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I did at 2017 retrospective last year and looking back at 2018 there was a lot that happened that is worth recapping. So here is my 2018 retrospective.
According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, sales is expected to touch nearly $478 billion, almost $66 billion or 16 per cent more than in 2017. Data is expected to continue fuelling the growth, and a portent of that is visible in the fact that among all segments of the semiconductor market, dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips are the fastest-growing market, according to IC Insights.
These statistics are positive signs for the global semiconductor market and in fact Cadence CEO Lip-Bu Tan talked about them at his keynote at CDNLive India 2018 in Bangalore. He called it “an ocean of opportunity” – here’s my blog about what else Lip-Bu talked about. The data-driven economy, he had maintained, will be driven by system design enablement, which is a focus area for Cadence.
The last 12 to 24 months have witnessed several waves of technology, as we are calling it, that is driving the electronics industry.
The first is that cloud and data center applications are booming, and the top names in this space including Amazon and Google are now designing their own chips. Quite a few other big names in tech, including Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are also at it, most of them working on custom chips that have innovation that cannot be provided by general purpose chips.
No surprises here - Automotive is (and has been) going through a transformation over the last few years. ADAS is just the beginning. From infotainment to safety, the whole vehicle is driven on precision electronics. In addition, electric vehicles are also gaining currency in the market. Even as semiconductor content in automobiles has steadily been on the rise, electric vehicles are likely to be far more electronics-driven than gasoline-powered ones.
And the trend towards electric vehicles is spreading beyond automobiles to include even motorcycles. Legendary motorcycle company Harley-Davidson is reportedly launching an electric motorcycle next year. Other forms of personal and mass transport could inexorably also go the electric way!
By incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) to manufacturing and industrial processes, we are looking at a revolution—what is being called Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 encompasses many aspects to manufacturing. Take for example predictive maintenance. According to CIO magazine, predictive maintenance incorporates AI algorithms in the form of machine learning (ML) and neural networks to predict machinery malfunctions and thereby slash unexpected downtime. This is just one example of the far-reaching impact AI and ML can have on current manufacturing processes, making them safer, more efficient and possibly cheaper to run.
Mobile and wireless have, of course, driven growth in the last decade to decade-and-a-half, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Now we are on the cusp of the 5G revolution. The applications that 5G will make possible over the next few years is mind-boggling – from automotive to logistics to healthcare to education and much more. Fortune magazine cites just one fascinating example: say you have stopped at a traffic signal and you see a car jumping the signal on the opposite side of the road, hurtling towards you. With today’s technology, your life could be at risk in this scenario. But with 5G, your car ‘talks’ to the other car and knows the direction, pace and braking ability of the offending car, potentially saving your life. All in miliseconds.
While the consumer wave started some time ago, IoT is the game-changer there, with so many billion connected devices being forecast for the next 5-10 years.
AI and ML are already underpinning modern-day computing and are attracting huge investments. In fact, Lip-Bu predicts that we will see ML-as-a-service in the future!
At Cadence, we are already incorporating AI and ML in some of our technologies, such as the Cadence Tensilica HiFi 5 DSP for audio and voice, the first IP core optimized for high-performance far-field processing and artificial intelligence-based speech recognition processing. Another major announcement – this one ties in with the Cloud technology wave - is the Cadence Cloud portfolio, the first broad cloud portfolio for the development of electronic systems and semiconductors.
All in all, a good year coming to an end and lots to look forward to in 2019!