IBM Offers Variety of Alternatives in Expanded Custom Chip Business

6/17/2003 - IBM announced it is broadening its custom chip business beyond traditional application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) designs, with plans to offer a variety of new alternatives to reduce time, cost and design complexity in creating a customized solution for customers.

The company introduced one such example with the announcement of its Customized Control Processor (CCP), a chip designed for use in networking systems and containing a number of preconfigured components, while allowing room for tailoring to meet specific customer needs. IBM will present details of the technology in a paper, titled "CCP Customizable Control Processor" here at the Embedded Processor Forum, on June 18, 2003.

IBM plans to introduce a range of such offerings, pairing the chip technologies of its Microelectronics division with the design capabilities of its Engineering and Technology Services (E&TS) division to take on more phases of customers' designs for them, allowing them to focus more on their core businesses.

"IBM wants to be more than just an ASIC supplier; we want to be a custom solution provider," said Tom Reeves, vice president of custom chip solutions, IBM Microelectronics. "We're number one in ASICs worldwide because we can integrate more function onto a chip, and do it better than anyone in the industry. But we realize that ASICs are not for everyone; so, we want customers who would not normally consider an ASIC to know that we are willing to work with them to tailor a solution to fit their needs."

Many electronics-makers turn to custom tailored chips instead of off-the-shelf designs to make their products unique. But smaller circuit sizes and new materials are making the job of designing custom chips more difficult, adding to costs, design times and risks. Customers are looking for a better balance between differentiation and complexity. IBM is addressing this need with a new custom chip approach.

IBM is already recognized as the #1 worldwide ASIC supplier. The company has achieved this ranking through a unique combination of advanced technology, comprehensive design tools, a wealth of intellectual property, and a disciplined methodology that helps get even the most complex designs done right the first time. IBM is now applying this ASIC "engine" to create customer solutions that help mitigate the increasing cost of the design phase.

In some instances, this may take the form of offerings like CCP, where a large portion of the design is already done, yet providing room on the chip for customer-unique features. In other instances, the solution may involve using IBM custom design expertise to tailor an already-existing standard product to the customer's specifications, as was done in IBM's design of the PowerPC® processor for the Nintendo GAMECUBE.

Further, beyond the chip design, IBM can tap its wealth of internal system and software designers to integrate the chip into the customer's system, or even do the entire system design itself, including software as well as hardware. IBM is unique among custom chip suppliers in this regard, as IBM is also a system and software designer itself and has formed the E&TS division to make those same skills available for use on external customer designs.

About IBM Microelectronics
IBM Microelectronics is a key contributor to IBM's role as the world's premier information technology supplier. It develops, manufactures and markets state-of-the-art semiconductor and interconnect technologies, products and services. IBM Microelectronics activities are focused in three major areas: custom chips, PowerPC-based standard chip products, and high-tech foundry services. Its superior integrated solutions can be found in many of the world's best-known electronic brands.

IBM is a recognized innovator in the chip industry, having been first with advances like more power-efficient copper wiring in place of aluminum, faster silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and silicon germanium transistors, and improved low-k dielectric insulation between chip wires. These and other innovations have contributed to IBM's standing as the number one U.S. patent holder for 10 consecutive years. More information about IBM Microelectronics can be found at:

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