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End of Startup Era: Chips Face Innovation Gap

Consolidation ahead
2/14/2014 06:00 AM EST
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rick merritt
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Re: non-US non-VCs
rick merritt   2/15/2014 5:02:25 PM
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@Baybal: You can reach me at rick.merritt@ubm.com

betajet
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CEO
Free-as-in-Freedom Software is key
betajet   2/15/2014 7:31:28 PM
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IMO, a silicon company that keeps the details of how to program its chips proprietary so that it's the only software source is not in a position to complain about how much it "must" spend to develop that software.  IMO they should release the programming details so that the FaiF open source community can do its magic.  Cypress almost does this with PSoC: almost all the register bits needed to program it are in public documents, though a key part is closed.  Broadcom documents are usually completely closed.

Barun De
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Innovation is Shifting
Barun De   2/17/2014 10:41:30 AM
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Actually it is not true that innovation (or VC funding) is not happening in chip industry. The innovation (or funding) is shifting from one domain of chip industry (digital SoC) to another domian of chip industry (power electronics, RF, MEMS etc).

There are substantial little scope of innovation in digital or mixed signal SoC targeted for communication and consumer market. Those markets are saturated by big players. Investment requirement for SoCs targeted for those market is very high making it not attractive to VCs.

 

But there are new upcoming market like automotive, medical etc where need of SoC is there. The difference is that the technology which dominates those market are different like RF, MEMS, power electronics etc. The investment for those SoCs (and even for fabs) are low. The 21st century will belong to RF and MEMS in semiconductor industry 

Regards,

Barun

sparafucile
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Capital Cost + Innovation Window
sparafucile   2/17/2014 4:46:26 PM
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Just because the economics of Venture investing in semiconductor startups (usually) don't make any more sense, that doesn't mean that IC technology, applications, and product ubiquity aren't advancing (often, still, into uncharted waters).

Especially when you consider the cost vs return potential offered by web/mobile app development, it becomes virtually impossible to justify investing in a semi venture that will take a) $50mil to develop a new product (minimum), b) another $100mil to deploy it, while getting the next product generation developed, and c) doing all this before the opportunity window closes, due to one, or more, of the better-capitalized behemoths in the industry notice what you're doing and (if it seems successful) get a competing product to the next technology node before you can.

There **are** niche opportunities out there.  But finding a profitable one with a big-exit potential, that simultaneously can be developed without spending $200mil, is like looking for that needle in a pile of needles.

If, on the other hand, most Venture Capital investors weren't so reluctant to embrace an IP business model, there might be more opportunitiy to develop & deploy vlauable technologies, and let the startup's customers bear the cost and risk of Silicon development.

Andreas Papaliolios

makhtar972
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Salaries for Hardware Engineers
makhtar972   2/18/2014 12:22:23 AM
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As a Hardware engineer, I find this,

"We continue hiring software developers at a higher rate than hardware engineers"

to be SAD / FRUSTRATING. Especially when it comes from a chip design company. 

 

RTL Coding <---> App Developement.

Verification <----> C++ Coding

Physical Design <---> Backend User Database management.

In my opinion, the jobs on the left are more difficult / demanding / time consuming. Yet jobs on the right get paid more.

Who / What is responsibile for that?

chanj0
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Manager
Hardware and Software Cycle
chanj0   2/18/2014 1:39:12 AM
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Every development has a cycle. Computer gets faster and faster everyday. A regular user probably don't feel a different between a 3 years old laptop and today's laptop. However, more products and information are moved to the Internet. Those require software engineers to develop. In addition, today's web-based application isn't so easy anymore. A software engineer can hardly go by with knowing only 3 languages. Today belongs to software engineer. Yet, for example, when there is a breakthrough of semiconductor such as using different material than silicon, hardware engineer will thrive again.

C VanDorne
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CEO
Re: Govt. vs Pvt funding of R&D
C VanDorne   2/19/2014 4:55:40 PM
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"After all he is still walking on the path created by others like Bob Noyce that was first charted with Govt. / Taxpayer money."



Chipmonk, please provide details here:  What govt program?  When was it started and for what purpose?  Then how was Bob Noyce in volved in said program?

Thanks, CC

chipmonk0
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CEO
Re: Govt. vs Pvt funding of R&D
chipmonk0   2/19/2014 5:09:19 PM
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Apollo & other NASA programs, replacing magnetic core memory with solid state, intel's bread and butter before developing the 4004

C VanDorne
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CEO
Dang, I would like to have been there..
C VanDorne   2/19/2014 5:09:34 PM
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There are few of these types of shows that I regret not being able to attend.  This one looks like a glaring exception to that rule.  I would love to have been there to hear these movers and shakers speak.

Thanks for the consolation prize, Rick.

C VanDorne
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CEO
Re: Govt. vs Pvt funding of R&D
C VanDorne   2/19/2014 6:08:20 PM
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Interesting.  I recommend that you amend the wikipedia entry on Intel's early history as it does not mention this association:

"Early history: At its founding, Intel was distinguished by its ability to make semiconductors. Its first product, in 1969, was the 3101 Schottky TTL bipolar 64-bit static random-access memory (SRAM), which was nearly twice as fast as earlier Schottky diode implementations by Fairchild and the Electrotechnical Laboratory in Tsukuba, Japan.

In the same year Intel also produced the 3301 Schottky bipolar 1024-bit read-only memory (ROM) and the first commercial metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) silicon gate SRAM chip, the 256-bit 1101. Intel's business grew during the 1970s as it expanded and improved its manufacturing processes and produced a wider range of products, still dominated by various memory devices."

Also, if Intel's "first product" was in 1969 and the Apollo mission were from 1961 to 1975, then that begs for many questions your assertion, like, which Apollo mission do you refer to below?  And how many device did those rocket use?  Enough to sustain Intel's quick early growth?  That's not likely, even at the out-of-control prices that govt. pays.  That leaves direct funding then.  NASA directly funded Intel's develpment of the products listed above?  How much?  Were there any other significant investors or would Intel have failed to launch (pun intended) without NASA's (ah.. I mean our father's) money?

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