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ISSI chief looks beyond SRAMs

Posted: 16 Aug 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sram? integrated silicon solution? dram?

A better year in the SRAM market isn't putting Jimmy Lee at ease. As Chairman and CEO of memory designer Integrated Silicon Solution Inc. (ISSI), he is scanning the horizon for more opportunities, knowing that SRAMs are a tough business for second-tier suppliers.

That's not to say he is giving up on the market; just hedging his bet. "We feel that the overall size of the traditional SRAM market is definitely declining rather than growing. But in certain segments, like in high-speed synchronous SRAM, our view is that there is still growth potential," said Lee, a native Taiwanese who founded ISSI in 1988 and headquartered it in Santa Clara, Calif.

More than 90 percent of ISSI's revenue still comes from SRAMs and low-density DRAMs used in consumer and communications applications. But Lee hopes that will change in the coming years as he pours R&D dollars into new areas. Already, he says just over half of his engineers are working on non-memory projects, such as smart cards, wireless chip sets and application specific controllers.

With its Shanghai-based design team, ISSI is trying to break into the growing market for smart cards in China, which are in everything from cellphones to stored-value cards used to pay for taxi and subway rides. India is another target market. The company is also using the Bluetooth protocol as well as a proprietary spin-off to develop a line of baseband chips for customized, niche applications.

Although the market for pseudo-SRAMs is growing fast, Lee said ISSI probably won't pursue it too aggressively, in part because the top vendors have captured most of the market. Instead, he wants to concentrate on developing low- and medium-density low-power DRAMs.

"We view PSRAM as a transitional niche product area, and a lot of designs in the future will be replaced by low-power DRAM," he said.

- Mike Clendenin

EE Times

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