As for "Big D, little a," Doluca points to the company's recently
released Zeus platform. Zeus is a smart meter SoC for
embedded smart grid equipment that needs to measure and to
communicate securely. A built-in cryptographic module secures
communication; a secure bootloader prevents unauthorized firmware
modification; and tamper detection assures providers that any
attempts to physically attack the meter will be detected, recorded,
"It's got a very accurate front end for analog measurements and
feeds it to a powerful microcontroller that can do all the
calculations. It has a processor to handle communications protocols.
Do it does measurement, handles communications needs, and, something
unique to Maxim, it provides anti-tampering security," he said.
The challenge for any corporate transformation is to expand into new
areas without neglecting what you got here. In Maxim's case, this
means traditional analog "building-block" or "catalog" parts and
the manufacturing capability that supports that.
"Customers aren't looking for the highest integrated products if
they don't have performance," Doluca said. "They still want the
level of performance they're going to get by buying these discrete
Over the past several years, the company has evolved its
manufacturing strategy with this in mind. First, it hired Vivek Jain
away from his job running Intel's Technology Development and
Manufacturing facility in Santa Clara. Jain embarked on a strategy
of moving a chunk of Maxim's manufacturing into foundries (on both
200- and 300-mm wafers), while keeping its own fabs for products
targeting less-volatile markets.
"When you get into a high-integration product area, especially
markets like mobility that are quite volatile...we realized we
needed a more flexible manufacturing model," Doluca said. Maxim, by
shifting some products there, they could better hit customer supply
"Our lead times have shortened. We were able to meet our committed
dates a lot better than in the past," he said.
This has gone a long way toward healing an old Achilles' heel at
Maxim: customer support. "Maxim did not have a good reputation for
supporting customers logistically," Doluca said. "We've improved
Additionally, Doluca and team tightened its supply chain, inking a
2008 deal with Avnet to make the giant distributor a key partner to
service and support the longtail customer base.
Since then, Maxim's found 5,000 new customers it "didn't know
about," Doluca said.