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For Atmel, it's security and going fab-lite

Posted: 20 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Atmel microcontrollers? fab-lite? security solutions?

Developing new security solutions and traversing the fab-lite route are the things that will keep MCU company Atmel Corp. on its toes in the next two years or so. Speaking to a group of Asian editors last week at their headquarters in San Jose, California, the company discussed plans in the near future.

"We are definitely going fab-lite," said Steven Laub, Atmel president and CEO. After the sale of its Texas facility to Maxim in May, next in line will be its U.K. fab [by the end of the year] and its plant in Heilbronn, Germany by 2008.

Stepping up its security solutions will be a priority as well. "Atmel will offer more security products in the next two years," said Ken Kwong, VP, corporate marketing.

Atmel's security profile revolves around four solutions: TPM for hardware-based security; FingerChip for biometric security; Smart Cards for electronic transactions; and CryptoMemory for authentication and data encryption. In the next year or so, the company anticipates more movements in the domains of biometrics, electronic transactions and encryption technology. Said Kerry Maletsky, business unit director, secure products, "In FingerChip, there'll be more computing power. In Smart Cards, it will be lower cost, higher memory and move into the embedded space. For CryptoMemory, it will be higher density."

Access control, financial, government and IP protection are the areas of focus for Atmel's security products. "We are all concerned about security," explained Kwong. "Solving issues is more than software, there's hardware."

Cars, too
Atmel is also pushing forward its automotive solutions as it anticipates more and more cars driving around with more electronics content. The company's automotive lineup includes automotive RF (car access, tire pressure monitoring sensor), high-voltage products, in-vehicle products and GPS products. According to Fred Tscheulin, senior manager, business development automotive market, TPMS is a very large emerging market especially with the U.S. regulation that states that all light vehicles produced after September 1, 2007 should come with such system. Another focus area for Atmel is the RF car access systems. "Automotive is unique to the point because there a lot of custom products," remarked Tscheulin.

As for its MCU solutions, Atmel will continue to push its 8bit line. Why 8bit? "It is here to stay,after all is a $5 billion market," said Peter Jones, managing director, tactical marketing, MCU business unit. "It continues to a strong growth product segment for us. Last year, revenue growth for the its proprietary AVR line grew more than 60 percent. Growth drivers include white goods, cellphones and human interface products, the latter, noted Jones "is a very interesting market for us" as Atmel expects major growth in the next 12-18 months.

- Celeste dela Torre
EE Times-Asia

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