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ISA WINWire September 23 - 30 2011


Rough year for the chip industry

Posted: Rick Merritt, EE Times, September 22 2011

The uncertain future of the global economy, as well as mobile system transitions will affect the semiconductor market with sales growth of no more than 5 percent for this year, according to the fall forecast from IC Insights. The market analyst firm also sees that by next year, the market will slowly recover, nudging toward double-digit growth. "Our view is the [semiconductor] market this year is flat to up five percent," said Bill McClean, president of IC Insights. The company cut half of its 10 percent chip forecast earlier this year when the Japan earthquake hit and the U.S. economy turned soft. "If we get 3.8 percent global GDP growth this year, we'll get a little better than average system sales of seven percent growth," McClean said, upping the chip forecast slightly.

Centre reconstitutes NMCC

Source: The Hindu, September 26 20111

The Union Government on Monday announced the reconstitution of the National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council (NMCC) under the chairmanship of V. Krishnamurthy.The Council will now comprise the Planning Commission Member (Industry), Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary, Finance Secretary, Heavy Industry Secretary, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Secretary and the Director-General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research from the government side. The presidents of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) will represent the apex industry organisations in the 28-member body, it added. Chief Economic Advisor Kaushik Basu and Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations Isher Judge Ahluwalia are the two economists in the reconstituted body.

Leading semiconductor companies to invest $4.4 billion in nanotechnology R&D in New York

Source: Anton Shilov, X-bit Labs, September 27 2011

The New York state governor announced late on Tuesday that five of the world's leading semiconductor manufacturing companies have entered into agreements with the state to investments a total of $4.4 billion over the next five years to create the next generation of semiconductor manufacturing technologies and develop standards for semi fabs that process 450mm wafers.
Two Major Semiconductor Projects
The investment in the state is made up of two projects. The first project, which will be led by IBM and its partners (presumably by Globalfoundries and Samsung), will focus on development of two new generations of semiconductor process technologies. These new chips will power advanced systems of all sizes. This new commitment by IBM brings its total investment in chip technology in New York to more than $10 billion in the last decade. The second project, which is a joint effort by Intel, IBM, TSMC, GlobalFoundries and Samsung, will focus on transforming existing 300mm production standards into the new 450mm standards. The new technology will produce more than twice the number of chips processed on today's 300mm wafers thus lowering costs to deliver future generations of technology with greater value and lower environmental impact.

AMD, Nvidia gain in changing semiconductor industry

Source: Javed Anwar, The Times of India, September 27 2011

Just like other technology sectors, processor market too is undergoing some significant changes. The trend towards more accessible and mainstream computing devices, with greater reliance on audio and visual interface, is slowly impacting the way semiconductor companies do business. In the short run, the beneficiaries of these changes have been AMD and Nvidia, who have leveraged their expertise in graphics chips to grab opportunity with both hands. Despite its processors lacking in raw performance, AMD has managed to increase its share in the market with the help of Fusion processors that pack a powerful graphics processor on the same chip. Nvidia, on the other hand, has become a major player in mobile processor industry with its Tegra chips being the default processor for Android tablets. "The way we use a PC has changed dramatically over last few years. PC usage has moved away from 'type and read' to 'View and listen'. The web sites we visit every day rely on pictures, Flash, SilverLight or streaming video," explained Raghuraman Pattabiraman, director of transaction business at AMD India. "This is just the beginning. In future, the visual experience will be even more important."

Fabless wireless companies add momentum to semiconductor industry

Source: Electroiq, September 27 2011

Fabless wireless semiconductor companies are putting out new chips and breakthrough technologies, adding "growth momentum" to the semiconductor industry value chain as a whole, according to a CyberMedia Research study, "The Fabless Wireless Communications Industry 2011: Analysis of Key Players." The rise in fabless semiconductor companies coincides with so many wireless technologies emerging on the ground, noted Anirban Banerjee, associate vice president, Research and Advisory Services, CyberMedia Research, who asserts that semiconductor companies "need to be flexible" in technology platforms. Fabless companies rarely outsource R&D, spending over half of their OPEX on R&D. In 2010, average R&D spend was 50.95% of the OPEX of fabless companies globally. Fabless chip companies typically run a headquarters with R&D and administration. The sales, marketing, and customer support offices are set up as needed, explained Faisal Kawoosa, lead analyst, Semicon Practice, CyberMedia Research. For wireless fabless companies, 56% of offices are in China, India, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and other Asian regions. This keeps fabless companies in touch with original device manufacturer (ODM) and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers, as well as large populations of end users.

U.S.ranked No. 1 In tech competitiveness

Source: Rob Preston, InformationWeek, September 27 2011

Amid continued economic upheaval, is the U.S. losing its lead when it comes to IT innovation? Not according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, whose 2011 IT Industry Competitiveness Index shows the U.S. extending its lead over the 65 other countries in its biennial ranking. The EIU study explores the proficiency of countries in six categories: overall business environment, IT infrastructure, human capital, R&D environment, legal environment, and support for IT industry development. The U.S. is No. 1 in all but two of those categories: IT infrastructure, where Switzerland is ranked first and the U.S. ninth, and legal environment, where the U.S. is second to Australia. Among the other leaders in IT infrastructure are Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Australia; in human capital, China, Australia, South Korea, and the U.K.; in R&D environment, Israel, Taiwan, Finland, and Singapore; in legal environment, the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark; and in support for IT industry development, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, and Norway.

Indian IP firm scores win with ARM

Source: Kariyatil Krishnadas, EETimes, September 27 2011

In an unusual win for an Indian tech company, ARM Holdings is using phase-locked loop solutions from Indian IP vendor Cosmic Circuits. BANGALORE, India—In an unusual win for an Indian tech company, ARM Holdings plc is using phase-locked loop (PLL) solutions from Indian IP vendor Cosmic Circuits Ptd. Ltd., according to Cosmic Circuits. Cosmic Circuits, a provider of analog and mixed signal IP cores that was founded by a former Texas Instruments India engineer, is one of the few tech companies from India to find its solutions being used by major global firms. “We selected Cosmic Circuits' PLL for our test chip evaluation because of its wide selection of PLLs for a broad range of technology nodes," said Dipesh Patel, vice president of technology for ARM.. "Their extensive portfolio and investment in validation facilities ensures accurate silicon results. In addition, the flexibility, customer support and availability of IP across multiple foundries make Cosmic Circuits a valuable partner for ARM as we continue to develop leading intellectual property in multiple technology nodes."

Solar manufacturing dilemma: location, location, location

Source: Ucilia Wang,, September 29 2011

Must solar innovation and manufacturing take place in the same region? That was a question posed by a moderator at a clean power conference this week and one that is topical at a time when several manufacturers have shuttered or curtailed production in the United States. “When you look at deployment globally, is it bad to have an innovation and deployment decoupled?” asked Ira Ehrenpreis, general partner of Technology Partners, to his panel during the Renewable Energy Finance Forum in San Francisco this week. “The semiconductor industry does, and that doesn’t seem to bother anybody. The innovation is here and the manufacturing is elsewhere.” The bankruptcies of Solyndra, SpectraWatt and Evergreen Solar in the last two months were a chilling reminder of the difficulties of building a long-lasting manufacturing business. Their demise doesn’t denounce the idea of creating a booming manufacturing base in the United States (Evergreen had been moving its production to China). But it forces the industry to think hard about the risks involved, particularly when Asian manufactures have risen to prominence and have done so quickly.

Compiled by ISA Research

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