Monthly Archives: September 2018

press release

T2M announces its first Image Signal Processing (ISP) Technology for advanced mobile camera applications

T2M, the world’s largest independent global semiconductor IP provider, announced the launch of its first low-power digital image processor IP designed to perform advanced image correction and enhancement, resulting in superior image quality in today’s multi-megapixel cameras. Its’ built-in high-level features include face tracking, video stabilization and a smooth digital zoom, bringing an outstanding user experience to camera systems.

 

Key features of the ISP IP:

 

  • Face detection and tracking algorithm
  • Adaptive 4-channel lens shading and barrel distortion correction
  • Statistics processor for advanced automatic exposure and white balance
  • Nine-zone auto-focus with flexible actuator driver
  • Programmable gamma correction
  • Lighting frequency detection and automatic flicker reduction
  • Supports 2 MIPI compliant sensors of up to 8 Mpixel resolution (1 sensor streaming at a time)

 

 

Nigel Dixon, CEO of T2M, remarked “We are excited to be enabling mobile, automotive and surveillance companies to build leadership products with our clients’ state-of-the-art ISP technology. This cutting-edge IP from a tier-1 semiconductor supplier, addresses the emerging video-streaming over wireless networks market. Our extensive expertise in semiconductor technology, coupled with, our global relationships in the market, enable us to take this IP to various global markets.

 

 

 

About T2M

T2M is the world’s largest independent global semiconductor technology provider, supplying complex IP, software, KGD and disruptive technologies enabling accelerated production of IoT, wireless, consumer and automotive electronics devices. Located in all key tech clusters around the world, our senior management team provides local access to leadership companies and technology. For more information, please visit www.t-2-m.com

 

Kid with jet pack riding bike. Child playing at home. Success, leader and winner concept

When And Why Should You Choose An ASIC?

An ASIC stands for Application Specific Integrated Circuit and is often assumed to be exorbitantly expensive to design and manufacture one. The reasons behind such a conjecture is are not entirely unfounded, given the fact that mask-set for the state-of-art semiconductor technology like 5nm costs around $10-15 million! This puts off many design companies towards making a decision to switch to an ASIC. However, there’s a catch.

 

One reason why lower technology nodes are more expensive is the increasing mask count. 130nm technology had around 30 masks, while the latest state-of-art 7nm technology uses around 70 masks. Mask costs alone can drive the project costs to a few million dollars. Add to it the Research and Development costs, equipment cost and material cost etc.

tsmc mask count

 

Figure 1: Increasing mask counts for advanced semiconductor technology. Source: IC Knowledge LLC

 

Top semiconductor manufacturers like Samsung and Intel are always ahead of the game when it comes to their semiconductor technology. This is pretty much also true for other fabless companies like Apple and Google, who are among first to migrate to a new technology. That’s because these companies design high-end CPUs for smartphones, servers or GPUs for performing matrix multiplications which are the heart of many artificial intelligence, machine learning and scientific algorithms which demand the best Power, Performance and Area metrics.

 

Fig. 2 shows the rising wafer cost as the process node is shrinking. The cost has increased up to 6 times from 130nm process node to the 7nm process node. This, however, comes at higher integration density where designers are able to put more devices in a given area.

 

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Figure 2: Wafer Cost for a process technology node. Source: IC Knowledge LLP.

 

Finding your ASIC sweet spot

 

IoT (Internet of Things) semiconductor market has been growing steadily over the last decade with the estimated sales projected to reach $30 billion by the end of 2019. Very seldom does IoT applications entail employing the best available semiconductor technology. Since IoT applications rely strongly on their interface with the real world, the IoT ASICs have a lot of analog circuitry. Analog circuitry demands high reliability and therefore IoT applications usually need a more mature technology which would not only be more reliable but would also bring the tool cost down.

 

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Figure 3: Growing IoT semiconductor market worldwide. Source: Statista 2018

 

Fig. 4 shows the drop in the nominal supply voltages as process technology node has shrunk. For 250nm technology, which began its production in the last 90s, the nominal supply voltage was around 2.5 Volts. By the time industry moved to 14nm in 2014, the nominal supply voltage has decreased to around 0.7 Volts. Analog circuits is particularly susceptible to the signal integrity, which decreases as the supply voltage decreases. This means, in addition to being cheaper, mature process technology nodes are most suitable for IoT applications which tend to have a lot of analog circuitry. This is especially true for IoT applications in the space of Connected Health for implanted medical devices such as the pacemaker, where reliability and accuracy are of paramount significance.

 

 

nominal supply voltage trend

Figure 4: Nominal supply voltage drops rapidly as the process technology node shrinks

 

An IoT ASIC may comprise of many functional blocks. These blocks can be sub-divided into 4 major types:

 

  1. Digital Blocks like the state machine control logic, microprocessor cores, serial interface etc.
  2. Analog Blocks like the Sensors and Low Drop-out Regulators etc.
  3. Mixed Signal Blocks like the Analog to Digital Converters, Digital to Analog Converters etc.
  4. External Interface Blocks for wireless interface or other sensors like the MEMS, RFID sensors or optical sensors etc.

 

With a PCB based solution, you would typically have separate ICs for most of these components connected together by wires. The ASIC implementation is capable of incorporating the same functionality on the same die, hence offering an elegant solution with smaller area and higher performance.

 

Advantages offered by ASIC Design

 

  1. Smaller area: Choosing an ASIC would certainly result in a smaller area as compared to:
    1. Microcontroller based designs assembling multiple ASICs on a Printed Circuit Board connected by interconnects.
    2. Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs).

 

This is primarily because an ASIC can achieve higher packing density, with more transistors per unit area, and shorter interconnect lengths. An FPGA design can be up to 30 times bigger as compared to an ASIC design.

 

  1. Lower Power: Assortment of multiple electronic ICs on a PCB comprise of a lot of redundant circuitry, while an ASIC only contains the bare essential components required to perform a specific task. This directly translates to lower power dissipation for an ASIC.

 

In addition to discarding the redundant circuitry, ASIC design also opens up new avenues for power management strategies like Power Domain separation, Dynamic Voltage Scaling (DVS), Dynamic Frequency Scaling (DFS) etc. On the other hand, one can only attempt the good old Clock Gating or perhaps Clock Domain separation on an FPGA.
For IoT applications like the Smart Home, Wearable Electronics and Connected Health, low power devices would be particularly appealing. Some estimates show that an FPGA may consume 9-12 times the amount of power as an ASIC

 

  1. Higher Performance: Smaller device sizes, smaller interconnects results in higher performance for an ASIC given the fact that clock frequencies can be significantly higher as compared to the state-of-art FPGAs or microcontroller based designs. ASIC can be 3 to 4 times faster!

 

  1. Better protection of the Intellectual Property: ASIC design is extremely difficult to reverse-engineer and therefore more protected from intellectual property thefts. On the other hand, microcontroller based designs or FPGAs are relatively easy to reverse-engineer because the intellectual property is usually stored in a memory.

 

  1. Cost per unit: There are usually two types of costs associated with any engineering design: Recurring Engineering cost and Non-Recurring Engineering (NRE) cost.

 

Product Cost = NRE + (P * RE)
NRE    = Non Recurring Engineering Cost

RE = Recurring Engineering Cost per part

P    = Total number of parts

 

While NRE cost (function of EDA Tools, Design for Test, Simulation, Masks etc.) is pretty much non-existent for an FPGA design, the RE cost (Function of wafer cost, production yield, packaging etc.) per part is higher. For higher volume of units manufactured, an ASIC would be far more economical than the FPGAs. It might be necessary to perform an analysis to find the break-even point to come up with the minimum number of parts needed that would make ASIC design cost at par with the FPGA design.

 

Don’t Rule FPGA Out Yet

 

While we talked about all the advantages that ASIC can offer, let’s be realistic here. Our goal is not to entice anyone into making a decision in favor of an ASIC, rather to help choose an ASIC if it meets all the design and financial constraints while achieving smaller area, lower power, higher performance and lower cost. Before we conclude, it would be prudent to highlight the areas where an FPGA scores over an ASIC.

 

Perhaps the biggest advantage of choosing an FPGA lies with shorter time to market. An FPGA would be the answer to your needs to enter the market quickly with a working prototype. Getting a prototype working on FPGA might take a few months, however, an ASIC design might take up to 2 years, especially if you don’t really have a stable design methodology. Another advantage of FPGA is that it is configurable. It’s extremely easy and inexpensive to reprogram an FPGA with a new bit-stream, while it might take a few months to do the same on an ASIC, in addition to the high costs involved.

 

Summary

 

It would make complete sense to start off with an FPGA prototype and once proven, you can switch over to an ASIC for mass production to reap all the benefits mentioned above.

 

ASIC FPGA PCB comparison

Figure 5: Comparing ASIC vs. FPGA vs. PCB Solution

 

To conclude, ASIC is the natural choice if you are looking for mass production of your design and interested in squeezing out every bit of performance, meeting an aggressive power budget while keeping the cost and size of your part relatively low. However, FPGA would be your best option if you are looking to hit the market early or you wish to showcase your prototype before entering mass production. We encourage you to contact ASIC design companies to do a feasibility analysis to determine the best solution for your design needs.

market-forecast

Pure-Play Semiconductor Foundry Market Growth By Region 2017-2018

IC Insights’ September Update to The McClean Report shows that as a result of a 51% forecasted increase in the China pure-play foundry market this year (Figure 1), China’s total share of the 2018 pure-play foundry market is expected to jump by five percentage points to 19%, exceeding the share held by the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. Overall, China is forecast to be responsible for 90% of the $4.2 billion increase in the total pure-play foundry market in 2018.

 

Figure 1

 

With the recent rise of the fabless IC companies in China, the demand for foundry services has also risen in that country.  In total, pure-play foundry sales in China jumped by 26% last year to $7.5 billion, almost triple the 9% increase for the total pure-play foundry market.  Moreover, in 2018, pure-play foundry sales to China are forecast to surge by an amazing 51%, more than 6x the 8% increase expected for the total pure-play foundry market this year.

 

Although all of the major pure-play foundries are expected to register double-digit sales increases to China this year, the biggest increase by far is forecast to come from pure-play foundry giant TSMC.  Following a 44% jump in 2017, TSMC’s sales into China are forecast to surge by another 79% in 2018 to $6.7 billion. As a result, China is expected to be responsible for essentially all of TSMC’s sales increase this year with China’s share of the company’s sales more than doubling from 9% in 2016 to 19% in 2018.

 

As shown in Figure 2, much of TSMC’s sales surge into China has come over the past year, with 2Q18 sales into the country being almost double what they were in 3Q17.  A great deal of the company’s recent sales surge into China has been driven by increased demand for custom devices going into the cryptocurrency market.  It turns out that many of the large cryptocurrency fabless design firms are based in China and most of them have been turning to TSMC to produce their advanced chips for these applications.  It should be noted that TSMC includes its cryptocurrency business as part of its High-Performance Computing segment.

Figure 2

 

While TSMC has enjoyed a great ramp up in sales for its cryptocurrency business over the past year, the company has indicated that a slowdown is expected for this business in the second half of this year.  It appears that the demand for cryptocurrency devices is highly dependent upon the price for the various cryptocurrencies (the most popular of which is Bitcoin).  As a result, the recent plunge in the price for Bitcoins (going from over $15K per Bitcoin in January of this year to less than $7K in September), and other cryptocurrencies as well, is lowering the demand for these ICs.  Moreover, since TSMC realized from the beginning that the cryptocurrency market was going to be volatile, the company did not adjust its capacity plans based on the recent strong cryptocurrency demand and does not incorporate cryptocurrency business assumptions into its forecasts for future long-term growth.

 

 
Report Details:  The 2018 McClean Report
Additional details and trends within the IC industry are provided in The McClean Report—A Complete Analysis and Forecast of the Integrated Circuit Industry (released in January 2018).  A subscription to The McClean Report includes free monthly updates from March through November (including a 200+ page Mid-Year Update), and free access to subscriber-only webinars throughout the year.  An individual-user license to the 2018 edition of The McClean Report is priced at $4,290 and includes an Internet access password.  A multi-user worldwide corporate license is available for $7,290.

 

 

To review additional information about IC Insights’ new and existing market research reports and services please visit our website: www.icinsights.com.

 

More Information Contact

For more information regarding this Research Bulletin, please contact Bill McClean, President at IC Insights. Phone: +1-480-348-1133, email: bill@icinsights.com
PDF Version of This Bulletin

A PDF version of this Research Bulletin can be downloaded from our website at http://www.icinsights.com/news/bulletins/

 

news

Sankalp Semiconductor to Exhibit at Taiwan Innotech Expo 2018

Bangalore, India –26th September, 2018 – Sankalp Semiconductor, a design service company offering comprehensive digital & mixed signal SoC services and solutions, will be exhibiting at Taiwan Innotech Expo from 27-29th September in Taipei, Taiwan. Sankalp Semiconductor offers services and solutions to its customers in key semiconductor domains including digital, analog, mixed signal, custom layout, standard cell development, IO, memory, IP migration services and PDK development. Sankalp Semiconductor provides end-to-end Semiconductor services and solutions for various customer requirements.

 
When: September 27-29th, 2018
Where: Booth #20, Future Technology at Taipei World Trade Centre Exhibition Hall, Taipei, Taiwan

 
To set-up a meeting at the event, please send us an email at marcom@sankalpsemi.com
For more information on Taiwan Innotech Expo, please visit: https://www.inventaipei.com.tw/en_US/index.html

 

About Sankalp Semiconductor
Sankalp Semiconductor offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions to its customers in key semiconductor domains including digital, analog, high-speed physical interface IP, Embedded Memory Compiler and EDA modelling. Sankalp Semiconductor is a preferred semiconductor design service partners to multiple Fortune 500 companies in the Automotive, Consumer Electronics, Industrial IoT and Medical electronics space. The company enables its customers achieve their time-to-market window by delivering first pass silicon designs and engage with product engineering teams across the globe to design System-on-Chip. Sankalp Semiconductor is based in Sunnyvale, California, with offices in USA, India, Canada, Germany and Malaysia. www.sankalpsemi.com

 

Contact Information:
Sowmya Maskay

Sankalp Semiconductor
marcom@sankalpsemi.com +91 9611024330 (Cell)

hdl-screen-Copy-2

HDL Design House Appoints New Sales Representative for US and Canada

Belgrade, Serbia – September 19th, 2018 – HDL Design House, provider of digital, analog, and back-end design and verification services and products in various architectures and numerous areas of SoC and complex FPGA designs, today announced that it has signed a representative agreement with Camille Kokozaki , President of Design Rivers, for the territory of the USA and Canada.

 

“We are very excited and pleased that Camille will join us as sales representative. With over thirty-five years of technology experience covering design, IP development, SoC implementation, design automation, sales, and technology marketing, Camille will greatly strengthen HDL Design House products and services exposure and also help potential customers in answering the increasing demands for SoC implementation expertise on these markets,” said Mr Predrag Markovic, HDL Design House President and CEO.

 

“We are delighted to contribute our sales and marketing resources complementing the extensive domain knowledge and proven track record of HDL Design House, with the goal of accelerating time to results with competitive resources augmenting our clients’ engineering teams and tackling advanced technology implementations,” said Camille Kokozaki. He added that the opportunities in networking, AI, 5G, automotive, data centers require the kind of mixed-signal know-how and disciplined and comprehensive verification savvy that HDL Design House is known for.

 

About HDL Design House:

 

HDL Design House delivers leading-edge digital, analog, and back-end design and verification services and products in various architectures and numerous areas of SoC and complex FPGA designs. The company also develops IP cores, and component (VITAL) models for major SoC product developers. Founded in 2001 and currently employing 170 engineers working in three design centers in Serbia and Greece, HDL Design House’s mission is to deliver high quality products and services, with flexible licensing models, competitive pricing and responsible technical support. The company was awarded ISO 9001:2015 and ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certifications in December 2006 and has achieved certifications from Direct Assessment Services (DAS). HDL DH joined the ARM® Approved Design Partner program, through which leading SoC design houses are recognized by ARM as accredited partners in specific technologies and activities. For more information, please visit www.hdl-dh.com.

 

 

About Design Rivers:

 

Design Rivers is a design services and solutions company focused on high technology business development and services in software and semiconductor design. Services include sales representation, IP enablement and integration, EDA flows, methodology, infrastructure automation, program management, design verification, and implementation.

growth market

MCUs (Microcontrollers) Sales History and Forecast 2016-2022

MCU sales and units shipments driven by the spread of embedded control in systems, more sensors, and the rush to connect end-use applications to the Internet of Things (IoT).

The market for microcontrollers—the IC industry’s original system-on-chip (SoC) product category—is expected to continue hitting record-high annual revenues through 2022 after worldwide sales dropped 6% in 2016 because of a slowdown in MCU unit shipments. After drawing down MCU inventories in 2016, systems manufacturers stepped up purchases of microcontrollers in 2017 with unit shipments surging 22% and strong growth continuing in 2018.  In its Mid-Year Update to The 2018 McClean Report, IC insights raised its projection for MCU shipments to 18% in 2018 with the unit volume reaching nearly 30.6 billion. MCU revenues are now forecast to rise 11% in 2018 to an all-time high of $18.6 billion, followed by 9% growth in 2019 to about $20.4 billion (Figure 1).


Figure 1

 

The Mid-Year Update also raised the five-year growth projection of MCU sales to a CAGR of 7.2%, reaching nearly $23.9 billion in 2022, with unit shipments increasing by a compound annual growth rate of 11.1% to about 43.8 billion in the final forecast year.

The ASP for microcontrollers fell to the lowest point ever in 2017 and prices are continuing to drop at about the same rate in 2018. However, the annual rate of decline has eased in the last five years compared to earlier this decade.  IC Insights’ new forecast for MCU ASP shows the average selling price falling by a CAGR of -3.5% in the 2017-2022 period, much slower than the -5.8% decline seen during the 2012-2017 period and the 20-year CAGR of -6.3% between 1997 and 2017.

A key factor in the 2017 recovery of MCU sales from the decline in 2016 was a turnaround in the smartcard microcontroller segment. About 40% of total MCU shipments are currently for smartcard applications, but that is down from about half early in this decade. Excluding smartcard MCUs, sales of “general” microcontrollers for embedded systems, automated control, sensing applications, and IoT-connected things are forecast to grow 11% in 2018 to $16.4 billion after rising 14% in 2017.  Shipments of general MCUs are projected to climb 25% in 2018 to 18.9 billion units after rising 21% in 2017.   General microcontrollers now represent a little over 60% of MCU unit shipments and are forecast to reach 68% of the total in 2022.  Currently, general MCUs generate about 88% of total microcontroller revenues, and they are expected to reach 90% of the entire market value in 2022.

Across nearly all MCU applications, strong growth in 32-bit microcontrollers has reshaped the market as suppliers aggressively promote more powerful designs that are cost competitive with 8-bit and 16-bit devices, which have typically been used in consumer products and other high-volume systems.  In some cases new 32-bit MCUs are being priced below the cost of 8-bit microcontrollers.  On average, 32-bit MCUs were selling for about twice the amount of the ASP for all microcontrollers in 2012 ($1.76 for 32-bit versus $0.88 for total MCUs).  In 2018, the ASP for 32-bit MCUs is expected to be just $0.09 higher than the ASP for all MCUs, and by 2022, the difference is forecast to shrink to $0.05 ($0.60 for 32-bit versus an average of $0.55 for total MCUs).

Report Details:  The 2018 McClean Report
Additional details and trends within the IC industry are provided in The McClean Report—A Complete Analysis and Forecast of the Integrated Circuit Industry (released in January 2018).  A subscription to The McClean Report includes free monthly updates from March through November (including a 200+ page Mid-Year Update), and free access to subscriber-only webinars throughout the year.  An individual-user license to the 2018 edition of The McClean Report is priced at $4,290 and includes an Internet access password.  A multi-user worldwide corporate license is available for $7,290.

 

To review additional information about IC Insights’ new and existing market research reports and services please visit our website: www.icinsights.com.

 

 

More Information Contact

For more information regarding this Research Bulletin, please contact Rob Lineback, Senior Market Research Analyst at IC Insights. Phone: +1-817-731-0424, email: rob@icinsights.com

 

PDF Version of This Bulletin

A PDF version of this Research Bulletin can be downloaded from our website at http://www.icinsights.com/news/bulletins/