Mixed-signal integrated circuits promise up to 80 per cent system cost savings; online calculator creates estimates in under a minute

S3 Group, a global technology group operating in the semiconductor and connected health industries, has announced a change in strategy for its custom semiconductor business, S3 Semiconductors (S3semi). It will now focus on industrial and communications OEMs, converting their electronic systems and boards into mixed-signal integrated circuits and delivering packaged and tested chips, rather than just design services and IP. This process promises cost savings of up to 80 per cent over the lifetime of projects. The company’s new web site (www.s3semi.com) includes a simple online calculator that gives customers a first estimate of their potential savings. Other benefits of custom chips include reduced system size, improved electrical performance, lower power consumption, and greater security, including protection from reverse-engineering.

S3semi is an established semiconductor design house that has completed over 1000 successful mixed-signal chip designs for use in industrial and communications markets. Simultaneously, the firm has created an intellectual property (IP) portfolio spanning analog front ends, clocks, data converters, power management, RF transceivers and temperature sensors. This extensive portfolio enables custom chip development to be achieved economically in short timescales.

“For several years now, we’ve been discussing with a growing number of our OEM customers the challenges they face with driving down system costs and differentiating their products,” says John O’Brien, CEO of parent company, S3 Group. “Our semiconductor group has an excellent reputation as experts in high performance design for communications, industrial control and consumer applications, but most people don’t appreciate we also have many years’ experience managing the production and logistics of chips for a number of our customers. As Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT gathers pace, and the number of sensor nodes in systems grows, that’s the service OEMs are looking for, so it’s now our primary focus.”

Consolidation of the semiconductor industry over the past few years means that fewer large vendors are willing to respond to the needs of OEMs serving niche or low- to medium-volume, long-lifetime markets. S3semi is one of a new breed of custom semiconductor vendors that can fill the gap. Unlike most semiconductor manufacturers today, S3semi designs each chip for only one customer and engages at the system level, not the chip level. Customer relationships are based on how to optimise cost, performance and features by maximising on-chip integration.

S3semi designs and manufactures chips that integrate the analog circuitry to interface to sensors, power supplies, electric motors, actuators and other real-world electrical signals with digital processors, memory and control logic. These mixed-signal chips deliver a cost-effective combination of local intelligence, sensor fusion and communications.

S3 Semiconductors is accepting orders now for new designs expected to enter volume production in 2018 and 2019.


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