I certainly am not going to address the venomous levels of BS as proffered by someone with the handle of a spammer. However I will say that Steve Appleton has shepherded Micron through some very tough times. I admire his ability to lead this American company against intense competition frequently backed by foreign governments. If it were not for Steve Appleton the United States would not even be a factor in this business. He makes tough calls, which is what leadership is all about. Keep up the good work Mr. Appleton!
One thing I hope to see in my lifetime is the revealing of the true nature of Steve Appleton of Micron. He is truly a crook as the many price fixing lawsuits that MU has been party to continue to wind their way through our legal system. If RMBS can ever over come the trial by media and dirty tricks that it has endured for the past 10 years we will see a whole pile of MU execs take the 5th, and M Sadler will again be called a Lying Sack of Sh*t by a jury forewoman (it has happened before! Look it up). Clearly MU has been the ringleader in many nefarious dealings but has managed to use its considerable political influence to acquire amnesty agreements. Yeah, hopefully in my lifetime we will see what a terrible corrupt executive suite can do to a good company. It happened to Nortel and Lucent. Micron is probably next.
In terms of solar hype, I would not blame the technology providers. First Solar lists its panel manufacturing costs as less than $1/Wp, compared to "grid parity" of $1/Wp installed. Adding in markup and installation, maybe that is $3/Wp installed. Applied has repeatedly shown a learning curve for shallow junction silicon with $1/Wp at 100,000 MW cumulative production, which they project reaching around 2020. I am very interested in what NanoSolar's production costs are now that they are actually in production. They have the potential for very low costs. So I would say that the major solar cell vendors of all technologies have demonstrated a good learning curve, delivering on their promises, and all are projecting a while until grid parity.
But as the CTO of Applied has pointed out, there is a large market where solar is already cost competitive with existing electrical generation, and falling solar costs are rapidly growing this market.
Lower cost != higher efficiency. Increasing silicon cell efficiency will only contribute a modest amount to the learning curve. Similarly for other photovoltaic technologies. They aren't going to find a
factor of two there. If you really want efficiency, you'd go with solar thermal, which potentially can achieve 30%, and can store molten salt to generate power at night, but needs full sun, expensive
heliostats, must be large enough to amortize the balance of plant, and
doesn't seem to have much of a learning curve.
So assuming incentives stay about the same as now (except for the blip in Spain), I expect prices to fall to "parity" in around 10 years, and this projection is in line with major vendor statements.
Duncan M. (Hank) Walker
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I wonder if it will happen... what is your top 25 predictions?
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Mark- bold and insightful predictions, as always. I must dare to disagree with your assessment of the FPGA space, though. I do believe that FPGAs are benefitting from the trend of declining ASIC starts and should grow faster than the IC industry overall over the next few years. A study released by the Linley Group earlier this year projects that FPGA revenue will grow to nearly $3.5 billion in 2013 from $2.55 billion in 2009, a faster growth rate than is anticipated for the broader IC market.
The big FPGA vendors won't show growth for 2009, but who will? Few. As for the startups, they still face an uphill battle in many ways, but most if not all are bringing something innovative to the table. Some are already sampling and say they have design wins under their belt. SiliconBlue CEO Kapil Shankar told me his company had between 40 and 50 design wins (and that was back in August) and the company is promising to show at CES how its products are being used in handheld mobile consumer electronics devices. Achronix also claims a number of design wins and announced last month that its first Speedster device, SPD60, is now in volume production at TSMC. I don't have any info pertaining to chipchap's comments on the CEOs in this space, but like you I would love to hear more.
Thanks for the feedback. Here's my responses:
1. Lou, Thanks. Good points. Like you, I'm troubled by the fab capacity trends. The foundries will soon control the (semi) universe. They will dictate the terms of chip production. In terms of VCs, agreed. I am not a big fan of VCs right now. Investing in semis seems to be a four-letter word.
Do you agree or disagree?
2. chipchap42. Thanks. The world is flat--and so is the FPGA industry. FPGAs are a flat business going nowhere. Altera and Xilinx will plod along. Ho hum. Lattice will go under one day. Xilinx will buy Silicon Blue. The FPGA startups? They may sample, possibly in the year 2050, if we're lucky!
Tell me more about the Gavrielov rumors?
3. Roger. Thanks. I'll check out the book. I like what Microchip is doing. I'm worried about their 32-bit efforts. Atmel is giving them fits in 8-bit. Microchip is in better shape than Renesas-NEC, Atmel, etc. Any thoughts out there?
4. Regarding my predictions, someone sent me an e-mail about Rambus. Do they even matter? If so, let me know. In fact, I'm still wondering when the IP houses will make money. Anybody know?
5. Lastly, the semiconductor industry will post a revenue decline for just the sixth time in the last 25 years, with worldwide revenue totaling $226 billion in 2009, an 11.4 percent decline from 2008, according to Gartner.
Here's the 2009 sales projections for Wal-Mart alone: $409.39 billion!
Once upon a time, a semi exec claimed the IC industry would be a $500 billion industry. What happened? We're did we go wrong?
We need new growth engines? Agree or not?
great article and congratulations on sticking your neck out in such a concrete fashion. Unusually specific and focused predictions!
On the CEO front, I think you missed one segment: FPGAs. Xilinx's Gavrielov is reported to be "enjoying" a popularity rating of 10%, with rumors circling about old management being brought back. Altera's Daane has had 10 years with almost no progress in any of the metrics that matter - top-line growth, market share or profitability. I can't remember who's running Lattice, but apparently neither can most of its employees. So what about that segment?
Mark, have to say I agree with most everything but I'm beginning to think that the companies that still have fab capacity will be rethinking their plans to abandon the business. Right now, capacity is incredibly tight and TSMC just hasn't kept up with the potential for growth, which even you say is coming in the next 12 months. No one has invested in new technology, much less new equipment and anyone with capacity will have a chance for increasing business. The industry, as a whole, has had it's head in the sand for almost a decade and when they emerge, everyone will be scrambling for new answers. VCs who walked away from semi investment will be pounding their heads on the wall at the lost opportunity. i think the next 12 months will see a chaotic stampede to catch up with worldwide demand. If course they will over correct and it will tank in 2011.
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