Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Extreme targeting Ethernet networks

Extreme Networks recently launched a host of new Ethernet solutions aimed at global enterprises and service providers at its Partner Conference in Bali.

According to Mark Canepa, CEO, the company provide secure, converged Ethernet networks for enterprises and global service providers. The positioning is in the Ethernet space and Extreme does not worry about any other evolving or legacy technology for that matter. The solutions aim solve tough network challenges with meaningful insight and unprecedented control that simplifies networking operations.

Extreme announced a range of new solutions as well. Its BlackDiamond 12802R carrier Ethernet switch enables a wider range of metro deployments. It also announced some other new solutions as well. These include:

The Summit X250e Series, which has powerful application support in a 10/100 package; ExtremeXOS 12.0, which is a consistent, easy-to-manage stacking on every ExtremeXOS fixed configuration switch; Universal Port Manager, which allows simple automation for the entire enterprise policy lifecycle; and Summit WM200, Summit WM2000, which promise to deliver the future of wireless convergence today with modular, integrated WLAN.

Extreme's target markets for the year include WLAN, carrier Ethernet switches, security and L2+L3 Ethernet switches. The company's mission has been to provide secure, converged Ethernet networks for enterprises and global service providers who have complex networking needs.

Partnering with the channel is an essential part of Extreme Network's plan for success in Asia-Pacific. While Extreme builds great products and solutions, it also understands the network's big picture and the future path of technology. It extends the value of the infrastructure by developing key technology partnerships and helping customers learn how to use them.

The channels build great customer relationships and deep understanding. They, in turn, are able to understand the customer's big picture, and their future aspirations and plans. The channel extends the value of the customer's network by assembling the key components and delivering valuable services.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Next-gen PCB design with Allegro

Cadence was kind enough to discuss its Allegro solution with me recently. The solution aims at enhancing the productivity for next-generation PCB designs.

According to Steve Kamin, Group Director, Cadence's Allegro systems division, customers face constraints such as higher frequency, power consumption, pin counts, packages, etc. The PCB designers also face challenges such as decreasing hole sizes, hole diameter, etc.

Features of the Allegro include GUI (graphical user interface) modernization, context sensitive editing paradigm, color and visibility improvements, integration of physical and spacing constraints into the Constraint Manager, and an interactive planning and global routing, respectively.

In a PCB design flow, Cadence has focused on usability and productivity. The Allegro has a modernized GUI. All of the tool bars have been completely refreshed. Cadence has also added foldaway windows.

Cadence has added context-sensitive editing and included an open GL graphics engine that improves the visibility of objects and components on a board. This release can handle all sorts of intricate designs.

It has also addressed the physical and spacing constraints, which has been included that into the Constraint Manager. This is a cockpit, a spreadsheet-based tool, which manages all of the properties. Cadence is selling this solution to OEMs, ODMs, PCB design services companies, etc.

The Allegro solution has an interactive planning and global routing facility. Cadence has also added an entry-level product in the OrCAD PCB Designer Basics. Its GRE is a new, next-generation technology, which has two new elements -- the interactive flow planner and the Global Route Environment.

The GRE cuts to 1-2 iteration of routing. Customers can control the direction of the routes. Fabricators sometimes have had to kill the design as they could not control the routing or it was not possible. Hence, Allegro takes care of this issue. It saves significant time, from 15 months to about three months.

Allegro facilitates an improved design creation and simulation as well. The Allegro System Architect has differential pairs support and improved schematic generation. Other features include physical and spacing constraints in Allegro Design Entry HDL, performance and convergence improvements in Cadence Pspice and Allegro AMS Simulator, etc. Cadence has improved the automatic schematic generator. Also, in the analog simulation product line, it has added the automated convergence capability.

Finally, the company has added Cadence Help across all of its products. This allows cross-linking across all Cadence's tools. Customers can also add their own content. Cadence integrates third-party thermal integration tools into the products.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Chipping away at wireless USB

I happened to meet up with MosChip Semiconductor Technology, a well known fabless semiconductor company, which is listed on the BSE (No. 532407). What attracted me was the fact that MosChip is said to be focusing on wireless USB. as well.

It has been concentrating more on the digital side and is talking with a company for providing the radio (analog) chip, for a licensing agreement. As and when the market for wireless USB picks up, MosChip would be ready and waiting! Now, this is great! An Indian company, chipping away at the wireless USB market, waiting for its time to pounce and capture it!

Its engineering team is capable of designing end products that work across different operating systems and multiple platforms of various hardware configurations. MosChip has engineering expertise in PCI, USB, IEEE 1394, serial–parallel, SoC, device drivers, embedded firmware, engineering and reference platforms, PLL, transceivers, and A/D and D/A.

It is also developing custom products and IP for customers. Although Moschip is currently working on USB, PCI and IPSec, it is now going toward the SoC, according to its CEO, Ram Reddy.

The company adds application packages as software platforms are required for people to plug in the board. MosChip has 45+ software engineers who work on both embedded and platform to support such activities.

MosChip can give the complete object code to companies and source code to bigger companies with an agreement in place. It focuses mostly on OEM and ODM companies in the Far East. MosChip has strong distribution ties in place in China, Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

Moschip, being a fabless company, contracts work to UMC, TSMC, etc. As and when, proposed fabs comes up in Hyderabad, Moschip would partner with any one of them. MosChip also announced the MCS8140, a highly integrated network processor. This network processor can be used with USB, multiple servers, etc., rather, with everything that is on IP. A maximum of 16 devices can be supported on the USB ports via IP. It is a single-chip solution.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Indian semicon industry: Give it time, you will see the results

Continuing from my previous blog, I'd like to mention here that Gartner, as well as some others, do point out that the Indian semiconductor industry is still in a nascent stage. We are all well aware of that!

A semicon policy has recently been announced to attract investments in semiconductor manufacturing. About five players announced plans and some have submitted proposals to the government. It will be at least another two years before things start rolling.

S. Janakiraman, president, ISA, and president & CEO - R&D Services, Mindtree, elaborated that the Indian government had, for the first time, come out with an exclusive policy for the semiconductor industry. This policy should provide significant boost to the manufacturing sector.

The ISA had closely worked with the Indian government to structure the policy to meet the expectations of the industry, while protecting the countries interest in terms of the right size of investments as well as right technologies being deployed.

The impact of the policy on the manufacturing sector will take time, but when it does becomes reality, it will create significant positive impact for the semiconductor sector.

There is also a clear interest by all leading IDMs as well as fabless semiconductor companies in looking at India as a destination for complex design sourcing, as well as increase their market share in a growing market.

Manufacturing of electronics has seen remarkable progress in the last 18 months with majors such as Nokia, Motorola, Flextronics and Foxcon now investing in India. Similar thrust in investments in semiconductor fabrication, test and packaging is not far away.

Technologies are fast evolving and mixed signal is becoming reality. Geometries of semiconductor technology is also shrinking, from 90nm to 55nm and even 35nm. Not only that, India is now in a position to talk about a multilayered chip or a 3D chip.

Pradip Dutta, president, Synopsys, believes all local and global majors based in India are poised for growth. Global majors will likely continue to leverage on the talent available. There will likely be even more emphasis on high-end design as well as determining the go-to-market strategy.

Whether it is the frequency, number of gates, high complexity, etc., all of those would be driven by applications. India is now ready for doing high-end
complex designs. All of this really augurs well for the Indian industry.

Kamal Aggarwal, VP - Marketing and Strategy, SoftJin Technologies, told me that the semiconductor market, globally, is likely to grow close to 10 percent during 2007. In India, it is likely to grow much faster due to the high growth in electronics consumption, maybe, around 30 percent.

Some observers feel that fabless is the best way to go for India, in order to tap our engineering talent in chip design and let the foundries in Mainland China and Taiwan give India the best wafer prices and help us keep up with ever reducing geometries.

These countries have the infrastructure for this R&D and we (India) have the engineering talent. Yes, I agree that this is a separate issue. There may not be several fabs as many think it would be. It'd probably be a mixture of maybe four or five fabs (my estimate) and lots of fabless companies, along with the ancillaries.

India should also encourage fabless semiconductor chip companies (product companies), give them concessions and tap into the US $300 billion semiconductor component market as well. All of this will happen, just give it some time folks!

Indian semicon industry: Good start's there for all to see, ain't it?

Our telecom and IT minister, Hon'ble Dayanidhi Maran resigned late last week. It prompted a friend to ask me whether this move would derail India's semicon policy and the path the industry had taken.

Of course not! We've made a good start, and there's still some way to go. The former minister has put us on a good path and the Indian semiconductor industry has been taking the right steps to figure among the top nations soon.

Take a look at some statistics. According to the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), India’s total semiconductor consumption in 2005 was about US $2.8 billion, met chiefly through imports. This demand is likely to exceed US $36 billion by 2015.

Electronics -- whether it is office automation, consumer electronics, medical electronics, telecom or industrial automation, will require more of the semiconductor industry in India.

The major end user segments have been communications, IT and consumer electronics. Together, the important product sub-categories that would drive the semiconductor market in India are mobile handsets, wireless equipment, especially BTS equipment, which is gaining momentum, set-top boxes, and smart card terminals.

With its growing middle class population of nearly 400 million people which will only increase over time, India’s electronic equipment consumption which was estimated at around US $28.2 billion in 2005, is likely to reach US $363 billion by 2015 growing at around CAGR 30 percent. The Indian electronics equipment domestic production was US $10.99 billion in 2005 and projects an opportunity to touch US $155 billion in 2015.

Statistically speaking, the Indian semiconductor design industry, comprising of VLSI design, board design and embedded software companies, has design companies across Bangalore, NCR Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad and Goa. All of the global top ten fabless design companies also have India operations and 19 of the top 25 semiconductor companies are already present here as of early May 2005.

The Indian semiconductor design industry (i.e. VLSI, hardware/board, embedded software) had a turnover of US $3.2 billion in 2005 with an engineering workforce of around 75,000. It is estimated to reach US $43 billion by 2015 and provide jobs to 780,000 professionals with a CAGR of around 30 percent for this period.

The ISA-EY Benchmarking Study 2007 benchmarks the semiconductor design sector in India with peer countries on factors of importance to the sector and identifies important high level focus areas and actions to facilitate sustainable growth. Peer countries are Canada, China, Czech Republic, India, Israel, Taiwan, UK and the USA.

Some of the main findings that clearly position as India as an attractive design hub are:

* Availability and scalability of talent
* Quality of talent
* Quality of technical education
* Talent cost advantage

The increased flow of international companies setting up their offshore design and development base and the ramping up of engineering human resource in the existing set up, including the non-captive companies is expected to drive the revenues for the total design market in India.

Second part follows in the next blog.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Trends in fixed-mobile convergence

Kudos to my colleague, Idhries Ahmad, for having put together a wonderful piece on fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). I would just like to highlight the trends on FMC in India. FMC is definitely at a very early stage in the Asia-Pacific region itself, and probably nascent in India.

Akshay Agarwal, Ecosystem Partner Manager - India & Korea, Texas Instruments, India forecasts that service providers in India may start with pre-IMS, skip UMA and may jump to IMS directly. Besides, the successful adoption of FMC would also depend on the deployment of 3G and Wi-Fi. Pre-IMS services could mainly be applications such as instant messaging and photo sharing.

The contribution of value-added services (VAS) has been steadily increasing and is likely to form a major portion of FMC revenues in the near future. Even as the FMC services market gains traction, the go-to-market strategy of service providers should be to provide a variety of FMC-compliant dual-mode handsets to customers.

At this point, the Indian telcos are still focused on meeting the high demand for basic voice services, and are gradually opening up to generating demand for converged service offerings.

Rising income, declining handset prices, and an increased awareness of viable mobile services among masses has led to the growing adoption of mobility solutions. The major areas of growth will be the youth segment and the rural areas.

FMC could be the solution to provide rich media services to the end customers. It may facilitate both fixed and mobile operators a magical solution to provide high-end services to subscribers, further entail the convergence of access networks, and help the operators to integrate their forces to tap the huge potential of rural India.