John Williams, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San
Francisco, offered a slightly more upbeat outlook. He told the
audience he sees U.S. gross domestic product increasing 1.75 percent in 2012 when statistics
are finalized, moving to 2.5 percent this year and 3.5 percent in 2014.
Unemployment will stay at or above 7 percent through the same period
with a 2 percent inflation target, he predicted.
Much of the improved outlook Williams pegged to perception and
expectation, and that's influenced in part, he believes, by the Fed's
communications, which have become more "transparent" in recent
At its December meeting, the Fed adopted a benchmark-, as opposed to
to time-based way to communicating its policy moves on inflation and
"This means that the public's expectations of future monetary policy
actions will naturally adjust as the economic outlook evolves,
without people needing to wait for the Fed to signal a change,"
Industry analyst Bill McLean of IC Insights also offered a positive
outlook for the next year (single-digit increases in revenue and
unit shipments) with some caveats.
He pointed out that for semiconductor unit shipment growth, the past
four years have been "probably the worst period on record." While
McLean's data doesn't precede 1984, he said of the 10 worst
unit-shipment growth years, four of them have been in the past five
years: 2008, '09, '11 and '12. Historically the industry sees a 9
percent unit-volume growth and going forward "we're looking at 6
percent. What is the new unit-volume growth going forward?"
But he said the correlation between global economic movement and the
electronics industry has never been tighter, especially as the
economy picks up steam in 2014 and 2015.
"We can still get a good bounce back in this industry. There's a lot
of pent-up demand for systems," McLean said.
Speaking directly of the capital-equipment industry represented here
at ISS, McLean said if semiconductor demand does burst forth in
2014-15, "this industry's in trouble because we won't be able to
keep up with that demand."
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.