Business Strategy

Strategy Sanity
Strategy Sanity

Direction for Your Business

Copyright ©2007-2017, Strategy Sanity      The Walking Star is a trademark of Strategy Sanity

StratStar
top


The consulting services of Strategy Sanity are multi-faceted and can be tailored to any need —

Site tends to look best using Internet Explorer on a PC, but Firefox is a favorite as well.

Contact Us

Find our analysts at these important events, making presentations or working behind the scenes. Contact us to meet at the event or to get insights afterwards.

Below is a sampling of our views on processor chips, applications, and markets, as recorded in the Press or captured by others (see disclaimer at bottom):

All the finger-pointing and fault-finding over the state's troubled data center contract has technology analyst Tom Starnes wondering if Texas and IBM want this marriage to work.

"It's like they don't want to be together, and that's bothersome to me," said Starnes, who has been researching public-private technology partnerships, including Texas' $863 million data center consolidation project.

Breaking up, Starnes said, will do no one any good. IBM Corp.'s business reputation would take a hit, he said. And the state would have to start all over again with another vendor to merge the data centers of 28 state agencies into two updated and secure facilities. There is no guarantee the next relationship will work any better, Starnes said. In the meantime, the agencies are stuck in a technological limbo.

In letter, IBM says state to blame for trouble with data center deal            -Kate Alexander   Austin American-Statesman   July 21, 2010

... The last year has seen essentially every major processor company add or expand multicore processors in their repertoire.  A few are improved versions of earlier dual cores while others are fresh new multiple-births.  Why are there so many multicore offerings now?  The simple answer is that to stay on the performance treadmill that Moore’s Law so aptly described, multicore is the only viable option.  But there are different approaches within the multicore movement, and many have been utilized for years for a more delicate operation, perhaps right in your pocket... <entire article>

Multicore processors: Now a movement   
-Tom Starnes   
EETimes   Sept. 27, 2010

"Sometimes when you deal with parts of the world where intellectual property rights are not held in as much high esteem as here ... the more in-house design and production you have, the more things you have in control," Tom Starnes, an industry analyst at Objective Analysis, told MacNewsWorld. "It's a good and a smart thing for a company to try to get better control over many aspects of the critical parts of their end products." ...

"PA Semi ... and the Intrinsity guys are a bunch of real smart people," Starnes pointed out. "It may very well be that Apple's trying to get higher performance out of their processors than they can out of standard CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) techniques the rest of the world could be using."

Will the Feds Sour Apple's Juice?   -Richard Adhikari   Mac News World   May 5, 2010

"Engineers will work it out... Just give us our toys and let us go to work."

Apollo: The Epic Journey that Launched a Generation of Engineers / Forum: Why I became an engineer   
EETimes  June 23, 2009

"The extremely low sleep current and numerous wake-up features of Microchip’s new nanoWatt XLP microcontrollers should be ideal for battery-operated devices, which actually spend most of the time asleep," said Tom Starnes, embedded processor analyst at the semiconductor research firm Objective Analysis. "The interest in the market for such low-power processors, for use in consumer to industrial applications, is really on the rise."

Microchip Technology Debuts nanoWatt XLP Microcontrollers With World’s Lowest Sleep Current   Reuters   April 23, 2009

News and Events Quotes References In Print Opinions Source Current Events Conferences Interviews

News & Events

"Facing the challenges of power forces us to be far more efficient in everything about our designs," said analyst Tom Starnes of market research firm Objective Analysis.  ...

Nonetheless, added Starnes, the chip industry has always found ways to meet its serious challenges and will do so now. "There’s so much business riding on continued advancements in semiconductors," he said, "that the problems will be resolved."

Will Power Problems Curtail Processor Progress?    -Neal Leavitt    IEEE's Computer    May 2012

In "Quotes"
Current Events

"It's a relief of debt burden for them, but it's not the magic bullet for them either," said Tom Starnes, an analyst for Objective Analysis. "It was something necessary for them to move on, but it's not going to help them create more technology for smartphones or next video games or tablets or anything like that."

It's the booming markets of microprocessor technology that Freescale needs to focus on, rather than relying on small, steady growth in its core embedded technology industry, Starnes said. A new management direction and focus can certainly help.

Freescale Semiconductor Launches IPO    
-Chandler Harris   
Information Week   
                                      May 26, 2011

The outlook for semiconductors and electronic end-equipment for 2012 is cloudy. With grim economic predictions dominating global commerce, consumers, businesses, and governments have been unable to move forward with much confidence the last couple of years...

The push for green electronics has created an area of growth — and demand for semiconductors...

Chips and end-equipment based on ARM cores should accelerate. Apple has come to dominate some well-established markets by putting the "i" first (I, the user) in the name as well as the consumer product. The Android OS may allow other OEMs to give Apple a run for its money...

Objective Analysis looks for a 10% decline for semiconductors in 2012, a mild recovery around the middle of 2013, and finally strong growth (over 20%) to follow in 2014.  <full article>

Clouds Loom On The 2012 Semiconductor Horizon             -Tom Starnes, Jim Handy             Electronic Design    Dec. 27, 2011

"Analog Devices is pretty solid in high-quality analogue, though they seem to have backed away from the digital signal processing and microcontrollers/ processors space that they were into five to 15 years ago," Tom Starnes, an analyst at Objective Analysis, told ZDNet UK.

"What might make some sense
[with the Lyric Semiconductor] acquisition is Analog Devices continuing to pursue cellular and communications technologies that often use exotic algorithms for extracting hard data out of messy real-world signals and beefing up performance in the process," he added.

Probability chip start-up bought by Analog Devices    
-Jack Clark   
ZDNet UK   June 15, 2011

4/5/2017

Flash memory completely dominates microcontrollers (MCUs) now, but memory considerations have become more complex as the processors have advanced to 32-bit architectures and ... exotic peripherals ... make the MCU more of a system-on-a-chip (SoC) encompassing advanced motor control, graphical user inter-faces (GUIs), and networking... <entire article>

Memory Considerations for Faster MCUs
-Tom Starnes
   
DigiKey TechZone   Jan. 18, 2012

"The concept that you can have a very small processor doing things like maintenance that doesn't require a big honker processor, and you can have another, specialty processor working maybe on graphics, and another one that's the mainstream one, and mixing them up, certainly in a system and now even in an SoC – you're going to see a whole lot more of that kind of approach..." <from a 06:30 video interview>

Trends in ARM-Based Products with Strategy Sanity
-Tom Starnes with Bill Wong of
ED
      
engineeringTV.com         Jan. 25, 2012

Consumer Electronics Show 2017 (CES)

Jan. 5-8, 2017
Las Vegas, NV   USA
 


Embedded Systems Conference (ESC)

Dec. 6-8, 2016
San Jose, CA   USA


ARM TechCon 2015ARM Technology Conference (TechCon)

Oct 25-27. 2016
Santa Clara, CA   USA

 


Freescale Technology Forum (FTF)(NXP)

May 16-19, 2016
Austin, TX   USA

 


Smart Energy Summit

February 22-24, 2016
Austin, TX   USA



Consumer Electronics Show 2016 (CES)

Jan. 5-9, 2016
Las Vegas, NV   USA
 


ARM TechCon 2015ARM Technology Conference

Nov. 10-12 2015
Santa Clara, CA   USA


Embedded Systems Conference (ESC)

July 20-22, 2015
Santa Clara, CA   USA


Freescale Technology Forum (FTF)

June 22-25 2015
Austin, TX   USA


Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

January 6-9, 2015

Las Vegas, NV  USA


ARM Technology Conference

ARM TechCon

October 1-3, 2014

Santa Clara, California


Freescale Technology Forum

April 9-11, 2014
Dallas, TX


EE Live!
Embedded Systems Conference

April 1-3, 2014  San Jose


Intel Industry Analyst Summit

March 13, 2014


Smart Energy
Summit

February 18-19, 2014

Austin, TX   USA

 


Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

January 7-10, 2014

Las Vegas, Nevada   USA

 


ARM Technology Conference

ARM TechCon

October 29-31, 2013

Santa Clara, California

 

 


NIWeek

August 5-8, 2013

Austin, Texas  USA

Featuring LabView from
 National Instruments

 


DESIGN West /
Embedded Systems Conference

 

April 22-25, 2013

San Jose, CA

USA

 


Embedded Vision Summit

April 25, 2013

San Jose, CA

USA

 


Renesas DevCon

 

October 22-25, 2012
Orange County, CA  USA

 


Intel Developer Forum

 

September 11-13, 2012  
San Francisco, California  USA


EETimes Virtual Conference

Approaching Multi-Core

 

September 30, 2010

Tom Starnes was conference co-chair and hosted two panel discussions:
"MultiCore 101: The Architectural Options" and
"Software Development Tools for MultiCore Systems", plus hosted an interactive chat on
"Dodging the 11th-Hour Train Wreck"

     
Get Slides

 


ARMtechcon3

 

October 21-23, 2009

Santa Clara, CA   USA

 

The primary analyst and advisor for Strategy Sanity, Tom Starnes, was the Technical Chair for two of the three program tracks for the conference this year: "Internet Everywhere" and "MCUs & Tools".

Tom helped organize the technical program and hosted a number of industry panels during the conference, including:

"Mudwrestling: MCUs - Whose Does What?" where he kept key representatives from NXP, Texas Instruments, Energy Micro, and STMicroelectronics from each other's throats.

"Meeting Your Goals and Solving Design Challenges with ARM Technologies" was discussed among key Texas Instruments and ARM executives.

"Is Cloud Computing Just a Dream?" where Tom and high-level representatives from Qt, Canonical, Nvidia, and ARM explored the status and direction of cloud computing.

 


Real-Time & Embedded
Computing Conference

 

The Seven Seas Washing over Embedded Systems

Keynote Presentation by Tom Starnes, Consultant and Industry Analyst

A number of trends in embedded applications are in motion that cannot be ignored. The advantages of convenience, consolidation, communications, connectivity and power conservation are reflected in the processor chips underlying today’s embedded systems. These issues may complicate real-time designs, but the benefits and the need to stay competitive will make the implementation effort worthwhile. Learn how to incorporate these concepts in your design and your customers will reward you.

      Austin, TX    March 19, 2009          
Get Slides

 


CES

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas gives insights to what the electronics industry is offering to excite finicky consumers.  Get an overview and read take-aways of the massive event through the eyes of an experienced industry insider in our Analyst Trip Report: 2008 Consumer Electronics Show.

 


Design Automation Conference (DAC)

 

San Diego, June 4-8, 2007

 

 Tom Starnes presented

Multi-Core Processor Considerations in Modern Day SoC Designs
to open DAC in 2007.  

Add'l commentary may be found at


StarneTom & Maria on CNBCs - CNBC

Tom Starnes (right) on TV

discusses Handheld PCs (PDAs) on CNBC’s "Closing Bell with Maria Bartiroma" back on March 12, 2002.  
At the time, Intel was making a big market impact with its ARM-based XScale applications processor, later sold to Marvell.

Disclaimer: Quotes and references on this page are intended only as pointers to the original material, typically found on the World Wide Web, and are not intended to imply, usurp, transfer, grant, or exclude any rights of copyright. Be sure to establish appropriate copyrights before re-publishing any references given here. No endorsement should be implied by the presence of material here. In no case was financial compensation provided in association with any comment presented here, with the possible exception of articles shown as authored by the analyst.

Also note that these are quotes from sources that are typically out of our control and which may contain unintended or typographical errors, or may have been taken out of context of the original statement/writing of the spokesman/author. The comments are representative of information on hand and the nature of the conversation/writing at that moment in time.  Certainly, now, these factors and influences have changed and may alter the analyst's view on the subject. Contact the analyst for updates based on the most current information.

Links provided were valid at one point in time but the dynamics of the World Wide Web can quickly render them as "dead" (404).

Brand names, trademarks, and logos remain the property of their respective owners.

Even More to Say ...


How Soon Can The New Decade Start?   Electronic Design   Jan. 7, 2010

ARM Achieves 10 Billion Processor Milestone   
International Business Times   Jan. 22, 2008

Freescale CEO announces his resignation    
-Kirk Ladendorf   
Austin American-Statesman    Feb. 8, 2008

Getting past the hype - Synapse instant-on wireless mesh network technology really works   March 10, 2008

"The design of a truly low-power electronic system is a multi-level problem and requires a systematic strategy to eliminate unneeded consumption. . . As with many aspects of electronic design, the burden mostly rests on the chips and their designers."  [entire article]

Find your low-power path   
-Tom Starnes   
EDA Tech Forum   April 2009

 

Strategy Sanity

Tom Starnes, an Austin-based consultant, said Samsung should have no problem finding people to hire in view of layoffs at some other semiconductor companies in the city. "There should be plenty of people available," he says.

Samsung Factory Shows Surprising Logic   
-Don Clark  
Wall Street Journal  June 9, 2010

"I literally asked a couple of MCU competitors about the renewed Renesas and they were unconcerned," said Tom Starnes, an analyst with Objective-Analysis. "They didn't like that there would be a new larger (vendor) to overcome for them to rise in the rankings tables, but they don't fear losing business."

Clearly, Renesas' rivals don't want to pump up the Japanese firm. "On the other hand, what would you think competitors would say: 'Damn, that new Renesas is going to cream us or we've had a tiger team working on a defense for six months,'" the analyst said.

There are other issues beyond MPUs. "I have previously given a position that the (new) Renesas will have difficulty working with the maze of similar and overlapping products, organization, and resources," Starnes said. "I don't know that the current Renesas hasn't shown the sort of pruning that other chip vendors have gone through."

Renesas tips MCU roadmap, but are rivals worried?   -Mark LaPedus   EETimes   
May 7, 2010

Merging with NEC's MCU operations would give this one vendor an unheard-of 30 percent market share of microcontrollers in a market where the biggest of 30 vendors barely trip into double-digit market shares, said Tom Starnes, an analyst with market researcher Objective Analysis.

"Although there may indeed be merger talks between Renesas and NEC, we see little of the traditional benefits from a prospective merger between these two firms," Starnes said in a report. "It is no small chore to gain a benefit from the merger of two large microcontroller vendors."

There are more negatives than positives in such a deal. "Considering the broad offering of today's Renesas as well as NEC, most of the products seem to overlap rather than provide new synergies," he said. "Without paring down of overlapping families, it will be difficult to provide much financial gain."

There are other problems. "Manufacturing costs can be improved by driving more chips through the fabs, but first any newly-acquired chips have to be reconfigured for the new process node in the fab -- a very resource-intensive effort. Two companies cannot just be slapped together and see immediate, or even short-term financial benefits," he argued.

Does Renesas-NEC Electronics merger make sense?   -Mark LaPedus   EETimes   April 17, 2009

 

"Technology evolves in spite of the economy," said Tom Starnes, analyst at market research firm Objective Analysis. "The excitement in the air at ESC [Embedded Systems Conference] Silicon Valley is a good indicator of the electronics industry's upturn. I'm sure the embedded engineering community went home from ESC armed with a wealth of valuable knowledge."

EE Times Group's ESC Silicon Valley 2010 Raises Bar for Electronics Industry Events   UBM Press Release   May 10, 2010

"The PSoC is the only architecture that extends the concept of program-mability beyond instructions for the processor to configuring peripherals and customization of digital func- tions," said Tom Starnes, principal analyst at Objective Analysis in Austin, Texas. "Coupled with analog precision on-chip beyond that found in any other MCU, these highly-integrated PSoCs are more highly-programmable than any other chip. The addition of precision analog and the ARM Cortex processor to the family should bring the performance needed for any modern application."

Cypress PSoC 5 With ARM Cortex-M3   
IQ Online   Sept. 15, 2009

"You no longer have to be a network expert to make use of wireless technology, and can develop an application in a matter of days," said Tom Starnes, Processor Analyst, Objective Analysis.

Synapse Registers 500th SNAPs User   
Wireless Business & Technology   Sept. 17, 2009

    “Technology     evolves in spite     of the economy.”


 
Tom Starnes                
 May 10, 2010

Tom Starnes had an interesting panel at ARM Techcon this year. The topic of the panel was Cloud Computing but at the end the conversation turned into a look at the competitive battle between Intel and ARM.

ARM Techcon – Is Cloud Computing Just a Dream and Intel vs. ARM  
GarySmithEDA Report   October 2009

Tom Starnes, a Texas technology analyst, isn't sympathetic.

"It's one thing if last week you were selling shoes at Macy's, but shouldn't you expect all of the problems going in?" he asked. "You should assume you probably weren't born the last time they bought computers."

But he also faults public officials for unreasonable expectations.

"You start out with this big toad," he said. "Just because you bring in the private sector, we're there to help, but we can't fix it all right away."   ...

Both Strichman and Starnes say public-private partnerships are still worth trying, but they noted that the best ones start off with modest goals and build on small but tangible successes.

Lessons from two states' computer woes   
-Christina Nuckols   
Virginian-Pilot   Dec. 5, 2010

Mobile-payment services must work on many types of phones and via the networks and billing services of many cellular-service providers, which adds complexity to the transaction process, said Tom Starnes, principal of market research firm Objective Analysis.

Payment Applications Make E-Commerce Mobile     -Neal Leavitt   IEEE Computer   December 2010

 

"This might be the approach being taken at Ixys, but they are not the only ones that are doing it," agreed analyst Tom Starnes, who follows the microcontroller market for Objective Analysis.

Starnes said there has been an ongoing trend to "bolt on" more analog and mixed-signal capabilities onto the MCU. But the problem with Zilog is obvious: It continues to live in the past.

Today, Zilog suffers from old offerings and an "antiquated ecosystem," Starnes said. "There is nothing wrong with the Z8 technology," he said. "It was great in its day. In 1981, they were a formidable competitor."

"In the late 1980s, Zilog lost the footrace," he said. "In the last five to 10 years, there have been a lot more competitors" in the MCU space.

Ixys revives Zilog amid a power trip   
-Mark LaPedus   
EETimes   Dec. 4, 2010

"Nonetheless, we have reports of many dedicated semiconductor employees returning quickly to their places of business after securing their homes," wrote Tom Starnes, author of a March 24th Objective Analysis report. "Meantime, the increasing threat of radioactive emissions from stressed nuclear power plants has many people scrambling to get to the far end of the island." ...

Rolling blackouts, whether planned or not, are also an issue for an industry whose delicate processes require sustained conditions, Starnes added. ...

"Nobody wants a $35,000 car to be parked on a production line waiting for a shipment of $5.00 microcontrollers that are programmed properly, or a hit Christmas toy to be out of stock until after the New Year," wrote Starnes. ...

"It is hoped that Japan's semiconductor manufacturing, as well as the Japanese people, can get back on their feet quickly," wrote Starnes. The world needs them.

Effect of Japan Quake on Semiconductor Industry Still Unclear   -Michelle Maisto   eWeek.com    March 24, 2011

"Most of the automobile plants in Japan are currently shut down, though those could be probably be turned back on once the people can be rounded up. But the supply of microcontrollers, analog and sensor products to the automakers and of all chips to the vast consumer electronics industry based in Japan could put a real dent in production if these components can't be produced for a period of time.  

"There may be a zero-sum market out there, so European and American automakers may be able to serve the market for cars, and Korea or China may get a boost in serving the consumer electronics market. But it's better for everyone if those shifts in market are due to much better products being offered rather than elimination of competition due to tragedy."

Episode 4 – The Earthquake in Japan (audio- select Episode 4, then start ~5:00 and 8:00)
-Bill Wong    
Engineering Radio by Electronic Design   Mar. 21, 2011

"People are used to how cell phones operate," said Tom Starnes, an embedded processor analyst with Objective Analysis. "They used to be able to blame it on the bad Internet connection, the bad cellular connection, that sort of thing. 4G kind of takes away some of that blame. Now there are some pretty fast ARM processors out there, but are they the equivalent of Intel's 1-GHz massive cache?"

Microsoft's Windows on ARM Better for Partners Than Us   
-Mark Hachman   
PC Magazine   Jan. 5, 2011

The processor could be produced at multiple sites so supply won't be impacted by one or more sites going down, for example, Tom Starnes, an analyst at Objective Analysis, told MacNewsWorld. Or there could be enough built-up inventory in the channel to feed demand for a while, he speculated.

It's not likely that manufacturers can turn readily to alternative suppliers, Starnes said.

"Nobody will be able to switch over to a different processor in less than six months unless a parallel design has been underway for a long time, and who has the resources for that?" Starnes asked.

A Tale of Two iThings    -Richard Adhikari    MacNewsWorld    March 30, 2011

Microcontroller vendors have been taking care of your connectivity and communications needs. More and more serial channels, communications methods, and networking peripherals have been brought into the MCU as the market has called for it. Along with the hardware implementation, the chip vendors have been assembling the software that makes it work. Third-party software vendors step up to the plate to offer improved, more universal, customizable, and specialized communications software and protocol stacks. The result is a relatively easy and cost-effective means of adding greater connectivity to MCU-based equipment.  [entire article]

Your MCU is Just Starting to be Connected
-Tom Starnes   
Digi-Key's Tech-Zone Magazine   April 2011

Researcher Tom Starnes of Objective Analysis explained, "Of the $300B of semiconductor chips sold last year, nearly $50B were sold to or within Japan, but nearly 25 percent of the world's semiconductor production capacity is in Japan when you look at total square inches of silicon processed, so this is a vital region to the global industry. Additionally, over 60 percent of the silicon wafers that are the starting point for making a semiconductor chip are made in Japan, and these are sold all over the world."

Pro Audio Reacts to Japan Disaster    -Clive Young    ProSound News    Apr. 11, 2011

"These microcontrollers are different in small but important ways," said Tom Starnes, an analyst at Objective Analysis, a technology research firm. "That makes it very difficult to switch to alternate suppliers, at least not quickly." Switching could take six months or more, analysts say.

A Japanese Plant Struggles to Produce a Critical Auto Part    
-Andrew Pollack and Steve Lohr    
The New York Times    Apr. 27, 2011

Simply replacing MCU parts from one supplier to another is easier said than done. "I have heard of (MCU) shortages, indeed some from Renesas," said Tom Starnes, an analyst with Objective-Analysis. "Unfortunately re-qualifying products through different equipment and facilities takes time and effort by both vendor and OEM.  Such things are normally scheduled carefully so as to not disrupt product flow."

Microcontroller supply chain is out of control    -Mark LaPedus    EETimes    May 6, 2011

"Medfield is a small step closer," Tom Starnes, an analyst at semiconductor research firm Objective Analysis, told TheStreet. "[But] it's not like the grappling hook is over the wall and you know that you're in."

"The reason why ARM has done so well is because they are much more thrifty in terms of battery performance," said Starnes. "You can get away without screaming performance, but the battery needs to last all day."

Starnes, though, was unmoved by this [Smart TV] news. "To me, it's like fine, great, but who is buying that stuff?"

Has XScale left a bad taste for Intel? Quite possibly, says Starnes. "They did a superb job [with XScale] but the market didn't buy into it," he said. "I think that they are still struggling with that."

Intel Nips at Smartphone Market    
-James Rogers    
TheStreet    June 9, 2011

"Products like microcontrollers and DSPs can't simply be swapped out for another chip, whether from the same vendor or another," said Tom Starnes, an embedded processor analyst at Objective Analysis in Austin, Texas. "The programs aren't easily transferable between processors, and even changing other chips like analog may introduce cost, quality, or reliability issues not originally anticipated."

Two Weeks After Japan Earthquake, IT Industry Faces Hurdles  -Martyn Williams    IDG News    Mar. 25, 2011


"The disrupted electricity, water, and transportation systems [following Japan's 9.0 earthquake] are certainly going to take some time to get back on track," said Tom Starnes, an analyst with Objective Analysis, in a report circulated Wednesday. "There are only so many spare parts lying around with which to fix things. Even far away from the earthquake zone, rolling electrical blackouts, scheduled or not, are hampering normal life."
 {from Editor’s lead-in note}

"Semiconductor manufacturing requires consistent, high-quality electricity, and disruptions in water and power may continue to affect semiconductor and end-equipment manufacturers even far from the earthquake area for some time to come," said Tom Starnes, an analyst with Objective Analysis, in a report circulated late Wednesday.

On Semi says two fabs still down    
-Dylan McGrath   
EETimes    March 24, 2011

Tom Starnes, senior analyst for Objective Analysis, added that the USB design itself is cumbersome — what he calls "awkward compatibility."

"The shoulders on some USB plugs and devices prevent insertion in some devices and if you try to stack them or put them in too tight a space, then they don’t fit — kind of the reverse problem of the HDMI connector," said Starnes.

USB: 3.0 Taking Hold and Gearing for the Future      RTC Magazine    December 2012

Tom Starnes, embedded processor analyst at Objective Analysis, believes that Microchip has always done a good job "of making their MCUs accessible to 'the little guy' with excellent support and lots of little development kits." In Starnes' view, serving the smaller customer is "more of a mission at Microchip," while it's often a secondary goal to most vendors who concentrate almost exclusively on their biggest clients.

Talk from the hip at Microchip    
-Junko Yoshida    
EE Times    May 7, 2012

Numerous MCU vendors have been using ARM-based microcontrollers to attract designers that tradi-tionally use 8- and 16-bit MCUs offer[ing] the appeal of the ARM architecture, 32-bit flexibility, low prices, a robust ecosystem, and multiple suppliers. Some of these MCU vendors also focus heavily on reducing power consumption, using many of the same techniques that Freescale is employing in Kinetis L.  <entire article, by subscription>

Kinetis L Challenges 16-bit Micros    
-Tom Starnes    
Microprocessor Report    
July 16, 2012

Discover the Origins of Texas Sayings

It is disheartening to have to point to a poor economy across the globe as a significant drag on the health of the electronics industry for four years running… If the buzz about tablets and smartphones fires up sales as Christmas gifts – a very likely scenario – this could severely impair sales of something that looks like a productivity tool, even if it is a little more fun, e.g. an UltraBook with a touchscreen on Windows 8. Is the PC becoming the WC – the Work Computer?… Many silicon vendors have backed away from the cutthroat smart phone industry…

The last year saw bigger talk given to ever-more-powerful ARM processors, not just by multiplying the number of cores, but now moving to the 64-bit processor arena… One particularly nice thing about the effort put into reducing energy needs, is that every watt saved at the semiconductor has benefits and reduces many difficulties all the way back to the original conversion of energy from the Sun.  <entire article>

Ancient Aliens Fail: Electronics Industry Looks to 2013    -Tom Starnes, Jim Handy    Electronic Design    Dec. 17, 2012

32-bit MCUs have expanded to generate 45% of all MCU revenue… as ARM has taken a stronger foothold in MCUs. Cortex-M processor cores have spread among silicon vendors as the 32-bit architecture, made popular in licensable CPUs, attracts attention in self-contained MCUs. Many new ARM-based products reach down into 8- and 16-bit microcontroller territory, drawing a broader if less pricey application base.

Microcontrollers have continued to play a large role in managing and controlling power consumed by other components and systems while, like other electronic components, reducing their own power consumption. … Peripherals are still blossoming as MCUs [and] the coming year may see some traditional MCU leaders, like Freescale and Renesas, return to their former glory, while newer upstarts like Silicon Labs and Energy Micro continue to make their mark as well. <entire article, by subscription>

32-Bit Microcontrollers Hit New Lows   -Tom Starnes    Microprocessor Report    Jan. 7, 2013

"Inserting the popular Cortex-M0 processor core into the highly-customizable logic and analog circuitry of Cypress's PSoC products makes a very appealing combination for applications with unique I/O requirements that warrant a higher performance processor or the widely-used ARM architecture," said Tom Starnes, Principal Analyst with semiconductor market research firm Objective Analysis. "The trim PSoC 4 with the highly optimized Cortex-M0 processor makes it easier to step up from 8- and 16-bit or proprietary MCU architectures."

Cypress PSoC 4 architecture claims the industry's lowest-power ARM Cortex-M0-based devices for embedded designs    
-Paul Buckley    
EETimes    Mar. 21, 2013

"ARM was being cagey about a variety of specifics about their current endeavor into 64-bits. They were in Intel's back yard and no need to give the competition too much ammo too early in the game," said Tom Starnes, senior analyst with Objective Analysis.

Next Stop for Windows 8: 64-bit ARM Processors?  -Andy Patrizio   DesktopReview    Nov. 20, 2012

Indeed, the issue of power consumption coupled with a new challenger in ARM in the server space has forced Intel to rethink its strategy, said Tom Starnes, a microprocessor analyst also with Objective Analysis.

"Intel was traditionally focused on performance, performance, performance, but there are apps that don't need the highest screaming performance and power consumption has become a big issue," Starnes said.

Meanwhile, ARM has improved its chip performance and it is an architecture known to be conservative in power consumption, Starnes said.

"They have pushed their way into the low end server business and it's a business that Intel wants to protect," Starnes said.

… Plus, ARM is at a disadvantage in the Intel-dominated server-space, just as Intel's Atom processor is the underdog in the mobile device space where ARM devices lead, Starnes said.

Intel roadmap adds low power, high density chips for micro servers    -Bridget Botelho    TechTarget    July 23, 2013

Tom Starnes, analyst at Objective Analysis, which focuses on semiconductor market research, said firms can still deliver differentiated products with the ARM architecture...

"There is a built-in ecosystem," Starnes said. Software personnel know how to use the architecture so it is incumbent on a company to have products that are different from its competitors, he continued. Freescale has "tremendous expertise" Starnes said...

Starnes said he was impressed when [Gregg] Lowe was hired [as CEO]. The executive has a good background as an engineer, he explained. Texas Instruments, like Freescale, was built on solid engineers, and Lowe will command respect from the rank and file employees, Starnes said.

Freescale Semiconductor looks to ARM strategy    -Ed Mullane, Larry Rothman    dealReporter    Mar. 19, 2013

2014 should be a banner year for semiconductors with revenue forecast to grow 20% or more. Demand is strong despite softness in PCs as consumers shift spending to smart phones and tablets. Meanwhile Things on the Internet and sensors of all kinds will further drive markets and new applications.

In 2013, smart devices morphed into the Internet of Things (IoT), an all-inclusive term that tries to push the human to the side, engulfing Machine to Machine (M2M) connectivity and embracing Big Data and centralized computing for the 21st century. All high-tech C-level executives included "IoT" in their presentations last year.

Ultimately these Things are extending connectivity a little closer to person, possibly more conveniently. Rather than building humanoid robots we may be shifting to mechanizing the human being. One wonders how much augmentation the normal human can tolerate – or afford.  <entire article>

Forecast for Semiconductors and Things in 2014    -Tom Starnes & Jim Handy    Electronic Design    Dec. 19, 2013

StratStar
StratStar
StratStar
StratStar
StratStar
StratStar
StratStar
StratStar

"The best thing to get the economy going is for people to spend their money. Prices aren’t going to get any better." Tom Starnes

top
top
top
top
top
top
top
top
top
top
top
top
top
top

According to Tom Starnes, an analyst at market research firm Objective Analysis, companies like Microchip Technology Inc. and Freescale Semiconductor Inc. offer microcontrollers that incorporate some analog circuits. They tend to be slower than the leading-edge microcontrollers because of the older process technology used for analog circuits, he said.

"When you get to where you are putting a lot of analog circuits on the device, it's really hard to get 100-megahertz speeds, let alone multiples of that," Starnes said.

Starnes noted that Silicon Laboratories Inc. also aggressively markets mixed-signal microcontrollers, which he described as successful microcontroller with strong analog capability.

Renesas readies mixed-signal MCUs   
-Dylan McGrath   
EETimes   Oct. 14, 2010

 

ARM-based designs "are the natural thing to put in there," said analyst Tom Starnes with Objective Analysis, "because the ARM architecture from day one has been focused on power consumption. To me, ARM hasn't gone after (the server market) as hard as they should. There is a resistance to competing with that big ugly guy called Intel. Who wants to be in the cage with that gorilla?" [Smooth-Stone later changed its name to Calxeda, Inc.]

Chip startup Smooth-Stone raises $48M in backing    -Kirk Ladendorf   
Austin American-Statesman   Aug. 15, 2010

Tom Starnes, Chief Processor Analyst, Objective Analysis: "It shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody watching the industry for the past couple of decades that Microchip is doing a great job providing MCUs for embedded systems. The survey results highlight their broad use, especially when combining the PIC, AVR, and at least some (the only MCU) portion of the MIPS devices – even though the architectures are essentially proprietary and all are off-the-shelf. It also reinforces the wisdom of the recent Atmel (AVR) acquisition. On another hand, TI’s MSP430 ranking confirms the value of low power consumption. All those ARM processors are spread across numerous vendors and a broader performance range."

Developers are Chasing AI, Open-Source, and Security Technologies <white paper>

- Bill Wong   Electronic Design   March 2017

 

"A robot can build a product in any country for about the same price — it’s only human labor that has a highly variable rate from country to country…" <entire article>

How Will Politics Impact the Semiconductor Industry and Overall Business Climate?
- Tom Starnes & Jim Handy   
Electronic Design   February 23, 2017

 

Tom Starnes, analyst with Objective Analysis, notes, "One country's loss is another’s gain as corporations try to hold on to as much of their revenues as they can in very complex and competitive markets for sophisticated technology. Meantime, the very-global chip industry has been consolidating at a rate and with a mass not seen before, with all but a few companies struggling for profitability."

These Trends Will Shape Embedded Technology in 2017
 -William Wong   
Electronic Design   Dec. 13, 2016

 

ARM has done a superb job of running its business over all these years, and all efforts should be made to stay the course.

 

A large infusion of cash and the ability to hire 300 new people a year would allow much faster progress to be made in the following areas:  1) Addressing emerging applications;  2) Enhancing software and standards support (key to making the hardware attractive) and  3) Ramping up performance to serve the highest performance applications.

 

A 15%-20% increase in engineering staff can really shorten project completion time. On the sales and marketing fronts, the increase would reach more potential customers. <entire article>

The Soft Banking of ARM
-Tom Starnes   
Electronic Design   July 20, 2016

 

The possibilities of the IoT will inspire and enable widespread technological innovation over the next many years, providing the drive that will keep electronics and the semiconductors at their heart as very vibrant industries.
<entire article>

An Objective Analysis of the Industry Outlook for 2016         -Tom Starnes, Jim Handy  

Electronic Design  Feb. 8, 2016

 

The promise of the IoT will finally explode when a vast array of products built by many different makers exhibit true interoperability through the network, but today the complete vision still seems a few years off.…

 

Many [imaging opportunities] will be high-value products, much in real-time as well as post-processing software, and may require large quantities of storage ... a very attractive market.…

 

Consider the risk of so many companies counting on the IoT and on China for their growth, and the ramifications of stumbling of today’s large, intertwined markets. <entire paper>

2015 Reflections and 2016 Outlook

-Tom Starnes, Jim Handy   Objective Analysis
  Jan. 2016

 

StratStar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Microchip [Technology]'s continued focus on 8- and 16-bit technology is unlike other vendors and might be its winning financial ticket, says analyst Tom Starnes.

 

"In many ways, the competition has almost abandoned 8-bit, and yet, Microchip [Technology] has seemed to continue to evolve 8-bit and 16-bit, and I think that has helped them," says Starnes, an advisor with Strategy Sanity. "Microchip is able to not only pick up what the other guys are kind of leaving on the table, but to be a very favored vendor for the smaller kind of products." …

 

Starnes pointed to Microchip's "consistent strategy and execution," as well as Sanghi's steady hand, as a linchpin for success. …

 

Part of the company's success is aligned with the maker community, said Starnes. "In many ways that is a significant type of customer -- the distribution type of customers buying in smaller quantities. Microchip has done a good job in providing support for boards, has good application notes, and service from sales people."

Microchip Buoyed by SMSC to Record Results

-Jessica Lipsky    EETimes    May 7, 2014

 

Tom Starnes, a processor industry analyst at Objective Analysis, told us that neither the impending merger nor the possibility of having a new player in the chip business is the most interesting thing about the announcement that  would split off portions of their chip-design businesses and unite them in an independent third company.

 

The most interesting thing, he said, is that [Fujitsu Ltd. and Panasonic Corp.] announced the same merger -- with the same goal -- more than a year ago. They appear to have made almost no progress on it. ...

 

"Fujitsu and Panasonic have both been on the radar for a long, long, long, long time," Starnes said. "They've both done some good things in the past, but we haven't really seen anything new in the way of microprocessors out of them for… forever. When you put them together, there could be some cost cutting, but it's hard to see any synergy there." ...

 

The new company will focus on producing semiconductor products for growing markets, including cloud computing, medical devices, the Internet of Things, and big-data analytics. Starnes said every other technology company has announced the same thing during the past two years.

 

"They have almost nothing to say about products, and that's what you want to hear -- something that lets you know how their product will help each other out or something new they bring to the table that neither one had on its own," Starnes said. "I don't hear any of that here."  ...

 

"They're selling off expensive resources, and maybe that's good, but if they're not just trying to get rid of costs and headcount and everything else, you have to wonder if these guys are ending up in a good position," Starnes said. "Is what they're doing going to break open that equation, or are they just going to be the 9th or 10th ones to climb on the same bandwagon?"

Panasonic/Fujitsu Venture More Divestiture Than Investment

-Kevin Fogarty    EETimes    April 28, 2014

 

 

 

Apple & Samsung market shares illustrated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Starnes, Objective Analysis' processor expert, tells us that the wireless handset and tablet businesses consist of two leading OEMs followed by many other vendors that he says are: "tumbling in the dust." He points out a dichotomy in the makeup of the phones that Apple sells and those sold by Samsung. Apple gets its 15% market share with just three models of smartphones. While Samsung takes 30% of the market, it must produce 150 models of smart phones to do so.

 

Samsung uses a broad range of applications processors designed by Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, and NVIDIA in their myriad smart phones. All the while, Samsung's semiconductor operations designed its own applications processor, called Exynos, but the company’s cell phone organization has only recently started to use it in Samsung's own mobile devices [and] had no success selling the processor into other vendors' handsets.

Is Samsung Losing at Economies of Scale?   

-Jim Handy    Forbes.com    Feb. 22, 2014

 

Tom Starnes, Objective Analysis processor analyst, questions whether the IoT frenzy is anything more than fancy phrasing for the natural technological evolution.

 

"It's hard to see any company that's not claiming they're a part of the Internet of Things," he told IBD. "I look at it as an evolution of what electronics has been doing all along. We used to call it embedded processing." Simply put, engineers have long strived to make machines "talk" to one another, he said.

  ...

Objective Analysis' Starnes is more certain society will embrace the Internet of Things — maybe even to its own detriment.

 

"People are letting their privacy go," he said. "Are they aware of the dangers? Are they aware of the implications? Probably not, no. ... Is it going to impede adoption? It doesn't look like it is."

Apple, GoPro, FitBit Chip Suppliers Enter IoT Melee   -Allison Gatlin   
Investor's Business Daily   Nov. 17, 2015

StratStar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not so fast, said Tom Starnes, semiconductor industry analyst at Objective Analysis. He points out that most of these [process] announcements have more to do with standard microprocessor architectures and are unrelated to the requirements of Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

 

"These are mainly digital systems and while scaling to such geometries there is not easy, it is child's play next to what is necessary in microcontroller-based IoT devices,” he said. MCU-based SoCs are a mix of not only digital components but also large amounts of analog functionality, wireless RF circuitry, flash and static RAM -- none of which scale as easily or predictably as digital transistors.

 

"We will eventually have a viable market for MCU-based SoCs for the IoT which will be able to make use of process node scaling to 14nm to 20nm or smaller, but not right now," Starnes said.

Scaling Down Semi Process Nodes for IoT Apps  
-Bernard Cole   
EETimes   Nov. 9, 2015

 

Like server processors, FPGAs are a high-margin business; this is certainly more comfortable to Intel than the highly competitive and low-power ARM processor business. The FPGAs can add to the high-performance persona of Intel products... Intel may also see picking up Altera as a needed defense of its prime market. <entire article>

Intel Really Set to Buy Altera FPGAs

-Tom Starnes and Jim Handy   
Electronic Design   June 2, 2015

 

"Special attention is needed in an MCU environment where there are numerous opportunities for real-time interrupts to hammer the processor for attention. You don't want the wrong circuit asleep or its state improperly saved when it is needed," [Tom] Starnes told EE Times. "Having a set of APIs that are well thought out for the dynamics of power management is pretty critical."

ARM Injected with Low Power API  

-Jessica Lipsky   EE Times   April 3, 2015

 

"I always look at these mergers and acquisitions from a couple of points of view, usually with the users of the companies' products —the OEMs that design electronic systems from the chips — foremost in my mind ... whether these two companies will be able to do something together that they couldn't have done when apart <and> what overlap versus synergies coupled with reaches into new markets do the joined companies have?"  -Tom Starnes <part of a lengthy discussion>

Q&A: Tom Starnes Examines the NXP-Freescale Union    - William Wong    Electronic Design   March 6, 2015

 

NXP executives will have to carefully balance the key personnel at original NXP and the old Freescale, as well as the products they produce, to keep the growth positive at the new company. This is often the downfall of such mergers.
<entire article>

-Tom Starnes NXP and Freescale Become One

ITnews   March 4, 2015   original and Pund-IT

 

The plethora of these new Things are unmanned end-points on the Internet, ever-smaller and more-sophisticated than before, possibly just 8-, 16-, and 32-bit MCUs monitoring a single sensor or driving an actuator.  Maybe they run the smart watch or the body sensors.  Any IoT standard that hopes to be successful will have to accommodate the highly constrained requirements of these Things.…

 

ADAS systems are very useful individually,…making cars safer to drive …and are attractive enough to justify their cost to the purchaser, especially in the higher-end cars where they first show up. <entire article>

Is 2015 the Year for IoT, ADAS, 4K UHD, or Surround Cameras? -Tom Starnes  Electronic Design  Feb. 9, 2015

 

StratStar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The smart phone has become a key platform for expanding the use of all kinds of products. The phone may remotely control or accumulate data from the product, resources in the phone may perform special processing on the data, and cloud services may be accessed through the cellular network. The phone has become the always-with-me device that the laptop never really was.

 

Smart phones and tablets have also introduced new kinds of user interfaces. The touch screen is now a staple, giving us the variety of a PC screen, unencumbered by the mouse. <entire article>

Key Technology Trends of 2013

-Tom Starnes & Raymond Yin  

Mouser Electronics   Feb. 4, 2014

 

The variety of cell phones models being sold by leaders Samsung and Apple reveals very different approaches to their business.…

 

So many factors all point to the same conclusion: it costs less to serve a market with a few robust products than with many.… A person has to wonder how Samsung can be as profitable with 150 phone models as Apple is with just three. <entire article>

Volume Skews Smart Phone Leaders

-Tom Starnes    Objective Analysis     February 2014