Chip shipments on the upswing

What was top of mind for Will following CES?

Will reports that venture capitalists are beginning to invest in the chip sector again, and highlights some of the products found at CES 2010.

Total chip shipments for 2009 were down some 10 percent, following a lackluster 2008 and a truly miserable Q4/08 & Q1/09 market drop. The good news is that chip shipments continue to improve every month, with consensus growth estimates for 2010 just north of 20 percent. However, electronics industry jobs will be very slow to return. The good news is that venture capitalists are beginning to invest again and we will see more IPOs in the first half.

CES: A hotbed of netbooks

The Consumer Electronics Show, as anticipated, featured a number of new netbooks based on Intel Atoms, but there was also be a general rollout of products based on ARM processors, mostly based on the Cortex-A8. Freescale believes that the tablet configuration allows instant access to information compared to traditional clamshells. The Freescale tablet features a 7-inch touch-screen display and a docking station with a traditional QWERTY keyboard. The new Android-centric platform is based on an end-user research study conducted in conjunction with Savannah College of Art and Design’s prestigious Industrial Design program and includes a 3 MP camera, Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, and GPS as well as optional 3G cellular and RF4CE (for wireless A/V remote control). The solution is intended to enable a generation of products with prices starting at less than $200.

Another CES surprise: MIPS and Tensilica work together for SoCs employing cores from both

In case you missed it, in mid-December, MIPS Technologies and Tensilica announced that they are working together to accelerate SoC (system-on-chip) design activity on the popular Android platform. Both companies will be displaying a joint demo of a MIPS32 processor core integrated with Tensilica’s HiFi 2 Audio DSP at CES this week. This is the first time in memory that two processor IP companies have publicly committed to work together for SoC solutions. Could this be a growing trend among IP houses?

Avnera introduces world’s first multipoint-to-multipoint HD wireless audio platform

Just before Christmas, Avnera Corporation announced AudioMagic 2G: the company’s second-generation wireless analog-system-on-chip (ASoC) technology. AudioMagic 2G is claimed to be the world’s first solution to enable multiple, simultaneous streams of uncompressed HD-quality audio in any wireless send/receive combination. The Beaverton, Oregon company is little known behind the labels of its much bigger customers, which have included names like Panasonic, Polycom, Acoustic Research, and Best Buy. The company’s AudioMagic 2G is the basis of Best Buy’s new Rocketboost products that allow consumers to stream quality music from any audio device throughout their home from a variety of sources such as an MP3 player or PC to any audio device, regardless of the manufacturer. Rocketboost-enabled products can support up to five simultaneous stereo audio streams that can be received and played on up to nine independent receivers. Any Rocketboost-wireless audio receiver can receive audio from any Rocketboost-enabled sender. Users can quickly switch between streams with a single press of a button.

TechBites: A new forum for engineers, programmers and marketers

Formed late in 2009, is a new free forum that bills itself as “The Science and Technology Collaborative Community.” Launched for engineers, programmers, and marketers the forum features a number of communities (like wireless, video, microprocessors, DSP, analog and mixed signal, reconfigurable computing, and even hobby electronics) for discussion and collaboration. A number of my colleagues have joined the forum, so check it out.

Shameless plug

Our newest market study, “Ultra Mobile Device & Chip Market Opportunities” lays out the dynamics of the emerging market for netbooks and Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) and forecasts both devices and the many chips that enable them through 2014. The chip dynamics begin with Intel's Atom (and its progeny) and ARM (Mostly Cortex A8/A9) chips from several vendors (Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Freescale,  and Nvidia), but also goes into the 3G/LTE chips required for mobile Internet connectivity. The 311-page study provides detailed forecasts of Netbooks & MIDs versus Notebooks and Smartphones (from which they are taking market shares) and the chips that enable them. It profiles the key players and includes 22 figures and 79 tables plus appendix. Details are available at:

As always, I invite your comments.

Will Strauss

President & Principal Analyst

Forward Concepts