Semiconductor Industry News

16 February 2016

Ireland Holds the Aces – And Chips – To Win Big In Industrial Internet of Things
As a nation of grumblers and occasional gamblers, we tend not to see the obvious in ourselves. One of our own unrecognised virtues is transition. We handle transition very well, even if we can’t see it through the storm clouds of the time. Those blessings in disguise aren’t obvious while trauma is being meted out.

Due to both our long-past and recent history, Ireland is one of the most globalised nations on earth, with the highest proportion of people living overseas and yet, ironically, with the concentration of the highest proportion of tech and life sciences industries outside of the US. It is ironic that while so many young Irish people live overseas because of the
recession, Dublin and Cork are emerging as magnets for young people from all over Europe and Asia who want to live and work in STEM industries in vibrant cities.

But, ultimately, for a country that missed the industrial revolutions of the 19th century and the post-war boom of the 20th century, Ireland quickly caught up because of brave education policies. It was quick to catch the mobile investment trends that saw companies like Apple sweep into the country in the early 1980s and the same with Intel in the 1990s.

Now, Apple is creating 1,000 new jobs in Cork, and Intel has selected Ireland for the latest $5bn investment in manufacturing technologies to produce its next generation of chips.


Apple iPhone Sales Grow At Slowest Rate Ever
Apple Inc. said iPhone sales grew at the slowest pace since its introduction in 2007 and forecast that revenue in the current quarter will decline for the first time in 13 years, signalling an end to its recent period of hyper growth. IPhone sales boomed last year after the introduction of larger-screen models in late 2014, but Apple’s newest iPhones incorporate fewer noticeable changes and haven’t ignited as much enthusiasm among consumers.

Apple also said its results suffered from the effects of the strong dollar and slowing global economic growth. It warned that China, its biggest overseas market, began to exhibit “signs of economic softness” this month.


ARM-Based Server Processor From AMD Lacks Intel Soc Clout
Advanced Micro Devices is in the process of developing its first ARM-based server SoC.
At the time of this writing, only three relatively small companies have publicly agreed to use the A1100, aka Seattle, mainly in storage and communications appliances. In fact, and one analyst said the chip will not compete directly with the Xeon server processors from Intel.

The 64bit chip was among the early examples of a running ARM-based server processor from a major chip maker. AMD hopes the A1100 powers platforms for building out the software ecosystem for ARM servers.

The 32W chip runs at 2GHz and uses eight ARM A57 cores, 4Mbytes L2 cache and supports DDR4 memory at up to 1,866MHz as well as support for two Gbit Ethernet controllers. Since it was first announced more than a year ago rivals including Applied Micro, Broadcom, Cavium, Huawei and Qualcomm have raised their sights, announcing plans for ARM-based server processors in FinFET processes using dozens of cores.

Rolls Out ARM M0-Based Programmable Soc
Cypress Semiconductor has announced the PSoC 4 L-series, the latest in a family of programmable SoC, which boasts a number of capabilities. Based on the ARM M0 architecture, the latest device claims to bring outstanding configurability. Fixed resources on the L-series PSoC-4 chip, for example, include 98 general purpose IOs, a USB device controller, DMA, LCD drive and a CAN interface. There is also a dual-mutual capacitive touch controller with 94 channel capacity. But it’s the 33 programmable blocks that allow customisation to fit a range of needs. Both digital and analogue resources can be counted in this mix.

The 20 digital blocks come in three varieties: counter/timer/PWMs, serial communications and what Cypress calls universal digital blocks (UDBs). Thecounter/timer/PWMs, as you might expect, can be configured as whichever of the three you need, with 16bit resolution in each block. The serial communications blocks can be set up as I2C, SPI or UART interfaces as well as an EZI2C interface that emulates an EEPROM interface.

Foxconn To Expand Facilities, Products In India

Electronics contract manufacturer Foxconn plans to expand its presence to new states in India in the coming months, the Economic Times reported. Josh Foulger, Foxconn India country head and managing director, revealed the plan to PTI on the sidelines of China-India Mobile Phone and Component Manufacturing Summit in New Delhi.

At present, the contract manufacturer has facilities in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. It has also started building a new plant in Maharashtra with a $5-million investment. Prior to the announcement, Foxconn Chair Terry Gou had committed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “strengthen Make in India,” according to Foulger, adding that the companies Indian facilities have been in place and have employed some 6,000 people within six months of that commitment.


Imagination Technologies Chief Sir Hossein Yassaie Steps Down
The long-serving chief executive of Imagination Technologies, Sir Hossein Yassaie, has stepped down with immediate effect after the UK chip designer warned that its performance had worsened again. Shares in the group, a former British technology darling that has struggled to adapt quickly enough to changes in the global smartphone market, opened down 18 per cent after the surprise update on Monday morning. They later regained some ground to trade at 126p, down 4.4 per cent. In addition to the departure of Sir Hossein, who led the company for 18 years, the company will be restructured including the sale of its Pure digital radio division. It will also aim to cut costs. Sir Hossein, who was knighted for services to technology and innovation in 2013, joined the company in 1992 and became chief executive in 1998. His tenure at the group saw it grow into a world-leading developer of graphics processing technology with a market value that peaked at £2bn in 2012.

IQE To Spearhead £50mln Semiconductor ‘Catapult’
AIM quoted semiconductor firm IQE (LON:IQE) is to benefit from a new £50mln government backed scheme.
Cardiff based IQE, alongside Cardiff University, will help spearhead a UK ‘National Catapult’ centre where work will focus on developing the next generation Compound Semiconductors (CS). The scheme was unveiled following a meeting with George Osborne, Chancellor of Exchequer, who in a statement said: “The UK national centre in South Wales will develop compound semiconductors that are at the heart of modern technology.

Plessey To Build Leds In Cubic Gan On Anvil Semiconductors’ 3C-Sic/Si Substrates To Overcome Green Gap

Plessey, Anvil Semiconductors and the University of Cambridge today announced that they are working together to fabricate high efficiency LEDs in cubic GaN grown on Anvil’s 3C-SiC / Si substrates. Cubic GaN has the potential to overcome the problems cause in conventional LEDs by the strong internal electric fields which impair carrier recombination and contribute to efficiency droop. This is particularly true for green LEDs where the internal electric fields are stronger and are believed to cause a rapid reduction in efficiency at green wavelengths known as “the green gap”. The availability of cubic GaN from a readily commercialisable process on large diameter silicon wafers is as a key
enabler for increasing the efficiency of green LEDs and reducing the cost of LED lighting. The collaboration, which is partly funded by Innovate UK under the £14m Energy Catalyst Programme, follows on from work by Anvil Semiconductors and the Cambridge Centre for GaN at the University of Cambridge where they successfully grew cubic GaN on 3C-SiC on silicon wafers by MOCVD. The underlying 3C-SiC layers were produced by Anvil using its patented stress relief IP that enables growth of device quality silicon carbide on 100mm diameter silicon wafers.


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