Friday, November 30, 2012

Data center infrastructure bright spot in slow H2

USA: The overall networking equipment market has slowed in the second half of 2012 with many customers decelerating and reducing spending on hardware. Most of the large equipment OEMs are predicting that fourth quarter revenues will remain flat sequentially from the third quarter, due to exposure to Europe where service providers have cut spending and increasing competition from lower cost domestic equipment makers in China.

The networking IC market is primarily driven by the data center market which, comparatively, has performed much better than others during this period of economic uncertainty.  In this space there are wholesale service providers as well as retail providers. Both are offering high speed connectivity, cooling and power management for infrastructure equipment to support the vast amount of digital media created daily.  Most providers are reporting that revenues were up around 10 percent from the second quarter, during the third quarter.

Capital expenditures for data centers are expected to be up double digits this year, so next year there could be a slowdown. However, this market continues to advance at a pace not seen in other traditional segments. Some OEM customers that serve this market include Cisco Systems, F5 Networks, Juniper Networks, Hewlett Packard, and Huawei.  Cisco has the lions share, but the other network equipment providers are steadily gaining momentum in the market.
Cisco enjoys little competition in the enterprise router and switch equipment markets, with 70 percent and 66 percent share respectively, in terms of revenue. However, the Chinese manufacturers, Huawei and ZTE, are gaining momentum domestically. Hewlett Packard has also reported increasing share thanks to increased sales to China.  Cisco maintains a 41 percent share of the overall Wired Networking market that includes data communications equipment and telecommunications equipment.

In the storage space, Brocade is the leading player, with a monopoly in the 16G Fiber Channel SAN equipment market but the company has lost share to Cisco in the overall SAN market. Brocade recently announced that it would acquire Vyatta one of the emerging technology companies developing Software Defined Networking (SDN) that moves control of traffic from firmware stored in the switch to a server. SDN could potentially be a disruptive technology in the networking industry.

Current architectures using expensive proprietary switches using expensive ASICs could be replaced with standard switches that only forward packets with all control of traffic handled by the SDN layer which would reside on the servers and not the network equipment.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Conexant partners with Beijing Hanbang on next gen 960H DVRs platforms

USA: Conexant Systems, Inc., a leading supplier of innovative semiconductor solutions for imaging, audio, embedded modem, and video applications, announced Beijing Hanbang Technology, the largest embedded surveillance DVR manufacturer in northern China, has decided to partner with Conexant on an entire line of new advanced 960H embedded DVRs.

Using Conexant’s CX26824 and CX26828, four and eight-channel 960H analog video/audio decoders, Hanbang Technology is now able to bring advanced picture resolution and quality to their new generation embedded DVRs. With traditional embedded DVRs capable of achieving only 500 lines of video definition, the new 960H technology implemented by Conexant allows Hanbang Technology to achieve an impressive 700 lines of video definition.

“We are very impressed with Conexant’s advanced video technology. They have by far exceeded the video performance of their peers in this industry,” said Liqun Wang, chairman of Beijing Hanbang Technology. “We are proud to bring to the market these new 960H DVR platforms to advance the technology and growth of the video surveillance market made only possible by Conexant’s technology,” he continued.

“For many years, Hanbang Technology has been one of the most advanced and professional DVR manufacturers in all of northern China. We are pleased to be able to partner with them on their entire line of new advanced 960H DVR platforms. Hanbang Technology now will have a significant advantage in terms of cost, features, and performance in their 960H DVRs,” said Sailesh Chittipeddi, PhD, president and CEO, Conexant Systems.

“With over 20 years of expertise in advanced video technology, Conexant is bringing the best 960H performance to the market quickly, effectively addressing today’s video surveillance needs at the most advanced process node. In addition to superior resolution for next-generation DVRs, we've also integrated new video processing features that produce optimal video quality to meet the growing demand for higher definition analog video surveillance.”

Conexant's new CX26828 and CX26824 chips are the latest in a line of advanced products designed for high-capacity surveillance DVRs. Conexant has embraced 960H video technology, which features superior video performance and video processing features valuable to customers seeking next-generation surveillance performance, such as motion detection, video equalization, and dynamic range expansion.

Currently sampling, pricing is $5.00 each in 500 to 1000 quantities for the four-channel CX26824, and $8.00 each in 500 to 1000 quantities for the eight-channel CX26828.

ST and PNI Sensors selected for Nintendo's Wii U

USA & SWITZERLAND: STMicroelectronics and PNI Sensor Corp. have announced that Nintendo Co., Ltd. has adopted an advanced sensor solution for Nintendo`s newly launched Wii UTM that includes sensors from ST and PNI.

PNI`s 3-axis geomagnetic sensor, based on proprietary magneto-inductive technology and driven by ST`s ASIC, together with an ST 3-axis accelerometer, enables intuitive motion sensing in gaming applications.

The Wii U supports the need of users to enjoy intuitive motion control that is stable under various environments. The geomagnetic sensor delivers new playability in combination with other sensors. Further, the accelerometer accommodates a wide variety of players` motions in gaming.

"The collaboration of advanced sensing technology and extensive know-how in gaming motion-control from ST, who is leading the MEMS market, and impressive geomagnetic-sensing technology from PNI, has strongly supported Nintendo`s challenge to deliver an entirely new kind of gaming and entertainment experience for consumers around the world," said Genyo Takeda, senior MD, Nintendo.

"Since its launch, the Wii has revolutionized the gaming world and ST has kept its close relationship with Nintendo by reliably delivering  advanced MEMS technology while expanding its expertise in sensors for gaming, its manufacturing capability and its advanced MEMS technologies," said Benedetto Vigna, executive VP and GM, Analog, MEMS & Sensors Group of STMicroelectronics.

"We`re pleased that PNI and ST can play an important role in the development of Nintendo`s latest game console, the Wii U, and will continue to explore avenues that allow ST to demonstrate the value of MEMS."

"We are pleased to have Nintendo, a true pioneer in interactive entertainment, select our geomagnetic sensor for use in the Wii U. And working closely with ST has made this possible," said Becky Oh, PNI Sensor president and CEO. "Our goals are to offer our sensors to customers who need to sense motion despite some magnetic interference, to complement their algorithms, and to react in real time."

Quad-core MPU notebook shipments set to nearly quadruple in 2016

USA: Notebook PCs during the next four years increasingly will adopt muscular quad-core microprocessors, with all types of models bulking up their computing power amid the rising competitive challenge posed by media tablets and smartphones.

Shipments of notebook PCs configured with quad-core microprocessors will nearly quadruple from 2012 to 2016, according to an IHS iSuppli Compute Platforms Topical Report.

Quad-core-equipped notebook shipments will reach 179 million units by 2016, making up 59 percent of all notebooks that year. That compares to 48 million units this year, representing 22 percent of all notebooks shipped in 2012.

“The increase in notebooks’ computational capabilities through the use of quad-core microprocessors will play a critical role in PC makers’ efforts to remain competitive amid the onslaught of media tablets and smartphones,” said Peter Lin, senior analyst for compute platforms, IHS.

“While notebooks have greater computing power than either tablets or smartphones, they have lost considerable clout as consumers flock to the flashier gadgets, especially products like the iPad from Apple. Notebook sales have suffered as a result, alarming companies throughout the PC supply chain.”

Quad cores for the masses
Much of the growth in notebook quad-core microprocessors will be driven by increasing penetration among value and mainstream notebooks—defined as those priced less than $700 and $1,200, respectively. These models are more underpenetrated in terms of quad-core adoption than the high-end notebooks, which are more powerful machines typically priced above $1,200.

Notebooks pump up their quads
Featuring increased multitasking capability due to the division of tasks among its processors, quad-core microprocessors are much faster than dual-core counterparts, which currently prevail on the market. An appetite for increasingly detailed and high-definition media, along with the need to process data quickly, will help the faster uptake of quad-core microprocessors starting in 2014, IHS believes.

And when a machine with quad-core microprocessors runs so-called multithreading software capable of utilizing all four cores at the same time, the results can be phenomenally faster speeds than in machines with dual-core equivalents. The effects are especially obvious in 3-D-intensive gaming.

Quad cores find value in value notebooks
Among value notebooks, quad-core processor penetration will grow from 13 percent in 2012 to 68 percent in 2016. By then, value notebooks with older dual-core processors will amount to just 8 percent.

The remaining 24 percent in 2016 will be split between models with either six-core or eight-core processors.

No value notebooks with six- or eight-core capability will be available before 2015, demonstrating how rare these are on the market. Even for the more powerful mainstream and performance models, six or eight-core processors will start appearing only in the next two years at very small percentages, before gaining greater traction in 2015 and 2016.

For mainstream notebooks, quad-core processor penetration will climb from 28 percent in 2012 to 49 percent in 2016. The penetration rate by 2016 for mainstream models is less than in the peak year of 2015—but only because six-core units move up in 2016. By then, there no longer will be any mainstream models with dual-core processors; all units will have processors that are quad-core or higher.

The same pattern applies for performance notebooks, with quad-core penetration already at a high 41 percent in 2012. Penetration peaks in 2014 at 71 percent, after which performance models with six-core and eight-core units also make their appearance on the market, driving down quad-core market share.

Other capabilities to show up in notebooks of the future
As more notebook PCs become empowered with quad-core processing ability, a small portion of them will also be featuring built-in Blu-ray optical drives. Shipments of notebook PCs with Blu-ray disks will amount to 49 million units by 2016, equivalent to 16 percent of all shipped notebooks by then. Those numbers compare to 14 million units by the end of this year, or 6 percent of the total notebook market.

The rise in Blu-ray-equipped notebooks will be due to two factors—the continued reduction in the costs of optical disk drives on the one hand; and the growing acceptance of high-definition movie formats on the other. The Blu-ray penetration rate among notebooks will climb even though consumers now favor video downloads to ever-bigger hard drives, as well as streaming direct from video sources. If not for those factors, Blu-ray adoption in notebooks would be even higher.

All notebooks of the future will also be running 64-bit operating systems. Fully 100 percent of PCs—notebooks and desktops alike—will have the capability by 2016, equivalent to some 434 million units. This compares to 68 percent by the end of 2012, or 233 million units.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Why Applied Materials is wrong about semiconductor equipment market for 2013

USA: Applied Materials took the wind out of most people’s sails before Thanksgiving when CFO George Davis said that Applied sees the market for wafer fab equipment ranging from $26 billion to $30 billion, down from a range of $30 billion to $32 billion in 2012. He notes that the expected 5 percent -15 percent drop is consistent with most other market forecasts.

Let’s look beyond the box and ignore “other market forecasts” that change every few months. For example, Gartner said last month it expects chip equipment sales to decline 0.8 percent in 2013.

The market research firm estimated that fab tool sales will be about $31.4 billion in 2012, down 13.3 percent from 2011. Earlier this summer, Gartner foresaw an 8.9 percent decline in 2012, followed by 7.4 percent growth in 2013. Isn’t it sickening when companies report forecast in 10th of percent to sound impressive only to change it, in this case an 820 percent change for 2013 -- +7.4 percent to -0.8 percent? Ya get what you pay for!

Anyway, part of Applied Material’s hypothesis is that 20nm will be 25,000 or 30,000 wafer starts in 2013 and they note they have no visibility for the second half of 2013.

Our contention is that 20nm will be 40,000 or 45,000 wafer starts in 2013. We are the first to admit that this is non-empirical, but is based on detailed analysis of the mobile gadget space.

But the empirical data comes from our Proprietary Leading Indicators (PLIs), which we have utilized and fine tuned since 1995.  Our PLIs, which correlate with semiconductor equipment billings supplied by SEMI, started diverging in June 2012.  In other words, our PLIs continued to show an increase since June while SEMI’s billings have shown a decrease, and a pretty significant decrease at that.

Calculating the difference in reported billings since June, we see that 13.4% more revenues should have been generated in 2012 than were recorded.  Again, these were calculated against our time-proven PLIs.  If all the parameters for our PLIs have been consistent since 1995, then equipment sales should have been consistently increasing since June 2012.

Clearly the rationalization by semiconductor manufacturers in pushouts of equipment are related to the dreaded FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) factor associated with problems in Europe, the election in the U.S., and now the Fiscal Cliff scenario.

But, none of these factors influenced our PLIs over the past six months (which have been increasing), and since he have historically seen a correlation between our PLIs and equipment billings for the past 17 years, then we should see pent-up demand for an additional 13.4 percent of fab equipment bought in 2013.  Combine that with our analysis of the mobile space and the NAND market, and we see positive equipment growth in 2013.

The global economy may be ready to turn the corner, according to recent economic reports coming out from China, Germany, and the US.  We just have to convince the semiconductor manufacturers.

- Dr. Robert Castellano, The Information Network, USA

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Semiconductor market to recover in 2013 after slight decline in 2012: WSTS

USA: The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) has released its updated semiconductor market forecast that the world semiconductor market in 2012 will be $290 billion, down 3.2 percent from 2011, followed by a recovery of positive 4.5 percent growth to $303 billion in 2013.

Forecasts for these two years are both revised downward from the previous 2012 spring forecasts of positive 0.4 percent and 7.2 percent growth respectively, due mainly to growing uncertainty of the world economy including China’s slow down.

The 2012 market weakness is broad, with negative growth in all geographical regions and all product categories except logic and optoelectronics. Among the regions, Europe is forecasted to be most hard hit, to decline 10.7 percent from 2011 to $33 billion.

For 2013, WSTS does not predict continued semiconductor market decline, with the anticipated emergence of new electronics products and applications, although uncertainty of world economy, such as European debt issues and US “Fiscal Cliff”, may remain as concerns.

WSTS anticipates the world market to grow 5.2 percent to $319 billion in 2014, with healthy mid single digit growth across most of geographical regions and semiconductor product categories, supported by the healthier economy of the world.

Fairchild intros high- and low-side SR controller

USA: As global energy regulations become more stringent, achieving higher efficiency in complex AC-DC designs – such as desktop PCs, servers and workstations – can be challenging. Typically, synchronous rectifier (SR) controllers are used to gain higher efficiency, but this method can result in high standby power consumption and design complexity.

To help designers meet strict energy regulations, Fairchild Semiconductor has developed the FAN6224 secondary-side synchronous rectifier (SR) controller to provide design flexibility and improve overall system efficiency.

The FAN6224 is the first SR high- and low-side controller device in Fairchild’s mWSaver technology series. Equipped with an internal, adjustable load-level Green Mode operation, the device stops all SR
switching operation and provides lower no-load power consumption.

Utilizing a linear-predict timing-control technique, the device employs a simple control method without current-sense circuitry for noise immunity, making it ideally suited for high- and low-side flyback converters in continuous or discontinuous conduction mode (CCM and DCM) and quasi-resonant (QR) systems.

For maximum design flexibility, the FAN6224 provides PWM frequency tracking and secondary-side winding voltage and is able to operate in both fixed- and variable-frequency systems up to 140kHz.

TI intros 3.5-A SWIFT buck regulators with tightest reference accuracy

USA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has introduced two 3.5-A step-down DC/DC converters with an integrated MOSFET and industry-leading reference accuracy of 1 percent.

The SWIFT 60-V TPS54360 and 42-V TPS54340 buck regulators operate over a wide input voltage range and the industry’s widest temperature range for high-performance industrial, consumer, computing, communication and automotive applications.

Using these new products together with TI's WEBENCH online design tool can simplify and speed the design process.

The TPS54360 and TPS54340 join TI’s family of Eco-Mode SWIFT DC/DC converters that operate over a wide input range with low operating and shutdown quiescent current. The family also includes the 0.5-A, 42-V TPS54040A and 1.5A, 60-V TPS54160A that feature precision enable threshold for adjustable under voltage lockout.

Fujitsu releases ultra low-power consumption 16kbit FRAM with new small package SON-8

SINGAPORE: Fujitsu Semiconductor Asia Pte Ltd (FSAL) announced the addition of a new small package to the MB85RC16, the 16kbit ultra low-power Ferroelectric Random Access Memory (FRAM) device with an I2C interface.

Fujitsu has been supplying MB85RC16 with standard package, SOP-8. The new SON-8 plastic LCC (Leadless Chip Carrier) package with a dimension of 3x2 mm reduces the mounting space by 80 per cent in comparison to the SOP-8 package.

The combination of small footprint and ultra low power consumption makes the MB85RC16 a perfect non-volatile memory solution for portable and sensing applications in medical and industrial segments. With this product, customers can significantly extend battery lifetime and minimise their PCB (Printed Circuit Board) space.

Fujitsu’s FRAM features fast write access, high endurance and low-power consumption in comparison to conventional non-volatile memories. It is widely used in various segments, such as metering, industrial measurement and factory automation.

Fujitsu’s MB85RC16 16kbit I2C FRAM device achieves an extremely low level of power consumption. With an active current of 70 µA (typical at 1 MHz) and standby current of 0.1 µA, it represents a maximum power saving of 98 per cent in comparison to standard EEPROM.

While the low power feature contributes a great deal to extend battery lifetime for portable applications, the product’s high endurance and fast access properties enable real time data logging, which is required by a number of portable medical measurement equipments.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Take motor control designs to the next level

USA: Taking the complexity out of motor control designs, Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) introduced its latest motor control solution – new highly integrated C2000 Piccolo F2805x microcontrollers, motor control software, application-specific development tools and extensive support.

These Piccolo microcontrollers are optimized for a variety of three-phase inverter motor control applications to enhance power efficiency and control performance of electric pumps, fans, traction drives, textile machines and more.

The new Piccolo F2805x microcontrollers pack a number of analog components on chip to increase system efficiency and decrease the number of discrete parts. Piccolo F2805x microcontrollers offer the intelligence and performance of the TMS320C28x digital signal processing (DSP) core with a C-programmable Control Law Accelerator (CLA) co-processor on-chip.

The CLA is a 32-bit floating-point math accelerator, designed to work independently of the CPU core to offload time-sensitive control algorithms or DSP processing, freeing the CPU to handle motion profiles, system management, communications and safety checking, resulting in up to a 5x increase in performance for closed loop applications.

ADI intros digital x-ray AFE

USA: Analog Devices Inc. has introduced a highly integrated digital X-ray analog front end (AFE) with the industry’s lowest noise performance in multiple power-mode options, and the highest image quality.

The 256-channel ADAS1256 digital X-ray AFE is the industry’s first single-chip solution to integrate the complete charge-to-digital conversion signal chain by incorporating low-noise programmable-charge amplifiers, correlated double-sampling circuitry, and 16-bit A/D converters. With a noise figure of an equivalent charge of 560 electrons at a 2-picocoulomb full-scale range, the ADAS1256 enables high resolution digital X-ray images while reducing patient exposure to X-ray dose.

The ADAS1256 has multiple functional power modes ranging from 1-mW/channel to 3-mW/channel, allowing manufacturers to address a wide range of digital X-ray modalities including portable radiology and mammography as well as high speed fluoroscopy and cardiac imaging.

Renesas Electronics intros low-power industrial Ethernet communication chips with integrated real-time OS offload engine

JAPAN: Renesas Electronics Corp. announced the R-IN32M3 series of industrial Ethernet communication chips with support for multiple communication protocols in response to the rapid adoption of industrial Ethernet communication technology.

One of the most distinctive features of the R-IN32M3 is the high-speed operation with the basic function of the real-time OS in hardware to implement high-speed real-time response and high-precision communication control for industrial Ethernet communication.

Because the hardware in the new R-IN32M3 series covers heavy load operations for the CPU, the combination of the CPU and integrated real-time OS off load engine (HW-RTOS) result in ultra-high-speed real-time responsiveness five to ten times that of a conventional software real-time OS.

In addition, the fluctuation caused by inconsistencies in the operation time with conventional CPU processing is reduced substantially from one-fifth to one-tenth of the previous level. The new R-IN32M3 series include an integrated ARM Cortex-M3 CPU (100 MHz). The new Ethernet controllers accept protocols for industrial Ethernet communication
such as CC-Link IE and EtherCAT and will accept the control area network (CAN), which is heavily used in industries and generic interface such as universal asynchronous receiver transmitter (UART).

There are also plans to provide support for the SSCNET III/H optical network standard, which uses fully synchronous communication to deliver improved performance

Xilinx accelerates productivity in industrial automation with Zynq-7000

USA: Xilinx Inc. has introduced new, All Programmable solutions for meeting the challenges of advanced motion control, real-time industrial networking, machine vision and a host of other next-generation industrial automation applications.

Xilinx’s hardware and software technologies for developing systems with Zynq™-7000 All Programmable SoCs at their heart, accelerates design productivity while increasing system performance and safety through single-chip system integration.

Xilinx is showcasing its latest solutions, all available today, for industrial automation at SPS/IPC/DRIVES 2012, Europe’s leading conference and exhibition on industrial automation, in Hall 6, Stand 200.

“The industrial automation market is driven by increasing of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) to achieve higher productivity, lower total cost of ownership, while increasing safety requirements and system features,” said Yousef Khalilollahi, senior director, business segments at Xilinx.

“Meeting this demand requires systems with faster compute performance, higher data bandwidth, real-time monitoring and system level integration. Xilinx’s Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoCs and FPGAs enable system developers to meet such stringent design goals not otherwise doable even with a traditional multi-chip approach.”

The Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoC architecture seamlessly integrates a feature-rich ARM dual-core Cortex-A9 MPCore processing system that supports for the ARM TrustZone safety technology within the Xilinx 28nm programmable logic in a single device.

The Zynq-7000 devices target numerous applications in various markets that have strict needs of safety and reliability requirements such as industrial, scientific and medical, as well as Aerospace & Defense and automotive applications. The Zynq-7000 All Programmable SoCs have already been adopted by industrial customers for system integration, increased performance and reduced BOM costs.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Analog Devices intros most efficient switching regulators

USA: Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) introduced the ADP2384 4-A and ADP2386 6-A, 20-V dc-to-dc regulators featuring ultra-high conversion efficiency of greater than 95 percent in a compact 168mm2 solution size.
The ADP2384/86 regulators offer a wide input-voltage range of 4.5 V to 20 V and an output range from as low as 0.6 V up to 18 V with 1 percent voltage accuracy. The accurate current limit protection allows the use of smaller inductors, which helps to minimize board space.

The ADP2384/86 regulators provide a precision-enable input and a power-good output to allow a simple and reliable start-up sequence.

The ADP2384/86 offer excellent stability and transient response to minimize the output voltage ripple. The switching frequency of the regulators can be synchronized to an external clock to eliminate beat frequencies between regulators. The ADP2384/86 operate over the −40°C to +125°C junction temperature range and are available in compact 4 mm × 4 mm 24-lead LFCSP packages.

CamSemi C5183 targets lower cost USB chargers for new generation smartphones

UK: CamSemi has announced the first of a new family of Primary Side Sensing (PSS) ‘fast start’ flyback controllers to offer the cost, performance and end-user benefits of integrated start-up.

The new C5183 PSS controller features an integrated active Ultra High Voltage (UHV) device that allows charging to start in under 0.1 seconds and delivers five star-rated no-load power performance (NLP) of less than 30 mW.

This latest controller will enable a new generation of lower cost, high performance USB chargers for rapid charging of smartphones with extended battery lives, as well as media tablets and other universal input applications rated above 8 W.

Integrated start-up also allows CamSemi’s latest PSS controller to offer faster, lower cost product testing and a better end-user experience, while eliminating several components compared with competitive approaches at this power level.

Most of today’s five-star designs were originally developed for low power, mobile phone charger applications but rely on extra components, external start-up switches and additional circuitry to deliver the required performance.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Renesas Electronics accepted as member of Meters and More Association

JAPAN: Renesas Electronics Corp. announced its acceptance as a member of the Meters and More Association.

The Association maintains and promotes the Meters and More powerline communications protocol, enabling bi-directional data transfer in Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) systems. Meters and More is a new generation protocol, leveraging the not-for-profit association founders Enel and Endesa’s experience in AMI, aiming to provide the energy industry with a proven open protocol for smart metering, in line with the European Commission’s Mandate 441 to achieve standardization across Europe.

Membership of the Association is another key milestone in both extending Renesas’ solution capability as a leading supplier to the energy industry, as well as providing a platform for the further proliferation of Meters and More based on Renesas’ experience in providing software-configurable powerline solutions featuring unparalleled low power consumption, robustness, low BOM cost and small PCB profile based on high levels of integration.

Masaomi Ichikawa, GM for General Purpose System Division, Renesas Electronics, said, “We are pleased to see that open standards such as Meters and More are increasingly getting traction in the European market place, enabling the realization of a smart society, and have the opportunity to help increase that traction with Renesas’ leading edge technologies and solutions.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fujitsu aims to start production of GaN power devices

SINGAPORE: Fujitsu Semiconductor Asia Pte Ltd (FSAL) announced that it successfully achieved high output power of 2.5kW in server power supply units equipped with gallium-nitride (GaN) power devices built on a silicon substrate.

Fujitsu Semiconductor aims to start volume production of the GaN power devices in the second half of 2013. These devices will enable Fujitsu Semiconductor to propose their use in a wide variety of value-enhancing power supply applications, significantly contributing to the realization of a low-carbon society. Fujitsu Semiconductor is aiming to achieve approximately 10 billion yen in sales of GaN power devices in fiscal 2015.

Compared to conventional silicon-based power devices, GaN-based power devices feature characteristics such as lower on-resistance and the ability to perform high-frequency operations. These characteristics are expected to contribute to improvements in the conversion efficiency of power supply units and make them more compact.

Fujitsu Semiconductor is aiming to commercialize GaN power devices on a silicon substrate, which, with increases in the diameters of silicon wafers, enables low-cost production. Towards that aim, Fujitsu Semiconductor has been developing technology for volume production since 2009. In addition, Fujitsu Semiconductor has provided specific power supply-related partners with sample GaN power devices since 2011 and has worked on optimizing them for use in power supply units.

Recently, in a collaborative effort together with Fujitsu Laboratories Limited, Fujitsu Semiconductor has been engaging in technical development initiatives, such as developing a process technology for growing high quality GaN crystals on a silicon substrate, developing device technologies, such as optimizing the design of electrodes to control the rise of on-resistance during switching, and devising a circuit layout for power supply units that can support the high-speed switching of GaN-based devices.

These results have enabled Fujitsu Semiconductor, in a test circuit using a GaN power device, to succeed in achieving conversion efficiency that exceeds the performance of conventional silicon devices. Fujitsu Semiconductor also prototyped a power supply unit for servers equipped with a GaN power device for the power factor correction circuit and successfully achieved output power of 2.5kW.

Fujitsu Semiconductor views its success in these results as opening a path to high-voltage, large-current applications for its GaN power devices.

Fujitsu Semiconductor has recently completed setting up a mass-production line for 6-inch wafers at its Aizu-Wakamatsu plant, and will begin full-scale production of GaN power devices in second half of 2013. Moving forward, by offering GaN power devices optimized for customer applications and technology support for circuit designs, Fujitsu Semiconductor will support the development of low-loss, highly-compact power supply units suited to a wide range of uses.

Fujitsu Semiconductor is aiming to achieve approximately 10 billion yen in sales of GaN power devices in fiscal 2015.

MIPS announces receipt of unsolicited proposal from CEVA

USA: MIPS Technologies Inc. has received an unsolicited proposal from CEVA Inc. to acquire all of the outstanding MIPS shares, following the consummation of the proposed patent sale transaction with Bridge Crossing, LLC and the proposed recapitalization, for $75 million in cash. CEVA's proposal is subject to the approval of its board of directors and a brief period of confirmatory due diligence.

MIPS previously announced (on November 5, 2012) that Imagination Technologies Group plc would acquire the outstanding MIPS shares following the consummation of the proposed patent sale transaction with Bridge Crossing and the proposed recapitalization, for $60 million in cash.

The MIPS Technologies Board of Directors is evaluating CEVA's proposal and has not made a determination as to whether the proposal is superior to MIPS Technologies' pending transaction with Imagination Technologies. However, the MIPS Technologies Board of Directors believes the CEVA proposal could reasonably be expected to lead to a superior transaction, so it has determined to engage in discussions with CEVA. There can be no assurances that any definitive agreement or transaction will result from the CEVA proposal or MIPS Technologies' discussions with CEVA.

The MIPS Board of Directors continues to recommend the merger agreement with Imagination Technologies to its stockholders. The MIPS Board of Directors is not withdrawing its recommendation with respect to the merger agreement and the merger, or proposing to do so, and is not making any recommendation with respect to the CEVA proposal.

J.P. Morgan is acting as exclusive financial advisor to MIPS Technologies and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal advisor.

MEMSIC announces receipt of unsolicited non-binding proposal

USA: MEMSIC Inc., a leading MEMS solution provider, announced that its Board of Directors has received an unsolicited, non-binding proposal from IDG-Accel China Growth Fund II L.P., for itself and on behalf of its affiliated funds and certain nominees (collectively, IDG), to acquire all outstanding shares of common stock of MEMSIC not currently owned by IDG or its affiliates for cash in the amount of $4 per share.

In response to the proposal, the company's Board of Directors has established a Special Committee of the Board comprised of its three independent directors. The Special Committee has engaged RBC Capital Markets, LLC as its financial advisor to assist it in evaluating this proposal and all other strategic alternatives, and will consider the IDG proposal and related matters carefully in due course, consistent
with the Board's fiduciary duties to act in the best interest of stockholders.

The Board of Directors cautions MEMSIC stockholders and others considering trading in its securities that neither the Board of Directors nor the Special Committee has made any decision with respect to the IDG proposal and that there can be no assurance that any definitive offer will be made or accepted, that any agreement will be executed or that any transaction will be consummated.

MEMSIC does not intend to comment further regarding this proposal or its evaluation of strategic alternatives, unless a specific transaction is recommended by the Board of Directors.

Sonics participates in TSMC's soft IP kit 2.0 beta program

USA: Sonics, Inc., the leading supplier of system IP for cloud-scale SoCs, announced participation in TSMC's Soft IP Kit 2.0 beta test, part of the TSMC Soft-IP9000 Quality Assessment program.

Sonics is working with TSMC to ensure that Sonics' advanced on-chip network and memory scheduling IP meet the rigorous quality requirements set by TSMC, enabling TSMC's customers the highest level of confidence when using soft IP from TSMC.

The Soft IP Kit 2.0 represents an enhanced set of checks that build upon TSMC's existing Soft IP Kit, improving kit setup and flow execution while implementing more rigorous checks to ensure the highest quality IP. These improvements include advance lint checks along with additional physical implementation aspects of the design, such as area, timing and congestion.

A key part of the design flow is the use of SpyGlass from Atrenta, providing all the critical RTL checks for a high level of code coverage along with improved report dashboards that show additional design parameters, and improved IP packaging.

"As a leader in system IP, Sonics IP is now essential to execute a successful SoC design strategy," said Jack Browne, VP of marketing at Sonics. "Our customers want the confidence to know that the IP they choose is of the highest quality and can be quickly integrated into their design flow and produce the SoC they set out to create at accelerated speeds. Early collaboration with TSMC and Atrenta is essential to achieving this goal and together taking soft IP quality, ease-of-use and time-to-market to the next level."

"The soft IP Kit 2.0 promotes continuous quality improvement, and we are pleased to have Sonics among TSMC's early contributors to the Soft IP ecosystem," said Suk Lee, TSMC senior director, Design Infrastructure Marketing. "Having system IP suppliers such as Sonics participating gives designers a comprehensive, high-performance portfolio of soft IP to optimize SoC integration, power and area."

"Sonics is a leading supplier of System IP and having the company validate its IP through our SpyGlass platform ensures designers the best possible portfolio of soft IP to work with," said Mike Gianfagna, VP of corporate marketing at Atrenta. "The most advanced and reliable IP possible is demanded for today's increasingly complex SoCs, and we are thrilled to continue our work with Sonics."

On October 16, Sonics announced that its licensee shipments surpassed 2 billion units worldwide, fueled by the growing demand for high-bandwidth content on cloud-connected devices. Following this achievement, the company also announced its next-generation SonicsGN on-chip network with performance improvements and advanced new features that will help designers build new SoCs that power a new generation of cloud-connected devices, accelerating Sonics' time to shipping another 2 billion units worldwide.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

SINANO/Chinese Academy of Sciences and Plasma-Therm host plasma processing technical workshop

USA: Plasma-Therm has provided an advanced plasma processing workshop at Suzhou Institute of Nano-tech and Nano-bionics Chinese Academy of Sciences (SINANO CAS). Both fundamental and advanced plasma etching and deposition technologies, used primarily in semiconductor device fabrication and materials science research, are presented.

The workshop was hosted by the Nanofabrication Facility (NFF) of SINANO, which offers processing capability for research projects of other departments within SINANO and provides services for local companies’ R&D, training technicians for state and local enterprises acting as an incubator for the micro/nano optoelectronic industrial base in Suzhou City.

The workshop attracted over 130 attendees that included graduate students, facility staff, post-doctoral researchers and engineers from many local universities, institutes as well as from local technology companies. Attendees are involved in projects requiring process capability spanning a broad range of cutting edge research topics as diverse as MEMS, biosensors, graphene research and optoelectronic devices.

Plasma-Therm, a leading semiconductor plasma processing equipment supplier, has held a dozen similar one and two day workshops at prominent institutions in Singapore, United States, Sweden, China, and Israel during the last year.

Prof. Jianjun Zhu, at the SINANO NFF, reported: “The Plasma-Therm Plasma Processing workshop was informative and substantial, which is very valuable for students and engineers in the academic and industrial technology communities. The course was well arranged, covering the basics of plasma knowledge, dry etch and deposition processes and principles, with intuitive and deep explanations.

"Although I have little experience on semiconductor processing line, the workshop showed me an impressive picture of how to utilize the magic power of plasma in device fabrication. The presentations gave me as well as many other attendees a clear view of the processing III-V and Si-based devices. I look forward to incorporating concepts and to future workshops.”

“The attendance for a weekend technology workshop event was very impressive and is indicative of the interest in plasma processing technology” explained Dr. David Lishan, Plasma-Therm's principal scientist and organizer of the workshop series.

“Participants come from a wide background. It is rewarding to present material to such an audience and challenging to make plasma processing concepts accessible. With these events, Plasma-Therm gains better insight into research directions and researchers are able to better utilize their plasma equipment and improve their process results.”

TI unveils industry's first 4-MB Flash memory device for harsh environments

USA: Texas Instruments Inc. introduced the industry's first high-temperature, nonvolatile Flash memory device for harsh environments.

The SM28VLT32-HT has an operational capacity of 4 MB and eliminates the need for costly up-screening and qualification testing of industrial-grade components for temperature ranges outside data sheet specifications. The device allows data logging at extreme temperatures and is guaranteed for at least 1,000 hours of operating life in harsh environment applications, including oil and gas exploration, heavy industrial, and avionics.

Key features and benefits of the SM28VLT32-HT
Widest temperature range: Only nonvolatile Flash memory device qualified to work in temperatures ranging from -55 C to +210 C.

High reliability: Tested across the entire temperature range to provide robust read/write operation over the device's operating life.

Reduced design time: Eliminates the need for external parts allowing manufacturers to develop applications for harsh environments quickly and safely, and cuts development, testing and qualification time by six months.

Small, ruggedized package:  Available in either a ceramic flat pack or in Known Good Die (KGD), the SM28VLT32-HT allows small package integration into multi-chip modules for systems with limited board space.

Serial interface: SPI interface simplifies design and packaging, and reduces pin count.

The SM28VLT32-HT is sampling now in an 8-mm x 25-mm ceramic flat pack, with KGD package options and volume quantities available in 1Q13.

Samsung drops Qualcomm for own chipset in Galaxy SIII E210s – Start of a platform war?

USA: The Galaxy SIII E210s was released in Korea recently and with its launch, Samsung sent a message to the chipset giant Qualcomm by dropping the Qualcomm modem in favor of its home grown solution.
Samsung has historically been known for its high-end application processors that appear in a number of its smartphones but the modem in its product has typically been supplied by companies such as Qualcomm, Intel, Broadcom, STE, or Via Telecom.

James Mielke, VP of Engineering, stated: “Mid last year, it introduced a CDMA/LTE phone that was produced with a Via Telecom CDMA modem, a Samsung LTE modem, and a Samsung application processor. This combination became popular for Samsung during the remainder of the year. What makes this variant of the Galaxy SIII so interesting is the modem is a single chip HSPA/LTE integrated circuit designed and manufactured by Samsung.”

Key Samsung Galaxy SIII LTE (SHV-E210s) components include:
* Samsung 2G/3G/4G 40nm modem- CMC221S (same main die as predecessor- CMC2200).
* Samsung Quad core Exynos 4412 application processor.
* Samsung high performance ISP.
* Triquint QuadBand EDGE PA, AVAGO and RFMD 3G PAs.
* Broadcom BCM4334 WiFi/BT/FM single chip.
* Wolfson high performance audio hub WM1811AE.
* Knowles Mem microphones.
* STM gyro and pressure sensor.
* FCI 2G/3G/4G transceiver FC7860.
* Maxim power management.

As Samsung continues to capture more share of the smartphone market, Samsung’s growing reliance upon captive market solutions could prove to be a major concern for suppliers such as Qualcomm and Via Telecom. This move to manufacturing its own solutions plus Samsung’s recent purchase of CSR’s handset business could prove a key turning point that signifies a shift in the handset component market towards a platform battle between two major powerhouses of the mobile industry.

ON Semiconductor launches high performance devices

GERMANY: ON Semiconductor debuted two new single-channel power MOSFETs for low voltage drive switching at this year’s Electronica tradeshow and conference.

The new MCH3383 P-channel MOSFET has a drain-to-source voltage (VDSS) of 12 volts (V) and a drain current (ID) of 3.5 amperes (A) with an on-state resistance (RDS(ON)) of 69 milliohms (mΩ), while the MCH3484 N-channel MOSFET has a VDSS of 20 V, an ID of 4.5 A and an RDS(ON) of 330 mΩ. These devices are highly suited to use in IC recorders and smartphones.

The NCP4545, NCP45520/21, and NCP45524/25, also being introduced at the event, are new members of ON Semiconductor’s ecoSWITCH family of highly compact, advanced load management solutions for efficient power domain switching.

Combining control and drive functionality, these devices each have soft-start via adjustable slew rate control and integrate a low RDS (ON) power MOSFET plus a charge pump. They are suitable for notebook/tablet computers, portable medical equipment, enterprise computing systems, hot swap devices, peripheral ports, telecom and industrial equipment and various portable devices.

Additionally, the NCP333, NCP334, NCP335, NCP336, and NCP337 are newly introduced cost-effective, ultra-compact, high performance load switches. Covering a 1.2 V to 5.5 V input voltage range, these MOSFET-based devices each have a built-in output discharge path to eliminate residual voltages on the output rail. They are optimized for use in cell phones, notebook/tablet computers and digital cameras.

Lastly, the NCP702, NCP703 and NCP729 are low drop-out (LDO) linear voltage regulators with a 2.0 V to 5.5 V input voltage range, ultra-low quiescent current and built-in thermal shutdown mechanism. These devices’ superior performance characteristics make them highly optimized for noise-sensitive applications, where signal integrity must be maintained, such as phase locked loops, oscillators, frequency synthesizers and low noise amplifiers.

Among the end products they will prove particularly suited to inclusion in are smartphones, digital cameras, tablet computers, portable DVD/media players, wireless headsets, wifi boards and portable GPS systems, as well as portable medical equipment.

GENIVI 3.0-compliant infotainment product from Mentor Embedded

USA: Mentor Graphics Corp. announced the availability of a GENIVI 3.0 specification-compliant Linux- based Infotainment (IVI) product.

As the provider of one of the first complete solutions to be registered as compliant with the new specification, Mentor Embedded software and services continue to be adopted by Tier 1 suppliers to build advanced in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems.

New features in the Mentor Embedded Infotainment solution that meet the GENIVI 3.0 specification include:

* An updated Linux kernel.
* Additional Bluetooth components, including hands-free and phone book.
* The Node Startup Controller which enables the Infotainment Systems function to return to a last known state on power-up.
* Updated versions of systemd, an emerging technology for improving startup efficiency and control.
* AF_BUS patches to the Linux Kernel and dbus for improved performance on D-Bus Inter-Process.
* Updated packages including Bluetooth, Internet Connection Management, and Sound Server.

The Mentor Embedded Linux-based Infotainment solution integrates graphics, communication and multimedia middleware with libraries, system infrastructure and management components on top of Linux, and optimized drivers and BSPs for specific hardware.

Mentor Embedded development tools and expert services provide a comprehensive solution for automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their suppliers, enabling them to build the next generation of IVI systems and include open source software components.

“To ensure our customers’ success, it’s important that Mentor Embedded continues to remain on top of industry specifications and provides products that comply with those specs and facilitate customization necessary to differentiate end products,” said Glenn Perry, GM of the Mentor Embedded Software Division. “Our active technical and business participatory roles in open source projects and industry programs, including our board membership in GENIVI, help us develop the products that are central to our customers’ success.”

NA semiconductor equipment industry posts October 2012 book-to-bill ratio of 0.75

USA: North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted $743.2 million in orders worldwide in October 2012 (three-month average basis) and a book-to-bill ratio of 0.75, according to the October Book-to-Bill Report published by SEMI.  A book-to-bill of 0.75 means that $75 worth of orders were received for every $100 of product billed for the month.

The three-month average of worldwide bookings in October 2012 was $743.2 million. The bookings figure is 18.6 percent lower than the revised September 2012 level of $912.8 million, and is 19.8 percent lower than the October 2011 order level of $926.8 million.

The three-month average of worldwide billings in October 2012 was $986.5 million. The billings figure is 15.3 percent lower than the revised September 2012 level of $1.16 billion, and is 21.6 percent less than the September 2011 billings level of $1.26 billion.

“Semiconductor industry investments remain muted as the industry enters the fourth quarter,” said Denny McGuirk, president and CEO of SEMI. ““Investments in leading-edge technologies will continue to drive spending in the near-term, while a clearer 2013 outlook will emerge over the next couple of months as capex plans are announced.”

Altera Quartus II software V 12.1 accelerates system development with enhanced high-level design flows

USA: Altera Corp. announced the release of its Quartus II software version 12.1, the industry's number one design suite in performance and productivity for CPLD, FPGA, SoC FPGA and HardCopy ASIC designs.

The latest version strengthens the Quartus II software's high-level design environment by continuing to ease traditional hardware development tasks so users can maximize productivity while benefiting from the broad range of leading-edge capabilities of Altera devices.

Quartus II software version 12.1 bolsters its support for high-level design flows with the inclusion of an SDK for OpenCL, and enhancements to both its Qsys system integration tool and DSP Builder model based design environment. Also included in the latest software release are several enhancements, such as a partial reconfiguration design flow, new intellectual property (IP) cores and expanded support for 28 nm FPGAs and SoC FPGAs. These enhancements further enable customers' to rapidly design, implement and get to market using Altera devices.

The high-level design tools Altera offers include system-level C-based, IP-based and model-based design entry systems. These tools support and simplify the development of today's advanced programmable systems, which include CPU cores, digital signal processing (DSP) blocks and multiple IP sub-systems.

The addition of an SDK for OpenCL allows system developers and programmers familiar with C to quickly and easily develop high-performance, power-efficient FPGA-based applications using an open high-level programming language. The SDK for OpenCL reduces hardware design complexities and allows software programmers familiar with C to target FPGAs.

Enhancements made to Altera's Qsys system integration tool and DSP Builder tool provide further design productivity and system performance benefits to users. Qsys features expanded support for industry-standard ARM® AXI3 and AXI4 protocols, and DSP Builder provides expanded support for seven different floating point precisions, including IEEE 754 half, single and double precision support.

Further simplifying system design, the latest Quartus II software release includes a 100G Interlaken IP core to enable high-speed chip-to-chip packet transfers and a new video trace monitor IP core for video processing applications.

"As FPGAs continue to integrate additional capabilities through silicon convergence, Altera's development tools can dramatically increase designer productivity by offering higher levels of design abstraction such as OpenCL," said Alex Grbic, director of software, DSP and IP marketing at Altera. "Altera continues to be at the forefront of delivering industry-leading development tools and IP, providing our customers with the fastest path from ideas to implemented systems."

Included in the Quartus II software version 12.1 is the first production release of Altera's new partial reconfiguration design flow for Stratix® V FPGAs. Partial reconfiguration provides the flexibility to change the device's core functionality on the fly while other portions of the FPGA design are still running. Designers store different functions in external memory and load them into the FPGA as needed, allowing customers to reduce the size of the FPGA used in their system, saving board space and cost and reducing power consumption.

The Quartus II software version 12.1 also includes a variety of additional enhancements, including support for new devices. Several new 28 nm Stratix V, Arria V and Cyclone V FPGAs and SoC FPGAs are supported in this release, including full support for Arria V GZ FPGAs.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Xtendwave selects TowerJazz for next gen WWVB atomic timekeeping signal receiver products

ISRAEL & USA: TowerJazz and Xtendwave, a fabless semiconductor company focused on the development of physical-layer communication technologies, announced the selection of TowerJazz to provide foundry support for Xtendwave's EverSet radio controlled clock receiver products.

EverSet products will be capable of receiving the new WWVB atomic-timekeeping broadcast developed by Xtendwave under a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract with the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a government organization responsible for the transmission of the WWVB time signal.

Xtendwave has designed radio receivers capable of receiving the WWVB signal with a signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) much lower than present designs. WWVB is the station that radio-controlled (atomic) clocks in the US use for synchronization.

The new standard is currently being tested for potential broadcast across North America by NIST from its facility in Fort Collins, Colorado. Xtendwave's EverSet® technology will provide orders-of-magnitude improvement in reception compared to existing products based on the current broadcast format. Xtendwave's design will be manufactured using TowerJazz's TS18SL process in its Fab 2.

EverSet ICs will be used in clocks, watches, small appliances, automobiles, utility meters, personal electronics and more, a market estimated at a total of about 200 million non-networked clock-enabled devices sold in the US each year.

Xtendwave's EverSet receiver technology provides manufacturers of clocks, watches, and other products with a cost-effective chip that can receive and decode the new WWVB broadcast and offers reliable timekeeping and ubiquitous reception across North America. The CMOS implementation of EverSet requires minimal external component count and also allows it to be integrated as an IP core into existing CMOS system-on-chip (SoC) solutions.

"By using TowerJazz's CMOS technology, Xtendwave can offer a high-performance, cost-effective receiver IC for the new WWVB broadcast standard," said Ilan Rabinovich, VP of Customer Support and GM of CMOS Business Unit.

"We are very pleased to work with TowerJazz on our next generation atomic timekeeping signal products, as we believe their process offers great flexibility along with cost effectiveness," said Dennis I. Robbins, president of Xtendwave. "We are thrilled to be at the forefront of technology for the next generation of WWVB atomic timekeeping as we continue to proactively address this growing market."

Intel CEO Paul Otellini to retire in May

USA: Intel Corp. announced that the company’s president and CEO, Paul Otellini, has decided to retire as an officer and director at the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting in May, starting an orderly leadership transition over the next six months.

Otellini’s decision to retire will bring to a close a remarkable career of nearly 40 years of continuous service to the company and its stockholders.

“Paul Otellini has been a very strong leader, only the fifth CEO in the company’s great 45-year history, and one who has managed the company through challenging times and market transitions,” said Andy Bryant, chairman of the board. “The board is grateful for his innumerable contributions to the company and his distinguished tenure as CEO over the last eight years.”

“I’ve been privileged to lead one of the world’s greatest companies,” Otellini said. “After almost four decades with the company and eight years as CEO, it’s time to move on and transfer Intel’s helm to a new generation of leadership. I look forward to working with Andy, the board and the management team during the six-month transition period, and to being available as an advisor to management after retiring as CEO.”

The board of directors will conduct the process to choose Otellini’s successor and will consider internal and external candidates for the job.

In addition, the company also announced that the board has approved the promotion of three senior leaders to the position of executive vice president: Renee James, head of Intel’s software business; Brian Krzanich, chief operating officer and head of worldwide manufacturing; and Stacy Smith, chief financial officer and director of corporate strategy.

During Otellini’s tenure as CEO -- from the second quarter of 2005 through the third quarter of 2012 -- Intel:

* Generated cash from operations of $107 billion.
* Made $23.5 billion in dividend payments.
* Increased the quarterly dividend 181 percent from $0.08 to $0.225.
* From the end of 2005 through the end of 2011, Intel achieved record revenue and net income. During this period, annual revenue grew from $38.8 billion to $54 billion, while annual earnings-per-share grew from $1.40 to $2.39.

In addition to financial performance, Intel, under Otellini’s leadership, achieved notable successes in areas of strategic importance. During this period, the company:

* Transformed operations and the cost structure for long-term growth.
* Achieved breakthrough innovations, including High-K/Metal gate and now 3-D Tri-gate transistors; and dramatic improvement in energy efficiency of Intel processors.
* Reinvented the PC with Ultrabook devices.
* Greatly expanded business partnerships and made strategic acquisitions that expanded Intel’s presence in security, software and mobile communications.
* Delivered the first smartphones and tablets for sale with Intel inside.
Grew the vast network of cloud-based computing built on Intel products.

GSA announces new regional leadership director to its board

USA: The Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) announced the appointment of Georges Penalver as the Regional Leadership Director for the EMEA.  GSA geographically represents every major region within the semiconductor industry. Penalver joins six other regional directors representing their respective regions: APAC, EMEA, Japan and North America.

“The GSA has been strategically building and expanding its international presence. As STMicro’s corporate strategy officer, Georges ability to provide a global vision will be a significant benefit to all GSA members,” said Jodi Shelton, co-founder and president of GSA.

“Georges brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and expertise to guide the GSA Board to further define our strategy and identify what support member companies need, including additional tools and resources. He will also recommend activities that expand awareness of GSA and generate networking opportunities for our members. I am very pleased to welcome Georges’ leadership counsel to our board.”

The EMEA Regional Leadership Director’s role is to further define GSA’s European strategy, identifying what support EMEA companies need, additional tools and resources, as well as activities in the region. The EMEA Council is comprised of C-Level executives from leading semiconductor companies throughout Europe that serve as advisors to the GSA Board of Directors on global and regional issues.

“I am honored to be extended an invitation to be the GSA’s Regional Leadership Director for EMEA,” said Penalver. “It is an important opportunity to help shape and drive the work of the GSA in the region, and I look forward to collaborating with other semiconductor business leaders to address the issues facing our industry.”

Penalver is the executive vice president, corporate strategy officer of STMicroelectronics. He is also a member of STMicroelectronics’ Corporate Strategy Committee, and has held this position since September 2012.

Penalver co-founded and serves as a managing partner of CathayaCapital Fund. His extensive experience includes France Telecom Orange Group where he served as the Deputy CEO for Strategy and Business Development. Penalver began his career with Sagem, ultimately becoming Deputy CEO, and responsible for the mass development of global sales networks.

Penalver earned his degree from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Arts et Métiers (Gold) and from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications in Paris. He is also a Knight of the French “Ordre National du Merite.”

EnSilica relocates to new, larger headquarters

UK: EnSilica, a leading independent provider of IC design services and system solutions, has relocated its global headquarters to larger premises in Wokingham to support the company’s continuing expansion and growth.

EnSilica’s new headquarters, located at West Forest Gate in Wokingham (UK), were officially opened by local Member of Parliament, John Redwood MP, on Friday, 16th November 2012.

At the opening of EnSilica’s new headquarters, John Redwood, MP said: “I welcome the growth of EnSilica here in Wokingham. Their new offices at West Forest Gate give them room to expand, as they build their business here, in Cambridge, Bangalore and California.  EnSilica employs talented people to design electronic products for the world market. I look forward to hearing how they flourish from their new Wokingham home.”

EnSilica’s new headquarters provide a spacious base which better suits the changing needs of the business. The headquarters houses a new, dedicated Design Centre with fully equipped laboratory, secure high performance compute servers and other associated IT infrastructure.

The new facilities, combined with EnSilica’s ongoing recruitment plan, will provide the scalable resource for projects requiring larger teams to accelerate timescales or deal with complex tasks as well as broaden EnSilica’s existing turnkey ASIC and FPGA design capabilities.

The new headquarters also features a centre of excellence for the advanced verification of complex semiconductor products and IP based on SystemVerilog and a range of methodologies including UVM (Unified Verification Methodology). An expansion of physical implementation and embedded software services is also in progress.

“This move to new headquarters is an important milestone for the company,” said Ian Lankshear, MD, EnSilica. “Firstly, it reflects both the continuing success we have had in growing our design services business and the design wins we achieved for our range of eSi-IP cores, particularly our eSi-RISC range of soft processor solutions. Secondly, with the new, dedicated Design Centre supporting our focus on expanding our advanced verification, physical implementation and embedded services, we have an ideal platform for growing the business still further.”

Recent design wins for EnSilica’s eSi-RISC family of soft processor cores have included Evatronix for USB connectivity and Xtendwave for the receiver IC implementing NIST’s next-generation WWVB atomic timekeeping signal. Additionally, both Dongbu-HiTek and Posedge have committed to using eSi-RISC on further silicon projects following the successful deployment of the soft processor cores in their initial projects. In January 2012 EnSilica also opened a complementary Design Centre in Bangalore, India focusing on verification.

1HNov. NAND flash MLC contract prices decline by 1-5 percent

TAIWAN: According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, although NAND Flash makers are continuing the strategy of tightening supply, with the passing of the peak replenishment demand period related to system products for Thanksgiving and Christmas, NAND Flash contract prices have dipped by approximately 1-5 percent for the first time in two months.

As the UFD and memory card markets remain sluggish, TLC contract prices also took a hit, declining by approximately 4-5 percent. As DRAMeXchange believes, the noticeably softening demand following November is a major reason for the NAND Flash’s apparent pricing downtrend. Analyzing from both the supply and demand perspectives, the state of the current NAND Flash market is likely to be influenced by the following factors:

Supply side: Given that the market will likely become sluggish from 4Q12 to the first half of 2013, and assuming decreased demand visibility for 2013, NAND Flash manufacturers are expected to temporarily put a halt to their capacity expansion plans. With Toshiba announcing to extend the 30 percent production cut initiatives to 2Q13, whether production capacities are able to return to full levels will depend on the demand status within the market.

Total production volumes for 2013, as such, will be mainly affected by the progress associated with the manufacturing process migrations. At present, many manufacturers have been actively switching from system products manufactured with the 25nm process to those produced using the 20nm process.
However, with production yield problems preventing the manufacturing procedures from being efficiently utilized, and with issues arising from the application of the 16nm process, system product releases have been subject to several delays.

With the abovementioned issues taken into account, DRAMeXchange has trimmed the total production growth for next year from the originally anticipated 45 percent to approximately 41 percent. Production growth for 1H13, similarly, is expected to be less than expected.

Demand side: Factors such as the momentum sparked by major branded system products during 4Q12, the ongoing replenishment trend from September to the end of October, and the market demand for various low priced smartphone and tablet PC products have all been helpful to NAND Flash contract price in terms of sustaining its uptrend.

However, following 1HNov, which marked the passing of the peak replenishment demand period within the European and US markets, overall market momentum has gradually begun to diminish. System product makers are showing reservations towards the prospects for the 1Q13 global market as well as the ability of the Chinese New Year holiday to stimulate demand, whereas the performance of notebooks, smartphones, and tablet PCs are all expected to show a sluggish performance in 1Q13 compared to 4Q12.
We believe these factors will lead to weakened NAND Flash demand from December to 1Q13, which may in turn restrict the upward NAND Flash price momentum and cause prices to plummet. With the supply and demand perspectives in mind, given how NAND Flash prices are expected to weaken following the peak replenishment period, even if manufacturers continue to stick to the supply control strategies, the conservative attitude within the NAND Flash market will be difficult to change.

As such, from the second half of November to December, TrendForce projects that mainstream NAND Flash contract prices will go on a gradual downtrend, and that the prospects for 1Q13 should be viewed with caution.

Contract price downtrend for 4Q mobile DRAM eases as smartphone shipments rise

TAIWAN: According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of TrendForce, 4Q12 mobile DRAM contract prices have been declining at a slower rate compared to the previous quarter, with LPDDR 2 prices dropping at somewhere within the 5~10 percent range.

Regarding MCP (Multi-Chip Package), as the 4+2 and 4+4 products shipments begin to tighten during the fourth quarter, the price drop levels have experienced a noticeable plunge, shrinking from 10 percent during 3Q12 to around 5 percent this quarter.

For eMCP (eMMC + Multi-Chip Package), with the exception of Samsung and SK Hynix, no other companies have been capable of providing steady supplies of eMCP in large quantities. Samsung's current strategy is to lower prices by an extent exceeding that for single chip DRAM products, thereby increasing the number of potential buyers for eMCP.

From the market perspective, given the arrival of the traditional peak season, shipment volumes for smartphone products such as Apple's iPhone 5, Samsung's Galaxy S3 and Note 2, and Google's Nexus 4 are all expected to surge. With the added benefit of rising demand momentum, 4Q12 global smartphone shipments are estimated to arrive at around 196 M, which is approximately 9.3 percent higher than the numbers in 3Q12.

The price downtrend experienced by mobile DRAM, in addition, is also expected to ease during the fourth quarter. Given the 3Q12 shortage experienced by core chip makers like MediaTek, along with the fact that the shortage issue wasn't resolved until October, smartphone makers have been rushing for the other components as soon as the core chips were received, which in turn caused mobile DRAM supply to tighten and limited the level of price drops for low density mobile DRAM.

For MCP, given that the gradually diminishing LPDDR1 production is leading to a shortage in supply, contract prices have remain largely unchanged from the amount during the previous year.  

With 1Q13 set to arrive, and with demand likely to soften during the peak-less season, first tiered DRAM makers are expected to actively hasten the transition from the production of PC DRAM to that of server and mobile DRAM. In terms of the technology involved, the 2xnm processes will be prioritized for mobile DRAM, due in large part to their relatively better time and power efficiency.

Other than the fact that the mobile DRAM used for smartphones and tablet PCs currently account for over 80 percent of the market, following the introduction of Intel's Haswell, which supports LPDDR3, mobile DRAM will be able to further establish its position within the PC territory.
According to TrendForce's research, mobile DRAM's global production proportion will climb from 22 percent in 2012 to around 30 percent in 2013. Even though a larger portion of the growth will likely take place during 1Q13, with the economic expansion and manufacturing process migrations continuing, DRAM makers with the necessary technological capabilities will still be able to enjoy profitable gains within the mobile DRAM industry.

IC content per TV increasing even as unit growth slows

USA: IC Insights will release its 2013 edition of IC Market Drivers—A Study of Emerging and Major End-Use Applications Fueling Demand for Integrated Circuits this November.  The study examines several key system applications including the market for digital televisions and its impact on the IC market.

Total worldwide shipments of digital and analog televisions are forecast to slow considerably in 2012, growing to 236 million units, which represents an increase of only 1.2 percent over 2011.  Digital televisions, which first surpassed CRT televisions in 2008, are forecast to represent 92 percent of new TV shipments this year.
The digital television upgrade cycle continues in full swing in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China, and that is helping offset slower growth in mature markets such as Japan, Western Europe, and North America where the upgrade to flat-panel digital televisions sets has largely taken place. Through 2016, TV shipments are forecast to grow to 269 million units, which represents a CAGR of 2.9 percent from 2011-2016.

Economic hardship is seen as one reason for the slow rate of growth for televisions in 2012, but perhaps more telling is that a younger, tech-savvy generation of consumers is choosing to watch TV when it wants via the Internet using the mobile device of their choice. It is worth noting that for the first time in more than 20 years, the number of homes in the U.S. with television sets declined in 2011, according to data collected by the Nielson Company, which calculates television ratings for networks and advertisers.

More programming is being downloaded from the Internet and is watched on computers or other devices, and is one reason why “cord cutting,” where consumers drop cable to watch videos or TV shows on Hulu, Roku, or through their Xbox 360s, is accelerating, and cutting into the growth rate of TV unit shipments.

TV manufacturers are looking ahead to find the next big technology driver for TVs. In the near-term, smart TVs represent a solid growth driver.  Just as smartphones brought the Internet and thousands of applications to cellphone users, smart TV is bringing Internet features to television by offering TV broadcasts, videos, movies, photos, and other content via the web and Cloud-based video on demand (VOD) services.

Smart TVs have evolved from simply having the ability to connect to the Internet and provide web browsing, to having the ability to download and run apps, to including sophisticated technologies and multiscreen interaction and using TVs in combination with handheld devices for a more interactive experience.

IC Insights estimates that smart TVs represented 28 percent of television shipments in 2012 and are forecast to account for 62 percent of TV shipments in 2016.

Adoption of technologies such as wireless video connections, networking interfaces, multi-format decoders and LED backlighting will help boost the average IC content in TV sets even as the growth rate for TV sets themselves slows through the forecast period.

The IC market for DTVs grew 12 percent to an estimated $13.4 billion in 2012, up from $12.0 billion in 2011. IC Insights projects that total global IC revenue for televisions will grow 9 percent to $14.6 billion in 2013.

Further out, ultra-premium organic LED (OLED) TV sets could be the next big growth driver for the television industry.  Most consumers agree that OLED sets produce the most dazzling picture of all HDTV technologies on screens that can be made bigger, thinner, that draw less power and contain no bad metals, and can potentially be made flexible and/or transparent.

A few select manufacturers have demonstrated 60-inch OLED models, but these are priced around $10,000—far beyond what most consumers are currently willing to pay.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Broadcom contributes Bluetooth software stack into Android open source project

USA: Broadcom Corp. announced the contribution of its Bluetooth software stack to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The software will also be included in Android 4.2.

Broadcom's offering consolidates features, Bluetooth specification support and APIs, providing developers a single, common platform for building new applications.

By incorporating Broadcom's contribution, Android provides OEMs, accessory makers and applications developers a robust Bluetooth solution that will help drive continued Bluetooth use in Android-powered devices and open the doors for the development of new Bluetooth applications – including heart rate monitors, 3D glasses, remote controls and sensors.

The interpretation of a standard like Bluetooth can be understood and implemented differently across different devices.  Over the past ten years, Broadcom has updated and refined its software to account for variations in device behavior.

By regularly participating in the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) UnPlugFests, Broadcom ensures interoperability between devices and across different product segments.  The contributed Broadcom stack is vendor agnostic and has been proven on multiple Bluetooth chips from different vendors.

Broadcom's leading Bluetooth software stack has shipped in more than one billion devices, enabling seamless communication between smartphones and tablets. As the largest Bluetooth solution supplier on Android, Broadcom will continue to optimize the stack and drive innovation for the Android ecosystem.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Growth outlook for industrial electronics semiconductors dims in 2012

USA: The growth of the industrial electronics semiconductor market is set to fall short of previous expectations in 2012, as the business is buffeted by weakening global economic conditions, according to an IHS iSuppli Industrial Electronics Market Tracker Report.

Revenue for industrial semiconductors—used in a wide array of application markets from home automation to aeronautics and military purposes—is projected to finish the year at $31.4 billion, up 3 percent from $30.5 billion in 2011. This year’s meager expansion contrasts with the solid 9 percent increase of last year and the exuberant surge of 35 percent in 2010 immediately after the recession. It also represents a significant downgrade from the previous forecast of 7.7 percent growth issued in July.

This year will bring the slowest growth for the next four years, with revenue set to rise in a range from 7 to 12 percent during each of the next four years. Revenue is forecast to reach $44.8 billion by 2016, as shown in the figure attached.

“The chip revenue forecast was dialed back after economic headwinds got stronger in the second quarter, affecting several top semiconductor suppliers and original equipment manufacturers of industrial electronics,” said Jacobo Carrasco-Heres, industrial electronics analyst at IHS. “And when hoped-for growth did not pan out as expected and sales eventually came out lower, the market was downgraded to reflect the changed circumstances.”

Industrial giants feel the impact
Among the companies affected by the downturn in industrial semiconductors are Texas Instruments, Analog Devices Inc., Infineon Technologies, Atmel, Fuji Electric and Linear Technology. Manufacturers that have lowered their 2012 outlook because of weaker orders include Danaher, Siemens, Bombardier, Agilent, Vestas and Johnson Controls.

Industrial semiconductors are used in many markets and applications. In energy generation and distribution, for instance, the chips are employed in wind turbines for renewable power, in inverters for photovoltaic solar energy, as well as in conventional oil and gas automation machinery. The semiconductors play an important role in military and civil aerospace, via applications in missiles and munitions, homeland security, satellites and avionics.

Other areas where industrial semiconductors are used include building and home control, covering security systems, lighting, smart meters and climate-control devices like air conditioners; medical electronics, including medical instruments, medical imaging and diagnostics; manufacturing and process automation, embracing motors and similar devices; and the test and measurement segment for a range of instruments, such as oscilloscopes and analog testers.

LEDs lead the way
“The one segment that seemed to have remained untouched this year was the robust light-emitting diode (LED) market, thanks to the LED lighting boom that has taken hold in many parts of the world,” said Robbie Galoso, principal analyst for electronics at IHS.

Second-quarter LED sales for Philips climbed 37 percent from year-ago levels, and other LED lamp suppliers like Cree, LG Innotek and Samsung LED also enjoyed solid second-quarter results.

There were other manufacturers that performed well during the period, scattered throughout various segments. Among them were Honeywell with 8 percent growth, driven by commercial avionics; General Electric with an industrial sales increase in the double digits, on the strength of a 27 percent rise in transportation; and Alstom, ABB, Delta and Mindray in other industrial sales segments.

Still, global economic concerns continue to trouble the industrial electronics industry as a whole. The financial worries of the euro zone, along with slower expansion in China and the ongoing high unemployment rate in the United States, threaten to derail any growth anticipated in the future, especially if markets take a turn for the worse.

As a result, manufacturers in the space have issued a cautionary warning for the short term amid the generally lowered outlook for the year, even though industry players remain hopeful that improved conditions could be on their way.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Semiconductors negative in 2012, may grow 9 percent in 2013

USA: September WSTS data shows the 3Q 2012 semiconductor market increased 1.8 percent from 2Q 2012. The year 2012 semiconductor market will certainly show a decline. 4Q 2012 would need to grow 11 percent to result in positive growth for 2012.

The outlook for key semiconductor companies points to a 4Q 2012 roughly flat with 3Q 2012. The table below shows the midpoint of revenue guidance for 4Q 2012 versus 3Q 2012.
Guidance for 4Q 2012 varies widely, from double digit declines for TI and Infineon to a 20 percent increase for Qualcomm. Most companies expect a flat to down 4Q 2012. The companies generally expect weak end market demand in 4Q, with the possible exception of mobile communications. We at Semiconductor Intelligence are forecasting the 4Q 2012 semiconductor market will be up 0.5 percent from 3Q 2012, driving a 2.5 percent decline for year 2012.

What is the outlook for 2013? The overall economic outlook is uncertain. The latest forecast from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calls for worldwide GDP growth of 3.6 percent in 2013, a slight improvement from 3.3 percent in 2012.

The advanced economies are expected to grow 1.5 percent in 2013, up from 1.3 percent in 2012. The IMF expects the Euro Zone to begin a slow recovery from the downturn caused by the debt crisis. Emerging and developing economies will be the major growth drivers with 5.6 percent growth in 2013. China GDP growth should increase slightly in 2013 after slowing in 2011 and 2012.
Semiconductor Intelligence has developed a forecast model based on GDP. Since semiconductors are at the low end of the electronics food chain, the market tends to follow the acceleration or deceleration of GDP growth rather than the rate of GDP growth. The 0.3 percentage point acceleration in GDP growth from 2012 to 2013 indicates 2013 semiconductor market growth of around 8 percent to 10 percent.

The electronics market outlook is mixed. Business and consumer spending on PCs is weak. However smartphones and media tablets are continuing to show healthy growth. Inventory adjustments are being made in the semiconductor supply chain.

Thus, the semiconductor market should turn up quickly when end demand picks up. Based on these factors, Semiconductor Intelligence is forecasting 9 percent growth in the semiconductor market in 2013. The chart below compares our forecast with other recent forecasts.

1HNov. DRAM contract price decline eases but price tug of war continues

TAIWAN: According to DRAMeXchange, a research division of global market research firm TrendForce, as PC OEMs’ inventory adjustments are finished for the time being, even with the lack of noticeable improvement for DRAM demand, buyers are still more open to slightly higher prices than they have been in the past, which is in turn contributing to stable DRAM prices.

According to TrendForce data, the contract price trend stayed flat in 1HNov., while lowest 4GB price was $15.5. Average 2GB price fell around the $9 mark, which equates to $0.83 for 2Gb, not much of a difference from spot price. In the past six months, oversupply on the DRAM market has resulted in a 25 percent price decline from this year’s high to the current price, a figure that has already fallen below cash cost for some manufacturers.

As some DRAM suppliers have cut capacity in the second half of the year, the downtrend has seen a little relief; prices are very likely to stay above $15 for the month of November, putting an end to the monthly $1 decrease for the time being.

The PC industry has entered the traditional peak season for shipments, but macroeconomic factors have resulted in weaker PC shipments than usual this year. However, despite the fact that the DRAM market remains in oversupply, previous capacity cuts are already taking effect and the DRAM price decline has eased.

The same goes for mobile DRAM price; with strong smartphone and tablet shipments in the fourth quarter, average price decline for mainstream density mobile DRAM is in the 5-10 percent range, down from over 10 percent in the past few quarters.

However, PC shipments have suffered the hardest blow from global economic sluggishness. As consumers are putting off upgrades, the release of Windows 8 did not provide any significant benefit to PC shipments. While buyers are willing to purchase inventory, their offers are far lower than DRAM suppliers’ desired prices, which has extended many negotiations into 2HNov.

Aside from waiting for the global economy to improve, DRAM suppliers can only reduce losses by improving prices, which requires continual capacity cuts to bring supply and demand levels back into balance.

Windows8 limited in terms of stimulating demand, 4Q12 NB shipments continue to dip
DRAM prices are easily affected by the economy and can be subject to major fluctuations. With the second half of the year generally serving as the peak PC shipment period, DRAM makers are hoping that the prices will either stabilize or climb, and that capacity utilization rates can be increased so as to bring about increased revenue growth.

While DRAM prices, for the most part, have been stable in 1H12 (increasing steadily from the beginning of the year to July), factors such as the weaker-than-expected peak season, delays to Micron’s merging process with Elpida, and the unpromising NB shipment numbers have all contributed to DRAM’s pricing downtrend during the third quarter.

The declining prices have begun to reach close to each manufacturer’s 30nm cash costs, in turn forcing them to lower production. For 4Q12, capacity utilization rates will be experiencing more noticeable downward adjustments.

While Windows 8 was initially anticipated to spark momentum for new NB models, the recent NB shipment numbers have indicated otherwise; For November, PC OEM shipment turned out to be 7 percent lower than the figures in the previous month, and is projected to dip even further during December.

Compared to the previous Windows system, TrendForce believes one of Windows 8’s most important changes to be the Metro UI touch interface, which further blurs the boundaries between a traditional NB and a tablet PC.

Among the reasons touch-NB shipments are unable to account for even 10 percent of the total production volumes is that the Windows 8 hardware ecosystem has yet to fully develop, and that consumers are still not completely used to the idea of a touch interface notebook.

At the moment, many businesses within the industry are keeping an eye on Intel’s next quad core chip set, known as Haswell. The hope is that among the major OS and central processing system updates, the chip will help to revitalize shipment demand within the NB market.

According to TrendForce, even if the focus on technological products shifts from hardware specs to software innovation, the type of upgrades that can be applied to DRAM densities remains limited. The fact that expectation towards DRAM’s ability to conserve power is increasing, though, gives manufacturers new opportunities to instill value within PC DRAM products.

Samsung intros advanced memory storage solution for slim smartphones and tablets

KOREA: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd announced a next-generation 64GB embedded multimedia card (eMMC) using 10 nanometer (nm)-class process technology. The new 64Gb NAND memory being used in the next-generation eMMC went into production late last month.

Myungho Kim, VP of Memory marketing, Device Solutions, Samsung Electronics, noted: “The new high-speed, small form factor eMMC reinforces Samsung’s technology leadership in storage memory solutions. We look forward to expanding our line-up of embedded memory solutions in conjunction with the new chip’s design, in pursuing a system-level adoption of application processors and other key components that form the foundation for the most advanced mobile platforms. This will allow us to better attend to time-to-market demands enabling the design of more convenient features for next-generation mobile applications.”

Embedded memory is the key memory component in popular mobile applications such as smartphones and tablets. Advanced high-performance, high-density eMMCs allow users to access high-density and high-resolution content such as full HD video on their latest mobile devices and provide a better user experience for web browsing, gaming and running rich applications.

Samsung is applying 64Gb high-performance NAND memory using its 10nm-class technology to the new 64GB eMMC Pro Class 2000 memory solution. The new embedded memory solution exceeds the performance levels of the conventional 64GB eMMC Pro Class 1500 based on an eMMC 4.5 interface.

The new high-speed eMMC will be submitted next year to the industry standards body JEDEC, (Joint Electron Device Engineering Council) for adoption as an industry standard.

Samsung’s next-generation 64GB eMMC Pro Class 2000 comes just five months after the company introduced its first embedded memory supporting the eMMC4.5 interface and delivers a 30 percent advantage in performance over that solution.

The 10nm-class technology based NAND also is process compatible to Samsung’s advanced 20nm-class 64Gb MLC NAND, which was first available last May, improving manufacturing productivity by 30 percent.

The new memory solution has a random write speed of 2,000 IOPS (input/output per second) and a random read speed of 5,000 IOPS. In addition, sequential read and write speeds are 260 megabytes per second (MB/s) and 50MB/s respectively, which is up to 10 times faster than a class 10 external memory card that reads at 24MB/s and writes at 12MB/s, greatly enhancing the smoothness of multitasking on mobile gadgets.

Current mobile applications show a distinctive trend to slimmer designs and larger display screens, while using advanced multi-core processors and high density (2 Gigabyte) LPDDR2 memory for higher performance, with larger batteries for longer usage on a single charge. This new chip accommodates the increasing size limitations of mobile form factors at the component level.

The 64GB eMMC Pro Class 2000 measures 11.5mm by 13mm, which represents a 20 percent reduction in size over the conventional embedded memory form factor (12mm by 16mm).

Skyworks intros innovative front-end solutions for smart energy apps

electronica 2012, GERMANY: Skyworks Solutions Inc., an innovator of high performance analog semiconductors enabling a broad range of end markets, introduced a family of highly efficient front-end solutions for smart water and gas metering applications.

Skyworks’ front-end solutions enable significant size and cost reduction. In addition, many of Skyworks’ front-end solutions allow for plug-and-play functionality, drastically reducing the design time for new products. To date, Skyworks’ solutions are being utilized by 40 tier-one utility and smart energy providers throughout Europe.

“Skyworks’ newest front-end solutions offer increased range, high power efficiency and robust design flexibility – three critical features in smart metering applications,” said Liam K. Griffin, executive VP and GM of high performance analog at Skyworks. “Skyworks is delighted to be delivering highly integrated modules that are enabling smart utility grids to improve their capacity and successfully manage customer demand, while allowing consumers to monitor and use energy and water more resourcefully.”

According to the GSMA, the utilities sector is set to invest U.S. $200 billion in smart grids worldwide through 2015 as the need to provide growing populations with enough water and energy – without causing potentially catastrophic damage to the environment – is one of the biggest challenges facing governments and societies worldwide.

Systematically using embedded mobile connectivity to create smart utility grids and smart energy environments can improve suppliers’ ability to effectively manage demand and enable consumers and businesses to use resources more efficiently.

Advantest intros wafer MVM-SEM tool E3310

JAPAN: Leading measurement instrument supplier Advantest Corp. has introduced its new Multi-Vision Metrology Scanning Electron Microscope, the Wafer MVM-SEM E3310, which measures fine-pitch patterns on a wide range of wafer types with unparalleled accuracy, utilizing Advantest’s proprietary electron beam scanning technology.

Built on advances in the technology used in Advantest’s E3630 MVM-SEM for photomasks, the E3310 achieves superior capabilities for scanning and measurement of wafers for next-generation devices.

It is a stable, high-accuracy measurement solution for process development at the 1Xnm node and mass production at the 22nm node and beyond, contributing to reduced process TAT (turn around time) and higher productivity.

The E3310 will be featured in Advantest’s exhibit (booth #3D-803 in Hall 3) at the SEMICON Japan trade show, December 5-7 in Makuhari Messe in the Chiba prefecture.

While advances in semiconductor technology have historically followed Moore’s Law, technical challenges have recently imperiled the transition to yet-smaller processes. The development of 3D transistor technologies such as FINFET (fin-based field effect transistors) is expected to bridge the gap to mass production at the 22nm node and subsequently the 1Xnm node.

Advantest’s new E3310 provides a stable, highly accurate 3D measurement solution suitable for these next-generation needs.