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  Date: 16/02/2015

Vivek Sharma of ST Micro on the broad-mix power and IoT opportunity

STMicroelectronics is the top investor in India in the semiconductor domain. ST has big development center in Noida and is one of the top 5 semiconductor vendors in India. ST's speciality is its ability to maintain top 3 global ranking in multiple domains of semiconductor components and sensors. This writer interacted with Vivek Sharma, Vice President, Greater China & South Asia- India Operations, STMicroelectronics at the recently concluded India semiconductor event IESA Vision Summit 2015. Like ST, Vivek's knowledge is also wider and deeper. Below are points explained by Vivek on ST's product offerings, IoT opportunity and India's Electronics and System Design and Manufacturing (ESDM) market opportunities.

On ST's sensor product mix:
Vivek Sharma: Starting with motion sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes, we have the pressure sensors, temperature sensors, humidity sensors and also miniature microphones. The key idea of this pillar (Vivek refers to ST's expertise in each category as pillar) is we were able to sense the world. At the end human pursue beyond our senses.

On power semiconductor leadership:
Vivek Sharma:The second pillar for us is power, Power is categorised into power generation, distribution and consumption and we need to really provide solutions in all these three.
In power generation, there are conventional method and also nonconventional like solar power and wind. We believe that electronics and semiconductor is the enabler of the new world at the core, so we need to participate and enable the new world, by putting electronics and semiconductor in solar power, you really capitalise.
The second is distribution, particularly in India we know very well in distribution there are lot of inefficiencies, if you lose power during distribution, it is equivalent to generating less power, it's a major problem, smart meter can be used very effectively, so that the whole distribution can be made very effectively.

Then is the consumption, if you make the consumption efficient and effective, it is once again equivalent of needing less power to be generated.
LED lighting is one great example (of power saving), another example of power saving is motor control like BLDC, which is a great application - especially for India, because we can cut down energy consumption in excess of 30%, I am giving this 30%- just to be conservative, but it can go as high as 50%. We know that in India, tens of millions of fans sold everywhere in India, and we keep running fans in summer season irrespective of we are in the room or not, this power consumption can be reduced very much by using electronic fans.
Then we have e-bikes, electric vehicles for BLDC motors to save power. BLDC motors can also run the air-conditioners in more efficient way. We have some partners in this business with whom we're working strongly, they are quite up-beat.

ST 's strong hold and focus on Automotive electronics:
Vivek Sharma: Automotive is right platform for the electronics to deepen. Typically there are four areas- one is the power train, where it is starting from the engine control, transmission and everything- very important when the vehicle efficiency as well as the emission can be controlled, that is good point for electronics. The second one is the body, eventually we know that, the path has to be paved for the electric vehicle, now the fuel is cheap and it may give more years in between, but at the end it has to transit into electric vehicle finally. We need to still solve many things but naturally it will go there. E-bikes is another big application, then we have e-rickshaws.

Not only controlling power train and engine or motor, there is whole body such as flashers, dashboard, anti-pinch and whatever in the car body. The third important element is safety, you know safety of the passenger or driver in a car is very important. Safety is of two types, one is passive safety and another is re-active safety, now in a re-active safety, event has happened and then we to react, like airbags, once accident happens it will try to save the driver. Now the game is also moving to how to prevent accidents, it could be radar based, it could be various means that is another area.

Safety wise, another example is in two wheeler, we are working with a partner, where sometimes the issue with the motorcycle is, when motorcycle tripped still it is running, you can do tilt sensing, and if it is tilting more than the necessary -you can stop the motor or the engine.

To complete on the automotive, another big area is car infotainment and navigation. GPS is becoming more and more important. Take an example- where someone is running a fleet of vehicles- you can find them online what is happening, not only where it is, using new technology you can monitor all the parameters of the vehicle such as whether it is accelerating or not, has a tyre punctured, that's where we come to IoT. Take some other application such as air-conditioners, suppose they are all connected, company which supplies air-conditioners, they can check online what is happening. if they're connected you need not send the person home you can get all the data.

Vivek Sharma: Microcontrollers is a basic element. Key driving factor in MCUs is low-power, more efficiency and software adaptability, that's where the ARM Cortex comes in.

Set top box ICs:
Vivek Sharma: Digital consumer electronics such as STB is of very interesting field because if you are inside your home, STB is taking the centre stage. If you have three TVs in your home, today you have to put three set-top boxes with three wires from the dish. We have a solution where single wire can be connected to a set-top box in garage and wirelessly connect to TV in any room. And with the Internet, set-top box area in even more interesting.


Pic: Vivek Sharma interacting with Editor of EE Herald.

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Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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