Renesas Electronics Corporation, a supplier of advance semiconductor solutions, recently displayed an array of energy-efficient solutions in India.
On the occasion, Jeffery Soh, director, Renesas Electronics Singapore, and Sunil Dhar, general manager, Renesas Electronics Singapore India branch, spoke to Uma Gupta and Atul Goel of EFY about the microcontrollers (MCU) market and how is Renesas responding to market demands
October 2011: How big is the MCU market today? Looking forward, what to expect?
In the past, the only electronics used in a typical family sedan was a single controller. Today, it has 78 controllers. In a typical home ten years ago, there was one controller in colour TV and one in refrigerator. Today, a refrigerator has five microcontrollers because you need one in freezing, one for temperature control and so on. Every new feature in an electronic component is supported by an MCU solution. Moving forward, when we talk about a smart home or smart office, the connection points are supported by MCUs.
So MCU-based solutions is an excellent market. Today, we are producing 10 million units and based on the growing market needs this number is growing exponentially.
As designers migrate from 8- and 16-bit to 32-bit microcontrollers in their designs, what are the issues involved?
To survive in the competitive environment, designers need to plan their design with long-term vision. They cannot choose a device without considering the long-term requirements for additional features as the demands are ever increasing.
Moving from 8-bit to 16-bit or 32-bit can be easier if you have a common development platform which includes tools, debuggers, compilers, etc. But moving from one platform to another may involve a lot of engineering time and reinvestments in training and development using new platforms.
So what’s Renesas up to?
We are no longer just an MCU company. We have come out with MCU-based solutions. Not many people know that Renesas is a $10-billion company, of which $3-billion revenue is contributed by analogue and power. Our target is to grow it to $4 billion.
Where does India fit into your scheme of things?
We are definitely increasing our presence in the Indian market at the right time. Apart from being a designing hub, India has also become one of the biggest consumers of electronic goods. For too long, India has depended on imported systems. By far, concentration has been on complete kit imports. Our motivation is to support localisation of the Indian electronics segment. The reason is simple. In every segment, there are too many small players that don’t have the capacity to create solutions competitively enough to make a business. That’s where we have MCU-based solutions supporting critical segments of the Indian electronics market.
Which markets here are you looking at?
In India, we are looking at automotive, industrial control (energy meters, UPS, etc) and, of course, consumer electronics. Whichever way the mobile phones market is moving, we do have a big presence in this market too.
In automotive segment, car is in a different category from two-wheelers. It has a higher dependency on tier-1 support. We have a tier-1 team in India supporting car manufacturing through imported systems. Renesas has 38 per cent share in the worldwide automotive controller market.
How much does India contribute to Renesas’ worldwide revenues from automotive segment?
India accounts for less than 5 per cent of our automotive sales. One major reason is India’s dependency on imported systems. The use of microcontrollers in cars is also distinctly lower than in overseas markets. In volume segment, a lot of cars are without power windows and automated seat adjustment. Volkswagen Jetta, one of standard cars in foreign markets, uses 70 microcontrollers. But the same model when launched in India is probably using only half this number.
Volume will, however, grow in India. So we have to be present there to learn and grow and adapt to this market. As cars become much more sophisticated with higher-end models using much more electronics, price points change. A 1$ increase in electronics in any equipment is corresponding to two-three times higher retail pricing. As a consumer, you are today much more willing to pay more for better features. If you look in India, at the highest end of the market, is there any room for local mobile phone players? The higher end has Nokia and Apple iPhones. As the market increases in sophistication, for the consumer it’s no longer the price issue.