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Sequence Design: Taiwan primed for growth

Posted: 04 Oct 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:eda? concurrent power? timing optimization? extraction? and thermal analysis?

Vic Kulkarni is President and CEO of Sequence Design
The thing that has always struck me about Taiwan's high-tech executives is how practical they are. They are much less concerned with building a brand or taking over the world, as they are with providing solid returns for investors year after year.

In the old days that meant a lot of their products were knockoffs of already commoditized items, such as Ethernet cards, PC chipsets, or memories. Their own leaders recognized this. Etron CEO Dr. Nicky Lu stated 10 years ago that Taiwan circuit designers "do not define products." But even then, the vision was a practical one: How do we continue to grow and prosper under these circumstances?

The answer, of course, was innovation, and the goal was to drive progress through design, manufacturing, quality control, and managerial excellence. The most notable example as we all know is the semiconductor manufacturing business. The remarkable career of Morris Chang illustrates how a tremendously powerful idea, executed perfectly, can capture the imagination of an entire industry and spur a renaissance of global design creativity.

And while the fabless semiconductor model has flourished everywhere, most notably in Silicon Valley, it has established itself quite prominently in Taiwan, where today's IC designers are clearly "defining" products and whole product categories. This trend is best illustrated by the success of companies like SiS, Ali, VIA, MediaTek, Etron, and a host of others.

In my view, one of the driving forces behind this robust IC design community is Taiwan's consistently strong systems-design industry. While Taiwan remain resolute proponents of a global supply chain, there seems to be a great deal of interest and investment going towards developing local sources for ICs that leverage the island nation's native engineering talent and state-of-the-art fab capacity.

While many innovative IC designs will be produced, Taiwan won't hesitate to channel their own DRAM, Flash, and other "commodity" products to TSMC, UMC, and other foundries to strengthen the local supply of critical components for mainstay industries like motherboards and communications hardware.

The next few years should be very interesting and rewarding ones for Taiwan. I recently wrote in the U.S. edition of EE Times that the long-awaited global economic recovery will begin in Asia, based on my observations and the many positive signs coming out of Taiwan and Korea in particular.

Among these signs are many well-positioned companies making products that are poised for explosive growth in the near future: digital cameras, cell phones, recordable DVD, and printers are but a few examples. Innovative products, improved quality, along with strong channels and pent-up demand throughout the region, all point to the potential for a vibrant recovery radiating from Asia.

I think it is a given that the economic ties between Taiwan and mainland China will continue to strengthen. While this impacts some of the island's unskilled workforce, it creates many jobs in management, quality control, marketing, finance, and related jobs. It has many similarities to the U.S. economy that has moved many manufacturing jobs into the service sector, while growing the professional ranks.

Another exciting development is the Si-Soft partnership between government and private industry. Promising to elevate Taiwan to the world leader of silicon progress and production, this ambitious program is designed to accelerate the pace of innovation and create tens of thousands of highly skilled jobs.

As for Sequence, we continue to lead in many critical areas of nanometer IC design, among them, concurrent power and timing optimization, extraction, and thermal analysis. Our relationships with the leading foundries continue to be extremely beneficial for our customers, as we carefully coordinate our tool development with the needs of manufacturers, and provide highly correlated models for interconnect parasitics and power, among others.

Since Sequence continues to be a nimble EDA company, we have much more freedom to innovate and enhance the performance of industry-standard flows. Engineers and managers visiting this year's EDA&T in Hsinchu, need only identify the limitations of many tools in handling signal-integrity, thermal analysis, power management, and inductance extraction, in order to identify the very areas in which Sequence excels.

- Vic Kulkarni

President and CEO

Sequence Design

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