Friday, October 31, 2008

My blog's been nominated by Electronics Weekly!

It was indeed a pleasant surprise to receive an email from Electronics Weekly, yesterday evening, informing me that my blog was recently shortlisted/nominated in the 2008 Blog Awards by a reader of!

All of the nominated blogs have apparently been considered by the panel of judges at The email said, "I am delighted to inform you that you have made the shortlist in the Best Electronics Hardware Blog category."

The entire list can be seen here!

Wow! I must add that here that there are such great blogs and bloggers in that list that I went dizzy for a few minutes!

I never expected my blog to reach this kind of appeal or level! Nor do I think I have that kind of traffic, as this blog has more to do with serious stuff, rather than talk about gadgets, etc. In fact, somebody once told me last year that no one would bother about a blog on semicon and electronics, nor would I get any traffic!

Well, all of this has never bothered me. I'm here to blog about what I feel is close to my heart! If folks happen to stop by, I am extremely grateful to all of them!

Irrespective of whether I win this award, it is just the right time to thank all of the readers of this blog! Thanks to all of you for choosing to stop by my blog occasionally! I sincerely hope you find the content interesting and appealing enough.

There's lots happening in the semiconductor, electronics and telecom industries, and hope that I am able to add my views on all of those in the coming months.

Thanks again, my dear readers. Please keep those suggestions coming. I will try to live up to your expectations. Have a great Halloween, everyone!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Top 20 global solar photovoltaic companies

Alright folks! This has taken some time coming, but it is worth the wait! Presenting the Top 20 solar photovoltaic companies during Q1-2008. May I add here that I am extremely grateful to iSuppli's Jon Cassell for giving me this opportunity.

I was also fortunate enough to discuss this table with Dr. Henning Wicht, Senior Director, Principal Analyst, iSuppli Deutschland GmbH, in Munich, Germany.

Parameters for rankings
First up, what were the parameters used by iSuppli to determine the top 20? According to Dr. Wicht, the top 20 cell-companies have been ranked by production in 2007 and by announced production capacity 2010. He clarified, "Ranking by revenue is not applicable because many integrated manufactures publish compound revenues for cells, modules and systems."

Yes, there have been several announcements in the solar/PV space, in India, and globally, and some names could be missing here. However, the new cell manufacturing projects will be included as soon as they are announced.

Coming back to the topic, it is necessary to examine the role of subsidies. While photovoltaics have been getting cheaper, Dr. Wicht said that subsidies were still necessary to support the PV markets. "It shows that the time grid parity shortens faster than expected earlier. As an example, for Germany, the grid parity might be achieved in 2015, which is two years earlier than expected in 2007."

That is to say, the support programs are benefical, both to support markets to become independent sustainable and to develop the regional industry.

Global interest in solar/PV
Critically, there seems to have developed a sudden interest in solar/PV, starting late 2007, when this (solar) has been around for some time. How has this happened?

According to Dr. Wicht, raising CO2 levels generated through fossil energy, CO2 certificates, rising prices of fossil fuels, political dependency from oil exporting countries drove the Kyoto protocol to reduce CO2.

"Renewable energy is a major pillar to achieve that goal. European governments have been frontrunners to implement and execute that goal. That said, solar has been around for a while. Japan was the first significant market. However, on a global basis, it took off in Europe from 2005 onward," he noted.

With the spate of initiatives in solar/PV, can it not turn out to be a case of too many folks entering the same line?

Sure, over and undersupply happens along the supply chain! The iSuppli market research figures out imbalances, which drive prices/margins up and down.

Also, isn't there a chance of solar/PV getting commoditized, or has it already become one? Well, PV modules are a commodity product, said the analyst. The market is still in its infancy and it will continue to grow for the next 10 years and further. The overall saturation will come, but still some years to go.

Is solar helping semicon?
Some industry folks have been saying that the solar/PV initiatives are not really helping the overall semicon industry, a statement I agree with as well. Also, it may only be benefitting some of the equipment makers.

Dr. Wicht said: "Indeed, semicon fabs are not able to produce competitively solar cells and the solar need for semiconductor devices is rather low. The semiconductor companies, however diversify into PV, e.g., Qimonda with a new cell production. Intel is investing in several PV companies, LG is investing in Conergy, etc., or supplying devices for power conversion, e.g, National Semiconductor. However, the overall impact on the semicon devices market is rather low!

Solar, semicon on par?
iSuppli made a forecast some time back regarding investments in solar and semiconductors being on par by 2010.

The investments for solar cell production raising up to several hundreds of Mio USD, up to 1 Bio $ per production site. That is coming close to a semiconductor fab. The total capex of semiconductor is still 10 times larger than PV. However, PV is rising much faster.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Solar, semi rocking in India; global semi recovery in 2010?

Wow! What a start for October! We have had a whole new range of activities going on! Fist, late September, the India Semiconductor Association organized a solar/PV conclave in New Delhi, where plans were laid out for India's roadmap in the solar/PV field. the ISA-NMCC (National Manufacturing Competitiveness Council) report on the Indian solar PV market was also released at the conclave.

According to Poornima Shenoy, president, ISA, the year 2015 could be important for this industry. She said, "Around this time, the product cost of the Indian solar PV industry is likely to match the semi grid parity (peak power) globally, and also to match the grid parity within India."

Next, AMD joined hands with Advanced Technology Investment Co. (ATIC) of Abu Dhabi to create "The Foundry Company", a leading-edge foundry production outfit. It will also join the IBM joint development alliance for silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and bulk silicon through 22nm generation. It will be very interesting to see how AMD now takes on Intel!

Messe Munchen put out a white paper on "How China, India and Eastern Europe are changing the global electronics market." This is not surprising at all! You can download the report by clicking on the link here, and I must say, the report is really engaging!

On the same lines, Gartner came up with its analysis that China is dominating the global semiconductor scene, and that both India and Vietnam are gaining! India's growing might in semicon is well documented! Also, last month, I had mentioned how the lack of a fab or the exit of a top professional from an Indian semicon firm would not hamper India's growing fortunes in this industry!

The trials and tribulations of the global semiconductor industry were already touched upon by Derek Lidow of iSuppli. Analysts such as Malcolm Penn of Future Horizons and those at Gartner have been saying similar things, more or less. Penn advises that this is the time to stop chasing fashion and get back to basics. He adds, "The good news being the industry basics are mercifully as good as they get back."

Gartner only expects a recovery for semiconductors sometime in 2010! According to Gartner, a collapse in memory spending, combined with a weak economy, is driving a major contraction in semiconductor capital equipment spending in 2008. The slowdown is likely to continue into 2009 before the industry recovers in 2010.

SEMI now has a presence in India. Sathya Prasad, formerly of Cadence, has been appointed as president of SEMI India with immediate effect. This is a further indication of India's growing leadership in the semicon space. I will be getting into a discussion with Sathya Prasad sometime later.

Of course, we have the usual stuff like companies selling off or retiring 200mm fabs. Examples are NXP, Hynix, Renesas, etc. Also, DRAM prices continue to be weak and suppliers could likely face a credit crunch.

Interesting mix of happenings, isn't it! While India rocks in solar and semicon, we are still speculating on a recovery for the global semiconductor industry. About time India took the lead in making that happen!

Finally, I was busy with Durga Puja, and hence, didn't blog in a while. Will try my best and make up for my absence. I would like to take this opportunity to wish SHUBHO BIJOYA to all of my Bengali and non-Bengali friends.