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Potential Futures: The Drivers of Change & the Emergence of Alternative Manufacturing Models in the Semiconductor Industry

Stephen Rothrock, President & Managing Principal, ATREG, Inc.


The semiconductor industry is finding itself in uncharted waters as it continues to morph and mature from the exciting, fast-growing segment it was in its early stages. While change can be a painful process for an industry, it is also an opportunity that companies can embrace to position themselves ahead of the curve and thrive. This article examines the macro forces transforming the industry and explores the rise of alternative manufacturing models.


Industry slowdown, with the mobile market driving the majority of growth. Total revenue for the semiconductor industry peaked at $310 billion in 2011. From 1985 to 2005, revenue grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.8 percent. However, between 2005 and 2012, that growth rate dropped to just 3.4 percent and current projections show no substantial improvement on the horizon as most industry segments experience anemic growth. The exception to the rule is the $10 billion mobile market, which is projected to exhibit more than 20 percent CAGR between 2011 and 2016.

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Raising the Level of Abstraction for Heterogeneous Programmable Devices

Desh Singh, Director of Software Engineering, Altera


In the past 20 years, FPGA technology has evolved at an incredibly rapid rate. In the early '90s, the primary use of FPGAs was for a relatively small amount of glue logic that served to integrate discrete system components. Today, FPGA devices possess massive amounts of programmable logic capacity and also integrate custom ASIC and hardened processor technology. These components essentially form a heterogeneous SOC that is suitable for the implementation of entire applications.

One of the key challenges faced by the application developer is to manage the implementation complexity of mapping algorithms to the FPGA's heterogeneous fabric. Traditionally, the programmable logic elements in the FPGA fabric are exploited through the use of HDL like VHDL or Verilog. Processor systems are programmed in software languages and often require interaction with operating systems and device drivers. Integrated ASIC technology is used for commonly used fixed function components such as PCI-express and external memory interfaces. These components typically interface with both hardware and software. It is evident that traditional methodologies require different design styles to efficiently use each of the FPGA's heterogeneous components. In this article, we will look at a unified design environment for FPGAs based on an industry standard language (OpenCL) for heterogeneous platforms. The use of OpenCL allows the developer to describe their applications in a single language and partition subtasks in such a way to efficiently exploit the different portions of the FPGA fabric.

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PDF Version
GSA Forum: Vol. 16 No. 4 December 2009
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Behrooz Abdi

In this interview, GSA sits down with Behrooz Abdi, CEO of InvenSense, to
discuss his outlook on the expanding MEMS industry and InvenSense's plans to
capitalize on its growth.

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