Podcast: Play in new window
Welcome Brett Fox, CEO and Dr Jeroen Fonderie, VP of Engineering from the (relatively) new, yet quickly growing analog company, Touchstone Semiconductor!
- After leaving Micrel, Brett was an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR).
- Touchstone was officially formed in 2010 with Brett, Joeren and Adolfo Garcia.
- Invested in by Gill Cogan of Opus Capital and Pierre Lamond of Khosla Venturers. $12 million starting captial (which isn’t much for an IC company!). Gill was an original investor in Maxim, Pierre was a co-founder of National and was involved in funding LT. Wowsa!
- They use TSMC, among other foundries. They have worked with Rick Cassidy, the North America head of TSMC, which helps facilitate a startup relationship.
- The foundries provide the designer Process Design Kits (PDKs) which are then used with Cadence toolsets.
- Surprisingly, people have asked for original designs, in addition to part crosses.
- Part crosses (and the basis of starting the company) was to provide alternate sources for harder to get Maxim parts.
- When hiring, they hope the designers will have experience taping out a chip, usually requiring many years of experience.
- While no one will ever replace Jim Williams, Touchstone has a full apps team (and they’re hiring more!) working on new notes.
- The name “Touchstone” was chosen after consulting a thesaurus for the word “Maxim”!
- They seek patents that can be used offensively or defensively, at the circuit level.
- Touchstone has to wait for technologies to enter the foundry before they can begin designing for them. There will be a new design center working on developing Graphene, as reported by EE Times Europe.
- Chris gets bad news that two executives from a chip company don’t think a chip printer is feasible. Ouch.
- Packaging keeps getting smaller, the Touchstone Demo Board program should help getting up and running quickly.
- Touchstone does a die bank, which helps hedge against high demand at a low cost.
- Working remotely is difficult. Monolithic systems has tried this, with designers in Asia and management in the US.
You can follow Touchstone Semiconductor on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. Thanks to Brett and Jeroen for stopping by The Amp Hour to talk shop!