If you pay attention to the analog semiconductor market, you will definitely notice a rising star-Intersil, a truly legendary company. If we earnestly trace the source, the company went through many chapters of acquisition and amalgamation, and has a long-standing history. However, if we look at Intersil from a different angle, it is a young company, having only seven years of independent operations since 1999. Undoubtedly, Intersil is indeed a mature yet emerging company.
Intersil的产品线遍布诸多领域：专为电池管理设计的电源管理器件、热交换和热插拔控制器、线性调节器、监控电路、开关型直流/直流稳压器和功率MOSFET驱动器、光存储激光二极管驱动器、DSL线路驱动器、视频和高性能运算放大器、数据转换器、接口电路、模拟开关和多路复用器、交叉点开关、VoIP器件，以及军事，太空和抗辐射专用IC。趁着IIC-China期间，Intersil市场传讯总监Patrick Long到访北京的机会，编辑特地邀得Patrick Long为我们揭秘Intersil迅速崛起的缘由。
Intersil product lines proliferate into many domains: amplifier, analog front-end, communications interface, data converter, digital potentiometer, display solutions, DSL solutions, optical storage products, power management products, power sequencers, real time clocks, smart batteries, switches/MUX, VoIP products and ICs for military, space and rad-hard applications. To comprehend the expeditious rising of Intersil, we have specially invited Patrick Long, the Director of Marketing and Communications of Intersil Corporation, to share with us the rationale behind the success during his recent visit to IIC China in Beijing.
Advanced as leading provider of Analog devices with
Intersil was originally devoted to the WLAN business in the earlier stage and was one of the pioneer developers of 802.11. Then, being the all-time technology leader in WLAN domain, Intersil successfully launched a universal WLAN that supported different standard such as 2.4GHz/5GHz, as well as the WPA security solutions capable of accessing the WLAN. In short, Intersil dominated the 802.11b market for a long period of time and was synonymously known as the icon of the WLAN chip.
Moving ahead, Intersil saw a huge business opportunity in the analog device market. In 2002, Intersil acquired Elantec Corporation and began its multifaceted core business operation. Due to intense competition in the WLAN market, Intersil revenue from WLAN chips for Q1 in 2003 was merely $49 million USD. On the contrary, its revenue from its analog devices in 2002 was over $500 million USD and aggressively surpassed a 10% increase for the first half of year 2003. These formed a striking contrast and the adverse financial statement alerted Intersil to announce an earth-shaking decision to immediately re-strategize by keeping and focusing on its core competency. With that, Intersil sold the entire Wireless Business to GlobespanVirata Company, a DSL chip manufacturer in America, and completely pulled out from the WLAN battlefield.
The swift exit of a big player in the industry like Intersil had then instigated a wise saying that the departure is as astounding as the retreat of Americans from United States! This move not only rocked and shocked the industry as it also nurtured a superstar enterprise in the analog market. Henceforth, Intersil has gradually transformed into a rovider of develop-to-design analog devices?It was indeed a remarkable shifting of strategy with noticeable investment repayment ahead of schedule! Within a few short years, Intersil has progressed from a ayman to officially launch its first power management IC for handheld devices in 2004. Last year, Intersil successfully expanded five product roadmaps which include linear regulator, switching regulator, battery authentication, charger-security protection and fuel gauge IC.
With the comprehension that igh Performance?is an analogous expression of high margin, it has since then turned into the exhortation for Intersil to extensively develop the desired market. In the aspect of power management solutions, igh performance?means enhancing the integration and efficiency rate while simultaneously reducing the noise and cost level. To achieve this goal, Intersil embarked on several key M&A projects. In May 2004, Intersil acquired BitBlitz Communications, that is famous for superior CMOS technology in the analog and fiber communications field. Subsequently in July, the merger with Xicor, a leading provider of standard analog products, once again added five core product families to the list.
Foster new arena with
2004年对于Intersil来说，无疑是重要的转型年。这些战略上的运作，使Intersil所扩展的产品线达40条之多，顺理成章强化了它在高性能模拟通信IC及标准元器件的开发/销售阵容，也从此确立其ASSP(Application Specific Standard Products，特定应用标准产品)和GPPP(General Purpose Proprietary Products，通用型产品)双管齐下、同步发展的布局基调。以风光明媚的美国加州为发展基地，单在这一年间，Intersil就发布了超过300种新产品。
Year 2004 was unquestionably a key turning point for Intersil. With strategic operations, Intersil expanded more than 40 product lines promisingly and strengthened its R&D and market position in high performance and general-purpose standard products sensibly. Henceforth, it established its ASSP ( Application Specific Standard Products ) and GPPP ( General Purpose Proprietary Products ) with a synchronized development plan. In 2004 alone, the California-based company launched over 300 new products.
The composite corporate history has benefited Intersil in the long run when facing challenges in the handheld and multimedia market. With in-depth understanding of LAN scope, it allows Intersil to have a clear advantage in the development of multimedia interface products and LAN bandwidth distribution over its competitors. This unique superior capability has even extended today to renowned automotive electronics applications too!
Flat panel display, CD/DVD optical storage and power management are the three key target markets for Intersil. After forming an alliance with Philips to co-develop and announce the reference design of DVD+RW/+R in 2002, Intersil accomplished excellent success with its ICs that meet the Blue-ray standard. These products have been accepted by major manufacturers such as Sony in Japan.
“五五波”的均衡策略，似乎是转型后的Intersil一贯作风，展现在生产管理上也是如此；其产品有50%是由自有晶圆厂生产，另50%是委由专业晶圆代工生产。这样的好处是：不会像“包山包海”的通吃型国际大厂，受到巨大厂房固定资本支出及生产成本的限制；另由于模拟产品的性能跟生产工艺有很大关系，若芯片厂家能通过与台积电、联电和IBM等专业晶圆代工厂的相互交流以追求先进工艺的快速应用，通往高效能的目标也就要近得多。(据了解，Intersil正积极与台积电和IBM进行0.25 mm模拟工艺的生产研发，包括BCD和RF CMOS等工艺，这对模拟器件来说已是相当领先的技术)
The ?0%-50%?balanced strategy seems to be the management style adopted by Intersil after the transformation. This is clearly reflected in the production management where 50% of its products are from their proprietary wafer plants and the remaining 50% is outsourced to foundries. The advantage of such practice not only helps in reducing fixed asset expense and production costs, it also allows Intersil to collaborate with professional foundries such as UMC, TSMC and IBM to steadily advance in application technology since the performance of its analog devices is highly allied to process technology. (From our knowledge, Intersil is working aggressively with TSMC and IBM on the R&D project on 0.25mm analog technique that includes BCD and RF CMOS technology. This is a big leap in technology for analog devices as a whole.)
Gain market trust with
Using igh Performance?as the directional guideline, Intersil quickly seized substantial market share in Consumer, Industrial, Communications and Computing segments, particularly the PC motherboard. Patrick disclosed that Intersil is one of the biggest Power IC providers for PCs and notebooks. Close working relationships with the two biggest players in the CPU market, Intel and AMD, is the main reason for the success of Intersil Power ICs. With confidence and trust built over years of cooperation, the two CPU giants always involved Intersil in their process of product planning from the very early stage to ensure product stability and launching achievability. This is the core factor that attracts the back-end manufacturers to positively place certified and high performance products from Intersil as their first choice. With the influence under the utterfly effect,Intersil naturally forms a strong force in the mainstream market.
Unlike the customary CMOS, the power management IC is a vital analog device with a high profit margin. As indicated in the official financial statement released recently by Intersil, Intersil enjoyed a 12% growth rate in net revenue for its fourth quarter in 2005 with a total of $175.6 million USD, a strong increase of 38% compared to the same quarter in 2004, and the overall operating gross profit also elevated to 26.1%. The non-GAAP product has a revised gross profit as high as 56.6% while the net income grew at an astonishing speed of 28% compared to the same period last year - an amazing increase of 144%! It is exciting to acknowledge that fact that the new market strategy launched by Intersil has evidently took effect! The rapid increase in profitability and cash flow are obvious testimony and supporting force to shape this strategy into a long-term business model. In additional, the high net income and EPS resulted from the ynthesis effect?that not only created an attractive stock price, but that provided the most direct contribution and feedback on the corporate financial condition and has also become a convincing incentive to draw outstanding talent to Intersil!
Intersil has grasped many advanced process technologies in high-voltage, low-noise and low-power consumption to develop analog IP based on different requirements from the market, and has established a leadership position in the domains of optical storage driver, DSL line driver, display buffer, PC core voltage regulator and DCP. To effectively and efficiently concentrate on several essential markets in accordance with fast-growing sales, Intersil went through a large- scale reorganization recently to align the business into five main product groups. They are the Consumer Power products group, Computing Power products group, Industrial and Communications Power products group, Analog and Mixed Signal products group, and the Automotive and Specialty products group. With outstanding talents promoted internally and engaged from the industry, all the VP-and-General Managers of the product groups report directly to Lou DiNardo, President and COO of Intersil. In order to stay ahead of the competition, Intersil is equipped with corresponding R&D centers in its California headquarter, with each center hiring 20～30 staff members responsible for research and development work.
Patrick表示，与同时涉足数字技术的厂商迥异，Intersil所采取的是“市场集中”策略(A Pure-play High Performance Analog Company)，专注于电源和模拟产品领域，平分其业务总量，提供点对点(point to point)的模拟解决方案。继顺利博得国际级的制造大厂(如：LG、TCL、长虹以及名列前5大手持设备制造商)的认同后，为巩固其在电源管理方面的领先优势，Intersil近来更积极与FPGA厂商展开密切合作，进一步深入设计厂商的领域。”我们的创新技术与您的设计相结合，将取得难以置信的成果”，一句简捷的宣传语，已将Intersil的产品特性和企业愿景展露无遗。
Patrick indicated that the differentiating factor for Intersil from manufacturers of digital technology is that Intersil adopted ocused market strategy of Pure-play High Performance Analog Company? concentrating on power and analog domains to equally divide the overall sales volume and provide point-to-point analog solutions. To further consolidate its leading position in power management after gaining acknowledgment from major international manufacturers such as LG, TCL, ChangHong and the top five handheld manufacturing companies, Intersil has embarked on cohesive collaboration with FPGA manufacturers to penetrate deeper into the design arena. A simple yet direct advertising tagline of ur creative technologies unify your design and yield unbelievable results confessed the product key features and corporate vision of Intersil unreservedly.
Win customers, respect with 揜eliable Technical Strength?
Besides acute marketing positioning, ast response in meeting customer requestsis another important attribute for Intersil to win customers respect. In order to facilitate design personnel to carry out simulation, Intersil launched a web-based iSim online design simulation tool that allows users to select and simulate any Intersil products. On top of that, www.intersil.com/design offers online application support and a FAQ knowledge library for easy reference to all Intersil products and effective consultation methods needed by the design engineers.
Above and beyond providing ready products to customers, Intersil is also capable of responding optimistically in the shortest time to customer special requests. In general, customers could receive the desired sample in a quarter. Moreover, the extremely brisk consumer market set off a much shorter product life cycle and unstable supply-demand condition which resulted in a temporary shortage crisis of versatile devices during peak seasons. With pressure from a 2-4 week expected delivery date, the nimble production procedure deployed by Intersil came into place handily to ensure a quick response.
Regardless of market positioning or fast respond to customer demands, a working force with solid technical background is definitely a must. Similar to all other hi-tech companies, the Intersil marketing personnel including Patrick, is also enormously well-versed and familiar with product development and systems design. In Patrick抯 frank opinion, to have a successful product, constant information exchange with the customer to fully understand the customer potential demand is inevitable. Said Patrick, engineering background is undeniably an added advantage. It enables me to fully understand the product and have a good grasp of the key technology that differentiates Intersil from the competition. Also, precisely because of this, we have a bigger advantage in the marketing operations that communicate with the design personnel since our engineers, the technical sales team and our customers speak the same language!?Feedback from the market shows that the unique characteristics of the Intersil marketing personnel has placed the company in a better position than its competitors in reaching out to the engineering field with the right message.
ast year, Intersil was the fastest growing company in the analog semiconductor industry. This has to do with our experienced and enthusiastic employees. To ensure continuous sales growth, expanding our PR and marketing activities is imperative. In the future, we will seek this great undertaking together with partners who have helped us developing and firming our stand in the marketplace.?About the deployment of strategy in the China market, Patrick indicated that the focal point for Intersil lies in handheld devices, automotive infotainment and video transmission applications. In three years, Intersil will set up a design center with a technical support team in China. To side track, in order to stay closer to the China market sincerely and full-heartedly, Patrick did in Rome as Rome does by adopting a Chinese name which is stylishly rich with the Eastern characteristic - Long Bai De.
In the last few years, Intersil has been faithfully devoted to PC and peripheral power solutions. However, the desired market fluctuates too quickly with strong seasonal shifts. Bearing that in mind, Intersil is in the process to mold another ash Cow Judging by the assertive campaigns in video applications, is it not difficult to realize that handheld-based applications in the high-end consumer electronics market is the next target for Intersil. Power charger, video transmission, amplifiers, switches and sensors are full of great development opportunity. Strictly speaking, Intersil is a freshman in the analog field since its official entrance in 2005 but its development and realization ability is just too significant to belittle.
Compared to digital semiconductors, analog or mixed-signal semiconductor devices have relatively higher profit margins. Nonetheless, it is an uphill task to achieve success in this domain and Intersil is one of the few to have succeeded. Even though the trend of digital power is in a turbulent stage, experts have advocated implementing analog control in the power management IC to reduce chip size and power consumption. It seems like analog devices still have a formidable existence with excellence prospects. As such, the bright future for a ure Analog?company like Intersil is just only about to begin!