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Revealing the true value of China's IC design houses

Posted: 24 Jan 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Shanghai Jade Technologies Co. Ltd  IC design companies  China  Ouyang He 

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Among China's IC design companies, Shanghai Jade Technologies Co. Ltd stands out. While the majority of local IC designs companies focus on cost-control advantages and target the middle-and low-end markets, Jade aims for high-end products. "Our competitors are global companies including Intel, Freesacle and TI," explains Jack He Ouyang, Jade chairman, president and CEO. "I worked in the Silicon Valley for many years—'never give up' is the spirit of the Silicon Valley with small companies [rising] to challenge the big ones. I believe Chinese engineers are not inferior to those abroad and that China's IC design companies can do something that foreign companies have never done before."

Ouyang, who has a doctorate degree in mathematics from Washington University, worked in several Silicon Valley chip companies until he established WIS Technologies in 1998. Later called WISchip International, the company was involved in the development of IC and software solutions for advanced audio and video systems, and in achieving the MPEG1/2/4, H.264 and VC-1 HDTV standards. Ouyang returned to China to establish Jade in 2003. In two years, the company successfully developed the Z228 multimedia application processor, the first domestic multimedia SoC using 0.13m technology. July last year, the company released the X900 multimedia application processor, the most complicated SoC designed in China, specifically created for the convergent multimedia market, including smart phone, multimedia portable devices, and IPTV. A third chip, the A100, has been developed.

Ouyang believes that IC companies have to be proactive in terms market forecasting and product planning. Forecasting the years ahead serves as the foundation for Jade's product planning and development. This strategy will help keep the company's lead in the areas of audio and video coding and decoding technology—based on its own algorithm—in the decade ahead.

"Why are products made by Chinese destined to be cheap?" Ouyang pondered when he heard a remark that Jade had no competitive advantage since the price of their products all square with those of big global companies. Ouyang believes there is a huge demand for high-end products in the Chinese market. "Potential opportunities lie in the Chinese market, and as the 3G era comes, the potential of multimedia application processors in China is even bigger."

After the release of the X900, many mainstream foreign manufacturers contacted Jade. Aside from China, there is also Europe and America, where we seek too recognition for our products. I believe that the ideal application goal is for products such as the iPhone and iPod. Handset Information Terminal (HIT) is the market that the X900 and Z228 apply to most."

Ouyang believes that the top challenge for engineers is not how to design under a mature technology; rather it is to make a breakthrough in terms of function definition and technology achievement that will play a key role in the design and creation of future products. Another challenge for China's IC manufacturers is a breakthrough in standards creation.

Cindy Hu
EE Times

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