MILPITAS, Calif.--In the summer of 2011, a lone semiconductor
startup went "old school," as my colleague Dylan McGrath
put it. That's when he wrote about Touchstone Semiconductor getting
$12 million in venture funding, poised to make a splash in--of all
To some, it may have seemed like watching a car crash in slow
motion, with the brake-less vehicle careening toward a stand of huge
trees, the occupants blissfully unaware of their fate. These were former analog veterans starting a small company to take
business from huge, entrenched players in the analog space. For one of
those analog veterans,
CEO Brett Fox, it was quite the opposite. In fact, it's been an exhilarating ride so far.
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To date, the company has rolled 35 products into the marketplace and
will finish calendar 2012 after adding another 25 to its portfolio.
"We got a lot coming," he said, including new analog comparators and
amplifiers. The company also is entering the ADC market place and
adding to other product lines. Next year, DACs and power management
devices. In a July interview with our reporter Ismini Scouras, Fox
said his company would go after "
in the signal path."
"Suddenly, we start looking like a full-fledged, catalog,
broad-based analog supplier...in essentially three years a time. Not
bad," he said in an interview at Touchstone offices here, a stone's
throw from Interstate 880 and a warm stroll down the street from
Linear Technology. In 2010 there were six designers in the company,
today Touchstone has twice as many, averaging 20 years' experience
and roughly 10 patents apiece. Fox and company are pulling in people
from Maxim and Linear, adding one new designer a quarter.
I asked him about competition, the nature of innovation, and venture
capital investment. Perhaps not surprisingly, Maxim, his alma mater,
There are 150 engineering schools in the state of Kerala with graduates leaving India for the allure of companies elsewhere in the world. The state of Kerala wants to keep these engineers right there in this region where they have graduated and is trying to create a “Silicon Valley” in India.
For decades, electronics product innovation has been incremental in nature, relying largely on the next generation of semiconductors to deliver performance improvement. For almost 50 years Moore’s Law has delivered 2x performance (power or cost) improvement in semiconductors every 18 months, outpacing any product or system level innovation cycle that could be achieved by even the most ambitious hardware teams. What has evolved is a “sit & wait” approach, to product innovation. However it is now clear that Moore’s law is broken, and the implications are profound for hardware designers.
You’re in a small company that needs to turn a product quick. Nobody in the company has any power supply design experience yet you need to drive LEDs from a universal (US and European) wall input voltage. What do you do?