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LSI Logic

Early fabless ASIC company
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Description

Founded in 1981 by Wilfred Corrigan, Bill O’Meaa, Rob Walker and Mitchell (Mick) Bohn with $6M in venture capital from Sequoia Capital. A second round of funding in 1982 came from a number of companies in England as well as additional investment from Sequoia.
The initial plan called for a line of CMOS gate arrays created from “masterslices” which were uncommitted transistors customized to a specific application by the deposition of unique metal interconnections. The intention was to have the masterslices manufactured by external semiconductor companies and then do the metallization themselves. In order to jump start the business, they licensed an existing CMOS gate array design and reverse engineered and improved on the Motorola ECL array.

They pulled together an EDA flow from the University of Texas developed Tegas and place and route from Silvar-Lisco. They also developed some software and integrated it all together on Megatek hardware and had their first interactive CAD system called (LSI Design System) LDS. What made them unique from other ASIC vendors at the time was that they willing to ship the software to their customers rather than keeping it in-house, which was the strategy used by market leader NEC at the time. In 1982 they started development of their own in-house CAD tools and moved to Silicon Graphics hardware. By 1988, the EDA industry had developed enough that customers wanted to be able to use 3rd party tools.

They signed up Toshiba as their CMOS foundry and started to develop 2 and 3 micron gate arrays. Signetics was the ECL foundry. Amazingly by the end of 1981, they had their first chips manufactured in both technologies. The market changed and ECL quickly went out of favor.

Sales grew rapidly and they had a successful IPO in 1983 that brought in $153 million. By 1985 they were number one in the U.S. for ASICs with a 40% market share.

Over the next three decades, LSI had to reinvent themselves several times. They made several acquisitions, sold off pieces, were acquired and reformulated and most recently acquired by Avago Technologies for $6.6B May 6th 2014.

Recommended reading
Silicon Destiny: The Story of Application Specific Integrated Circuits and Lsi Logic Corporation

  • HQ: Milpitas, CA, USA
  • Known for: gate arrays, ASIC, fabless
  • Other names: LSI Corporation, LSI
  • Type: Company

ACQUISITION:

  • LSI Logic acquired Mint Technology in 1997
    • Reported to be $20M. Approximately $3 million of the Mint Technology purchase price was allocated to in-process research and development.