Since Tensoft started developing business management systems for semiconductor companies in 2000, that industry has seen a number of market trends. Consolidation has played a huge part in this market over the years, as smaller companies are acquired by larger players, and large players merge into even larger ones. And, of course, there are constant changes to this market, driven by demand for new and different chips that will better meet the needs of the product manufacturers who depend on them. But sometimes there are changes that are happening on a smaller scale – maybe not a trend, but something to watch.
Tensoft CEO Bob Scarborough talks to enough semiconductor companies to pick up on some of these smaller scale changes. I caught up with him recently for a quick interview about what’s happening in this market.
MURRAY: Are you seeing anything interesting with the semiconductor companies that you’re talking to?
SCARBOROUGH: One thing that we’ve been seeing more of is small to mid-sized design firms that are doing outsourced work for larger customers including building custom chips for them. One of our customer, for example, is a design firm that builds custom chips for the healthcare industry. These are small runs of devices – not a billion unit/year market like cell phone chips, for example – so the big players aren’t really interested.
MURRAY: What makes this work for the design firms?
SCARBOROUGH: One thing that makes it work is the difference between mass market and custom, purpose-specific chips. For some products, the product manufacturers just don’t need all of the functions of a mass market chip. They only need them to do a few things. By focusing on just what is needed, the design firms can really optimize to their platform.
So the design firms can really optimize these single purpose chips, but who’s going to build them? Large companies like Microsoft and Apple may be able to pull it back in-house, but that’s not a model that will work for everyone. So we’re seeing design firms who’re telling their customers that they can not only design their custom application-specific chips, but they can also help build it and manage the supply chain for it. They’re not trying to be fabless ASIC companies – they’re just trying to take care of their customers.
MURRAY: So how is Tensoft working to meet the needs of these companies?
SCARBOROUGH: The challenges in transitioning from a project-centric business to one requiring semiconductor manufacturing and supply chain services are substantial. They’ll need to add complex supply chain processes that include production, fab and OSAT collaboration, yielded costing, and WIP reporting. To manage this, Tensoft offers these companies a purpose-built business application designed for the IC operations model, Tensoft SemiOps. This cloud platform has exactly what fabless ASIC and post-production design businesses need for a design-win ready operations solution.
Whether your company is strategizing a business move from an IC design to an IC operations model or currently manages volume programs for customers, Tensoft SemiOps can help. Please visit https://tensoft.com/solutions/industry-solutions/semiconductor or contact us directly for more information.