On The Move


Interview with Eric Esteve (Part 1) – Interface IP trends

With the growth in interfaces required on processors today I wanted to get some more color from an industry veteran such as Eric Esteve of IP Nest who’s dedicating his time for market analysis mainly focused on interface IP. Eric’s latest viewpoints and reports are available at IPnest as well as on Semiwiki where you can find lots of good information about Interface IP.
The interview with Eric Esteve will feature in a several-part-post over the next weeks.

Q: Eric, give us a quick introduction about your background as it relates to interface IP
A: I have spent 20 years working as a designer, then FAE, then Marketing for TI and Atmel, before working as a WW Marketing Director for PLDA, where I have launched their PCIe Controller IP.
Working day to day in marketing for Interface IP, I was missing key information about the market size and trends, the vendors, and so on. Thus, when I have started IPnest, three years ago, I have decided to focus on the Interface IP market, and to provide comprehensive market surveys dedicated to IP for USB 3.0, PCIe, SATA, MIPI, DDRn etc… Now, I can say that IPnest is the leader analyst in this niche segment. IPnest has customers all over the world, the list includes: Sony, Inventure, KSIA, Cadence, Cast, Evatronix, PLDA, Rambus, Mentor Graphics, Arasan, Denali, Snowbush, MoSys, Mixel, Intel, Fujitsu, LSI Logic, nSYS, HDL DH… and Synopsys!

Q: What are your high level thoughts about the semiconductor industry in general and mobile segment in particular?
A: The semiconductor industry is still growing, with an 8% CAGR for the last 20 years or so, but it is a matter of fact that there is a consolidation, and the ASIC or ASSP design starts are slightly declining. Along with this decline, we can see two major trends: the production level per ASIC are growing, and even more important, the chip complexity (gate count, number of functions) is increasing. If you look at the mobile segment, taking for example the latest platform from TI, OMAP5 (see: http://www.semiwiki.com/forum/content/415-how-much-ip-reuse-soc-44-80-what-cost.html) you realize that this device is extremely complex. The chip architecture is based on no less than FIVE CPU cores, related Cache Memory, and several dozens of IP functions, including a “shopping list” for the major Interface IP (several USB 2.0, USB 3.0 OTG, SATA 2.0, HDMI 1.4, LPDDR2 by 2, almost all MIPI specification: CSI-2, CSI-3, DSI, LLI, HSI…). Such a design start is probably equivalent, in terms of design power, to a dozen of ASIC design starts in the 2000. So, yes there are less design starts, but these are in general more complex designs, especially for applications like Wireless Smartphone or Set-Top-Box. In fact these are so complex than the only way to comply with the time to market requirements is to massively rely on design reuse, or IP.

Q: What do you believe are the challenges facing the mobile electronics industry?
A: Eventhough I have worked for TI for 7 years, I am not necessarily an expert of the mobile electronic industry. I think some of the challenges the mobile electronic industry is facing are almost the same than for the other electronic segments: at first, close the “design gap”, which means design chips larger and larger, but with almost the same headcount and design resources and do it when always using the most advanced technology nodes (today 28nm and tomorrow 22/20nm). These needs push to use the latest techniques, like Design For Manufacturability keeping in mind the huge production volumes expected with a single device, ASIC or ASSP. The requirements which are unique to the Wireless industry are: how to design always more complex application (like 3D Video) keeping the system battery life long enough and try to meet the incredible Time To Market for handset applications.

Q: What can you tell us more about the evolving time to market pressures?
A: Time to market for handset applications is probably the more stringent of the industry: on the end user market, the typical delay between two product launch from the same OEM is about 6 months, which is not the delay from concept to engineering samples which is much larger, but obviously push for a design cycle as small as possible, for product being incredibly more complex!

Q: If someone wants to purchase one of your reports or hire your service how should they contact you?
A: If someone wants to purchase one of my report, the easiest is to go to: http://www.ip-nest.com/index.php?page=wired, you can buy a report just by Credit Card using PayPal from anywhere in the world (my latest customer bought from Japan!). If you want to read my blogs, just go to SemiWiki: http://www.semiwiki.com/forum/content/ where I blog several times a week as well as other SC industry veterans. To hire my services, just ping me on Skype (ericesteve1) or send me an Email at eric.esteve@ip-nest.com and we will discuss the best approach to increase your visibility, your business (for an IP vendor) or to make the best selection for the Interface IP that you need (for fabless or IDM).

Check this blog soon for our next Q&A with Eric including forecast and views about the mobile industry.

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