Has the semiconductor world gone acquisition crazy? It certainly seems that way with the more than $60B in M&A activity which may now include Altera. We are probably getting close to the 80/20 rule where 80% of the semiconductor revenue is being generated by 20% of the companies. Not far off from where we were at 25 years ago when the fabless semiconductor transformation began. It really is deja vu all over again.
Some say the winners in all of this are the investors and the losers are the thousands of semiconductor professionals that will lose their jobs due to the consolidation. I say we are all winners because of the changes we are starting to see in design enablement that will spawn a new generation of fabless semiconductor companies. The most recent change that interests me the most is the application of big data and portals to semiconductor design and manufacturing by the ASIC companies. Think Uber for semiconductor design.
Let’s face it, in order to usher in the next generation of fabless semiconductor companies we will have to make it cheap and easy to go from RTL to a finished chip from anywhere in the world. In the early days of the ASIC business model in Silicon Valley you could literally go from a design on a cocktail napkin to a finished chip. Things are a bit more complicated now since we rely on third party IP and have to squeeze every watt of power possible out of our designs. There is also the problem of getting a design through a foundry with a minimal amount of time and money.
Fortunately that is what today’s ASIC companies do for a living. The ASIC business is very competitive and margin centric so not only do they have to get it right the first time, they also have to optimize the hell out of the chip so that it will sell millions of units to get the appropriate ASIC ROI. After delivering many millions of chips to a broad spectrum of applications, the level of internal automation at an ASIC company is like nothing you have ever seen, absolutely.
And now ASIC companies are opening up this level of automation with big data attached to the world through online portals. It really is exciting, especially for the thousands of semiconductor entrepreneurs that will be affected by the megamergers of late and the tidal wave of IoT designs that are coming our way.
Also Read: eSilicon Lyfts Its Game
As you have probably read, eSilicon is leading this effort with their new STAR Online Design Virtualization Platform. STAR is an automated secure portal that provides a Self-service, Transparent, Accurate, Real-time experience from IC design through volume ASIC production, thus the name STAR. You can visit the eSilicon STAR landing page for more information and I strongly suggest you do: REACH FOR THE STARs HERE!