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February 2011

Intel’s Thunderbolt: Will It Shock The Computing Market?

Intel has released the Thunderbolt technology (Feb. 24, 2011) with Apple as the first OEM to implement it.  Originally code named Light Peak, this latest technology is designed for faster media transfer and simplified connections between devices.

Thunderbolt combines both optical and electrical technology.  It consists of controllers, one at each end (PC and peripheral device), a common connector and a Thunderbolt cable.  Devices can be daisy chained connected by electrical or optical cables.

The first product to hit the market with Thunderbolt is Apple’s new line of MacBook Pro notebook PCs.  It should be made very clear that Thunderbolt is not exclusive to Apple.  Thunderbolt is a new PC technology developed by Intel.  Going forward Thunderbolt is expected to be deployed by other OEMs.

According to an Intel spokesperson, the current version of Thunderbolt connector technology will be licensed broadly to the industry.  This will enable products using Intel’s Thunderbolt controllers.  At first Intel is focused on enabling targeted products.  However, deployment will broaden as the technology ramps.

Thunderbolt combines high-speed data and HD video connections together onto a single cable.  There are two communication methods or protocols – PCI Express for data transfer and DisplayPort for displays.  The transfer rate for media files is 10Gbps.

Semico Spin

Here We Go Again!

Here we go again!

Speculators and  the uncertainty in the Middle East have once again fueled oil prices to its highest levels since 2008.  While Libya only contributes 2% to the global crude oil production it is a major regional player. Libya is Africa's third-largest crude producer and has the largest oil reserves in Africa, approximately 44 billion barrels. The world consumes 87.5 million barrels of oil per day.

Today crude oil hit $92 a barrel on the New York Mercantile. Brent crude hit $106 per barrel on the ICE future exchange. As these price increases work through the supply chain we expect to see gasoline prices continue to rise. World economies continue to gain momentum and energy consumption is expected to increase. Don't be surprised if gasoline hits four dollars a gallon in the U.S. this summer. As long as the price of crude oil does not reach $150 a barrel, Semico believes the economic recovery will continue.

What's the Fastest Growing Semiconductor MOS Logic Market? (Hint: It's Not Microprocessors)

It should come as no surprise that semiconductor foundry manufacturers are booming. The semiconductor industry has been transformed. But it's not just fabless versus IDM (Integrated Device Manufacturer). Revenue has shifted from Embedded MPUs, MCUs, DSPs and Standard Cell ASICs to Special Purpose Logic chips. Integration has taken over MOS Logic sales, creating a huge increase in the sales of fully integrated semiconductors. Most of these chips are being manufactured by foundries.

Let's take a closer look at MOS Logic markets over the last eleven years, beginning with the year 1999 rather than 2000 to eliminate the effects of the dot-com boom-and-bust in 2000 and 2001. From 1999 through 2010 Special Purpose Logic sales increased from $16.5 billion to $59.3 billion, a CAGR of 12.3%. During the same time period computing MPU sales grew from $27.2 billion to $38.8 billion, a CAGR of only 3.6%. No other MOS logic category had significant growth, either because the sales base was too low or because the CAGR was too low.

Special Purpose Logic is now by far the largest MOS Logic device category. Special Purpose Logic sales are greater than MPU, MCU and DSP sales combined and nearly five times the sales of standard cell ASICs and FPGAs combined. In fact, Special Purpose Logic sales in 2010 were greater than sales for any other semiconductor device type. What has happened?

What's the Fastest Growing Semiconductor MOS Logic Market? (Hint: It's Not Microprocessors)

Phoenix, Arizona February 22, 2011 - It should come as no surprise that semiconductor foundry manufacturers are booming. The semiconductor industry has been transformed. But it's not just fabless versus IDM (Integrated Device Manufacturer). Revenue has shifted from Embedded MPUs, MCUs, DSPs and Standard Cell ASICs to Special Purpose Logic chips. Integration has taken over MOS Logic sales, creating a huge increase in the sales of fully integrated semiconductors. Most of these chips are being manufactured by foundries.

Register Now: Danny Biran of Altera to Speak at Semico Summit 2011

Danny Biran
Senior Vice President
Altera

Phoenix, Arizona February 15, 2011 Semico Research Corp. is proud to announce that Danny Biran will speak at the Summit 2011. The Summit will be held May 1-3, 2011 at the stunning InterContinental Montelucia Resort & Spa in Paradise Valley, Arizona.

MCU End Use Markets: Where is the Growth in a Changing World?

Microcontrollers (MCUs) are a class of chips that we use everyday without even thinking about it. We take them for granted, yet they make our lives so much easier. These smart chips help control our hard disk drives, printers, ATMs, TVs, MP3 players, refrigerators and other computing and consumer devices. Who can live without their cell phone or their DVR? What about their car? The largest market for MCU sales, automotive, has had a major impact as car manufacturers have seen strong world wide resurgence in sales in 2010. Automotive MCU sales grew 46.2% in 2010.

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2011 Semiconductor Capex: Big Spending, Trouble Looming

The semiconductor industry experienced an outstanding recovery in 2010. Revenues grew 32%, while units grew 25%. Manufacturers responded to the sharp increase in demand by spending almost $50 billion, a 91% increase over 2009, on capital equipment, buildings and land. In 2011, Semico's forecast for the industry is an 8.3% increase in revenues and a 13.5% increase in units. Increasing economic uncertainty due to the political turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East, combined with rising gas prices, will help bring the industry back to a more normal growth pattern this year.

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New Strategy at AMD?

There have been several key changes at the senior level at AMD. On Feb. 8, 2011, two senior employees stepped down. Bob Rivet, vice president and chief operations and administrative officer, and Marty Seyer, senior vice president of corporate strategy, have left the company. One month ago CEO Dirk Meyer was replaced by interim CEO Thomas Seifert. The Board of Directors has yet to name a permanent replacement for Meyer.

This appears to signal a change in strategy at AMD. The company has fallen behind Intel on the PC and enterprise fronts. But more significantly AMD had no real plan for pursuing the ultra-mobile space like Intel has, in particular netbooks, tablet PCs, and smartphones.

Intel has been focused heavily in these areas with Atom. Even if Intel gains only a small share of the smartphone market from the ARM-based processors, it is such a huge market that it is worth the effort. Intel is leveraging off of its netbook success with Atom. The bill of materials for a tablet PC is not that different. Intel has established a group specifically for netbook and tablet PCs. It is also leveraging off of the netbook with future Atom SoCs for embedded control applications. These are new markets that offer Intel additional growth over the traditional computing market.

Momentum Carries MCUs Into 2011

Phoenix, Arizona February 8, 2011 - Microcontrollers (MCUs) are a class of chips that we use everyday without even thinking about it. We take them for granted, yet they make our lives so much easier. These smart chips help control our hard disk drives, printers, ATMs, TVs, MP3 players, refrigerators and other computing and consumer devices. Who can live without their cell phone or their DVR? What about their car? The largest market for MCU sales, automotive, has had a major impact as car manufacturers have seen strong world wide resurgence in sales in 2010.

Electrifying Speed

I guess I’m a gearhead. I like double overhead camshafts, six speed transmissions and small-displacement, high revving engines that make lots of noise. I like fast cars with great handling. I’m having trouble adjusting to hybrids and even more trouble adjusting to plug-in electric cars that need to have electronically generated noise added to alert pedestrians. Low-performance econo-slugs aren’t interesting to me.

A colleague, not a car guy, suggested that electric cars would never sell until they raced at the Daytona 500 – maybe a NASCAR car in electric blue. That hasn’t happened yet, but electric cars are setting speed records.

The Buckeye Bullet (version 2.5), an electric car designed and built by students at Ohio State University’s Center for Auto Research, recently set an international record for electric cars, an average of 307.7 miles per hour in back-to-back runs on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. That may seem slow, but the wheel-driven land speed record car needed a 3,750hp turboshaft engine to go 470.4 mph.

The Buckeye Bullet was sponsored by Venturi, a French electric vehicle company; and used lithium ion batteries designed by A123 Systems of Watertown, Mass. Both are involved in the production of electric or hybrid passenger cars.

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