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Chip Vendors Boost SDV Software. Is It Enough?

Chip Vendors Boost SDV Software. Is It Enough?

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
Renesas and NXP are rolling out software-defined vehicle development platforms. A platform encompassing hardware, software and cloud-based tools is a huge advancement compared to past offerings to the automotive industry. But no one dares to promise their effectiveness in a real world where OEMs design SDVs with hardware and software from multiple vendors.

To serve the plans of OEMs designing software-defined vehicles (SDVs), Renesas has unveiled an SDV development platform called “ROX” (R-Car Open Access),” boasting that it integrates “all essential hardware, operating systems (OS), software and tools” automakers need to rapidly develop next-generation vehicles “with secure and continuous software updates,” said Renesas.

Similarly, NXP Semiconductors announced earlier this year “CoreRide” designed to address the complexity, scalability and costs carmakers face as they transition their creaky E/E architecture to newer software-defined vehicle architectures.

This initiative by the two leading automotive chip suppliers illustrates their urgent perception that they must minimize the impact of the software crisis facing many car OEMs.

Read More »Chip Vendors Boost SDV Software. Is It Enough?
Can AI pave the way for multi-die systems?

Can AI Pave the Way for Multi-die Systems?

By Ron Wilson

What’s at stake:
There is growing discussion of AI in chip design. Could this be mainly marketing, or could it reflect a new weapon in the EDA armory? If the latter, AI could take on some of the most intractable challenges of designing multi-die systems.

Global industry is placing huge bets that artificial intelligence will create a step-function increase in productivity. From customer service to materials handling, from bond trading to medical research, this faith thrives across a broad domain. But what exactly do these faithful mean when they say AI? There are many species in that phylum. And how exactly will AI — demonstrably excellent at pattern recognition and parlor games, but with fundamental limitations when it comes to accuracy and predictability — make knowledge workers more productive?

The EDA industry, with its witheringly complex tasks, massive data sets, vastly skilled practitioners, and utter intolerance of error, offers an excellent laboratory for exploring these questions. The emerging field of high-performance multi-die modules in particular includes some of the most formidable challenges. And among the tasks in this area, the challenge of multi-physics analysis of modules — analyzing the interacting electromagnetic, thermal, and mechanical properties of a module design — can be most daunting. This may be a great place to ask our questions.

Read More »Can AI Pave the Way for Multi-die Systems?

How a Small MEMS Foundry Crashed the CHIPS Act

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
The CHIPS and Science Act has created the opportunity — and federal subsidies — for semiconductor companies both big and small to return chip production capacity to the United States. But thus far, the Department of Commerce’s decision-making process has been shrouded in mystery. The latest announcement of Rogue Valley Microdevices getting the grant gives us a glimpse into the federal government’s inner workings.

Likely ingredients necessary to horn into federal funding action? Chutzpah, street cred, and experience in the technology biz.

Without the power of major market share, what does it take to horn into federal funding action?  Likely ingredients include chutzpah, street cred, and experience in the technology biz. These qualities exist emphatically at Rogue Valley Microdevices (Medford, Oregon), a pure-play MEMS foundry founded by Jessica Gomez, once a lab operator at Standard Microsystems (SMSC) in Long Island, New York. Gomez worked at a small aging fab — attached to the then SMSC’s headquarters — where the company made MEMS inkjet printheads. 

Gomez’s journey started with a local community college science degree. She gained first-hand operational experience at SMSC and went on to run a foundry service at a short-lived MEMS company in California. This background convinced Gomez that she could establish her own MEMS foundry. She launched Rogue Valley Microdevices (RVM) in 2003.

Read More »How a Small MEMS Foundry Crashed the CHIPS Act
Silicon Shield Gives Way to Silicon Alliance

Can Silicon Alliance Survive What Broke Taiwan’s Silicon Shield?

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake:

Taiwan’s political and business leaders adopted the Silicon Shield as a concept that would protect the island from geopolitical interference. Supply shortages and the renewed interest in localized chip production globally exposed the weakness of the Silicon Shield. Industry executives wary about restrictions on global collaborations are floating the idea of a Silicon Alliance of friendly nations. That concept, too, may fall victim to the landmine of national interests.

Did the global semiconductor industry jump from the frying pan into the fire?

This question is being raised as observers contemplate the expansive involvement of national and regional governments in the semiconductor value chain and the impact on the chip market’s traditional R&D, sales and operating structures.

Global collaboration, a fundamental pillar and growth driver for the semiconductor industry, is seen as coming under threat with governments and regional bodies trying to insulate their supply chains against geo-political threats and other instabilities, including economic dangers arising from uncontrollable shortages.

At industry events, chip executives are expressing reservations about the actions of national governments that they believe have imposed severe restrictions on collaboration activities in the areas of R&D, product exports, other procurement activities, manufacturing, foreign employment, IP and advanced production equipment.

While governments have always been involved in the semiconductor business, observers said they have assumed a more aggressive posture since the end of the Covid-19 pandemic. Somewhere in the rush to insulate their supply chains against shortages and manufacturing instabilities, the world’s leading economies have taken actions and made pronunciations that executives believe threaten to jeopardize the industry’s long-term health.

Read More »Can Silicon Alliance Survive What Broke Taiwan’s Silicon Shield?
Can Ceva Ignite Yet-To-Explode TinyML Market?

Can Ceva Ignite Yet-To-Explode TinyML Market?

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
TinyML in embedded systems can be implemented many ways, often by leveraging beefed-up MCUs, DSPs, AI accelerators and Neural Processing Units (NPUs). The lingering dilemma is how best to develop embedded systems with machine learning that could fit in the budget of TinyML.

Almost every new technology overheats its industry’s imagination, followed by an announcement flood, promising new tools, software and hardware – all of which fuels dreams of rapid market growth and big volume sales.

Then, reality.

TinyML has reached this moment.

Read More »Can Ceva Ignite Yet-To-Explode TinyML Market?
First, Software-Defined Sensors, Then SDVs

First, Software-Defined Sensors, Then SDVs

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
The concept of software-defined vehicles for whole-vehicle architecture is the automotive industry’s hot topic. But SDVs, for most OEMs, are still in early development. Nonetheless, “software-defined sensors” appear to have traction among carmakers. Why?

Software-defined sensors are going commercial way ahead of software-defined vehicles. This is because OEMs are now required to develop cars compliant with federally mandated Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) rules, including Pedestrian AEB in low light.

Carmakers must pass tests of minimum performance criteria and meet a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) timeline.

OEMs are seeking an answer in “software-defined” sensors, largely because it might enable them to pass AEB tests without adding new sensor hardware such as thermal cameras or lidars.

Read More »First, Software-Defined Sensors, Then SDVs
Nvidia Overshadows The Chip Indusry's Growth Malaise

Nvidia Overshadows The Chip Industry’s Growth Malaise

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake?

Notwithstanding the excitement about AI, the chip market is in a state of disquiet. Nvidia Corp.’s soaring revenue and valuation conceals the unpleasant reality that growth is either negative or unremarkable for most chipmakers. This raises questions about the strength of the recovery expected for 2024 and 2025.

Nvidia Corp. and its shareholders can be forgiven for seeing only green and lush semiconductor turfs while many of its peers drift through a parched field.

In today’s semiconductor industry, thriving and struggling enterprises exist side by side, their varied experiences masked by the laws of averages. On the AI chips side, demand has overwhelmed supply while the other side is swimming in a glut of inventory.

Seen as a whole, though, the chip market is readying for another year of record sales. But is this another mirage, a regular feature of an industry notorious for its unreliable prognostications?

Read More »Nvidia Overshadows The Chip Industry’s Growth Malaise
AI Forces 'Interconnects' Outside the Box

AI Forces ‘Interconnects’ Outside the Box

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
Ai is disrupting the electronics industry. Increasingly diversified AI workloads are triggering seismic changes in the architecture of chips, boxes and data centers. Synopsys explains how AI is shortening PCIe spec cycles and discusses the role of next-generation interconnects in AI-driven data centers. 

The tech industry understands AI’s voracious appetite for more data, computing power and memory, and is coping — sort of. But so far not discussed enough are “interconnects” inside a box that have to migrate outside the box.

“In the world of interconnects, we are beginning to hit the laws of semiconductor physics,” said Manmeet Walia, executive director, mixed-signal PHY IP, Synopsys, in a recent interview with the Ojo-Yoshida Report. In contrast, “with compute, you can still go faster by leaning on Moore’s Law. Or, if you can’t go any faster, you can start parallelizing processing.”

Interconnect speed is now clearly trailing compute, according to Walia. Worse, doubling the bandwidth of an interconnect – from 64 gigabits to 128 gigabits per second, for example – does not just double complexity. It introduces “an exponential increase in complexity,” he noted.

Read More »AI Forces ‘Interconnects’ Outside the Box

ST & Wolfspeed: A Tale of Two SiC Suppliers

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
The contrast between ST and Wolfspeed couldn’t be starker. Did Wolfspeed, focused intently on leading the transition from 6- to 8-inch SiC wafers, underestimate Chinese wafer makers? Or, too busy satisfying multi-year wafer contracts with SiC device vendors such as Infineon and Renesas, did Wolfspeed fail to see that profitability in the business has already moved on from wafers to devices? We pick the Yole Group’s brain to learn what ST has done comparatively better.

STMicroelectronics last week unveiled its plan for a new 8-inch SiC manufacturing facility in Catania, Italy. That site will become an integrated hub for ST’s comprehensive SiC operations, from wafers to testing and packaging devices.

This move is monumental.

Above all, it paves ST’s path to become, over the long run, a genuine leader on the SiC market.

Read More »ST & Wolfspeed: A Tale of Two SiC Suppliers
AI Sends AMD and Lisa Su Back to the Drawing Board

AI Sends AMD and Lisa Su Back to the Drawing Board

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake?

AMD under Lisa Su is facing a pack of even more formidable foes than it did when it was slugging it out with Intel in the microprocessor market. Artificial intelligence has redrawn the competitive landscape and AMD is again in a disadvantageous position, playing catchup. Can it maintain the sales and valuation growth momentum created by CEO Su or will it spend many more years again fighting to become a viable player in the AI market?

Lisa Su cannot take victory laps.

Despite obvious winnings, the AMD chairman, president and CEO, cannot afford to take a break from the task of revitalizing the semiconductor supplier she has now led for 10 years.

On Monday, Su was in Taiwan announcing the launch of AMD’s newest artificial intelligence (AI) processors and explaining its strategy for taking on Nvidia Corp. in the battle for dominance of the emerging market.

It’s a story the market is eager to understand following the massive breakout of AI and the emergence of Nvidia as the leading vendor serving data centers, hyperscalers, cloud services vendors and other manufacturers in the sector. The question Su cannot yet answer, though, is how AMD will fare in this new competitive environment where it faces big and equally thirsty competitors.

Read More »AI Sends AMD and Lisa Su Back to the Drawing Board