I recently came across this quote by Mary Kay Ash, the legendary founder of the Mary Kay brand of cosmetics:
“There are three types of people in this world: Those who make things happen.
Those who watch things happen. And those who wonder what happened”
At Renesas Electronics, we have demonstrated that we belong to the group of people who make things happen. We have smartly and adroitly managed to navigate the turbulence created by the Covid-19 pandemic, and its assorted variants, without missing a step in the relentless march towards executing our corporate vision outlined by our CEO Toshi Shibata of “make our lives easier.” We have learned how to be productive even as our homes temporarily became our offices, how to reimagine and redesign our office environment so as to make it safe and healthy, and how to soldier through an unprecedented supply-chain disruption. We have done all of this, and more, while zealously maintaining the reputation of our company.
As the pandemic slowly disappears in the rear-view mirror, and the world heaves a collective sigh of relief, it is an opportune moment for us to reflect upon the journey that Renesas Electronics has been on in recent years, and how that’s shaping the path ahead.
In just under five years, Renesas has blossomed from being a component supplier into a full-spectrum technology solutions provider. Acquisitions have been a big driver of this exciting transformation - Intersil, IDT and more recently Dialog Semiconductor and Celeno. These acquisitions have enabled us to significantly augment our management and engineering talent. With an expanded physical footprint in the U.S., Europe, and China, we truly are a global company now.
This transformation has been by design - there is nothing accidental about the changes we’ve embraced. As the world’s largest microcontroller company, MCUs and MPUs remain at the heart of everything we do. Over the years, we’ve reinforced that position by surrounding our processor expertise with four core analog and mixed-signal competencies: sensors and sensor signal conditioning, connectivity, actuation, and power management.
While each of these four competencies are important, I firmly believe that power management is an important differentiator for any semiconductor company seeking to move up the customer value chain. It is this belief that has guided our acquisitions strategy. An explanation is in order so that everyone understands how and why the various pieces fit together.
When Shibata-san our CEO who was then CFO, engaged with Intersil, he was drawn to their mid-power device technology for laptops, notebooks, tablets and sub-100V industrial applications, in addition to their optical sensing and precision analog portfolio. Intersil was primarily an attach-play for CPUs in the notebook, laptop and desktop markets. It was clear that this was extensible for other applications. In addition to PMICs for MCUs and MPUs, which are a natural fit, we saw significant potential in transferring that capability into the data center and communications arena, where power management and digital multi-phase CPU power management is critical to helping hyper-scale data and enterprise service providers rein in ever increasing energy consumption.
The traction in the attach opportunity for data center and communication customers led Shibata-san and the team rather naturally to pursue IDT, a mixed-signal attach player whose complementary RF, timing and memory interface technologies enabled us to build a more comprehensive data center and communication attach portfolio together with Intersil power management devices. IDT also allowed the company to expand into wireless power, sensors and sensor signal conditioning as well as standard products, which meshed well with the IoT and industrial strengths of Renesas.
With the scale we achieved through these two acquisitions – not to mention the leverage that gave us with our foundry and OSAT partners – we focused our attention on the IoT market: the Internet of Things. To serve this sector, where low power reigns supreme, Dialog came across our team’s radar as a premier low-power management and power conversion expert. Through the Dialog acquisition, we filled gaps in the areas of ultra-low-power PMICs and low-power connectivity, both of which are essential for IoT applications.
We also secured Dialog’s AC/DC and GreenPAK family via this acquisition. An interesting offshoot of the GreenPAK family is the ForgeFPGA solution, which provided industrial and IoT customers tethered to single-threaded CPUs the option to move to multi-threaded FPGAs. In doing so, we believe we’re opening the door to move today’s centralized industrial and IoT processing architectures to low-power, programmable solutions at the intelligent edge. Dialog also allowed further extension of our portfolio into the industrial arena with their industrial ASIC and industrial ASSP products.
Our focus on industry and IoT connectivity was reinforced recently through the acquisition of Celeno. Their Wi-Fi 6/6E chipsets are helping us work with our customers for the adoption of wireless connectivity in the industrial space between the network sensors sitting on the factory floor and the IIoT access point. While older versions of Wi-Fi suffered from latency and bandwidth limitations, Wi-Fi 6/6E is poised to enter the industrial environment (access layer) in the near future. Additionally, the client solutions which will deploy later this year augment our IoT portfolio to provide easy-to-use cloud access for devices at the endpoint.
Our growth strategy has allowed us to deliver more value to our customers. We now offer over 300+ Winning Combinations where we combine our MCUs and MPUs with a rich portfolio of analog and mixed-signal solutions to address various applications. We are also offering more comprehensive system solutions that combine our portfolio with easy-to-use software to allow our customers faster time to market. As an approach this allows us to comprehensively pursue verticals such as robotics, drones and other emerging markets.
The cumulative effect of all of these acquisitions has been the remarkable transformation of Renesas Electronics. It has given us access to talent in all of the locations in which we operate. As evidence of this shift, consider that not long ago about 70 percent of Renesas R&D was undertaken in Japan. That has since dropped to roughly 40 percent, with the bulk conducted outside the country in China, Asia-Pac, the U.S., and Europe.
Now, as a global company, we have positioned ourselves to achieve our mission of enabling intelligence from the cloud to the end-point sustainably. I will explore that goal in more detail in my next blog.