Chapter 2 – Constants of the Semiconductor Industry

Chapter 2 – Constants of the Semiconductor Industry
by Wally Rhines on 07-19-2019 at 6:00 am

In the mid 1980’s, Tommy George, then President of Motorola’s Semiconductor Sector, pointed out to me that the semiconductor revenue per unit area had been a constant throughout the history of the industry including the period when germanium transistors made up a large share of semiconductor revenue.  I began tracking the numbers… Read More


A Detailed History of Samsung Semiconductor

A Detailed History of Samsung Semiconductor
by Daniel Nenni on 02-11-2019 at 7:00 am

From our book “Mobile Unleashed”, this is a detailed history of Samsung semiconductor:

Conglomerates are the antithesis of focus, and Samsung is the quintessential chaebol. From humble beginnings in 1938 as a food exporter, Samsung endured the turmoil and aftermath of two major wars while diversifying and expanding.… Read More


The Ever-Changing ASIC Business

The Ever-Changing ASIC Business
by Daniel Nenni on 09-04-2018 at 7:00 am

The cell-based ASIC business that we know today was born in the early 1980s and was pioneered by companies like LSI Logic and VLSI Technology. Some of this history is covered in Chapter 2 of our book, “Fabless: The Transformation of the Semiconductor Industry”. The ASIC business truly changed the world. Prior to this revolution,… Read More


Why does Apple do business with Samsung?

Why does Apple do business with Samsung?
by Daniel Nenni on 05-26-2015 at 10:00 pm

The Apple and Samsung relationship is an interesting one. On one hand they have co-developed some of the most innovative products on the market today (iPod, iPhone, iPad, iWatch) yet they are fierce competitors in the mobile market. Some call this type of business relationship “frenemies” others refer to the old Italian proverb… Read More


Getting a Quote Without Talking to a Salesman

Getting a Quote Without Talking to a Salesman
by Paul McLellan on 11-09-2014 at 4:00 pm

VLSI Technology, for those of you not of a certain age, was one of the companies that, along with LSI Logic, created the ASIC business. One challenge in ASIC is that the customer needs to decide which ASIC company to use (since the libraries and technologies are all different) meaning they needed to get quotes from several companies.… Read More


The Funnest Bug

The Funnest Bug
by Paul McLellan on 08-06-2013 at 12:13 am

We all have a funnest bug we’ve been involved with. I don’t think ‘funnest’ is actually a word but when my kids used to use the word ‘funner’ I didn’t have a good argument as to why it wasn’t a word, it just seemed a word I’d never heard. In fact I have no idea what the rules are… Read More


A Brief History of VLSI Technology, part 2

A Brief History of VLSI Technology, part 2
by Paul McLellan on 07-21-2013 at 9:00 pm

Part 1

VLSI’s business grew healthily but it never threw off enough cash to fund all the investment required for process technology development and capital investment for a next generation fab. They made a strategic partnership with Hitachi covering both 1um process technology and a significant investment, which meant that … Read More


A Brief History of VLSI Technology, part 1

A Brief History of VLSI Technology, part 1
by Paul McLellan on 07-01-2013 at 8:15 pm

VLSI Technology was founded in 1981 by Dan Floyd, Jack Baletto and Gunnar Wetlesen who had worked together at Signetics. The initial investments were by Hambrecht and Quist, a cross between a VC and a bank, and by Evans and Sutherland, the simulation/graphics company.

The fourth person to join the company was Doug Fairbairn. He … Read More


A Brief History of ASIC, part I

A Brief History of ASIC, part I
by Paul McLellan on 08-21-2012 at 7:00 pm

In the early 1980s the ideas and infrastructure for what would eventually be called ASIC started to come together. Semiconductor technology had reached the point that a useful number of transistors could be put onto a chip. But unlike earlier, when a chip only held a few transistors and thus could be used to create basic generic building… Read More


Minitel Shuts Down

Minitel Shuts Down
by Paul McLellan on 07-05-2012 at 5:02 pm

When I first came to the US, one project that we had going on at VLSI Technology was an ASIC design being done by a French company called Telic. The chip would go into something called “Minitel” which the France Telecom (actually still the PTT since post and telecomunications had not yet been separated) planned to supply… Read More