MOS memory investors, China to correct DRAM imbalance

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penn1According to an IC Insights report, the 47 percent full-year 2017 jump in the price-per-bit of DRAM was the largest annual increase since 1978, surpassing the previous high of 45 percent registered 30 years ago in 1988! This sounds interesting!

Are the rising DRAM prices aiding startup Chinese competitors? Are major DRAM suppliers somehow stunting global DRAM demand?

Dr. Walden C. Rhines, president and CEO, Mentor Graphics, a Siemens Business, said: “The DRAM business has always gone through cycles of imbalance between supply and demand. Growth of demand in the last 18 months has been stronger than growth of supply.

“Substantial investments in 2017 by the MOS (metal-oxide semiconductor) memory producers, as well as the addition of China to the supply chain, will correct this imbalance late this year or, at the latest, early next year.”

The DRAM price-per-Gb has been on a steep rise. To this, Dr. Rhines said: “It is a commodity, although there are many types of specialty DRAMs emerging. Because DRAMs are viewed by customers as a near-commodity, the price is heavily influenced by the availability of supply. Supply has been very tight during the last 18 months.

Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons, UK, added, “This is supply and demand, pure text-book economics.”

Are the rising DRAM prices opening the door for startup Chinese competitors?

Dr. Rhines noted: “Chinese competitors made their decision to invest in DRAM capacity long before the recent strengthening of demand in the balance of supply and demand. Of course, higher, or stable, pricing may make it easier for new producers to absorb the costs of ramping up new capacity and developing experience with a new technology.”

Malcolm Penn agreed: “Potentially yes, and to anyone else. Coca Cola were contemplating building DRAMs in the 1990s. DSRAM market boom, again, pure text-book economics. Whether or not they succeed is an entirely different matter. If the Chinese do enter the market, can they then survive the inevitable downturn and cycles? That remains to be seen!”

Can the startup Chinese DRAM producers field any competitive product soon? Dr. Rhines noted: “They probably can. But, they will have to develop a production base of “learning” to reduce cost, improve yields and maybe even reliability. This will take some time.”

Penn added: “Technically (i.e., meeting the spec), probably, yes. Reliability, probably no, for the Tier 1 customers (that will take several years to build up the production experience). Cost, definitely not!

“Their small fab scale and late learning curve start means that their die cost will be sizably higher than those of Samsung and SKH, and also Micron. Plus, their yields will be lower. Then, there’s the deep cash pockets issue to fund these ongoing cost disadvantages.”

300mm fabs
In a separate situation, some 300mm fabs closing, for example, ProMOS. Dr. Rhines said: “It’s because of an imbalance of supply and demand for the products they make, thus limiting their profitability. It could also be because they don’t see an adequate investment return from the expensive new capacity investments, and therefore, find it more attractive to phase out some of their existing capacity.”

Malcolm Penn felt that the fabs were too old and technically obsolete.

Finally, are there more IC companies making transition to fab-lite or fabless business model?

Penn noted: “There’s no-one left to change! Everyone’s now fablite or fabless, except for Intel and Samsung (logic) and the memory manufacturers.”

Dr. Rhines said: “Based upon the growth of foundry revenue vs. total semiconductor revenue growth, there must be a continuing transition of capacity away from IDMs toward foundries. In addition, IDMs like Samsung are finding it economic to build the foundry business to increase the volume base of products that utilize their technology and capital investment.”


India to Achieve 175 GW Renewable Energy Target by 2022!

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image025This is a bold title, right? The Union Government of India is on its way to achieving the 175 GW target for installed renewable energy capacity by 2022. By November 2017, a total of 62 GW renewable power had been installed, of which 27 GW were installed since May 2014, and 11.79 GW since January 2017.

India is said to have achieved historic low tariffs for solar (Rs. 2.44/ unit) and wind (Rs. 2.64/ unit) through transparent bidding and facilitation. India also attained global 4th and 6th position in global Wind and Solar Power installed capacity.

Now, India has laid down an ambitious bidding trajectory for 100 GW capacity of solar energy and 60 GW capacity of wind over the next three years. Read more

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.”

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.