Taken for Granted

ESL, embedded processors, and more

Whither Design in Europe?

Filed under: Uncategorized — March 23, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

Last week I was able to attend DATE 2012 in Dresden, Germany. I was in conversation with a colleague who asked me what I would like to see in DATE 2013 in Grenoble. One thing that occurred to me is that I use the opportunity when visiting a conference like DATE to find out as much as I can about the state of design in Europe. It is a topic of a lot of interest to me (since I used to be a designer/EDA type in Europe, albeit on the relatively far north-western fringes of it).

So what I would like to see at DATE 2013, among other things, is a talk by a knowledgeable, unbiased and dispassionate analyst on “Whither electronics design in Europe?”. Over the past several years there have been incredible changes in the companies and design teams with partitionings, spin-outs, mergers, re-partitioning, acquisitions, mergers, divestments, and on and on.

Europe has three main semiconductor companies still, following quite different strategies: STMicroelectronics, Infineon and NXP. The mobile offerings and design teams from STMicroelectronics, Ericsson and NXP became ST-Ericsson, a company recently much in the press and analysed by columnists such as David Manners. Infineon sold its mobile division to Intel. NXP divested some of itself to Virage which became part of Synopsys. All these changes look unlikely to stop, and it would be good for some Nostradamus to try to forecast the future here.

The same is true of European systems companies such as Ericsson, Nokia, Thales, NSN, Bosch, to name just a few in various sectors. Many of them are changing at a rapid pace and some prognostication of what the future might bring would be of great interest. There are also branches of other worldwide semiconductor and systems companies with substantial design teams in Europe.

There are also significant worldwide IP companies in Europe, of which, of course, ARM is the most notable example.

Finally, relevant European companies in the embedded software space, such as Dspace in automotive software and other embedded domains, and tools areas, such as Esterel Technologies, have potentially strong design futures, but something very fuzzy to figure out from far away.

Finding a knowledgeable and bluntly honest analyst who both understands these sectors, their history and is willing to guess what the future may bring sounds like the biggest challenge for a conference like DATE. But it could certainly make a very interesting keynote if it went beyond a dry recital of facts and predictive figures to more colourful anecdotes about the industry – where it has been and where it is going in Europe.


  1. Y.V.:

    Hi Grant,
    Design in Europe? Well, it is not doing so fine lately. ST-Ericsson is slashing 1700 jobs and closing the site where I used to work in a previous life. What I would like to see is more of this. But it seems to be a very rare breed.

  2. Grant Martin:

    Yves, thanks very much for the comment. It is usually the management, and not the workers (designers, engineers, production workers) failing to lead and failing to have a compelling vision and plan, that ends up with companies in a mess. This issue of Design in Europe has long been important to me, since a long time ago I was a designer/EDA type on the fringes of northern Europe. And I have many friends and colleagues there.

    Europe has such a tremendous group of skilled, knowledgeable and experienced designers; it clearly needs more entrepreneurs and product visionaries to capitalise on that and make Europe a key place for innovation across many sectors again.

    Grant Martin

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