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Five minutes with ... Hong-Young Lee, General Manager ADTechnology Europe GmbH
Demand for chips remains high – they may be tiny, but they are used in almost all new technologies and are simply indispensable in the digital world. This autumn, ADTechnology, which specialises in chip design, opened its first international branch in Unterschleißheim, near Munich. In its home country of South Korea, the company is best known as the largest design solution partner of Samsung Foundry, and earlier with TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), ADTechnology’s partners include two of the world’s largest chip manufacturers. We spoke to Hong-Young Lee, General Manager Europe, about chip design trends and the company’s plans in Europe.
What is the advantage for companies to develop their own chips by fabless companies such as ADTechnology?
Fabless Semiconductors have a core competence of chip design and supply chain management of volume parts. Many OEMs and start-ups have a different set of competences – those related to their chosen market segments. Rather than defocussing their efforts and, over many years, build extremely expensive technical teams, they naturally choose to employ specialist companies such as ADTechnology.
Single-chip systems (system-on-a-chip, SoC) are becoming increasingly important. Application-specific integrated circuits – ASICs for short – have also been experiencing a renaissance for a few years now. Can you briefly explain what tasks they perform and in which environment they are used?
SoCs are, so called, heterogeneous systems – that is, they can include many classes of processing elements. In the past SoCs would perform the computational function of a CPUs or micro-controller. Nowadays they typically include numerous slices of CPUs together with neural processors (NPUs), graphics processors (GPUs), and image processing subsystems (IPUs).
Chip design plays into many industrial sectors. In which sectors are you already present and where would you like to grow even more in the future? Which Bavaria-based companies would you like to have on your client list?
ADTechnology is present in the AI, High Performance Compute (HPC), IoT, Automotive and 5G segments. We are working on designs at the very cutting-edge of Silicon technology to deliver differentiated product to our customers. These are all growth markets where there is considerable discontinuity which allows for innovative solutions from both start-ups and established electronics OEMs. We would be very happy to include Bavarian-based companies on our lists in the future.
Of these technology markets the two “super-segments” are AI and Automotive. The use of AI is prevalent in designs from IoT at the edge for Industrial automation though high-performance compute (HPC) in Compute Farms. It dominates a new way of thinking about problems and solving big data questions.
Automotive is the other super-segment as the twin storms of electrification and regulation together with driver assistance and the whole self-driving revolution bringing numerous Lidar, Radar and video sensor companies to the market. The established OEM and tier-1 relationships in the Automobile market may never be the same again.
Besides the diverse business landscape – what were other key reasons for choosing Bavaria?
One key reason is the strength of technical Universities in the region such as TUM and the related access to talent – particularly in engineering. The proximity of R&D institutions such as Fraunhofer also offer the possibility of building important local relationships in the region. Finally, we also value the active support of Invest in Bavaria.
We are very pleased to welcome you with us! From the perspective of a South Korean company: Why did you expand your business in Europe as a first step and not elsewhere in the world? What are your plans for the future?
Europe is a leading marketplace for segments that drive electronic design, include Automotive and industrial internet of things (IIoT). Europe is also noted for having a thriving Electronic IP eco-system and a strong history in general for technology and innovation.
To develop further in Europe, we are currently looking at options to bootstrap an R&D Centre in Europe. This would help us support our expanding European business.
You used to live in Bavaria at the end of the 90s and came back a few years ago. In your opinion, has much changed during this period? What do you particularly appreciate?
I feel different in many ways. The business environment is different from then. Thanks to facilities such as Business Campus where we are sitting, it is easier to establish a business base for start-ups at a lower cost. Public institutions' support for the entire semiconductor industry is more abundant and organized. In addition, there are more opportunities to exchange information between industries than ever before.
ADTechnology Europe GmbH
Semiconductors | Chip Design
In Bavaria since
Suwon | South Korea
Department represented in Bavaria