David Srodzinski, CEO and founder of Scottish fabless semiconductor house Elonics, is preparing for a busy first quarter. Not because, after a devastating slump, the recovery in the chip business got underway halfway through 2009 but because Q1 is the coming-out season for new silicon. If you are not ready to get chips in front of potential buyers by the end of March, you can pretty much kiss goodbye to business in the second half of the year.
It’s a testament to the rise of consumer electronics as a proportion of the overall semiconductor business that the market is now so seasonal. “Q1 is the decision time for companies developing new products,” Srodzinski explained. “That is when they are going to be looking at new components.”
Making the selection in Q1 gives the companies approximately six months to get a new system into the market – in time for Christmas and the Chinese New Year in the following Q1. “Christmas drives the cyclical nature of the industry,” he said. “Miss the Q1 slot and you miss the market for that product completely. After that, they will be concentrating on the actual design. You are in with a small chance during Q2 but you won’t get into production with anyone in Q3.”
“We are focused on RF semiconductors, initially on the broadcast TV and radio space. We are concentrating very much on high-end RF,” said Srodzinski.
Formed in 2003, the company is aiming for the time when radios go soft: using signal processing to let the same receiver module deal with practically any frequency, possibly as far as 10GHz. “We believe that every radio will be made configurable. And we believe that the receiver can be pushed all the way up there,” he added. “But that’s a big challenge for a start-up to take on. We needed to focus the company as we go to a higher revenue stage. So, we are initially focused on the TV tuner market.”