Outsourced ASIC design services may be on the decline, but that might be hard to prove to Intel Microelectronics Services.
The year-old division of microprocessor giant Intel Corp. continues to expand its services, last week unveiling a broader IP port-folio, a new foundry alliance, and an extended sales channel.
"It's clear that customers are looking for a new approach," said Fred Cohen, marketing director at Intel Microelectronics Services, based in Hillsboro, Ore. "A key part of the ASIC solution is IP."
Intel has added to its IP library a menu of content-addressable, nonvolatile, redundant, and one-transistor memories, as well as 16- and 32-bit processor engines from ARC International, ARM Ltd., and 3DSP Corp. A fourth foundry has also been brought into the fold, although Intel has so far declined to name any of the foundry partners.
Additionally, Intel has authorized its existing global manufacturers' representative sales force to sell its ASIC services.
While analysts say the traditional ASIC model of vertical integration is regaining momentum to the detriment of design services and customer-owned tooling, Intel has seen its design starts steadily increase, with every client reaching at least prototype silicon, according to Cohen.
The company declined to quantify its design starts, but out-
lined 10 completed customer projects spanning the wireless and wired communications, consumer, computer, and avionics markets using 0.25-, 0.18-, and 0.13-micron processes. Most of these customers previously used traditional ASIC vendors, the company said.
Even so, the Santa Clara, Calif., company views itself as a facilitator of the ASIC market, not a competitor.
"The critical path to many of our customers getting systems out into the market is getting their ASICs on schedule," said Craig Peterson, general manager of Intel Microelectronics Services.
"We get most of our designs from the growing gap between what today's suppliers are doing and where most of the needs are. Now we've added to our large 'toolkit' of foundries, IP, libraries, and EDA, which allows us to create solutions that nobody else has out there."