René Penning de Vries    

René Penning de Vries
Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
NXP Semiconductors


1. What part does India play in the overall technology strategy and marketing strategy of NXP Semiconductors?

NXP semiconductors, formerly Philips semiconductors, has a long history in India. Back in 1980s, We were one of the first few semiconductor companies in India to start our sales operations, selling discrete components. During the 1990s, we set up R&D teams in Bangalore and our India team continues to build competences every year since then – For example, we started R&D with software coding and moved up the ladder to IP hardware development, followed by “SoC subsystem design” and now in 2010 we did product development (e.g. Solar IC design MPT612). In 2011 and beyond, we have various projects running in India with product development responsibility.

With the formation of the new business line “Emerging Business HPMS” at NXP, there has been a paradigm shift, moving up from low cost engineering in the past to value added product creation in the present. This has led NXP to capitalise on emerging opportunities in countries like India. For “Emerging Business HPMS” business line, India happens to be the largest R&D site within NXP. This explains our belief in “India” as an emerging market.

There are challenges of cost pressure and the need for very lean applications that lead to the need for local solutions vs. the global nature of platform developments. Therefore, we see India as a potentially high market and have plans to establish “product creation centres” which will benefit from “frugal engineering” or “Jugaad” mindset. We are committed to developing local ecosystem for creating semiconductor solutions that fit the need of Indian customers.

2. India is viewed as a gateway to other economies. How does your company plan to leverage the unique needs of India in the various market verticals?

Next to the Europe home base (NL, France, Germany), we view India as an R&D powerhouse; we are further strengthening the expertise we have here in the areas of mixed signal design, as well as high voltage design.

We consider India to be key for us, not just for R&D but also as a gateway to understand emerging economies and their product requirements. Our customers have design teams in India and many semi companies including NXP are creating products from local design centres. Hence, NXP India has a major role to play in influencing “design wins”. Most of the NXP Business Lines have their R&D teams in Bangalore, resulting in about 10% of our total R&D based in India. Our focus for India product development is “High Performance Mixed Signal”.

The design team here in Bangalore conceptualized our first Solar IC (MPT612) which is now on NXP catalogue and doing well in the marketplace. We consider this product to be a strong contender for IESA Technovation Award 2011. The excellent workforce pool and links to local universities will allow us to continue to build a world class organization. We are open to considering local opportunities for the Indian market, which later on could serve other markets.

3. How do you see the Indian engineering education scenario? What do you think are its strengths?

India is a hub of talent with strong education infrastructure producing large number of young skilled graduates every year. These students have basic knowledge in 8085 and electronics during the under-grad courses. At NXP, we have many engineers from reputed top engineering institutions and we plan to tap this talent more aggressively going forward. We will do so through university programs and common application labs.

Back in 1995, we co-founded the Masters programs in VDTT (VLSI, Design, Technology, Tools) at IIT Delhi. We also sponsor “NXP chair professor” at IIT Delhi. Moving forward, we plan to build 20 NXP labs across India at various educational institutes. NXP is training professors and providing tools/kits to establish “NXP labs”. You will soon hear about the “NXP Labs” program kick-off.

NXP is focussed on High Performance Mixed Signal, and we observe that the basic design skills for high end analog (be it RF, AMS or High Voltage) are still to be developed to its best potential in India. Having said that, the fundamental strength of the Indian workforce is their understanding of the needs of Indian industry and environment, which should (and will) allow to design optimized solutions for the India market.

Author of the article is René Penning de Vries

Profile : René is responsible for overseeing the product creation processes at NXP, focusing on the key areas of Innovation, Technology and Research. In this role, he is member of the NXP Management Team (MT), headed by Richard L. Clemmer.

René previously held the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Philips Semiconductors prior to the formation of NXP in 2006. He started working for Philips Research in 1984 before moving to Philips Semiconductors in 1987 and brings to his position at NXP a deep understanding of the design and technology needs of the semiconductor industry. His career evolved from various technical and managerial roles in CMOS development, into management of platform and design technology as well IP creation. Later, system technology and research have been added to his portfolio.

During his career, René worked and lived in the US, in Crolles, France and in Singapore, where he was Vice President of Technology in SSMC, a joint venture between Philips, TSMC and EDBi Singapore. Rene has been intimately involved in the Crolles1 and Crolles2 projects. René holds an MSc in physics from the University of Nijmegen and a Ph.D. in Device Physics from the Technical University of Twente, the Netherlands.