ASIC Industry a Disgrace

The ASIC industry is a disgraceful business which, if measured by the standards applied to other industries, deserves to have been killed off long ago.

This is not the view of a rabid FPGA guy, but of a CEO of an ASIC company. “If the ASIC industry was the aircraft industry, it would be shut down”, says Naveed Sherwani, president and CEO of Open-Silicon, which will take over an ASAIC design at any stage and see it through to completion. Sherwani started trying to get the ASIC business to smarten up its act ten years ago, when he headed up Intel’s ASIC business. With the experience gained there, he went off and founded Open-Silicon. “The ASIC industry has got to understand that the world has moved on. We no longer live in a world of R&D doing complicated experiments”, says Sherwani. ASIC pricing is a scandal with vendors charging up to nine times the chip cost and typically charging 2.5 to 7 times the chip cost, according to Sherwani. Delivery performance is awful, with only 20 per cent of designs getting delivered on time, according to Sherwani. Reliability is lousy with only 74 per cent of chips working first time. “If you look at the ridiculous cost, the extreme unpredictability, and the extreme unreliability, ASIC vendors did everything they could to kill the business. The numbers are shameful, really shameful”, says Sherwani. So why the hair shirt? Is he doing penance for past sins? No, actually. Sherwani’s pointing up the industry’s dreadful record all the better to brag that Open-Silicon gets 94 of its designs right first time; has an 88 per cent record for delivering on-time and charges only 1.2 to 1.4 times the chip cost. Pity really. In the modern craze for apologizing for the sins of the past, like the Slave Trade, the Amritsar Massacre and Bloody Sunday, it would have been welcome to many benighted OEMs to see a chip industry boss apologizing for screwing up his customers’ plans by late delivery and non-working chips. But maybe we’ll have to wait another 100 years to see that happen.



  1. The article is of great importance to the customers.Sitting in a software seat and not realising the background on which your software work is disgrace of your work.Everything could be of great importance when you feel it is near to you.

  2. The piece quite clearly says it is stating the views of the CEO of Open-Silicon, Naveed Sherwani.
    To my mind it is interesting to hear a CEO slag off his own industry, especially one with a lot of experience of it. That’s why I posted the blog.
    Now, Sherwani gets a good scorecard on his ASIC results because he chooses which designs he takes on quite carefully – i.e. not too many gates, not too aggressive a process, the use of tried and tested IP.
    I would have thought that you, as a software engineer working on a new project, and presumably seeing a re-spin as a fairly disastrous outcome, would be glad to hear about a guy who is concerned about making ASIC development as predictable a process as possible.
    Anyway it interested me, which is why I wrote it, and absolutely not for any personal gain.

  3. I’m a software engineer working with some colleagues on getting see a new electronic product out of the design phase. I came across this page via Google in a quest for contemporary wisdom on ASICs. Everything you say here sounds very valid, but FYI: This article reads like it has been bought and paid for by a company named Open-Silicon. In truth I doubt that’s the case, but come on, do you really think this is a useful article? Do a little research and have something useful to say when you write a post for your blog.

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