Pico projectors are big opportunity, says Intersil CEO
Dave Bell CEO of analogue, mixed-signal and power ICs supplier Intersil talks to Electronics Weekly about the potential of pico projectors and how to deal with short-sighted investors.
What is the biggest opportunity in terms of technology and/or markets in 2012?
Dave Bell: We are putting nearly all our development resources into what wee see as the top ten growth drivers. While these growth drivers will begin to contribute some revenue growth in 2012, we really expect to see growth take-off in 2013.
Among these growth drivers, I believe that pico projectors and active cables are a couple of the most exciting new technologies in the coming years.
Pico projectors have the potential to become a major new category in the handheld accessory market. Unlike standard projectors found in conference rooms, these are miniature projectors that are comprised of compact optical engines, drive electronics and batteries.
Currently, pico projectors range from standalone accessories to embedded units, within mobile devices, and are used to project images onto any viewing surface.
What makes this technology so compelling is that the projected image makes “social” sharing easy. With pico projectors, multimedia viewing is no longer constrained to a small LCD, but can be shown to a larger audience.
This nascent market is beginning with handheld devices, but will really take-off once tiny pico projectors are embedded in smartphones, tablets and ultrabooks.
Another exciting innovation is Thunderbolt the high-speed cable interface standard developed by Intel and Apple. Thunderbolt consists of two differential 10.3125Gbit/s full-duplex lanes, and is used to tunnel PCI Express and DisplayPort protocols over a thin copper cable up to 3 metres long.
Because of the high data rates, ICs must be embedded into each end of the ‘active cable’.
Thunderbolt technology enables flexible new designs by allowing multiple PCI Express and DisplayPort devices to attach to a PC through a single cable, eliminating the need for multiple I/O ports.
What challenges in global markets are keeping you busy at the moment?
Dave Bell: Everyone in the semiconductor industry is learning to cope with a maturing industry. Ironically, we’re victims of Moore’s Law. The fact that customers can purchase twice the capability for the same price every two years has fueled the growth of incredibly powerful products, but it has also constrained semiconductor revenue growth.
Because our industry is nearly flat-lined at around $300 billion per year, companies are getting more creative as they strive for growth, including acquisitions to grow the top line.
We also face a very challenging and uncertain worldwide economic environment. These challenges, combined with an inherently cyclical semiconductor business, make forecasting extremely difficult.
Investors have also become more cautious and short-sighted, creating increasing pressure for near-term success. This means semiconductor companies must have the determination and perseverance to continue steady investment despite these pressures.