Sunday, January 6, 2008

CEO Interview: Mark Thompson, Fairchild Semiconductor

After inventing the planar semiconductor and giving birth to the semiconductor industry in Silicon Valley, Fairchild Semiconductor has gone on to become a premier power semiconductor company–and more, recently, an active advocate of green technology, an area where it’s well positioned to make some significant contributions.

Portable Design sat down with Fairchild’s CEO Mark Thompson to catch up with his views on portable power, green power, and where the semiconductor industry is headed. The following video is an excellent primer on all three. The interview will appear in the February, 2008 issue of Portable Design.

CEO Interview: Sanjay Srivastava, Denali Software

Right after choosing a CPU for a new design, the next thing most designers then turn to the memory subsystem. With a wide—and rapidly evolving—range of choices between memory types, interfaces and devices, there is a lot to sort through. Denali Software sits right at this decision point, providing models for simulating and verifying most memory devices; verification IP for validating compliance with complex interface protocols; NAND flash management software; and memory controller IP for PCI Express, DDR-SDRAM, and Flash.

Portable Design sat down with Denali’s CEO Sanjay Srivastava, as well as Brian Gardner, Denali’s VP for IP Products, and Marc Greenberg, Technical Marketing Manager, to discuss the ins and outs of memory modeling and management in portable designs.
You can listen to the interview below or download it here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Crash of 2008?

From today's "Good Morning Silicon Valley", courtesy of the San Jose Merc:

"I am only going to make one prediction, but one with broad impact. We will see a dot-com crash in 2008. It will be more prolonged and deeper than the crash of 2000. The crash will be driven by a recession and prolonged slow growth in the U.S. Global investment capital will flee to quality, ending the speculative dumping of cash on Web 2.0 startups. "Venture capital firms will seek to limit their losses by forcing many of their portfolio companies to liquidate or seek a buyout. ... Startups that managed to get cash before the bubble collapses will have a cash horde, but will find little opportunity to rest on it. ... The big players will not be immune from this contagion. Google, in particular, will find its one-trick pony lame, with the advertising market suddenly stagnant or contracting and substantial new competition. ... Google and Yahoo will find their available cash dropping and will do substantial layoffs." -- Entrepreneur and blogger Greg Linden gets in an early entry for this year's Cassandra Contest

What do YOU think? RSVP.

Intel Quits OLPC Board

PC World reported this morning that Intel had resigned from the board of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) consortium, having only joined the group in July. The breakup reportedly came about because OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte insisted that Intel abandon its own Classmate PC effort and throw its support behind OLPC's XO notebook, which is built around an 433 MHz AMD Geode LX-700 running Red Hat's Fedora Core 6 version of Linux. Needless to say, this configuration doesn't go over well in either Santa Clara or Redmond.

OLPC's desire to have Intel on board is understandable. To date they haven't come close to hitting their target of the "$100 notebook," $180 being closer to the truth. With their low-cost manufacturing prowess--not to mention marketing muscle--Intel could have helped considerably.

The more interesting question is Intel's motives in joining OLPC in the first place. OLPC could be a great marketing channel for a notebook based on a low-power Intel processor--though the latest generation won't start shipping for some months yet. When Intel joined OLPC, both sides agreed to stop dissing each other's efforts, which was a win/win scenario. Those days are now over.

Since the XO has been an AMD product from the beginning--and since OLPC is the Classmate PC's only real competitor--the more cynical among us may recall Michael Corleone's advice to "keep your friends close but your enemies closer." Being on the OLPC board, Intel was certainly privy to OLPC's strategies, tactics and contacts as well as their product plans and specifications. Will this knowledge enable them to compete more effectively with OLPC? Obviously. Even if they signed NDAs, will they forget what they learned? Obviously not.

This is not to impute nefarious motives to Intel, who have every right--indeed an obligation--to act in their own self interest. But it's hard to see this relationship as having been anything but a marriage of convenience from the beginning, one whose breakup was foreordained.

How this plays out will be instructive. If Intel takes the high road, the increased competition will benefit disadvantaged children around the world, which is what the non-profit OLPC effort is all about. OTOH if Intel gets really aggressive and manages to shoot down its smaller rival, then the only real winner will be Intel.