MADISON, Wis. — I came across a curious report in Nikkei, the Japanese economic journal, earlier this month.
The story was about Toyota Motor Corp. collaborating with Advantest Corp. and Dai Nippon Printing Co. and possibly others to "standardize power semiconductor technology."
Details remain sketchy, but the story mentions that Advantest and Toyota's 100 percent subsidiary, Toyota Technical Development Corp., are setting up a new company to handle standardization efforts.
Although the Nikkei story mentions none of the power chip companies in the world, it refers vaguely to Renesas Electronics Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. as "possible participants."
Here are my burning questions:
1. Exactly what aspects of power semiconductor technology -- presumably for automotive applications -- need to be standardized? (In other words, why is this necessary?)
2. If this is an important project, why have none of the leading companies in the field been invited to participate in the work? I mean, would you make plans to reengineer the candy bar without getting in touch with the Snickers people?
I called the US subsidiary of Advantest to ask for further explanation, but no dice. The company's receptionist wouldn't even patch me through to the company's media relations person. I couldn't even squeeze out the name of the company's marketing person. When I pressed as to why the name of a PR or marketing person is a corporate secret, she hung up. Her benediction was: "I don't have time to argue with you."
I am aware that companies invest a lot of money to build websites that are both glossy and intentionally frustrating, because they leave out the actual contact information (names, phone numbers) that most serious site visitors seek. Typically, these websites force the curious to communicate via a single general email address, which works exactly the way the flush handle works on a toilet. I filled in the email thingy available on Advantest's website and -- surprise -- not a word of reply in 24 hours. I'm not holding my breath.
Meanwhile, as I pursue this wild goose chase (part of my job description as a reporter), I'll throw these questions out to our esteemed colleagues in the EE Times community.
Do any of you have any idea what "standardization" means for power semiconductors? Do power semiconductors even need to be standardized? Share your thoughts, please.