GARDEN GROVE, Calif.—An April merger with NEC Electronics Corp. made Renesas Electronics Corp. the world's third largest semiconductor company and strengthened its position as the leader in microcontrollers. Company executives say the firm intends to leverage its position as the dominant microcontroller supplier to grow sales of other types of semiconductors, including power management ICs, automotive ASSPs and memory chips.
The theory behind the strategy is that Renesas can use its foot in the door at many microcontroller customers to help sell other types of chips. The push is part of a drive by Renesas to its sales outside of Japan to 60 percent of total company revenue from 45 percent at the time of the NEC merger.
Speaking on the opening day of the company's developers' conference here Monday (Oct. 11), Daniel Mahoney, president and CEO of Renesas' U.S. subsidiary, Renesas Electronics America Inc., said Renesas has for years had very compelling power management IC area, but that until recently the company did not aggressively market it outside of Japan.
"We think that every microcontroller customer is a potential MOSFET customer," Mahoney said.
According to Jim Hettema, vice president of the computing and communications business unit at Renesas, one of the best kept secrets in electronics is that, since the merger, Renesas is the largest supplier of low-voltage power MOSFETS in the world.
Hettema said that a few years ago both NEC and Renesas had so much business among Japanese handset vendors that the firms did not actively market many of their products in other markets. But that position has been eroded somewhat as the handset makers have moved to second source suppliers and the electronics market is growing more slowly in Japan than in other areas, Hettema said.
Renesas markets more than 7,000 products encompassing the combined offerings of NEC and Renesas. At the time of the merger Renesas pledged to continue supporting the existing products of both companies, much to the relief of many customers.
Last month, Renesas announced several measures intended to strengthen its power device business. The company said it plans to expand its product lineup by about 1,000 new products by 2013, increase sales in China by 150 percent and double its production capacity by 2012.
Also last month, Renesas introduced a single-chip power management IC optimized to support Intel Corp.'s forthcoming Atom platform for tablets and netbooks, codenamed Oak Trail. The Renesas chip, µPD9977, is the second product from the company to support an Atom platform. According to Hettema, the device is a stripped down version of the two-chip µPD9977 power management solution supporting Intel's Moorsetown Atom platform.
Hettemsa said Renesas power management devices are attractive to customers because of their high level of integration and also the company's rapid turnaround time on designs, which he said can be significantly better than competitors.
Power management IC designed to support the particular processor platform can do wonders to Renesas if they can get hold of deals with few big OEM's using the Atom in their designs. Is there any other suppliers having similar chips like uPD9977 which are targetted at Atom processors?
Renesas and other vendors like ST do have very good power IC portfolio. However, many times, they are dedicated to automobile, cell phone or similar market. When one is designing for different application like bio-medical instrumentation and others, these parts are not easily available. For some ST parts, to get datasheet for part, you have to sign NDA. It is very important that all these very smart highly integrated parts are also available from vendors like Digikey, Newark etc.
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