The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

April - 2000 - issue > Cover Feature

Suhas Patil

Friday, November 21, 2008

Suhas Patil is among the most erudite technopreneurs in Silicon Valley. For years he was an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and later associate professor of computer science at the University of Utah. He entered academia soon after earning his Masters and doctorate in electrical engineering at MIT. But between the two university jobs, he made a fleeting return to India in the hope of serving industry there.
In the early 1970s, India was not only way behind in technology but also its companies conducted no research at all. The companies that wanted to hire Patil apparently wanted him to clone existing models, not undertake original work or research. Disenchanted, he came back to join the University of Utah, where he expected to continue research. After five years there, Patil’s research reached a stage where “either somebody had to adopt it and take it further, and that’s what I was seeking,” he once told an interviewer.

That somebody happened to be General Instrument Corporation, which had also funded some of his earlier research. With the funding, Patil completed work on a software that automated VLSI (very large scale integration) design. The technology permitted even those not trained in silicon technologies to design integrated circuits in six months, a revolutionary step forward in the 1980s. Although in 1981 Patil started Patil Systems, just three years later he joined hands with Mike Hackworth to found Cirrus Logic.

When the Santa Clara Historical Association published the book The Making of Silicon Valley: A 100-Year Renaissance, it counted Cirrus Logic among the companies that shaped the valley. In the book, Hackworth is quoted as saying: “When I fully understood the power of Suhas’ software, it hit me like a ton of bricks that his design approach could be the basis for a new kind of chip company. I could see the opportunity to get complex chips out in just six months using system designers who didn’t require a knowledge of silicon.”

Cirrus Logic “rocketed …to a billion-dollar-a-year run rate faster than any other Silicon Valley semiconductor firm ever made that climb – and without a fab of its own,” the book says.

Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Share on facebook