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Freescale undergoes "identity" makeover

Posted: 28 Jun 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:embedded processing? sensor technology? analog?

2.�Analog aspirations?
TI is now officially the largest analog chip company on the planet. Does Freescale also aspire to become an analog powerhouse?

Considering Beyer's background (he was CEO at Intersil before joining Freescale), expanding Freescale's analog business seemed like a natural evolution. But that never happened. Freescale had no choice but to stay away from a discrete analog chip business. This is because when Motorola spun off On Semiconductor, a majority of its IPs went to On Semi, thus leaving little on Freescale's plate, explained Steve Ohr, analyst at Gartner.

As Beyer put it, Freescale's analog aspirations go only as far as the application levelwhat customers want in a system. Analog and RF components are critical building blocks for Freescale's system solution, but going after the standalone analog market will not be in the company's scope.

Even TI is no longer about just analog. Beyer pointed out that Richard Templeton, TI's CEO, has been talking about analog and embedded processing technologies critical for TI's growth.

3. Sensor gambit
Freescale did what it needed to docut cost, close fabs, eliminate some product linesto bring more focus to the business, since Beyer joined Freescale. Looking into the next several years, though, where will Freescale put its money in order to grow its business?

Without missing a beat, Beyers answered, "Sensor technology."

Other investment focuses include "power [RF family]" and "software to cultivate eco-system partners," he explained.

Beyer called sensors "critical" because each sensor technology comes with a distinctly different type of sensing. "For example, ambient light sensing is based on a very different discipline from, say, touch sensing," said Beyer. Further, each sensor requires a proprietary process for production.

Take, for example, smartphones, Beyer said. "Can you imagine a phone's CPU having to keep pinging each sensor to check its status?" With more sensors packed inside, such a routine would quickly drain the battery, Beyer explained.

Freescale's Xtrinsic pressure sensor is a good example. Smart features include autonomous data acquisition with two interruptions on thresholds detection. The device regulates auto-wake and sleep modes (to avoid unnecessary use of power) and requires zero data processing for mobile devices and medical and security applications.

To integrate more sensors, one needs "skills, fundamental understanding of how different sensing works, and ultimately, a common process to integrate them," says Beyer.

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