MUNICH, Germany After the fall-out of the BenQ Mobile insolvency has been cleared, Dialog Semiconductor (Kirchheim, Germany) returns to strategic mode. In an interview with EE Times Europe, Dialog CEO Jalal Bagherli explained which targets he is heading for.
"During the past quarters, we have been suffering from the BenQ Mobile insolvency which was one of our major customers. This is over, we are recovering", Bagherli said. Since the low in the first quarter, sales to mobile phone customers have quintupled, reaching almost $18 million in Q3.
According to Bagherli, Dialog is now shipping audio and power management devices for an Ericsson HSPA platform which in turn has been licensed to Sony Ericsson and several Asian cellphone OEMs. "This gives us a stable perspective since the platform is intended to ship at least until mid-2009, which is an unusually long period for a cellphone product", he explained.
The automotive market, which was the only stable pillar in times when the mobile consumer business was less than certain, remains an important target market for Dialog. The company has developed an integrated electro motor control platform which includes a 16-bit microcontroller, flash memory and some high-voltage circuitry. The device is designed to control windshield wiper motors, but Dialog has created numerous variations for different motor control applications in the car – for instance, for power windows or air conditioner fan motors. "In modern cars, dozens of small electro motors require control", Bagherli said, hinting at the size of the business opportunity.
The company now plans to transfer this architecture to another seminal application field: intelligent sensors, for instance to monitor battery conditions or environment parameters, or "everything that helps to optimize the use of energy within the car," Bagherli said. In this segment, first volume products can be expected in about two years.
Another important segment for Dialog will be display solutions. Having dumped its activities related to the CSTN (color super-twist nematic) technology, Bagherli pointed out that the ongoing cooperation with Qualcomm in the area of MEMS-based displays will continue to play a significant role.
In addition, the company bets heavily in passive matrix OLEDs. "We have display drivers and certain IPs that can significantly extend the lifespan of OLED displays", said Bagherli. The manager estimates that the market for passive matrix displays is at the verge of taking off. While OLED displays typically are characterized by their short lifecycle, Dialog could contribute valuable technology to solve that problem. "Using the right technique to drive columns and rows can reduce power dissipation and thus enhance lifetime for passive matrix displays", Bagherli said. The company presently has a demo driver system ready; volume shipments are scheduled for late 2008 or early 2009.
With these drivers, Bagherli hopes to get a very big success. "In 2009, we probably will see a billion unit [passive matrix OLED] market, generating a revenue stream of $100 to $150 million per year for Dialog," he said. But this would be quite an optimistic approach, he admits. "To get there, it requires good execution - and that the market behaves as predicted," Bagherli admits.