Archive for November, 2009

Nov 25 2009

ST & OMRON – MEMS Microphones for CE

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ST Microelectronics followed up discussions on the MEMS marketplace at the MEMS Executive Congress with their major technology partnering announcement with OMRON today.  ST has been a long time leader in MEMS technology and supplier to the CE space.  Their technology agreement with OMRON bring advanced sensor technology and audio/acoustic expertise to the ST Micro manufacturing program to produce high performance MEMS microphones.
Traditionally, cells phone, laptops and other voice capturing CE device use electret condenser microphones (ECM) based on performance and price point. New portable electronic devices and health care electronics are running into EMI, mechanical vibration and temperature sensitivity issues.  The new MEMS microphones will enable both the performance and price point (under $1USD in high volume including control electronics) for these applications.  According to iSupply, the market is growing at 18% per year and should be over 1 billion pieces by 2013.
The MEMS market is currently fed by both IDMs and a large fabless supply chain.  There are major growth areas in this market and the big players are leading the way.  Benedetto Vigna, Group Vice President and General Manager of MEMS and Healthcare Division, STMicroelectronics said “This market can explode only with big and long-term committed suppliers, operating their own leading-edge MEMS fabs. Working together with our Japanese friends, we’ll drive the microphone market growth as we have done in motion sensors.”
The technology partnership has been in progress and will product samples of a single package with the OMRON MEMS sensor with the ST electronics by the end of 2009.  “OMRON is ready to support ST in shortening product development cycles and time-to-volume for high-performance, cost-competitive silicon acoustic devices, accelerating the growth of the MEMS market and the development of new application areas such as voice-enabled gaming, automotive voice systems, acoustic sensors for industry and security applications, and medical telemetry,” said Yoshio Sekiguchi, General Manager of Micro Devices Division, Micro Devices Business Development H.Q., OMRON Corporation.
The MEMS and health care products markets are two of the high growth areas for the near future.  This announcement is indicative of the repositioning and partnering that will be taking place in the supply chain to best take advantage of the worldwide business climate.
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ST Microelectronics followed up discussions on the MEMS marketplace at the MEMS Executive Congress with their major technology partnering announcement with OMRON today.  ST has been a long time leader in MEMS technology and supplier to the CE space.  Their technology agreement with OMRON bring advanced sensor technology and audio/acoustic expertise to the ST Micro manufacturing program to produce high performance MEMS microphones.

Traditionally, cells phone, laptops and other voice capturing CE device use electret condenser microphones (ECM) based on performance and price point. New portable electronic devices and health care electronics are running into EMI, mechanical vibration and temperature sensitivity issues.  The new MEMS microphones will enable both the performance and price point (under $1USD in high volume including control electronics) for these applications.  According to iSupply, the market is growing at 18% per year and should be over 1 billion pieces by 2013.

The MEMS market is currently fed by both IDMs and a large fabless supply chain.  There are major growth areas in this market and the big players are leading the way.  Benedetto Vigna, Group Vice President and General Manager of MEMS and Healthcare Division, STMicroelectronics said “This market can explode only with big and long-term committed suppliers, operating their own leading-edge MEMS fabs. Working together with our Japanese friends, we’ll drive the microphone market growth as we have done in motion sensors.”

The technology partnership has been in progress and will product samples of a single package with the OMRON MEMS sensor with the ST electronics by the end of 2009.  “OMRON is ready to support ST in shortening product development cycles and time-to-volume for high-performance, cost-competitive silicon acoustic devices, accelerating the growth of the MEMS market and the development of new application areas such as voice-enabled gaming, automotive voice systems, acoustic sensors for industry and security applications, and medical telemetry,” said Yoshio Sekiguchi, General Manager of Micro Devices Division, Micro Devices Business Development H.Q., OMRON Corporation.

The MEMS and health care products markets are two of the high growth areas for the near future.  This announcement is indicative of the repositioning and partnering that will be taking place in the supply chain to best take advantage of the worldwide business climate.

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Nov 12 2009

Enterprise Memory for EnergyStar Systems

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With the release of the energy star rating for compute servers, there has been a number of approaches to meet the requirement and increase density & performance.  Standards communities such as JEDEC, the 40G/100G networking associations are currently finalizing adoption of the the iMB (Isolation Memory Buffer) technology for new high performance memories.  The use of this technology creates a new class of memory module called the LRDIMM (Load Reduced Dual Inline Memory Module).  This technology was developed by Inphi, a ten year old high speed  analog semiconductor company from Sunnyvale CA.
The key issue for modern data centers is how to address the growing performance needs of the users in an ever decreasing power budget.  The LRDIMM technology is supported by a custom logic controller chip that handles the buffering through a standard load interface.  The key is a high signal integrity based memory buffer that has a fixed load to the bus independent of the memory depth behind it.  This allows configurations that would be using one (1) bank of memory, can now support up to 8 banks of memory in the same speed and bus power.  For compatibility and optimization with multi-core CPUs , the iMB interface includes task based duty cycle reduction and deep memory idle states.  The iMB parts use dynamic termination of the memory banks to manage power for DDR3 operation at 800, 1066, 1333 bus speeds at both 1.35v and 1.5v operation.  These features are also supported through the new JEDEC 1600 spec and will be scalable to DDR4 3200 applications.
The LRDIMMs are being built by Hynix Samsung, Micron, Naya and others using the Inphi chips in Q1 ‘10.  The products are currently only for the Enterprise class EnergyStar applications as the Inphi chip that is being used costs about $25US in 100k qty.  The advantage of the technology is the power reduction and density/performance inprovement while still maintaining the 10-12 BER and supporting a single chip/ single cycle load for both command and address signals.
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With the release of the energy star rating for compute servers, there has been a number of approaches to meet the requirement and increase density & performance.  Standards communities such as JEDEC, the 40G/100G networking associations are currently finalizing adoption of the the iMB (Isolation Memory Buffer) technology for new high performance memories.  The use of this technology creates a new class of memory module called the LRDIMM (Load Reduced Dual Inline Memory Module).  This technology was developed by Inphi, a ten year old high speed  analog semiconductor company from Sunnyvale CA.

The key issue for modern data centers is how to address the growing performance needs of the users in an ever decreasing power budget.  The LRDIMM technology is supported by a custom logic controller chip that handles the buffering through a standard load interface.  The key is a high signal integrity based memory buffer that has a fixed load to the bus independent of the memory depth behind it.  This allows configurations that would be using one (1) bank of memory, can now support up to 8 banks of memory in the same speed and bus power.  For compatibility and optimization with multi-core CPUs , the iMB interface includes task based duty cycle reduction and deep memory idle states.  The iMB parts use dynamic termination of the memory banks to manage power for DDR3 operation at 800, 1066, 1333 bus speeds at both 1.35v and 1.5v operation.  These features are also supported through the new JEDEC 1600 spec and will be scalable to DDR4 3200 applications.

The LRDIMMs are being built by Hynix Samsung, Micron, Naya and others using the Inphi chips in Q1 ‘10.  The products are currently only for the Enterprise class EnergyStar applications as the Inphi chip that is being used costs about $25US in 100k qty.  The advantage of the technology is the power reduction and density/performance improvement while still maintaining the 10-12 BER and supporting a single chip/ single cycle load for both command and address signals.

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Nov 12 2009

SVEC Open House 2009

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On this past Tues Nov 10, the Silicon Valley Engineering Council (SVEC) held it annual open house and awards announcements.  The event was held at the headquarters for SEMI and was hosted by Stanley Meyers, CEO of Semi.  This years open house was well attended with a broad cross section of about 200 people, ranging from past Hall of Fame winners to new engineers.
The SVEC Hall of Fame winners for 2009 were announced – Mr. Richard Elkus for his pioneering work in semiconductor equipment & business competition in a global marketplace; and Dr Alan Title on his pioneering work on Solar exploration and space based telescopes.  They will receive their awards at the annual dinner held at the Doubletree hotel in San Jose in February 2010.
The keynote was by HP Scientist Dr. Stan Williams on the Memristor.  The evening was attended by Chancellor Steve Kang who’s Phd thesis from UC Berkeley in the 1970′s provided foundational theory on the Memristor and there was discussion with past Hall of Fame (HOF) winner Dr. Ed Lurus and the father of Neural Networks Prof Bernie Widrow of Stanford University. SVEC President Dhaval Brahmbhatt and Chancellor Kang’s wife Mia joined these illustrious members of the SVEC community for a photo shown in figure 1.
The SVEC ( www.svec.org ) is an organization that serves as a multi-disciplinary groups whose members are the various technical societies of the Silicon Valley area.  The purpose of the group is to promote cooperation between the various disciplines, help promote science and engineering education in the grades K-12, and help promote the unique technical excellence that is in the Silicon Valley.
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On this past Tues Nov 10, the Silicon Valley Engineering Council (SVEC) held it annual open house and awards announcements.  The event was held at the headquarters for SEMI and was hosted by Stanley Meyers, CEO of Semi.  This years open house was well attended with a broad cross section of about 200 people, ranging from past Hall of Fame winners to new engineers.

The SVEC Hall of Fame winners for 2009 were announced – Mr. Richard Elkus for his pioneering work in semiconductor equipment & business competition in a global marketplace; and Dr Alan Title on his pioneering work on Solar exploration and space based telescopes.  They will receive their awards at the annual dinner held at the Doubletree hotel in San Jose in February 2010.

The keynote was by HP Scientist Dr. Stan Williams on the Memristor.  The evening was attended by Chancellor Steve Kang who’s Phd thesis from UC Berkeley in the 1970′s provided foundational theory on the Memristor and there was discussion with past Hall of Fame (HOF) winner Dr. Ed Lurus and the father of Neural Networks Prof Bernie Widrow of Stanford University. SVEC President Dhaval Brahmbhatt and Chancellor Kang’s wife Mia joined these illustrious members of the SVEC community for a photo shown in figure 1.

svec111009names1

The SVEC ( www.svec.org ) is an organization that serves as a multi-disciplinary groups whose members are the various technical societies of the Silicon Valley area.  The purpose of the group is to promote cooperation between the various disciplines, help promote science and engineering education in the grades K-12, and help promote the unique technical excellence that is in the Silicon Valley.

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Nov 06 2009

MEMS Executive Congress 2009

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The MEMS Executive Congress 2009 was held in Sonoma this week.  It was the 5th annual event organized by the MEMS Industry Group ( www.memsindustrygroup.org ) and the largest attendance to date.  The event is organized not as a technical conference but as a C level executive event which reviews the trends issues and challenges of the now rapidly emerging MEMS business.  The conference was attended by multiple stages of the supply chain – equipment manufacturers, MEMS foundries, package and assembly facilities, as the standard design and application firms that the mainstay of the industry.  The event is presented as several keynote speakers and theyn industry panels on multiple topics of interest.

This years event had keynotes on RF MEMS for the 4G handset industry from NTT DOCOMO, and from Dr. Mauro Ferrari Chair of the Dept of NanoMedicine and Biomedical Engineering at the Univ of Texas Medical School at Houston.  His presentation was on some background on BioMEMS and current activities in NanoMEMS and NanoMedicine based on Silicon as a medical material.

The panels were on BioMEMS, Energy and Green MEMS, Automotive MEMS, MEMS for CE and market trends for the sector.  The overall numbers are that the sector is large and has a very open and available TAM.  Examples of the TAM are BioElectronics – home. clinic, hosptial that can utilize MEMS is about $200B for ‘09, and the Green products for the industrial sector is about $25B.

Interestingly enough, the sectors are not limited by the technical challenges of the MEMS supply chain or the current fabrication capabilities.  Rather the limiting factor on innovation in the are on the interpretation of data that is collected and manipulated by the sensors and by the  regulation and certification requirements of governmental agencies.  All of the panels showed strong innovation, manufacturing and partnering scenarios and financial commitment to the sector.  The issues being discussed were focused on what constitutes the marketable “low hanging fruit” based on the industrial, consumer and governmental buying trends.  On the Bio side, the keys are home based health tracking by the current clinic physicians and on the energy side it is the industrial energy harvesting for equipment monitoring based on eliminating a “servicing cost” as the ROI.

The automotive and CE trends basically confirmed the industry “assumed knowledge” for these areas and held a lively discussion on the positioning of the importance of the top two or three issues but did not identify and earth shaking revelations.

The short result on the conference is that the MEMS and sensor market is very healthy and growing.  It has a full supply chain from general purpose and specialty equipment suppliers. Foundries, test and packaging, design and finance groups.  The market segment is poised for immanent high growth based on the BioMEMS and industrial MEMS applications which are addressable in the 2010 generally soft world wide economies

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Nov 04 2009

ICCAD 2009- Jim Hogan and Paul McLellan on EDA

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On Monday Jim and Paul gave a quick PPT overview of some of the data they have dug up and their opinions on EDA.  As perennial believers in the market segments, they bascially were showing that the rest of the ecosystem has adapted to dynamic changes and that EDA has to shift also.  I think this is well known based on the attendance and participation at some of the recent tradeshows, and the technical events.

A large part of their discussions focused on the graph shown and how the areas of EDA business for tool is spread out. [Figure 1].

Figure 1 - EDA Meta Model

Figure 1 - EDA Meta Model

The graph showed 5 basic technical analysis models from measurement to optimization.  After several laborious points and examples of how the chart works and products are positioned they concluded that the margins and profits are at the higher end (right side) of the chart and that is the directions things need to progress.

The interesting part of the discussion actually came from the jovial discussion that the EDA market is filled with old guys, and that something needs to be done to bring new people.  I think the problem is not that there are only old guys in the business, but there are only old business models in the industry.  The university system has a lot of progressive work being undertaken both pushing into process and device physics details up through chip build and architecture all the way to multi-core system development with integrated software development.  This work is being performed by young engineers with early, mid and senior research and teaching staff.  On the technical innovation side, EDA is progressing at a high rate, despite the economic slowdown.

The issue is these ideas are coming to market, and they are not being applied to new and future target customers and areas because the licensing and business models are stuck in 1988-1991.  Although the margins are on the new markets of optimziation and the growth area is on integration and analysis, the current licensing models, known margins, and high commodity customer count is down towards measurement.  Because of this, the investment money is pushing people into this low margin business as a “risk aversion” play rather than allow the products to be properly placed.  These old ideas in business are being based on the following criteria -
(1) keep my job at all costs,
(2) when it fails, make sure it happens on someone else’s watch,
(3) investment in innovation should not be risky step – it should be paired back to show only minimal incremental improvement so it can address a replacement market – while having the vision be labeled as a disruptive technology
(4) make sure the marketing can reuse historical campaigns, that way it minimizes the cost of re-educating people on the branding and gives the feeling of continuity.

These ideas, being used by most of the marketing in EDA are stupid and are indicative of the “oldness” in the industry.  There are many examples of this from the countless acquisitions and internal developments at Cadence where the end products never saw the light of day or were buried never to be identfied in “old” products which had a “saleable” license history to Synopsys which did a multi-year industry leading. cutting re-architecture and new implementation of an entire product line, only to tag it with the reuse of a failed marketing program from Avanti, that the people did not even realize had negative customer impressions.

The innovation and market opportunities are there in EDA,  is actually thriving and being worked on.  The “oldness’ and “failing” portions of the industry are the marketing and fear of adoption of a changing business model.  The client base had a different design model, a different product mix and a different software use model than 20 years ago.  The only acknowledgment of change is that the technical manufacturing process has changed which changed the price point of the design.  New licensing models that address analytics in the cloud, distributed design groups, multi-levels of the design team needing access to common tools and data sets, and the ability for the tools to be accessible over the SOC supply chain have to be put in place rather than – left to other markets.

The FPGA folks as well as the IP/Systems tools suppliers have already made these shifts.  The majority of IT and compute technology vendors made this shift. The shrink wrap software business has made this shift, even the semiconductor manufacturing and services business have adjusted their models.  EDA is the last of the dinosaurs to hold on to the 80′s, and it appears the mass extinction is coming except for the few that couple of small firms that have managed to evolve.

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Nov 04 2009

SVEC Open House at Semi – Nov 11

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The Silicon Valley Engineering Council is having its annual free open house event on Tuesday Nov 11 at the Semi headquarters on Zanker Road in San Jose.   The open house is featuring a keynote speach by Dr. Stan Williams of HP discussing the mresitor and other topics.  The evening will be hosted by SEMI CEO Stan Meyers.  There will also be presentation of the “Keeper of the Flame” award and the Hall of Fame inductees.  The event is is from 6pm to 830pm.

Further information can be found at:  www.svec.org and you can register for the event at http://svec2009.eventbrite.com/

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