The Moonlighter

There was once a Zilog engineer who moonlighted at LSI Logic.

There was once a Zilog engineer who moonlighted at LSI Logic.

He became aware of the complex, costly and time-consuming process by LSI Logic’s engineers had to prototype their ASICs – getting them hard-wired in silicon then tested and re-engineered and re-spun – and wondered if there was another way.

By using a large number of transistors he came up with the notion of a prototyping array which could be re-programmed.

The chip used so many transistors to re-programme the array that everyone thought the idea was uncommercial.

However, banking on the rapidly decreasing cost and size of transistors in the 1980s, he gave up the day job and formed a company to commercialise his concept.

Three years after founding the company it had annual revenues of $14 million and today the company has revenues of over $2 billion and a market cap over $16 billion.

Moral: Seeing further ahead than the other guy can pay dividends.




  1. Absolutely, Jamo, Allan and SEPAM, the Xilinx founder Ross Freeman was the moonlighter

  2. Ross, Bernie and Craig left Zilog at the same time….As I understand it, Bernie as CEO of Zilog licensed the Zilog patent to the newly forming Xilinx in a truly incestuous and (possibly) unlawful stroke of brilliance. Zilog (the cockroach of Silicon Valley) muddles on to this day.

    • SecretEuroPatentAgentMan

      Zilog must have done a roaring business back in the 1970’s thanks to CP/M. Yet today it seems 6502 is the one that is the most popular of the 8-bit processors of that era.

  3. Xilinx …..

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