In addition, Touchstone's phase tree means the company is starting to
head towards mixed-signal and power management applications
are mainly an analog company up to but not including RF but we want to
work in applications that run off lithium-ion batteries, which means
ultra-low power. Part of the remit includes circuits with some digital
trimming for which Touchstone uses one-time programmable memory licensed
from eMemory Technology Inc. (Hsinchu, Taiwan).
product family will therefore be power management ICs, said Fox. But
rather than take on heavily digital, application-specific ICs designed
for smartphones and tablet computers, Fox said Touchstone is looking to make dc-dc converter functions that nobody else has. "We're focused on
always-on analog circuits that let the microcontroller stay asleep
longer," he said.
Fox says that in these circumstances there is no silver
bullet to the design of low-power management circuits. "It's all about
attention to detail and the skill of the designer. We've been building
up the power management design team for a while." Fox declined to say
exactly what the first power management product is, or when it will
Overall Fox's methods appear to be working because Touchstone has avoided serious legal
hassles so far and Fox said he is looking forward to having 1,000
customers by the end of 2013.
As a startup the company is
private and does not provide sales or profit figures but Fox said he is set on
creating a significant analog semiconductor company much like the ones
from which the founders were drawn that could go public. And if analog seems like a crowded to market to aim at Fox makes the point: "Analog is
a $40 billion annual market. A few percent of that would be enough."
DESIGN West is organized by UBM Tech, the publisher of EE Times.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.