Semiconductor Industry: Outlook, New Development and Opportunities

Date:   Thursday , February 03, 2011

In India, the market forces will reflect the rest of the world. With the growing globalization of the product-development community, India will continue to provide a huge base of innovation and talent, adding to the international structure of the electronics community. They will contribute most to the global base, then they will add to their local infrastructure, connectivity and transportation product developments. India will focus a bit more on industrialization than many other places around the world.

That said, the Indian semiconductor industry has grown into a prominent player in the past couple of decades, and has been a vital contributor to the nationís economy. According to a joint report that was recently issued by the Indian Semiconductor Association and Frost & Sullivan, the Indian semiconductor industry, following the global trend, is set for tremendous growth, with sales expected to hit $8 Billion by the end of 2011.

India has great potential as a semiconductor market, due to huge domestic demand for electronics equipment. While the urban demand for electronic gadgets is a huge opportunity in itself, there is also an untapped and vast opportunity for locally made products for the non-urban market, especially in verticals such as telecom and wireless applications. The growth of the mobile handset, consumer electronics and telecommunications industries has contributed to the growing revenues of the electronics industry, and this, in turn, has helped the growth of the Indian semiconductor industry.

This year will look very much like this past year. This will be the year of the Human Interface, in terms of how we interact with a variety of new end products. Low power will be the cornerstone of almost every semiconductor product launched this year, and we will continue to see a focus on display technologies that give us bigger, brighter and better display products in everything we interface with, from phones to tablets to televisions.
The iPhone and iPad are examples of this. With fewer dollars being spent on consumer products, a high-quality user experience will be expected and demanded. Also, portable electronics are increasing in sophistication. The computational horsepower is increasing. This puts a great demand on the power system. Typically, these systems are battery powered. In order to provide a sufficient application lifetime, the microcontroller's (MCU's) power consumption must be reduced.

In terms of technology, the market will continue to demand products with higher functionality and smaller form factors. Lower power consumption yielding longer battery life, as well as more intuitive display technologies, are other essential requirements on semiconductor products.

To drive the growth of these applications, power-system development and advancement are essential. However, lowering power consumption while providing acceptable performance is challenging for microcontroller providers, as low power and high performance are opposing forces. When more advanced process technologies are used, Sleep currents increase. So, low power development becomes critical for the growth of these applications.
Therefore, it is believed that a good portion of the growth for semiconductor companies will come from energy-related and low-power technologies, including applications in the telecom, automotive, industrial electronics and consumer electronics markets. Another key area that is generating demand is the overall growth of microcontroller-based embedded systems, and the microcontroller content within existing embedded systems, which is being driven by applications such as industrial automation, medical equipment, point-of-sale terminals, digital weighing scales, printers, three-phase energy meters and many others.

Microchip has many innovative semiconductor products that are helping designers to create these applications. Our extreme Low Power (XLP) PIC microcontrollers have the industry's lowest active and sleep power consumption, along with high levels of integration in small packages. This XLP technology allows Microchip to adopt more advanced processes, while keeping sleep leakage currents low, which in turn reduces active power consumption-providing the best of both worlds, in terms of the lowest overall power consumption.

As for Human Interface, Microchip has a broad portfolio of solutions that include touch sensing, graphical display and audio technologies. For example, Microchip has microcontrollers that provide solutions for everything from simple segmented LCDs to rich graphical displays. Segmented LCD is used in a wide variety of applications, ranging from meters to portable medical devices to thermostats to exercise equipment, while graphical displays include everything from simple monochrome LCDs to full-color WVGA user interfaces.

Our mTouch portfolio of touch-sensing solutions works in conjunction with our vast microcontroller portfolio to enable everything from capacitive buttons and sliders, all the way up to projected-capacitive touch screens with multi-touch capabilities. In some cases, we have integrated the peripherals for driving graphics displays and capacitive touch sensing into a single microcontroller.

All-in-all, we will continue to supply an extremely high level of technical support, at all levels of the customer's new-product development cycle; helping them to reduce their time to market, develop their products in a low-risk environment and lower their total system cost.

The author is Vice President - Worldwide Sales and Applications, Microchip Technology