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December 2012

Is Nanotechnology a Wellspring of Innovation or a Blind Alley?

It’s that time of the year when everyone recaps what occurred during the current year and looks forward to possible developments and trends for the coming year. Dr. Wally Rhines, CEO of Mentor Graphics and industry luminary,  posted an article in EETimes on 11/28/12 looking at previous advances in the semiconductor industry and how, if these trends continue, they might impact our industry looking 40 years out in time. Dr. Rhines brought some amazing metrics to light:

We Are All Fitness Fanatics

For most of 2012 Semico has focused on how new data is driving the consumer industry.  This isn’t just for servers or cloud storage, but also for smart phones, tablets, etc.  New ways of interacting with our devices, like augmented reality, are becoming increasingly more available to the average consumer, and our current phones are more powerful than most computers were just a few years ago.

With all this advanced technology surrounding us, its no wonder that we’re moving back to the basics… of a sort.  Self improvement is the next driving force behind innovation, and we’re already seeing some quite popular products hitting the market.  All of these new self improvement products are really just new display options for infographics, enabling us to personalize our obsession with data.

Of course, the new fitness craze isn’t just for people looking to improve our health care.  We’re gravitating toward fitness products so we can understand our bodies and how the environment affects us.  There are a million and one questions that data mining our every day lives can answer.

Semico's IPI Points to 0.3% Growth in 4Q12

Phoenix, AZ - December 13th, 2012 -- Semico is releasing our final IPI report for 2012, and our IPI chart is showing that 1Q13 will be slightly stronger than seasonal expectations. From an end-use perspective, we continue to see good growth in mobile and cloud related products driving semi demand. We're keeping a close eye on the whole semiconductor supply chain, and this month's IPI report discusses how 2012 has reshaped the computing industry and the consequences of those changes.

Headlines for the Nov/Dec 2012 issue include:

Offensive Innovation versus Defensive

As the world continues to fancy smart phones and tablets the notebook market appears to be falling into limbo. Many people believe that smart phones and tablets are the only future for computing devices and that the notebook is a dying product even with its new make-up, i.e. Ultrabook or ultraportable.

At the beginning of 2012 there was much excitement around the introduction of a new form factor called Ultrabook married with Windows 8. At Semico we were also excited about this new platform and expected computer manufacturers to take the general guidelines set forth by Intel and innovate off of them to create an exciting new computing platform. As the year progressed, Windows 8 was delayed and innovation in the design and implementation of the ultraportable lacked creative and critical thinking by designers.

PC manufacturers have taken a defensive posture trying to protect their market share and pricing structure of the computing market versus taking an offensive approach by offering innovative designs. It appears that most computer manufacturers lack the understanding of the consumer and how their usage model has changed as a result of smartphones and tablets. PC manufacturers have taken some of the smartphone and tablet innovations but are only incorporating them in bits and pieces and not embracing them in their totality. We believe this is a major mistake and one reason why we see a slower adoption rate for these new platforms.

Akustica High Definition MEMS Microphones Aimed at Smartphones

On November 28, 2012 Akustica announced a new family of high definition (HD) MEMS microphones.  There are 4 versions with two analog and two digital and a top and bottom port for each.  The company touts the new microphone family’s high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of 63 dB, super wideband frequency response, and tightly matched +/- 2dB sensitivity.

Akustica’s HD MEMS microphones are drop in replacements for most of the commonly used MEMS microphones.  The company is offering a wide audio range up to 7KHz when transmitting, but it can record with a wider range of 14KHz.  A key point is that Akustica offers top port versions.  This is a new packaging technology from Akustica.  Other top port microphones have lower performance than a bottom port microphone.  Akustica’s top port has the same performance as the bottom port version.  A bottom port microphone requires a hole in the PCB or flex circuit for mounting to the case.  A top port mounts on the other side of a board and is directly against the case.  According to Akustica customers are willing to pay a premium for a top port microphone if it can offer this level of performance.

Wafer Demand Summary and Assumptions 4Q12

The Wafer Demand Summary and Assumptions is a quarterly publication. It includes an excel spreadsheet with annual wafer demand by product by technology from 2002-2016. Product categories include DRAM, SRAM, NAND, NOR, Other Non-volatile, MPU, MCU, DSP, Computing Micro Logic, Communications, Other Micro Logic, Programmable Logic, Standard Cell, Gate Array, Analog, Discrete, Optoelectronics, Digital Bipolar. In addition, there is a five-page summary write-up providing the major assumptions behind the forecast and changes from the previous quarter.

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