The PSoC 4--combined with the Cortex M3-based PSoC 5 launched last year--aim to drive the platform into 32-bit world.
“We’ve been wrapping ourselves around the axel of understanding the 32-bit market where the sophistication of design and firmware is much higher and quality assurance is more difficult,” said Rodgers. “But it was harder to break into the 8-bit than the 32-bit market because the 8-bit designers had to move up a click in their use of programming tools,” he added.
Rodgers believes PSoC is still well below the radar of FPGA companies such as Xilinx that are dipping into lower-end markets. Instead, he sees his competitors as microcontroller companies.
“They realize a naked MCU doesn’t compete anymore, so they are putting more peripherals in them,” Rodgers said. “They also are starting to make their peripherals tweak-able and make their software look like ours,” he added.
It’s an MCU business, but the real targets are the analog companies. Rodgers shows how a $1 PSoC can embed the equivalent of $8 in mainly analog parts using Cypress’ Creator and its library of 100 virtual blocks.
“Analog margins have gone through the roof, but I am going to take their business and make it go away,” he vowed.
Competition is fierce. Microchip is on a tear, leaping to fourth place in microcontrollers last year with nearly 30 percent growth, driven by its acquisition of SMSC and a focus on the expanding market for wireless links, said Tom Hackenberg, a principal analyst for MCUs at IHS iSuppli.
Microchip could challenge for second place Infineon and Freescale, both of which declined three to four points last year. But Renesas is still by far the big dog with three times the revenues of its closest rivals, thanks in part to its acquisition of NEC’s MCU business which it is still digesting. Meanwhile several Chinese companies are jumping into the mix, focused on the rising market for smart cards.
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IHS iSuppli ranks Cypress 12th in overall microcotnrollers.
Overall the MCU market is predicted to grow from $15.1 billion in 2012 to $18.1 billion in 2015. Most of the growth is at the extremes with both 8-bitters expanding due to the rise of new Internet of Things apps and 32-bitters claiming more turf from the broad 16-bit middle ground that’s gone flat.
It’s a giant market that Cypress looked at from the outside ten years ago when it was a memory company focused on SRAMs. “I thought if I could get just one percent of that market I would be in hog heaven,” Rodgers said
So Rodgers set up 13 internal startups at Cypress to explore opportunities beyond SRAMs. He turned down three MCU business plans that didn’t look competitive before the PSoC opportunity emerged.