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Lab Focuses on Long-Range Research of Strategic Products

Dec 11, 1995

SANTA CLARA, CA, December 11, 1995 -- National Semiconductor today announced the formation of the National Semiconductor Research Laboratory (NSRL) to accelerate the company's long-range development of advanced technologies and products for the communication, computer and transportation industries.

The charter of the NSRL is to develop the technologies, processes and products that are key to National's long-term strategy of dominating the market for analog and mixed signal products that move and shape information. The NSRL is dedicated to become a premier research facility, attracting eminent scientists and partnering with key universities, research organizations and customers.

The NSRL is headed by Dr. Juri Matisoo, who was recently appointed vice president of Research. In addition to more than 25 years of research experience, Dr. Matisoo was most recently the director of IBM's Almaden Research Center. He was also director of Silicon Technology at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center and research vice president of the IBM Storage Systems Division.

"The NSRL is going to be a different type of lab that is a real shift for National's semiconductor R&D efforts," said Dr. Matisoo. "It will focus on the broader spectrum of practical, future systems, tools and design methodologies, not just pure science, process technology. We recognize that the new battle ground will be in defining what technology will do for people in the future."

Over the next several years, the NSRL will grow to provide 150 - 200 new research jobs in Santa. Currently, the lab employs 30 people, recruited internally and externally.

The NSRL is part of National's transformation to a growth company. With financial performance under control, the company's product mix is continuing to shift more toward analog and mixed signal products that provide the capabilities that transport and transform, or "move and shape", information.

According to Pathfinder Research of San Jose, CA, by the year 2000, the market for products that move and shape information is expected to be $80 billion, an increase of almost 200% over 1994.

"Analog and mixed-signal competency is a vital component of our strategy, and an area in which we feel we lead the world" said Dr. Gil Amelio, president and CEO. "We see the focus shifting away from merely squeezing more transistors on a chip to a balanced use of analog and digital technology. If you use analog and digital in exactly the right way, you can get more powerful functions on smaller chips that cost less. The NSRL is going to be the leader in finding those solutions."

Long-Term Commitment And Value

The Lab will work closely with the company's product divisions and customers to develop new products that will enhance our ability to communicate. Development of these products is National's expertise, and the company has a long-term commitment to fund the NSRL and support vital research.

"National is committed to long-term support, including financial requirements and creative research, " said Amelio. "We fully expect the NSRL to become the flagship research facility on the West coast and will give us high return in finding leading products and technologies to sell." The NSRL will push for results in CMOS mixed signal process technology in the Lab's first stages. National is currently recruiting senior-level professionals to help build the Lab and create early results. However, the real attraction to many researchers is the company's extraordinary long-term commitment.

"As a research organization comes into being, it must be able to create value for National well in excess of the investment," said Dr. Matisoo. "We fully intend to provide that value in every stage of the NSRL's development."

Research Programs

The NSRL will focus programs in three areas as it grows: computer science and systems research, design sciences research and physical process research. Currently, the focus is on physical process, with the other areas to be developed as staff is added and specific projects are defined.

The initial research will include quarter micron CMOS processes for digital and mixed signal and the creation of a high performance, cost-effective interconnect system. Future process research will include submicron technologies, materials science capabilities and exploring non-standard materials and processes for sensor and display technologies.

The majority of the research budget will be assigned to research regarding computer science and systems. Focus will be on networking capabilities and how to communicate with the objects around us and among ourselves. Projects will include hardware and software issues in heterogeneous high-bandwidth networks, special emphasis on user interface technologies such as display, imaging, voice keyboard and wireless. The Lab will also explore opportunities in analog and mixed signal, especially in the automotive and consumer markets.

The design sciences area will focus on mixed signal design methodology, technology and tools, especially novel circuit designs and approaches.

National also will participate on outside research projects. For example, the company joined the MIT Media Laboratory's new consortium, "Things That Think" as one of 40 sponsor companies. The consortium charter is to research putting real intelligence in things around us enabling unobtrusive, embedded sensing, computing and communication.

"The challenge of the future is to make information timely and relevant, meaningful and interesting to people," said Nicholas Negroponte, founding director of the MIT Media Lab. "As a member of the new Things That Think Consortium, we look to National's expertise in moving and shaping information to provide ways that help people better communicate amongst themselves and with machines."

Other consortiums that National has joined are University of California, Berkeley's Infopad Project researching high bandwidth wireless access to networks and Stanford University's Center for Integrated Systems, researching process technology and applications. The company plans to join University of California, San Diego's Wireless Consortium and UC Berkeley's Multimedia Networking Group.

Recruitment Activities

National will be working closely with universities in its research and recruitment programs, along with expanding programs with current Sematech and Semiconductor Research Corporation. New recruitment and internal career growth tools and are planned for the near future, such as fellowship programs, technical leave of absence for National researchers to experience research at other Labs and technical exchange programs.

"We are developing a program of continuity and commitment to build long-term relationships with schools and universities and build the education and experience for career path support," said Michael Sampogna, director of University Relations/Ph.D. Recruiting. "National is looking for world-class scientists to build a world-class lab."

The research that the NSRL supplies will be the strategic thread of technology in all of National's product lines. Concluded Dr. Matisoo, "The output of the NSRL will be strategy, technologies, hardware and software products, integrated solutions, new business opportunities patents, answers and people."