Showing posts tagged 'integrated circuit'
29 September 2021
Communications including 5G will drive the components market
According to IC Insights, the communication sector’s share of integrated circuit sales reached 35% in 2020 and is expected to grow to 36.5% by 2025. For perspective, the automotive sector’s share of integrated circuit sales was 7.5% in 2020 and will grow to 9.8% by 2025 - significantly less than communications.
What’s driving such high demand for ICs in the communications sector?
There are four big tailwinds:
- Edge computing
- Internet of Things
- AI (artificial intelligence), MI (machine learning) and data analytics
5G is the main driver for components demand, with 5G infrastructure rollout happening slowly, but surely. We are nowhere near a complete version of 5G, and networks are in a race against time to deliver a reliable service.
The first step for networks is replacing low-band 4G spectrum, followed by mid-band spectrum that uses 2.5, 3.5 and 4.5 GHz, enabling faster data speeds. The final step is the rollout of millimetre wave, which enables true 5G speeds. Millimetre wave also happens to be a precursor for next-generation 6G.
On top of 5G infrastructure rollout you have more 5G-enabled devices coming to market, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. Smartphones, in particular, are leading the way for 5G adoption, putting faster data in our hands.
The rapid growth in IC demand in the communications sector also stretches to other components like modems, memory and antennas. 5G isn’t just an IC boon - it’s a boon for all the electronic components needed for 5G.
Second to 5G we have edge computing, which by a miraculous twist of fate is needed to deliver a 5G experience (and needs a whole lot of components).
Edge computing puts compute capabilities relatively close to end users and/or IoT endpoints. In doing so, it reduces latency, while 5G delivers faster data speeds, providing a seamless experience on certain devices.
Internet of Things
IoT describes a network of connected smart devices that communicate with each other. For example, a vital sign monitor in a hospital could communicate with medicine dispensers and automate medicine dosages for doctors.
The Internet of Things has been talked about as a trend for several years, but we now have real applications that are useful.
AI (artificial intelligence), MI (machine learning) and data analytics
AI (artificial intelligence), MI (machine learning) and data analytics require enormous, powerful data centres to power them. These data centres require significant investment in chips, memory and other electronic components.
Also, AI, MI and data analytics need cloud computing, edge computing and in some cases 5G to deliver a real-time experience.
By 2025, the communications sector is forecast to have a 36.5% usage share of integrated circuits, making it the biggest consumer of semiconductors.
Demand for integrated circuits, discrete circuits, optoelectronics and sensors will grow to an all-time highs thanks to the industry tailwinds in this article. The future is bright, but to stay ahead, a robust supply chain will be needed.
Electronic components distributors like Cyclops are helping supply meet demand, while the communications sector battles to secure chip orders. Call us today at +44 (0) 01904 415 415 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
22 September 2021
Causes of IC Shortage
There’s a serious shortage of integrated circuits affecting every corner of the electronics world. Discrete circuits, optoelectronics and sensors are also experiencing shortages, putting pressure on supply chains from top to bottom.
What are the causes of IC shortages? This article will explore the main causes, so that you can understand what’s going on.
The coronavirus pandemic reshaped demand for semiconductors, shifting automotive demand to device demand (car plants shut down, while demand for electronic devices soared with stay at home and remote working).
Now that automotive production is ramping back up, there aren’t enough ICs to go around, causing a shortage across all industry sectors.
The pandemic also caused short-term, unplanned plant shutdowns and labour shortages, reducing the number of ICs manufactured.
The logistics industry is still recovering from COVID-induced shutdowns and travel restrictions. While air and sea freight is running at good capacity, road transport is proving difficult across borders, creating supply constraints.
In 2020, air cargo capacity saw a 20% decline. In 2021, it’s back to normal, but you still have the problem of moving components on the ground.
In the UK, there is also a serious driver shortage underway that is affecting everything from electronic components to supermarket shelves.
The amount of time that passes between ordering semiconductors and taking delivery has increased to record levels. In July 2021, it surpassed 20 weeks, the highest wait time since the start of the year and eight days longer than June.
Longer lead times can be caused by a variety of factors, but in this case it’s caused by foundries running at capacity with no room for acceleration. Labour shortages and problems getting hold of materials are exasperating the problem.
A shortage of raw materials is causing big problems for semiconductor manufacturers, who can’t get the materials they need to meet demand. Shortages of raw materials and high raw material prices are combining to squeeze production.
The soaring price of raw materials is also increasing the prices of ICs, with some components seeing a yearly price increase up to 40%. These costs will eventually slosh back to consumers who will have to stomach higher prices.
Whether we’re talking about the communications, automotive or consumer electronics sector, IC stockpiling has exploded. The world’s biggest manufacturers have stockpiled huge quantities of components for themselves.
This ringfencing of components by nervous manufacturers eager to secure inventory takes a significant volume of components off the open market, squeezes the supply chain, and gives the biggest players an upper hand over everyone else.
For all their bad press, China make a lot of chips - around a billion a day. Their biggest chipmaker, SMIC, was hit by US sanctions in late 2020, eliminating SMIC chips from the US market. You’d think this would mean more chips for the rest of the world, but China recoiled and went defensive, keeping most of the chips for themselves.
US sanctions twisted the global supply chain out of shape, creating volatility in an industry that was already in turmoil from the pandemic.
01 September 2021
Component Prices Rise 10% to 40% - But why?
While component price rises are expected when demand outstrips supply, the scale of recent increases has come as a shock to many businesses.
In its Q3 Commodity Intelligence Quarterly, CMarket intelligence platform Supplyframe reports that some electronic components have seen prices rise by as much as 40%, making it uneconomical for products to be made.
In particular, semiconductors, memory, and modems are seeing 10 to 40% price increases, exceeding what most analysts envisioned for 2021.
Why are prices rising?
Price rises start with materials. There are long lead times for many raw materials, causing shortages. Add rising commodity prices and difficulties transporting products and you have a disrupted manufacturing economy.
You also have to factor in the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused labour shortages and disrupted the manufacturing economy with shutdowns.
Logistics is also a big fly in the ointment for electronic components. The industry is recovering from COVID-induced shutdowns and travel restrictions are causing problems at borders, creating delays that ripple through the supply chain.
Supply and demand
The bulletproof economics of supply and demand also rule the roost for electronic components, and demand is higher than it has ever been.
We are in a situation today where most electronic components manufacturers are running at 99-100% capacity and can’t keep up with demand.
Demand is outstripping supply for chips, memory and communications components like integrated circuits, discrete circuits, optoelectronics and sensors, creating a bidding war as manufacturers scramble to get what they need.
Growing demand for new technologies
Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality and edge computing are fuelling demand for smarter chips and data centre modernisation, while technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are demanding infrastructure rollout, which requires significant investment.
Across the board, technology is booming. Manufacturers are making more products for more people, and they must do so while balancing costs at a time when component prices are rising - no easy feat even for established businesses.
Everyone is raising prices in line with their own cost increases, from semiconductor manufacturers to outsourced fabs and suppliers. At 10 to 40%, these increases are putting pressure on supply chains and businesses.
How many price increases will target markets absorb? How can we sustain production without significant margin pressure? These are the challenges facing manufacturers, who are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now.
There are a few solutions:
- Equivalents: Source equivalent components from different brands/makers/OEMs that meet size, power, specification, and design standards.
- Use an electronic components distributor: Distributors are the best-connected players in the industry, able to source hard-to-procure and shortage components thanks to relationships with critical decision-makers.
Prices will fizzle down, eventually
Although research published by Supplyframe says pricing challenges will remain through early 2023, they won’t last forever. Price rises should fizzle out towards the end of 2021 as manufacturers catch up to orders and reduce disruption.
If you are experiencing an electronic component shortage, we can help. Email us if you have any questions or call us on 01904 415 415 for a chat with our team.
25 August 2021
Automotive electronics market set to grow
With vehicles getting smarter, more connected and more autonomous, the automotive electronics market looks set to soar.
Future growth in numbers
Back in March, Precedence Research predicted the automotive electronics market would hit around US$ 640.56 billion by 2030.
Then, in July, Global Market Insights released research predicting the automotive electronics market would hit around US$ 380 billion by 2027.
Interestingly, measured across the same period, both research reports (which are independent) predict a similar growth pattern. Global Market Insights predicts a 6% CAGR, while Precedence Research predicts a CAGR of 7.64% over a 3-year longer period.
With two separate reports indicating significant annual growth, the automotive electronics market looks set to boom. But wait, there’s more.
A 9.3% CAGR is expected in the automotive electronics market by 2030, according to research by P&S Intelligence. They predict slightly less growth than Precedence Research to 2030, at US$ 615.3 billion (versus $640.56 billion).
There are approximately 1,400 chips in a typical vehicle today, which each chip housing thousands of components on a semiconductor wafer, creating the integrated circuits that power computing, memory and a host of other tasks.
Those are just the chips.
Cars have thousands of other electronic components, including passive, active and interconnecting electronic components, from batteries, sensors and motors, to displays and cameras. Oh, and everything is connected.
All told, a typical car today has more than 50,000 electronic components that enable features like in-car Wi-Fi, self-parking technology, adaptive headlights, semi-autonomous driving technology, keyless entry and powered tailgates.
However, cars are getter smarter and more advanced. Electronic components today make up around a third the cost of a car, which will increase over time as more sophisticated and greater numbers of components are used.
Smarter cars need more components
The future of cars involves electrification, autonomous and self-driving technologies, hyperconnectivity, Internet of Things, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, biometrics and a whole host of next-generation technologies.
How will these be enabled? With electronic components.
Let’s take electrification as an example. An electric car handbook will tell you an electric car has a motor, a battery, an on-board charger, and an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) that controls one or more of the electrical systems or subsystems in the vehicle. Together, these let you drive around, charge, and pop to the shops.
In-between these systems, are hundreds of thousands of electronic components that make them work. You see, an Electronic Control Unit is a single component, containing thousands of smaller components, each performing a critical role.
The automotive electronics market is set to soar because cars and other vehicles will need more components with electrification and next-gen technologies. Sometimes, things can be simple to explain, and this is one of those times.
The electronics industry is facing a global chip and electronic component shortage which is expected to last 2-3 years. As demand for automotive electronics soars, shortages look very likely for certain components like CPUs and memory.
The solution for many companies will be to use an electronics component distributor, to fill gaps in the supply chain and keep things moving.
Electronic component distributors like Cyclops can source hard-to-procure components because we have relationships with the best suppliers in the industry. Contact us today with your enquiries at email@example.com or call 01904 415 415.
18 August 2021
Why are semiconductors so important to so many industries?
The semiconductor chip has done more to connect the world than any other technology, but why is it so important to so many industries?
Semiconductors are materials used to make semiconductor wafers, on which potentially millions of components are fabricated, to create an integrated circuit (IC), creating a single chip that can be used for computation or other tasks.
Semiconductors are important to so many industries because they are an essential electronic component, whether we are talking about the semiconductor material (silicon, silicon carbide) or the chips that perform tasks.
To understand why semiconductors are so important to so many industries, let’s take a step back and clarify what a semiconductor actually is.
What is a semiconductor?
A semiconductor is a material that partly conducts current, somewhere between that of an insulator and a conductor (hence the name semi-conductor).
A semiconductor chip is an integrated circuit (IC) formed on a wafer of silicon, consisting of the semiconductor material that manages the flow and control of current, and components like transistors and resistors to create the circuit.
When talking about semiconductors in relation to chips, we use the names “chips” or “semis’” because these names are more accurate for describing circuits laid down or grown to do computation or other tasks like memory.
Why are semiconductors so important?
In 1947, the first semiconductor transistor was made. Engineers quickly realised that manufacturing transistors out of silicon allowed them to fit on a microchip, which opened the gates to all the electronics you use today.
Without semiconductor chips, modern electronics would not exist. These inconspicuous, tiny components replaced tubes in electronics in the 1970s, laying the foundation for every electrical device used today, including the screen you’re looking at.
Today, all modern electrical devices use semiconductor chips, from home ovens to smartphones and cars. Billions of semiconductors are manufactured each year, and they are getting smaller and smarter with each generation.
Powering our smart, connected world
As we discussed earlier, semiconductor chips are single electronic components consisting of thousands or millions of electrical components, enabling functions like computation, memory, oscillation, switching, logic, amplification, and so on.
Without this single component with an integrated circuit, there would be no way to efficiently make the circuits we need to create smart, connected devices in their current form. Quite literally, chips are the reason you are reading this.
With an insatiable appetite for semiconductor chips, it’s a good job the material we use to make the wafers - silicon - is naturally abundant.
Today, most chips are built on silicon, which makes up 27.7% of the earth’s crust, or silicon carbide, a compound tweaked for performance.
However, our demand for chips is outstripping supply. There is a global semiconductor shortage under way affecting all industries, with the automotive industry hardest hit due to a perfect storm that has been building for years.
Electronic components distributors like us, Cyclops Electronics are helping supply meet demand, while the semiconductor industry battles to make more chips.
If you are having difficulty finding those hard-to-find and obsolete electronic components. Get in touch with our team today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01904 415 415.
28 May 2015
3D Integrated Circuit Testing
Duke University in North Carolina are undertaking an interesting project looking into 3D Integrated Circuits and how they can be better tested and then improved upon. Until testing procedures are fully developed, the adoption of 3D ICs won't be able to reach their potential.
“Test challenges for 3D ICs must be addressed before high-volume production can be practical. Breakthroughs in test technology will allow higher levels of silicon integration, fewer defect escapes, and commercial exploitation.” said Krishnendu Chakrabarty, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke.
When manufacturing using stacked technology, it is important to stack known good dies. This is really important in order to achieve quality products and return a good manufacturing yield. But due to Through Silicon Vias (TSVs) and micro bumps being so small, they are difficult to test at the pre-bond stage. The Duke team have come up with a solution which probes multiple micro bumps at the same time – this shorts the TSVs which in turns forms a TSV network. Aggregated measurements from these TSV networks can be used to detect any defects in the TSVs themselves.
The research done by the team at Duke University has led to three US patents and has attracted the attention of several semiconductor and electronic design companies who are collaborating with Duke on this project. There is at least one company who are prepared to have measurement data on chips available later in the year. This research should lead to some major developments with 3D ICs which in turn will lead to better performance and better products.
Enter Electronic Component part number below.