2012 In Review
Globally, 2012 has been a challenging year for the semiconductor industry with the economic slump in Europe and the US. However, the long term outlook remains positive, with Gartner reporting that the growth in the electronics and semiconductor industries will outpace world GDP growth till 2016.
In India, the ambiguity around the telecom market, traditionally the biggest consumer of semiconductor equipment, was the main handicap to growth.
On the positive side, the passing of the National Policy on Electronics (NPE) in 2012 promises a much-needed fillip to the electronics ecosystem. In 2013 we expect to see a positive impact in terms of home-grown electronics thanks to the provisions of the Policy.
Worldwide Technology Trends in 2013
User experience is the driving force behind many of the semiconductor design trends that we will see in 2013 and beyond. Consumers are demanding devices on which games, music, cameras, internet, and other apps all run simultaneously and seamlessly.
As a result, mobility, application-driven design, video, cloud and security, all of which enable an enhanced user experience, are the drivers of the electronics and semiconductor world today.
Mobility is the single biggest driver for the semiconductor industry. The pervasiveness of mobility does not only affect the telecommunications industry, but also entertainment, home electronics, automotive and medical electronics.
For example, cutting edge mobile solutions in the healthcare field include devices that can monitor blood pressure and blood sugar levels remotely, and then transmit the readings to the physician for diagnosis and treatment; in the automotive sector, in-vehicle infotainment is expected to be the next big thing and end-consumers can look forward to real-time traffic reports, weather information, and entertainment options from next-generation cars.
Mobility has fundamentally altered how we produce and consume information. In the future, we can expect that devices will go one step further and actually interact intelligently with the user – we see the first steps of that with Apple’s Siri software.
Mobility has also created a completely new market for applications that enable a more interactive and satisfying user experience. It is via applications that system companies differentiate themselves and stand apart from the competition.
The need to have applications on all kinds of devices is posing unique challenges to the semiconductor and EDA companies. Whereas traditionally the hardware (silicon) was built first and then the software was added later, now developing the software and designing the hardware are becoming a parallel process.
This gives rise to new EDA technologies that enable early software development using software models of system hardware long before silicon is ready. We will see this new way of designing continue to be a challenge going into 2013.
According to reports from Cisco, video will soon drive more than 90% of all global traffic on the internet. As more and more entertainment and collaboration tools are launched, bandwidth-hungry video traffic will drive growth both in the end consumer market (mobile platforms) and the enterprise space (networking industry).
The cloud is closely intertwined with the growth in mobility – it is the cloud of network servers and backbone equipment that deliver the content and value to all mobile devices. For every 600 smart phones and every 120 tablets, one dedicated server is needed. With the demand for mobiles showing accelerated growth, the need for cloud computing technologies will be another key driver for the semiconductor industry.
Security underpins our information age. The vast amount of data residing in mobile platforms and cloud architectures is extremely vulnerable. As we move into 2013, we foresee a sharper focus on securing data and critical infrastructure from theft and hacker attacks.
(The author is corporate vice president and managing director at Cadence Design Systems (India) Pvt. Ltd.)
(The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of CIOL)