SAN FRANCISCO—Microcontroller shipments are growing tremendously as electronics companies roll out new products for the Internet of Things (IoT), but unprecedented price erosion means MCU vendors are seeing only a slight increase in sales, according to market research firm IC Insights.
According to the latest update to IC Insights’ McClean report, microcontroller shipments are on pace to increase by a whopping $25.4 billion in 2015, thanks to a huge upsurge in units for smartcards and 32-bit applications, many of which are aimed at the IoT. But total revenue from microcontrollers is expected to grow by just 4% to a record $16.6 billion, according to the report.
Rob Lineback, a senior market research analyst at IC Insights, said in an email exchange that microcontroller average selling prices (ASPs) are being driven down the most in the 32-bit segment, as suppliers battle each other and attempt to hit low price points needed for emerging IoT applications.
“The pressure is on suppliers to dramatically lower ASPs on 32-bit for Internet of Things applications that need $3 to $4 total semiconductor cost for IoT connectivity functions and handling web-attached sensors,” Lineback said. “Wearables, wireless sensor nodes, and other embedded IoT functions are pushing down ASPs.”
IC Insights expects MCU ASPs to continue to fall. The firm projects ASPs to decline by 21% this year to 65 cents per unit. The firm also projects that microcontroller ASPs will further decline by about 14% next year. MCU ASPs declined by about 12% last year to 83 cents per unit, according to the firm.
Despite the projection of further ASP erosion, IC Insights expects overall microcontroller revenue to grow by 7% next year to $17.7 billion, with unit shipments forecast to rise 25% to 31.6 billion worldwide.
Microcontroller unit shipments began accelerating in 2014, driven largely by shipments of low-cost MCUs used in smartcards, IC Insights said. After growing by 26% in 2014, smartcard MCU shipments are now expected to grow by another 41% this year, reaching 12.9 billion, according to IC Insights.
The mid-year update to IC Insights’ McClean Report raises the projection for smartcard MCU shipments through 2019 due to anticipated adoption of secure “chip-card” technology by U.S. credit card companies, banks, retailers, government agencies, and others, IC Insights said. The firm noted that massive data breaches in the U.S. in credit card transactions at retail stores and growing concerns about identity theft have resulted a major move to smartcards for higher levels of security.
IC Insights also noted that total microcontroller shipments are also accelerating because of strong demand for 32-bit designs and other single-chip solutions that can serve the explosion of sensors in wireless systems and connection to the IoT. The firm forecasts that IoT-related MCU sales will grow 16% in 2015 to $405 million with unit shipments climbing 40% to 431 million.
—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor and related industries for EE Times.
August 19, 2015 // Peter Clarke
Smart-meter IC opportunity offers unit and ASP growth, says IHS
The global market for smart meters is going to be 132 million units in 2015 and to rise to 150 million units in 2019, a compound annual growth rate of 3.2 percent, according to IHS.
This will provide opportunities for ICs. Global revenues for semiconductors used in water, gas and electric meters reached $1.2 billion in 2014, with a year-over-year growth of 11 percent and a five-year compound annual growth rate of 8 percent, the market research firm claims. The average cost of chips used in two-way meters was approximately $11 in 2014, IHS estimates. About two thirds of that semiconductor revenue comes from microcontroller and analog components, said IHS.
Unusually, even though volumes and competition will increase over time, average selling prices (ASPs) are expected to increase rather than fall. This is because the industry will be transitioning from low-cost 8-bit microcontrollers to more expensive 32-bit MCUs with additional memory requirements and system-on-chip components with increased security.
"The semiconductor industry for electric meters is moving toward a single-chip solution for measuring and communicating with the grid station, which is an important industry trend to watch," said Robbie Galoso, an analyst with IHS Technology, in a statement. "Water and gas meters require fewer semiconductor components; however, they need extra semiconductors for sensing and battery management."
Meters are evolving from those that merely register end-user usage, into systems that can be queried for on-demand data, upgraded remotely, shut off in case of emergency or non-payment and used for variable pricing.
USB Type C brings promises, potential consumer confusion
8/19/2015 08:47 AM EDT
MADISON, Wis. – A number of chip vendors including Cypress Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, NXP Semiconductors and Lattice Semiconductor have had a busy summer rolling out new USB Type-C chips, an accelerated product launch that effectively ends an era of scarcity for USB Type C.
Aside from being a reversible connector, USB Type C’s advantages are many. Asked to break down USB Type C, IHS analyst O’Rourke described three basic categories:
1.USB 3.1 does data only. It is effectively the next-generation USB spec, offering 10Gbps data throughput
2.USB Power Delivery (2.0) offers up to 100 watts of power for charging
3.USB Alternate modes offer DisplayPort and/or SuperMHL over a Type C cable and connector.
Accordingly, chip vendors are coming up with a family of USB Type-C products with feature sets aimed at different applications.
Type C’s killer app: Power Delivery
Of all the different USB Type-C features, O’Rourke singled out “power delivery as the killer app of USB Type C.”
It allows simultaneous transmission of data and power from one device to another, he said. One scenario is a notebook plugged into a wall while connected to a tablet. The notebook can deliver data files while also powering the tablet.
Further, O’Rourke added, “Power delivery is negotiable between devices so, if one Type C power delivery phone is connected to another Type C power delivery mobile phone, either device could charge the other.”
Put simply, your tablet, for example, can charge your phone, or your phone can charge your Bluetooth headset. The power flow — previously one-way — is now bi-directional.
O’Rourke predicted, “Over the longer term, the number of features that USB Type C delivers will enable fewer connectors on a large number of devices that today may have several, including PCs, tablets, and docks.”
Differing chip solutions
Since Cypress announced the industry's first integrated, single-chip USB Type-C port controllers in February, other connectivity IC heavy weights have also joined the USB Type-C bandwagon this summer.
TI launched last month the first all-in-one USB Type-C and USB power delivery controller, which integrates a port power switch and port data multiplexer.
NXP introduced, also in July, what the company claims the industry’s first “secure USB Type-C solution,” integrated with authentication and power delivery capabilities. NXP claims that such an authentication feature is useful in validating a device. For example, it can help “detect counterfeit power supplies before they are used for rapid charging functions,” according to NXP.
Today’s USB Type-C chips come with different features and architectures.
Some Type-C chips are integrated with a microcontroller, like ARM Cortex0, as seen in those developed by Cypress. “Those would be ideal for power chargers that come with no system MCU,” Cheng Hwee Chee, Lattice’s senior director of consumer marketing, told EE Times.
The recent high has been 16.25, so using his metric this price should go to 10.075 before heading north again.
Now keep in mind this guy was around about a 1,000 years ago so he may not be up on current trends .
Cypress Semiconductor Looking Solid Post-Merger -- Market Talk
July 23, 2015 (Dow Jones
15:41 EDT - Cypress Semiconductor (CY) has completed its momentous merger with Spansion--a chip maker about the same size and age--and the Street is liking the early results. The company reports earnings excluding severance charges and other merger costs of 15 cents a share, exceeding analyst estimates of 13 cents. Cypress CEO TJ Rodgers says the combined product lines are particularly helping in the auto market: where the smaller Cypress might have sold $2 in chips for a car, the combination now reaps more than $10 per vehicle. CY up more than 8% to $12.14.
The new way forward
The contribution of each of Cypress' business segments changed notably following the merger. In particular, combined revenue from Programmable Systems came in at $202.8 million, or an increase of 172% year over year, while the already-large Memory Products division jumped 205% over the same period to $261.4 million. Meanwhile, Emerging Technologies revenue increased 44% year over year to $7.7 million, and Data Communications rose a more modest 6% to $19.1 million.
On a geographic basis, Cypress' exposure to China continued to decline; the China and rest-of-world division represented around 41% of total sales, down sequentially from 49% last quarter. Making up the balance of Cypress' post-merger revenue was Japan at 34%, Europe at 14%, and the Americas at 11%. For perspective, three months ago Cypress stated Japan, Europe, and the Americas comprised 16%, 16%, and 19% of total revenue, respectively.
On integration progress and cross-selling success
"Our sales force is actively cross-selling products from our expanded product portfolio," Rodgers elaborated. "As a result, we have begun to see an increase in new opportunities at top-tier customers, particularly in the automotive market."
For example, Cypress secured one notable design win during the quarter from an unnamed "Tier 1 auto maker." This auto maker selected for its infotainment cluster in next-gen models Spansion's Traveo automotive MCU, HyperRAM and HyperFlash memories, and an analog Power Management IC. But thanks to the merger and cross-selling efforts, this also "opened the door" for the auto maker to incorporate one of Cypress' flagship PSoC programmable systems-on-a-chip as well.
Rogers further promised, "This is a dynamic we expect will repeat itself as customers become more familiar with the synergies of our new product portfolio."
Of course, it also helps that Cypress arranged "multiple sales conferences" to advance its cross-selling initiatives by training over 600 Cypress sales reps and distribution partners. Going forward, Rodgers says, "Cross-selling is a key part of Cypress' stated goal to take advantage of product and business synergies to grow both our top and bottom lines."
Finally, Cypress is ahead of schedule in efficiently combining the two businesses. So far since the merger, it has already exited 19 of the 27 sites planned for closure, reduced its headcount by 833 people, and achieved annualized synergies of $51.6 million as a result. Cypress continues to expect roughly $160 million in annualized synergies over the long term.
In the end, apart from the unfortunate nature of necessary headcount reductions, it's hard to find anything not to like about Cypress' solid performance this quarter. And that's especially impressive considering how many complications can arise following mergers of this magnitude. With shares of Cypress Semiconductor now trading at a reasonable 12 times next year's expected earnings even after the pop, it's no surprise the market is bidding Cypress stock up so aggressively today.
The report above by :
Harsha Venkatesh has been working with the Cypress Memory team for the past 4 years mainly in the Specialty Memories group. Harsha holds a Masters in Business Administration from National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Mumbai, and currently handles Memory Marketing for Central Europe.
-- Shivendra Singh is an applications engineer principal working in Cypress Semiconductor since 2005. He has worked on various nonvolatile memory products and the system solutions. His current responsibilities include defining new nonvolatile memory products, systems analysis, creating validation platforms, solution demos, development kits, resolving technical issues for customers and developing technical collaterals such as applications notes, design guides, whitepapers.
FRAMs can be used for nonvolatile data logging in most automotive sub systems such as smart airbags, stability control, power train, dashboard instrumentation, battery management, engine controls and infotainment applications. AEC-Q100 qualified FRAMs are built to bear the extended grade temperatures under the hood.
Ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) has been successfully deployed in high-reliability applications such as industrial control systems, industrial automation systems, mission critical space applications, and high reliability military applications. FRAMs have been proven to be a trusted and reliable nonvolatile memory technology and are serving in most of these applications for more than 20 years. High performance and high reliability, AEC-Q100 qualified automotive FRAMs are qualified for Grade-3 (-40 ⁰C to +85 ⁰C) and Grade-1 (-40 ⁰C to +125 ⁰C) automotive applications. High reliability of FRAM cells and almost infinite (100 trillion) write cycles makes FRAM one of the best fits for all next-generation automotive applications that offer high fuel efficiency, enhanced safety features, high-end automation, and controls.
FRAMs can be used for nonvolatile data logging in most automotive sub systems such as smart airbags, stability control, power train, dashboard instrumentation, battery management, engine controls and infotainment applications. AEC-Q100 qualified FRAMs are built to bear the extended grade temperatures under the hood
through appropriate authentic software and interface hardware.
Why use FRAMs in Automotive?
FRAM has three key advantages over EEPROM and FLASH nonvolatile memories for EDR applications. First, the FRAM is instantly nonvolatile for applications that have precise timing requirements where the most important data is often at risk of system failure, such as data loggers. The second advantage is that FRAM offers a write endurance of 10E+14, an order of magnitude higher than EEROM at 10E+6 and FLASH at 10E+5, making FRAM ideal for trailing data loggers where data is constantly being written. Thirdly, FRAM requires very low active power for write and read operations making it efficient in applications that have independent limited power sources such as batteries or capacitors.
FRAM is also more resilient to external temperature meaning that its write endurance and data retention hold up better when operating temperature is increased. Many EEPROM endurance specifications are at 85°C, making them unfit for automotive applications that require 125°C where EEPROM endurance drops down to 10E+5.
Most of the existing EDR solutions record continuous data into a RAM buffer and then transfer into the nonvolatile memory only after the airbag deployment algorithm is triggered during an accident. In the case, if the accident is near fatal and airbag deployment didn’t take place, there is a possibility that the crash data will not be saved into nonvolatile space due to the power source loss during the crash. In such cases, an EDR doesn’t contain the last moment data and thus crash reconstruction can’t happen. FRAMs can play a pivotal role in such circumstances due to its capability of storing last moment crash data without requiring any external power source.
On June 18, RBC Capital Markets analysts Michael Carroll and Rich Moore published the latest edition of their healthcare REIT pulse, "UK private market is growing; NHS is still the queen."
Many investors are attracted to healthcare (HC) REITs because of high yields and demographic tailwinds from aging populations, there are also potential red flags for some asset classes due to government policies, regulations and reimbursements.
In the RBC coverage universe, there are four U.S. healthcare REITs with exposure to UK markets:
◾ Health Care REIT, Inc.
- Outperform; $24 billion cap, 4.84 percent yield.
◾ HCP, Inc.
- Underperform; $17.6 billion cap, 5.93 percent yield.
◾ Medical Properties Trust
- Outperform; $2.8 billion cap, 6.5 percent yield.
◾ Ventas, Inc.
- Outperform; $21.3 billion cap, 4.9 percent yield.
The MSCI REIT Index (RMZ) is a good proxy for the broader equity REIT sector.
RBC - UK HC REIT Exposure
Health Care REIT has the largest U.K. exposure with 8.3 percent, and recently increased its exposure to Canada with its 2014 acquisition of Canadian REIT HealthLease Properties.
Notably, while MPW has limited exposure to the UK, it has a ~16 percent exposure to Germany.
RBC - UK Healthcare Overview
Originally established in 1948, "The United Kingdom (UK) has four separate publicly funded healthcare systems that are generally referred to as the National Health Service (NHS). Each one of the health care systems provide benefits to specific geographical areas of the UK and include the NHS England, Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland, NHS Scotland, and NHS Wales."
RBC pointed out, "There is a vibrant private healthcare market in the UK with annual revenues exceeding £24 billion."