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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lattice and Affarii put remote radio head on FPGA


By Nick Flaherty

Lattice Semiconductor and Affarii Technologies have demonstrated the industry’s lowest cost, low power Remote Radio Head (RRH) solution at 1300mW per antenna. The integration of all RRH processing has been achieved on a single LatticeECP3-150 device.
The single chip solution supports 2x2 MIMO configurations for WCDMA, LTE and WiMAX applications and is part of an overall RRH hardware evaluation platform jointly
developed by Lattice and Affarii. The platform is comprised of the RF front-end, high-speed
data conversion devices and the digital signal processing portion. The functionality of the full
signal path package includes DDC/DUC, DPD, CFR and CPRI IP cores, supports multi-carrier
waveforms up to 20MHz bandwidth and is compatible with Class AB and Doherty amplifiers
using LDMOS and GaN transistors.
All features of this RRH solution, both hardware and soft IP, are fully integrated and supported by Lattice’s latest generation of design tools.
The RRH solution is built using Affarii’s digitalTRX technology that includes Digital Up/Down Converter (DUC/DDC), Crest Factor Reduction (CFR) and Digital Pre-Distortion (DPD) functionality. When used with industry standard Doherty amplifiers the Digital Pre- distortion solution provides up to 30dB of ACLR correction with PA output efficiencies exceeding 40%, allowing flexible and efficient RRH designs. The solution is fully customizable, with end applications including WCDMA, LTE, WiMAX, and DVB-T/S/H.
The RRH solution is supported by a development and test environment that includes GUI-based design simulation, performance analysis and a production test API with design examples.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Que? That’s Spanish for “Where The Hell is My E-Reader,” Right?

Que? That’s Spanish for “Where The Hell is My E-Reader,” Right?

Story from WSJ on the cancellation of pre-orders for Plastic Logic's Que reader, and no date for shipping - opps, not a good sign, and a real shame for a UK startup!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Portable Multimedia: Toshiba aims to standardise WiFi in an SD card

Portable Multimedia: Toshiba aims to standardise WiFi in an SD card

Not just for portable multimedia communications but a quick and easy way toadd WiFi to all manner of embedded and industrial devices via an SD slot

Monday, June 21, 2010

Xilinx tackles FPGA power with 28nm Series-7

Scalable from low to high density with 28nm Virtex-7, Kintex-7, and Artix-7 families

By Nick Flaherty

Xilinx is tackling two of the key barriers to using FPGAs - power and cost. It is reducing the power consumption of its new 7 Series devices families by 50% over the previous generation and has developed an architecture that wil scale across three families, helping to reduce costs. However, the idea of heading into mobile equipment with some of these parts is somewhat optimisitic - low power serves more purpose in increasing channel density in networking and telecoms applications.
“The 7 series represents a new juncture for Xilinx, and the FPGA industry in general, as we bring our technology portfolio to new markets by putting a significant emphasis on lowering power consumption,” said Xilinx President and CEO Moshe Gavrielov. “In addition to delivering what we and our customers expect from Moore’s Law in terms of capacity and performance with each new generation, we continue our focus on opening programmable logic to a broader audience by delivering design platforms targeted toward the specific needs of new users and markets.”The low static power comes from a HKMG (high-K metal gate) process optimized for low static power consumption (see “Xilinx Picks 28nm High-Performance, Low-Power Process to Accelerate Platforms for Driving the Programmable Imperative”) that lowers static power consumption by 50 percent compared to the alternative 28nm high-performance process. Xilinx then applied architectural enhancements to lower dynamic power consumption both for logic and I/O, while also introducing intelligent clock-gating technology with the release of ISE Design Suite 12. The result is an FPGA series that provides 50 percent lower total power consumption compared to Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 FPGAs and 30 percent lower than alternative 28nm FPGA device families.
Designers can take full advantage of up to 4.7TMACS in DSP performance symmetric mode (2.37TMACs in non-symmetric mode) and 2 million logic cells at clock speeds of up to 600MHz, and achieve up to 2.4Tbps high-speed connectivity all while staying within their power budgets.
All 7 series FPGAs share a unified architecture that enables customers to easily scale their designs up or down in capability to reduce cost and power or increase performance and capability, thereby reducing their investment in developing and deploying products across low-cost and high-performance families. The architecture is derived from the widely successful Virtex-series-based architecture and has been designed to simplify reuse of current Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 FPGA designs. It is also supported by the EasyPath FPGA cost reduction solution for the move to fixed silicon that further improves productivity by enabling a guaranteed 35 percent cost reduction with no incremental conversion or engineering investment.
Customers who need the lower power or increased system performance and capacity provided in the new 7 series FPGAs can begin designs in Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 FPGAs and move the designs when the time is right through the adoption of the AMBA AXI interconnect standard enabling plug-and-play IP usage to help customers improve productivity and development costs.
“Integrating 6-LUT architecture and working with ARM on the AMBA specification for these devices supports IP reuse, portability, and predictability,” said Andy Norton, CTO for Systems Architecture, Cloudshield Technologies, an SAIC company. “A unified architecture, new paradigm-changing processor-centric devices and hierarchical-based design flows in next-gen tools, will result in increased productivity, flexibility, system-on-chip capabilities and portability from previous generation architectures.”
The devices use the same logic architecture, Block RAM, clocking technology, DSP slices, and SelectIO™ technology and build on previous generations of devices delivered by Xilinx’s patented Virtex series ASMBL block architecture. This next generation ASMBL architecture provides unprecedented flexibility and scalability that enables customers to most effectively use the full range of logic densities.

Xilinx 7 Series FPGA Families:
Virtex-7 Family: 2X system performance improvement at 50 percent lower power compared to Virtex-6 devices, the ultra high-end Virtex-7 family sets new industry benchmarks with 1.8X greater signal processing performance, 1.6x greater I/O bandwidth, 2X greater memory bandwidth with 2133 Mbps memory interfacing performance, and delivers the industry’s largest density FPGA with 2 million logic cells, which is 2.5X greater density than any previous or existing FPGA. EasyPath-7 devices are also available for all Virtex-7 FPGAs for a guaranteed 35% cost reduction without requiring any design conversion. Virtex-7 devices enable 400G bridging and switch fabric wired communication systems that are at the heart of the global wired infrastructure, advance RADAR systems, and high-performance computer systems that require single-chip TeraMACC signal processing capabilities, as well as the logic density, performance, and I/O bandwidth required for next generation test and measurement equipment. The Virtex-7 family will include “XT” extended capability devices with as many as 80 transceivers supporting individual line rates up to 13.1Gbps and devices that provide up to 1.9Tbps serial bandwidth. Also, these devices offer up to 850 SelectIO pins enabling the industry’s greatest number of parallel banks of 72-bit DDR3 memory interfaces supporting 2133Mbps. Future devices will also feature 28Gbps transceivers.

Kintex-7 Family: Establishing a new category of FPGAs, the Kintex-7 family delivers Virtex-6 family performance at less than half the price for a 2x price/performance improvement while consuming 50 percent less power. The family includes high-performance 10.3Gbps or lower-cost optimized 6.5Gbps serial connectivity, memory, and logic performance required for applications such as high volume 10G optical wired communication equipment. It also provides a balance of signal processing performance, power consumption, and cost to support the deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless networks, meet the aggressive power and cost requirements required for next generation high definition 3D flat panel displays, and deliver the performance and bandwidth needed for next generation broadcast video-on-demand systems.

Artix-7 Family: Delivering 50 percent lower power and 35 percent lower cost compared to the Spartan-6 family, the Artix-7 family uses small form-factor packaging and the unified Virtex-series based architecture to deliver the performance required to address cost-sensitive, high-volume markets previously served by ASSPs, ASICs, and low-cost FPGAs. This new family meets low power performance requirements of battery-powered portable ultrasound equipment, and addresses small form factor, low power requirements for commercial digital camera lens control, as well as the strict size, weight, power, and cost (SWAPc) requirements for military avionics and communications equipment.


Early access ISE Design Suite software supporting 7 series FPGAs is now available. Initial devices will be available in Q1 of next year.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Toshiba Launches Industry’s Largest Embedded NAND Flash Memory Modules

32nm Embedded Memory up to 128GB NAND and Controller in a Single Package

By Nick Flaherty
Toshiba has launched a 128-gigabyte (GB) embedded NAND flash memory module, the highest capacity yet achieved in the industry. The module is fully compliant with the latest e•MMC standard, and is designed for application in a wide range of digital consumer products, including smartphones, tablet PCs and digital video cameras. Samples will be available from September, and mass production will start in the fourth quarter (October to December) of 2010.

The new 128GB embedded device integrates sixteen 64Gbit (equal to 8GB) NAND chips fabricated with Toshiba's cutting-edge 32nm process technology and a dedicated controller into a small package only 17 x 22 x 1.4mm. Toshiba is the first company to succeed in combining sixteen 64Gbit NAND chips, and applied advanced chip thinning and layering technologies to realize individual chips that are only 30 micrometers thick.

Toshiba's modules now range from 2GB to 128GB and integrate a controller to manage basic control functions for NAND applications, and are compatible with the JEDEC eMMC Version 4.4 and its features. New samples of 64GB chips will also be available from August.

Demand continues to grow for large density chips that support high resolution video and deliver enhanced storage, particularly in the area of embedded memories with a controller function that minimizes development requirements and eases integration into system designs.

New Product Line-up

Product Number



Sample Shipment

Mass Production



237Ball FBGA


Sep. 2010

4Q, 2010




237Ball FBGA


Aug. 2010

4Q, 2010


Key Features

1. The JEDEC eMMC V4.4 compliant interface handles essential functions, including writing block management, error correction and driver software. It simplifies system development, allowing manufacturers to minimize development costs and speed up time to market for new and upgraded products.

2. Embedded in a system, the module can record up to 2,222 hours of music at a 128Kbps bit rate, 16.6 hours of full spec high definition video and 38.4 hours of standard definition video

3. The 128GB device stacks sixteen 64Gbit chips fabricated with leading-edge 32nm process technology. Application of advanced chip thinning, layering and wire bonding technologies has allowed Toshiba to achieve individual chips only 30 micrometers thick, and to layer and bond them in a small package. The result is an embedded NAND flash memory module with the industry’s highest density.

4. The new products are sealed in a small FBGA package only 17 x 22 x 1.4mm and has a signal layout compliant with the JEDEC eMMC V4.4.




JEDEC eMMCTM V4.4 standard HS-MMC interface

Power Supply Voltage

2.7V to 3.6V (memory core);

1.65V to 1.95V / 2.7V to 3.6V (interface)

Bus width

x1, x4, x8

Write Speed*

21MB per sec. (Sequential/Interleave Mode)

21MB per sec. (Sequential/No Interleave Mode)

Read Speed*

46MB per sec. (Sequential Mode/Interleave Mode)

55MB per sec. (Sequential/No Interleave Mode)

Temperature range

-25degrees to +85degees Celsius


153Ball FBGA +84 support balls

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shipments of Short Range Wireless ICs Expected to Increase 18% in 2010, Says ABI Research | Business Wire

Shipments of Short Range Wireless ICs Expected to Increase 18% in 2010, Says ABI Research

Short range wireless ICs, including Bluetooth, NFC, UWB, 802.15.4 and Wi-Fi have been widely adopted in computing, communication, and consumer products in recent years.

“The market for short range wireless ICs is booming in 2010, says ABI Research analyst Celia Bo. “Total shipments will increase approximately 18% compared to 2009.”

Bluetooth ICs, which lead the short range wireless IC market, are expected to exceed 55% of total Short Range Wireless IC shipments in 2010. The cellular handsets segment is seen to be maintaining the highest unit shipment of Bluetooth-enabled products, followed distantly by the notebook and UMD segment.

Bluetooth-enabled home entertainment products form an emerging market that is forcing an increase in the Bluetooth IC shipments, and the networked and handheld game consoles and will also see wide adoption. Bo concludes, “Bluetooth Low Energy wireless technology opens an absolutely new and very significant market opportunity for products and devices which need low cost and low power wireless connectivity.”

ABI Research’s market data product “Short Range Wireless ICs: Bluetooth, NFC, UWB, 802.15.4, and Wi-Fi Market Forecasts” (, addresses marketing and technical analysis of Bluetooth, NFC, UWB, 802.15.4, Wi-Fi and Combo Wireless Connectivity ICs. The forecast information is broken down by applications, including computers, communication devices and consumer electronic products. The study is included in two of the firm’s Research Services: Short Range Wireless ( and Semiconductors (

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Power management chip shortage looms

Remarkable growth over Christmas drives up prices
By Nick Flaherty

Strong demand for power management semiconductors in the first half of 2010 has caught suppliers off-guard, spurring shortages and causing prices to rise in the near term, says market researcher iSuppli. This will impact on the design and supply and cost of portable euipment in particular this year.
Revenue for power management semiconductors reached $6.9 billion in the first quarter of 2010, up 2.9 percent from $6.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009. Sequential growth in the first quarter is remarkable given that it is weakest period of the year for sales of semiconductors. The growth of the first quarter reflects a continuation of the expansion that started during the last three months of 2009, after the market stalled briefly in the third quarter of last year.

Growth is expected to continue in the second quarter this year, when revenue is set to rise another 7.2 percent to hit $7.4 billion. And although a bigger upward movement occurred during the same time last year—when power management ascended 18.2 percent from $4.4 billion to $5.2 billion—the second quarter in 2010 will deliver the most robust growth for the industry this year.
“The expansion in the first quarter of 2010 took place because of the industry’s move to fulfill order backlogs and to satisfy limited demand, both of which shrank in the wake of the economic slowdown last year,” said Marijana Vukicevic, principal analyst for power management at iSuppli. “In contrast, growth in the second quarter will be fueled by increased activity in a number of areas utilizing power management semiconductors, including consumer electronics, wireless communications and data processing.”

Suppliers beset with shortages; prices to rise

Suppliers now are suffering from a shortage of power semiconductors, mainly because a recovery in demand—which started in the fourth of quarter of last year—has proven to be of a greater magnitude than current operational capacity can handle. Even with the rehiring of workers and the reopening of fab lines, suppliers have been caught off-guard by the resurgent demand and are unable to keep up, iSuppli’s findings show.
Furthermore, inventory levels at distributors decreased by 1.5 days in the fourth quarter of 2009 amid strong sales—a development that induced even more demand, especially for the analogue and discrete components of the market that already were in a state of shortage. The decline in inventory not only will contribute to big delays at the back end, particularly for analog suppliers, but also will serve to increase pricing, iSuppli believes.
And while prices are expected to stabilize in the second half of 2010, the shortage of commodity devices is likely to drive up Average Selling Prices (ASPs) in the first half, affecting buyers in the short term. Essentially, the price increases will persist until supply catches up with demand, iSuppli projections indicate.

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Industry drives ARM-based Linux devices through Linaro

ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments Form New Company to Speed the Rollout of Linux-Based Devices

By Nick Flaherty

ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments have created the not-for-profit company, Linaro, to provide new resources and industry alignment for open source software developers using Linux on the world’s most sophisticated semiconductor System-on-Chips (SoCs).
Linaro will invest resources in open source projects that can then be used by Linux-based distributions such as Android, LiMo, MeeGo, Ubuntu and webOS.
Linaro will provide a stable and optimized base for distributions and developers by creating new releases of optimized tools, kernel and middleware software validated for a wide range of SoCs, every six months.
Linaro’s base of software and tools will be applicable to a wide range of markets, helping reduce time-to-market for products such as smart phones, tablets, digital televisions, automotive entertainment and enterprise equipment. By providing the common foundations of tools and software for other distributions and stacks to build upon, Linaro enables greater operational efficiency for the electronics industry.
Linaro’s first software and tools release is due out in November 2010, and will provide optimizations for the latest range of ARM Cortex-A family of processors.
Traditionally, the Linux and open-source software communities focused on solving the software problems of enterprise and computing markets with a limited choice of processor platforms. The open source community is transitioning to create advanced Web-centric consumer devices using high profile open source based distributions and a wide range of high-performance, low-power ARM®-based SoCs. Linaro will make it easier and quicker to develop advanced products with these high profile distributions by creating software commonality across semiconductor SoCs, from multiple companies.
In addition to providing a focal point for open source software developers, consumers will benefit by the formation of Linaro. Linaro’s outputs will accelerate the abundance of new consumer products that use Linux-based distributions such as Android, LiMo, MeeGo, Ubuntu and webOS in conjunction with advanced semiconductor SoCs to provide the new features consumers desire at the lowest possible power consumption.
“The dramatic growth of open source software development can now be seen in internet-based, always-connected mobile and consumer products,” said Tom Lantzsch, executive officer of Linaro. “Linaro will help accelerate this trend further by increasing investment on key open source projects and providing industry alignment with the community to deliver the best Linux-based products for the benefit of the consumer.”
Linaro will work with the growing number of Linux distributions to create regular releases of optimized tools and foundation software that can be used widely by the industry, increasing compatibility across semiconductors from multiple suppliers. As a result, Linaro’s resources and open source solutions will allow device manufacturers to speed up development time, improve performance and reduce engineering time spent on non-differentiating, low-level software. Linux distributions, open source and proprietary software projects will benefit from Linaro's investment, with more stable code becoming widely available as a common base for innovation.
Linaro engineers will contribute to a wide range of open source projects covering areas such as tools, kernel, graphics and boot code. Linaro intends to work in partnership with the Linux Foundation to align on core operating principles.
In addition to ARM and IBM, four of the world’s leading application processor companies, Freescale, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas Instruments, will align open source engineering efforts within Linaro.
“ARM and our partners have a long history of working with, and supporting, open source software development for complex SoCs based on the ARM architecture,” said Warren East, ARM CEO. “As a founding member of Linaro, we are working together with the broader open source community to accelerate innovation for the next generation of computing, focusing on delivering a rich connected experience across the diversity of devices in our daily lives.”
”Freescale is taking a leadership position in shaping the future of consumer electronics by enabling entirely new categories of smart mobile devices based on processors,” said Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of Freescale’s Networking and Multimedia Group. “Linaro represents an important step forward in developing the ecosystem for these smart mobile devices through dramatically speeding and simplifying software development cycles and leveraging the power and strength of the open source community.”
"IBM believes that leadership with Linux solutions begins with effective collaboration in the community, and IBM's ten year history of working with the Linux community has resulted in a strong, mutually beneficial relationship,” said Daniel Frye, vice president, open systems development, IBM. "IBM's ongoing collaboration has contributed to the widespread adoption of Linux throughout the data center. We are strong proponents of working with partners such as ARM to further our commitment, ensuring Embedded Linux is the leading platform for innovation in the mobile and consumer electronics markets."
“Samsung is an industry leader in high performance, low power application processors for mobile handset and other consumer devices. We fully appreciate the significance of having an optimized Linux software foundation and tools for our ARM CPU core base products, to support our customers’ needs with high quality solutions,” said Yiwan Wong, vice president, System LSI marketing, Samsung Electronics. “We are pleased to join Linaro as a foundation member and work together with ARM to serve the interests of our customers.”
“Open source has become an engine for innovation in the smart phone and consumer electronics market,” said Teppo Hemia, vice president, 3G Multimedia Platforms Business Unit of ST-Ericsson.” Being an active contributor in the open source community, we are excited to be one of the founding members of Linaro and expect our combined efforts to accelerate the development of Linux-based devices.”
“Linaro is intently focused on delivering critical open source components to enable developers building on ARM-based processors. An important element of that delivery is a more complete, higher quality development toolset that increases performance. In our leadership role, TI will support Linaro’s efforts by leveraging our open source expertise—evidenced by our participation in Linux kernel enhancement submissions and our support of popular industry development boards,” said Remi El-Ouazzane, vice president and general manager, OMAP Platform Business Unit, TI.

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Mercury ships dual GPU open processor system

Industry’s highest performance OpenVPX, dual-GPU, conduction-cooled subsystem

By Nick Flaherty

Mercury Computer Systems has started shipping the industry’s highest performance 6U module-based OpenVPX, dual GPU-based conduction-cooled subsystem, using whichever high power GPU is available. This subsystem is currently deployed in an embedded rugged defense surveillance platform, performing processing, exploitation, and dissemination (PED).
One of the toughest challenges is to improve the military situational awareness through timely and precise delivery of actionable information by improved PED capabilities. Mercury’s subsystems are designed to provide these Embedded Smart Processing capabilities, enabling sensors to be smarter, able to accept unrelenting streams of data, and extract and deliver situational awareness and other crucial information.
Mercury’s scalable ISR subsystem is powered by the Ensemble 6000 Series GSC6200 – an OpenVPX module powered by GPU technology working in conjunction with Intel-based processing in a conduction-cooled, 6U form factor. The subsystem currently delivers performance in the TeraFLOPS range, and the incorporation of GPUs enables the solution to be delivered in an optimized size, weight, and power (SWaP) footprint. Mercury’s innovative packaging technology on the GSC6200 leverages the easy-to-upgrade MxM GPU form factor, which enables customers to rapidly upgrade and deploy the latest and fastest GPUs from ATI or NVIDIA, resulting in even higher performance.
“Our services and systems integration expertise allows us to offer our latest technology in a subsystem solution. This allows our customers to reduce their development risk while enabling concurrent engineering, ultimately leading to increased product velocity. Also, our approach of using standards-based, open APIs results in a subsystem which is open, a key requirement of our customers and as well as the U.S. Department of Defense,” said Steve Patterson, Vice President of Defense Product Line Management at Mercury.
“Mercury’s new OpenVPX GSC6200 module leverages the best available technologies while providing a clear migration path for customers to implement emerging GPUs from either ATI or NVIDIA in the future. This enables our customers to offer best of breed solutions for the industry’s most demanding high-end signal and image processing applications,” he added.
In addition to the GSC6200, other critical modules and services enabled the successful production of this subsystem. Mercury’s Services and Systems Integration team combined a multi-vendor hardware and software approach with their expert integration services to create the subsystem. The GSC6200 is providing industry-leading processing and exploitation capabilities to enable substantial SWaP improvements and parallel stream computing capabilities.

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Hewlett-Packard Maintains MEMS Dominance in 2009

Print heads still drive MEMS manufacturing but cell phone accelerometers are catching up
By Nick Flaherty

It's always good to have pre-conceptions challenged, and this one is big - that HP is the leading manufacturer of Microelectromechanical (MEMS) sensors among semiconductor Integrated Device Manufacturers (IDM) and fabless firms, according to the latest figures from market researchers iSuppli.
“While sales of Hewlett-Packard’s inkjet printers fell 12 percent in 2009, the top player was able to cushion the blow through its large installed base, whose use of disposable printheads or replacement ink cartridges continues to provide significant revenues,” said Jérémie Bouchaud, principal analyst at iSuppli. “More than half of Hewlett-Packard’s MEMS revenue is fabless, and the company outsources the fabrication of a large portion of its printheads to STMicroelectronics. The seismic-grade accelerometers introduced by the company at the end of 2009 have not yet started contributing to its MEMS revenue, iSuppli research shows.”

In second place and mirroring its runner-up position in 2008 was Texas Instruments.
“Despite losing several hundred million dollars in MEMS since 2006, Texas Instruments benefited in 2009 from the revenue that MEMS in pico-projectors started to bring in,” Bouchaud said. “Furthermore, the MEMS in DLP chipsets produced by Texas Instruments for use in rear-projection TVs did better than expected, thanks to Mitsubishi Corp.’s continuing investment in laser rear-projection technology utilizing DLP.”
Likewise unchanged in their 2009 positions from the year before were the companies in third and fourth place: Bosch and Canon. Bosch, at No. 3, saw its overall MEMS revenue dip by 3 percent and its automotive MEMS revenue decline by 17 percent. However, consumer electronics revenue from the company’s Bosch Sensortec branch rose almost fourfold last year. Holding down the No. 4 spot was Canon, which gained MEMS share in the inkjet printhead segment, although its shipments remained flat.
Other companies in the IDM and fabless category that performed well included Epson, which achieved a 12 percent increase in revenue thanks to its booming quartz MEMS gyroscope business; and STMicroelectronics, which holds more than 40 percent of the accelerometer market for cell phones.
IDMs—i.e., semiconductor suppliers that conduct their manufacturing in-house—accounted for a greater share of MEMS revenue—roughly 77 percent, compared 23 percent for fabless manufacturers. However, the market share of fabless firms—i.e., semiconductor companies that outsource their manufacturing—is set to increase during the next five years because of the growing trend in the industry to use external foundries for semiconductor production.
Taken together, MEMS revenue for the Top 10 IDMs and fabless manufacturers amounted to $5.7 billion in 2009, down 8.8 percent from the year before. The decline was less than expected, mainly because of the impressive recovery of sensor production, especially in the automotive sector, during the last four months of 2009.

For more information, see iSuppli’s new report MEMS: Where's the Money and Who's Making it?

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Broadcom combines three WiFi channels for wireless HD video

Intensi-fi 65nm single chip supports 450Mbit/s 3x3 802.11n WiFi
By Nick Flaherty

In a bid to make wireless video work in the home, Broadcom has developed a single-chip 802.11n dual-band 3x3 wireless solution that achieves 450 Mbit/s data rates in client devices and over 600Mbit/s throughput (TCP/IP) in 3x3 AP/router configurations. By combining the MIMO wireless capacity with features to improve range, Broadcom's new Intensi-fi chip enables several wireless multimedia applications, including high-definition (HD) video streaming, back-up, storage, multiplayer gaming, audio streaming, wireless printing, and photo sharing.
The BCM4331 802.11n solution delivers full 3x3 performance with three transmitting and three receiving streams of data in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency bands. An increased number of data streams and antennas results in faster speeds, longer range, fewer dropped connections, and better overall wireless coverage. The BCM4331 is now sampling and is being demonstrated at this week's 30th annual COMPUTEX in Taipei, Taiwan.
A growing number of consumers want the ability to instantly access over-the-top (OTT) broadband video delivered through internet protocol (IP) directly to their TVs. ABI Research forecasts the connected TV market to exceed 117 million units by 2014.
"The expanding use of video over Wi-Fi in game consoles, Blu-ray players, and TVs will impose new requirements for Wi-Fi access points," said Phil Solis, practice director for Wireless Connectivity at ABI Research. "3x3 Wi-Fi solutions provide the bandwidth and quality of service necessary to stream HD video reliably throughout an entire home, share media content with wireless enabled consumer electronics devices, and utilize Internet-based applications. This is important as consumers migrate to services that require their entertainment devices to be connected and to support their lifestyles wirelessly."
With the Intensi-fi system-on-a-chip (SoC) solution HD video content can be downloaded to a notebook computer 50% percent faster than existing 802.11n 2x2 technologies.
The BCM4331 three-stream architecture employs range-extending features to deliver the highest bandwidths to all corners of the home.
The key features include:
  • 3 antenna technology with Broadcom's advanced receiver architecture boosts range by up to 40 percent when compared to existing 802.11n devices
  • A low density parity check (LDPC) code further improves the reliability of the wireless link, helping insure media gets properly distributed even in congested environments
  • Single-chip dual-band (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) three stream radio, three antenna 3x3 architecture
  • Data rates up to 450 Megabits per second (Mbps)
  • Range extension features enabling the delivery of video, data, and media throughout the house
  • LDPC code and space-time block coding (STBC) for improving overall range and coverage
  • Advanced receiver architecture for industry leading throughput at range
  • Best-in-Class Client STA solution
  • Bluetooth combo-ready with InConcert Technology for Wireless Coexistence
  • InConcert Maestro and Wi-Fi Direct for easy video streaming between PCs and TVs
  • High performance integrated dual-band AP/router solutions
  • Lowest cost two-chip simultaneous dual band 3x3 AP solution with the BCM4718 and BCM4331 for 11n 2.4GHz data and 5GHz HD video distribution applications
  • Industry-leading simultaneous 3-stream throughput using the 600MHz, MIPS74k BCM4706 processor
  • 65 nanometer CMOS PCIe design that promotes integration and low power consumption
  • Broadcom's OneDriver software support and WHQL certified driver support for Windows 7, Vista, Windows XP and Linux
"We are driving the growth of the wireless market by introducing a solution that addresses the need for performance across multiple demanding applications," said Kevin Mukai, Senior Product Line Manager for Broadcom's WLAN line of business. "Broadcom's BCM4331 3x3 802.11n further enhances the overall user experience by providing substantially improved throughput and range. As a result, products using Broadcom's newest Intensi-fi solution will better address the growing consumer demand to share and distribute HD video content between multiple screens throughout the home, thereby improving the utility of every display device."

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Portable Multimedia: Qualcomm ships dual-core Snapdragon chips

Portable Multimedia: Qualcomm ships dual-core Snapdragon chips

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Copper nanowires enable flexible displays

Cheaper than silver and made in volume

By Nick Flaherty

A team of Duke University chemists has perfected a simple way to make tiny copper nanowires in quantity that are small enough to be transparent, making them ideal for thin-film solar cells, flat-screen TVs and computers, and flexible displays.
"Imagine a foldable iPad," said Benjamin Wiley, an assistant professor of chemistry at Duke. His team reports its findings online this week in Advanced Materials.
Nanowires made of copper perform better than carbon nanotubes, and are much cheaper than silver nanowires, Wiley said.
“If we are going to have these ubiquitous electronics and solar cells,” Wiley said, “we need to use materials that are abundant in the earth’s crust and don’t take much energy to extract.” He points out that there are very few materials that are known to be both transparent and conductive, which is why ITO (indium tin oxide) is still being used despite its drawbacks, particularly being brittle.
However, Wiley’s new work shows that copper, which is a thousand times more abundant than indium, can be used to make a film of nanowires that is both transparent and conductive.
Silver nanowires also perform well as a transparent conductor, and Wiley contributed to a patent on the production of them as a graduate student. But silver, like indium, is rare and expensive. Other researchers have been trying to improve the performance of carbon nanotubes as a transparent conductor, but without much luck.
“The fact that copper nanowires are cheaper and work better makes them a very promising material to solve this problem,” Wiley said.
Wiley and his students, PhD candidate Aaron Rathmell and undergraduate Stephen Bergin, grew the copper nanowires in a water-based solution. “By adding different chemicals to the solution, you can control the assembly of atoms into different nanostructures,” Wiley said. In this case, when the copper crystallizes, it first forms tiny “seeds,” and then a single nanowire sprouts from each seed. It’s a mechanism of crystal growth that has never been observed before.
Because the process is water-based, and because copper nanowires are flexible, Wiley thinks the nanowires could be coated from solution in a roll-to-roll process, like newspaper printing, which would be much more efficient than the ITO production process.
Wiley’s lab is also the first to demonstrate that copper nanowires perform well as a transparent conductor. He said the process will need to be scaled up for commercial use, and he’s got a couple of other problems to solve as well: preventing the nanowires from clumping, which reduces transparency, and preventing the copper from oxidizing, which decreases conductivity. Once the clumping problem has been worked out, Wiley believes the conductivity of the copper nanowires will match that of silver nanowires and ITO.

Wiley, who has applied for a patent for his process, expects to see copper nanowires in commercial use in the not-too-distant future. He notes that there is already investment financing available for the development of transparent conductors based on silver nanowires.
“We think that using a material that is a hundred times cheaper will be even more attractive to venture capitalists, electronic companies and solar companies who all need these transparent electrodes,” he said.
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SGI puts petaflop hybrid computing in a single cabinet

By Nick Flaherty

Scalable Mixed Technology Uses Open Architecture
SGI has developed a breakthrough hybrid computing platform that will deliver a petaflop of performance within a single cabinet using technology from NVIDIA, ATI and Tilera. The platform uses an open software architecture and will scale from tens to hundreds of petaflops, enabling users to tackle the most demanding technical compute requirements.
“We are excited to announce this radically differentiated server technology platform,” said Dr. Eng Lim Goh, senior vice president and chief technology officer at SGI. “Our innovative technology will enable users to attain new levels of scalability and speed with groundbreaking performance capabilities, culminating in a petaflop in a cabinet.”
The new platform was designed to drive performance to specifically address the growing science and engineering technical markets that rely on high-end software to achieve rapid results. It offers GPU processing capabilities from NVIDIA and ATI, as well as accelerator-based technology from Tilera, and other peripheral component interconnect express (PCIe) based solutions. The technology will be seen in SGI products by the end of 2010.

“SGI shows its R&D strength again,” said Steve Conway, IDC research vice president for high performance computing. “Following closely on the heels of the Altix UV series, SGI has introduced a highly dense, scalable technology designed for strong sustained performance on very demanding HPC applications.”

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