Professions of a Silicon Valley Double-E
Saturday, May 23, 2009
  I'm an analog, now what?
I had an interesting discussion about Analog IC design career strategies this morning:
  1. Specialize in a crucial IP block - ie Gigabit Serdes / Pipeline ADCs - then consult around the industry to help people implement these into their designs. This works for up to 10 years before enough others understand your trick well enough to do it themselves.
  2. Specialize in tool use and Optimization and general design, then work at companies where the above IP blocks are already in place, and you make changes and redesigns to reduce cost, power and increase performance and yield. This works for a while as long as you keep up with tools, process nodes and keep learning new tricks from the guys doing the first route.
  3. Start a company. You many find design takes a second seat to finding customers.
  4. Or join a startup, Its not that you don't do design, but you may also have to do CAD, IT, software, firmware, and test program development.
  5. do hard IP macros.
  6. go into management: which is just a variation on
  7. go into real estate/ venture capital / get your mba / join an MLM -- in other words change careers.

Like the EDA industry the IC industry is hard put to collect on the value created by the end applications.. unless your devices are the crucial part of the end product (CPU / memory/ cellular radio).
Its my opinion, that we are now at the point of incremental growth in value in end user hardware..
phones with better screens, text input, battery time and connections (eg wifi + bt + ir + evdo + gsm + wimax + tv + gps)
but the real growth in the end user value is in the software available on the desktop, laptop, netbook, and phone.. or whats available on the network.

I hope this helps you in thinking about your career.

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Ruminations about the Electrical Engineering profession as practiced in Silicon Valley by an IEEE Senior Member. Disclaimer: All Posts here are official IEEE business in that they are messages about IEEE activities from an IEEE volunteer. These messages do not constitute official records of R6-PACE activities, nor official IEEE or IEEE-USA policy statements. Website:

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Location: San Jose, California, United States

When he is not working on IEEE stuff, Jonathan does Mixed Signal Design Verification at Qualcomm. Senior Member IEEE. Founder IEEE-SCV-SSC (the first Solid State Circuits chapter). Past Section Chair, Santa Clara Valley Section - the Largest Section. Co-founder IEEE-SCV-CAS. IEEE-SSCS Membership chair 2001-2003. IEEE SSCS chapters Committee member. IEEE-SCV-PACE committee member 2001- IEEE-SCV-PACE Chair 2006-2007. IEEE R6 PACE coordinator.


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