CEO Corner | Cypress Semiconductor
It’s no secret that the automotive business represents one of the semiconductor industry’s most significant and promising growth vectors. Increasingly, vehicles are becoming computers on wheels capable of processing information and connecting with storage and analytical capabilities in the cloud to make driving safer, more entertaining and more convenient. According to a recent Gartner report, the value of the semiconductor content in cars now ranges from $300 to $1,000. Higher-end models are the early adopters of electronics innovation, of course, but market forces are constantly at work pushing capabilities down into the mainstream.
That’s all good news for semiconductor companies; but how does a semiconductor company, or, in fact, any other company, capitalize on automotive?
The hard truth is that not every company will succeed in this new environment because the automotive business has significant barriers to entry. Having the scale to compete in target markets is one requirement. Having the latest technology to solve a problem in this market helps, but is not sufficient. Quality and reliability remain important differentiators in the automotive market, of course. A company’s ability to be able to provide the product for almost two decades from production is a whole different ball game. But even more than that, the world is moving faster than ever, and our customers expect us to help them manage the pace of change while delivering on basic requirements. They want a turnkey path to new products, new markets and new revenue. The time has long passed when we could throw a bunch of chips at them and believe that our job was complete.
"The pace of innovation and the ability of a supplier to convert ideas into real products has become so critical that automotive Tier 1 companies and OEMs alike have moved into Silicon Valley to be in the middle of things, working closely, and in real-time, with companies like Cypress who are enabling this revolution."
Serving automotive companies is changing the way we do business. We’ve changed our manufacturing processes, changed our product development methodology, hired systems engineers who understand what our customers’ problems are and how to solve them, and worked 24/7 on quality to bring it closer to 0 PPM (parts per million). We’ve organically built our Human Machine Interface business with TrueTouch, CapSense and PSoC MCUs, and we’ve completed the integration of Spansion and the wireless Internet of Things (IoT) business we acquired from Broadcom in recent quarters to expand our portfolio of embedded solutions. The Broadcom IoT acquisition, in particular, was key to our automotive strategy, bringing robust, easy-to-use Wi-Fi connectivity solutions, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combination solutions, under the Cypress banner and capabilities.
The changes in our revenue, our margin profile and our growth trajectory are evident. Revenue from the automotive business, which was 11% of our business in Q2 2012, expanded to 31% in Q2 2017. I can comfortably say that we are successful in automotive because we simply know how to do it; we speak our customer’s language.
More and more, many of the driving decisions in cars are being handled by Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), a category of applications that includes collision avoidance, blind-spot detection and adaptive cruise control. With the semiconductor industry growing 4.7% annually, according to Gartner market share estimates, ADAS is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 17.7% between now and 2021. The advent of commercially viable driverless cars will accelerate this trend. With 65% market share in Automotive NOR flash, Cypress plays an important role bringing innovation, high performance, security and integration to the marketplace—all of which are critical to a successful ADAS SoC deployment.
As drivers spend less time in their cars actually driving, you might wonder: What, exactly, will they be doing while they’re behind the wheel? Probably paying more attention to their feature-rich dashboard instrumentation and infotainment systems. These categories are expected to grow at 7.8% and 7.2% through 2021, respectively, according to Gartner market share estimates. Even faster growth will come from connected cars: vehicles with Wi-Fi, as opposed to the shorter-range Bluetooth connectivity that links mobile phones with car speaker systems, for example. This business is expected to grow at 15.9% annually over the next five years.
Cypress provides our embedded systems customers with system solutions: combinations of our flexible and secure low-power microcontroller products, world-class wireless connectivity, automotive memories and power-management products—plus the software that enables everything to work together seamlessly. Our programmable products enable customers to react to change fluidly and instantaneously—most of the time, through a Flash-Over-The-Air, or FOTA, implementation. Increasingly, we are helping our customers to consolidate their supply chains and accelerate their time to market.
Companies that bring these capabilities to the table will succeed in today’s fast-paced, change-oriented environment. Companies that don’t will not. It’s that simple.
This is more than just Cypress’ vision. We’re in 24 of the top 25 global OEMs. We’re shipping revenue in 14 of the top 15 Tier 1 suppliers. Our technical and sales teams bring new success stories to us every quarter. Many of our customers are scrapping their mechanical interfaces for touchscreens and touchpads driven by Cypress microcontrollers. One of our customers—a major North American automotive supplier—recently designed our Traveo™ and PSoC microcontrollers, two of our HyperFlash™ memories and an analog Power Management IC (PMIC) into its high-end instrument clusters. At the recent Embedded World trade show, we announced that leading automotive supplier Continental selected our second-generation Traveo II MCU family for its next-generation body electronics platform.
We’re proud of our progress in the automotive business and of the innovation we’re delivering to our customers, along with the value we’re providing to our stockholders.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
A company’s brand is the face it shares with the world and the promise it makes to its customers, stockholders, and employees.
Those of you who follow Cypress have probably seen our new logo and our Embedded in Tomorrow tagline, as shown below. It’s our first major logo change in 35 years. Our rebranding is an outgrowth of our Cypress 3.0 vision and strategy, targeting markets growing faster than the broader semiconductor business and providing our customers with system-level solutions, combinations of our microcontrollers, wireless and wired connectivity solutions, analog and memory products.
In March, at the Embedded World tradeshow—the world’s largest gathering of electronics engineers—we introduced our new brand campaign: “We Live for Problems.” It captures the problem-solving spirit at the heart of Cypress. Here’s a quick look at how we took over this year’s show.
Even if you didn’t attend Embedded World, where our messaging covered billboards and walkways between the train station and our booth (photo below), you may have encountered our brand in our online ads, on our website or even on the giant Thomson Reuters electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square (also below).
Please click to enlarge
Cypress at Embedded World (top) and on the Thomson Reuters billboard in New York’s Times Square (bottom).
You can imagine the feedback I received when we first deployed this marketing campaign internally. We are all “guided” at school, and in trainings and seminars, never to reference problems in our marketing communications, to avoid using red in titles and other forms of that advice. I decided to break some of these rules in the interest of a campaign that best reflects who we are as a company. After all, that’s where a good brand starts.
Cypress is an engineering company at heart. We live to help our customers create the world’s most innovative automotive, industrial, and consumer end products.
Customers call us when they have a problem, not when everything is going well. We come to work to solve these problems with a focus on innovation. At the same time, we are constantly pushing ourselves to come up with new ideas to solve problems we care about, and we will deploy them as solutions to accelerate our customers’ development cycles.
So if this is what we do, every day, then it doesn’t matter what they taught you about not discussing problems. I reviewed this campaign, put it out there, told our employees to be proud of it, and let them know that it’s OK to write in red if they want to. And that’s just what they did, as they describe in this short video.
Along with our “We Live for Problems” campaign, we used the Embedded World event as a platform to announce our new PSoC® 6 MCU product, which is based on our new flexible 40-nm MCU platform. Some of the problems we solve with this product are:
- How to reduce power consumption or improve security.
- How to create an architecture that’s flexible enough to adapt to constantly changing industry protocols and standards.
- How to create software that’s easy to use yet powerful enough to get the parts of a solution to work together seamlessly.
One problem—one solution at a time, I tell our employees—that’s the way we will become embedded in our customers’ hearts and minds as their problem-solver of choice.
Only when we’ve done that will we have delivered fully on our brand promise.
Embedded in Tomorrow is not our slogan of the moment. It speaks to the way we are running our company. It will guide our portfolio decisions in terms of the products we make. It is the principle that integrates our various business strategies.
There are characteristics that describe our brand. Fearless, to reflect our attitude toward serving our customers. Forward-thinking, in the ways we anticipate their needs. Unfailing, in that our products must work every time. Fast, in terms of our product delivery, response time, and time-to-market.
But at the heart of all this is our brand promise to our customers, stockholders, and employees worldwide: Cypress will enable solutions that sense, connect, learn, and respond to make life easier. Cypress will help you save time and energy, and provide you with a better user experience at home, at work, or while you’re on the road, and anything else in between.
We’re excited about our new brand identity and the way it reflects our Cypress 3.0 transformation, the elements of which you’ll find in this video.
It’s a little different than the communications you’ve come to expect from us. It’s worth the minute it takes to watch it. Enjoy!
The pace of change continues to accelerate in both the semiconductor industry and the broader high-tech market space. We’ve crossed over from the Mobile Era—which put computing power and wireless connectivity at consumers’ fingertips—to the IoT Era, which is rapidly embedding these capabilities in a range of smart products, from thermostats, home appliances, and connected cars for consumers, to Industry 4.0 smart factories.
From where I sit in Silicon Valley—Ground Zero for the IoT proliferation, where there’s a higher probability every day that the car alongside you at a red light is a Google prototype with no driver behind the wheel—seismic smart technology shifts are taking place right before our eyes. As represented in the image below, the IoT represents an enormous opportunity for tech companies.
Think about what’s driving IoT expansion. Moore’s Law, which posited that the number of transistors on a chip doubles about every two years, along with computing power, has just about run its course. I’m not here to argue about whether it has or has not—those are my thoughts and I believe it has. But at the very least, we’ve reached the point where incremental improvements are failing to justify the enormous capital investments required in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities.
Moore’s Law has been replaced by Metcalf’s Law, which states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2). This new law perfectly captures the dynamic of exponential IoT growth. Viewed another way, pushing computing power out to the periphery of the network is a logical extension of our need for continued performance and functionality improvements.
There’s also a human component to IoT growth: Consumers want technology to make their lives easier and safer and to save them time and money. There are fewer and fewer of us who haven’t experienced the benefits of a connected home—smart meters, smart appliances, smart smoke detectors, for example—or cars where Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) handle such functions as collision avoidance and blind-spot detection.
In the business world, as well, there are significant cost and efficiency advantages to collecting data wirelessly and in real time—say, information about the uptime of the manufacturing lines in your factory—and crunching that data in the cloud, as opposed to having people walking around with clipboards.
At the high end of the automotive market—but quickly moving into the mainstream—cars are using adaptive cruise control to make decisions about safe speeds and safe distances between our cars and the vehicles around them.
Today, we live in a world dominated by connected devices. If I take the example of a smart home, the “smart” is really provided by the user, not the home, through the use of mobile apps or pre-set preferences, causing slow and reactive responses. The red line in the graph below shows where the intelligence of a connected device lies, any level of intelligence, even if it’s trivial.
The next stage of the Smart Revolution is already well underway: Building products and designing software on Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms. Companies such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft, with its Azure cloud computing platform, offer a broad range of services for the IoT including machine learning, cloud analytics, and large-scale node connectivity through specialized cloud hubs.
The beautiful thing about an AI-based platform is that the more data you feed it, the “smarter” it becomes—and the faster it learns. More and more nodes will send their data to the cloud for processing to perform functions like facial recognition or predictive control and maintenance.
I have a security camera with built-in facial recognition installed in my home. Even with cloud-based intelligence, as a user, I still have to react to my notifications from my app when the camera detects something at the house. This adds latency into my decision making but provides a higher level of cloud-powered intelligence to the node.
What’s next in the “Smart Revolution” is shifting computation muscle out to the edge, and transitioning from platforms where humans drive the decision making, to those capable of making decisions autonomously, learning from their environment and changing their behavior on the fly. This is what I call “Contextual intelligence,” an environment with true device independence, as captured in the image below.
There will be enormous opportunities in the semiconductor industry as the IoT and AI revolutions continue to accelerate. Just as the demand for better, faster, more feature-rich PCs and mobile phones drove the need for more powerful microprocessors, microcontrollers and denser memories, the demand for more powerful edge computing and smarter, more autonomous nodes will require more powerful sensors and MCUs, along with more robust wireless connectivity.
The ability of a semiconductor company to bundle competencies such as low power, programmability and sophisticated device security, and offer them to customers in system-level solutions, will matter just as much as our ability to introduce discrete new products in this environment. Equally as important, powerful, easy-to-use software will matter as much as hardware.
New generations of devices that are able to Sense, Connect, Learn and Respond will be required. This will change semiconductor companies as we know them today.
Not every company will succeed in transforming itself in this way, but we’ve positioned Cypress to compete and win in this new environment.
Much more on that in future posts.
I am excited by the opportunity to blog about Cypress’ business strategy and market opportunities, along with industry trends and management best practices. In my role as Cypress’ president and CEO, I’m on the road roughly half of the time meeting with customers, partners and investors. I make it my priority to talk with customers about how to solve their problems and to meet or exceed their expectations. So, I look forward to sharing my perspective on the industry with our larger global audience.
In this first post, I’d like to talk about Cypress 3.0, my vision for the company—our focus on selling complete embedded solutions in markets that are growing faster than the overall semiconductor industry.
One-Stop Embedded Solutions Supplier
Piece by piece, we’ve transformed Cypress into the preferred solutions supplier for our Automotive, Industrial and Internet of Things (IoT) customers. We’ve accomplished this through the Spansion merger and the acquisition of Broadcom’s wireless IoT business in addition to sustained organic growth and consistent breakthrough product development. The result of this transformation, as you can see from the diagram below, is that Cypress now has a complete, differentiated, industry-leading portfolio of ICs for the IoT and other embedded systems.
When we talk about solutions for embedded systems, however, we don’t mean individual products. We mean combinations of our MCUs, wireless connectivity, analog, USB and memory solutions—in some cases paired with partner or customer IP—along with the software that enables everything to work together seamlessly. The pace of change in our business is faster than ever. Complete system solutions enable us to help our customers manage the changing technology landscape, narrow their supplier base and provide them with a turnkey path to new products, new markets and new revenue.
That’s how Cypress 3.0 will enable us to serve our customers. To provide value to our investors, we must continue to improve our performance in markets growing faster than the broader semiconductor industry.
Fast-Growing Markets and Profitable Growth
In the Automotive market, Cypress has multiple segments growing faster than the semiconductor industry. Compared with overall semiconductor growth of approximately 3% (on a good day), and about 5% growth for automotive semis, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) is growing at 18.8%, Connected Cars at 14.1%, Infotainment at 8.7% and Clusters at 8.2%. In the wake of the Broadcom IoT acquisition, our addressable automotive content has expanded as a result of the proliferation of electronics in this market and the expanded range of Cypress’ solutions, including wireless connectivity products.
IoT—including Connected Home and the rapidly expanding universe of connected consumer products—is another key Cypress market, in part because of the programmability of our solutions and the state-of-the-art wireless technology and robust developer ecosystem we acquired from Broadcom. IoT has been defined in many ways, but what it means to us is the ability to embed intelligence and wireless connectivity in previously unconnected products, enabling them to download and use information, upload it for analysis to a point of collection such as “the cloud,” or even to exchange data—for example, cars that rely on collision-avoidance systems that pinpoint one another on the road to make driving safer.
Customers demand a range of capabilities from their IoT suppliers. Two of the most important are low power and the ease of use of wireless products in particular. These are two areas in which Cypress excels.
IoT products are differentiated in part by the time between battery “fill-ups.” Our low-power MCUs and wireless radios help to significantly prolong battery life.
The difficulties of designing with analog-based wireless connectivity present one of the most significant barriers to improving our customers’ time to market. Cypress’ WICED (Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices) software, the foundation of a community of more than 11,000 users, plugs into the cloud automatically, making designers’ lives much easier and accelerating their time to market. In addition, the programmability of our products enables faster design iteration in response to changing market requirements and continuously evolving connectivity standards and specifications.
Our industrial business—including connectivity solutions for factory automation and Industry 4.0 —and USB Type-C, next-generation USB connectivity with smaller plugs and power delivery, represent additional growth opportunities for Cypress. Each aligns with our overall Cypress 3.0 blueprint, enabling us to design multiple Cypress devices into end products in fast-growing markets.
Cypress plays to win. We’re Top 3 in each of our key target markets with a clear path to No. 1. We’re reallocating capital resources to our growth and core businesses. We’re out there in the field solving problems for our customers in innovative ways. More than half of our revenue comes from businesses growing faster than the semiconductor industry.
These proof points serve as early validation that the Cypress 3.0 path is the right one for us.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our customers, partners and employees, whose success and satisfaction means everything to us.
Until next time, here’s wishing each of you a healthy and prosperous 2017.
We are thrilled to introduce Hassane El-Khoury as the company’s next president and CEO and a member of our board of directors. In Hassane’s nine years at Cypress he has spearheaded some of the company's most successful businesses and architected the company’s innovative embedded automotive strategy. In the video below, Hassane shares his vision for leading Cypress’s continued growth in key markets to create value for our customers and shareholders.
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