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The world of audio has changed significantly over the last decade, as smart phones and mobile tablet devices have driven technology innovation. Mobile gaming, voice trigger and recognition, and the consumer’s desire for higher quality speech and audio in noisy conditions are pushing the requirements of the audio/voice sub-system performance to two extreme ends of the spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is the growing demand for high-performance, high-resolution multi-channel audio stream processing. On the other end of the spectrum is the demand for always-on voice trigger and speech recognition intelligence at extremely low power.
The continuous shrinking of planar CMOS processes to allow for greater density reduces area but also results in increased leakage power, which makes the shift to smaller planar processes less attractive. An alternative that many designers are considering are FinFETs, but moving from planar to FinFET is not a straight forward choice. There are several factors one must consider when making the decision about whether or not to move.
In mobile electronics, a single device suffices to cover various daily usages: calling, taking pictures, playing music, geolocating, etc... All of these common features should fit in one's hand. To adequately implement these new functionalities, audio electronics must not be limited to basic plug and play functionalities any longer. Smartphone applications should be compliant with new user practices by enabling more interactivity and giving more possibilities to control the inner functionalities.
Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) refers to a suite of IEEE standards defining highly deterministic and redundant networking operation beneficial for control and other latency sensitive traffic in Ethernet networks. TSN defines traffic streams that can be scheduled to meet stringent performance guarantees such as bounded latency, latency variation, and minimal loss of packets. Traditional best-effort Ethernet traffic, in general, may be lossy with uncertain packet latencies due to the congestion and buffering at the network nodes. But, many applications like automotive and industrial have control traffic that require TSN features in their networks at all times. So, matching the Ethernet networks with the requirements of time critical networks, TSN has defined a set of standards that provide low-latency, deterministic network connectivity for distribution of information in the network.
G.hn is a specification for wire-line based home networking that targets gigabit-per-second data rates and operates over existing AC power lines, coax cables and phone lines. All these supported home wire types could be connected to single G.hn semiconductor device. G.hn brings to consumers easy-to-use accessing, storing and sharing a high volume of content around the home. With all these benefits G.hn is likely to become the most common interface for the majority of devices such as personal computers, TVs and set-top boxes, network-attached storage devices and others that have at least one power line connection.
Sales volume for mobile devices just keeps on growing. Analysts estimate that the industry will ship two billion units per year by 2018, up from one billion in 2013. What's behind this growth? While consumers are driven to own the latest "must-have" gadgets by the lure of better cameras, new features and bigger screens, the key driver may be the growing use of mobile devices in more areas of people's lives.
Semiconductor industry gross margins are under pressure. The average gross margin of the industry in Q4 2013 was 53 percent, which was a quarter-over-quarter decline of over 100 basis points (bps), and a continued decline of over 300 bps from the high water mark in Q3 2010 of 56 percent.(1) Outsourcing the capital-intensive tasks of semiconductor manufacturing to the external supply chain reduces working capital requirements. However, the fixed costs and associated overhead of the operations team, who perform product engineering and supply chain management, can account for six to 18 percent of the cost of goods sold(7) (COGS), which weighs on margins. For example, companies that produce three to five 65nm chips per year may efficiently utilize their operations teams. However, the move to 40nm and below has significantly changed these economics. One 28nm tapeout requires 78 percent more design time(2) and 40 percent more non-recurring investment(3) than a 40nm tapeout. These increased costs limit fabless semiconductor companies (FSCs) to fewer tapeouts,(4) which means there are fewer part numbers for the operations team to manage. Before 28nm the operations team was a perennial need, but it became seasonal at the new lower node. Fewer parts in the supply chain means reduced utilization of the operations team, which puts more pressure on gross margins. As legacy products mature, gross margins are squeezed even more.
No one could have imagined the impact of the mobile handset on society when it was first introduced commercially over 20 years ago. Today we depend on our cell phones for many different tasks from making simple calls to watching high definition live video. Not only has this device changed the way we work and play, but it has also transformed the network and created a vehicle for operators to monetize their investment. There is no doubt that the consumption of data is at the center of mobile handset growth and there are three major industry trends that will continue to not only drive demand for handsets but create industries and applications which will leverage the wireless network. All of these trends contribute to the growth in RF foundry.
What do all of these things have in common? They were key topics addressed by Cadence...