Transforming from analog to digital

Transforming from analog to digital

A view of the Bengaluru centre of Analog Devices.

Analog Devices Inc (ADI) India, part of Massachusetts-headquartered American semiconductor company specialising in data conversion and signal processing technology, is undergoing transformation as the technology itself is changing from analog to digital.

The company, which started operations in Bengaluru with three persons in 1995, has grown its size to over 600 in the last 23 years.

Ray Stata and Matt Lorber, MIT graduates, who shared an apartment, founded the company in 1965 as a manufacturer of hand-assembled op amps modules. "We founded ADI when there were no linear integrated circuits (ICs). It was a huge risk for a small company to shift from profitable modules, where the business was growing 80%, to ICs," says Stata, adding that the company with its unconventional thinking metamorphosed into a more complete solutions provider with new capabilities in software and data analytics.

ADI plays a major role in this transformation by focusing on software, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), applications, product and test engineering, systems, analog and mixed signal IC development among its broad suite of capabilities.

ADI, which is competing with US-based Texas Instruments, Maxim Integrated, Cirrus and Microchip Technology, among others, controls a worldwide data converter market share of 48.5%. The company has 100,000 customers globally, which are focusing on industries like communications, computers, industrial, instrumentation, military/aerospace, automotive, and consumer electronics applications.

Talking to DH, ADI’s Industrial, Healthcare, Consumer, and IoT Solutions and Security Group Senior Vice President, Yusuf Jamal, says that the company is focusing on developing and selling cutting-edge technologies and solutions for the global automotive, industrial, healthcare, consumer, IoT, security, aerospace, defence communications and energy markets. “We have been aggressively investing in our global facilities, including a recently announced US expansion in Silicon Valley, to better attract and leverage local talent and skills. The current investment in ADI India will further help us achieve higher growth and make a global impact with new products and solutions,” he adds.

Expansion of design centres

ADI India recently opened its new India headquarters, which is spread over 1,75,000 sq feet occupying seven floors. It is one of ADI’s top three global design centres and will focus on developing and selling technologies and solutions for the global clientele across industry verticals the company is operating.

The company decided to expand the design centres as part of its global expansion, along with other two facilities in Massachusetts and California. The Bengaluru centre has lots of collaborative spaces, which makes sure that ADI employees have a modern facility with global standard in terms of work.

"We also have workstations, which provide all ergonomic support for our engineers. Basically, it creates an environment where our engineers will be comfortable and their creative juices flowing. That is our intent," ADI India Managing Director Sai Krishna Mopuri says.

He says that over the next five years, the India centre wants to increase its capability on the system and software side. The company, known for its culture of innovation, collaboration and engineering excellence, has expanded into a full solutions provider of clients, says Mopuri. “We have made an impressive expansion in the capabilities and range of functions being performed by our skilled employees here in Bengaluru. Besides software, AI, ML and applications, the India centre is fully working in product development and test engineering, systems, analog and mixed signal IC development among its broad suite of capabilities,” he said.

ADI India is constantly engaging with universities in the country via various relations programmes including fellowships, sponsorships and internship opportunities.

The Nasdaq-listed $7.5-billion US semiconductor company has matured into just being digital to connecting digital and physical. "We talk about systems, silicon and software; a true solutions provider. The local office also reflects these changes happening across the globe," he says, adding, "Our core competencies are in IC, software and system development. We have expertise in digital signal processors, ultra-low power micro controllers, and we have expertise in data converters, both analog and digital controllers," said Mopuri.

ADI’s fabrication plant is located in the US and Ireland. It has a testing facility in the Philippines. Besides Bengaluru, ADI’s design centres are located in Australia, Canada, China, Egypt, England, Germany, Israel, Japan, Scotland, Spain, Taiwan and Turkey.

AI/ML expertise

The company is not only confined to IC design and development, but also its back-end, test and evaluation. This is a part of the global initiative to build engineering capability over a period of the next 20 years.

“Over the next 20 years, we want to go beyond IC development. We have proved our capability beyond silicon and reached to system and software engineering to have complete product development. Our intention is to add capabilities in software and system engineering from ADI Bengaluru," he says.

ADI CEO Vincent Roche says the company is largely a B2B company, which focuses on mission-critical applications, as every packet of data that is sent wireless around the globe passes through ADI chips.

He adds that ADI thinks about sensing as the source of the data and processing it to get useful information that leads to an action. “We build a lot of microwave systems that are both a sensing and an actuation problem. We are doing the optimisation of the real world before the AI engine even gets to operate. I think there are some very important problems to be solved through the use of AI and ML,” he said.

Last year, ADI announced a collaboration with The Cornucopia Project and to explore the local food supply chain and upskill local farmers on 21st century agriculture practices. The initiative helps ADI use IoT and blockchain technologies to track the conditions and movement of produce from “Farm to Fork” to make decisions that improve quality, yields, and profitability.

In converters, ADI is in the second position, and there is a shift that is happening in technology from being purely analog parts and emergence of loT digital assist that is transforming landscape. "Now we call it programmable silicon, and it will help find a solution to the problem,” says a company official.

The company is actively engaged in developing MEMS and has developed a team to take care of that. “But we are not going to invest more into that. Besides MEMS silicon development from here, the ADI India centre is involved in MEMS processor and ASIC development. But as a strategy, our focus is on using more of other technologies like converters, and ultra-low power ASICS,” says the India Managing Director.

The MEMS developed at the Bengaluru centre is used in automotive, especially in the area of vehicle safety, balance, virtually detect the angular rotation, acceleration and deceleration. It also has industrial applications, and used by mobile OEMs across the globe.

ADI Inc tapped the Indian ecosystem to acquire more talents and later evolved into a division making full ownership of products. “When we positioned ourselves in India, we actually work on the complete product from here, and we provide direct solution to our customers. That makes us unique and gives us a differentiation compared with competitors,” says the India head.

The Bengaluru facility is helping the company's mission of reinventing its technological capability by acquiring a quality talent pool. The rich talent helps the Bengaluru centre evolve its global strategy of building a systems, silicon and software company to offer complete solutions to its global customers.