Friday, March 30, 2007

Intel to Build Fab in China

"Our goal in China is to support a transition from 'manufactured in China' to 'innovated in China'"
--Intel CEO Paul Otellini

Ah, globalization!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Whither ASIC

I'm surprised by how bad of shape the traditional ASIC business is in. Are any companies making money? Only IBM Microelectronics?

Several of the Japanese semiconductor powerhouses are cutting way back (or closing) their US ASIC engineering. Today a friend told me that LSI Logic isn't doing ASICs any more! Is that right?

The vendors that are doing the best have attractive IP portfolios, like IBM or TI. Those that historically relied on manufacturing process (e.g., Japanese) and left IP entirely up to the customer aren't faring well.

I'm especially surprised that even fabless chip startups aren't using ASIC vendors! They invest in the COT model or the "virtual ASIC" model, contracting with a number of service providers. I would have thought that the integration value-add of ASIC vendors would be even more attractive in these days of worrying about signal integrity, variability and DFM. Don't chip designers want "one throat to choke" when things going wrong?

We may not have ASIC vendors to kick around for long.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Britney Spears guide to Semiconductor Physics

Here's some fun on a Friday. EE Times gave me the link to this crucial technical reference, Britney Spears guide to Semiconductor Physics - The physics of optoelectronic technology . The material is technically sound and more accessible than a textbook.

Check it out if you don't mind gratuitous pictures of Ms. Spears. What's next, Paris Hilton's analysis of the Traveling Salesman Problem? (a Hilton ought to help with that ;-)

Monday, March 12, 2007

Immortal, Indeed

Those of you who read the print edition of EE Times may recall a funky little contest/feature that ran at the back of the paper, "Immortal Works". I think I can remember this *always* being part of the paper, even going back to the 1980s. Here's the latest version I could find.

Last month, EE Times went through a redesign. There are many changes to the organization and layout of the paper. It's actually printed on smaller (shorter and narrower) paper than before, in line with several major mainstream papers. More cost reductions from the ink and paper crowd, probably. I actually like the smaller format -- it's easier to carry around and peruse at opportune moments.

But I won't like if Immortal Works has been canned! It's missing from the redesigned print edition! According to the editors' explanation The new EE Times: more than a redesign:

Taking a hiatus will be Immortal Works, our longtime caption-writing contest of which many of you are devoted fans. We're moving the feature online, where the audience interaction is fast, efficient and easy.

Like I said, it was a sort of goofy feature. And even though I never had the time (or more likely, the wit) to submit an entry, I miss this quirky part of EE history! Immortal Works, where art thou?