Showing posts tagged 'machine learning'
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 email@example.com
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.
21 July 2021
Perfect storm' creates electronic component shortages
A perfect storm has hit the electronic components market, creating supply chain problems that will be felt for several years.
The perfect storm
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most electronic component manufacturers were running at 95-98% capacity.
This high demand for electronic components was fuelled by growth in technologies like automation and the Internet of Things - technologies that are only in their infancy now but will mature in the next decade.
This high manufacturing output was felt across all types of components, especially chips (semiconductors, memory) and integrated circuits. It was even difficult to get a hold of some active and passive components in 2019.
Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Car manufacturers and other manufacturers affected by shutdowns paused orders for electronic components. Meanwhile, manufacturers benefitting from lockdowns scaled up.
Now, with the development and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines, industries that shut down have opened up again. But there’s a problem - demand for electronics has not wavered and there isn’t enough manufacturing capacity to serve everyone.
Quite simply, there isn’t enough bread to go around.
Demand is ramping up
We are now in a situation where electronic components manufacturers are running at 99-100% capacity. Demand has soared for all types of components, from chips and memory to diodes and displays. This is squeezing most supply chains.
There are so many contributors to this squeeze. Emerging technologies like AI, automation, virtual reality, augmented reality and machine learning are fuelling demand for smarter chips and data centre modernisation, while technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are demanding infrastructure rollout, which requires a significant effort.
When it comes to chips, however, cars are the biggest users. Cars can have as many as 22,000 multilayer ceramic capacitors (MLCCs) each. This will increase as cars get smarter (a self-driving taxi sounds great, but it’ll need around 30,000 chips).
Suppliers are slowly adapting
There have been years of under-investment in new foundries and plants. This under-investment has affected manufacturing capacity today.
To their credit, most manufacturers are looking to expand capacity by setting up new foundries or acquiring plants. Trouble is that most plants take years to set up. Some plants that started a build-in in 2017 are still being built.
Staffing is also an issue. The biggest challenge suppliers face is social distancing and COVID prevention policies, which have reduced staff numbers in many factories.
You can’t automate every process in a factory, so it is a given that having limited staff will increase lead times. Some manufacturers have been harder hit than others with this, but all will experience staff shortages during the pandemic.
In addition to this, freight has become more challenging during the pandemic. Things are taking longer to move and there are fewer commercial flights. Global shipping rates have skyrocketed during the pandemic because of this. Higher shipping rates have contributed to price increases for most electronic components.
Weathering the storm
We predicted the electronics component shortage in early 2020 following the UK Government’s national lockdown. We knew supply chains would be squeezed and stretched due to changes in economic output and industry trends.
The best way to weather the storm is to work with us or another reputable electronic components distributor. We focus on delivering outstanding service, with industry-leading quality and dependability. Call us on 01904 415 415 for a chat.
07 April 2021
NXP Announces i.MX 9 and i.MX 8 processor line for Intelligent Multi-sensor Applications
NXP Semiconductors has announced a new line of edge processors that deliver a giant leap in performance and security at the edge.
As edge computing rapidly evolves around us and demand for edge computing soars, performance demands are increasing at an exponential rate. This requires a new approach to security, power consumption and performance. Existing edge processors offer a solution now but are not ready for the next generation of real-time data.
Technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous driving and next-gen wireless infrastructure all depend on the edge. NXP Semiconductors is meeting the challenge with new i.MX 9 and i.MX 8 processor lines.
i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS
The ultra-low power i.MX 8ULP and i.MX 8ULP-CS (cloud secured) Microsoft Azure Sphere-certified processors have the EdgeLock secure enclave, a pre-configured security subsystem that simplifies complex security technologies and helps designers avoid costly errors. It automates the following security functions:
- Root of trust
- Run-time attestation
- Trust provisioning
- Secure boot
- Key management
- Cryptographic services
The i.MX 8ULP-CS is Microsoft Azure Sphere-certified with Microsoft Pluton enabled on EdgeLock for highly secure hardware. With Azure Sphere, it has chip-to-cloud security built in, enabling use in a wide range of applications.
Both i.MX processors utilise Energy Flex architecture, which delivers as much as 75% improved energy efficiency compared to previous generations.
They have heterogeneous domain processing and 28nm FD-SOI process technology, making them among the most advanced edge chips in the world. The processors have one or two 1GHz Arm Cortex-A35 processors, a 216MHz Cortex-M33 real-time processor and a 200MHz Fusion DSP for low-power voice and sensor hub processing.
Every Azure Sphere-certified i.MX 8ULP-CS device also gets ongoing OS and security improvements for over ten years.
The i.MX 9 series is NXP Semiconductors’ range-topping high-performance edge processor for intelligent multi-sensor applications.
The i.MX 9 debuts a new generation of processors that have an independent MCU-like real-time domain and dedicated multi-sensory data processing engines for graphics, image, display, audio and voice. The i.MX 9 series also features EdgeLock secure enclave, Energy Flex architecture and hardware neural processing.
The i.MX 9 is for the next generation of edge computing applications including machine learning and artificial intelligence. It’s the first NXP line to use the Arm Ethos U-65 microNPU which enables low-power machine learning.
Importantly, Azure Sphere chip-to-cloud security is enabled within the i.MX 9 line, providing a clear upgrade path from the i.MX 8 series.
EdgeLock secure enclave is the big ticket item of the new processor lines, combining complex security technologies into a single pre-configured platform. With device-wide security intelligence, it provides a simplified path to certification, enabling non-stop trusted management services and applications.
With the release of these new processors, organisations of any size can now pursue IoT development and real-time technologies with the confidence that NXP and Microsoft have laid out a foundation of security via Microsoft Azure. The low-power requirements and chip-to-cloud security deliver innovation in the right areas.
You can find out more about the processors here.
If you are looking for NXP parts contact us today! firstname.lastname@example.org
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