated. Devices that can solve the systematic challenges are needed more. Platforms are there, and can be used to enable the remote use cases.

Builta noted that there is an obvious role for solutions, such as temperature scan, access control, etc. Are there other areas too?

Ms. Marini said: “We are working on device management solutions. We also look at co-working spaces and offices. We are looking at the tech stack, and changing the analytics, etc.”

Chakraborty added that Siemens has many business units. There is a smart infrastructure group that looks after building management. There is lot of activity going on in BMS. Siemens has many monitoring and other assets, especially, in airports.

Schmahl said: “We have a solution that helps people return to the office. We are talking about private data. We have to store healthcare data, as well. We are seeing a split in what people do. It is not an option for people to return to factories. We think there will be huge change in the BMS segment. There has to be a balanced approach. Remote access and diagnosing are currently going on. There are also security concerns.”

Builta inquired whether there are any fresh cyber security challenges? Ms. Marini said that it has been a heightened status for their customers. “We have seen much more concern and action around threat perception and security. There is much more focus on the security aspect now.”

Shift to edge computing likely
Builta said that IoT is driven by 5G, blockchain, edge, digital twins, etc. Does it need additional investment?

Chakraborty chipped in: “Covid-19 may accelerate shift to edge computing. There will be moves to technologies that reduce complexity and network congestion. We offer industrial edge solutions with cloud solutions. For digital twins, Siemens has a comprehensive solution.

“Eg., there is a crane manufacturer. They ran simulation models to understand their business. Data collected was fed back to the simulation model. Siemens was successful in blurring the boundaries. We enabled the customer to implement a digital twin model.”

Schmid added that Deloitte has a VR factory. It showcases what we are getting in the future. It showcases how we need to engage the people in their offices. Eg., gamification can be a critical method. There are virtual rooms, where you can hand over things virtually. The virtual environment will become relevant in future.

Focus on data exchanges as IoT market continues growth: IoT World 2020

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The IoT World 2020 commenced today. Zach Butler, Portfolio Director, IoT, Informa Tech, said that there is a greater desire to connect, communicate, and collaborate. In June 2020, strong appetite remains for investing in IoT. Covid-19 has cemented the need for digitization. However, a vast range of IoT challenges remain.

IoT market updates
Sam Lucero, Senior Principal Analyst, IoT Services & Technologies, Omdia, presented on the IoT market updates and forecast. The IoT market is still growing strongly. LTE is main cellular standard. China predominates!

The Covid-19 impact on the IoT is complex. In Omdia’s view, the impact will be more of delay, than derailment. Enterprises and providers should be ready for a shift in emphasis in some areas of IoT over the coming 24 months, and negative impact on some sectors. There will be positive impact on parts of the IoT market, as the virus situation creates a need for, and demonstrates the value of, connected solutions in new areas.

Responses so far have focused on commercial support/economic stimulus measures, and re-purposing of IoT solutions to support the fight against Covid-19. It is still early days for the Covid-19 situation, and much will depend on whether the virus returns in repeated waves.

Strong growth
The IoT market should still grow strongly over the forecast period. The IoT devices, all connectivity technologies, for the global market will grow from 7,500 million in 2019 to over 20,000 million by 2025.

The IoT sectors are likely to experience negative impact. There are lower IoT project investment in industrial, utilities, transport, etc. Lower spending on consumer connected devices and services is another. These include automotives, connected home appliances, smart TVs, shared mobility and transport. Further, there will be disruption of IoT device and component supply chain. Supply chain disruption will be due to travel lockdowns, limited manpower, and the need for supply chains for Covid-19 related goods.

The IoT sectors likely to experience a positive impact include connected healthcare growth, such as telehealth remote consultation and diagnosis, remote patient monitoring, connected wearables, etc. There will be greater use of robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles. There will be contactless and biometric solutions adoption accelerating. Contactless is becoming an imperative in Covid-19. There will also be accelerated growth in contactless payments.

Focus on data exchanges
Let us look at data exchange and its relation to IoT. They are just starting to being used across apps, data and network. An example is a car maker telematics program. There is usage-based insurance (UBI) and smart city transport. There are main data exchange capabilities. A provider can expose, discover, share and monetize data. The consumer meets the ability to search, contact, request, acquire and pay for the data. Data enhancement is done by the analytics vendor.

Data transacted on the exchange can be used effectively. Data exchanges are being adopted across key market segments. Some of these are connected cars, smart cities, industrial automation and precision agriculture. App developers can also provide vital information.

The data exchanges for industrial automation are, at this stage, closed ecosystems. Open industrial markets are the way forward. Some examples are Siemens and Schneider Electric. Deutsche Telecom has done work on data exchanges as well. For precision agriculture, it is help the farmer with raw data and insights regarding how to improve.

The long-term vision for scale includes autonomous data exchange. Eg., for connected cars, there are EV charging systems, smart city transport systems, value-added services and other cars. Key challenges to making data exchanges work include semantic interoperability, trust, monetization, and compliance.

Opportunities in Industry 4.0 for semicon companies: Krishnan Shrinivasan, Lam Research

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Lam Research is a global leader in wafer fab equipment and services since 1980. It is the world’s second largest semiconductor equipment manufacturer. Its main product lines are in deposition, etch and strip and wafer cleaning. In R&D, Lam Research spent US$1.2 billion last year.

Lam Research sees intelligent electronics as a market driver. It is addressing intelligent electronics challenges from a capital equipment perspective. It is now exploiting the learning from advanced 300mm applications to enable capability at 200mm. There are major trends in factory automation as well. More important, what does industry 4.0 mean for the semiconductor companies.

Lam Research’s equipment intelligence strategies for enhancing process performance, reproducibility and productivity are:

  • Solutions that deliver reduced defectivity.
  • Solutions that deliver improved installed base performance.
  • Extension to 200mm technology.
Krishnan Shrinivasan.

Krishnan Shrinivasan, MD, Lam Research India, during the recently held IESA Vision Summit 2019, said that typically, PCs and mobiles were driving the growth, followed closely by automotive electronics. Increasingly, it has been driven by diverse, connected applications, such as the IoT, cloud, AI/ML, VR/AR, robotics and medical. However, IoT, by itself, is not enough to drive the industry. It is the contribution of all the other stuff — that is necessary to support IoT, in the network, data centers, and ML, etc.

Lam Research estimates that by 2020, there will be 30 billion connected devices. That will likely continue to increase, and move up to 75 billion connected devices by 2025. There is a significant growth in devices that may only need less than or equal to 28nm process capability.

There are things with sensors. There are also leading-edge applications, such as data centers and analytics. The greater, leading-edge devices are used at data centers. There are smart homes, connected cars, and wearables, as well as MEMS/sensors, MCUs/MPUs, smarter devices and PMICs, integration and SoCs, and advanced packaging.

Adjacent markets and specialist technologies being used by Lam Research are MEMS, CIS, power, BCD, 3D TSV, and photonics. Traditional CMOS markets and applications include logic, DRAM, 2D flash and 3D NAND.

Lam Research now have updated machines and products that have improved repeatability, defect reduction, throughput improvement, and reduction in the abatement of greenhouse gases. It is also repurposing the machines for the sensors and IoT worlds.

Role of Industry 4.0
The world is changing with industry 4.0. The electronics industry is changing the world, and Lam Research’s technology powers the electronics industry. Technology today is progressing as a double exponential function of time. AI/ML has the ability to disrupt everything, including the semiconductor industry. It is driven by big data, deep learning algorithms, and specialized processors. Industry 4.0 will see the computerization and digitalization of all processes.

How can industry 4.0 enable semiconductors? Earlier, sensors and process control were looking backward. In the future, there would be equipment intelligence, to improve wafer-to-wafer (W2W) uniformity, load-to-load (L2L), and chamber-to-chamber (C2C) matchings, using sensors and control technologies, and the outcomes with ML, feed-forward process control and virtual fabrication.

Lam Research is building self-monitoring and self-tuning into its machines, as well as self-configuration. Predictive maintenance is a huge application as well. Automating the set-up of these machines and calibrating them are also something it can do via AI/ML technologies. Smart tool capabilities are going to be the accelerators in its fabs. Lam Research hopes that it can deliver even better results for customers.

Lam Research is likely to achieve larger process windows, lower costs for customers, higher yields, etc. It hopes to store the data and analyze it at the right time, for the right purpose. It is also doing advanced productivity solutions. It is building an ecosystem that allows Lam Research to drive the overall equipment efficiency and virtual processing. It is building all of this on top of a big data/ML platform with leading-edge automation, sensors and process control.

Data organization allows high-speed data collection and storage, and right data at the right time, in the right format, for ML. Advanced productivity solutions provide an ecosystem of software and services designed to drive improved overall equipment. In virtual processing, computational etch and virtual fabrication software enable fast learning and process development.

A big data ML platform enables an integrated platform, supporting fast algorithm development and customization. By automation, robotics and platform design increase productivity and enable lights out operation. Sensors and process control in situ and integrated sensors monitor system and wafer status during process at a high sensitivity and data rate.

— By Aanchal Ghatak & Pradeep Chakraborty

Intelligent electronics pavilion @ IESA Vision Summit

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By Ms. Aanchal Ghatak & Pradeep Chakraborty

At the recently-held IESA Vision Summit, there was an ‘Intelligent Electronics Pavilion’, where, a host of companies demonstrated their products and services. Here is a look at the companies.

Those interested to contact the companies can do so via the IESA website, at or call +91-80-4147-3250/51.

Accord Software & Systems: Accord is a leading brand, with over 26 years of accomplishments in technology development and engineering, in the navigation and avionics industry segments.

It provides innovative and cutting-edge positioning, navigation and timing products in the defence, commercial and semiconductors business areas.

Defence: Accord provides customized, indigenous solutions based on GPS/GNSS and other communication technologies to Indian and global defence customers. Its ability to blend cutting-edge technology — developed, based on in-house research — with stringent product engineering capabilities, helps deliver innovative solutions capable of performing accurately, even in the harshest of conditions. Accord offers
GNSS navigation systems, GNSS timing solutions and communication systems.

Commercial: Accord has positioned itself as a key player in the commercial market with a host of products targeting a variety of applications like automotive, industrial, IoT, marine, and telecom. Offerings range from high-performance GPS/GNSS modules to solutions and products.

Accord’s commercial GPS/GNSS modules support most of the available constellations, including IRNSS (NavIC). Accord’s vehicle tracking unit (VTU) is widely used in India on public transport vehicles and goods carriers. It delivers the location and vehicle data for basic tracking and a host of value-added services like preventive maintenance, security, etc. Accord also offers time and frequency synchronization products for applications that require precise time tagging or clocking. Its product include vehicle tracking, GNSS data logger, GNSS modules and compact timing solutions.

GNSS test instruments: As newer satellite constellations are added, and interference threats are mitigated with advanced algorithms, the GNSS receiver performance reaches levels never seen before. Accord provides advanced test instruments like multi-constellation GNSS simulators that can demonstrate high fidelity and reliability so that customers can predict GNSS receiver performance in demanding testing environments. The products on display were GNSS simulator SIMAC6, and the GNSS simulator SIMAC2

Semiconductors: Accord has a rich portfolio of GPS and GNSS semiconductor chips spanning RF front-ends, digital accelerators and SoCs. Built on cutting-edge process nodes and fabbed in leading foundries, the chips form the building blocks for a variety of Accord’s GPS/GNSS products across multiple segments and applications. The chips are fully qualified and field proven in products developed for avionics and commercial markets. Products offered include MGNSS IP, GNSS digital baseband and GNSS RF.

Ceantra Technologies: Its SmartCarX is an IoT-based device self-powered from a vehicle’s OBD port. It can record and transfer real-time statistics of the vehicle, drivers’ location, driving behavior, and sensors data to a remote server, thereby providing a range of innovative platform-based analytics services and information to the end user/corporate owning those services.

Its connected vehicle platform enables monitoring of vehicle health, better road safety and data-driven online driver marketplace.

Cirel Systems: It has an ultra low-power ASSP for digital stylus applications. The MPP2 protocol Stylus implementation uses an FPGA and discrete components. Cirel Systems new Stylus ASIC CSAA2001 will enable lowest BoM cost and lowest power MPP2 pen solution. The MPP2 pen runs on a AAAA alkaline battery that will last for 1.5+ years using CSAA2001, before a need to replace the battery.

EmuPro: EmuPro is a fabless semiconductor product innovation and design consulting company in Bangalore, India. EmuPro offers product design, design consulting services and sales partnerships with leading companies in their domains. EmuPro has expertise in ASIC design engineering, FPGA designs, verification solutions – simulation, emulation and prototyping. It has recently ventured into the embedded and software design implementation in the IoT domain.

EmuPro has accomplished good customer feedback in FPGA-based designs and consulting services. It brings unique consulting solutions in domains of emulation and prototyping, which will help small and medium design teams on their project RoI.

Fluxgen: It has developed the AquaGen an end-to-end water management system. AquaGen is the complete water infrastructure monitoring and management system designed by FluxGen Engineering Technologies.

The system measures the water consumption, level and pressure of the water and waste water treatment systems at various points in the campus and calculates the total water usage at different sections. This pattern is passed and processed through AI and ML algorithms, and suggest actions and precautions to limit wastages, leakages and save water with 15 to 30 percent reduction on water-related expenditure.

The system understands the process involved in the water infrastructure over a period of time and acts as a forecaster. The user can interact with AquaGen via the Android mobile app or a remote desktop app. AquaGen’s architecture is based on IIoT.

JUiNCUBATOR: Jain University Incubation Centre (JUiNCUBATOR) is a not-for-profit organization supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, ALSTOM, France and Jain University, Bangalore. JUincubator is a mentorship driven, pre-seed start-up incubator focused on working with technology entrepreneurs to help them launch and scale their businesses through ideation, productizations, collaboration, user acquisition, sales, legal guidance and fund raising.

JUiNCUBATOR nurtures technology-based and knowledge-driven companies, and provides an integrated package of workspace, shared office services, access to specialized equipment, along with value-added services like fund raising, legal services, business planning, technical assistance and networking support.

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