The custom semiconductor market: more open than ever

25th October 2018
Posted By : Alex Lynn
The custom semiconductor market: more open than ever


A popular trend among semiconductor giants has been to consume and consolidate. Reducing the amount of competition in the market while increasing volume output has been a great way of increasing profit. This process has left little option for low- to medium-volume customers.

Such low- to medium-volume markets are the rapidly growing IIoT and wireless connectivity arenas.

Design houses such as S3 Semiconductors can provide OEMs with lower-volume and specialised requirements. S3semi is unique in that it offers a complete design-to-production service, and this includes chip design capabilities.

Finding the niche

It is becoming increasingly difficult for customers to find support for low- to medium-volume projects. If the project is unique or specialised, there are even fewer choices. With each passing year, the number of semiconductor companies shrinks, leaving fewer companies to service smaller-volume customers.

It is a truly ironic situation. As semiconductor production goes to higher volumes, the demand for the lower-volume IIoT and wireless communications market is also on the rise. To address the gap in the market, S3 Semiconductors has expanded from offering pure design services to a design-to-production model. This change responds to the needs of those customers looking for custom chip solutions, who cannot match the production scale of big manufacturers.

The custom semiconductor approach to traditional, discrete solutions is far-reaching. Customers realise cost savings from reduced BOM (bill of materials), smaller board sizes and reduced design and testing processes. Specific customisations are also possible; for example, unconventional package shapes and sizes. There is also added IP security; increased protection from competitor emulation or reverse-engineering.

It starts with custom semiconductors

Traditionally, custom integrated circuit designs have not been an economical path for smaller-scale designs. Current market trends have opened the doors for everyone to benefit. As large- and consumer-scale OEMs pursue the latest and most advanced process nodes, a vacuum has been created. More mature process nodes find they have spare capacity, well suited to many IIoT and wireless applications. It now pays for low- to medium-scale customers to consider design-to-process companies like S3semi.

Fulfilling the need

Custom semiconductors can be a cost-effective solution through S3semi’s experience and unique network of production facilities. Customers benefit from over 20 years of mixed-signal design, production support, and logistical support. S3semi is expanding into silicon supply and offers a broad range of Tier 1 industry partners.

S3semi differentiates itself as a custom IC provider with a comprehensive portfolio of verified IP. With experience in analog, mixed-signal, and digital design, this vast portfolio allows for fast, reliable turnaround. It can meet customer expectations as well as minimise non-recurring engineering and provide fast ROI for custom IC projects. Streamlined design processes and reliable, tested IP allows for a quick jump from draft design to verified design.

Benefit from unparallelled technical support

S3semi works in close collaboration with customers to move toward the desired end product. Access to world-class production facilities through industry partners and unbeatable design-lifetime customer support are only two of the benefits of working with S3semi. Working with standardised components runs the risk of part obsolescence, but S3semi can guarantee supply for as long as the process node remains in production. Custom IC solutions are now economical, secure, and well supported for all types of scales of design.

Focused on customers’ needs

S3 Semiconductors is a customer-focused design firm. The semiconductor market is always in flux and S3semi is continuously adapting to meet customers’ needs. As semiconductor companies continue to merge to serve higher process volumes, this gives the advantage to those who can work with more mature process nodes (0.18um and 65nm). Due to the gap created in this ever-shifting market, S3semi can offer customers a world-class design firm and now world-class production capabilities as well.

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