Scots chip coup

Scots chip coup
Scottish IC design centre signs up second major chip company; initiative will involve 3-4,000 engineers working on system-on-a-chip design; other companies also in talks. By Roy Rubenstein A second major semiconductor company has joined the Scottish integrated circuit design centre initiative known as Project Alba, according to sources close to the microelectronics project. US firm Cadence Design Systems is the only company to date publicly to sign up to the initiative, which is now expected to involve between 3,000 and 4,000 engineers working on system on a chip design. Scottish Enterprise, which instigated the Alba initiative, confirmed that several other companies were in discussions but none had yet joined. “No one has signed up yet,” said David Crichton, director of Project Alba for Scottish Enterprise. The Industry source, however, was adamant that a second company had joined: “I should know, I was at the celebratory lunch.” Cadence is expected to be the largest partner in the project, accounting for up to 1,900 of the design facility’s jobs (Electronics Weekly, December 17, 1997). According to Crichton, some ten companies are expected to eventually join the design centre. These will fall into three categories: design automation companies such as Cadence, smaller developers of circuit blocks which will then be traded as part of the intellectual property exchange, and larger system level semiconductor companies which would move design teams to the centre. The most likely candidates in the latter category are semiconductor firms already present in the UK; companies such as Motorola, National Semiconsuctor, NEC, Toshiba and Samsung. Scottish Enterprise is also considering setting up an on-site technology incubator to help stimulate small start-ups. “Alba offers an ideal environment for start-ups, providing access to customers as well as training potential,” said Crichton. For Scottish Enterprise such start-ups will help “embed Alba into the Scottish Industry”.


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