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Market Review

Andy Groom, Managing Director, America II Europe

“It’s perhaps becoming a cliché at this point, but 2012 has been a difficult year for businesses and their customers across all sectors. With the current market seeing many OEMs to experience varying inventory and order levels, it’s the distributor that best understands its customers’ demands that can reap rewards from the current climate. Even during the best economic conditions, fluctuations in inventory levels are a fact of business. In more difficult periods, when these fluctuations are rampant, it’s crucial that businesses look for an experienced partner with whom to embark on an inventory solutions programme; someone who can handle and recoup the maximum value of this excess stock. In 2012 distributors that offered minimal risk to manufacturers by providing total process-transparency in their inventory solutions, value estimates up-front, and the ability to look into sales figures and forecasts in real-time, were the ones to thrive.

So too with those who sought to innovate their business models to provide a more attractive solution to customers. I have long been an advocate of a hybrid distribution model, the same model we’ve continued to operate under and evolve over the past year, adding yet more authorised lines and direct relationships to our roster. By merging the flexibility, cost- effectiveness and sheer range of components offered by an independent, with the greater stability and guarantees- of-supply that you get from direct manufacturer relationships, a business adds extra value to its existing offering. I’d say this will inform our continued success in 2013.

I suspect the implementation of more

rigorous anti-counterfeiting measures is another thing that will help to separate the wheat from the chaff in 2013. Whilst in the UK the counterfeit electronics trade is not exactly a runaway problem, the UKEA still estimates it costs the UK economy £30 billion annually.

With customers looking to take as few risks as possible, for us providing independent third-party testing facilities was a simple way of differentiating ourselves from the competition. We’ve looked to develop our relationships with third-party testing partners and leveraged a 10-year guarantee on all parts that was overseen by a company independent of the buying and selling process. In doing so, we offered our customers what they wanted in the current climate: stability, peace of mind, no risks. So we now turn to 2013 and the market looks like it may be broadly similar to 2012. The distributors who will thrive in this market will be the ones who can continue to provide their customers with a solution that appeals in an unsteady economy; offering them a transparent and complete solution, whilst minimising any risk they may face. By doing this, they should stand out from their competitors and 2013 will be a respectable year of business.”

Ivo Bolsens, Xilinx Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer

"Future embedded systems will require hundreds of Giga-ops real time computations and hundreds of Giga-bps communication bandwidth for myriad applications in diverse industries, such as multi-channel wireless radios, data center security appliances, embedded vision, Nx100Gbps networking. At the same time, these components must operate under stringent power constraints and be low cost. The Internet of Things will further

increase the sheer amount of so-called “Big Data” being shared, processed and stored. This creates a global demand for ever-smarter embedded systems that will enable us to make better, more-informed decisions in our day-to-day lives. In recent years, system designers have migrated to compute platforms built with multiple, parallel computing cores (versus a single processor) to increase compute efficiency and meet stringent, price/performance/power metrics. A

pivotal next step in compute efficiency lies in specialization, whereby the compute elements and interconnect infrastructure can be adapted to particular application requirements, leading to highly optimized, heterogeneous multi-core architectures. An entirely new class of flexible, highly integrated device platforms is on the horizon that will be programmed by system experts using a software programming flow that can capture the characteristics of the application and mold this high-level description in a specialized, programmable architecture. In 2012, Xilinx delivered the world’s first All Programmable SOC platform to combine the software programmability of an embedded processor with the hardware flexibility of an FPGA. The Zynq-7000 device family immerses ARM multi-cores, programmable logic fabric, DSP data paths, memories and I/O functions in a dense and configurable

mesh of interconnect. The co-processors can be compiled from a C-based description using the unique high-level synthesis capabilities of the company’s next-generation Vivado Design Suite tool chain.

This is a significant milestone for our industry on the path to a system-centric design flow that leverages recent advances in parallel programming, high level synthesis and SoC multi-core technology. This software-centric programming flow unleashes the full potential of a specialised hardware architecture without exposing the implementation details of the hardware. Ultimately, this will unlock the full power of the Zynq All Programmable SoC architecture for a broad base of engineers, enabling them to achieve the highest productivity and quality of results for smarter, next-generation electronic systems."

Jeff Schnabel, VP of Marketing, CUI Inc.

growth in cloud computing, which in turn has meant the setup and expansion of huge data centres across the world. While cloud computing is highly efficient in terms of computing hardware, processing performance and overall energy usage, there are still concerns over the direct environmental impact of these huge data processing factories that drive the cloud. Even though a very strong ‘green’ case can be made, data centre operators continue to seek significant reductions in their direct environmental footprint and a key challenge for them is the reduction of energy usage at the board level. An increasingly interesting option is to

“The increasing global demand for online services and data processing and storage capability has led to exceptional

use more intelligence to manage power demands; and it is digital power, we believe, that offers the best returns. The advantages of digital power in these systems compared to traditional analogue solutions include higher efficiency, faster transient response, and the added capabilities of telemetry and precise power management. Key to

digital power has been the recent emergence in the industry of the intermediate bus architecture (IBA) and intelligent digital Point-of-Load (POL) DC/DC regulators, which are now being seen as the smart way to substantially improve system efficiency.

For medium and complex designs, digital solutions provide much more value in terms of easy integration and system-monitoring capabilities. They allow easy configuration in initial designs in addition to their virtually immediate ability to reconfigure parameters. Advanced board-power-consumption monitoring and control technologies and employment of the dynamic bus voltage can enable significant energy reduction at the board level, potentially delivering as much as double-figure percentage savings in power consumption. As is the case in so many markets, what is required is greater standardization to meet interoperability challenges, reduce the time-to-market and increase supply-chain flexibility for

Components in Electronics

leading-edge digital power products. Industry cooperation on a common footprint is vital to achieve widespread market adoption, accelerate innovation and enable systems to evolve and offer advanced features that meet the expectations of power system architects over the next few years. In fact, CUI recently expanded its multi-source power platform cooperation with Ericsson Power Modules to include a common standard for digital advanced bus converters. This is in addition to the existing initiative between the two companies to develop and market multi- source digital Point-of-Load (POL) power solutions.

Systems and board-level designers now have a choice of fully footprint- compatible and leading-edge digital power products including the Novum advanced bus converters and digital POL families from CUI, in addition to the wide range of Ericsson digital power products.”

December 2012/January 2013 17

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