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EETE JUN 2015

Iconic Insights: in conversation with Hanns Windele Position of strength CEO of Infineon Technologies, Reinhard Ploss, talks about how the semiconductor giant has entered a new phase of growth, as well as the trending sectors and technologies that are helping Europe to strengthen its position in the semiconductor market… Hanns Windele: With 2014 delivering 12 per cent revenue growth for Infineon, what have been your differentiating factors from other companies in the sector? Reinhard Ploss: Our most important differentiating factor is that we have refined our market approach. We started with technology differentiation – that’s our background ¬– and we invented a lot of innovative technologies offering extra functionality and better performance. Today, we are taking it to the next level by thinking about technology, application and final use. We call it ‘from product to system’. This is because you not only have to think in terms of great technology, but you have to put customer success in the centre. We go one step further. We explore tomorrow’s requirements in order to be successful, for example in cars. Hanns Windele: Is it a case of not trying to replace what your customers are already doing? Reinhard Ploss: Looking at automotive, we have a very well sorted market strategy. We do not intend to compete with our customers. However, one key success factor of semiconductors is a continuing story of system integration. When you integrate a system, there is always the next system to integrate. Previously, you had single transistors, simple ICs, software and sensors. Now we put this all in one chip or package. This is one way we do ‘product to system’. We know what our customers need and seek to offer them integrated solutions to enhance performance of the overall system. Of course, for those customers who want to do their own integration, we offer support. At Infineon we want to stand on several legs: technology, application expertise and a system understanding of the success factors for specific markets. We keep in mind that there could be a risk if you follow only one specific customer, even if he might be very important. Hanns Windele: How closely do you work with OEMs? Reinhard Ploss: In some areas very closely. It is important to realise that there is a need in specific areas for direct interaction with the OEM, especially when you have to understand the driving factors of the system. In one of our markets – mobile phones – we have entered the MEMS silicon microphones space. But if you think of MEMS only, that’s not enough. You have to think of the ASIC that’s processing the sensor signal and even transform it into digital. So we have to talk to smartphone companies directly in order to understand what they want. Who would have thought there was a requirement for highrange dynamics for recording a rock music festival? We developed the range capability for the dynamics on the microphones. But we want also to enable the user who wants to make a phone call from the rock concert without the other person hearing the background noise. That’s the next game. What you need for this is several microphones on the handset, all with – in principle – the same characteristics, so you can eliminate the background noise ‘numerically’. Hanns Windele: Let’s look at your megatrends: energy efficiency, mobility, security… is there any one that stands out as more important than the others? Reinhard Ploss: Currently there is a lot of hype on security. This is a huge elephant in the room and people don’t know how to manage it. But it is also one of the core topics to be addressed, as it is a key enabler in many things, especially when it comes to the Internet of Things including Industry 4.0. If you start running your household as a totally interconnected entity, this can be an open door to anyone who wants to misuse what you have. You need security: everyone agrees. But the question is how to go about it. Hanns Windele: Does this include the idea of the ‘security of silicon’? Reinhard Ploss: Hardware security is the right approach. We are paranoid when it comes to the right architecture. Over time we were able to improve it. We used to build special elements into the chip in order to create security and to react to attacks. Today, there is no need for this. What we do with our current generation of secure chips is provide security by concept, with all data processed in encrypted form. After this level of encryption you come to what I call the ‘real lock’, which is an even higher level of encryption. So the risk of the chip being modified by manipulation, we believe, is minute. At the same time, the whole infrastructure of how we manufacture requires a certain security level. Even within our company there is no one person who knows every detail of a chip. HANNS WINDELE is Vice President, Europe and India at Mentor Graphics. www.mentor.com FOR FURTHER DETAILS about Infineon, visit www.infineon.com 12 Electronic Engineering Times Europe June 2015 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE JUN 2015
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