CEO interview: Palma Ceia's Jewell on a pivot to fabless

April 26, 2021 // By Peter Clarke
CEO interview: Palma Ceia's Jewell on a pivot to fabless
Roy Jewell, CEO of Palma Ceia SemiDesign, is just back from 6 weeks in China, including two weeks quarantined in a hotel bedroom. It is just part of the CEO's burden, particularly when you are in the middle of pivoting the company on a number of fronts at the same time.

We asked Jewell to tell us more about plans for a startup that was founded in 2012.

Jewell, started his career at Texas Instruments in the 1980s in the emerging field of modelling manufacturing process technologies. He spent the 1990s as CEO of Technology Modeling Associates. After a brief spell with Avant! Jewell spent from 2000 up to 2012 with Magma Design Automation ending up as chief operating officer.

When Magma was sold to Synopsys for about $500 million in 2012 Jewell decided the next adventure would be the development of RF and analog IP, a sector for which there was obvious demand but which was also technically demanding, giving a chance for excellence to shine.

The company then spent several years creating high-speed data converter and transceiver IP, the building blocks of the burgeoning communications sector and that has kept the company humming along.

"But in 2018 we decided we wanted to move into the fabless chip business," said Jewell. "The problem with IP is that every customer wants a different specification. I did not want Palma Ceia to become a design services business." It is well known that design services, while providing cash flow, do not allow a company to scale the same way as strictly-controlled IP licensing or product sales. With design services to double sales you have to double the engineering resources.

And that's why Palma Ceia has a couple of IC initiatives; one complying with the Wi-Fi Halow standard and one to Wi-Fi6. The company already has an NB-IoT IP offering completed and shipping.

Next: Hello HaLow

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