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May - 2006 - issue > Company Profile
Sense and Simplicity at Philips
Mohammed Shariff
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Engineers at Philips Semiconductors, operating as part of the Philips Innovation Campus in Bangalore are ecstatic reading the good reports that are being written about the Dell High Definition TV that doubles up as a computer monitor when need be. They should be. After all 22 of these engineers were amongst those that wrote the codes for the chip that makes the conversion from a TV to a PC monitor and vice versa a possibility. “Am proud that our team worked on this challenging assignment and achieved excellent results in a short turn around time,” says Paramesh Babu, who led the Dell team.

Overlooking the majestic Ulsoor Lake, all engineers in the expansive campus are as innovative as the team that worked on the Dell project. “That’s the passion we have for innovation,” Rajeev Mehtani, Vice President and Site Innovation Manager, Philips Semiconductors says.

Commencing Bangalore operations in 1996, the company has built expertise in embedded systems, architecture design, programming and testing for home and mobile applications in the decade they have been here. Philips Innovation Campus has 1600 employees and 77 patents to its credit. That is visible in its technology that goes into high-end mobile phones made by Samsung, the digital TVs made by parent company Philips and Dell amongst others.

The parent organization, showing faith in the Bangalore center, has mandated it to take on a bigger role in the company’s overall R&D activities that means more work and more innovation. The result will be seen in the future releases of digital televisions, DVD players and set-top boxes in which Philips has the advantage over their rivals. As electronic products become more advanced and feature rich, one aspect that makes them worthy is the software that is increasingly being embedded in chips that power them. Working in Bangalore offers Philips ready access to top quality engineers. It puts Philips close to the untapped potential market in India that is ready to splurge on newer technologies. This means their engineers can develop for the local markets as well apart from working for the international customers.

Asia is in the cusp of a new digital revolution and the nouveau riche, flush with money are splurging on electronic devices. Most of these devices have an India connection. Take an MP3 player for instance. They are not merely store-play-delete devices. Today they have an inbuilt voice recorder; FM radio and can act as a storage device. Though not manufactured here, the codes that were written right here in India were embedded in the chips that go into making multiusabilty possible. A proof of the ingenuity of Indian programmers.

There’s more than just meets the eye here. The burgeoning domestic electronics market means India will soon move into manufacturing chips here and coding will be relegated to be part of the game. Philips, which has a presence in everything in electronics from light bulbs to CT scanners to MP3 players, has utilized its circuit design assets to full use by bringing in the complete spectrum of innovative masterpieces. Their IC design expertise is in the areas of logic and circuit design. Like Hitachi, Toshiba and Samsung who make chips that power new generation audio-video devices, Philips has identified chip designing as a core area for the future.

“For the future”, says Mehtani, “We are working on cutting edge 65 nanometer designs and libraries and IP modules.” Philips is investing in next generation home and mobile platforms called ‘Nexperia’ by heavily using the skills of the India design team. India’s strengths lie in software engineering and this is a particularly important element in its push into chip design. Of course, computerized design techniques have been important to chip design. However, software is all but embedded into chip architecture and chip designers increasingly seek to share basic features of architecture early in the design process.

It’s not just chips that Philips makes for the world market. Their platforms are increasingly being used across the world and for starters the team here has a say in development of the platform. Vinayak N.S., Senior Systems Architect is one such person at Philips Semiconductors, who is a part of the global decision-making team in platform designing and innovation. It is such roles that excite the engineers to work for Philips.

Innovation activities at the Philips Semiconductors can be gauged by the fact that they have filed 16 patents thus far. “The Philips Innovation Campus’s vision is to be a highly valued partner fostering innovation. Since India has a lot of talent to offer, Philips is quick to collaborate with this talent pool to create meaningful innovations,” Mehtani says. For meaningful innovations, engineers here dabble with state-of-the-art software engineering paradigms and platforms including real-time systems, component-based software engineering, multi-threaded architecture and ASIC design methodologies in deep sub-micron technologies to drive the creation of tomorrow’s products and services. “The excitement of working on latest technologies coupled with a young and enthusiastic team makes the place vibrant” says Janakiraman, Department Manager, Home Innovation.

Philips Semiconductors, that has an 600 strong head count, has built up extensive know-how and expertise in the software engineering and technology domains relevant to its business.

The future for innovation lies in looking at growth in the converging domains of healthcare and lifestyle and their synergy with technology. Philips focus is not to hire by quantity, but by quality. “The ultimate goal should be to deliver the best product to the customers,” says Mehtani. “What excites the engineers at Philips most is that they are participating in developing products for international customers. We regard this fact as a tremendous opportunity to add more value to our product.”

Excitement at the campus has added advantage to life at Philips. “We don’t put our engineers in deep disciplinary restrictions. We discuss things openly and resolve the issue. The style of working here is – you give me the specifications and I will do a great job of delivering on that. We face challenges with passion, understand the market demand, that’s how we do innovations in our campus,” says Mehtani.

Philips lays more emphasis on striking an ideal work-life balance. Team leaders are given specific instructions to discourage employees from working on weekends. The company keeps a close watch on the number of hours that each employee logs in. If an employee puts in too many hours at work, he is pulled up. If Philips claims in its advertisements “Sense and Simplicity” there isn’t better proof than the Philips Innovation Campus that indeed is sense and simplicity both for customers and employees.
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