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Electronics Buyers' Guide

Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2017


 

From the editor's desk - Out with the old
19 April 2017, This Week's Editor's Pick, News

I once mistakenly credited President Jacob Zuma with having an underrated, though diabolical, sense of humour. That was back when he decided to split the former Department of Communications into a new, different Department of Communications with a different mandate, and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services. Naturally the two departments ended up with certain overlapping spheres of influence, and their respective ministers were at loggerheads from day one. It turned out Zuma was quite serious then, and serious too were the implications for our shambolic (and still unresolved) migration to digital terrestrial television.

Then he made his famous eleventy-thousand-8-million-hundred-3 speech and once again convinced me that this was a man with an uncanny mastery of the subtleties of self-satire. When Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, of Top Gear fame, came to South Africa last year to shoot an episode of their new show, The Grand Tour, they regaled the studio audience with a video clip of said speech. So now the whole TV-watching world can laugh with us – or at us.

Thus, when I started hearing news about President Zuma’s latest – and in an ironic sense, perhaps his greatest – cabinet reshuffle, like Warren Muir (read his column in ‘From the chairman’s desk’) I clung to the hope that it was just an April Fool’s joke. Well, as it turns out, the punch-line is: South Africa gets ‘junk’ credit rating, the Rand plummets and thousands of businesses close their doors on 7 April in protest. Ha-ha-ha. At least he didn’t axe Dr Siyabonga Cwele, the Telecommunications and Postal Services minister, but come to think of it that’s a dubious upside.

Which brings me to another group of people not known for their sense of humour, and another topic which involves a sweeping out of the old and in with the new. Namely, engineers, and the evolution of the semiconductor industry towards a post-CMOS era. It’s premature to set the CMOS doomsday clock yet, but the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems (IRDS) puts it at circa 2024. The IRDS, which evolved out of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), first published in 1965, has released a collection of nine new white papers that paint the clearest picture yet of where the semiconductor industry is headed, and what it needs to do to secure an unbroken pathway to ever more computing power. Those white papers are freely downloadable at http://irds.ieee.org/reports and they do not make for light reading – you have been warned.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) have also been hard at work putting together their own 73-page report entitled ‘Semiconductor research opportunities: An industry vision and guide’, which explores many of the same issues as the IRDS, albeit from a more US-centric point of view. This is to be expected given the SIA’s tagline of “representing US leadership in semiconductor manufacturing, design, and research” but the association does also publish valuable data on the global market.

John Neuffer, president and CEO of SIA, said at the launch of the report, “Our industry has pushed Moore’s Law to levels once unfathomable, enabling technologies that have driven economic growth and transformed society. Now, as it becomes increasingly challenging and costly to maintain the breakneck pace of putting more transistors on the same size of silicon real estate – industry, academia, and government must intensify research partnerships to explore new frontiers of semiconductor innovation and to foster the continued growth of emerging technologies.”

Lest we forget, the USA also has a laugh-a-minute septuagenarian for a president, one who’s inspiring just as much consternation in his country’s citizens and industries, and the semiconductor industry is no exception. Neuffer noted concern among the country’s technology, research and academic communities about proposed cuts to basic scientific research outlined in the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2018 budget blueprint. As he pointed out, “the US semiconductor industry supplements government investments by annually devoting about one-fifth of its revenue to R&D, more than any other sector.”

Aside from Donald Trump’s superior grasp of numbers, he and Jacob Zuma seem to share at least one common trait: a passion for building barriers. And luxury resorts.

Brett van den Bosch


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Further reading:

  • From the chairman’s desk: Manufacturing in South Africa
    19 July 2017, AREI, This Week's Editor's Pick, News
    Warren Muir reflects on his attendance at the 2017 Manufacturing Indaba, and how it fits in with arei’s plans for the South African electronics industry.
  • SA antennas used in major European tunnel project
    19 July 2017, Poynting Antennas, News
    The Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest and deepest train tunnel through the Swiss Alps, makes exclusive use of technology from Poynting Antennas to ensure a seamless digital communication service underground over a route length of more than 57 km.
  • Training structure the key to successful content
    19 July 2017, News
    The structure and assessment of training programmes are just as important as their content when it comes to up-skilling production staff, explains Bob Willis.
  • From the editor's desk: Is SA ready to adopt the ITA?
    19 July 2017, Technews Publishing, News
    2017 marks the 21st anniversary of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA), an initiative of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to eliminate trade tariffs on hundreds of high-tech products. The acronym ...
  • Cape Town hosts Dynamic Spectrum Alliance global summit
    14 June 2017, This Week's Editor's Pick, News
    The three-day event brought together representatives from five continents and 21 countries around the world, including policy makers, regulators, academia, and public and private sector representatives.
  • UL presents new smart meter standards
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    Users throughout the supply chain need to be assured of the fact that common, consensus-based standards are being used on both a national and international basis to test and certify all smart meters.
  • Keeping time to save money in smart meters
    14 June 2017, Tempe Technologies, This Week's Editor's Pick, DSP, Micros & Memory
    Mary Tamar Tan from Microchip Technology explains how a real-time clock and calendar module can reduce component count and cut programming costs in smart meters and other applications.
  • Implementing the upcoming 71 W PoE standard now
    14 June 2017, Arrow Altech Distribution (AAD), This Week's Editor's Pick, Power Electronics / Power Management
    With Power over Ethernet (PoE) being a popular and mature technology, it’s no surprise that developers are eager to jump onto the next IEEE bandwagon and start delivering higher levels of power down Ethernet cables.
  • From the editor's desk: Taking the power back(wards)
    14 June 2017, Technews Publishing, News
    US President Donald Trump’s decision to drag his country out of the Paris Agreement on climate change has brought the issue into even sharper focus than usual. Many people from all walks of life still ...
  • From the editor's desk: The Internet of Bricks
    17 May 2017, Technews Publishing, News
    The virtual wall that protects the IoT from the trolls prowling outside is only as steadfast as the security that holds it together.
  • How the humble op-amp plays a crucial role in medical electronics
    17 May 2017, Tempe Technologies, This Week's Editor's Pick, Analogue, Mixed Signal, LSI
    Vinaya Skanda from Microchip Technology shows the significance of the op-amp in certain applications, such as measuring vital signs on the human body.
  • The many flavours of Bluetooth IoT connectivity
    17 May 2017, NuVision Electronics, This Week's Editor's Pick, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless
    Bluetooth allows developers to build IoT systems across a variety of applications and do so in the most cost effective manner on a platform flexible enough to meet varying operating constraints.

 
 
         
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