Saturday, November 24, 2007

Outlook for Indian semiconductor industry in 2008

S. Janakiraman, president and CEO –- R&D Services, Mindtree Consulting, and chairman, India Semiconductor Association (ISA), is quite bullish on the advantages of India and the opportunities provided in the Indian semiconductor industry. Here are some notes on the outlook for the Indian semiconductor industry in 2008.

Indian semiconductor industry to grow 25-35 percent in 2008
There has been an increasing trend of an increasing brand value for semiconductors within India. MNCs, especially are looking at semiconductor related outsourcing from India. We are also seeing lot of traction, from third-party service providers, like us -- Mindtree, Wipro, Sasken, etc., as well as captive centers of MNCs like STMicroelectronics, NXP, etc.

In terms of growth plans, all leading MNCs, like NXP, Freescale, STMicroelectronics, etc., are planning to grow significantly from their India centers. They are strongly building partnerships with Indian designers.

From the design side, India is also seeing an increase in various activities, such as more complex analog designs and more complex digital designs. We are seeing more of physical designs happening, and even taking those designs up to the foundries are increasing as well. "We foresee 25-35 percent likely growth in the Indian semiconductor industry during 2008," said Janakiraman.

Software is very critical to succeed. Various Indian providers, including Mindtree, are developing software for semiconductor-related products that are being designed by the overseas semiconductor companies.

Fab policy -- More of ATMP
The fab policy announced by the government of India is really attractive and mostly on par with other countries. A semiconductor fab requires very high capital-intensive investment. In 2008, we will be probably seeing more of the assembly, testing, marking and assembly (ATMP) happening in India.

The fundamental fabs are still a little far away. Most companies are likely to start off by initially testing waters by making some level of investments in ATMP before moving on to fabs. One cannot also rule out the prospect of some leading Indian company investing in fabs.

Lot of the big MNCs have been moving to Fab-Lite, having already announced Fab-Lite strategies. They are moving to manufacturing to with people like TSMC, Chartered, etc. If manufacturing happens in the fabs, it would not be from any of the integrated device manufacturers (IDMs). It may also happen from Indian companies who are into manufacturing.

Electronics manufacturing has already moved on to the electronics manufacturing services (EMS) vendors. Similarly, chip vendors are also moving on to third-party providers. MNCs like TI, LSI Logic, etc., are moving away from manufacturing and moving that to Charter, TSMC, etc.

Fab companies will also look at India as the fab policy will look attractive to them. "Those questioning India's need for fabs would feel terribly missing out on the opportunities currently being provided by India, by 2015," said Janakiraman.

Product companies in India
Over the next one to two years, we are likely to see more product companies emerging from India. Companies like Tejas are already present in India. Down the line, this will percolate into semiconductors. Opportunities are bound to emerge. It means, first, there will be companies manufacturing electronics products, which will later move on to the emergence of semiconductor product companies.

As for Indian companies into manufacturing electronics products, the ISA chairman feels that there would be more of high-complexity, medium volume products. These would probably be manufacturing networking, automotive, navigation products, etc., which are more rich in software, but are medium volume in production.

Impact of semiconductor policy
According to Janakiraman, the interest in India has only increased since the announcement of the semiconductor policy. As per the announcement, the government of India will bear 20 percent of the capital expenditure during the first 10 years for units located inside SEZs and 25 percent for those located outside.

For semiconductor manufacturing (wafer fabs) plants, the policy proposes a minimum investment of US $625 million. The minimum investment for for ancillary plants is US $250 million. The government's participation in the projects would be limited to 26 percent of the equity portion. The key benefit is the grant of the SEZ status.

The Indian semiconductor policy is applicable for manufacturers of all semiconductors, displays – including LCDs, organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), plasma display panels (PDPs), and any other emerging displays, storage devices, solar cells; photovoltaics; other advanced micro- and nanotechnology products; assembly and test.

Advantage India
India is now presenting a great opportunity to the world, in fact, offering triple advantages. India has a very rapidly growing domestic market, growing at a CAGR of 30+ percent. India has achieved global recognition for back-end services -– having become a proven case for IP, embedded systems and IC designs.

India is also an attractive destination for manufacturing investments. It further boasts of a highly skilled employee base, and a fast and upcoming modern infrastructure –- SEZs. India also enjoys proximity to the EU and the MEA markets. It also boasts of freight cost, said to be 20 percent cheaper than China, leading to faster delivery and lesser pipeline inventory.

Indian ecosystem maturing
India is aligning itself with the global semiconductor market by creating high value work in VLSI, and board design and embedded software. Companies with domain expertise are driving Indian businesses. India has become the world’s destination for semiconductor design and embedded software, and is increasingly becoming the source as well.

In terms of consumption, the India semiconductor total available market (TAM) revenues are likely to grow by 2.5 times, while the total market (TM) is estimated to double in revenues by 2009. India's semiconductor market share is likely to be 1.6 percent of the global market by 2009 in comparison to 1.1 percent in 2006.

Regarding the growth drivers for electronics manufacturing in India, telecom and IT & OA (office automation) segments will account for almost two-thirds of the semiconductor TAM by 2009. Telecom's share has been estimated to grow from 21.2 percent in 2006 to 41.1pc by 2009.

According to ISA estimates, TAM revenues are likely to grow by 2.5 times and TM revenues are likely to double their revenues by 2009 as against 2006. Growth of TAM revenues is 35.8 percent compared with just 26.7 percent for TM revenues, thereby signifying an increasing manufacturing index for different electronics products in India.

The decline in ASP (average selling price) of semiconductors and hence, of electronic products, is largely offset by the higher unit sales of different electronics end use products.

Indian electronics industry -- 2010 scenario
India will have a very strong electronics scenario by 2010. The installed base of mobile phones will go up to 500 million. The installed base of PCs will move up to 65 million. The IT enabled services (ITeS) and software exports has been estimated at US $60 billion.

There will likely be about 40 million new Internet connections, with at least 50 percent of those being broadband connections. The nationwide TV broadcast is likely to become digital by 2015, beginning 2010. In that scenario, there would be significant opportunity for set-top boxes (STBs) consumption and manufacturing. There will also be an estimated over US $10 billion investment in e-governance initiatives and the national ID card.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Is the timing right for having fabs in India?

Several majors have announced their Fab-lite strategies, and so, IDMs will become likely become fabless units of tomorrow. In this scenario, is the timing for setting up fabs in India right? What is the direction ahead for the Indian semiconductor industry?

Commenting on the upcoming fabs in India, Anil Gupta, MD, India Operations, ARM, said: "Yes, we do need the fabs to complete the ecosystem. The question is: Is the timing right? We have our own strengths. Why not capitalize on those?"

It is important to determine what India is doing as part of the global semiconductor industry. "What are we doing as an industry? Fabs are definitely a good idea. We also need to address things like -- can we make products and more importantly, should we make products!"

Gupta pointed out Infineon, NXP, etc., had announced Fab-Lite strategies. Even Texas Instruments was moving to a Fab-Lite strategy. "IDMs are going to be the fabless units of today and tomorrow," he added.

Coming back to the point of manufacturing products in India, he said: "We need to be able to conceptualize products for the mass market. Are we willing to take the risks? With services, the risks are significantly lesser. Companies are innovating on their service models. On the product side, India should do that as well. Maybe, we will do it too."

As for the industry growth drivers, consumer applications would become even more atractive. "There are mobile phones, gaming applications and others, which will drive growth," he said.

Yield management crucial
According to Gupta, yield management is crucial. While designers are well aware of yield management, the adequate tools are not yet there in place. The direct link
has yet to be established for implementing DFM/DFY technique.

Designers are always looking to prove how to improve yield. It is critical for designers to have access to the relevant information that would indicate that, say, some modification in design would lead to 10 percent increase in yield. Gupta said, "As much as we move to 45nm, to 32nm to 22nm and so on, the problems are going to become more complex and magnify."

SOI addresses power, performance scaling issues
There is the silicon-on-insulator technology or SOI. SOI is said to improve power consumption, reduces leakage and allows better performance. Implementation of SOI technology is one of several manufacturing strategies employed to allow continued miniaturization of microlectronic devices.

ARM acquired SOISIC, a leading company in physical IP based on SOI technology last year. The move has enabled ARM to strengthen its physical IP portfolio by adding SOI technology.

"SOISIC's niche is in developing SOI based IPs," Gupta added. SOI addresses the power and performance scaling issues associated with traditional bulk CMOS processes as they migrate to ever-smaller geometries. "It is very clear that design starts for 45nm - 32nm - 22nm etc. will be very low. Each process geometry has to give returns," Gupta added.

Role of IPs
So what's the role of IP in the gameplan? ARM is trying to enable that on technology side with SOI and bulk CMOS. He noted: "You need building blocks to make things happen faster. From an IP perspective, analog IP is very, very closely tied to the process. In that respect, IP has a huge role to play."

The semiconductor IP is said to be a $1.5 billion market. ARM currently has 30 percent share of that market.

From an Indian perspective, there are Indian companies who are building and also re-using IPs, as does ARM. However, ARM also has royalties for its IPs. On usage, Gupta said that physical IPs had greater challenges regarding re-use.

Mali55, Mali200 from India
Commenting on ARM's India operations, Gupta said ARM India develops physical IPs, processors, etc. "There's so much of verification and testing involved to make things work," he added. ARM India currently has a workforce of 300+.

ARM India has done work on 65nm as well as physical IPs for 45nm. "We are also doing studies on 32nm," added Gupta. ARM India released the Mali55 and Mali200 processors.

The ARM Mali200 graphics processor unit (GPU) delivers 3D graphics for next-generation mobile games on smartphones and other high-end portable devices. With a very small footprint, the ARM Mali55 processor brings rich 3D graphics capabilities to low-cost feature phones for the first time.

Besides these, a lot of software -- embedded, drivers, stacks, etc., are being developed in India. ARM India also provides lot of support for various design implementations. "We have over 2,000 ARM certified professionals in Bangalore alone and over 7,000 in India," he said.

ARM India has two other programs. Companies like HCL, Sasken, Mindtree, Wipro, etc., are ARM approved design centers (ADCs) or partners. "If we have any new product, we ensure that our partners become acquainted with those," said Gupta. The other program is the ATC (training). Cranes Software is ARM's approved ATC.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Convergence driving technology trends, says Sasken chief

Sasken Technolgies was earlier known as SAS and it was focusing on product development. Later, it moved on to services. Speaking about this shift, Rajiv C. Mody, chairman and CEO, said that Sasken has always been, from day one, working on both simultaneously.

Sasken initially started out in the EDA space and had one product in the simulation space. It was writing a simulator, addressing large complex designs and methods to simplify the designs. Simultaneously, Sasken was also doing a lot of services for large telecom companies in the areas of designing. This was continued and eventually, Sasken expanded in the area of telecommunications.

Subsequently, Sasken started building products in the telecom space. However, one significant difference is that anything that it does, it impacts Sasken's customers' top line as Sasken address the R&D side of the business.

Not so long back, Sasken were also a VLSI player. It decided to disband the design tool part of the business and focus completely on communications. Now, Sasken does a lot of business in chip design, which is part of VLSI. Today, it is among the leading providers of semiconductor design, working on all kinds of complex system-on-chip (SoC), as well as 65nm design.

Sasken has filed for 39 patents so far, of which 16 have been granted. Those remaining are in the process, and typically, once a patent has been applied for, it takes four years before being granted.

It has invested close to Rs 40 crore in R&D in 2007. In the first two quarters of this financial year, it has invested about Rs 15 corers in R&D. Sasken focuses on next-generation technologies, which would shape up the way things are to come in this new, converged world.

Mody said: "The fundamental thing driving this entire change is convergence -- essentially entertainment, media, news, information -- all of it being available at push medium as well as pull medium. Wireless is also playing a very significant role."

All of these combinations are creating newer opportunities - starting with, say, for example, in the service provider-side, new billing methods have to be put in place because it's going to be triple- and quad-play kinds of situations.

Simultaneously, on the handset side, with more and more computing power being made available, newer kinds of applications have started playing significant role. As a result, Sasken is now scanning the entire gamut to position itself and take advantage.

Sasken will continue to invest in products in the mobile handset space. It also has a significant role to play on the multimedia and the application frameworks. Mody added: "To give you an idea, for the mobile handset, direct broadcast is going to play a significant role. People are already talking about high definition (HD) on mobile. You will see all those kinds of interesting things coming about, and we will participate."

Sasken had also acquired a Finnish firm. This acquisition has worked extremely well and its full integration has been done. Mody said: "We have significant engagements because of our presence in Finland and the capabilities that they bring, not only with the existing, but also with the new costumer base. We are thriving and this has given us the capability to do full end-to-end handset design and testing."

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pick video IP as close as to "plug-and-play" for SoC integration

While designing, it is critical to pick the appropriate codec or formats that can be handled by a video IP to support any given application. It is also very important to select the correct video IP with proper and standard interfaces so that it can be as close as possible to 'plug-and-play' in terms of System on a Chip (SoC) integration.

Ravishankar Ganesan, VP, SoC IP Business Unit, Ittiam Systems, commenting on the selection of the video IP for SoC designs, said that SoCs use the divide and conquer strategy very well.

The SoC is today truly defining and integrating multiple specialized blocks or subsystems keeping the target application of the SoC in mind. Each one of these specialized subsystems needs to be the best in terms of its performance, area and power so that the SoC can be the best, competitive and well suited for the target market.

The video intellectual property (IP) is one of these specialized subsystems, and hence, critically important for SoCs, which are targeted for video based applications. Needless to mention, there is no one video IP that 'fits all' video SoCs.

So what should any SoC designer look for in terms of supporting video profiles and codecs? This really depends on the application(s) for which the SoC is likely to address. If you are targeting video IP for mobile TV application in a cellular phone, the profiles and codecs will get determined by the appropriate broadcasting system.

Similarly, if the SoC is targeting the high-definition ((HD) DVD player segment, the video codecs and their profiles/levels needs to be determined based on the video encoder configuration that was used to create the content on the DVD disc.

There has to be a way on going about selecting/understanding video codecs. In this context, it is very critical to pick the appropriate codec or formats that can be handled by the video IP to support the given application.

It is also very important to pick the video IP with the proper and standard interfaces so that it can be as close as to "plug-and-play" in terms of the SoC integration. The area and power dissipation are important as well, so that the SoC can be sold at a competitive price in the market.

At high pixel rates, what would be the situation with the video subsystem? Simply put, the higher resolutions result in the explosion of data. The video subsystem needs to be highly efficient in order to handle the high data movement. It also needs to have very efficient video processing engines to meet the real-time requirements.

As for the amount of off-chip video bandwidth that is actually needed by an IP block, Ganesan said that it depends a lot on the resolution that the video IP is likely to handle. The video resolution, profiles and levels will get determined by the application. Trade-offs between silicon real-estate and off-chip video bandwidth plays very critical role.

Improving video performance
Video performance is said to deteriorate as the off-chip memory latency increases. What can be done to improve this? Internal buffering will definitely help to reduce this impact. However, that can affect the silicon size of the device. Hence, care needs to be taken and trade-off needs to be done depending upon the Video system requirements.

Finally, let's examine how best can a designer integrate the video IP core into an SOC design. Depending upon the interfaces, the video IP can slide easily into the SoC. The IP could be just an engine, or processor core based soft IP or a combination of both.

So, the SoC designer needs to evaluate the application requirements, and determine the right interfaces and the appropriate processor core, along with the memory sub-system. There could be peripheral interface IPs [that are either part of the Video IP or separate], which also needs to be inserted as part of the SoC and the data flow on the device needs good management.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Google phone beckons as industry leaders announce open platform for mobile devices

Is the Google Phone finally going to see the light of the day? Well, the following release (below) has all the makings of a mega telecom happening. Read on!

A broad alliance of leading technology and wireless companies today joined forces to announce the development of Android, the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. Google Inc., T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm, Motorola and others have collaborated on the development of Android through the Open Handset Alliance, a multinational alliance of technology and mobile industry leaders.

According to Engadget Mobile, Google will be holding a conference call at noon eastern (November 5) to unveil the details of its long-rumored Android mobile operating system. Joining CEO Eric Schmidt will be other members of the 34-member Open Handset Alliance, including the chief executives of Deutche Telekom, HTC, Qualcomm, and Motorola. So keep watching this space!

According to the release, this alliance shares a common goal of fostering innovation on mobile devices and giving consumers a far better user experience than much of what is available on today's mobile platforms. By providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling mobile services are made available to consumers.

With nearly 3 billion users worldwide, the mobile phone has become the most personal and ubiquitous communications device. However, the lack of a collaborative effort has made it a challenge for developers, wireless operators and handset manufacturers to respond as quickly as possible to the ever-changing needs of savvy mobile consumers. Through Android, developers, wireless operators and handset manufacturers will be better positioned to bring to market innovative new products faster and at a much lower cost. The end result will be an unprecedented mobile platform that will enable wireless operators and manufacturers to give their customers better, more personal and more flexible mobile experiences.

Fully integrated Android platform
Thirty-four companies have formed the Open Handset Alliance, which aims to develop technologies that will significantly lower the cost of developing and distributing mobile devices and services. The Android platform is the first step in this direction -- a fully integrated mobile "software stack" that consists of an operating system, middleware, user-friendly interface and applications. Consumers should expect the first phones based on Android to be available in the second half of 2008.

The Android platform will be made available under one of the most progressive, developer-friendly open-source licenses, which gives mobile operators and device manufacturers significant freedom and flexibility to design products. Next week the Alliance will release an early access software development kit to provide developers with the tools necessary to create innovative and compelling applications for the platform.

Android holds the promise of unprecedented benefits for consumers, developers and manufacturers of mobile services and devices. Handset manufacturers and wireless operators will be free to customize Android in order to bring to market innovative new products faster and at a much lower cost. Developers will have complete access to handset capabilities and tools that will enable them to build more compelling and user-friendly services, bringing the Internet developer model to the mobile space. And consumers worldwide will have access to less expensive mobile devices that feature more compelling services, rich Internet applications and easier-to-use interfaces -- ultimately creating a superior mobile experience.

Open Software, Open Device, Open Ecosystem
"This partnership will help unleash the potential of mobile technology for billions of users around the world. A fresh approach to fostering innovation in the mobile industry will help shape a new computing environment that will change the way people access and share information in the future," said Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt. "Today's announcement is more ambitious than any single 'Google Phone' that the press has been speculating about over the past few weeks. Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models."

"As a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance, T-Mobile is committed to innovation and fostering an open platform for wireless services to meet the rapidly evolving and emerging needs of wireless customers," said RenĂ© Obermann, Chief Executive Officer, Deutsche Telekom, parent company of T-Mobile. "Google has been an established partner for T-Mobile’s groundbreaking approach to bring the mobile open Internet to the mass market. We see the Android platform as an exciting opportunity to launch robust wireless Internet and Web 2.0 services for T-Mobile customers in the US and Europe in 2008."

"HTC's trademark on the mobile industry has been its ability to drive cutting-edge innovation into a wide variety of mobile devices to create the perfect match for individuals," said Peter Chou, Chief Executive Officer, HTC Corp. "Our participation in the Open Handset Alliance and integration of the Android platform in the second half of 2008 enables us to expand our device portfolio into a new category of connected mobile phones that will change the complexion of the mobile industry and re-create user expectations of the mobile phone experience."

"The convergence of the wireless and Internet industries is creating new partnerships, evolving business models and driving innovation," said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, Chief Executive Officer of Qualcomm. "We are extremely pleased to be participating in the Open Handset Alliance, whose mission is to help build the leading open-source application platform for 3G networks. The proliferation of open-standards-based handsets will provide an exciting new opportunity to create compelling services and devices. As a result, we are committing research and development resources to enable the Android platform and to create the best always-connected consumer experience on our chipsets."

"Motorola has long been an advocate of open software for mobile platforms. Today, we're excited to continue this support by joining Google and others in the announcement of the Open Handset Alliance and Android platform. Motorola plans to leverage the Android platform to enable seamless, connected services and rich consumer experiences in future Motorola products," said Ed Zander, Chairman and CEO of Motorola, Inc.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

telisma launches teliSpeech in 10 Indian languages

Paris, France based telisma has released teliSpeech, its leading speech-recognition software in India in 10 languages. These languages are: Indian English, Indian Hindi, Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati, Punjabi, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi.

The teliSpeech, telisma's core proprietary software product, has been in the Indian market since June 2004. It offers superior robustness, scalability and performance -- especially in mobile environments -- and comes with a comprehensive set of administration and management tools.

Laurent Balaine, chairman and CEO, telisma, said: "This is an important time for telisma. telisma will open up the voice market and allow the Indian population to access services and information by using their voice. India is a major part of telisma's international development strategy, and as such, we will be continuing our solid investment."

He added that telisma's product portfolio had been conceived and developed with openness in mind, in order to allow its partners to create their speech-recognition solutions using Eclipse-based tools.

He added: "Until now, people could not use their own language. We intend covering 95 percent of the population. We do speech recognition and you don't need to train the PC as it is internetworked."

telsima works with a range of companies, including system integrators and with companies providing infrastructure for the call centers, such as Cisco, Genesys, Avaya and HP. Voice service providers can also become partners.

"Until now, the market for such products in India was small. Now, more people would want to access services," he added. "Our technology is good for social networking as well, as we believe, information is knowledge. Indian companies can take this product and build applications around it to serve banks, enterprises, etc."

Regarding Indian English as a language, Balaine said telisma made use of several native English speakers, similar to what it did for Hindi. This enabled the system to recognize with high accuracy.

Keen to attract Indian software developers
The teliSpeech software has been developed using tools from Eclipse, a major Open Source initiative, which also includes IBM. Balaine said,"Eclipse has now become a major standard."

telisma is also keen on developing a community of software developers in India. He said: "Our idea is to offer software developers the tools and an open environment to develop and products they can sell anywhere. The availability of an open envvironment will help them a lot."

telisma offers an evaluation software for free download on its site. It can be tested on a local PC for 30 days. If the software developers can build applications around teliSpeech during that period, they can buy the license from telisma.

Major India plans
telisma will be opening a liaison office in Bangalore before the end of this year. "We are also in touch with system integrators like Wipro," Balaine added. telisma also intends working with the mobile phone service providers in India through partners.

"Genesys has also sold our products in India," he added. "We will also leverage on our partnerships in India, for example, with Cisco, HP, etc. We will also go to local partners in value-added services and in the CRM space."

As for voice interaction with wireless services, he said that it was more of accessing voice services, while on the move. Here, there is an opportunity for location-based services to be available in voice.

telisma has a fully indirect business model. It partners with leading computer telephony hardware and platforms, along with global and local brand name integrators. Some of its international partners include IVR platform vendors such as Genesys, HP, Avaya, Cisco and Envox. System integrators include Wipro, Cap Gemini, NextiraOne and Atos Origin. Voice service provider partners include Prosodie and Jet Multimedia, while solution partners include Voice Objects.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Applied Materials CEO on semicon sustainability and energy management

"The Indian semiconductor policy is really ground breaking. Hopefully, it will build great business." These comments from Michael R. Splinter, president and CEO, Applied Materials, were enough to indicate how much the Indian semiconductor policy, announced recently by the government of India, has caught the attention of global semicon majors.

Mike Splinter was delivering his lecture at the Thought Leader Series organized by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), where he also highlighted the needs of sustainability and energy management from a global perspective.

According to him, some things never changed in the semiconductor industry, such as: technical innovation being the most viable lever for productivity, end of optical lithography being imminent, no imminent change in fab economics ($/die), growth in complexities of products and applications.

"Through all of these times, the Moore's Law has persisted. The complexity of products have increased," he added. Another thing that hadn't changed was the growing need for sustainable practices.

Citing statistics, he said that the semiconductor industry was growing 5 percent this year, while the semiconductor equipment industry was growing at 3-5 percent during 2007. "Memory continues to grow very rapidly. NAND flash is a killer app," Splinter noted.

India, according to him, has a major role to play in the semiconductor domain. India's strengths lie in world class IC design and R&D capability, growing market for consumer electronics (CE), and an increasing need to address both global and industry challenges -- in terms of sustainability and energy use.

Challenge of sustainability
Touching on the growing importance of sustainability, Splinter cited The Economist, which reported that $70bn had been spent globally in clean tech research and funding. Further, the IPCC reported that the evidence of human caused global warming was equivocal.

While economic growth was driving demand and the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries were accelerating it, there was also an increasing use of chips in consumer electronics products. This translated into an increasing use of energy. "All of these factors, together, make sustainability even more challenging," added Splinter.

Splinter gave an example of LCD TVs, which are likely to grow 65 percent this year. Now, 90 percent of the power in LCD TVs goes into the backlight. If new technologies could be developed, those would certainly assist in saving more power. Another example was that of servers, laptops and TVs together accounting for 8 percent of global power consumption. That's a lot of power, if the global power is estimated at 5TW or so. It needs to be reduced as well.

So what is the waste and energy impact of consumer electronics? For starters, there are increasing energy consumption and recycling challenges. Next, manufacturing requires a lot of water, energy and materials. Another impact is the waste management within the manufacturing value chain. Splinter said, "The environmental impact can be reduced by clean tech products and sustainable manufacturing."

Need for energy efficient chips
Energy definitely needs to grow faster than the global economy. There is also a need to think about the environment and waste management. There is a need to increase the energy efficiency in chips, instead of solely focusing on performance.

Splinter said the time had come to take major steps, such as producing energy efficient chips. Applied Materials itself will be working on reducing the energy consumption in all of its practices. The semiconductor equipment maker will also be adopting clean energy in all of its facilities. The time has come for all to work together on energy use, Splinter added.

On solar, he noted that it had not yet managed to achieve scale. However, Germany had strongly pushed it, providing manufacturing incentives. "The scales are now starting to happen in Europe, especially, Germany," he added. "There is pretty good motivation and incentive to deploy solar here, in India, as well."

Indian hardware policy to address infrastructure issues

Following the success of India's semiconductor policy, the government of India is well on its way to announce a new hardware manufacturing policy, hopefully sometime this month.

According to M. Madhavan Nambiar, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Department of Information Technology, the hardware policy should be coming shortly, where, the government is looking to address infrastructure related issues.

Speaking with him on the sidelines of the Thought Leader Series organized by the India Semiconductor Association (ISA), he said the hardware policy would still take some time. "As a part of it, we are looking at IT investment regions." These would be set up in 40km areas, and each region would be an entire ecosystem in itself.

Nambiar added: "We are also looking at very good public-private partnerships. We have to develop the manpower." The Department is working with the Labour Ministry and other organizations in order to set up skill development units. It is necessary for skiils to keep pace with technology.

The to-be-announced hardware policy will also be looking at taxes, etc. "It is a recommendation that we are making," he said. "For India to be able to attract investments, we nust ensure that we are the best in class."

Touching upon the semiconductor policy, he said it was important that this policy was pro-active and friendly. "We need to see how best to provide comfort levels to those investing," Nambiar said.

It was necessary to have a strong semiconductor industry in India, as all leading countries, such as the USA, China, Taiwan and Japan had equally strong semiconductor industries. There has since been lot of interest in fabs and ecosystem units, and some of those were in the process of being set up.

Major shakeups in top 10 semiconductor supplier rankings

According to the latest report from IC Insights, there have been major shakeups in the global top 10 rankings among suppliers of semiconductors.

Here's what IC Insights has to say regarding some of the changes that took place in 3Q07:

* Toshiba rode the coat-tails of a 46 percent 3Q07/2Q07 NAND flash memory market surge to post an amazing 40 percent 3Q07/2Q07 semiconductor sales increase. This increase helped propel Toshiba to a third place ranking, its highest since being ranked as the second largest semiconductor supplier in 2000.

* AMD continues to display a nice recovery this year with its 3Q07 sales increasing 18 percent over 2Q07, which follows a 12 percent sequential increase in 2Q07/1Q07. As part of its continuing MPU marketshare battle with Intel, AMD is expected to announce a major manufacturing/foundry deal in the second half of 2007.

* The largest pure-play foundry in the world, TSMC, jumped one spot in 3Q07 as compared to the full-year 2006 ranking as the company recorded a strong 3Q07/2Q07 sales increase of 21 percent. It should be noted that after operating at only 83 percent capacity utilization in 1Q07, TSMC surpassed its “company-defined” 100 percent capacity utilization level in 3Q07!

* If pure-play foundry TSMC were excluded from the ranking, NXP would have been in the tenth position.

* In spite of 3Q07 DRAM pricing weakness, Hynix took advantage of its strong NAND flash marketshare to move from seventh to sixth place in the ranking.

* Freescale continues to feel the pain of its biggest customer, Motorola, as the company went from being ranked as the ninth largest semiconductor supplier in the world in 2006 to sixteenth in 3Q07. Unfortunately for Freescale, Motorola has gone from holding a 22 percent share of cellular phone unit shipments in 3Q06 (53.7 million) to securing only a 13 percent share in 3Q07 (37.2 million).

* TI, ST, and Renesas were the only top 10 companies to register less than double-digit 3Q07/2Q07 sequential sales growth rates. Each one of these companies is a top-10 supplier to the currently slow-growing analog IC market.

* The top 10 listing consists of three U.S., three Japanese, two Korean, one European, and one Taiwanese company.

Through the end of 2007, IC Insights expects to see pricing stability return to the DRAM memory market, surging IC demand for PCs and high-end cellular phones, and a continuation of the seasonal rebound in overall semiconductor demand that began in August.