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 sizeEvent-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.


  1. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Rohm Buys Part of Panasonic’s Discrete Semis Business

    ROHM recently announced the acquisition of a part of the diode and transistor business from Panasonic Semiconductor Solutions Company, a Group Company of Panasonic Corp. The transfer is scheduled for October 2019 with ROHM handling sales of these products to Panasonic’s current customers thereafter.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    What’s wrong with Intel? First, Intel recently exited the 5G modem chip business, but it will continue to field 4G chipsets. Still, Intel has lost about $16 billion on mobile between 2011 and 2018, according to Strategy Analytics.

    Then, after an assortment of delays, Intel said it finally plans to ship its 10nm technology in June with 7nm due out in 2021.

    Source: https://semiengineering.com/week-in-review-manufacturing-test-45/

    Intel Gives Up on 5G Modems While Qualcomm Scores Big with Apple

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Intel Targets 2021 for 7 nm

    After a long delay, Intel will start shipping its first 10-nm processors in June, consistent with the schedule the company has been communicating since last year, executives said.

    Intel also plans to begin shipping 7-nm processors in 2021, executives told analysts at the company’s annual investor day. The 7-nm process technology will mark Intel’s first use of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    EDA Vendors Spread Wings as Market Softens

    A long, slow march by EDA’s three largest vendors to diversify their businesses is coming into sharper focus, even as the EDA market softens after nearly three years of growth.

    Market leader Synopsys has for several years been making inroads into the market for software security and software tools, snapping up more than 10 firms in this arena, from the acquisition of Coverity in 2014 to the acquisition of Black Duck Software in 2017. Cadence has been broadening its reach into the embedded software space, as evidenced by a strategic partnership with Green Hills Software in February that included Cadence taking a 16% stake in the firm.

    Mentor Graphics, meanwhile, has long been considered the most broadline supplier of EDA’s “Big Three,” with strength in chip design tools as well as PCB design and embedded software.

    Mentor CEO Wally Rhines — who has long advocated diversification among the Big Three — considers the trend encouraging. “I think EDA has had the problem that too much time is spent focusing on taking market share from each other and too little time on figuring out ways to create new value for our customers,”

    After remaining relatively stagnant for much of the 2000s, the EDA market has now grown for nine consecutive years through 2018.

    Diversification of the Big Three “ties into the fact that no one really knows exactly what the next era of EDA is going to look like,”

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Chip Roadmap Slows, Diverges
    Imec’s semiconductor outlook shows limits and options

    The next-generation transistor may come in Intel, Samsung and TSMC flavors. It’s just one sign of how the semiconductor roadmap is fanning out as it approaches a frightening wall a few nodes ahead.

    “Generic devices may no longer be possible…the one-dimensional roadmap may not be sufficient anymore. The future is not clear, but we need more options,” Luc van den Hove, chief executive of the research institute, said in a keynote.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Stephen Shankland / CNET:
    Samsung claims it will deliver 3nm chips with gate-all-around transistor tech in 2021, promising they’ll be 35% faster and use 50% less power than its 7nm chips

    Samsung beats chip rivals with ‘gate all around’ speed-boosting tech

    Shrinking chip circuitry down to 3 nanometers will boost speed 35% while cutting power use 50% in 2021 so your phone battery lasts longer.

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Chiplet Momentum Builds, Despite Tradeoffs

    Pre-characterized tiles can move Moore’s Law forward, but it’s not as easy as it looks.

  8. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Asian Edge: China to focus on memory and foundry businesses?

    China at the moment has as many as 30 semiconductor fabs under construction – the most ambitious investment plan the global semiconductor industry has ever seen. China’s memory industry was originally meant to be a key growth driver, but it has lost momentum after the US ban on exports to China-based DRAM maker JHICC. On the other hand, China’s wafer foundry sector continues seeing expansions with at least 13 local fabs eyeing business opportunities in the sector.

  9. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Hybrid protection devices combine a GDT and MOV in a single package

    Bourns’s integrated FLAT gas discharge tube (GDT) technology with a metal oxide varistor (MOV) solves the limitations of using MOVs alone

  10. Tomi Engdahl says:

    In-Chip Monitoring Becoming Essential Below 10nm

    Complex interactions and power-related effects require understanding of how chips behave in context of real-world use cases.

  11. Tomi Engdahl says:


    Marvell will acquire Avera Semiconductor, the ASIC business of GlobalFoundries, for $650 million in cash at closing plus an additional $90 million in cash if certain business conditions are satisfied within the next 15 months. The agreements include transfer of Avera’s revenue base, strategic design wins with infrastructure OEMs, and a new long-term wafer supply agreement between GlobalFoundries and Marvell. The deal also includes Avera’s IP portfolio
    The transaction is expected to close by the end of Marvell’s fiscal year 2020.

    Marvell to Acquire Avera Semi, Creating an Infrastructure ASIC Powerhouse
    Brings World-class ASIC IP and Development Capabilities for Wired and Wireless Applications
    Leverages Significant System-level Expertise and Design Capacity with Deep IBM Heritage
    Extends Marvell’s Reach in 5G Base Stations
    Includes Substantial Revenue Stream

  12. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Q1 2019 Unit Drop Impacts Wafer Demand For 2019

    Which segments have seen the largest declines, and when will wafer demand get back on track?

    The Semico Wafer Demand Model update for Q1 2019 now results in a 5.9% decline in wafer demand for 2019.

    In the Q1 2019, total semiconductor units dropped by 7.4% compared to Q4 2018 and 3.8% compared to Q1 2018.

  13. Tomi Engdahl says:

    3D NAND Race Faces Huge Tech And Cost Challenges
    Shakeout looms as vendors struggle to find ways to add more layers and increase density.

    Amid the ongoing memory downturn, 3D NAND suppliers continue to race each other to the next technology generations with several challenges and a possible shakeout ahead.

    Micron, Samsung, SK Hynix and the Toshiba-Western Digital duo are developing 3D NAND products at the next nodes on the roadmap, but the status of two others, Intel and China’s Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC), is less certain. Currently, Intel is evaluating its 3D NAND business amid losses in this market, and is mulling over the idea of finding a new NAND partner or exiting the market, analysts said. No decision has been reached. Meanwhile, it’s unclear if YMTC will ship its initial 3D NAND products this year, as previously planned.

  14. Tomi Engdahl says:

    SiC Demand Growing Faster Than Supply

    High-voltage applications such as electric vehicles raise specter of shortage and higher prices.

  15. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Partitioning In 3D
    Interconnects, bonding and the flow of data in advanced packaging.

    The best way to improve transistor density isn’t necessarily to cram more of them onto a single die.

  16. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Impact Of U.S.-China Trade War

    Experts look at the impact of the semi and materials sectors.

  17. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Achronix Rolls 7-nm FPGAs for AI
    Speedster7t takes aim at Xilinx’s Versal, Intel’s Agilex

    Achronix is back in the game of providing full-fledged FPGAs with a new high-end 7-nm family, joining the Gold Rush of silicon to accelerate deep learning. It aims to leverage novel design of its AI block, a new on-chip network, and use of GDDR6 memory to provide similar performance at a lower cost than larger rivals Intel and Xilinx.

    Achronix debuted in 2004 with an asynchronous design, one of a handful of ambitious FPGA startups at the time. Today, it is the sole survivor thanks to several generations of clever designs and nimble shifts, such as a recent turn to selling embedded FPGA blocks rather than full chips.

  18. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Intel Regains Top Spot in Chip Sales

    Intel’s first-quarter sales of $15.8 billion were roughly flat with the same period of 2018. But Samsung’s sales fell by 34% year over year, from $18.5 billion in the first quarter of 2018 to $12 billion in the first quarter of 2019.

  19. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Marvell to Buy Former IBM Chip-Design Unit for $650 Million Cash

    Marvell Technology Group Ltd. will acquire the Avera Semiconductor chip-design unit from Globalfoundries Inc. for $650 million in cash, adding the ability to produce more specialized semiconductors needed for 5G phone networks and cloud-data centers.

  20. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Controlling Variability And Cost At 3nm And Beyond

    Lam’s CTO talks about how more data, technology advances and new materials and manufacturing techniques will extend scaling in multiple directions.

    Evolution Of Verification Engineers

    Experts at the Table, part 3: The role of a verification engineer will change and start to look a lot like knowledge management.

  21. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Building China’s own chip industry will be a costly 10-year marathon, former Intel China MD says

  22. Tomi Engdahl says:

    NXP Semiconductors to buy Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity business of Marvell Technology Group in an all-cash deal valued at $1.76B

    NXP to Buy Marvell Wi-Fi Tech Unit in $1.76 Billion Deal

  23. Tomi Engdahl says:

    SiC Demand Growing Faster Than Supply

    High-voltage applications such as electric vehicles raise specter of shortage and higher prices.

    The silicon carbide (SiC) industry is in the midst of a major expansion campaign, but suppliers are struggling to meet potential demand for SiC power devices and wafers in the market.

    In just one example of the expansion efforts, Cree plans to invest up to $1 billion to increase its SiC fab and wafer capacities.

    That might not be enough, however. Based on various forecasts, there still may be a supply constraint for SiC with high product prices. SiC is a compound semiconductor material based on silicon and carbon. In the production flow, a specialized SiC wafer is developed and processed in a fab, resulting in a SiC-based power semiconductor. SiC-based power semis and rival technologies are specialized transistors that switch currents at high voltages.

    SiC stands out for several reasons. Compared to conventional silicon-based power semi devices, SiC has 10 times the breakdown field strength and 3 times the thermal conductivity, making it ideal for high-voltage applications, such as power supplies and solar inverters. The big growth opportunity for SiC is battery-electric cars.

    “We are seeing a huge demand for silicon carbide,” said Guy Moxey, senior director of power products at Wolfspeed.

  24. Tomi Engdahl says:

    How To Integrate An Embedded FPGA

    Adding an eFPGA into an SoC is more complex than just adding an accelerator.

  25. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Why IP Quality Is So Difficult To Determine

    How it is characterized, verified and used can have a big impact on reliability and compatibility in a design.

  26. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Adding Order And Structure To Verification

    How industry experts reacted to their first encounter with a formal capability maturity model.

    You can’t improve what you can’t measure, and when it comes to methodologies the notion of measurement becomes more difficult. Add in notions of the skills, capabilities and experience levels of individuals within an organization, which may affect their ability to adopt certain technologies, and it requires considerable attention.

  27. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Analog Fault Simulation

    How to improve coverage in safety-critical designs.

  28. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Smart AI Assistants are the Real Enabler for Edge AI

    AI at the edge will reduce overwhelming volumes of data to useful and relevant information on which we can act.

    A recent McKinsey report projects that by 2025, the CAGR for silicon containing AI functionality will be 5× that for non-AI silicon. Sure, AI is starting small, but that’s a pretty fast ramp. McKinsey also shows that the bulk of the opportunity is in AI inference and that the fastest growth area is on the edge. Stop and think about that. AI will be growing very fast in a lot of edge designs over the next six-plus years; that can’t be just for novelty value.

    Artificial-intelligence hardware: New opportunities for semiconductor companies

    Our analysis revealed three important findings about value creation:

    AI could allow semiconductor companies to capture 40 to 50 percent of total value from the technology stack, representing the best opportunity they’ve had in decades.
    Storage will experience the highest growth, but semiconductor companies will capture most value in compute, memory, and networking.
    To avoid mistakes that limited value capture in the past, semiconductor companies must undertake a new value-creation strategy that focuses on enabling customized, end-to-end solutions for specific industries, or “microverticals.”

    The AI technology stack will open many opportunities for semiconductor companies

  29. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Xilinx’s Sales Climb as Strategy Shifts to Data Centers

    Xilinx has expanded its efforts around artificial intelligence, networking and storage chores in data centers

  30. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Toshiba & WD NAND Production Hit By Power Outage: 6 Exabytes Lost

    Toshiba Memory and Western Digital on Friday disclosed that an unexpected power outage in the Yokkaichi province in Japan on June 15 affected the manufacturing facilities that are jointly operated. Right now, production facilities are partially halted and they are expected to resume operations only by mid-July.

  31. Tomi Engdahl says:

    DARPA’S $1.5-Billion Remake of U.S. Electronics: Progress Report

    About a year ago, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency pulled back the covers on its five-year, $1.5-billion scheme to remake the U.S. electronics industry. The Electronics Resurgence Initiative included efforts in “aggressive specialization” for chip architectures, systems that are smart enough to reconfigure themselves for whatever data you throw at them, open-source hardware, 24-hour push-button system design, and carbon-nanotube-enabled 3D chip manufacturing, among other cool things.

  32. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Consumer electronics companies are taking a hard look at the implications of moving their supply chains out of China to avoid tariffs. It’s more challenging than it seems.

    The 7 Problems Manufacturers Will Need To Solve To Move Their Supply Chains Out Of China

    Smartphones, laptops, smart speakers, routers, and countless home IOT products are often in fierce competition where price is a factor and a 25% price hike to cover a tariff is too much to swallow.

    In a recent survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China, 40% of respondents said they had either moved or were considering moving supply chains outside of China, with 25% identifying Southeast Asia as the target destination. Apple, Google, and Nintendo are reportedly among them.

  33. Tomi Engdahl says:

    John Geddie / Reuters:
    Amid slowing global demand and the US-China trade war, some chipmakers in Singapore say they are slowing production and laying off staff

    Exclusive: Bearing brunt of trade war, Singapore chipmakers cut jobs

  34. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Semiconductor CEOs on Computing’s Big Role in Slowing the Advance of Climate Change

    We have entered a “Renaissance of Silicon.” That was the thesis of a panel that brought together semiconductor industry CEOs at Micron Technology’s San Jose campus last week. This renaissance, the executives indicated, will lead to an exciting—but not predictable—innovation in chip technology driven by applications that demand more computing power and by the demise of Moore’s Law.

    “I’ve never seen a more exciting time in my 40 years in the industry,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO of Micron Technology.

  35. Tomi Engdahl says:


    Electrons flash across a series of gold quantum dots on boron nitride nanotubes. Michigan Tech scientists made the quantum-tunneling device, which acts like a transistor at room temperature, without using semiconducting materials

  36. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Sorry, graphene—borophene is the new wonder material that’s got everyone excited
    Stronger and more flexible than graphene, a single-atom layer of boron could revolutionize sensors, batteries, and catalytic chemistry.

  37. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Video Mangler For All Your Video Mangling Needs

    Back in the ’70s and ’80s, before we had computers that could do this sort of thing, there were fully analog video effects. These effects could posterize or invert the colors of a video signal, but for the best example of what these machines could do just go find some old music videos from Top of The Pops or Beat Club. Stuff gets weird, man. Unfortunately, all those analog broadcasting studios ended up in storage a few years ago, so if you want some sweet analog effects, you’re going to have to build your own. That’s exactly what [Julien]’s Video Mangler does. It rips up NTSC and PAL signals, does some weird crazy effects, and spits it right back out.


  38. Tomi Engdahl says:

    6 Things to Know About the Biggest Chip Ever Built

    As the largest chip ever built, Cerebras’s Wafer Scale Engine (WSE) naturally comes with a bunch of superlatives.

    Size: 46,225 square millimeters. That’s about 75 percent of a sheet of letter-size paper, but 56 times as large as the biggest GPU.

    Transistors: 1.2 trillion. Nvidia’s GV100 Volta packs in 2.1 billion.

    Processor cores: 400,000.


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