Akao, 55, who possesses a solid engineering background, developed Hitachi’s SH microprocessors. He joined Renesas Technology in 2003, as deputy general manager of its SoC division.
Akao has no illusions about the missteps that marked the original merger of Hitachi and Mitsubishi. His job was to oversee business strategy at Renesas Technology’s strategy planning division between October 2003 and November 2004.
The challenge now for Akao is to do it better and faster. That might be easier said than done. For example, it took Renesas Technology until 2008 to whittle down seven different CPU cores from Hitachi and Mitsubishi to three.
"We will not follow a path of testing the waters and getting to know each other for the first two years, and then try to figure out how best to combine the best of the both worlds," Akao said.
The Renesas chief spoke sternly, displaying the methodical style of an engineer while avoiding talk of busines models and market projections.
"I am asking those who report to me to come up with a unified plan" rather than a dual structure. "If operations pursued by the two companies are similar, pick one. If they insist on keeping two separate operations, they owe me an explanation [as to] why it’s more economical and logical to do so," Akao said.
"What we need to do is very clear: We need to make choices up front to reduce development cost and improve throughput. These are the lessons I learned from having worked at Renesas Technology over the last seven years."
Renasas has plenty of critics, but some observers said it it making progress. Tony Massimini, chief of technology at Semico Research Corp., said Renesas Technology "did a good job of combining the MCU portfolios and targeting different application areas with different families."
When Hitachi and Mitsubishi merged, management said it was committed to all the MCUs and would continue to support all of its customers. "There was little conflict among the different MCU families," according to Massimini. Renesas Technology "more or less maintained its market share position, growing at the rate of the overall MCU market."