SHANGHAI, China Oki Electric Industry intends to hand off more work to Faraday, an ASIC design services house in Taiwan that works closely with UMC, the company said Monday. Specifically, Oki is looking for access to Faraday's 90- and 65-nanometer libraries that are based on the UMC process, as well as back-end design support. The firms are also discussing a few 0.13 micron projects.
The move is a continuation of a strategy hatched in 2002, when Oki said it would align itself with UMC's process design rules targeting 0.15-micron. The Japanese firm was an early mover in Japan's outsourcing experiment, moving to a "fab lite" model in pursuit of a fabless paradigm for its system LSI business.
Shedding the development and qualification of its own basic libraries, and off-loading the onus of back-end work will allow Oki to focus on system design, marketing and its extensive sales channel, especially in Japan.
"Sooner or later, Japanese companies, including the big four (Toshiba, Sony, Renesas, Fujitsu), are all possible candidates for this model," said Charlie Cheng, vice president of marketing at Faraday. "The Japan market is a very fragmented and large market, from consumer to very specialized network applications and industrial control. I don't any one ASIC vendor can cover that whole space"
Oki, like its larger peers outside of Japan, is increasing its focus on core technology for certain markets, while tapping partners like Faraday for generic system level IP, such as ARM processors and high speed I/Os.
Oki will concentrate on front-end design and intends to develop competitive ASSP devices for consumer applications by integrating Faraday's IP. Oki will continue developing its own IP in specialized areas, such as accelerator DSPs, yet it is clear that the company is heavily relying on Faraday to ensure the projects get out the door on time, acknowledged Tamihiro Ishimura, senior manager of Oki's system-on-chip unit.
Joint design work has already started, and should result in an Oki ASSP that hits the market in autumn. Ishimura declined to offer details on the device.
Yoshiko Hara in Tokyo contributed to this story