January 9, 2020 | Brent Humphrey
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As the semiconductor industry is consolidated each year through mergers and acquisitions, the remaining vendors are growing larger and larger, and few companies remain capable of supplying customers with low- to medium-volume applications.
Yet the rapidly growing IIoT and wireless communication markets demand customized chip solutions. In such an environment, a new player is needed to provide design-to-production for small- to medium-volume applications.
In order to address this underserved market, S3 Semiconductors is providing a unique design-to-production service to OEMs with low- to medium-volume specialized requirements, but that don’t have chip design capabilities.
The Unaddressed Market
The semiconductor market is changing. Each year, merger after merger means we end up with fewer, bigger semiconductor companies. The few vendors that exist today tend to focus on their top five to ten mega-customers, and aren’t equipped to properly support customers with low- to medium-volume demands, or those with unique requirements.
Yet the demand for custom chips hasn’t fallen. In fact, it’s increasing, as the market for IIoT devices and wireless communication grows every year. These industries benefit the most from the BOM savings, performance and efficiency improvements, and space savings that custom chip designs provide.
To fill this gap in the market, S3 Semiconductors is expanding its capabilities from being a pure design house to also provide design-to-production chip-supply services. We aim to address the needs of customers who require custom chip solutions, yet don’t have in-house design capabilities or the scale to work with traditional semiconductor manufacturers.
The need for custom chips in these markets is clear. Cost, size, and product differentiation are often major design goals for OEMs, yet these goals are hard to achieve using standardized components. While quick to prototype, the use of discrete, standard components means the system is often larger, more expensive, less efficient, and easy to copy.
The Custom Approach
Through integrating discrete components into an SoC design, the custom approach can cut component costs, often achieving BOM savings of 80% or more. Designed with just the functionality needed, custom systems are optimized not just for cost, but also for performance and energy efficiency, and offer both product differentiation and IP security.
While custom designs were previously out of reach for all but the largest, consumer-scale OEMs, market trends have changed this dynamic. As consumer electronics chase the cutting edge of advanced process nodes, spare capacity is opening up at foundries for mature process nodes perfectly suited to many industrial IoT, and wireless communication applications.
Now, more than ever, it makes sense to use custom chip solutions for analog and mixed-signal applications.
Filling the Gap
S3 Semiconductors is a new breed of semiconductor company, specializing in custom semiconductors delivered in a cost-effective way. Building on over 20 years of experience in mixed-signal design, as well as supporting semiconductor production and logistics, S3 Semiconductors is expanding its capabilities into chip supply. Our customers will now get not only the best mixed-signal design team and silicon proven IP, but also the best semiconductor production capabilities available from our Tier 1 industry partners.
As a custom chip provider, we distinguish ourselves with a broad portfolio of tested and verified in-house IP across analog, mixed-signal, and digital design. Our vast IP portfolio allows us to meet customer requirements while minimizing non-recurring engineering, achieving fast ROI for custom chip projects. Our use of tested IP, along with our unique, streamlined design methodology, also enables us to go quickly from start to verified design.
As a design house, our expertise allows us to offer the best possible technical support, as designers work directly with customers toward achieving desired functionality in the end product. Customers get access to the world-class production capabilities of our industry partners, along with unbeatable customer support for the lifetime of the design. Compared to standardized components, which may be discontinued when market demand for the chip drops, we’re also able to offer better supply guarantees for our customers, as long as the process node remains in production.
Evolving to Serve the Market
While the semiconductor market is constantly evolving and changing, S3 Semiconductors is also constantly adapting to meet the needs of our customers. As existing vendors are consolidated toward higher-volume customers, we’re expanding our capabilities to not only serve the IP design market but also to offer full design-to-production capabilities.