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June - 2013 - issue > In Conversation

Geometry: THE KEY MOTIVATOR FOR SEMICONDUCTORS

Dr. Debajyoti Pal
Sr. Vice President & CTO-Ikanos Communications, Inc.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Dr. Debajyoti Pal
Ikanos Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: IKAN) is a provider of advanced broadband semiconductor and software products for the digital home. Based out of Fremont, the company has a market capitalization of $102.76 million.

Cost of ASIC: The Biggest Challenge

The industry is going from 65 nanometer to 28 nanometer chips. Continuing this transformation is one of the biggest challenges for the semiconductor industry. The size of the chips is inversely proportional to the cost, thus making it more difficult for small players especially the startups to survive. Often referred to as "Cost of ASIC" problem that explains how expensive it has become to develop custom complex ASICs today using deep sub micron technology, the industry has yet to come up with a solution for this.

The chips have surely shrunk in their geometry, but there are not enough applications available to drive this adoption or need making it another major concern for the industry leaving it to worry for ROI.

Mobile, Tablets and other hand-held devices are gaining momentum within the consumer circle demanding higher speed and more integration. As far as these challenges are concerned, I do not believe that the only way for the companies is to find ways to innovate to provide the same functionality. It may not be necessarily going for a lower node but to stay at a stable node that has some maturity and lower cost; as every node comes down in cost over time over the years. It means that they do not have to be in the latest node if they do not need to, but can innovate in the architecture and how they provide those functionalities or adding more software content in their chips.


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