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Showing posts from March, 2016

Confabbing on the Fabless Fad

Real men have fabs.
Jerry Sanders – AMD Founder (circa 1993)

This quote made a lot of sense for AMD, being one of Intel’s main competitors at the time. But for other fresh start-up companies in the mid-1980s, this wasn’t quite the case. Owning a fab wasn’t as easy as getting abs. Capital and maintenance costs were big hurdles, not to mention the additional cost of improving the manufacturing equipment and machines (remember Moore’s Law). Also, the transition from fab to fabless for already existing semiconductor companies can’t happen overnight. There was the issue concerning design architecture and compatibility, the conflict with the ASIC model, and the lack of investors due to the outrageousness of the concept. These issues were resolved with innovations in EDA and the publication of “Introduction to VLSI Systems” (that lead to the creation of simplified abstractions to manage chip design complexity), aaaand… the fabless fad was on.

The Pros and Cons of a Fabless Model
Nowadays, a …