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October 2013

The IP Subsystem Market: Evolution Continues and Momentum Builds

In the last 10 years, the semiconductor industry has undergone a considerable amount of change driven by the need to increase integration to meet rising customer expectations of performance and functionality. In the System-on-Chip (SoC) market, this has been accomplished by the increasing use of discrete 3rd Party Semiconductor Intellectual Property (SIP) blocks of all types to aid SoC designers in crafting ever more complex silicon solutions.

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76% CAGR for MEMS Oscillator Units from 2012-2017, says Semico Research

Oscillators and clock generators are timing devices, which are needed in just about all electronic circuits.  Quartz crystal oscillators, along with clock generators, are a $5 billion market that MEMS oscillator vendors are hoping to crack.  Quartz crystal is well established, and system designers are accustomed to using these devices.  

IP Subsystems: Is It A Catalyst for Leading Edge Design Enablement

The System-on-Chip (SoC) market has been successful because of the increasing use of 3rd Party Semiconductor Intellectual Property (SIP). SoC designers now look to move up a layer of abstraction to design with system level functionality in order to reduce the effort and cost associated with complex SoC designs. By doing so, SoC designers can add higher levels of system functionality and cutting-edge feature sets without needing to design these functions at the absolute lowest level of complexity.

The IP subsystem is a methodology designers are employing to infuse the right level of complexity and functionality to meet rapidly changing market requirements without experiencing a corresponding increase in design costs or design cycle time.
The market entry by Cadence, Synopsys, Sonics and Analog Bits over the past 12+ months marked a turning point in the IP subsystem era. Semico expects to see a competitive market for 3rd party IP subsystems in the follow areas:
• Computing subsystems
• Memory subsystems
• Video subsystems
• Communication subsystems
• Multi Media subsystems
• Storage subsystems
• Audio subsystems
• Security subsystems
• System Resource Management subsystems

New World Applications and the Role of IP

Electronic devices have evolved from cyclical killer applications to everyday ‘must-have’ tools.  Smartphones and tablets are a couple of these ‘must-have’ devices and are already making possible new world applications.  Many of these new world applications, including the Internet of Things and mobile health, will be pervasive and promise high semiconductor unit volumes.  Semico has identified 70 appliances in the average home that can become part of the Internet of Things.  Before we experience the hockey-stick growth in these markets there are a few hurdles to overcome: 

Apple iPhone 5S Compass Problems?

Last week there were reports in the media that users were complaining of off-the-mark readings from the Apple iPhone 5S compass.  Compared to the previous iPhone 5, Apple’s native compass app is displaying discrepancies an average of 8 to 10 degrees with both devices running iOS7.

This has caused “wonky” game experiences such as in driving and physics-based games that rely on tilting the screen for in-game motion.

This has brought into question whether or not this is a hardware malfunction with the motion sensors or some other chip.  There are several teardowns available online.  An examination of the bill of materials shows that the iPhone 5S has:

  • Gyro: STmicro
  • eCompass (magnetometer): AKM
  • Accelerometer: Bosch Sensortec
  • NXP LPC18

The NXP LPC18 is an ARM Cortex-M3 MCU.  It is a coprocessor for the Apple A7 Apps Processor.  This MCU is the sensor hub controller of the iPhone 5S.  It has been referenced as the M7.

The first things that came to my mind as to the cause of the problem: 

Sensor Fusion in the Spotlight

Sensor Fusion is both a hardware and software solution and begins with the combination of more than one sensor.  But there is much more to this solution than integrating sensors.  The objective is to combine the data collected by the sensors in order to extract and use the information.  This requires an algorithm which works with the operating system and makes data available to high level applications such as personal navigation, activity monitoring, context awareness and augmented reality.  This algorithm is often embedded in a microcontroller known as a sensor hub which connects to an applications processor.

On September 23, 2013 ST and Movea announced their agreement to integrate Movea’s SmartMotion technology into the STM32F401 microcontroller operating as a low-power sensor-hub controller.

ST is the leading supplier of MEMS sensors for the consumer and communications market, in particular smart phones.  The company also offers it line of ST32 ARM based MCUs as sensor hub controllers. 

Movea is a leading provider of Sensor Fusion algorithms offering data fusion and motion processing firmware, software, and IP for the consumer electronics industry.  The company offers a comprehensive set of SW, firmware and tools to enable an advanced-motion user experience. 

Movea’s firmware will be integrated into the STM32F401 sensor management platform.  The STM32F401 with SmartMotion technology and tools will be available in Q4 2013. 

Tony Massimini to Speak at the Strategic Materials Conference, Oct. 17, 2013

Tony Massimini will speak on day 2 of the 2013 Strategic Materials Conference, which will be held October 16-17, 2013 in Santa Clara, CA. Tony will be discussing materials for MEMS.

For more information, visit SEMI's site at: http://www.semi.org/en/node/41871

Jim Feldhan to Speak at SEMI Arizona Breakfast Forum, October 18, 2013

The SEMI Arizona Steering Committee presents:
The SEMI Arizona Breakfast Forum - "New Advanced Packaging Insights on Technology and Applications"
http://www.semi.org/en/node/46316

Date: Friday, October 18, 2013
Time: 7:30am–10:30am
Location: Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.
Address: 2100 East Elliot Road, Tempe, Arizona, 85284

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