@Chippers, you hit the nail on the head there. The role of the big company/institution is to come up with the overall system design to meet specific customer demands, spec it and break it down into modules which can be outsourced. The system integration, sales/marketing, and maintenance/servicing remain the prerogative of the main company. There is always an element of "design", it's just at the system level.
This is simply an extreme statement of the idea of vertical integration by contract. Of course, all the same work still has to be done and the real problems are in the partitioning, finding the right partners for each partition, and communicating efficiently among the contingent partitions. Whether these "details" can be worked out in practice and sustained remains to be seen. Thus the validity of the skepticism. Whatever the problems, the potential of successful decentralization and "democratization" of complex semiconductor market entry is a powerful and appealing idea.
There is a lot to be gained by following customers requirements combined with state of the art technology.
It would be worth investigating how open IP may contribute to a better world!
The "designless" semi model is a brilliant idea, and the next step up (or down) from the fabless model. Not only does a semiconductor company not have to own a fab, it doesn't need design engineers either. It's all outsourced -- you just come up with a great idea, and a bunch of engineers somewhere else (probably in Asia) do all the work.
Apple is quoted as a model, although it seems to me that Apple's actually moving the other way with their purchase of PA Semi so that they can design their own processors. But that's a minor detail.
Anyway, all this got me thinking ... why even bother to do the hard work to come up with ideas? After all, there are smarter people than you (you know who you are) out there. Just call up one of your (foreign) brainiac consultants and ask him to tell you about his latest great concept. Then call your favorite outsourcing design shop and ask them to put their best and brightest design engineers on the project. Finally, get it fabbed, packaged, and tested and before you know it, it's been drop-shipped to your ultra-low-cost ODM's ultra-high-speed SMT line.
There is the bothersome detail of actually having to make all these calls. Training some below-minimum wage workers to handle these petty bureaucratic steps will be the final nail. Let's call it the "Brainless Semi Model."
I think you can outsource sales and marketing as well (in addition to deisgn and manufacturing)...the company remains as an idea holder (with all IP protection that is required), everything else is contracted out...Kris
Sounds like the systems engineering practiced in the DoD and NASA business over the last several decades. At the very top level, the design is a single block in the block diagram, with a top level requirement and specification, followed by successively lower level breakdowns involving more detailed block diagrams and designs, each level defining the internal function/process of the block and its external connectivity in terms of input and output communications. All the way down into final design and production.
An enterprise can choose the design level at which it wants to work. At an intermediate level, it acts as a contractor to a higher level, and it subcontracts more detailed work at lower levels. By shedding more detailed work, it trades design engineers with spec writers and lawyers. The success of this approach depends on how well the enterprise understands the technological constraints of the lower levels of design work.
Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a designless enterprise. There is always some level of design involvement, no matter how abstract.
If you eliminated manufacturing and design, there wouldn't be much left besides selling & marketing someone else's product -- that's generally known as distributing or maybe retailing.
I'm guessing that Randy Copeland would say that Velocity Micro is more than just a distributor or retailer. From what's on their website, they look like an OEM to me, and not even remotely in the semiconductor business -- fabless, designless or otherwise. I just don't see how Velocity's business model qualifies as a "new semi model."