SIA Week in Review -- Oct. 3, 2014

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The SIA Week in Review is a compilation of some of the week's top clips related to the semiconductor industry. SIA distributes this email on Fridays. Information about subscribing/unsubscribing is included at the bottom of this e-mail.


Critical Materials Necessary for Semiconductor Manufacturing
Posted by David Isaacs, Vice President, Government Affairs

Today is National Manufacturing Day, a day to recognize the importance of U.S. manufacturing and assess what is needed to strengthen it. One vital component to continued manufacturing strength in the U.S. is access to critical materials, the lifeblood of the manufacturing process. This week, SIA filed comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on “Critical and Strategic Materials Supply Chains.”


Here’s What a China-Owned Smartphone Could Look Like

Their conclusion is the country has very large ambitions: “We believe China is making a concerted effort to modernize and verticalize its semiconductor supply chain. We believe this initiative is centered around the smartphone supply chain, as we estimate a potential TAM opportunity of $170 billion by 2018.” China’s Minitistry of Information and Technology, MIIT, they note, announced a $20 billion initiative in June of this year “with the purpose of turning the nation into a semiconductor technology leader by 2030,” they write.

Spreadtrum challenges MediaTek through Intel's investments
Want China Times

Spreadtrum will use Intel's investment to challenge its Taiwanese rival MediaTek, as Intel wants to return to the smartphone chip market through the investment, sources close to the deal said. "China's semiconductor sector has set its sights on international cooperation like the deal with Intel," the source said, adding that the Intel investments could deliver more benefits than the government's plan to invest more than 120 billion yuan (US$19.5 billion) to boost the country's IC development.

Mainland Chinese technology firms lure back homegrown talent
South China Morning Post

China has long experienced a brain drain in its technology sector, with researchers and engineers traditionally drawn to foreign multinationals rather than taking their chances at home. However, in line with the turning point that Hong has identified, a number of high-profile appointments have made waves in China and the US.

MIIT Released the 2014 IC Design Company List for Public Comments
MIIT (translated summary below)

MIIT released 2014 IC design company accreditation list and IC design company list for public comments from Sep 29-Oct 28 yesterday. 67 new firms are planned to be accredited as IC Design Company, 34% higher than last year’s number of 50; and most of them are located in Jiangsu, Shanghai and Beijing. 413 accredited IC Design Companies pass the annual assessment. After this publicity period these companies will enjoy relevant favorable policies according to Document 4 and 18

China IC Design Continues to Expand the Gap Surpassing Korea
CSIA (translated summary below)

Data from Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET) shows last year the production value of Chinese fabless companies was USD 5.76 billion increasing 28.1% from 2012 and shared 7% of the global market; while Korea fabless production value was USD 1.74 billion with growth rate of 2.6% and global market share of 2.3%. China IC design capacity has surpassed Korea and continues to expand the gap.


Tech Subcommittee Chairmen Vulnerable in November

The November elections are just around the corner, and among Roll Call’s lists of most vulnerable lawmakers are chairman of a few subcommittees with jurisdiction over tech issues. Among the 10 most vulnerable House members is Nebraska Republican Lee Terry. He’s chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, which has jurisdiction over certain tech issues. Terry’s bill targeting “patent troll” demand letters was marked up by the subcommittee in July.

DARPA technology uncovers counterfeit microchips
Network World

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said this week one of its contractors, working on one of the agency’s anti-counterfeit projects has developed and deployed what it calls an Advanced Scanning Optical Microscope that can scan integrated circuits by using an extremely narrow infrared laser beam, to probe microelectronic circuits at nanometer levels, revealing information about chip construction as well as the function of circuits at the transistor level.

Global Tech Industry Presses For ITA Expansion
Global Tax News

Over 130 information technology associations from around the world have called for an early conclusion of negotiations towards an expanded Information Technology Agreement (ITA). The ITA, established in 1996, eliminated tariffs on a number of technology products, such as semiconductors, computers, and telecommunications equipment.

U.S. Auto Parts Tariff Emerges As Flashpoint In U.S.-Japan TPP Talks
Inside US Trade

The breakdown in bilateral talks between the United States and Japan under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) last week came after U.S. officials rejected a new Japanese proposal for reducing agriculture tariffs as insufficient and pulled back their previous offer on cutting U.S. tariffs on Japanese auto parts, according to informed sources.

Critical Materials Institute, ASTM Team Up to Develop Materials Standards
Environmental Leader

ASTM International and the Critical Materials Institute have entered into a memorandum of understanding and member agreement that the organizations say will pave the way for the ongoing development of critical materials standards across a realm of industry areas.


Altera announces availability of next-generation, non-volatile MAX 10 FPGAs

Altera has announced the availability of non-volatile MAX 10 FPGAs, Altera's latest addition to its Generation 10 portfolio. Using TSMC's 55nm embedded flash process technology, MAX 10 FPGAs revolutionize non-volatile FPGAs by delivering dual-configuration flash, analog and embedded processing capabilities in a small-form-factor, low-cost, instant-on programmable logic device.

How IBM Got Brainlike Efficiency From the TrueNorth Chip
IEEE Spectrum

The latest IBM neurosynaptic computer chip, called TrueNorth, consists of 1 million programmable neurons and 256 million programmable synapses conveying signals between the digital neurons. Each of the chip’s 4,096 neurosynaptic cores includes the entire computing package: memory, computation, and communication. Such architecture helps to bypass the bottleneck in traditional von Neumann computing, where program instructions and operation data cannot pass through the same route simultaneously.

Intel's Basis Peak smartwatch is coming in November for $200

INTEL HAS REVEALED more specifications of its next-generation Basis smartwatch called Peak, the first wearable since the semiconductor giant bought the fitness tracker maker earlier this year. Intel showed off the Peak at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco last month, previewing nothing more than its name and a quick glance at the underside of the device and its sensors, which the firm said offer better sensing technology than the previous version.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich on 'silicon leadership'
Marketplace (audio clip)

Intel's chips are still inside PCs, the guts of tablets, wearables, and increasingly, smart cars and refrigerators. They're not the shiny Gorilla glass or sleek brushed aluminum on the outside, but rather, the stuff that makes our stuff run. When you talk to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, head of a tech company that's older than Larry Page, his tone is less flashy pitchman with a slide deck and more the engineer's precise graphs.

Qualcomm LTE Direct Allows Calls Between Devices To Skip The Cell Tower
Hot Hardware

Here's a cool prospect: Imagine making a call while on-the-go, and rather than have the transmission go through a tower, it instead goes through someone else's phone. This idea isn't new, but Qualcomm has the capability to make it a standard, and with LTE Direct, it hopes to accomplish that.

Spansion to Launch 3D-Embedded Automotive MCU
EE Times

Spansion is launching a new microcontroller designed to offer high-performance human machine interface (HMI) for automobile dashboards and clusters. The new microcontroller is the latest member of Spansion's Traveo automotive MCU family. The new MCU features Spansion's HyperBus memory interface. The proprietary interface, developed to offer low latency, high read throughput and low pin-count, can meet such demands as "instant-on" and an "interactive graphical user interface" better, according to Spansion.


Next DRAM bust will slow down chip market in 2016, Gartner says

Worldwide semiconductor revenue will grow at a fast pace this year but will slow down in 2016 when the DRAM market hits its next bust cycle, according to Gartner. The research firm predicts semiconductor revenue will reach an all-time high of US$338 billion this year, up 7.2 percent from last year. The projection is higher than Gartner’s previous growth forecast of 6.7 percent.

India Will Top China In Device Sales Growth Next Year, Report Finds
Wall Street Journal

India is growing nine times faster than China by technology device sales, a new report has found. India will record $4.8 billion additional sales from purchases of devices in 2015 compared with 2014, or a 16% year-over-year increase, reaching an overall market value of $34.8 billion, according to data from German research group GfK.

Chip Designer ARM Holdings Unveils Operating System
Wall Street Journal

ARM Holdings, whose chip designs already dominate the smartphone market, is making a push to get its technology into the next wave of connected objects. Britain-based ARM on Wednesday introduced an operating system and a software system to manage data that it believes will smooth the way for companies to start churning out products connected to the Internet, a semiconductor market that analysts estimate could be valued at as much as $50 billion by 2020.

Semiconductors Re-emerge as Pillar of Hope for Samsung Electronics
Business Korea

Samsung Electronics’ mobile business, the top contributor for the stellar sales growth of the company in the past, is expected to see a dramatic drop in its operating profits stemming from sluggish sales of smartphones. In contrast, the semiconductor business will generate profits based on a consistent demand for products. Furthermore, the System LSI division, which has fallen behind Qualcomm and Intel, is exhibiting good performance. As a result, the semiconductor business is once again in the spotlight.

Janet Napolitano, Jennifer Granholm: Tough for women in tech

It’ll take more than an act of Congress to get more women into tech, former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm agreed Thursday. Changes may have to come from companies — or from women themselves, they said during a POLITICO Women Rule event in San Francisco.


Researchers hope to diagnose deadly Ebola virus with nanotech

A team of researchers at Boston University’s College of Engineering and its School of Medicine has been working for the past five years to develop a portable device that uses a silicon chip to diagnose a patient with Ebola, or other hemorrhagic fever diseases like the Marburg virus or Lassa Fever. What’s potentially important about this diagnostic device is that it could easily be used in remote areas with limited electrical and medical resources.

Bright, Bendy Gallium Nitride LEDs
IEEE Spectrum

By comparison, Yi says his team’s new technique is simpler and could be used with various inorganic semiconductors. “[This] may lead to a range of flexible devices, including solar cells, field-emission devices, and optical communication devices,” he says. Plus, because of highly crystalline gallium nitride micro-rods grown on high-quality graphene, the new LEDs show a better combination of brightness, flexibility and mechanically strength, he says.

Fueling the IoT
Semiconductor Engineering

Semiconductors will flourish because, by the year 2020, every one of the 50 billion (conservative estimate) to 200 billion (liberal estimate) devices within the IoT will need command and control, as well as multi-technology interconnect. There will be simple ones for toothbrushes, which will tell you that your current brush is no longer effective, or others to remind you that you will run out of toothpaste by the weekend at current usage levels. Complex ones will interface your smart vehicle to your life. And there will superchips that will be part of our national security.

Process for Producing Layered 2-D Materials Determines Their Electronic Properties
IEEE Spectrum

Ajayan has characterized the development as “pixel engineering” because atomically thin semiconductors could be manipulated in production so that their potential uses in optoelectronics are almost limitless. “We should be able to tweak certain regions to control certain functions, like light or terahertz emission,” said Rice's Robert Vajtai, another of the study's coauthors, in the release. “The whole idea, really, is to create domains with different electronic characters within a single layer.”


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Category: Semiconductors

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