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May 2011

Semico's Marketing, Analysis, and Planning Model: Subscribe in June for Discount

Phoenix, Arizona May 31, 2011 - Our Market Analysis and Planning (MAP) Model spans 25 years of semiconductor manufacturing, and is one of our most popular products. Our analysts contribute to the service on a quarterly basis, with historical data going back to 2010 and forecasts into 2015.

The MAP Model takes the top-down and bottom-up approaches and combines them into one customizable service for analyzing Wafer Demand, Semiconductor Content, Bill of Materials, Total Available Market, End-Use Shipments, ASPs, and OEM Market Share.

An Analog Devices Inertial Sensor for Down-Hole Drilling

The temperature, shock and vibration requirements for components used in down-hole drilling are exceeded perhaps only by the requirements for components used in Hades, whatever those might be.  An oil well drill bit is not only subject to temperatures that may be beyond 200C, it is also subject to vibration while the bit is rotating and severe shock when the drill string is pulled or new sections are added.   Amazingly, Analog Devices new inertial sensor, part number ADXL206, which combines a MEMS accelerometer and the required logic on one IC, meets the down-hole requirements at a fraction of the cost and size of previous solutions.

Oil wells are no longer only drilled straight down.  They are often drilled at a slant to reach an oil field from an accessible location.  They are also often threaded around obstacles such as water or hard rock.  This requires an extremely accurate measurement of the tilt and direction of the drill bit.  The Analog Devices inertial sensor provides that measurement.  This part also has an application when the well is completed, when it can be used to monitor vibration from the down-hole pump to provide an early warning of a potential failure of the pumping apparatus.

Used Semiconductor Equipment Market grew 77% in 2010, says SEMI and Semico

Phoenix, Arizona May 24, 2011 - In a groundbreaking study, SEMI and Semico Research partnered to determine the value of the secondary (used) semiconductor equipment market. Anyone involved the semiconductor equipment industry understands the complexities involved. The supply chain is unstructured: a piece of equipment can change hands many times before it is put back into use in a fab. Companies involved in this puzzle include IDMs, foundries, refurbishers, equipment manufacturers, brokers, resellers, and service providers.

MEMS in Smartphones: Growth At What Price?

Phoenix, Arizona May 17, 2011 - It's no surprise, the smartphone market is a high growth and potentially huge market. In 2011 over 469 million units will ship worldwide. This is an annual growth of 30.8% over 2010. Semico Research projects that this market has a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 21.9% on units from 2011 to 2015, approaching 1.1 billion units by 2015.

Apple: Repeating the Mistakes of the Past or Trailblazing a New Future?

Morry Marshall:  Repeating the Mistakes of the Past!

Here we go again, right back where we’ve always been.  In the 1980s the Apple Mac OS was the best operating system on the planet, and Apple was heading toward a dominant share in the personal computer market.  Microsoft MS-DOS had a text interface with arcane commands rather than an easy to use graphical interface.  The IBM PC was just getting off the ground.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to market dominance.  Apple decided to keep the MAC OS and the MAC architecture proprietary.  For some inexplicable reason IBM, historically a company that kept everything to itself, decided to make MS-DOS and the PC architecture open systems.  A series of clone manufacturers emerged; and, as the Microsoft operating system evolved, it became overwhelmingly more popular with developers.  Easy to see why!  Their potential market was much bigger.

Today, Apple has a dominant share in the smartphone market.  Apple has also created the tablet PC market and dominates it.  The Apple iOS (born as the iPhone OS) is the best smart phone operating system on the planet.  It has been ported to the iPad, and it is the interface with the Apple App store for both the iPod and iPad.  The App store has far more apps available than any other site.  The iPod, the iPad, iOS and the App store are all proprietary.

MEMS in Smartphones: Growth At What Price?

It’s no surprise, the smartphone market is a high growth and potentially huge market.  In 2011 over 469 million units will ship worldwide.  This is an annual growth of 30.8% over 2010.  Semico Research projects that this market has a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 21.9% on units from 2011 to 2015, approaching 1.1 billion units by 2015.

It’s also no surprise that smartphone feature sets change over time.  What constituted a smartphone in 2003 is not at all the same as in 2011.  With each generation cell phones are becoming more feature rich, especially smartphones.

MEMS and sensors are important components that enable many of the new features on smartphones.  MEMS devices offer not only additional functionality but also smaller size and lower power consumption.  This makes MEMS very attractive to the smartphone market.  But what truly paves the way for MEMS in cell phones?    Is it just the new feature or new features at the right price point?

Will the cell phone market force MEMS devices to reduce margins or will manufacturers find ways to produce these chips more efficiently?

Analog Devices RF Mixers Provide High Performance from 700MHz to 2.8GHz

On May 10, 2011 ADI announced the availability of the semiconductor industry’s only double balanced wideband passive mixers.  P/N ADL5811 is a single-channel mixer and P/N ADL 5812 is a dual-channel mixer.

Due to differences in frequency allocations around the world, wireless receiver manufacturers often need to provide a receiver that will operate on several different frequencies, scattered across a wide frequency band.   But, this presents a quandary.  Active mixers have the requisite bandwidth but also have higher noise figures and lower linearity than passive mixers.  Passive mixers have better noise figures and linearity but only across a narrow bandwidth.  The new Analog Devices’ mixers employ a clever technical ploy to achieve the best of both worlds.

The Analog Devices’ mixers use a programmable RF balun transformer and a programmable low pass filter to allow a receiver manufacturer to tune the mixer to a frequency of their choice.  This allows a passive mixer to retain its low noise and greater linearity characteristics while achieving the bandwidth of an active mixer.  This allows a receiver manufacturer to shorten design time, eliminate off-chip matching components, achieve a shorter time to market, reduce the number of component qualifications and greatly improve inventory management.

Subscribe to the IPI in May and Receive 2 Free Months!

Phoenix, Arizona May 10, 2011 - Semico Research is forecasting 2011 semiconductor revenue will reach 8% growth this year. We'll head into a slowdown during the second half of 2011 going into 2012, causing some cutbacks and bringing 2012's total growth to 2%.

These numbers are backed by our Inflection Point Indicator (IPI) as well as current events in the semiconductor industry. As we discussed at the Summit, one example of a market that will experience cutbacks will be the tablet market.

28nm Issues Generate Debate at Semico Summit

At the Semico Summit held May 2, 2011 in Phoenix, Az, one of the most lively discussions occurred during the panel Challenges at 28nm. Mahesh Tirupattur, Analog Bits brought out the best from the audience as well as panel members.

  • Chi-Ping Hsu, Sr VP, Research & Development, Silicon Realization Group, Cadence
  • Mark Papermaster, Vice President, Switching Silicon Technology Group, Cisco
  • Grant Pierce, President & CEO, Sonics
  • Suk Lee, Director, Design Infrastructure Marketing Division, TSMC

Some of the major issues and topics covered by the panelist were the following.

Chi Ping Hsu, Cadence feels the 28nm technology node is challenging because of the techno-economic problems that first became apparent at the 45nm process node and have become even worse.  The EDA industry collectively must spend around $2B per year on R&D aimed at solving or removing obstacles to industry productivity, manufacturing predictability and company profitability.

Despite all the issues, Suk Lee, TSMC currently has 89 28nm tape outs completed or in progress.  In addition, TSMC is making a big investment in 28nm.  The company expects to invest $16B in 28nm development and capacity.

Riding the Wave: 2011 Cresting into a 2012 Cutback Move

At the Semico Summit this week Jim Feldhan said “2011 will see revenue growth of 8% however the Semico IPI indicates the second half of 2011 as the beginning of the next market slowdown.” What other evidence supports this hypothesis?

  • Approximately 100 tablet models are being introduced this year, each with a market share goal of more than 1%.  There will be winners and losers.  The result will be excess capacity and inventory in the channel as these models shakeout. In terms of semiconductor ASP's, the supply chain only has to be few percent points out of equilibrium to cause prices to crash.  We’ve seen it in the memory market many times.
  • The smart phone is considered the “promise land”. A market that continues to grow at double-digit rates with increasing semiconductor content is an irresistible market. However, there is a similar threat in the smart phone market.  Overbuilding of smart phones will result in a production pullback in 2012 contributing to excess capacity and inventory leading to falling ASP.

While we would expect a semiconductor downturn to produce negative semiconductor revenue, Semico has identified several factors that will dampen the severity of the downturn.

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