Electronic Components

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.”

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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.”

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.
Numbers
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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Pradeep
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! 😉

 

ROHM intros Trench SiC MosFET to make renewable energy affordable

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ROHM India has introduced the Trench SiC MosFET technology to make renewable energy affordable. The next step will be innovations for the local automotive industry.

Power electronics is now enabling renewable energy harvesting. Increasing rural-electrification, adoption of home appliances, industrialization and population is bringing more pressure on the grid, and the power generation capacity.

image025India will be the largest importer of coal, natural gas and oil by 2040. The focus on renewable energy has gone up, leading to increased generation and decreased losses. Smart grid will enhance the efficient distribution of power.

Simlife Electric Pvt Ltd introduced the GAN2000, India’s first hybrid battery backed grid-tie solar power generation system, a combination of grid-tie and off-grid. It is designed, developed and manufactured in India. Power electronics reduces the cost/kW, and enables higher switching frequencies, magnetics and SiC.

Making energy affordable
Energy can be made affordable and achieved by extraction of power from multiple sources that are efficient and cost effective. The power conversion is made more efficient and is always available. It is also less resource intense. ROHM recommends SiC Trench MosFETs for high-power applications.

Rohm’s 3G SiC Trench MOS improves performance. The SiC MosFET is a near ideal switch resulting in low overall losses. Using the SiC reduces the overall system cost. High reliability of SiC improves system reliability.Rohm1

As for the future trends for wide-band gap (WBG) semiconductors, 10X growth is expected for WBG products by 2023! Dominant space:s are the SiC = 600V and GaN = 600V. Major growth areas are EV/HEV, chargers, solar, industrial drives.

Applications such as solar/wind power, industrial equipment, EV/HEV, large-scale data center servers, and home electronics/AC benefit from the use of SiC.

ROHM Semiconductor India Pvt Ltd (RSI) a subsidiary of ROHM Co. Ltd, Kyoto, Japan, announced an array of power solutions like SiC, IGBT, and gate drivers, for improving the power conversion efficiency. These products are intended to meet the harsh condition of India’s rapidly growing power infrastructure.

The improvement in size and efficiency owing to the adoption of the power solutions from RSI, like gate drivers, trench SiC MOSFETs, and IGBTs, play a vital role in enabling small scale and distributed power plants for tapping solar and wind energy. A ~2 percent increase in efficiency along with the reduced cooling requirements can bring in a considerable cost saving for the end customers, besides improving the reliability of the power converters.

This will help bridge the demand supply gap, which is “more from less, for more”, thus reaching more people. The distributed power generation, besides reducing a huge burden on our grid, reduces the transmission and distribution losses.

ROHM’s power solutions include a broad range of power devices, IGBT, SiC, besides Silicon MOSFET and gate drivers designed to achieve improved efficiency in high power applications.

Britto Edward Victor, Design Centre-head, ROHM Semiconductor India, said: “Our focus is on home appliances, industrial power and automotive. We now work on power conditioners. We released the silicon carbide (SiC) MOSFET. It is also used in rural electrification. Rohm Semiconductor India has a design center in Bangalore. The design center has an Application Engineering group to provide technical support to India customers.”

Artificial Machines enables smart product innovation with strategic partnerships with Mentor Graphics and Qualcomm

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There are a lot of things in electronics manufacturing happening across, in China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. When that activity in electronics manufacturing happens in India, it is a matter of great pride for the country. The company bringing pride to India is the Pune-based Artificial Machines.

Artificial Machines was founded in April 2008. Headquartered in Pune, India, it has sales office on Wall Street, New York, USA. It is focusing on IoT, smart machine design, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Haze
Manish Buttan, CEO, Artificial Machines, said: “We are one of the oldest IoT companies. We work with automotive and electronics companies. The HAZE platform was developed in 2015. We are focused on converting traders to makers. We are designing over 20 product lines in consumer electronics.

“We are currently building the TV platform for Videocon and the Videocon Aryabot 2 AC, which is in progress right now. For Eureka Forbes, we have done a few water purifiers. We are also working on a few products for Tata Housing including a door phone, smart lock, smart camera, fire safety, and several products for Godrej & Boyce.

“We are a design house, and designers at the PCB level. We make everything in India. The idea is to develop the IP. We can connect anything built on the HAZE platform. For example, a video doorphone has built-in VoIP. We are lowering the automation costs as well.”

What is HAZE?
Artificial Machines has developed the HAZE platform. The HAZE platform is not just an IoT platform. It is a smart product innovation platform.

“We will develop artificial intelligence for cars by 2018. We will also build the entire electronics for the cars,” Buttan added.

Artificial Machines has partnered some of the largest OEMs in India that have licensed the HAZE platform to develop a range of products in India. Buttan said: “As of today, we have five licensees – Eureka Forbes, Godrej & Boyce. Tata Housing, Usha International, and Videocon. Their products will soon show the ‘Powered by HAZE’ Logo.

“All HAZE Platform Intellectual Property belongs to Artificial Machines. Our customers are promoting the platform by adding our logo to their products. The HAZE License requires that the primary components be purchased through us. The HAZE IP is free to license for customers and we charge a subsidized customization fee for modify HAZE for their requirements. We are heading into a $20-$50 million turnover over the next five years.

“PCBs are being made in India. Also, in China. With Usha, we are doing smart fans, air coolers and lighting brands. With Godrej & Boyce we are doing refrigerators, ACs, smart washing machines, etc.

Over the years, Artificial Machines has participated in developing products such as the Mahindra XUV BlueSense App, Savant home automation System, Vidyo conference platform, Lifeshield home security system, Brookstone grill monitoring app / baby monitor app, and the Videocon Aryabot AC, which are in the market.

Products to be launched include a few water purifiers, smart refrigerator, and next-gen air conditioners. Products that will be completing this year include air coolers, smart lighting, Android TVs, Android refrigerators, video door phones, smart locks, smart cameras, fire safety equipment, and washing machines.

Roles of Mentor Graphics and Qualcomm
What role does Mentor Graphics play in all of this? Mentor Graphics came into the picture, and gave Artificial Machines their tools. Mentor PCB development and validation process involves over 75 processes of reliability. Mentor Graphics has strategically partnered with Artificial Machines and invested EDA tools worth $15 million.

This makes Artificial Machines have the world’s best design tools in PCB design, embedded, automotive, chip design, and manufacturing validation.

Buttan said: “We have a strategic partnership with Mentor Graphics. All of the tools are available to traders. We also have an agreement with Qualcomm. Each OEM can innovate their ideas.”

Qualcomm has been very supportive with the Snapdragon chip licensing to Artificial Machines. Microchip is a premium partner for low-and mid-segment processors. All of these give Artificial Machines some of the widest range of processors and platforms to work with – Bare Metal, Linux and Android. This makes it easy for customers to build Android hardware with HAZE licensing.

Artificial Machines also works closely with several large global manufacturers. Having in-house Valor manufacturing validation tools allows it to provide pre-validated hardware for manufacturing.

Thanks to Mentor Graphics for introducing me to this company.

Yet another recognition for Pradeep’s Point! :)

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Friends, I just learnt that Pradeep’s Point has been selected as the Top Blog for Design and Verification by Bucharest, Romania-based firm AMIQ Consulting. Once again, I am extremely grateful to all of you for helping me achieve this awesome distinction!

cropped-1441920190142.jpgThis recognition is now my 20th overall, and 16th, including one national recognition, for all of my blogs. That 19 such recognitions are from the overseas, is probably evident of the fact that electronics and semiconductors are well read, followed and even written overseas.

Am I wrong? I sincerely hope not, as there is a lot of work being done in electronics and semiconductors within India. The one thing missing from all of this is the presence of leading Indian firms — origin or based — in electronics and semiconductors. I hope that changes in future. And, till that happens, all of those studies depicting India as an electronics hub, are wasted.

As for the blog awards, I’ve mentioned that it’s my 16th recognition, including one national recognition, for all of my blogs. I have now completed a decade of writing (or blogging), and that’s a great result, won’t you all agree? 🙂 I didn’t even know that the blogs will help me achieve so much international (and national) recognition back in 2007, when I returned to India, from Hong Kong.

I started these blogs, back in 2007, to assist my friends, Kevin Ho Fai Lau, Zoe Lam, Alfred Cheng, Yashan Jo Kuo, John Ng, Claudius Chan, Kittie Wong, Len Sangalang, and some others.

Later, Usha Prasad (who was with me till 2012), S. Uma Mahesh, S. Janakiraman, Anand Anandkumar, Jaswinder Ahuja, Montu Makadia, Veeresh Shetty, Raghu Panicker, Dr Pradip Dutta, Vivek Sharma, Vivek Saxena, Sanjeev Keskar, Sathya Prasad, Dr. Satya Gupta, Rahul Arya, Malcolm Penn, Dr Walden Rhines, Dr Aart de Geus, Shinto Joseph, as well as late Ms Tarana Uthayya, Sanjana Shetty, Varsha Poonacha, Padmini Hegde, my niece, Aanchal Ghatak, my son, Prateek Chakraborty, and several others joined the fray.

A decade of winning awards and titles has been a tremendous journey. Thank you to all of you who have made this possible! 🙂 Thanks are due to my wife, Shima Chakraborty, for putting up with me! 🙂