Saturday, July 30, 2011

Semico forecasts computing market up 14.3 percent in 2011

PHOENIX, USA: Smartphones and tablets get all the press these days, but desktop and notebooks PCs aren't over yet. At Comic-Con, AMD showed off some impressive processors and GPUs optimized for the gaming market that will pump new blood into the computing market just in time for the holiday shopping season.

The Computing Segment of our Market Analysis and Planning (MAP) Model is forecasted to be up 14.3 percent this year over 2010. This includes total numbers from servers, workstations, desktops, notebooks, netbooks, and tablet PCs.

Our Market Analysis and Planning (MAP) Model accounts for ~80 percent of the semiconductor market, and is one of our most popular services that contributes to Semico's overall forecast. Our analysts contribute to the service throughout the year, providing historical data from 2000 and forecasts into 2015. With this large increase for computing, Semico forecasts the entire semiconductor market will increase 6.5 percent in 2011.

When we break down the computing segment, we can see the main growth leading this market is in tablet PCs, which will increase 135.3 percent over 2010, not surprising as that market only came into existence in 2010, when 17 million tablets shipped. Servers and Workstations will grow 20.2 percent and 23 percent, respectively, shipping over 45 million units in 2011. Desktops will be the only computing segment to decline, dipping 3 percent to 130 million units.

Our MAP Model takes both the top-down and bottom-up approaches and combines them into one customizable service for analyzing Wafer Demand, Semiconductor Content, Bill of Materials, Total Available Market, End-Use Shipments, and ASPs in over 30 different markets including:

Computing: Desktop PCs, Netbooks, Notebook PCs, Entry-Level Servers, Mid-Range & High-End Servers, Workstations, NAS Servers.

Consumer: Ereaders, Portable Multimedia Players, Digital Photo Frames, Digital Cameras, Digital Video Cameras, Digital Video Players. Digital Video Recorders, Blu-ray Players, Blu-ray Recorders, Set Top Boxes, Satellite Radios, Video Game Consoles, Handheld Consoles, DTVs, GPS, MP3 Players.

Wireless Communications: Cellular Infrastructure, WiMax Base Stations, WiMax CPE, High-end Cell Phones, Mid-range Cell Phones, Low-end Cell phones.

Wired Communications: xDSL Modems, Cable Modems, Routers, VoIP PBXs.

Friday, July 29, 2011

2Q11 sales ranking of branded NAND flash manufacturers

TAIWAN: According to DRAMeXchange, a research department of Trendforce, in early 2Q11 the NAND Flash market was affected by Apple’s unveiling of the iPad2 in early March.

Along with concerns about potential material shortages from the mid-March earthquake in Japan, this caused NAND Flash price to increase sharply. However, the market saw a reversal to a state of oversupply mid-to-late 2Q11 due to a combination of factors: the 2Q down season effect, weaker than expected tablet PC shipments, the European debt crisis, uncertainty amidst sluggish economic recovery worldwide, and the 2Q end-of-quarter effect.

Thus, in June many downstream clients turned their focus to decreasing inventory and slowing purchasing to counteract the effects of the down season, resulting in an overall 2Q11 average selling price (ASP) decrease of 15 percent QoQ for branded NAND Flash supply manufacturers. In terms of demand, memory card and UFD retail market demand was still weak, but as OEM orders from some tablet PC and smartphone clients continued to show steady growth, branded NAND Flash suppliers’ overall 2Q11 bit shipment growth increased by approximately 7 percent QoQ. As a result, overall 2Q11 sales for NAND Flash branded suppliers decreased approximately 9 percent QoQ to $4.88 billion.

Looking at the quarterly sales ranking for branded NAND Flash manufacturers, Samsung came in first again with $1.959 billion, 40.1 percent market share; Toshiba took second place with $1.357 billion, 27.8 percent of the market; Hynix came in third with $637 million, 13.1 percent of the market. Micron was fourth at $552 million, 11.3 percent of the market; and Intel placed fifth with $375 million, 7.7 percent of the market.Source: DRAMeXchange, Taiwan.

2Q11 operation analysis of branded NAND flash makers
Samsung Electronics: Although affected by weak memory card and UFD retail market demand in 2Q11, Samsung benefitted from OEM orders for embedded products from certain major smartphone and tablet PC clients. Thus, bit shipment growth for 2Q11 was over 10 percent QoQ, while ASP declined approximately 10 percent QoQ. As a result, 2Q11 sales remained fair at $1.959 billion and market share increased to 40.1 percent.

Samsung anticipates that OEM orders from system product clients will remain steady but memory card and UFD retail market demand will continue to be weak in 3Q11. Therefore, they estimate that their bit shipment growth will increase over 10 percent QoQ in 3Q11. However, in anticipation of a multitude of environmental uncertainties, Samsung will continue to increase production volume for 2xnm process technology products in order to strengthen cost competitiveness, as well as develop new embedded products and SSDs to raise the proportion of sales from system product clients.

Toshiba: Affected by the mid-March earthquake in Japan, Toshiba’s production volume for 2Q11 decreased. Fortunately, with OEM orders from major smartphone and tablet PC clients as well as memory card strategic partners, their bit shipment growth remained stable.

However, as a result of fallen prices and Japanese yen appreciation, 2Q11 sales decreased approximately 27.9 percent QoQ to $1.357 billion, 27.8 percent of the market. Toshiba will continue to increase output of 24nm process technology products to strengthen cost competitiveness.

Furthermore, Toshiba’s joint-venture 300mm Fab5 plant with SanDisk is slated to begin mass production in 3Q11. Toshiba will also develop embedded products and SSDs to continue increasing sales from system product clients, so as to meet demand growth from emerging smart mobile devices.

Hynix Semiconductor: Hynix increased sales from system product clients in 2Q11, in order to counteract weak demand from the memory card and UFD retail market and Korean Won appreciation effect. As a result, bit shipment growth increased 36 percent QoQ in 2Q11, but ASP fell 19 percent QoQ, causing 2Q11 sales to grow by approximately 11 percent QoQ to $637 million, 13.1 percent of the market.

In light of steady OEM orders from certain major smartphone and tablet PC clients, Hynix estimates that bit shipment growth will increase by about 20 percent QoQ in 3Q11. For 2H11, Hynix will continue to increase output of products from 2xnm process technology in order to strengthen their cost competitiveness, and develop embedded products and SSDs to increase sales from system product clients.

Micron: Last quarter, Micron increased production of SLC product combinations. This, along with the effect of the weak season, caused ASP to rise approximately 15 percent QoQ. However, quarterly bit shipment growth decreased by about 21 percent QoQ, resulting in a quarterly sales decrease of around 9.5 percent QoQ.

Micron’s sales amounted to $552 million, 11.3 percent of the market. In light of Micron’s process technology migration from 25nm node to new 20nm node, the company projects that ASP for current quarter will decrease by more than 10 percent QoQ.

Additionally, once Micron and Intel’s joint-venture 300mm fabrication plant in Singapore officially begins mass production in 2Q11, they have indicated they will gradually increase output based on market demand in 2H11. Micron also plans to increase sales of embedded products and SSDs for smart mobile devices.

Intel: Due to the weak season effect and the marked increase in SSD sales, Intel’s ASP fell and quarterly bit shipment growth increased. Thus, in 2Q11 sales were up by approximately 5.6 percent QoQ, totaling $375 million, 7.7 percent of the market.

The IM Flash camp was already leading the industry in 1H11, bolstering their cost competitiveness with the introduction of the 25nm 64 Gb TLC and 25nm SSD products. In 2H11 Intel will also begin producing 20nm process technology products, as well as continuing to increase sales from SSD clients.

TI announces industry’s smallest, fully integrated 16-bit ADC

BANGALORE, INDIA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has introduced the industry’s smallest, 16-bit delta-sigma analog-to-digital converter (ADC) with integrated programmable gain amplifier (PGA), reference, temperature sensor and 4-input multiplexer.

Measuring 2 mm x 1.5 mm, the ADS1118 is more than 65-percent smaller than any other 16-bit ADC available today. The ADS1118 provides direct, linearized measurements with uncalibrated error guaranteed below 0.5 degrees Celsius (C) from 0 degrees C to 65 degrees C, a 75-percent improvement over the competition. It is also the lowest-power 16-bit ADC with a built-in internal reference supporting data rates up to 860 samples per second.

Key features and benefits of the ADS1118
• Integration reduces overall solution size: Integrates a 16-bit ADC, PGA, temperature sensor, low-drift reference and 4-input multiplexer for data acquisition of multiple signals from a wide variety of sensors.
• Small size saves board space: Small QFN package option enables close proximity to sensors, lowering component count by simplifying cold junction compensation for thermocouples.
• Low power extends battery life: Supports 2.0-V to 5.5-V power supplies while consuming only 150 uA (typical) to extend the battery life of portable, battery-powered industrial devices for temperature measurement, gas monitoring, industrial process control, instrumentation and more.
• Provides a complete data acquisition solution when paired with an MSP430 microcontroller.

TI offers a variety of tools and support to speed development with the ADS1118, including an IBIS model, anti-aliasing filter tool for data converters and op amp to ADC circuit topography calculator. Engineers can also ask questions and help solve problems in the Precision Data Converter Forum in the TI E2E Community.

An evaluation module (ADS1118EVM), including software and source code, is available today for a suggested retail price of $49.

element14 doubles its semiconductor portfolio in Asia Pacific

SINGAPORE: element14 (formerly Farnell), the industry’s first fusion of commerce and community supporting engineers and purchasing professionals worldwide, announced that it has doubled its portfolio of semiconductor components of its inventory of 130,000 electronic products.

element14 now stocks the broadest range of semiconductor integrated circuits in Asia Pacific from leading semiconductor specialists such as Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, National Semiconductor, ST Microelectronics, Microchip and Freescale Semiconductor.

According to research firm Gartner, the worldwide semiconductor capital equipment spending is expected to reach S$44.8 billion in 2011, which is a 10.2 percent increase from 2010. The forecasted growth signify an increased demand for the need to access a wide range of semiconductor solutions that can help engineers in different industries including alternative energy, industrial, medical, automotive and telecommunications.

element14’s semiconductor portfolio which also includes global suppliers such as Altera, Linear Technologies, Vishay, On Semiconductor and NXP, is available via multiple channels with no minimum order quantity and next day delivery to most cities in Asia Pacific. These products will be supported by 24/7 customer service and 24/5 online technical support. Design and maintenance engineers can also visit element14’s online community to access technology information and design solutions such as CadSoft and the element14 knode.

NXP's new generation of position sensors improves performance of automotive apps

SINGAPORE: NXP Semiconductors N.V. announced the release of a new generation of automotive position sensors, KMA210. The KMA210 incorporates NXP’s latest magnetoresistive sensor chip and a unique signal conditioning ASIC developed in NXP’s advanced Silicon on Insulator (SOI) ABCD9 process technology.

It is the first of a new magnetic sensor family in a full system-in-package solution that requires no external components. KMA210 is specially designed to improve the overall performance and increase robustness in automotive applications.

KMA210 is suitable for all automotive applications where a precise mechanical angle needs to be measured – from electronic steering and active suspension to automatic headlight adjustment. Due to its high accuracy and robustness the part is especially recommended for under-the-hood power train applications, throttle control and air control valve measurements. In addition, the sensor’s robustness in high temperature ranges (up to 160°C) makes it ideal for Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) applications -- the heart and mind of emissions control.

NXP’s magnetoresistive position sensors enable a safer, cleaner and more comfortable ride. To support global mandates to regulate CO2 in cars, KMA210 sensors can aid in the regulation of the engines untreated emissions. For example, in diesel engines, particle filter regeneration is assisted by throttling intake air which is needed to reduce the amount of emitted particulate mass.

NXP’s magnetoresistive position sensors enable ETC actuators to act as the load control and idle speed control unit in drive-by-wire engines, thus allowing a precise control of intake air and facilitating the additional implementation of cruise control or Electronic Stability Program (ESP) function.

By designing the Signal Conditioning ASIC in ABCD9, NXP’s proprietary automotive grade Silicon on Insulator (SOI) technology based on 140 nm CMOS, the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) performance is significantly improved compared to previous sensor products with integrated ASICs. The device contains two embedded capacitors within the same package which enables system cost reduction as no printed circuit boards or external filter components are required for operation.

With respect to robustness, the KMA210 sensor is qualified according to the new HMM (Human Metal Model) and therefore extremely robust with excellent electrostatic discharge (ESD) behaviour. The sensors are fully temperature compensated and ready for use.

TI’s PowerStack packaging technology in volume production

BANGALORE, INDIA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has shipped nearly 30 million units of its PowerStack packaging technology, which significantly boosts performance, lowers power and improves chip densities in power management devices.

“Performance requirements for computing applications are increasing in order to enable more content such as broadband mobile video and 4G communications,” said Matt Romig, analog packaging at TI. “At the same time, there is a need for telecommunications and computing equipment to take up less space. Through a true revolution from 2D to 3D integration, PowerStack enables TI’s customers to meet these demands.”

PowerStack technology’s benefits are achieved through an innovative packaging approach where TI’s NexFETTM power MOSFETs are stacked on a grounded lead frame, using two copper clips to connect the input and output voltage pins. This unique combination of stacking and clip bonding results in a more integrated quad flat no-lead (QFN) solution.

By stacking the MOSFETs in the PowerStack approach, the clear benefit is a package reduction by as much as 50 percent over alternative solutions that position MOSFETs side-by-side. In addition to reducing board space, PowerStack packaging technology provides excellent thermal performance, higher current capability and higher efficiency for power management devices.

PowerStack is in volume production today at TI’s Clark facility.

“Clark is our newest, state-of-the-art assembly/test facility in the Philippines,” said Bing Viera, MD of TI Philippines. “This year, we are further expanding capacity for advanced packaging techniques in Clark, nearly doubling the site’s initial capacity by the third quarter.”

Thursday, July 28, 2011

ZTE selects NetLogic’s DFE processors for LTE base stations

SANTA CLARA, USA: NetLogic Microsystems Inc. announced that ZTE Corp. selected its industry-leading digital front-end (DFE) processors for ZTE’s RRU8882 remote radio unit (RRU) platform for LTE common-platform base stations.

The exponential growth in mobile data traffic in the next decade, coupled with global spectrum scarcity, are forcing service providers and operators worldwide to push the limits on capacity and throughput for their limited spectrum. This is in turn driving a need for next-generation base stations that can support dramatically wider bandwidth, significantly more signal channels and more protocols (2G/3G/4G) in each band.

NetLogic Microsystems’ best-in-class DFE processors are highly differentiated and ideally suited to address these challenging LTE requirements. These processors deliver unparalleled performance of up to 5X increase in signal bandwidth and up to 9X increase in instantaneous bandwidth over available competing solutions, which dramatically improves 3G/4G LTE data rates.

In addition, NetLogic Microsystems’ breakthrough products enable the industry’s highest spectrum efficiency through the simultaneous processing of multiple signal channels per frequency band, as well as the multi-mode co-existence of 4G LTE, 3G and 2G protocols. Moreover, the best-in-class DFE processor family from NetLogic Microsystems delivers up to 80 percent better transmit power efficiency over competing solutions, which enables OEMs to achieve higher data rates at much lower transmit power levels.

“NetLogic Microsystems’ DFE processors deliver significantly higher performance, bandwidth, spectrum efficiency and multi-standard concurrency that are beyond the capabilities of competing solutions,” said Dr. Zhao Xian-Ming, senior VP at ZTE. “We have adopted the innovative processors from NetLogic Microsystems across multiple base station platforms, and we are pleased to now include our most advanced LTE common-platform RRU8882. We believe NetLogic Microsystems’ DFE processors are truly differentiating and enable us to develop highly competitive products in the market.”

ZTE’s high-performance RRU8882 platform that incorporates NetLogic Microsystems’ DFE processors is a frequency-division duplexing (FDD) platform that uniquely supports multi-standard LTE, UMTS and GSM, as well as mixed-mode combinations of each standard. The RRU8882 is a software-defined radio (SDR) platform that integrates two transmit paths, two main receive paths and two additional diversity receive paths, making it optimal for advanced LTE deployments. The SDR capability built into the RRU8882 enables programmability and customization of different modulations, standards and spectrum allocation through software or firmware.

Watch for double peak in semiconductor sales in Q3 2012

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Just how bad with semiconductor sales get that will impact equipment sales. Lam's announcement cutting outlook is distressing, but where does Lam get its OUTLOOK?

Take a look at the chart below, which shows that the downturn in semiconductor sales over the past few months will lead to a double peak in revenues in Q3 2012 before dropping again,

Our Proprietary Leading Indicators (PLLs) show a peak in January 2010 and again in January 2011, which will be mirrored by a rebound in semiconductor sales. Semiconductor sales, based on SIA’s three month moving average peaked in September 2010 and we anticipate the second peak in Q3 2012 before revenues start to drop. Note our PLLS foretell the inflection points in semiconductor sales by up to 12 months.

Source: The Information Network, USA.

Semtech debuts 4-dimensional touch

CAMARILLO, USA: Semtech Corp., a leading supplier of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, announced the newest members of its 4-D Touch family, the SX8654/55/56/57/58 ultra low power 4/5-wire resistive touchscreen controllers with integrated proximity sensing and haptics control for driving motors.

These feature-rich controllers also come with on-chip ±15kV ESD protection making them ideal solutions for a wide variety of handheld applications such as mobile phone, tablet, DSC, handheld GPS, automotive center consoles, and POS terminals.

Many devices use the proximity of a person’s hand or finger to activate features, such as waking up a system. The SX865X controllers are the first to integrate this proximity capability into a touchscreen controller to provide a single-chip solution for a wide variety of applications such as mobile phone, tablet, DSC, handheld GPS, automotive center consoles, and POS terminals.

This resistive touchscreen controller platform supports a proximity detection distance of more than 5 cm using any standard 4/5-wire resistive panel, enabling various power-saving features such as automatic backlight activation or system wake-up. Unlike traditional IR solutions that require additional, costly components for proximity detection, this new generation of resistive touch screen controllers enables proximity detection with zero additional components.

The SX8654/55/56/57/58 feature a highly accurate 12-bit analog-to-digital converter for coordinates and touch pressure measurement with current consumption as little as 30uA at 8kSPS rate. The SX8654 family enters a low power state between conversions to save power consumption, making them ideal for portable applications.

These devices also incorporate a haptics motor driver for controlling Linear Resonant Actuator (LRA) and Eccentric Rotating Mass (ERM) micro motors (up to 250mA) while providing acknowledgement to touch events, thus emulating the tactile feedback similar to mechanical keys which enhances the overall user experience. The haptics waveform can be input via the I2C interface or with an external PWM signal. Immersion Corp. has certified the SX8657/58 as optimal motor drivers for its TouchSense 3000 haptic control software suite of haptic waveforms available to all customers via an Immersion license.

“The SX8654 family is a ground-breaking platform for resistive touchscreen applications. By enabling built-in proximity sensing using any resistive panel, Semtech has added especially expensive high-end features at the fraction of the cost of traditional IR proximity sensing,” said Sam Massih, product line director, Consumer Analog Products. “Combining that with direct drive haptics feedback, the SX8654 platform provides OEMs an opportunity to revolutionize and upgrade almost all their resistive touchscreen applications with value added features.”

The SX8654/55/56/57/58 are all offered in 4mm x 4mm 20-QFN packages as well as in a space-saving 2.07mm x 2.07mm 19-WLCSP. Semtech guarantees all of these devices to operate over the extended (-40°C to +85°C) temperature range.

ST and the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna establish joint lab

CATANIA, ITALY: STMicroelectronics, a global semiconductor leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications, and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa, a world center of excellence in advanced robotics and one of Italy’s most prestigious universities, have announced the creation of a joint laboratory for research and innovation in bio-robotics, smart systems and microelectronics.

Supporting the expansion of research in biologically-inspired robots with human-like structures and behavior, ST and the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna are working to extend their understanding of locomotion principles in sensing, actuation, dynamics and control of various biological systems with the opening of a joint laboratory in Catania, Italy, where ST has advanced R&D activities in robotics and automation, smart system integration, as well as the exploration of new materials and technologies, including opto-electronics and electronics on plastic. This joint lab will enable the close collaboration leading to a better understanding of the physical design of bodies and the organization of their sensory and nervous systems.

In the past five years, ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna have been collaborating to develop and promote advanced robotics and ‘smart’ systems based on ST’s leading-edge semiconductor products and technologies. Completed joint projects include DustBot, a scientific platform integrating self-driven, self-navigating ‘service robots’ for selective waste collection and street cleaning in city centers, which were successfully demonstrated in a number of places around the world in 2009.

With logistics, material and equipment supplied by ST, as well as skilled researchers, the new joint lab brings researchers and engineers from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and ST closer together to delve into the development of new concepts and applications in bio-robotics, smart sensors, energy harvesting, and to examine the application of new materials to expand the horizons of today’s microelectronics.

In smart systems, which are miniaturized devices that incorporate functions of sensing, actuation and control, the collaboration is already exploring the capabilities of smart sensors in medical applications, where experts from ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna are collaborating to develop smart toys equipped with motion and pressure sensors for early diagnosis of neuro-developmental delays and autistic pathologies in small children.

While the child plays with the smart toy, the system will constantly monitor the child’s movement and posture, as well as how he/she grasps or holds the toy. The researchers anticipate that doctors will be able to diagnose neurological abnormalities in children, even before the child is able to speak. The ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna researchers, in collaboration with medical institutions and a toy manufacturer, expect to prototype toys with sensors for infants, including clear operating guides for doctors, within the next two years.

“Bio-robotics and smart systems will be fundamental to the sustainable development of human society in the 21st century, improving our quality of life in all its aspects, from manufacturing and medicine to smart homes and environment protection,” said Professor Paolo Dario, Director of the BioRobotics Institute of Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. “The joint laboratory will help advance our efforts in creating the next generation of intelligent systems integrating microelectronics, mechanics and computing technologies.”

“Semiconductor-fueled innovation plays a key role in the development of robotic and smart systems,” said Carmelo Papa, senior executive VP, GM of ST’s Industrial & Multisegment Sector, and chairman of the European Platform on Smart Systems (EPoSS). “By combining ST’s decades-long expertise in semiconductor technology and industrial automation with Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna’s globally acclaimed know-how in robotics, we aim to accelerate the advancement of new applications and devices that will help enrich and protect people’s lives. Co-operation has always been in ST’s DNA and a key element of the Company’s strategic vision. We are confident that the new lab will serve as a model of excellence in industrial-academic cooperation, translating rich R&D potential into globally competitive, marketable results.”

Taking a bold look into humanity’s future, the experts from ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna plan to work in the fascinating area of humanoid robots. These robots will be entirely new machines with flexible and compliant properties - soft-bodied robots made of Shape-Memory materials capable of acting and interacting physically, emotionally, socially and safely with humans.

Equipped with all the right ingredients for the creation of these ‘robot companions,’ the ST and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna lab aims to participate in the EU Future and Emerging Technologies Programme for the development of companion robots. One example of the lab’s interests is in replacing the motor from a conventional robot’s elbow and replacing it with an artificial ‘muscle,’ making the system lighter, as well as more natural looking.

In bio-robotics, the joint laboratory will also focus on exploiting the use of new materials in advanced applications, yielding lighter-weight and more resilient robots. These new materials include Shape Memory Alloys, or smart metals, which exhibit unique, muscle-like properties, such as pseudo-elasticity and the shape memory effect. Such materials ‘remember’ their original shape and, after deformation, can return to their pre-deformed shape when heated. This quality can be useful in a wide range of applications, including medical equipment and aviation.

The newly established laboratory will take an active role in the smart system efforts and initiatives coordinated by EPoSS. Integration of smart systems aims to address global challenges and opportunities, including health and aging or sustainable mobility by giving intelligent and adaptable functionalities to the user, utilizing new materials and technologies, and redefining the interaction between people and technology.

ST has a long history in working with leading educational and research establishments around the world, combining industry experience and knowledge with academic research strengths and rich talent pool. The ST- Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna joint laboratory initiative will enhance and leverage the global network of partnering research centers in the robotics domain that already include, among others, the University of Catania, the Italian Institute of Technology, the Humanoid Robotics Institute at the Waseda University in Japan, the Waseda - Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna RoboCasa joint lab, the Korean Institute for Scientific Technologies, the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Within this network, ST contributes its semiconductor expertise to open new perspectives and fuel further development in this field.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wind River broadens portfolio of Android device test software

BANGALORE, INDIA: Wind River, a world leader in embedded and mobile software, introduced an Android test development kit designed to assist in the validation of the device user experience by reproducing human interactions to test user interfaces.

Wind River UX Test Development Kit is an Eclipse-based test-authoring environment enabling the rapid creation of automated test scripts for Android devices, applications and browser-based web content. The automated execution of these real-world tests can replace a significant amount of manual testing and reduce testing time.

“Among the motives for why consumers return their mobile devices, a top reason is a disappointing user experience. By using breakthrough Wind River innovation to construct efficient testing tools to develop reliable applications and fulfilling user experiences, operators and device manufacturers can create greater customer satisfaction to improve the bottom line,” said Venkatesh Kumaran, country manager Wind River India.

“Wind River is changing the user experience test paradigm. Wind River UX Test Development Kit tests are reusable across hardware configuration and software versions, helping to decrease the effort to build test scripts for new use cases by as much as 70 percent. With access to automatic tests that mimic human behaviour during software testing, developers can dramatically reduce testing cycles and time-to-market.”

UX Test Development Kit automated tests manipulate the device like a real-world user by interacting with applications through the user interface. For example, a quality assurance engineer can automate scenarios to test the user experience when interacting with graphic interface elements such as dragging items or typing entries on a physical or virtual keyboard.

Unlike legacy user interface testing solutions, the same test script can be used for Android devices with different hardware characteristics, allowing the quality assurance team to maintain the same test-case database whether the device under test is a smartphone, tablet or any other Android device. Test scripts authored using UX Test Development Kit are fully managed and automatically executed using Wind River Framework for Automated Software Testing (FAST) for Android, a comprehensive automated software testing solution for Android-based devices.

UX Test Development Kit includes abstract tests for standard Android applications such as browser, camera, contacts, media player and e-mail as well as sample test scripts for Android Market applications such as Google Maps, Facebook and Twitter. UX Test Development Kit also allows the rapid creation of test scripts that interact with HTML5 applications and web pages through the native Android browser. To facilitate troubleshooting, UX Test Development Kit tests also run an advanced debugging mechanism to track and more readily identify software issues.

Wind River also launched the latest version of Wind River FAST for Android that can be used to test any Android-based device. Wind River FAST for Android offers new features that deliver easier handling and greater insights into the devices under test. Key features include the following:

* FAST Android Score, a benchmarking index that assesses a device’s performance via a quick comparison against Android reference devices, rapidly generates a score from a series of tests, incorporating the key performance driving components of an Android device, without having to run the entire set of FAST tests.
* Easy-to-use wizard tools allow quick board configuration and test creation.
* Monitoring features illustrate CPU usage, memory load and power consumption.
* Expanded set of test assets created to test battery life, update mechanism for Android, Stagefright media framework and additional audio and video media capabilities.

Freescale extends leadership position in processors for wired and wireless networking markets

AUSTIN, USA: Freescale Semiconductor has extended its position as the market leader in wired and wireless communications processors according to rankings recently issued by analyst group Gartner. The firm ranks Freescale number one with 53 percent of the market in 2010 and separates Freescale from its closest competitor by more than 40 percent.

Freescale continues to maintain its strength in communications processors, growing market share year over year from 2009 to 2010. The industry’s rapid adoption of Freescale’s multicore QorIQ products played a key role in the leadership expansion.

“Adoption of multicore QorIQ processors among customers targeting wired and wireless communications processors is strong and getting stronger,” said Brett Butler, VP and GM, Freescale’s Networking Processor Division. “There is tremendous opportunity ahead for further innovation in communications processors and Freescale is leading the way with its QorIQ communications platforms.”

Global growth of IP traffic is driving tremendous demand for rich digital content and pushing for advances in wired and wireless networking equipment. According to Gartner, wireless data volumes are doubling every year on a worldwide basis.

Freescale established the communications processor market in 1989 by delivering the industry's first multi-protocol microprocessor, and since then has shipped more than 300 million communications processor units. The versatile devices are used in routers, switches, digital line cards, wireless LAN access/aggregation points, unified threat management (UTM) appliances, voice over IP (VoIP) equipment, customer premises equipment, SOHO and enterprise routers, as well as printer, high-end imaging and storage applications.

Microchip's first six-channel analog front end for three-phase energy metering offers industry-leading accuracy

BANGALORE, INDIA: Microchip Technology Inc. announced its first high-accuracy, stand-alone six-channel analog front end (AFE) for three-phase energy metering. The MCP3903 AFE includes six 16-/24-bit Delta-Sigma analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) and offers industry-leading accuracy, with a signal-to-noise and distortion (SINAD) of 89 dB (typical) and total harmonic distortion (THD) of -99 dB (typical).

Additional integrated features include programmable gain amplifiers (PGAs), a low-drift voltage reference and phase-delay compensation, for a reduced external component count that increases design flexibility and lowers costs. The MCP3903 AFE is ideal for the utility and industrial markets, such as in utility meters, power-monitoring devices and instrumentation devices.

Government regulations and trends in smart metering, along with the Advanced Metering Infrastructure, have dramatically increased the need for products that offer precise measurements in multi-phase metering, while simplifying designs and reducing costs. The MCP3903 delivers this functionality by providing a highly accurate solution with integrated features that enable design flexibility. The MCP3903's six 16-/24-bit Delta-Sigma ADCs enable the simultaneous sampling of six inputs, making it ideal for three-phase power monitoring and metering, while its industry-leading accuracy allows for higher-accuracy products.

"The MCP3903 AFE provides engineers with a highly accurate solution for the growing smart-metering and power-monitoring market," said Bryan J. Liddiard, vice president of marketing with Microchip's Analog and Interface Products Division. "This device's integrated features enable more precise measurements than competing solutions, with reduced design time and lower cost."

The MCP3903 is available in a 28-pin SSOP package in 10,000-unit quantities. Samples are available today.

Semtech intros SyncE hybrid mode and single-chip boundary clock

CAMARILLO, USA: Semtech Corp., a leading supplier of analog and mixed-signal semiconductors, announced the release of a new ToPSync firmware update for the ACS9510.

Semtech’s TopSync platform provides signal timing for legacy and next-generation wireless networks. The platform delivers a complete IEEE1588v2 precision time protocol (PTP) solution that makes it possible for wireless carriers to build their backhaul networks using low-cost Ethernet-based wireless services.

The ACS9510 is a 360 pin, 20 mm x 20 mm, 1 mm pitch multi-role device that can be used to provide synchronous equipment timing source (SETS) functionality in traditional TDM equipment (TDM timing mode) as well as standards-based timing for equipment used in packet switched networks (PTP grandmaster and PTP slave modes). The ToPSync version 5.1 firmware release implements major advances in time alignment performance while enabling significant savings in cost.

ACS9510 is a fully integrated and configurable synchronization platform. Thanks to its ability to perform as a PTP master, slave or boundary clock as well as natively manage layer one clocks, the ACS9510 can operate in any point of the timing delivery network. Internal ITU-compliant SETS functions reduce the necessity for external components, such as PLLs or frequency translators, because the ACS9510 manages all layer one sync requirements.

The ToPSync software is self-contained within the ACS9510 device and no real-time process is required on any external CPU. The combination of embedded PLLs and algorithms makes the ACS9510 simple to integrate, allowing wireless equipment customers to meet tight time-to-market requirements.

“We are excited by the major advances in time alignment performance and significant cost savings brought by release 5.1. Throughout trials with tier one carriers, the innovative hybrid Sync-E/PTP algorithm performed with an accuracy better than 100 nanoseconds even with low cost TCXOs,” said Rich Lansdowne, director of Advanced Communications at Semtech. “Release 5.1 also allows a single ACS9510 to operate as a fully compliant IEEE 1588 boundary clock offering carriers unparalleled flexibility of deployment.”

The newly released ToPSync 5.1 firmware enables a single ACS9510 device to operate as a full IEEE 1588 boundary clock via two independently configurable slave and master PTP ports. Release 5.1 marks the introduction of hybrid mode, a new operation where an external clock, such as sync-Ethernet 25 MHz clock, is interleaved with PTP to deliver better time delivery performance than PTP alone.

Semtech system-on-chip timing solutions integrate custom designed algorithms and dedicated hardware in a single device to provide best-in-class accuracy, reliability and implementation cost for systems vendors. Sub-microsecond timing accuracy is a critical requirement of modern telecom networks. The Semtech approach enables an overall timing architecture that network operators will find both flexible and of the highest performance.

ST unveils world’s smallest real-time clock with embedded crystal, saving space and optimizing battery life in portable electronics

INDIA: As miniaturization continues to be a key goal for designers of high-tech gadgets, STMicroelectronics has announced the world’s smallest combined crystal and real-time clock (RTC) IC for time, calendar and alarm functions. ST has combined the world’s smallest real-time clock die and a matched oscillator crystal in the same package size as the smallest crystal-only devices on the market today, to deliver the world’s smallest integrated RTC/crystal, measuring only 3.2 x 1.5mm and offering ultra-low power consumption.

The M41T62 is ideally suited to the needs of battery-powered designs. By operating at low voltages from 1.3V to 4.4V, it can be driven directly from a Li-ion battery and draws only 350nA. Many integrated microcontrollers have an on-chip RTC, but these often provide limited features and an external crystal is always required. Unlike designing with microcontrollers, or discrete solutions, this integrated solution takes care of the required and sometimes troublesome matching of the crystal and the RTC.

“This state-of-the-art real-time clock, embedded in this small-volume crystal package, provides the perfect solution for any portable design,” said Francesco Italia, director of the Sensors and Microactuators Business Unit within ST’s MEMS, Sensors and High-Performance Analog Division. “It saves space, optimizes power consumption, and can run directly from a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery. This turn-key solution alleviates the headache for designers of matching the right crystal with the right real-time-clock silicon.”

The M41T62 also simplifies product design. It produces a stable 32kHz signal on start-up, which ensures reliable starting from many of today’s processors and subsystems such as Bluetooth modules. Additional features enhancing design and system performance include oscillator failure detection (OFD), which helps the system detect power faults. Actions such as power-down time stamping, low-battery detection can be done without the additional external components needed by a microcontroller RTC. The device is also UL certified and has a built-in reverse diode.

The M41T62 improves the performance of systems whose functions rely on data logging, time stamping, interval monitoring or synchronization. These can be found in SLR digital cameras, GPS receivers, portable multimedia players, card readers, portable medical monitors such as glucose meters.

Major features of the M41T62:
* 3.2 x 1.5mm lead-free ceramic package.
* RTC and crystal within industry’s smallest crystal-only outline.
* Ultra-low power consumption of 350nA @ 3 V.
* Low operating voltage: 1.3V – 4.4V.
* Provides stable 32kHz on power-up.
* Oscillator failure detection ensuring safe operation.
* Timekeeping down to 1.0V.
* Programmable alarm and watchdog.

The M41T62 is entering into volume production now in the LCC8 leadless package, priced at approximately $1.50 in quantities of 1,000 units. Alternative pricing options are available for larger order quantities.

ST reports 2011 Q2 and H1 financial results

PARIS, FRANCE: STMicroelectronics has reported financial results for the second quarter and first half ended July 2, 2011.

President and CEO, Carlo Bozotti, commented: “Our second quarter net revenues and gross margin results were substantially in line with our business outlook, with sales growth driven by a solid performance from automotive.

“As anticipated, in this quarter we experienced headwinds related to the situation in Japan and currency rates, while continuing to face ST-Ericsson’s ongoing transition. Additionally, in June, we saw weaker demand and a much weaker than planned outlook for wireless products from a major customer and we saw signs of softening demand in some of our businesses, such as digital consumer products and microcontrollers.

“Looking at the 2011 first half, we have made measurable progress in advancing our product portfolio, clearly gaining share as net revenues from our wholly-owned businesses increased 17 percent compared to the year-ago period. Our product portfolio is gaining further traction, with significant design wins in the growth application areas we are targeting: energy management and savings, trust and data security, healthcare and wellness as well as smart consumer devices.”

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Synopsys' LightTools delivers leading-edge illumination analysis

MOUNTAIN VIEW, USA: Synopsys Inc. announced the availability of enhancements to its LightTools illumination design and analysis software, acquired as part of Synopsys' acquisition of Optical Research Associates (ORA).

LightTools 7.2 delivers features that will help users graphically analyze simulation results, compute important metrics when designing for the lighting industry, iteratively design with CAD software and improve the efficiency of luminaire and solar designs. These capabilities enable lighting designers to more easily explore design alternatives, study light behavior and improve product quality early in the design process.

"Our goal is to deliver software innovations that help engineers create high-quality illumination designs and accelerate their design processes," said George Bayz, VP and GM of the Optical Solutions Group at Synopsys. "The latest enhancements in LightTools offer users customizable analysis that allows them to access system performance data quickly and efficiently and to display that data in the exact format they need to communicate results to design teams, project management and customers."

Customize simulation results
The LightTools LumViewer, an interactive charting capability, has been significantly enhanced with a new look and many additional features to customize illumination simulation results to meet personal, company or industry standards. Users can rotate and zoom 3D charts, change fonts and colors, view data on a logarithmic scale and make many other customizations as needed. Users can also save charting customizations in a template to reload for later use, or to set as a default for all LightTools charts.

"LightTools version 7.2 has some great enhancements to the LumViewer," said Joshua Cobb, senior optical engineer, Corning Tropel Corp. "This is now my primary analysis tool, and it has been straightforward to come up to speed quickly with the new user interface."

Beam statistics
The LightTools simulation output now includes detailed beam statistics to provide lighting designers with access to beam and field width information for analysis and optimization. These statistics are useful for determining the angular or spatial spread of a beam pattern generated by an optical system, such as a luminaire. Designers also have the ability to automatically optimize the optical system to match a specified beam spread.

CAD file element
With the new CAD file element, LightTools entities can be associated with an externally created CAD file, enabling users to update geometry with the click of a button without losing optical properties, names or relations with other elements of the LightTools model. CATIA, IGES, SAT and STEP formats are accepted. This capability simplifies the process of using CAD geometry in LightTools and ensures data integrity throughout design iterations.

Native compound parabolic concentrators
3D compound parabolic concentrators (CPCs) and CPC reflectors are now available as native elements in LightTools. The CPC objects are useful in luminaire and solar design for collimating light from a source or concentrating light onto a receiver. The elements are fully optimizable; for example, users can automatically optimize a CPC's size and angle to match a target illumination distribution, intensity, total power or flux on a receiver.

The LightTools 7.2 release is available now.

Average contract price for 2GB memory modules falls 9.38 percent in 2H July, market not yet bottomed out

TAIWAN: According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, PC-OEMs are still in a period of inventory adjustment for 2HJuly, and transaction volume has remained low since June. DRAM contract price for 2HJuly continues to follow the downward trend of 1HJuly with a downward decrease of 9.38 percent.

DDR3 2GB and 4GB contract price is $14.5 (1Gb $0.75) and $28, representing a decline of 9.38 percent and 9.68 percent, respectively. Overall price has decreased 15.94 percent in the month of July. As spot market price has also fallen, module houses are in a near panic, underselling to reduce their inventory levels and prevent losses. DDR3 2Gb average spot price was $1.62 in June, with the current price representing a 16 percent decrease. With such price quotes, the spot market is crowding out contract transactions. Thus, contract price negotiation is becoming increasingly difficult, and it is clear that the downward trend of DRAM price has been firmly established.

2H July contract price suffers 15.94 percent decrease, DRAM manufacturers utilize special deals to retain market share
For DRAM manufacturers, although the Q3 peak season has already begun, July’s DRAM price has not seen the gradual increase of past years. July’s 2GB module contract price has decreased 15.94 percent from last month, an indication that the market outlook for 2H11 is not optimistic.

Concluded transaction volume has shrunk rapidly since June. In addition, PC shipments have been adjusted downwards, content per box growth has slowed, and economies are sluggish worldwide. With no sign of improvement, these factors have caused DRAM prices to decrease far more quickly than expected.

Since this wave of falling DRAM prices comes only two years after the lowest point of the previous global financial crisis, DRAM manufacturers were truly caught off guard by the rate of drop. Cost-wise, even the most advanced 30nm manufacturing processes are on the verge of breaking even, let alone the mainstream 40nm processes. On the supply side, the total number of wafer starts has decreased 2 percent compared to last year.

While manufacturers have been conservative in terms of wafer starts, the marked increase in production volume brought about by process migration has caused this year’s DRAM prices to frequently hit rock-bottom. As was the case in the previous financial tsunami, the current DRAM market has been negatively affected by overall weak economies. However, an even more debilitating factor is that regardless of how low DRAM prices have dropped, there has been limited stimulation to content per box.

In terms of PC production cost, 2GB memory module price for July only represents about 5 percent of total cost, which should have spurred PC-OEMs to increase content per box. However, as the Windows 7 operating system does not require much of a hardware increase, consumer acceptance of 4GB and larger memory modules has been mediocre overall. Without question, this just adds fuel to the fire, as the DRAM market is already in a state of oversupply.

As for the recent contract price trend, in order to increase market share when there have been limited transactions on the client end, DRAM manufacturers are engaging in special deals. Thus, the proportion of total transaction volume represented by special deals has shown signs of an increasing trend. Aside from concluded transaction prices approaching the published low price, a considerable proportion of transactions have been conducted at new under-the-table lows.

As DRAM manufacturers are eager to clean out their current stock, special deal stipulations often include requirements for PC-OEMs to purchase inventory within a certain amount of time or bundle chip purchase with a certain proportion of 2GB or 4GB modules. As DRAM manufacturers continue to hang by a thread, they can only hope that PC-OEMs will begin inventory restocking soon and let DRAM prices return to a reasonable benchmark.

10 silicon vendors endorse $2 BOM cost savings in handsets

SUNNYVALE, USA: Arteris Inc., the inventor and leading supplier of network-on-chip (NoC) interconnect IP solutions, announced that the Chip to Chip Link (also known as C2C) product jointly developed by Texas Instruments Inc., and Arteris has been licensed by 10 system on chip vendors serving the mobile and wireless application processor and modem markets.

C2C is the first instance of an industry standard allowing shared memory between two chips, such as a mobile phone applications processor and a mobile phone modem. The 100ns round-trip latency of the C2C connection is fast enough for the modem to share the application processor’s RAM and to maintain enough read throughput and low latency for cache refills. This enables the phone manufacturer to remove the modem’s dedicated RAM chip from the phone’s bill of materials (BOM), saving a minimum $2 in cost per phone.

In addition to the $2 cost savings for a single LPDDR2 RAM, removing a RAM saves up to 115 square millimeters of printed circuit board (PCB) space and reduces mobile phone system complexity.“C2C is an optimal solution for low latency mobile phone modem connection to applications processors because it allows us to fully reuse the same DDR pads that are available for connecting the standard dedicated modem RAM,” said Stefan Wolff, Division VP and GM, Smart Phones and RF at Intel Mobile Communications GmbH (IMC).

“Using the Chip to Chip Link allows IMC modems to connect to a wide selection of mobile phone application processors from multiple vendors, allowing our customers to choose the best products for their needs whilst saving cost and footprint without compromising performance.”

“TI believes that split architecture provides the industry’s most optimal environment for innovation. We worked with Arteris on C2C and pushed its evolution in the MIPI Alliance to help our customers turn split architecture into something advantageous regarding modem connection. In the end, OEMs and ecosystem partners alike benefit from the growth of a cost-effective thin modem market and the opportunity to combine those modems with the best-in-class OMAP applications processor,” said Remi El-Ouazzane, VP and GM, OMAP Platform Business Unit, TI.

In addition to Intel and Texas Instruments, other publicly announced C2C licensees include Samsung, LG, ST–Ericsson, HiSilicon Technologies, and Via Telecom.

“Although licensees initially consider C2C for mobile phone DRAM memory sharing, we are seeing new use models such as coprocessor connectivity to quickly meet market windows for new standards like LTE,” said K. Charles Janac, president and CEO of Arteris. “The low cost, low gate count, low latency, and low power of C2C make it ideal for a multitude of chip-to-chip connectivity use cases.”

TI’s 3-MHz, 100-mA step-down data converter adds 20-percent run-time to ultra-low power wireless and ultra low power MCU

BANGALORE, INDIA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) introduced a 3-MHz, 100-mA synchronous step-down data converter, which integrates a bypass switch and a unique DCS-Control technology and extends battery run-time by 20 percent in low-power wireless and Ultra Low Power MCU.

The high-performance device has an operating current of only 25 uA and supports many low-power applications, such as Bluetooth low energy systems, metering and building technologies, mobile phones, consumer electronics, medical and human interface devices.

The TPS62730 reduces current consumption drawn from the battery in transmit and receive modes by achieving 95-percent power conversion efficiency and an on-chip bypass switch with only 30-nA of power. The converter also generates less than 15mVpp typical output voltage ripple, allowing it to support many low-power RF applications, such as those powered by TI’s 2.4-GHz CC2540 and CC430 SoC solutions.

DCS-Control technology
DCS-Control technology is an advanced regulation topology that combines the advantages of hysteretic and voltage mode control within a single device, enabling excellent AC line and transient load regulation.

The feature provides seamless transition between high-load and light-load (power save) operation. An additional voltage feedback loop also ensures DC accuracy. DCS-Control technology alleviates the need to research external filtering components, thus reducing associated space and cost.

Key features and benefits
• TPS62730 features DCS-Control with excellent AC-line and load transient regulation.
• Excellent low-output voltage ripple (<15mVpp typical) over the entire load range, which makes this part ideal for RF applications.
• Smallest solution size of 12 mm2: 3-MHz frequency and fixed output voltage options require only three external components.
• Input-voltage range of 1.9 V to 3.9 V supports Li-primary battery chemistries such as Li-SOCI2, LiSo2, Li-MnO2 and also two alkaline batteries.
• Ultra-low-power shutdown/bypass-mode current of typical 30-nA supports sleep and low power modes of modern RF transceivers.
• DC/DC operation mode provides regulated output voltage consuming typical 25-uA quiescent current.

How PC NAND will undermine DRAM?

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "How PC NAND Will Undermine DRAM" report to its offering.

DRAM growth has been driven by PC sales since the early 1980s, but that is about to end. Benchmarks prove that NAND flash yields more speed per dollar than DRAM. This study explains how NAND will displace DRAM in PCs, leading to a steady decline in DRAM revenues for the foreseeable future.

This report explores the performance of NAND flash versus DRAM in PCs as measured by industry standard benchmarks and finds that NAND flash provides more performance per dollar spent than does DRAM. This somewhat surprising result leads to Objective Analysis' natural conclusion that DRAM's position in the PC is threatened by NAND, and that changes that will undermine the DRAM market will start to evolve in the near term, forcing the DRAM market toward a foundry model over the longer term.

Key findings:
* NAND flash already brings a greater performance boost per dollar to the PC than does DRAM.
* This has been verified through an exhaustive series of 288 benchmarks performed by Objective Analysis that are detailed in this report.
* The price gap between NAND and DRAM is widening, to further amplify the difference.
* The price gap between HDD and NAND varies between 20-40 times and has settled into that ratio for the long term. This will prevent SSDs from displacing HDDs in PCs.
* Existing consumer purchasing patterns will help rather than hinder the adoption of NAND in PCs while it works against SSD adoption.
* DRAM is entering a phase of protracted overcapacity that will last from late 2011 well beyond the term of the forecast (2016).
* By 2016, $10 billion in annual DRAM revenues will have been lost to this phenomenon.
* The resulting growth in NAND revenues, totaling $1.6 billion in 2016, will not appreciably offset the decline in DRAM revenues.
* Between the market's revenue declines and the growing costs of installing new production capacity DRAM vendor consolidation will accelerate, pushing this market to a foundry model by 2020.

Global semiconductor market to grow 50 percent by 2013

LONDON, UK: The global semiconductor market is set to reach US$300 billion in 2013, according to a new report available on In 2010, Japan and North America were the top contributors with 16.9 percent and 16.7 percent market share in the global semiconductor market.

The Korean semiconductor market is expected to cross $50 billion mark by 2013. Automotive and consumer electronics are the continuously increasing their market share and expected to reach 7.9 percent and 21 percent, respectively in 2013.

The integrated circuit sector is the leading component in the semiconductor market as it holds nearly two thirds of the semiconductor market alone. It is expected that the global market for microprocessors and controllers will grow at a CAGR of 9.58 percent for the period 2010-2013. Taiwan is the leading market for the global semiconductor equipment market. The global semiconductor material market will grow on average growth rate 7.75 percent for the period spanning 2010-2013.

Semiconductor equipment plays a vital role in the manufacturing of integrated devices (ICs). Wafer processing is the leading segment in the equipments market. Its market share is steadily increasing and expected to be over 80 percent of the global equipment market by 2013.

However, the semiconductor material market has long played a supporting role in relation to semiconductor equipment but with consistent year-over-year growth before 2009 as the result of record volumes of chips produced, the materials market is set to leave the shadow of the flashy equipment market. It is expected that this market will grow at an average growth rate of 7.74 percent for the period spanning 2010-2013. Japan and Taiwan are two major semiconductor material markets.

NAND flash densities in video game platforms to climb over 40 percent in 2011

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Despite the high cost of NAND flash memory, NAND densities in 2011 will rise more than 40 percent in home consoles and handheld devices, the principal modes for gaming entertainment, according to a new IHS iSuppli NAND Dynamics Market Brief.

The average NAND density in 2011 for home video game consoles is projected to reach 923 megabytes (MB), up 42.2 percent from 649MB last year. In comparison, average NAND density growth this year for handheld game devices will be slightly lower but still within the same range, at 41.4 percent to 123MB, up from 87MB in 2010.

In both platforms, NAND densities will continue to trend higher in the years to come. By 2015 the average NAND density will reach 3.5GB in home consoles and 428MB in handhelds. The five-year compound annual growth rate, beginning from 2010, stands at almost 40 percent, as shown the figure below.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

“In the past, strong competition among game console manufacturers compelled them to keep prices down,” said Ryan Chien, researcher for memory and storage at IHS. “This constrained the use of expensive flash memory, in exchange for a greater focus on processing and graphical capabilities. However, the next generation of consoles appears to be adding greater densities of NAND because of the memory’s advantages in terms of faster read speeds, less heat generation and lower power consumption compared to hard disk drives.”

NAND use in games rises
The current PlayStation 3 from Sony Corp. does not even use NAND and employs a hard disk drive as storage. Meanwhile, the Wii from Nintendo Corp. includes just 512MB of embedded NAND memory.

Nintendo, however, will be increasing its NAND storage for the upcoming Wii U console, with NAND capacity expected to be more than the 2GB currently employed in the company’s latest handheld device, the 3DS. The entry-level Xbox 360 from Microsoft Corp. also started out with just 256MB when introduced in late 2008, before expanding to 512MB and its current 4GB level.

One other avenue for increasing NAND density in home consoles is to enhance removable storage, for example by allowing game installs to be saved on a high-performance flash drive. To date, the Xbox 360 allows some downloadable games to be saved on a USB drive. Also, companies like Kingston Technology and Super Talent have unveiled USB 3.0 drives with fast sequential read/write speeds—even though pricing for the USB products is similar to costly solid state drives because of requirements for higher-quality controllers and NAND.

In the case of handheld gaming devices, NAND flash also has been picking up traction. The Nintendo DSi is equipped with 256MB of internal flash and the 3DS has 2GB, while the Xperia Play gaming smartphone from Sony Ericsson includes 400MB.

Handheld gaming, however, is being challenged by the wide availability of app ecosystems popularizing free or cheap, lightweight games. Already, devices like mobile phones, portable media players and tablets leverage the use of flash memory for digital downloads—an embedded flash memory model that has filtered into gaming handhelds via Nintendo’s eShop and Sony’s PlayStation Store, and was adopted completely by Sony’s PSP Go.

Still, the decision by Sony for its upcoming PSP Vita handheld to rely completely on removable storage suggests that traditional gamers might prefer hard copies of their storage media, potentially complicating the argument for supporting NAND flash in gaming handhelds.

Most likely, however, the industry won’t be able to completely ignore the benefits of incorporating NAND into gaming hardware, such as decreased cooling needs and slimmer form factors. Nintendo by now has set a clear trend of adding flash memory to its products—an action that might presage the same for Sony and Microsoft when the time comes for their next-generation consoles.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Monday, July 25, 2011

MEMS suppliers and OEM end-users to explore “MEMS in the Mainstream” at MEMS Executive Congress 2011

PITTSBURGH, USA: MEMS Industry Group (MIG) hosts MEMS Executive Congress 2011, the annual business conference and networking event for the MEMS industry, November 2-3, 2011 in Monterey, CA.

Keynote speakers include strategy consultant Aaron Schulman, business director, Toffler Associates, who will explain how global drivers of change will radically transform the behavior of individuals and societies; Scott Livingston, CEO, Livingston Securities, who will examine financing innovation in public markets; and Per Asberg, program director, client partnerships, IBM Rational, who will describe IBM’s role in helping to streamline the development design process for systems in automobiles, electronics and medical devices. Several industry panels and the event’s first application showcase complete the MEMS Executive Congress conference program.

“The MEMS industry is hot,” said Karen Lightman, managing director, MEMS Industry Group. “With double-digit growth rates, volume production surging at captive and commercial foundries, and vertical markets such as consumer, automotive, industrial and biomedical driving new demand for a wide range of MEMS devices, the MEMS industry is well poised for continued growth. Providing a unique brand of information-sharing among MEMS suppliers and OEM end-users, MEMS Executive Congress is the perfect forum for understanding and predicting this growth. If you are in any way connected to the MEMS industry, you must attend MEMS Executive Congress.”

Renesas Electronics selects Wind River FAST for Android software testing

BANGALORE, INDIA: Wind River, a world leader in embedded and mobile software, announced that Renesas Electronics Corp., a premier supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions, has selected Wind River Framework for Automated Software Testing (FAST) to test Renesas Electronics’ Cortex-A9-based system-on-chip (SoC) platform for Android-based smartphones and consumer products.

Wind River FAST for Android is a fully automated software testing solution that assists silicon vendors, device manufacturers and mobile operators in improving the software quality of their Android implementations and test performance, compliance and device user interface and user experience.

“Wind River FAST for Android helps companies, especially those with demanding product schedules and complex designs, tackle the challenges of Android software testing and deliver high-quality products on time and on budget,” said Jerry Ashford, VP and GM of mobile solutions at Wind River. "By investing in our reliable, commercial-quality test solution, customers can focus efforts and resources on critical issues such as developing unique features that differentiate their mobile devices and verifying Android compliancy. Wind River FAST significantly reduces the overhead associated with quality testing and compliance.”

Renesas Electronics is a world-leading supplier of microcontrollers and a premiere supplier of advanced semiconductor solutions including microcontrollers, SoC solutions and a broad range of analog and power devices as well as LCD modules. Renesas Electronics uses Wind River FAST for Android to streamline its software testing process, improve software quality and stability through the use of a variety of tests including the Wind River Advanced Device Characterization Suite, and verify compliance with Android Compatibility Test Suite (CTS). For easy access and reporting of test results, Wind River FAST for Android automates thousands of heterogeneous tests and then consolidates the results into a single uniform database.

“To conduct software testing for Android, it would have required our teams to spend extra time and resources during the testing process. Instead, we’re leveraging Wind River FAST for Android’s out-of-the-box tests for performance, stability and compliance," said Hiromi Watanabe, general manager of SoC Software Platform Division at Renesas Electronics. "Wind River not only delivered an automated testing solution that fit our needs but also came to the table with vast Android expertise. Ultimately, we will be able to increase product quality and meet tight time-to-market deadlines.”

Additionally, Wind River provides Renesas Electronics with award-winning support, Wind River FAST installation and engineering consulting and training services, including integration of software components, assistance throughout software testing for graphics and multimedia framework customization and optimization work to enable Android on Renesas Electronics’ SoCs.

Analog Devices integrates two bucks regulators and two LDOs in smaller more flexible power management ICs

BANGALORE, INDIA: Analog Devices Inc. introduced the ADP5034 regulator/LDO, a highly integrated power management IC that combines two 3-MHz, high efficiency, 1.2-A step down regulators with two 300-mA LDO (low drop out) regulators in a small LFCSP (lead-frame chip-scale) package.

Also, Analog Devices introduced the ADP5024 regulator/LDO, which is identical to the ADP5034 but features a single 300-mA LDO regulator. Occupying a total board area of only 69mm2, the ADP5034 and ADP5024 step-down regulators/LDOs are designed to meet the shrinking board space and increasing performance requirements of processors and FPGAs.

The integrated step-down regulators are used 180 degrees out of phase to reduce input filtering, which allows smaller input capacitors to be used while reducing input noise. A dedicated mode pin places both regulators in forced PWM operation or auto PWM/PSM operation for higher efficiency. The low quiescent current, low dropout voltage, and wide input voltage range of the ADP5034 and ADP5024 also enable more efficient power management. The integrated LDOs feature high 65-dB PSRR (power-supply rejection ratio) performance that ranges from 1 kHz to 10 kHz, lowering output noise to 80 μV/rms for powering sensitive analog circuitry.

The ADP5034 and ADP5024 step down regulators/LDOs are flexible, highly integrated power management components that can be used in applications including USB-powered portable devices, handheld medical products and multi-voltage power applications for processors, ASICs, FPGAs and RF chipsets.

Each component has dedicated enable pins for each of the step down regulators and LDOs and supports adjustable output voltages on all four regulator outputs, allowing the output voltages to be easily set using an external resistor divider network. Adjustable output voltage allows the ADP5034 and ADP5024 to be easily and quickly modified to work with different output voltage requirements, which reduces design time and time to market. The ADP5034 and ADP5024 are fully specified over the junction temperature range of −40 °C to 125 °C and both are available in a 24-lead, 4 mm × 4 mm LFCSP packages.

ADP5034 and ADP5024 buck regulator/LDO key features and benefits
* Two high efficiency 1.2 A buck regulators with adjustable or fixed output voltages for core voltage and I/O voltage in a processor based systems.
* Two 300-mA LDOs (ADP5034) with adjustable or fixed output voltage option for low noise analog circuitry.
* Initial regulator accuracy of ±1 percent powersslow-noise analog circuitry and enables processor and FPGA power loads where high reliability and tight voltage regulation across line, load and temperature are required.
* Buck peak efficiency up to 96 percent improves system power efficiency and reduces thermal dissipation.
* Factory-programmable or external adjustable output voltages provide maximum design flexibility.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Microsemi announces SmartFusion cSoC support with FreeRTOS

IRVINE, USA: Microsemi Corp., a leading provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, announced its award-winning SmartFusion customizable system-on-chip (cSoC) devices are now supported by FreeRTOSTM, a scale-able real time kernel designed specifically for small embedded systems, and can be used in any type of application.

FreeRTOS is an extremely popular and professionally developed kernel that can be used in commercial applications, completely free of charge, without any requirement to expose proprietary source code. With FreeRTOS product developers have access to a broader choice of operating systems and communication protocols for implementation on SmartFusion cSoCs, enabling the acceleration of their designs in industrial and networking applications.

According to Gartner Inc., the worldwide consumption of programmable devices such as SmartFusion cSoCs is expected to grow from approximately $5 billion in 2011 to $7.7 billion in 2015—with much of that growth in the industrial market.

"Expanding our portfolio with FreeRTOS will help support the adoption of SmartFusion cSoCs and allow us to better serve our growing customer base," said Rich Kapusta, VP, terrestrial products, SoC Products Group at Microsemi. "With significant increases in the industrial market's SoC consumption over the next several years, this will be a key area for SmartFusion cSoCs as we continue to focus on providing our customers with solutions that meet and anticipate their design needs."

SmartFusion cSoCs are the only devices that integrate an FPGA, an ARM Cortex-M3 processor and programmable analog, enabling full customization, IP protection and ease-of-use. Based on Microsemi's proprietary flash process, SmartFusion devices are ideal for hardware and embedded designers who need a true SoC that gives more flexibility than traditional fixed-function microcontrollers, without the excessive cost of soft processor cores on traditional FPGAs.

Microsemi is offering design examples for its SmartFusion evaluation and development kits with FreeRTOS support to qualified customers at no charge, including sample implementations available for Keil, IAR and GCC.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A solution to the 450mm equipment problem

Joanne Itow, MD, Semico

PHOENIX, USA: Another SEMICON West has come and gone. This was a good year. Although there are signs that things have slowed a bit, the general outlook was positive. In addition to the need for more semiconductor capacity due to continued growth in tablets, cell phones and a host of other electronic applications, the increased complexity of advanced processes has created a positive outlook for equipment vendors. More complexity has translated into more layers, more process steps, and more new equipment. There continues to be significant interest in TSV, EUV, used equipment productivity and MEMS. And finally, this year the discussion around 450mm wafers took a new turn. It was not "if" it would happen but when and how.

The 450mm wafer is still one of the most contentious topics. Who's going to pay for the research and development costs? Equipment vendors are asking for guarantees that there will be buyers at a specific time and technology node. We certainly operate in an exceptional, and sometimes odd, market. Equipment vendors maintain a unique relationship with their customers. Sometimes it works in great harmony such as the renovation of the Renesas Naka facility following the March earthquake and tsunami. But when it comes to 450mm wafers, I'm baffled.

I'm not aware of any other industry where suppliers can get their customers to invest in the development of a new product and also require a guarantee that after they develop the product it will be purchased at a designated time. Every manufacturer, whether it's Apple with a new phone or Boeing with a new jet, takes a risk with regard to timing, price and functionality.

It is promising to hear AMAT commit $100 million to the 450mm effort. Many say that amount is far from the investment necessary but it’s a major step forward. Especially when only a few short years ago, the comments from CEO’s were “not in this decade”. A couple of key executives even said they expect to be long retired by the time 450mm wafers begin rolling out of fabs.

R&D investment is one of the major challenges facing the development and implementation of 450mm wafers. I have a solution. ATIC and GLOBALFOUNDRIES are planning a 300mm wafer facility in Abu Dhabi. We all know ATIC has the funding to make that kind of commitment. What if they spent those dollars on a research facility in Abu Dhabi that focused on 450mm, productivity and manufacturing excellence? If they funded the research, how hard would it be to attract ASML, AMAT, and TEL to participate?

ATIC could use the research facility as a training ground for future engineering talent. Equipment vendors would have a funding source for development efforts. And GLOBALFOUNDRIES could use the facility as their first 450mm pilot line. Sounds like a win-win for ATIC, the equipment vendors and semiconductor manufacturers.

OpenMP 3.1 specification released

PORTLAND, USA: The OpenMP ARB has released Version 3.1 of the OpenMP specification. This version updates Version 3.0 from 2008. The 3.1 version is a minor update, and retains 100 percent backward compatibility with Version 3.0.

Version 3.1 adds several new features including:
* The addition of predefined min and max reduction operators for C++ and C.
* Extensions to the atomic construct to allow the value of the updated variable to be captured or overwritten.
* A mechanism to bind threads to processors.
* Additions to support optimizations within the OpenMP tasking model.

"Version 3.1 represents a significant effort on the part the OpenMP Language Committee, and lays the ground work for future extensions to better support emerging hardware directions," stated OpenMP Language committee chair, Bronis R. de Supinski.

"We have added extensions that handle some of the most frequent user requests while also working to make the specification and its associated examples more clear. We expect these extensions will improve usability and performance."

"Concurrent to our work on version 3.1, we have also made progress on several significant enhancements to the specification that we expect to serve as the basis for our next version," de Supinski continued. "Topics under consideration include support for accelerators such as GPUs, major enhancements to the tasking model, mechanisms to handle runtime errors and general user defined reductions."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ittiam's video communication system enables full HD conferencing on TI's DaVinci digital media processor platform

BANGALORE, INDIA: Following a "Product of the Year 2010" award from TMCNET Communications Solutions, Ittiam announced the availability of its next-generation Video Communication System (VCS).

This newest VCS brings enterprise-class, full HD (1080p60fps) video communication with multi-party video conferencing on the DM8168 DaVinci digital media processor from Texas Instruments Inc. (TI). VCS now offers server-less conferencing on the end-points using its patent-pending embedded bridge technology that offers multi-party HD conferencing without the need for additional equipment or service. It also brings content sharing that enables any participant to remotely share HD multi-media content with rest of the participants.

VCS leverages the cutting-edge HD video, rich system-on-chip (SoC) capability of the DM8168 DaVinci digital media processor and the video communication technology of Ittiam, to achieve an enterprise-grade solution with high-quality and resilient video, advanced acoustics, adaptive dynamic quality of service (QoS) for a tele-presence experience off a single SoC.

"VCS on the DM8168 DaVinci digital media platform marks a definitive stage in the progress of embedded video communication systems," said Sattam Dasgupta, vice president, media streaming business, Ittiam. "It is now possible to build reasonably priced systems offering state-of-the-art, full HD video conferencing, which till now, could only be achieved by expensive alternatives."

"TI is excited to be a part of Ittiam's latest VCS solution," said Kim Devlin-Allen, manager of DaVinci digital media processors. "The DM8168 DaVinci digital media device offers video performance three times greater than any competing solutions on the market, and the integration -- an ARM and DSP core, along with video accelerators, peripherals, graphics and display on a single chip -- enables customers like Ittiam to significantly improve their end product offerings while keeping BOM costs low."

Ittiam's VCS delivers enterprise-grade video communication across applications, silicon and OS platforms -- from smart-phones and tablets to desktops, PC clients and tele-presence units. With VCS, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) can now have a high-quality and proven system common across all devices -- delivering a complete eco-system solution.

Xilinx space-grade Virtex-5QV FPGA in production with mega-rad capability

SAN JOSE, USA: Xilinx Inc. announced that its radiation-hardened-by-design space-grade Virtex-5QV FPGA is available in production with greater than 1Mrad(Si) Total Ionizing Dose (TID) capabilities for supporting the broadest range of space borne missions from low-earth orbit and beyond.

The Virtex-5QV device is the first of its kind reprogrammable Single-Event-Upset (SEU) hardened FPGA specifically designed to withstand the harshest radiation environments so that design teams can shorten time-to-launch from years to months by using an off-the-shelf solution for building complex, high-performance space systems that can be reprogrammed and updated even after launch.

"NASA has a history of firsts when it comes to space exploration. We are excited that NASA's Earth Science Technology Office, in partnership with the ELaNa-3 CubeSat Launch Program, is sponsoring the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Michigan to be the first to fly a production Virtex-5QV FPGA as the time-to-launch has been significantly reduced by utilizing an off-the-shelf, reprogrammable, rad-hard device," said Harvey Steele Jr., Xilinx VP, Segment Marketing and Business Operations.

"Passing the Mega-rad barrier in TID surpassed even our own expectations and leaves the door wide open for Virtex-5QV devices to provide reprogrammability and high-performance for a broad range of missions in defense, commercial and space exploration."

High performance FPGAs for demanding requirements of space
The rad-hard features inherent in Virtex-5QV devices are backed by the highest levels of in-beam testing by the Xilinx Radiation Test Consortium (XRTC) and equivalent to millions of device years in space radiation environments. This means Virtex-5QV FPGAs provide exceptional protection against SEU, Total Immunity to Single-Event Latchup (SEL), high tolerance to TID, as well as data path protection from Single-Event Transients (SET).

For example, the Virtex-5QV FPGA configuration memory provides nearly 1,000 times the SEU hardness of the standard cell latches in the commercial device, while configuration control logic and the JTAG controller have been hardened with embedded triple module redundancy.

Typical systems until now have either relied on one-time-programmable (OTP) solutions with reduced performance or long lead time, high non-recurring engineering (NRE) ASICs. Systems such as satellite communications networks, increased security for powerful defensive systems and new frontiers in space exploration will be within reach as a direct result of the unique combination of features that the Virtex-5QV FPGA provides.

MediaTek announces world's smallest 4-in-1 combo chip Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/GPS/FM solution

HSINCHU, TAIWAN: MediaTek Inc., a leading fabless semiconductor company for wireless communications and digital multimedia solutions, announced its most advanced wireless combo chip designed to enrich multimedia experience with small footprint and long battery life for smartphones, tablets and portable devices.

The MediaTek MT6620 integrates 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0+HS, GPS, and FM transmitter/receiver on a single chip with superior size and power benefits, making it the best solution for smartphones, tablets, and portable devices.

Bringing connectivity features to mainstream products such as smartphones, tablets, portable media players (PMPs), gaming devices, and personal navigation devices (PNDs), the MediaTek MT6620 integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and FM, to provide superior performance and rich features.

The MT6620 implements advanced and sophisticated radio coexistence algorithms and hardware mechanisms to enhanced overall quality for simultaneous voice, data, and audio/video transmissions. Its small size significantly reduces PCB layout area and simplifies design efforts. In addition, the MediaTek Symphony software package supports all advanced wireless features on the Android operation system.

BlueAngel Bluetooth software currently can support up to 15 profiles to fulfill most user scenario and bring customer product differentiation.

The MT6620 supports all the leading standards: dual band 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi with WiFi Direct and Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.0+HS for simultaneous dual mode Bluetooth BR/EDR/HS and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) operations, GPS with Galileo/SBAS/QZSS and patent pending AlwaysLocate technology, FM radio with both transmitter and receiver, making the MT6620 ideal solution for portable devices that require superior performance and long battery life.

The MT6620 passes 802.11n WiFi certificate including WPS2.0, WAPI and Bluetooth 4.0+HS on both the controller and MediaTek BlueAngle host software.

SR Tsai, GM, Wireless Connectivity Business Unit at MediaTek, said: "MediaTek is one of few in the industry to offer 4-in-1 SoC solution for a wide range of mobile applications. As a result of this attention to mobile device manufacturers' needs, the MT6620 was designed to meet strict requirements, such as low power modes to conserve battery life, a reduced footprint to fit into small, sleek handset designs, and low cost to enable mass market mobile Wi-Fi enabled handsets. We believe that the MT6620 is optimized for mobile devices at the hardware, firmware, and driver levels to speed time to market of innovative designs."

The MT6620 has entered mass production and is shipping to lead customers in sizable quantities now.

ST encourages fast user-interface development for SPEAr processor with Mentor Graphics Inflexion technology

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: STMicroelectronics announced the availability of the Mentor Embedded Inflexion User Interface (UI) software product on the SPEAr (Structured Processor Enhanced Architecture) family of processors, which are based on ARM core technology.

The integration of the Mentor Graphics Inflexion UI product on SPEAr processors will enable rapid implementation of rich and dynamic 2D and 3D UIs for product differentiation in target embedded control applications across market segments, from computer peripherals and communication, to industrial automation.

"The availability of Mentor Embedded Inflexion UI on ST's family of SPEAr embedded microprocessors will allow users to quickly create dynamic product UIs on SPEAr processors," stated Loris Valenti, Group VP and GM, Computer Systems Division STMicroelectronics.

"The Inflexion UI can be used on our SPEAr 320 processors, which run on ARM A926EJ-S, and will also be available shortly on the newest SPEAr1300 ARM-CortexA9 family with its powerful Open GL/ES graphics acceleration.

"The Mentor Embedded Inflexion UI has been used by hundreds of embedded system developers across the world and dramatically reduces development effort, allowing developers to rapidly develop stunning UIs without compromises. From rich, dynamic, 3D consumer UIs to specialized 2D UIs in industrial and medical products, the Inflexion UI software allows developers to quickly implement their UI using a drag-and-drop approach via the Inflexion UI Express PC tool, and then run this UI on an efficient and powerful engine. The popular Inflexion product is available on Android, Linux and Nucleus."

"The availability of Inflexion on the SPEAr embedded microprocessors will greatly accelerate UI development by pairing our excellent tools with a well-designed processor," stated Glenn Perry, General Manager of Mentor Graphics Embedded Software Division "The SPEAr processor family targets a broad range of applications, from wireless access devices, printers, security systems to medical and diagnostic equipment, so having customized UIs for human to machine interface is critical."

SPEAr microprocessors enable equipment manufacturers to develop complex, yet flexible digital engines at a fraction of the time and cost of competing solutions.

Manufactured in state-of-the-art low-power 90nm, 65nm and 55nm HCMOS (high-speed CMOS) process technologies, ST's SPEAr embedded microprocessors provide high levels of computing power and connectivity. The devices combine one or two advanced ARM926 processor cores and Dual Cortex A9 cores with memory interfaces, and a large set of IP blocks delivering connectivity, communication, and audio/video functions for a broad range of applications.

Strong growth for semiconductor equipment in advanced packaging market

Dr. Robert Castellano, The Information Network

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Advanced packaging is currently growing at 18 percent compound annual rate, and equipment manufacturers will be major beneficiaries according to our recently published report Lithography and Etch Market Analysis for Flip Chip manufacturing.

Our leading indicators are pointing to a downturn in semiconductor equipment sales for the second half of 2011 and through 2012. These data are corroborated by SEMI’s (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) is a trade organization of manufacturers of equipment and materials used in the fabrication of ICs) recent mid-year consensus forecast.

But all semiconductor equipment markets are not created equal, and there is a sector market that equipment vendors, large and small, public and private, have in their crosshairs that is projected to show strength while the rest of the equipment market falters – flip chip technology, an advanced form of packaging of ICs. The stakes are big. Total flip chip sales represented 11 percent of worldwide IC production in 2010 but will grow to more than 18 percent in 2015. Flip chip comprised only 5 percent of IC production in 2005.

Intel is the leader in the industry, followed by Chipbond Technology, TSMC, Samsung, NEPES Corp. and ASE.

As I said above, equipment vendors are taking advantage of the booming market. Estimates are that the front-end (before the flip chip packaging steps) will exhibit a CAGR of 4 percent between 2010 and 2013. In contrast, sputtering and copper electrodeposition equipment, main sectors of the flip chip equipment market, will exhibit a CAGR of 17 percent.

Already, companies have made strategic investments in developing equipment for flip chip. Lam Research (LRCX) purchased SEZ in 2008, while Applied Materials (AMAT) purchased Semitool in 2009. Ultratech’s (UTEK) CFO Bruce R. Wright noted in his Earnings Call April 21, 2011 that “at this time, we believe revenue growth [in 2012] could be on the order of 40 percent sequentially over 2011” Ultratech is a leading supplier of lithography equipment for flip chip technology.

In researching further the market for flip chip technology, the chart below shows UTEK’s revenues for its equipment normalized to 2006 in comparison to front-end equipment and privately held NEXX systems. Interestingly, despite growth of 148 percent in 2010 according to SEMI, semiconductor equipment through 2011 is projected to reach only 90 percent of 2006 levels of revenue.

UTEK through Q1 2011 has grown 1.8 times its revenue of 2006. NEXX Systems, according to their S-1/A filing of June 2011, has exhibited revenue growth 2.7 times their 2006 revenue. NEXX sells deposition equipment.Source: The Information Network, USA.

Why is flip chip projected to grow so strongly? It is widely understood that flip chips offer a variety of benefits compared to traditional wire-bond packaging, including superior thermal and electrical performance.

In the world of high-speed/high-performance IC and package design, flip chips are appearing in a plethora of high-volume consumer products such as mobile phones, digital cameras, MP3 players, and computing. In Apple Computer’s (AAPL) iPad, 20 percent of the ICs on the motherboard are made up of flip chip packages. The same percentage holds for the Motorola (MOT) Android.

For mobile devices, the market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 30 percent, from a little more than 500 million ICs in 2010 to 1.9 billion in 2015 – a huge growth rate compared to less than a 10 percent growth rate for overall ICs.

TI bolsters ultra-low-power, high-speed, ADC family with eight dual-channel devices from 65 to 250 MSPS

DALLAS, USA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has expanded its line of high-speed, ultra-low power consumption analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) with eight dual-channel devices available in 12- and 14-bit resolutions at speeds from 65 to 250 MSPS.

With these additions, the ADS42xx family provides the performance and bandwidth needed for 3G/LTE wireless base stations, portable test and measurement and software defined radio applications, while providing best-in-class power consumption.

Key features and benefits of the ADS42xx family
* The 14-bit ADS4246 uses 332 mW total power at 160 MSPS, 35-percent less power than its closest competitor. The family provides options down to 92 mW per channel to reduce board heating and operating costs.
* Pin-compatible 12- and 14-bit options, with speeds ranging from 65 to 250 MSPS, enable customers to move to higher resolutions and sample rates without redesigning the board.
* Pin-compatible with 11-bit, 200-MSPS ADS58C28, providing a license-free export option with up to 65 MHz of high-performance RF channel bandwidth at input frequencies over 200 MHz.
* 6-dB programmable gain option provides the flexibility needed to achieve a high signal-to-noise ratio of up to 73.6 decibel full scale (dBFS) and spurious free dynamic range (SFDR) of up to 91 dBc for high receive sensitivity in 3G/LTE wireless infrastructure.

Elma's 3U VPX Virtex-6 FPGA processing board includes VITA 57 FMC front-end for flexible I/O

FREMONT, USA: The Systems division of Elma Electronic Inc., a leading supplier of chassis, embedded products, and system solutions, now offers the TIC-FEP-VPX3b, an FPGA-based 3U VPX front-end processing board that provides an FMC site coupled to a large capacity Virtex-6 FPGA for extremely flexible I/O.

Designed for digital signal processing (DSP), the versatile TIC-FEP-VPX3b is ideal for applications such as RADAR, sonar, electronic warfare, imaging and communications. The new board offers high performance logic, increased SerDes based I/O and powerful DSP slice resources that help meet higher bandwidth and performance demands, while utilizing up to 25 percent less power.

Supported by low power and high speed GTX transceivers at rates up to 6.5 Gbps, the board enables the application of interfaces used in today's embedded systems. On-board PCIe Gen 1 and Gen 2 protocols, via a hard IP block and Ethernet MAC blocks, allow PCIe x4 and GbE interfaces to be implemented from the FPGA to form data and control planes respectively.

Built to the VPX specifications, the TIC-FEP-VPX3b includes four 4-lane fabric ports on the P1, connected by GTX transceivers to the main FPGA. The four fat pipe channels provide the PCIe x4 and GbE interfaces as well as two x4 expansion ports.

Featuring an on-board Xilinx Virtex-6 FPGA, the board comes with two banks of 40-bit 1.25 GB DDR3 memory with transfer rates of 7.5 Gbps and a Spartan-6 control node, used to load logic images into the main FPGA. The Spartan-6 control node enables 'on the fly' bitstream management for dynamic FPGA configuration. Other resources include zero bus turnaround (ZBT) SRAM with a throughput of 400 MB/sec for expedited read/write processing.

The GTX transceivers can be grouped to form multi-lane Aurora pipes supporting inter-VPX card connection, allowing the FPGA processor boards to be very tightly coupled via point-to-point or mesh topology. The board fits scalable architectures, where more than one FPGA processor is required.

Elma's supporting 3U VPX-300 Reference Development Platform utilizes a backplane architecture (BKP3-CEN09-15.2.17-n) designed specifically for FPGA interconnects. This front-end/back-end topology is part of the VITA 65 OpenVPX specification. In addition to the topology, the RDP provides the 3U VPX FPGA processor and other products compatible with the TIC-FEP-VPX3b FPGA board such as VPX SBCs, control and data plane switches as well as storage modules.

The TIC-FEP-VPX3b is compatible with Xilinx development tools including ISE Design Suite and Platform Cable. The new board supports VxWorks and Linux as standard, with the ability to implement the user's existing source code or third party IP cores.
The board comes in three environmental grades: standard, rugged and conduction-cooled.

Pricing for the TIC-FEP-VPX3b depends on the choice of Xilinx FPGAs and environmental grade. The board is currently shipping.