Moving from Digital to Analog: Invitation to Fail
Compared to digital foundries, analog foundries must expand their operations well beyond developing processes and providing manufacturing capacity. They need to deliver extensive process characterization data, analog IP and design support. And they must support more customers with multiple small-volume designs. Multiple re-spins lengthen development cycles to typically two years or more. The analog design ecosystem provided by the foundry is intended to help avoid redesigns and accelerate time-to-market. Product ramp schedules of more than two years make business development a lengthy process, requiring patience and financial strength.
With longer development and product lifecycles of up to 15 years, analog foundries must be financially stable and have a sustainable business model. These technical and business requirements, as well as the amount of time and depth of expertise needed to transform from a digital foundry model to an analog foundry model – both of which the digital world lacks – make such a move an invitation to failure in today’s already challenging business environment.
About the Authors
Dr. Jens Kosch, CTO and director of design support and technology development, drives all technology directions for X-FAB Silicon Foundries, which focuses on manufacturing silicon wafers for analog-digital ICs. Prior to X-FAB, Dr. Kosch served as director of the design center at Thesys Gesellschaft für Mikroelektronik mbH. He holds both a Master of Science and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Ilmenau Technical University, Germany, with a concentration in electronic components.
Volker Herbig is the technical marketing manager responsible for strategic business model development at X-FAB Silicon Foundries. Previously, he held engineering, marketing and management positions at Siemens, Inkjet Technologies and Carl Zeiss. He holds a master’s degree in physics from Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.