In my opinion, both Intel's wireless business and LSI Logic's DSP business failed because of a lack of focus.
Last week LSI Logic sold its ZSP line of licensable DSP cores to Chinese ASIC house VeriSilicon. I've done a lot of work with the ZSP architecture over the years, and I've developed a bit of a soft spot for it. So, I was happy to hear about this sale. I could never figure out why LSI Logic was selling DSP cores—it just didn't seem to fit with the rest of their operations. I hope the ZSP core will be a better fit at VeriSilicon, and that I'll get to keep working with this unusual architecture.
I also read an interesting story last week contrasting the strategies of Intel and Texas Instruments. The article gets some key points wrong. For example, Intel's failure to break into projection TV had nothing to do with TI—Intel simply picked a risky technology (LCoS) that nobody has really succeed with yet. However, I do agree with the overall theme that TI has succeeded largely because of its focus. In contrast, Intel never seemed focused on its wireless business—just as LSI never seemed focused on its DSP business.
Of course, most of us aren't in the business of selling DSPs. How does this affect us? For starters, you need to think about a vendor's business model before you buy their DSPs. As hard as it is to build a world-class chip, it's even harder to surround that chip with all the tools, boards, customer support, etc., that you need to make your project a success. So you should ask yourself: Is the vendor focused on DSP? Do they understand the needs of your specific application? If not, they might not be able (or willing) to provide the support you need.
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