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March - 2015 - issue > Cover Story
SEMTECH Driving Semiconductor Efficiency through Green Technology
Sandeepa Majumdar
Thursday, March 5, 2015
The story behind Semtech's [NASDAQ:SMTC] mammoth success goes back five decades. A leading provider of analog and mixed signal semiconductors takes a leaf out of its organizational history of never succumbing to adversities. Going through a brief stint in the 1980s, where the company had difficulty recovering from certain challenges, Semtech diversified its services and emerged as a survivor. Today the company provides a plethora of proprietary solutions to solve complex problems in the semiconductor arena. While the 'small form-high power' semiconductors are revolutionizing the way enterprises work, communicate, and utilize power, Semtech with a market cap of $1.9 billion, is anchoring at the helm of this revolution by supplying analog and mixed signal semiconductor platforms for high-end consumer, computing, communications and industrial equipments.

With recent forecasts depicting favorable times for the industry ahead, a major challenge that plagues semiconductor companies today is to find ways to produce more energy-efficient electronics. Semtech has brought a differentiated approach here by providing greener, smarter and more compact power solutions. "Our products are differentiated by innovation, size, and performance and cover sectors such mobile, wireless, and datacenters," remarks Mohan Maheswaran, President and CEO, Semtech. With Maheswaran's roots going back to Sri Lanka, followed close with schooling in the UK and a professional career in the U.S. Maheswaran transpires his diverse cultural understanding into his leadership at Semtech. This aspect of the firm has been one of its greatest strengths to understand the needs of the diverse customers and adapt to the relevant technology to deliver solutions. At Semtech, engineers constitute more than 50 percent of the work force. With 31 offices worldwide and housing more than 1200 employees, it's a nucleus of a globally diverse management team.

Focus on Greater Bandwidth, Miniaturization

Fostering an effective ecosystem in the semiconductor industry through their constant drive for innovation, Semtech broadly follows three paradigms-green standards, miniaturization and high bandwidth application. While green standards focus on eco-friendly devices which are the need of the hour for sustainable development; miniaturization reflects on the market demand for smaller, highly integrated, and ultra-low power products. Lastly, high bandwidth applications for speedy delivery of voice, video, and data transmissions in devices and networks.

Strong Product Line

A walk through Semtech's comprehensive product portfolio in the broadcast and video surveillance space offers high quality broadcast video signals which echoes in its 20 years of expertise in video technology. Semtech's video products provide a standard definition to Ultra High Definition Video and the firm now stands as the sole leader in the UHD-SDI, 3G, HD, and SD technologies. Supporting 6G through 24G data rates, the technology provides seamless migration to the broadcast video systems of tomorrow. In the video surveillance arena, the firm is driving open standards such as high definition closed circuit TV, and additionally Semtech's products enable up gradation of standard definition CCTV systems to full digital HD CCTV platforms that provide superior video quality.

As the electronic industry evolves, the products have continuously reduced in size. This makes them more susceptible to failure and jeopardizes a permanent damage through electrostatic discharge when sensitive portable devices are connected to other electronic equipments. Semtech designs and develops high performance devices known as transient voltage suppressors ("TVS") that safeguards the port's insensitive electronic devices from electrostatic discharge and offers protection to every high performing interface. These products also operate at very low voltage and are found at good use in a variety of applications including smartphones, LCD TVs, set top boxes, computers, base stations, routers automobile and industrial equipments.

On a mission to bring futuristic technology into their current offerings, Semtech covers a wide range of verticals, from automotive, military and aerospace to networking and communications. Supplying high reliability discrete semiconductors in various assemblies for military and aerospace, Semtech's designs are rugged and come in packages that vary in their overall function and construction. "Our discrete semiconductor product line ranges from single-to multi-phase devices in high-current or high-voltage configurations and among their uses are power supplies, base stations, motor drives, and medical equipment," informs Maheswaran.

A Push towards Greener Environment

Semtech helps businesses and consumers dramatically reduce power consumption by providing chipsets that intelligently put electronic devices into sleep or standby mode when they are not in use. Semtech's new product LoRa, a Long Range Wireless platform is driving exciting new applications that help enable the IoT. The LoRa technology platform leverages smart sensors and internet gateways to make cities more efficient and environmental friendly. Through smart parking meters, toll booths and traffic signals installations, cities can significantly reduce emissions. LoRa also enables novel safety applications such as early morning systems that allow fire departments and other safety personnel to quickly respond to potential forest fires, floods, avalanches and other natural disasters before they occur or get out of control.

For the ultimate long range wireless solution, Semtech's LoRa RF platform complements Machine-to-machine (M2M) cellular infrastructure, and provides a low-cost way to connect battery operated and mobile devices to the network infrastructure. By combining the LoRa RF transceiver products with LoRa concentrator gateway, users can create networks with longer ranges and the capacity to handle millions of devices. LoRa also improves the battery lifetime of end-user devices, while minimizing signal interference. The result is a network ideal for Internet of Things (IoT), metering, security, and asset tracking. For instance, FastNet—a M2M operator in South Africa implemented the LoRa technology to target low power connectivity for IoT applications. LoRa network deployments targets devices and services that require very long battery lifetime at a low price point, complementing FastNet's other cellular M2M services. With LoRa's long range and secure, bidirectional communication capabilities, Smartnet were able to deploy IoT services that were previously unrealized. In addition, LoRa also allowed FastNet to meet the requirements of their customers for smart grid, industrial automation, asset tracking, metering, and security.

Outpacing the Analog Industry with New Products

"With close to 5000 customers across the globe and over 1000 product offerings, we attribute our financial and operating strength to four key factors-differentiation, balance, financial strength, and multiple sources of growth," reveals Maheswaran. The company differentiates itself through its process technology, design, packaging, and support. Its financial strength is reflected in its strong balance sheet and proven ability to generate cash flow. The net sale for the third quarter of fiscal year 2015 was ascertained as $148.9 million for Semtech, up by six percent from the previous year's $141.0 million. The company posted the 7th record revenue year in the last eight years and delivered a record $118 million in cash from operations while reducing operating expenses to better align spending and new product investment. Semtech's investment value is based on its solid operational philosophy and long-term growth strategy. "2014 represented another year of solid financial and operating performance for Semtech, drawing recognition for being one of the best financially managed Semiconductor Company and also the fastest growing company in America," extols Maheswaran.

Along with these financial accomplishments, Semtech has released many new products across all of its product groups, achieved record design wins, increased its exposure to new and emerging markets, and outpaced the analog industry as a whole. Expanding on their robust mobile protection platform, Semtech recently released the RClamp1255P-"a high-performance, low capacitance Transient Voltage Suppression (TVS) device. "The RClamp1255P expands Semtech’s growing portable product family and offers fully integrated Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) and surge protection for USB 2.0 ports used on portable devices in a single easy to use package," ascertains Maheswaran.

Semtech's strong product portfolio and access to technology has only been made more robust through several acquisitions over the years. With more than 31 sales and application support offices in 18 countries as well as representatives and distribution support locations in more than 30 countries, the company is expanding globally with each passing year. Its latest merger with Gennum Corporation, a supplier of optical, analog and mixed-signal products has only made the company stronger.

Mixed-Signal Technology and Products in the Charts

Following the core values of honesty, integrity and an open and direct communication, Semtech has the leadership to oversee growth, the talent to develop innovative products, and the experience to direct the growth that keeps the company in a foremost position within today's competitive business environment.

To continue its growth and outperform the rest in the upcoming years, Semtech plans on restructuring and reducing their operational costs. The company is also looking at developing analog and mixed-signal technology and products for several emerging applications such as Smart Sensing, Ultra High Definition, High-Speed Backplanes, Wearable Electronics and the IoT. These trends have, and will continue to drive growth in aerospace, medicine, energy, and consumer electronics industry for years to come "We believe that a balanced approach will enable us to drive value to our shareholders as we strive to achieve our long-term operating target model of $1 billion in revenue, 60 percent gross margin and 30 percent operating margin," ends Maheswaran.

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