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Increasing demand for intelligent products coupled with the shift toward “software-based hardware designs” create the perfect mix of opportunity and challenge for today’s test engineers. Expertise alone is not enough in an industry where innovation is key—engineers must have access to the right kind of instruments and tools.

For National Instruments (NI), virtual instrumentation and graphical system design are the answer as these two “empower local talent and allow engineers to add their domain expertise to the economy and their organization,” said Chandran Nair, managing director, NI Southeast Asia. He explains that the two are key tools for an engineer, programmer or non-programmer, to write applications faster and more effectively.
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Posted: 01 Feb 2007

URL: http://www.eetasia.com/ART_8800451516_480200_NT_9f12753f.HTM

Hoping to join the ranks of the top 20 global EMS providers and post $1 billion in revenue by 2011, Philippine-based Integrated Microelectronics Inc. (IMI) will focus on integration and push forth bold ventures in emerging applications this year.

“We are gearing to be a more engineering- and technology-oriented company,” said IMI president and CEO Arthur Tan. Key to this goal is the integration of its recent acquisitions, which include Singapore’s SpeedyTech and the Philippines’ M. Hansson Consulting Inc. (MHCI), as well as alliances with Germany’s BuS Elektronik and PSi Technologies of the Philippines.

In 2003, IMI set a five-year goal to expand beyond the Philippine market. “To date, we have achieved 80 percent to 90 percent of that initial strategic plan for expansion, and we’re on track to meet that,” said Tan.

This year, IMI will tap MHCI to integrate further its Eazix development team with its technological companies based in China, Singapore and the United States. By doing so, IMI hopes to unlock the synergies from its different units, and to build a brand identity from the resulting higher-value competencies.

“We are starting to integrate the groups to become a global design organization,” said Michael Hansson, IMI’s director of design and engineering services. “And to remain competitive, we will focus on the key areas that we have.”

Strategic projects
Apart from integration, IMI is also eyeing the expansion of its facilities in other countries such as Vietnam and China. Tan said the company is planning more acquisitions of OEMs, ODMs and EMS companies in the United States and Europe to fortify its presence in those regions. IMI’s chief financial officer, Carissa Santos, revealed the company’s plan to put up a representative office in Eastern Europe prior to the establishment of a manufacturing facility there. Nonetheless, Tan stressed that IMI will maintain its core breadth of manufacturing in the Philippines.

Tan: We are gearing to be a more engineering- and technology-oriented company.

For its goal to become a $1 billion company by 2011, IMI will capitalize on the positive outlook for electronics assembly, which boasts a projected CAGR of 6.9 percent until 2010. Specifically, IMI targets servicing emerging design apps for high-margin, low-volume manufacturing of medical, industrial and automotive components. “These segments will provide IMI a niche market to capture and diversify into,” Tan said.

Another key project of IMI for 2007 is its venture into the automotive electronics sector. Tan explained that although automotive unit shipments only increase 7 percent to 9 percent annually, the electronic content in vehicles grows 20 percent every year. Tan said that IMI will design electronics for comfort and convenience, and under-the-hood electronics, the top two automotive subsegments that are registering strong growth for electronic content. IMI recently won a design contract with a German automaker.

For industrial applications, Hansson said that IMI’s design team is currently providing Zigbee solutions for automation, bringing together their strength in power electronics, wireless technology and small-scale assembly devices. Seeking to strengthen its position in the medical electronics market segment, IMI passed the audit for ISO 13485: 2003, the quality management system certification for the medical industry.

IMI will continue beefing up its optical disk-drive storage production for mobile PCs, which is expected to perform strongly over its desktop counterpart. Part of this strategy was the start of production of Blu-ray drives in November. IMI has also expanded its LCD production and started rolling out high-end TFT LCDs and thin film diodes, having won two LCD contracts in Japan.

Anna Valmero
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

Posted: 24 Jan 2007

URL: http://www.eetasia.com/ART_8800450543_499486_NT_ae1a906d.HTM

Changing market landscapes and consumer dynamics push companies to espouse new strategies to further gain inroads into the market. Traditionally, HDD vendors first deliver their products to OEMs. However, today’s plot calls for a shift in strategy as companies set to deliver their products to consumers first. This is the case for the terabyte products of Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST).

“We’ll sell our products and technologies into the consumer base first,” said Dirk Thomas, VP of Hitachi GST and president, Greater China, in an interview with EE Times-Asia. “We see the market growing in key areas and the retail strategy will be more important so I guess this will be a shift for consumer electronics in terms of market strategy.”

Hitachi GST will target first the retail channel and then the OEMs for its terabyte products.

Embracing this direction, Hitachi will launch its 3.5inch Deskstar 7K1000 drives to major retail outlets in the United States, Japan and Europe in the first quarter and then to major OEMs in the second quarter. The Deskstar 7K1000 is for gaming and high-performance PCs, external storage devices and upgrade applications. On the other hand, Hitachi’s Cinemastar 7K1000 product is specifically targeted for digital video recording (DVR) applications and will be available in the second quarter to major OEMs.

At present, the terabyte products comprises 10 percent of Hitachi’s total HDD production given the highly specific usage for the product, said Thomas. Meanwhile, Hitachi is eyeing China and Korea as potential distribution channels anticipating the growing STB demand in the countries.

Looking into the future, Thomas cited the possibility of shipping 3Tbyte products in the same package they are shipping today. “I think there will be a growing need for more content providers, with the development of the gaming sector as well as STBs,” he added.

Continued Thomas, “Thus, we provided a product menu that delivers technology across a broad spectrum of products based on different user needs. And as we start getting into the consumer [segment], the number of product features and how we market them is getting broader. The challenge for the industry is to improve its supply chain of development cycle so we can give them a broader set of products and features. And capacity point is one aspect of that.”

“Our first priority is to bring products to the market place with technology that meets the needs and expectations of customers,” concluded Thomas.

Anna Valmero
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

Posted: 29 Dec 2006

URL:http://www.eetasia.com/ART_8800447429_480200_NT_965718a4.HTM

In its quest to join the ranks of the top 20 global EMS providers and to post $1 billion in revenue by 2011, Philippine-based Integrated Microelectronics Inc. (IMI) will focus next year on integration and will push forth bold ventures in emerging applications.

“We are gearing to be a more engineering- and technological-oriented company,” said IMI president and CEO Arthur Tan. Key to this goal is the integration of its recent acquisitions, which include Singapore’s SpeedyTech and the Philippines’ M. Hansson Consulting Inc. (MHCI), as well as alliances with Germany’s BuS Elektronik and PSi Technologies of the Philippines.

In 2003, IMI set a five-year goal to expand beyond the Philippine market. “To date, we have achieved 80-90 percent of that initial strategic plan [for expansion], and we’re on track to meet that,” said Tan.

For 2007, IMI will tap MHCI to integrate further its Eazix development team with its technological companies based in China, Singapore and the United States. By doing so, IMI hopes to unlock the synergies from its different units, and to build a brand identity from the resulting higher value competencies.

“What we are doing now is we are starting to integrate the groups to become a global design organization,” said Michael Hansson, IMI’s director of design and engineering services. “And to remain competitive, we will focus on the key areas that we have.”

Strategic projects
Apart from integration, IMI also eyes expansion of its facilities in other countries such as Vietnam and China. By January, IMI will finalize plans for foray in Vietnam. Tan said the company also eyes more acquisitions of OEMs, ODMs and EMS companies in the U.S. and Europe to further its presence in the regions. IMI’s chief financial officer Carissa Santos revealed the company’s plan to put up a representative office in Eastern Europe before considering a manufacturing facility. Nonetheless, Tan stressed that IMI will maintain its core breadth of manufacturing in the Philippines.

For its goal to become a $1 billion company by 2011, IMI will capitalize on the positive outlook for electronics assembly with a projected CAGR of 6.9 percent until 2010. Specifically, IMI targets servicing emerging design apps for high-margin, low-volume manufacturing of medical, industrial and automotive components. “These [segments] will provide IMI a niche market to capture and diversify into,” Tan said.

Another key project of IMI for 2007 is its venture into the automotive electronics sector. Tan explained that although automotive unit shipments only increase 7-9 percent annually, the electronic content in vehicles grows 20 percent every year. Tan said that IMI will design electronics for comfort and convenience, and underhood electronics, the top two automotive subsegments that are registering strong growth for electronic content. Recently, IMI won a design contract with a German automaker.

For industrial applications, Hansson shared that IMI’s design team is currently providing Zigbee solutions for industrial automation, bringing together their strength in power electronics, wireless technology and small-scale assembly devices. In furthering its inroads in the medical electronics market segment, IMI passed audit for ISO 13485: 2003, the quality management system certification for the medical industry.

IMI will continue beefing up its optical disk drive storage production for mobile PCs, which is set to perform strongly over their desktop counterpart. Part of this strategy is the commencement of its production of Blu-ray drives in November. IMI has also expanded its production of LCD and started rolling out high-end TFT LCDs and thin film diode. The company has won two LCD contracts for Japan via its marketing office in the country.

Anna Valmero
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

Posted: 18 Dec 2006

URL: http://www.eetasia.com/ART_8800446164_480200_NT_ffbc88c5.HTM

In a bid to maintain its leadership in the 2.5-inch HDD segment, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (GST) will unveil next year its 200Gbyte and quarter-terabyte products.

The company’s 2007 road map for 2.5-inch drives will capitalize on the twofold growth in shipments projected by market research firm IDC. Volume shipments of 2.5-inch drives, according to IDC, will double in 2010 to 224 million units from this year’s 118 million units.

“Our goal is to grow faster than the market,” said Dirk Thomas, VP of Hitachi GST and president, Greater China, in an interview with EE Times-Asia.

Playing a significant role in the pursuit of this goal are the company’s Asian facilities. At present, Hitachi manufactures its 2.5-inch drives at its Thailand facility. Its first generation of perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) drives, the Travelstar 5K160, was assembled in Thailand. Meanwhile, Shenzhen produces the PMR media that go into the drives. Plans call for an increase in output at these two sites. Thomas also anticipates more product launches from its Asian facilities.

The Hitachi official revealed that to date, the company has invested $200 million and $500 million in its Thailand and Shenzhen facilities, respectively.

While it has no immediate R&D plans in China, Hitachi is boosting its manufacturing capabilities by sending its engineers in Shenzhen for skills training in Japan and in the United States, the company’s research hubs.

Tech shift
Hitachi’s adoption of PMR technology is a vital component of its HDD strategy. As opposed to conventional longitudinal recording, where magnetization of the bits is directed circumferentially along the track direction, perpendicular recording has the magnetic bits placed perpendicular to the disk surface.

Hitachi claims that the shift to PMR has helped it achieve high production volume. In November, the company delivered 1 million PMR drives after only six months of regular production. It hopes to produce 4 million PMR drives by the end of the year.

PMR drives account for roughly 35 percent of Hitachi’s Q4 2.5-inch drive output. The company expects to fully transition its 2.5-inch product line to PMR by the end of 2007.

Meanwhile, Hitachi is targeting the consumer electronics sector for its Travelstar 200Gbyte, 7200rpm drive that is scheduled for release in 1H of 2007, and for the quarter-terabyte, 5,400rpm drive that will be available in 2H. “Consumer electronics will define the hard-drive industry’s future,” Thomas pointed out. Products like laptops and digital camcorders will drive the demand for 2.5-inch drives.

Moreover, the company’s upcoming 2.5-inch products will feature hard-drive-level encrypted security and hybrid storage, which combines flash with the rotating disk media. The security solution will use Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm technology. The hybrid storage will be offered as an option for the 2.5-inch drives set for release next year. Key benefits of a hybrid storage solution, particularly for mobile products, include longer battery life, faster boot-up and recovery from hibernation.

Anna Valmero
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

Posted: 25 Oct 2006

Silicon Valley firms have set eyes and interest on solar energy, with Internet giant Google disclosing plans to run its headquarters on solar energy and other firms seeking ways to develop the alternative energy.

EI Solutions, the systems integration arm of Energy Innovations Inc., will begin constructing a solar electricity system for Google’s headquarters. With a total capacity of 1.6MW, the search engine specialist’s headquarters is touted to become the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the United States and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world.

The project will involve 9,212 solar panels provided by Sharp Electronics and not by Nanosolar, a startup originally funded by Google. A majority of the panels will be placed on the rooftops of some of the buildings in the “Googleplex” and parking lots. A video showing the plan on Google’s headquarters is also available at EI Solutions’ website.

Eyes on the sun
With the rising demand for clean energy, Silicon Valley capitalists, chipmakers and entrepreneurs are betting on sun power, said an AP report. “We all realize that green is gold,” said Carl Guardino, head of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, in the report. “Venture capitalists are betting with their wallets that Cleantech will play a significant role in Silicon Valley.”

Clean Edge Inc., a research and consulting firm that tracks and analyzes clean-tech markets, trends and opportunities, has projected that solar energy industry will grow from $11 billion in 2005 to $51 billion in 2015, prompting Silicon Valley firms to venture into the field.

Clean Edge Inc., a research and consulting firm that tracks and analyzes clean-tech markets, trends and opportunities, issued a report last March projecting that solar photovoltaics (including modules, system components and installation) will grow from an $11.2 billion industry in 2005 to $51.1 billion by 2015.

However, the growing interest for solar power will not necessitate many jobs in the Valley as production is located in low-cost countries, mostly in Asia, said the AP report.

Sunny future?
Despite sunny projections, the Valley’s rush to solar also has its risks, according to the AP report. The solar industry needs to cut its costs dramatically to persuade its adoption and use in homes and businesses over electricity.

There is also a projected global shortage of polysilicon due to the business rush for solar energy, said the Clean Edge report. In 2006, the solar industry is expected to consume more silicon than the semiconductor industry for the first time, the AP report said.

Anna Valmero
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

With additional reporting from Mark LaPedus of EE Times


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