Intersil Corp. may not instantly come to mind as a major analog IC supplier, but the company aims to change that by leveraging the assets of a recent acquisition to pump up its market presence.
Although it is more often recognized for its wireless LAN technology, the majority of Intersil's revenue is from sales of analog products, a result of its 2002 acquisition of Elantec Semiconductor Inc.
Following the Elantec purchase, Intersil now ranks as the third-largest supplier of high-performance operational amplifiers, used in applications such as video, communications, and semiconductor test equipment, according to estimates by Intersil and Databeans Inc., Reno, Nev.
With a barrage of new op amps slated to hit the market, the company is gunning to depose Texas Instruments Inc. by the end of 2003 as the No. 2 high-speed-amplifier supplier-and within three years to topple Analog Devices Inc. as the leader in this market, according to Sameer Vuyyuru, director of marketing for video and operational amplifiers at Intersil's Elantec Product Group, Milpitas, Calif.
"Four years ago, op amp development at Elantec hit a brick wall, because we didn't have access to high-speed processes, and we didn't have the money to develop our own," Vuyyuru said. "The acquisition by Intersil was a godsend, because it opened up access to those processes."
The processes include 25GHz transition frequency complementary bipolar and 5V BiCMOS sourced out of Philips Semiconductors' Albuquerque, N.M., and Fishkill, N.Y., fabs, and a 24V bi-polar process at Intersil.
But while Intersil provided the access to advanced manufacturing capability, Vuyyuru said Elantec's true competitive edge lies in its ability to leverage the parent's analog design resources. One in three of Intersil's 2,500 employees is an engineer, he said.
Still a large gap
While Intersil has big dreams in the high-speed-amplifier market, it has some way to go before it can catch up to No. 1 Analog Devices. In 2002, Analog Devices, Norwood, Mass., racked up a 41% market share, more than the combined portion of its next three rivals, including Intersil, which had 11% of the market.
To better match its top com-
petitors, Intersil plans to spend 20% of its 2003 revenue on research and development, heavily weighted toward the Elantec group, Vuyyuru said.
The additional financial outlay will likely strengthen Elantec, the main engine of growth at Intersil during the first quarter. Elantec's revenue grew 6% in the latest quarter, while other Intersil units with the exception of the power management division recorded negative growth, according to Ross Seymore, an analyst in the San Francisco office of Deutsche Bank Securities Inc.
Intersil is counting on units like Elantec to help lift its market share in coming quarters. While substantial price erosion has stunted growth in the op amp market, lower price points will drive high-volume opportunities for high-speed and precision devices in 2003, according to a recent Databeans report.
Host of amps
This year, Intersil has on tap 100 new high-speed amplifiers, offering a breadth of portfolio unmatched in the industry, and performance that will set new watermarks, according to Vuyyuru. The devices include rail-to-rail, current feedback, voltage feedback, differential, low-noise, and multiplex amplifiers.
Among its newest high-speed amplifiers is the EL9110 differential receiver/equalizer for video applications. The device features 150MHz bandwidth at - 3dB and consumes 33mA from a 5V supply.
Additionally, the EL9110 integrates into a single 16-pin QSOP what would ordinarily take 10 discrete parts, reducing a customer's bill of material cost from $9.88 to $6.75, Vuyyuru said. (For more on the EL9110, see page 20.)
Last week the company unveiled the EL5X7X operational amplifier family of differential line receivers and twisted-pair drivers, which it claimed include the only triple differential devices at comparable speed and power levels.
The EL5172 and EL5372 are 200- MHz line receivers, available as singles and triples, featuring 600V/µs slew rates while operating from an 8mA supply current. The EL5375 500MHz triple differential line receiver and the EL5175 single line receiver both feature 1,100Vµs slew rates from a 9mA supply current.
Differential twisted-pair drivers include the EL5170 and EL5171 singles and the EL5370 and EL5371 triples, with 1,000V/µs slew rates from an 8mA supply current. The EL5173/5174 single amplifiers offer 400MHz of bandwidth, while the EL5373/5374 offer 500MHz at 3dB and 1,600V/µs slew rates.
Single-amp receivers and drivers are priced from $1.05 to $1.75 in quantities of 1,000 units. Triple differential amp receivers and drivers are priced from $2.50 to $3.99 in 1,000s.