I concluded my last post on the topic with an inventory of the key attributes needed to fill the ASIC void created by the relentless consolidation in semiconductors. There were five items, as follows:
- Design and manufacturing expertise in a market that requires custom chips
- Differentiating IP and the skills to integrate it into a customer’s design
- A solid design methodology and the discipline to enforce it
- A willingness to partner with the customer – a shared vision for success is key
- A solid track record of successful bring-up of designs in target systems
I also mentioned Presto Engineering and their acquisition of DELTA Microelectronics. What does that combination do for the ASIC ecosystem? How does this company fit? I took a look at Presto through the lens provided by the list, above. Here’s what I found…
If you visit the Presto Engineering website, you’re greeted with “Your Trusted Microelectronics Partner”. That sounded like the sentiments of point 4, above. Probing a bit more, I found an informative, under two-minute video on Presto’s OCEAN Platform.
OCEAN is a rather sophisticated web-based system that manages all phases of chip logistics tracking and development, from tapeout to volume manufacturing. Full transparency, proactive management and risk-reduction. I encourage you to watch this video if you have a couple of minutes. This is sounding a lot like point 4. You can also learn more about Presto’s supply chain management capabilities here. In my travels through the Presto website, I found a combination of capabilities from both Presto and DELTA. It appears that they are keeping the DELTA brand. The combined offering provided some very helpful perspectives.
Let’s circle back to point 1. You can find good information about IoT and security applications on Presto’s website. These are both markets that clearly need custom silicon. There is also a pedigree in RF and mixed-signal solutions at Presto. This expertise allows them to offer sensor capabilities for IoT, in addition to low-power design and wireless communications, key ingredients for this market. You will also find expertise on contactless payment cards. This technology utilizes near-field communication (NFC), energy harvesting and security, all areas that need custom silicon and are growing rapidly. Another high-growth area is automotive and autonomous driving. Presto also participates here, both in terms of advanced testing to support automotive qualification and sensor technology for autonomous driving, I would say point 1 is well covered.
Probing on point 2, I found relevant digital and analog IP. Everything from processor cores, DES/triple DES processors and LVDS I/Os to PLLs, data converters, sensors, battery monitors and more. These all tie back to the ASIC design services provided by Presto, through DELTA. Point 2 appears to be covered as well.
On to point 3, design methodology. There’s a lot to say here. The site talks about a rigorous specification process, supported by proven IP, design reviews and careful verification and testability planning throughout. I know all these items are quite important to a successful project and I was glad to see this discussion. The methodology doesn’t stop at design, also a good thing. Foundry management, parametric, functional and life test, packaging, DFT and inventory management are discussed as well. The OCEAN Platform video also talks about these activities. Point 3 appears to be covered.
We already discussed point 4, leaving point 5, bring-up track record. You will find discussions on the Presto website about operating life and stress testing (HTOL/HAST for those who like acronyms). Custom hardware and extensive test facilities are needed for these critical bring-up tasks. They are covered. You can view a series of customer success stories here.
Stacking up points 1-5 indicates to me the new, combined Presto/DELTA organization checks the boxes as a focused ASIC supplier contender. The industry needs more dedicated ASIC suppliers – it’s good for emerging businesses and the semiconductor industry in general. Presto Engineering and DELTA Microelectronics are both based in Europe, France and Denmark respectively. The combined company does offer a global footprint from a sales and support point of view.
In the press release announcing the DELTA acquisition, Michel Villemain, the CEO of Presto Engineering said, “This acquisition allows us to expand our business and provide industrial and semiconductor companies with a consolidated European partner that offers ASIC design, test, qualification and manufacturing expertise.” It will be interesting to watch Presto as they build ASIC momentum.