Electronics trends for 2019

Electronics technology and market trends for 2019:

Markets: The Future of the Semiconductor Industry is Bright. Demand is rising for AI and automotive, flat for mobile phones, with trade uncertainty looming over everything. Foundries see growth and new issues in 2019. WSTS industry forecast projects annual global market growth of 2.6 percent in 2019.

Politics: Superpower politics may start to unravel semiconductor industry. China – USA market war is going on or starting. Trade Disputes Increase Market Uncertainty. The need to impose tariffs on U.S. imports of semiconductors is perplexing and frequently confusing. For example GoPro says it will move production of US-bound cameras out of China by summer 2019 due to fear of future tariffs, as US-China trade war escalates.

More-Than-Moore Markets: Software developers have come to expect ever-growing compute and memory resources, but the CPU no longer can deliver the kinds of performance benefits that scaling used to provide. CPUs no longer deliver the same kind of of performance improvements as in the past, raising questions across the industry about what comes next. The growth in processing power delivered by a single CPU core began stalling out at the beginning of the decade. The escalating costs of following Moore’s Law have shifted the semiconductor industry’s focus to More-than-Moore (MtM) technologies, where analog/mixed-signal, RF, MEMS, image sensing, power or other technologies may be integrated with CMOS in a variety of planar, 2.5D and 3D architecturesNew Metrology and Inspection Technologies Needed for More-than-Moore Markets. Maximum flexibility is no longer the reliable path to product success. With scaling no longer happening for many companies, competitiveness now comes from better design, better performance and lower power.

Memory: DRAM fastest growing market in four of past six years, demonstrating very cyclical market. For the last two years, DRAMs have been sold more than any other semiconductors and market has been strongly growing. DRAM growth ends in 2019. New memory technologies like GDDR6 and HBM2 impacts system design. By 2018, embedded memory has become pervasive in a system-on-chip (SoC) and the area devoted to memory has risen to 72% and Semico Research predicts that this will rise to 79% by 2021.

AI: AI/ML/DL is now cropping up everywhere, and that trend shows no sign of abatement. AI and machine learning were considered distant future technologies until a few years ago, but now AI is suddenly pushed into the mainstream. ML support is showing up at all levels. The almost ubiquitous rollout of AI and its offshoots—machine learning, deep learning, neural nets of all types—will require significantly more processing power as the amount of data that needs to be processed continues to grow by orders of magnitude. What isn’t clear yet is how that will affect semiconductor manufacturing or how quickly that might happen. Your Next SoC Will Probably Include AI Acceleration. China has never had a real chip industry, but in making specialized AI chips, though, it’s got a head start. Today, selling custom chips for artificial intelligence is still a small business – the current market at $2.5 billion which is one half of one percent of the estimated value of the 2018 global semiconductor market). It could be worth $20 billion in 2021.

Heterogeneous processing: It used to be that the only processing device was an x86. Now almost all data centers have added both FPGA and GPU processors in various configurationsThis heterogeneous approach is particularly apparent in AI/ML designs. This means that processors are no longer the one-size-fits-all answer for processing which means faster rate of innovation. Addition of multiple processing elements and memories is causing design challenges. System-on-chip (SoC) solutions continue to get more complex as more specialized hardware is added to optimize the SoC for new applications. Designers today are faced by a “whole system” problem: a problem of systemic complexity. Making Sure A Heterogeneous Design Will Work is hard. While existing tools still work well enough, no one has yet figured out the most efficient way to use them in a variety of new applications. A growing push toward more heterogeneity and customization in chip design is creating havoc across the global supply chain.

Prototyping: Faster innovation is what every engineering team is striving for. The speed of progress, however, can be hindered by how fast you can iterate through a prototyping cycle. Electronics prototyping is constrained by PCB manufacturing which is often opaque, slow and error prone.

Equipment: After a period of record growth, the semiconductor equipment industry is facing a slowdown in 2019, in addition to several technical challenges that still need to be resolved. Both DRAM and NAND vendors are expected to push out their equipment orders. On the positive side, foundry vendors continue to ramp up their 7nm processes, propelling equipment orders in the logic space. Still, the demand for leading-edge and mature tools can’t make up for the downturn in memory. Total fab equipment spending in 2019 is projected to drop 8 percent.

Advanced nodes: Intel plans to ship products based on 10nm in the second half of 2019. TSMC and Samsung are ramping up 7nm, which is equivalent to Intel’s 10nm. 7 nm is important node. It’s becoming harder to prepare a wafer at advanced nodes. There are considerable challenges of planarizing a thin film on a wafer for etch and optical control at 7nm and beyond. Intel is working on 7nm and 5nm.

MEMS: Small but mighty, micro-electrical mechanical systems (MEMS) were the driving force behind many of the most surprising devices at this year’s CES. MEMS are tiny machines made of components between 1 and 100 micrometers in size Event-driven MEMS sensors consume no power while standing by. A triggering mechanical or thermal event closes a contact within the sensor to activate its circuitry and telemetry. Compared to traditional RF relays, RF MEMS switch technology can provide a relay replacement solution that is smaller, faster, more reliable, and use less power than conventional electromechanical relays.

Packaging: Although IC packaging industry braces for slower growth in 2019, advanced packaging remains a bright spot. Intel has demonstrated a new Foveros 3D ‘stacked’ packaging technology for face-to-face stacking of logic. Foveros extends the 3D packaging concept to include high-performance logic such as CPU, graphics, and AI processors.

Printed electronics: Printing electronics using conductive ink rather than lithography is starting to move out of the research phase, with chipmakers now looking at how to commercialize this technology across a broad range of sensor applications.

Sensors: New sensors could vastly extend the reach of electronics, creating new markets and new opportunities within existing markets. The sensors market be segmented on the basis of technology, named as CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor), MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System), NEMS (Nano Electromechanical System) and others. It is expected to increase due to increasing adoption of sensors in automotive sector, escalating use of sensors in industrial products, strong demand for sensors in smart home and building applications, growing adoption of sensors in healthcare equipments, etc. Yet the market faces some challenges such as declining personal computers (PCs) shipments.

EDA: Digital circuit design is largely automated today, but most analog components still are designed manually. Analog electronics design is needed very much today, especially in IoT applications where same chips need to have both analogue and digital functionality. As analog design grows increasingly complex and error-prone, design teams and tool vendors are focusing on how to automate as much of the design of analog circuits as possible. We need new ways to find defects in multi-technology devices.

Power consumption: Today, information and communication technologies globally consume 8% of electricity and doubles every year. New low power technologies are needed in both hardware and software.

2019 Will Be the Year of Open Source from software and even hardware. It seems that it is the time for RISC-V to rise to the challenge. It is possible that there is a bright future for RISC-V, as the biggest concern isn’t even choosing “the core” as designers today are faced by a “whole system” problem. Open hardware/software platforms like Arduino and Raspberry Pi are inresingly important in many applications.

Regulations: More restrictive regulations like those from EU’s REACH are pushing companies to produce products free from halogens and phthalate.

Compliance: The IEC 62368-1 standard represents an important transition for designers of ICT and audio-visual equipment because it is set to supersede the outgoing IEC 60950-1 and IEC 60065 electrical safety standards. It applies to to the end systems and also to components such as power supplies. The implementation date is by the December 2020.

18 Comments

  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Demand for memory chips in Asia might be picking up soon, analysts say
    https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/13/demand-for-memory-chips-in-asia-might-be-picking-up-soon-analysts-say.html

    Investors in the semiconductor space could be attempting to “time the bottom,” said Randy Abrams of Credit Suisse.
    The downturn cycle in the semiconductor sector “might be much shorter than expected,” according to Kiwoom Securities’ Daniel Yoo.
    Both analysts also explained to CNBC how the sector might be affected by the upcoming trade negotiations between the U.S. and China.

    Reply
  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why Analog Designs Fail
    https://semiengineering.com/making-analog-more-reliable/

    Analog circuitry stopped following Moore’s Law a long time ago, but that hasn’t always helped.

    The gap between analog and digital reliability is growing, and digital designs appear to be winning.

    Reply
  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Arms Race In Chip Performance
    https://semiengineering.com/arms-race-in-chip-performance/

    Processing speed is now a geopolitical issue, which could help solve one of the thorniest problems in computing.

    An AI arms race is taking shape across continents. While this is perilous on many fronts, it could provide a massive boost for the chip technology—and help to solve a long-simmering problem in computing, as well as lots of lesser ones.

    The U.S. government this week announced its AI Initiative, joining an international scramble for the fastest way to do multiply/accumulate and come up with good-enough results. Behind the geopolitcal rhetoric, all are working to process enormous amounts of data at blazing speeds, often with limited power budgets because some of these systems need to operate in the field using batteries. And now they all are competing for the most effective way to process that data in the shortest amount of time.

    Reply
  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    The Promise Of GDDR6 And 7nm
    https://semiengineering.com/the-promise-of-gddr6-and-7nm/

    Why this new memory is so critical for everything from AI to ADAS.

    Computer graphics is just the beginning of the burgeoning markets that GDDR6 DRAM will supercharge over the near term. Industry forecasts expect GDDR6 to start ramping up this year and become the mainstream graphic memory by 2024. GDDR6 revenue is expected to be in the range of $6 to $8 billion, which foretells the increasingly vast system application usage over the next few years.

    This healthy growth, fueled by the graphics market, is only the start for GDDR6. The memory bandwidth bottleneck is now affecting a broad range of high-performance applications including networking, data center, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), cryptocurrency mining, high-performance computing (HPC), machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI).

    GDDR6 DRAM, at speeds of 16Gbps (per pin) or 512Gbps of total bandwidth per DRAM device, offers these applications a memory subsystem that is in many cases 5X faster than traditional memory solutions.

    Reply
  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Getting Ready for 32 GT/s PCIe 5.0 Designs
    https://semiengineering.com/getting-ready-for-32-gt-s-pcie-5-0-designs/

    The transition from older PCI Express (PCIe) technologies to the latest Revision 5.0 is on an accelerated path, with system-on-chip (SoC) designers seeing a much faster roll out than they did with PCIe 4.0. The recent release of version 0.9 of the PCIe 5.0 Base Specification locks in the functional changes to the specification, allowing designers to confidently start their designs. With the rapid adoption of PCIe 5.0 technology, SoC designers should understand and consider some of the key design challenges they will face, such as increased channel loss, complex controller considerations, PHY and controller integration, packaging and signal integrity issues, and modeling and testing requirements.

    This article outlines the design challenges of moving to a PCIe 5.0 interface and how to successfully overcome the challenges using proven IP that is designed and tested to meet the key features of PCIe 5.0 at 32 GT/s.

    Reply
  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    TSMC to move 7nm EUV process to volume production in March
    https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20190212PD200.html%20%20

    Reply
  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Quantum strangeness gives rise to new electronics
    https://electroiq.com/2019/02/quantum-strangeness-gives-rise-to-new-electronics/

    Noting the startling advances in semiconductor technology, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore proposed that the number of transistors on a chip will double each year, an observation that has been born out since he made the claim in 1965. Still, it’s unlikely Moore could have foreseen the extent of the electronics revolution currently underway.

    Today, a new breed of devices, bearing unique properties, is being developed. As ultra-miniaturization continues apace, researchers have begun to explore the intersection of physical and chemical properties occurring at the molecular scale.

    Advances in this fast-paced domain could improve devices for data storage and information processing and aid in the development of molecular switches, among other innovations.

    Reply
  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    New Method Makes Waterproof Graphene Circuits for Sensors
    https://www.designnews.com/electronics-test/new-method-makes-waterproof-graphene-circuits-sensors/51061556160216?ADTRK=UBM&elq_mid=7493&elq_cid=876648

    A European team of researchers has found a way to make graphene-based circuits immune to humidity for use in environmental sensors.

    Engineers love graphene for its versatility, strength, and electrical conductivity. However, one drawback to its use in electrical applications, such as sensors, is that it is sensitive to humidity.

    Reply
  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Apple supply chain: TSMC to remain sole iPhone chip supplier
    https://www.digitimes.com/news/a20190130PD218.html%20

    Reply
  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    China’s IC Production Forecast to Double Over Next 5 Years
    https://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1334300

    Integrated circuit production in China is projected to nearly double between 2018 and 2023, increasing from $23.8 billion to $47 billion, according to market research firm IC Insights.

    This increase — albeit from a relatively a small base — represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15% over the five-year period, IC Insights said.

    Reply
  11. Tomi Engdahl says:

    200mm Fabs to Add 700,000 Wafers Through 2022, SEMI Reports
    http://www1.semi.org/en/200mm-fabs-add-700000-wafers-through-2022-semi-reports%20

    Robust demand for more content for mobile, Internet of Things (IoT), automotive and industrial applications will drive production of 700,000 200mm wafers from 2019 to 2022, a 14 percent increase, reports SEMI, the global industry association serving the electronics manufacturing supply chain, in its latest Global 200mm Fab Outlook. The increase brings total 200mm wafer fab capacity to 6.5 million wafers per month as many devices have found their sweet spot with 200mm wafer fabrication.

    Reply
  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Lithography Challenges For Fan-out
    https://semiengineering.com/lithography-challenges-for-fan-out/

    Advanced packaging moves into high-volume mobile markets, but requires more sophisticated equipment and lower-cost processes.

    Reply
  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Lack of Minerals Is Threatening America’s Energy Future
    https://www.designnews.com/electronics-test/lack-minerals-threatening-americas-energy-future/177607494160239?ADTRK=UBM&elq_mid=7518&elq_cid=876648

    The future of American consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and renewable energy will depend upon securing sources of vital minerals for battery production.

    Reply

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