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Subject:  Re: RM Ranker TXN Q1 2000 Date:  5/23/2000  6:06 PM
Author:  rkmacdonald Number:  6307 of 8329

As for the other note. A final note of clarification. I guess it was DSP Comm. Corp that Intel bought which, I thought I had mentioned it, primarily licenses chip designs (CDMA is their biggest seller). Dont know what Intel will do with them.

Yes, you are correct. I miswrote DSP Group. I was referring to DSP Comm. DSP Comm does not make DSP chips. They just program them.

TI doesnt usually integrate their analog and DSP gear tho they could and IMO should. Their dominance really comes from offering a product line that allows someone to put together a complete solution. That and all the application notes to allow them to see it done (at least generically so they know it's out there).

You are right that TI offers a more complete solution than many of its competitors, but what I was trying to point out is that another key advantage that TI has is that they provide a price break to the bigger custom manufacturers, because they DON'T necessarily integrate analog with digital unless it makes sense. You see, it almost always costs more (for equal performance) to integrate analog with digital than to leave the two chips separate. TI's competitors don't have the choice to leave the two chips separate, because all they have is a digital CMOS process to design with. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage from a cost perspective. At TI they use the best process for the job. They use a highly refined and focused analog CMOS process to do their precision convertors, op-amps, voice codecs, RF codecs, etc. Then they use a specially optimized analog BiCMOS process for voltage regulators, voltage references, high power amplifiers, power monitoring and control, etc. Lastly, they use a high performance digital CMOS process for their DSPs. This process is easy to migrate from node to node to take advantage of improvements in lithography. These same characteristics make this process extremely good for DSPs but not so good for analog. This focused processe approach allows TI to offer drastically lower prices for all of these functions to TI's customers.

TI also has quite a bit of business doing highly integrated chips, but this is not the area that generates the big profits at TI. You see, most of the time the bottom line to the customer is cost. The customer could care less if it is done with one chip or two.

One other point. When you design a mixed mode chip (ie, put analog circuits on a DSP), you effectively freeze that chip at the current technology node. In order to take advantage of the rapidly decreasing lithographies, you have to redesign the analog circuits every time you move down a node. Then you run into the problem that analog circuits need higher voltages than digital circuits, so you have to make compromises. This is VERY expensive. And, if you stay at the current node, in six months or so your chip is no longer competitive.

-rkm
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