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January 2013

Mature Fabs Still Process 40% of all Silicon

Phoenix, AZ - January 30th, 2013 -- Advanced technologies and the latest consumer electronics grab the major headlines but the semiconductor industry depends on mature technologies and legacy equipment. Today, about 40% of all silicon used to produce semiconductors are processed using mature manufacturing technologies. Manufacturing processes at 0.18 micron and larger still utilize 200mm and smaller wafer fabs.

Wafer Demand Increased 3.8% in 2012

Phoenix, AZ - January 23rd, 2013 -- Semico recently released our Quarterly Wafer Demand Summary and Data, and as usual, there is good news and bad news. The good news is, manufacturing yields on 28nm have improved so for the time being, capacity is no longer a constraint in the supply chain.

TransferJet and Wireless Charging Toshiba Style

At CES Toshiba announced the industry’s first microUSB Adaptor Module for the TransferJet standard.  Production will begin March 2013 and will be targeted for smart phones, tablets, and the PC peripheral market.

The astounding thing about TransferJet is that it can transfer a one-minute HD movie in about three seconds, and it takes about two minutes to transfer a full DVD sized movie.  At CES they had a few demos showcasing how easy TransferJet is to use between tablets, smart phones, cameras, and notebooks.  Basically, you simply pick the data you want to transfer, tap the two devices together (after each device gives permission), and voila.  Done.  It really does take just a few moments before you’re able to watch the video on a completely new device.

The rate of transfer is about 375Mbps, which is about 8X faster than WiFi, and about 1000x times better than NFC.  For security and functional reasons, the data transfer only works up to 5 centimeters before the devices are disconnected.  The farther the devices are from one another, the slower the transfer speed.

Semico recently released an NFC report and had this to say about TransferJet:

See Me, Touch Me, Move Me at CES

As expected, the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., was dominated by gadgets. Touchscreens and inertial motion were key features for many devices and applications. Many of these gadgets, such as those for fitness and wellness, are intended to be used with smartphones, tablets, and PCs, usually connected wirelessly via Bluetooth or WiFi. The smartphone seemed to be the platform of choice for accessing devices via apps.

How significant is the growth of MEMS sensors in consumer electronics? The MEMS Industry Group held a half-day technical session Tuesday morning. There were panels discussing Indoor Navigation, Digital Displays, and MEMS for sound and signal quality. Klaus Meder, president, Bosch Automotive Electronics, gave the keynote at this session. Bosch has been the leader in automotive MEMS. With the growth of MEMS in consumer electronics, Bosch is increasing its focus on the sector. Bosch sees the main drivers for MEMS as magnetometers, gyroscopes, accelerometers, pressure, and microphones. In the future, humidity may become another important MEMS sensor.

Crushing on PNI Sensor Corp

I'd love to give an unbiased review of SpacePoint, PNI's 9-axis motion tracker module for games, but I can't.  At CES they were demoing their motion tracking module with a gun controller and a first person shooter custom game.  They put that controller in my hands, and as I leaned forward, my avatar moved forward.  As I leaned backward, my avatar moved backward.  The pointing technology was accurate, and very responsive.  I was in love almost immediately.

See, their pointer technology is the most accurate I've experienced for a pointer controller.  I could point the controller in an intuitive manner, and it aimed at and hit the right targets with little drift.  Given a bit more practice, I doubt there would be any drift at all, a hypothesis I’m more than willing to test out (was that too strong of a hint?).

But this is basically tech that anyone will be able to pick up and use accurately. Their demo included a gun controller with a joystick next to the trigger to make looking around within the game environment super easy and intuitive.  Forward and backward movements are done by slightly leaning forward or backward, something that anyone could easily take to.

I can see something like this being very popular with friends who want to play Halo together, and I hope someone in the future makes a controller like this that could work with Tribes (a flying game).

Analog Market to Grow 9.5% in 2013

Phoenix, AZ - January 15th, 2013 -- Semico Research recently published a detailed forecast and analysis of the analog market, titled Analog Forecast, Products, Suppliers and Foundries. The analog market totaled $40 billion revenue in 2012 and is expected to experience a 9.5% dollar and a 6.4% unit growth for 2013. Growth in is two main areas. As the popularity of mobile electronic devices continues, analog power management chips continue to advance, improve performance and find new applications. Secondly, the world is still analog.

NFC, AR, Sensor Fusion all at CES

Phoenix, AZ - January 7th, 2013 -- If there is one theme coming out of CES before the show even starts, it's that this is going to be a very different year with all new technology leading the way. Previously, consoles and DTVs have driven the press releases in the days leading up to the show, but now, all we're hearing is NFC this, and AR that.

Are you familiar with the new markets that will be driving the industry in 2013?