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22 December 2016

Forecasting the Electronics Industry in 2017

As we head towards the year’s end, many companies will be shifting their attention to forecasting their requirements for the next twelve months and beyond. However, this process is not a simple one.

The past year has been interesting, to say the least. In the electronics industry, we have seen how natural disasters and product recalls can severely impact the global supply chain, causing panic as the availability of key parts dwindled whilst costs soared. Elsewhere, shock elections and referendum results have caused the economic markets to wobble, driving costs up for some whilst reducing them for others.

In short, 2016 has been a nightmare for anybody that has attempted to predict the future with a high degree of accuracy.

That said, it’s important for procurement specialists and project managers to have an accurate idea of what will be needed for future production runs and – importantly – how both the manufacturing and consumer market is going to look.

In this piece, we will hopefully help provide some insight into how 2017 will play out for the electronics industry, specifically in relation to key market and economic trends.

Read more


19 December 2016

Seasons Greetings from Cyclops Electronics

With Christmas little more than a week away, we'd like to take this opportunity to wish all our customers and partners the very best this holiday season.

Over Christmas, the Cyclops Electronics office will be closed from 12:30 on 23rd December until the 3rd January, when we will reopen and business will resume as normal.

You still have time to submit your RFQs to us, however. So if you need to source a component to keep production running, or need secure stock for next year's project - get in touch!

Key Dates

  • 22nd December - Last day for standard shipping before Christmas
  • 23rd December (noon) - Cyclops Electronics closes for the Christmas and New Year period
  • 2nd January - Bank Holiday (UK)
  • 3rd January - Cyclops Electronics reopens

Christmas Reading

Over the past year, we've published a number of articles about the global electronics and semiconductor industry.

If you're at a loose end over the festive period, we've collated a number of entries that we think you'll find enjoyable and, importantly, informational. From forecasts to analysis and all the way through to updates, we've got all the festive reading you need:

Merry Christmas (1)


08 December 2016

Altera Issue Product Discontinuation Notice

Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group (Intel PSG, formerly Altera) has announced that certain legacy product families are going to be discontinued, citing a lack of demand and declining demand for their decision to cease production.

The product groups include:

  • ACEX 1K, APEX 20K, APEX 20KC, APEX 20KE, APEX II
  • FLEX 10K, FLEX 10KA, FLEK 10KE, FLEX 6000, FLEX 8000
  • MAX 7000, MAX 7000B, MAX 7000S, MAX9000
  • MERCURY, MPLD

The manufacturer has stated that these end-of-line families will be available for a few months yet but all orders will be non-cancellable and non-returnable. Many of the parts that are listed on Altera’s website come with the caveat of a large minimum order value that in some cases is a five-figure sum.

For a full list of Altera components that are entering their end-of-life phase next year, click here.

If you need to fulfil your production lines but don’t want to pay an expensive minimum order value, then Cyclops Electronics will be able to supply or source the parts that you are looking for.

For over twenty-five years, Cyclops Electronics has specialised in the sourcing and procurement of hard-to-find, obsolete and end-of-life components. With 177,232 line items in stock and strategically located offices around the world, our procurement team is in the perfect position to locate the components that you need.

So, if you would like to see if Cyclops Electronics can help secure you stock of a component that is about to enter obsolescence, why not send an enquiry through to our team?

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05 December 2016

An advisory group has been founded to help secure the United States' leading position in the semiconductor industry

The transition period between current administrations has started, but the current White House regime has recently established a new private-public advisory group in a bid to ensure that the United States remains the global leader in the highly competitive semiconductor sector.

Competition is fuelling an extraordinary amount of growth in the electronics industry but the wider implications of this titanic battle between gigantic corporations can be found national scientific, military and economic infrastructure projects. It’s a classic game of one-upmanship that results in the creation of new systems and technologies that end up being of critical importance to a nation’s security: What is designed today, could be used in missile guidance systems or complex financial algorithms tomorrow.

And it’s similarly cutthroat in the private sphere, with advanced semiconductors, processors and ICs expected to drive the development of next generation technology, such as autonomous vehicles and satellites.

Although semiconductor manufacturers and state-backed enterprise may be after the recognition that comes with designing world-leading components, the real prize is the lucrative contracts and patents that are associated with the parts. As always, money and profit is the real carrot.

So, in response to recent gains made by firms with explicit links to the Chinese government and the threat that American high tech companies might start buying chips manufactured in the Far East, the White House has sanctioned the creation of the Semiconductor Working Group.

The group will help shape government policy and create guidelines for development the semiconductor industry in the United States.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), the conglomeration of some of the world’s major chip companies, welcomed the formation of the group.

“This chip industry spawns new industries, makes exiting industries more productive and drives advances once never imagined,” commented John Nueffer, the SIA’s president and CEO.

It is hoped that the collective can help with the creation of new chips and computers that can mimic the functionality and sheer processing power of the human brain. However, it is unlikely to be plain sailing as due to the advancements made in recent years, it has become increasingly more difficult to fit additional features onto ever smaller components. But with the creation of a working group to help focus efforts, breakthroughs might be quicker to occur.

Not everybody, though, is optimistic.

At the time of writing, it is still unclear exactly how the working group will operate and how wide its remit will be. This could well be extremely problematic, especially as in countries such as Taiwan and China there are existing structures in place that have been consolidating and driving the electronics industry forward.

As a result, some individuals believe that it will be rather ineffective and will, unfortunately, have little impact in creating new technologies.

And then there is the uncertainty surrounding the new Washington administration. With the group being established in the last months of Barack Obama’s presidency, there is no guarantee that the new regime will want to help support the group through its infancy. In fact, semiconductors companies could be hit hard, if existing trade agreements are nulled when the new president takes office.

Obviously, time will tell if the new working group is a success. If it does, the potential is there for it to help American companies create and manufacture a new generation of chips that will, eventually, find their way into production lines across the world.


15 November 2016

Microchip sells Atmel assets to Solomon Systech

Nearly a year after Microchip Technology Inc formally agreed a $3.56bn deal to purchase Atmel Corp, the American company has signed off certain Atmel assets to the Hong Kong based semiconductor firm Solomon Systech for a fee believed to be $23m.

The pure cash transaction includes the sale of certain semiconductor products, equipment, a variety of patents associated with the company’s mobile touch line, and intellectual property licences.

In a press release, Solomon Systech announced more details, saying that the deal was mainly centred around the Atmel’s maXTouch line, and access to a design database that housed over 500 patents.

Commenting on the deal, Microchip’s Chairman and CEO Steve Sanghi said the agreement culminates the firm’s plans to sell non-core assets that it had inherited from its acquisition of Atmel and the turn of the year.

“Since the closing of our acquisition of Atmel,” Sangi explained, “we have been working diligently on the integration activities associated with Atmel which include taking actions to achieve strong financial returns.

“We believe we are well on our way to significantly improving Atmel’s business model which we believe will provide substantial long-term value to our stockholders,” he added.

Sangi's counterpart at Solomon Syshtech, Yeh Tsuei Chi, said that the "purchase deal is a strong strategic fit [that] aligns with our development strategy, as mobile touch is one of our core business areas.

This move has further increased speculation about the long-term availability of Atmel products since Microchip’s takeover.

Microchip does have an extremely good history of managing end-of-life situations carefully – the franchise availability of some electronic components from the early 1990s is a prime example of this – but with the rights to some Atmel parts moving to Solomon Systech, nobody definitively knows what will happen in the short, medium and long-term.

There has been some speculation online that some older components may be discontinued, though proof is yet to emerge that this is the case.

Either way, it could be worth keeping tabs on developments regarding the production and market availability of older Atmel lines.


11 November 2016

Infineon's Sub1 Reloaded sets a new Rubik's Cube record

What links a Rubik’s Cube and the future of autonomous vehicles? Infineon Technologies.

At Electronica, Infineon, the German semiconductor manufacturer, showcased its Sub1 Reloaded machine to the world.

In front of a healthy crowd, the AURIX microcontroller powered device blitzed a Rubik’s Cube, taking just 0.637 seconds to solve the legendary 3D combination puzzle that has been baffling people since its invention in 1974.

With that sub seven-tenth time, it shaved a quarter of a second off the previous world record, which was also held by an Infineon powered machine.

The successful world record attempt was done to highlight the sheer power of Infineon’s AURIX architecture, which is similar to the one used in current driver-assistance systems.

“We used this as a metaphor to show how digital systems are constructed,” explained Gregor Rodehueser, a spokesman for the Neubiberg-based company.

“We wanted to show that problems can be solved much more efficiently using microelectronics.

“This is also the case when it comes to automated driving, where you have to have very low latencies and absolutely reliable and quick technologies.”

As well as containing an AURIX microprocessor, Sub1 Reloaded is comprised of a number of other microchips that enables it to solve complex problems.

So, how does it work that quickly?

To start off, the machine rapidly detected the position of the coloured elements and then devised the fastest solution to the problem of a scrambled Rubik’s Cube. Once the plan a plan had been worked out, that information was sent straight to six motors – one for each side of the cube – that solved the cube.

All that was done in 0.637 seconds.


10 November 2016

Electronica 2016: Day Three

The last time we looked, it was Monday night, the Bavarian skies were threatening to cover Munich in a blanket of snow and our team had the nerves and excitement that comes with preparing and planning for the world’s leading electronic exhibition.

Now, it’s Thursday evening and there’s only one day left of Electronica 2016! Where has the time gone?!

It’s been a couple of days here in Munich and we have been right in the middle of the action. You may have seen that the German chipmaker Infineon has been showcasing their world-leading Sub1 Reloaded machine at the event. Fitted with a load of technology that is destined for use in autonomous vehicles at some point in the future, Infineon’s super-computer took under a second (0.637s to be exact) to solve a Rubik’s Cube – a brand new world record! There’ll be more about that incredible feat later.

Away from record-breaking deeds, we’ve used our downtime wisely by seeing ‘working’ Lego cities, listening to tales of battling robots and striking poses with a legendary figure of American cinema. But it’s not all been fun and games as we’ve also taken a keen interest in the seminars and mini-exhibitions that have all been taking place during the event. The discussion on the future of autonomous vehicles was especially eye-opening.

And, of course, we have been talking about Cyclops to the attendees. We have had a really fantastic reception from both existing and potential partners alike about the services that Cyclops Electronics can offer.

With over twenty-five years’ experience in the industry and a global group network, we have risen from a small one-office outfit in the United Kingdom to a company that provide procurement and sourcing solutions to fellow dealers, OEMs and CEMs from around the world.

Our original speciality is in the location of hard-to-find, obsolete and end-of-life electronic components. However, as we have grown over the years we have expanded to offer companies a wide range of associated solutions, such as excess inventory management, stockholding and supply chain administration.

We’ll be on hand all day tomorrow to discuss how Cyclops can help your businesses. We’d to love to see you before Electronica closes its doors, so why not set a little bit of time aside and head along to Stand 179, Hall A5?

See you tomorrow, hopefully!

elec2


09 November 2016

Electronica 2016- Day Two: NXP unveils the smallest 8pin logic at Electronica

Designed with phones and the Internet of Things in mind, the component manufacturer NXP has just unveiled a new range of SOT1233 devices – internally called the GX8 – that come in 0.8 x 1.35mm packaging, the smallest yet for an 8pin logic chip.

Details about the SOT1233 line were released at Electronica earlier today and in an accompanying statement, the firm commented that chips address “the continual trend in electronic systems towards smaller and smaller packages, low-power consumption and low system costs.”

“These logic devices are used to provide the interface between the different ASICs, and with this new introduction, most AXP, AUP and LVC functions are now available in [the] GX.”

Production for the chips are planned for Q4 this year.

Cyclops Electronics has over 177,000 line items in stock, including many popular lines from leading chipmakers such as NXP. If you’d like to learn more about our extensive inventory of electronic components, visit the Cyclops at Electronica – we’re at Stand 179, Hall A5.


08 November 2016

Electronica 2016 - Day One

At 9am prompt, the doors to Messe Munchen opened to the public, signifying the start of Electronica 2016.

After months of preparation and countless sleepless nights in the run-up to the event, seeing the first intrepid explorers make their way into our hall was a satisfying and rewarding sight!

Even though the event is only a couple of hours old at the time of writing, it’s been a promising and exciting experience so far. We have had the opportunity to speak to an array of people and businesses from across Europe - including some market-leading OEMs from Central Europe and a number of prominent German manufacturing firms – and we can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for us.

If you want to learn more about Cyclops Electronics and the wider Cyclops Group and find out exactly how our procurement specialists can source the obsolete and hard-to-find components that you need to keep your production lines moving, head over to Stand 179 in Hall A5 where you’ll find our team. Just keep an eye out for the aqua blue – you won’t be able to miss us!

Tues1

For more information, email electronica@cyclops-electronics.com


07 November 2016

Electronically Engineered Plants

Thanks to a group of American scientists, we’re now thinking about swapping our potted indoor plants for a collection of electronically engineered ones that can communicate with phones, tablets and computers.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have engineered spinach so that it can detect explosives and connect with wireless handheld devices.

This experiment is one of the first in the world that has successfully demonstrated the active potential of plant nanobionics, a process that involves adding electronic systems into plants.

The team from MIT enhanced spinach leaves by adding carbon nanotubes, effectively creating a species of plant that would be sensitive to a certain class of chemical compounds known as nitroaromatics.

This could be an important breakthrough as nitroaromatics are generally present in a wide range of explosives, such as landmines.

The plants would grow under normal circumstances but if they detected a nitroaromatic compound in the soil, the manually inserted carbon nanotubes would emit a fluorescent signal that could be picked up an infrared camera. This camera would then ping a small computer or other similar device, and send a warning notification.

“This is a novel demonstration of how we have overcome the plant/human communication barrier,” explained Michael Strano, the leader of MIT’s research team.

“They have an extensive root network in the soil, are constantly sampling groundwater, and have a way to self-power the transport of that water up into the leaves.”

It is hoped that by altering plants in this manner, scientists could create a network that would to alert people about a whole manner of pollutants and explosives whilst also being capable of spotting the early warning signs of environmental disasters.

“Plants are very environmentally responsive,” the professor of chemical engineering added.

“They know that there is going to be a drought long before we do [and] they can detect small changes in the properties of soil and water.

“If we tap into those chemical signalling pathways, there is a wealth of information to access.”

Min Hao Wong, a MIT graduate student and the study’s lead author, noted that their work could be of commercial benefit to the agricultural sector, due to farmers having more information that can directly affect crop yields and overall margins.

So now that we are one step closer to having autonomous plants, I, for one, eagerly anticipate the impending invasion of cyber-conscious Triffids…


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