Innovation Matters

Having an infrastructure in place to support a culture of innovation is critical.

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Innovation is not something that just happens. It requires a culture that rewards innovation, and the only way to make that happen is with buy-in at every level.

What’s needed is a climate for building, inventing and designing ICs and systems that push technology boundaries and help move the industry forward. This is a key ingredient for innovation that has been used across the globe to bring successful new electronic systems and devices to market that ultimately improve the lives of consumers around the world.

A very recent example is the patent awarded on Nov. 10 to Marvell for the Final-Level Cache (FLC) technology, which was developed by CEO and co-founder Dr. Sehat Sutardja. In general, the FLC architecture replaces a conventional DRAM main memory in a system with a high-speed DRAM cache and a solid-state drive (SSD) main memory.

The high speed DRAM cache within the FLC architecture generally has a storage capacity that is much larger than the storage capacity of caches typically associated with a processor. For example, the high-speed DRAM cache can have 1GB to 4GB of storage capacity for mobile phone applications, 4GB to 32GB of storage capacity for personal computer applications, and 32GB to 1TB of storage capacity for server applications.

Various other aspects of the FLC architecture combine to reduce the required storage capability of DRAM within a system, while maximizing memory access rates and minimizing power consumption. FLC technology can be incorporated into almost all computing devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops, servers, wearables, Internet of Things and storage devices.

As the industry faces critical crossroads in design due to ever-changing market demands and a world in desperate need of methods that reduce energy consumption, Marvell’s FLC and MOdular CHIp (MoChi) architectures are poised to change the way next-generation electronic devices and semiconductors are designed and built. Both architectures represent radical departures from the current convention and offer a means to drastically reduce system cost and power consumption of devices to enable affordable devices for the masses.

Ideas at all levels
While innovation requires buy-in at the top, it has to be a core value throughout the organization. In our world, that means combining world-class engineering with extensive expertise in the areas of mixed-signal circuit design, digital signal processing, embedded microprocessors, CMOS technology and system-level architecture. It also must include a process and support for the filing of patents, with education and training throughout the year to raise awareness and encourage contributions from all employees, as well as patent awards to honor employees’ successes.

There are metrics that can be applied to the patent process, too. For example, Thomson Reuters specifies four principal criteria in its formula for identifying innovative companies around the world: overall patent volume, patent application-to-grant success rate, global reach of the portfolio and patent influence as evidenced by citations.

And while there are different strategies for measurement, every patent starts with an innovative idea. Whether it’s those who support the design teams, those who interface and get input from the customers or the legal teams who protect our patents—it’s a team effort involving all levels of the organization. It’s the process and support that make innovation possible, and it’s the culture of innovation that allows companies to develop better products from better ideas. Put those two together and it’s amazing what we can accomplish.