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.
"Maxim shares have begun to outperform some key competitors." I dont think that is the case.
Atleast a cursory look at yahoo finance comparing Maxim, LTC and ADI for the past year it shows equal or slightly weaker performance of the Maxim stock...thus depending on when you start the comparison the results will change :)
"Before 2007, Maxim had done almost no acquisitions, save for acquiring a Tektronix wafer fab. It preferred to build everything in house. "
What about Dallas Semiconductor in 2001 for $2.5 Billion in stock?
The problem I have always had with Maxim is getting any production parts at all. Parts were always available for prototyping but when it came time for production the parts were never available. Designing a Maxim part into a design was the equivalent to cutting you own throat.
"Never base your design on parts not in production. You're asking for trouble. If you need prototype parts to tweak your design, you're asking for trouble. Never promise more than you can deliver."
Maxim's problem has always been that they have a lot of devices listed as "in production," yet you can't actually order them in anything but huge quantities.
This is why we always get purchasing to confirm availability of anything before it gets designed in, but one can also use the old rule of thumb: "don't design with it if you can't buy it from DigiKey or Mouser."
Join our online Radio Show on Friday 11th July starting at 2:00pm Eastern, when EETimes editor of all things fun and interesting, Max Maxfield, and embedded systems expert, Jack Ganssle, will debate as to just what is, and is not, and embedded system.