ARMing China

Travelling the Silicon RoadSHENZHEN, China — Software is a hard sell in China — in a country that understands the physical aspects of manufacturing inside and out, the concepts surrounding software are perhaps somewhat esoteric.

Furthermore, while system integration is something the Chinese technology industry is adept at, design is still relatively weak by comparison. This may make China an unlikely place to launch an embedded software and hardware company centered on microcontroller development kits, but on the other hand, that would make you the only local game in town, and being local is often a key element to doing business in China.

This is exactly what one company, Shenzhen Embest Info & Tech Co. Ltd., has done.

Embest, a privately held company started up six years ago, is the first and probably still the only domestic company to offer commercially available development tools for ARM processors. ARM is a very popular technology, and the Embest founders were already familiar with it, having worked in the industry, so it was a natural fit.

The company is focused on enterprise customers, the R&D market and education — it sells kits specifically designed for universities and engineering education.

“Things are getting a little better,” said Zhang Guo Rui, international manager for Embest, referring to the Chinese market for its products. Once domestic companies understand the concept of embedded software and what can be done with it, it’s an easy sell, he added.

And with China recognizing the need to develop its own intellectual property in order to keep the revenue generated here inside the country, the domestic market is growing. While software design was often outsourced to India in the past, this is beginning to change as more domestic companies and international companies involved in the domestic market are focusing on their design efforts in China, Zhang said.

The company is located in Shenzhen, where much of the Chinese market for its embedded software and hardware developed is located, given the huge manufacturing base in electronics here.

Still, it’s not a huge market to begin with, and a nascent one in China, so Embest has directed the marketing for its patented technology on international markets. It began selling overseas in 2003; today it is doing business in several countries, including the United States, France, Germany and South Korea.

The company has already built a reputation as a third-party supplier of ARM development products; the industry’s penchant for outsourcing to China to lower costs coupled with Embest’s position in the local Chinese market and its capability to design finished products based on ARM processors, has all helped to boost the company’s market presence both domestically and abroad, said Zhang.

Electronic News Travels to China

Eventually the company would like to expand beyond ARM and produce development kits and product designs around other technologies, such as DSPs. It’s been talking to a Western DSP chipmaker about doing just that, although the talks are only in the initial stages. Like it does for ARM, it wants to introduce tools into the Chinese market to develop designs based around the DSP.

Of course, this could provide the Chinese proverbial win-win situation: It would boost the foreign company’s presence in China via a local supplier, and help spread Embest’s presence in the international market.

Editor’s Note: As explained at length elsewhere on this site, this is a news story written by me that originally appeared on the now-defunct Electronic News’ website, which is long gone. It’s former sister pub Electronic Design News (EDN) currently holds the copyright to all Electronic News copy (to the best of my knowledge). You can still see a copy of this story at EDN.

Startup Vies for Opto Market with Homegrown IP

Travelling the Silicon RoadXIAMEN, China – Startups and entrepreneurs are popping up all over China and this southern coastal city, which is also a center of the optoelectronics industry in China, is no exception.

Chinese optoelectronics has a bit of a head start over its silicon semiconductor device industry; one of Xiamen’s opto device companies was founded more than two decades ago. But then it also plays host to Xiamen UX High-Speed IC Co. Ltd.

UX was founded less than three years ago by a handful of engineers, including Chinese — one of them local — as well as a couple of natives form the United States and Canada. They put in some time at familiar names: Cypress, ON Semi, Epson and Texas Instruments.

It is somewhat familiar story by now in China: UX’s founders felt they had learned all they could learn abroad in business, so they returned to China to start the company because the time seemed ripe, according to company president and Chinese native Xu Ping, who put in six years in Silicon Valley himself before returning to China.

He espoused the same logic many do here: China’s chip market is booming, in part because of domestic demand and in part because of the government’s encouragement to develop a semiconductor manufacturing base. Even if China’s domestic chip production capacity grows exponentially, it will be decades before that capacity comes anywhere close to fulfilling the domestic consumption.

“It does need a lot of technology and people,” Xu remarked of his native country. “Right now, most Chinese companies can only do simple chip designs,” he continued. “We feel like we have more growing room in China. After two-and-a-half years, we feel we can continue to do well.”

Xu estimates that to start UX, which now has a team of 18 people, most of whom are dedicated to R&D, the start up cost in China was about one-fifth to one-tenth of what it would have been in the United States.

The company right now is looking for second-round funding; like many startups here, it is looking to foreign venture capital (VC), namely that in the United States, to find it. While UX enjoys support from the local Xiamen government, and just closed the terms on a low-rate loan, the domestic Chinese VC scene is still nascent, that’s why so many companies like UX seek out foreign VC firms.

As for products, UX right now concentrates on high-end mixed-signal/RF IC chips, transceiver chips for front-tend fiber optic network communications applications, such as transimpedance amplifier, limiting amplifier and laser diode driver chips. Like many startups in China, the company is concentrating on high-end applications, where it has a chance of capturing some market share, rather than the crowded market for high-volume, low-end applications, such as consumer — a particularly crowded domestic market in China right now.

While the company originally set out to develop 10gigabit per second (Gbps) chips, it decided to focus in the short-term on the mainstream market for fiber communications, meaning 155megabit per second (Mbps) chips. It already is in production with IBM/Chartered Semi as its foundry partner with two 155Mbps chips, which it has begun selling, garnering interest outside of China as well, Xu said. The market for 1.5Gbps and 2Gbps is also developing rapidly, he noted.

Xu suggested that his company has an advantage over its competitors, in that while many of them are moving their fiber module manufacturing to China, most of their chips are still being exported out of China. As a domestic fabless company whose foundry partner is in nearby Singapore, and whose chips are packaged by a backend company here in China, UX is poised to grab market share in China, and in the future go head to head with its competitors beyond the country’s borders.

He noted that one of the chips that it has in production right now, a 155Mbps laser driver, can attain speeds up to 311Mbps, and is manufactured with standard low-cost CMOS, rather than BiCMOS or bi-polar technology, more commonly found in optoelectronic apps.

But the company is nevertheless still pursuing advanced technology and its own intellectual property (IP), according to Xu. It has developed and produced chips with 0.13-micron designs, as well as silicon germanium (SiGe) BiCMOS technology, in addition to standard CMOS.

“We’re one of the first companies to use SiGe in a BiCMOS process,” Xu noted. UX has also garnered two patents concerning indium phosphide technology, and has two other patents in the final stages of examination, while it has applied for three additional ones.

He agreed that developing domestic IP is an important issue for China right now. With so many engineers coming back to China, and so many other positive factors in place to foster startups, there is no real reason why China can’t foster its own IP, Xu suggested.

Electronic News Travels to China“I think in China, at least some of these [new] companies should have their own IP,” he said. “I think it’s important to come up with a good product.” Up until recently, China has relied mostly on modifying designs from foreign companies for the domestic market, meaning much of the profit leaves China; this has been one of the significant barriers to IP development in China, he acknowledged.

“First you have to have the people, and then you have to have the technology. If you don’t have these, you won’t get money,” he continued, either in the form of profit or investment capital. “Right now, the engineers are the most important things.”

Editor’s Note: As explained at length elsewhere on this site, this is a news story written by me that originally appeared on the now-defunct Electronic News’ website, which is long gone. It’s former sister pub Electronic Design News (EDN) currently holds the copyright to all Electronic News copy (to the best of my knowledge). You can still see a copy of this story at EDN.

Xiamen: A Bright Light in China’s Tech Industry

Travelling the Silicon RoadXIAMEN, China – If you’ve bought a set-top box recently or perhaps a new appliance – or if you’ve used a remote control in the past decade – there’s a reasonable chance you were utilizing one or components that came from Xiamen Hualian Electronics Co. Ltd.

Or if you’re a Wall Street analyst or venture capital firm trying to finger the few start-ups among the multitudes in China that will be successful, or if you compete in the optoelectronics device market, you’ve probably at least heard of a few of the companies, old and new, here in this sub-tropical southern coastal city. While Chengdu in the east may have its backend manufacturing, Shanghai the front-end fabs, and Beijing may play host to much of the R&D taking place in China right now, Xiamen is a Chinese center for optical technology.

It’s not the only city in China to place an emphasis on optical device manufacturing, and other cities have their share of domestic opto players. But Xiamen embraces the technology wholeheartedly here, as has the central government. In fact Xiamen, located in the Fujian province, has even adopted the moniker of “Light Valley.”

Actively seeking high-growth industries, Xiamen has actively recruited companies like Hualian, said Fan Yu Bo, the company’s president and CEO. The city provides a lot of support, in the form of yuan and specific policies for companies in the optoelectronics industry, among others.

“At the same time, Xiamen is a nice place for hiring … so a lot of high-tech companies would like to reside here,” Fan said. In addition to a nice climate, the city has two other key ingredients, according to Fan: infrastructure and human resources.

Thanks to local and central government support, optical chip technology is one area of high-tech that China actually has a head start on, relative to the rest of its domestic semiconductor industry – although its development is still behind that of other parts of the world. It began developing its optoelectronic manufacturing capability two decades ago, and is already one of the world’s largest producers of light-emitting devices.

Now it is trying to head the rest of the world off at the pass, so to speak, much like Taiwan did with its semiconductor foundries, becoming a center for global silicon chip manufacturing in the previous decade. On the one hand, China’s dedication to its optoelectronics industry is thus economic; on the other hand it is driven by environmental and social necessity: the country is a power-hungry place.

In 2003 the total amount of China’s electricity generation capacity was about 1.91 trillion kilowatt hours, about 12 percent short of actual demand, according to figures from China’s National Solid-State Lighting Engineering Program Office. It estimates the shortfall currently between domestic production and demand from its 1.3 billion citizens and various industries to be as high as 28 percent to 43 percent. By 2020, China’s electricity consumption, based on current demands and current economic growth predictions, could range anywhere from 8 trillion kilowatt hours to 9.5 trillion kilowatt hours.

But the government estimates that it could reduce its electricity demands by as much as 30 percent if the bulk of lighting applications in the country switch to solid state light emitting device technology. It also reckons that the switch could measurably reduce its airborne pollution emissions, given that 80 percent of its electricity comes from coal and oil.

It’s these ideas that drove the creation of the Solid-State Lighting Engineering Program in 2003, a coalition of central government ministries, research and development organizations and local governments.

Xiamen Hosts Old and New

Today China has more than 10 optoelectronic chipmakers, and some 200 light-emitting diode (LED) packaging companies.

Xiamen, specifically, is home to one of the veterans of China’s optoelectronics industry, as well as some of the newest players.

It is host to Xiamen San’an Electronics Co. Ltd., for example, created in late 2000. A partially state-owned concern – its Chinese parent company is involved in steel, iron and electricity production; its other investor is a state-owned capital investment firm – Xiamen San’an is now one of the largest manufacturers of LEDs in China, and it has an optoelectronics R&D program established here as well; the R&D center one of the central government’s goals for establishing the company in the first place.

Xiamen is also home to the aforementioned Hualian Electronics, a company first established in 1984. Today it has two main product lines: optoelectronic semiconductor devices, such as infrared modules for remote control systems, opto-couplers, LEDs and sensors; and optoelectronic-based control and remote control devices, such as infrared remote control emitters and receivers for appliances like air conditioners, refrigerators, microwave ovens and TV set-top boxes.

Unlike many players in China’s semiconductor industry, much of Hualian’s revenue comes from exports, around 40 percent, according to CEO Fan. Many of its international customers include brands recognizable to Western consumers: Panasonic, Yamaha, Emerson and Electrolux among them.

But like many high-tech companies in China today that were around before the turn of the last century, Hualian is a mixture of state-owned and private owned as well. Half of it is owned by a state capital company; the rest of Hualian is owned by a parent company that is itself publicly owned and traded.

Fan naturally sees China’s Solid-State Lighting Engineering Program as a good opportunity for Hualian; the company is currently investing some $16 million (150 million yuan) more into R&D on low-power LED devices.

Over the years, a company like Hualian has seen a lot of changes, from the time it was founded when China was just beginning to open up, to today when it is aggressively pursuing economic growth and a conversion to a free-market driven economy. Both central and local governments naturally tend to lend more support to companies that prove successful in the market place, said Fan, and this, along with China’s economic growth, has lead to chances for the company’s growth.

Electronic News Travels to ChinaAbout the time it began exporting products in the 1990s, it began to realize the importance of developing its own intellectual property, as did the Chinese government. In the past, the government didn’t stress the importance of companies like Hualian developing their own IP, but that changed when China began to actively seek international trade, Fan acknowledged.

Today, for companies like Hualian to compete globally, not only does it have to create its own IP going forward, but respect those of the companies it competes with on the global stage, Fan said. That’s why in recent years, the company has put a lot of funding into R&D programs, and begun applying for patents.

Editor’s Note: As explained at length elsewhere on this site, this is a news story written by me that originally appeared on the now-defunct Electronic News’ website, which is long gone. It’s former sister pub Electronic Design News (EDN) currently holds the copyright to all Electronic News copy (to the best of my knowledge). You can still see a copy of this story at EDN.

Chinese Entrepreneurship Comes in Different Flavors

Travelling the Silicon RoadSHANGHAI – Entrepreneurs take different forms in China, as they do anywhere else. But China is definitely a place for entrepreneurs at the moment, as its transition from a state-owned economy to one that is market-based is in full swing.

On the one hand, there are people like James Gao, founder, president and CEO of start-up Apexone Microelectronics Inc. An analog and mixed-signal company that started operations in 2002, the company has already caught the eye of the VC community and the financial press, being listed as one of Red Herring’s top 100 firms in Asia.

Having completed its Series A funding, its VC backers include DCM-Doll Capital Management, Walden International, The Yangtze Venture Ltd., Ben Itri and YouLiang Cai. Apexone calls Shanghai home, with offices based here in a high-tech park that is also home to companies like Applied Materials Inc. and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.

It is the kind of start-up – and Gao is the kind of entrepreneur – that most in the West would recognize right off. It is a fabless start-up with some interesting IP, currently producing a couple million chips a month, including both from internal development programs as well as finished products.

Its product portfolio includes a patent-pending crystal-less USB transceiver device, a digital audio amplifier developed partially with a U.S. technology partner, and data converters for wireless and broadband applications – converters based on digital CMOS, not BiCMOS, that achieve 12- to 14-bitrates or higher and speeds in the range of a couple of hundred megahertz.

Naturally, the company is targeting high-end consumer applications and is trying to stay away from the crowded low-end market. “In general we’re trying to get high performance analog or mixed signal, along with future applications,” Gao said.

Gao is a Chinese native who got a master’s degree in electrical engineering in the States in 1991 and worked in the chip industry there for a number of years before returning to China. He came back, he said, because he saw the business opportunities here. He noted that’s why others are coming back to China, but is thoughtfully pragmatic about the phenomena; eventually, as the prevailing economic winds shift back to the United States and elsewhere, that’s where Chinese graduate students will go, following the opportunities, he explained.

“I think right now the environment is good,” Gao said of the VC and business climate in China. “But it is a challenge to balance the risks,” he added. “There are always risks, of course.”

He noted that he met recently with some central government officials who observed that the Chinese start-ups that seem to have the best chance at success seem to be those that have foreign VC backers. And at a recent trade show here, among the five Chinese start-ups participating, four of them were backed by foreign VC investors; only one was funded by Chinese venture capitol.

But that’s the hot interest among the VC community right now: start-ups created by Chinese EEs returning to China, having cut their industry teeth abroad, Gao said. The big question is, which ones are the ones to back? After all, they can’t all be successful in the long-run.

Even though getting VC money isn’t a problem in China right now, it’s not like every Chinese engineer with a good idea is guaranteed to strike market gold just because they’re following the technological gold rush back to China.

“Not every company does well,” Gao said of start-ups like Apexone. “The trend really is similar to Silicon Valley. Just a couple percent are successful.”

Moving from Government Bureaucracy to Private Business

At the other end of the Chinese high-tech entrepreneur spectrum is Zhong Jian, founder and manager of Dakeli Technology Co. Ltd., based in Beijing. His isn’t the usual formula for high-tech start-ups, but his is perhaps not entirely unique, at least here in this country.

Zhong is in some ways more symbolic of what is happening in China than a company like Apexone. A former government official in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPT) (one of the forerunners to China’s current Ministry of Information Industries (MII)), when China first started flirting with a market economy in the 1990s, Zhong saw an opportunity to go into business for himself, and seized the opportunity.

One of his assignments back in the day in the MPT was to travel to Singapore and set up a state-owned company to import high-tech goods into China. He was given the equivalent of about three months worth of funding to get things going. After a year, the business was functioning and stable, so he was sent to Japan to do the same thing; once again given about three months’ worth of funding. Two years later, the business was successfully stable.

After learning how to set up two business operations with little financial backing, and things changing in China, Zhong decided to go into business for himself. “I adjusted to business with no financial backing; why not start my own?” he recalled.

“I like freedom. I hate politics,” Zhong said. “That’s why I left the Ministry, to start my own business.” That was 1997. Today Zhong employs 10 people between Dakeli’s office in a residential apartment building in Beijing and one-man offices scattered around China. Last year it brought in revenues of about $4 million; this year the company should see revenue of about $6 million, according to Zhong.

Dakeli originally started out importing networking test equipment into China; it has since branched out into telecomm, as that is a hot market in China right now. Things have changed considerably since Zhong started Dakeli eight years ago.

“There are many stories … but generally speaking when I started it was easier,” Zhong said. “Now there are more and more private companies. There is more and more competition.”

That’s why Dakeli has had to branch out into other areas, and concentrate on high-end technology and applications; the low end has rapidly become crowded in the Chinese marketplace. The company has become particularly focused on the rollout of a 3G standard in China, as well as other specialty telecomm products.

The 3G standard adoption in China has been delayed, but as Beijing prepares for the Olympic Games to come to China in 2008, it looks as if the government will start issuing licenses for 3G in the first half of next year. “I think next year when licenses are issued, our test business will be brisk,” Zhong said.

Dakeli has also begun working with small foreign companies outside of a distribution capacity. “We like to work with small companies with good technology,” said Zhong. “They are flexible, like me.”

For instance, it is working with a Japanese company to design and sell a unique chipset for PHS applications in China. PHS is a mobile standard that was developed in Japan a few years back and has since fallen out of favor, although still popular in many parts of China. While Dakeli’s revenue from this agreement is small – maybe just 2 percent of this year’s revenue – that represents just the first order, one from a government contract. In the near future, after subsequent orders, the PHS revenue stream could represent as much as 30 percent of the company’s revenue, Zhong suggested.

Electronic News Travels to ChinaThe environment has changed in other ways, too, inside China. Relationships are very important in China, and always have been; being a former employee of the Ministry has helped, Zhong acknowledged. But now, it’s not always about whom you know; many government contracts are put out to bid and there is a transparency in place that wasn’t there back in the 1990s.

“Now business is more and more professional,” he said. “You have to have good products, service and technology. Otherwise, you will lose to the competition.”

Editor’s Note: As explained at length elsewhere on this site, this is a news story written by me that originally appeared on the now-defunct Electronic News’ website, which is long gone. It’s former sister pub Electronic Design News (EDN) currently holds the copyright to all Electronic News copy (to the best of my knowledge). You can still see a copy of this story at EDN.

Getting From Lab to Fab: a Chinese Challenge

Travelling the Silicon RoadSHANGHAI — One of the challenges peculiar to China as a developed nation but with a relatively nascent chip industry is that of getting technology out of the lab, into the fab, and into the hands of users.

And thereby making some healthy yuan in the process.

Even while government and industry officials, as well as executives acknowledge that homegrown IP is critical to China’s developing chip industry – not to mention its ability to meet its exploding domestic demand — it has had a poor track record in getting technology developed in the lab into commercial production. It is a task that is difficult at best – for every R&D achievement hailed as a breakthrough, few translate into commercial profit.

It’s a universal problem, noted James Gao, founder and president of Shanghai-based startup Apexone Microelectronics Inc., a fabless, high-end analog and mixed signal chipmaker.

“It not only exists in China,” Gao said. “It’s a similar kind of issue back in the States.” Gao studied in the United States and worked in the chip industry before returning to China to start Apexone in 2002.

The problem, as his company experiences it, is hiring fresh graduate students with great ideas — ideas they brought to fruition in the lab — who want to apply it to Apexone’s products. But the optimal power conditions used in the lab don’t exactly emulate the lower power demanded by a commercial mobile device – in other words, what worked in the lab often experiences problems or just won’t work under real world conditions.

“That is a major challenge for university lab students,” Gao said.

Narrowing the Gap

But it is apparently a particular problem for China. As some students and executives here suggest, part of it is the legacy of communism and state-owned business. It isn’t like China hasn’t had a chip industry for some time. But in the previous climate of a state-owned economy there was little incentive for innovation. And now, as China continues to convert to a market based economy, there is a gap between what Chinese chipmakers can produce and the leading edge in the rest of the world.

Most domestic chip designs originating in China today are at .35-micron to .25-micron, according to Hou Jinsong, manager of the software department at Beijing-based CEC Huada Electronic Design Co. Ltd. (HED). HED was the first fabless design house in China. Hou’s unit within the company is the first domestic Chinese EDA software developer.

Very few designs below 0.18-micron are produced in China. Below that parasitic problems are still an issue for most Chinese design houses, Hou noted. That’s why companies all along the food chain are courting foreign VC investment and joint ventures — to help fund the needed R&D in China.

“I think the gap will be narrower (in the future), but it depends on the investment,” Hou said. “If you don’t have enough (proprietary) IC designs, you won’t grow rapidly. For the EDA industry, investment is very important.”

Converting Brain Power to Economic Power

It’s not that China doesn’t have the EEs or the research programs at universities and institutes to create that necessary domestic intellectual property. It’s the conversion to the commercial market like Apexone’s Gao described that many here say is problematic, and perhaps a new idea for the Chinese, as they move from state-owned enterprises to a free-market system.

Take Beijing, for example. There is a reason Intel recently chose Beijing as the location for a new R&D center. The capitol of this country for centuries, it was cast and maintained as the capitol not because of abundant natural resources – which it doesn’t have – but because of its strategic geographic position.

Over the centuries and into the present it has become the heart and soul of Chinese art and culture and in many respects its brain. The central government is here, as well as many of China’s most prestigious and research institutes and universities, such as Tsinghua University and the China Academy of Science.

“The only difficult thing in Beijing is how to realize the potential of all the brains here,” said Liang Sheng, himself a possessor of a doctorate degree and the section chief of the Department of Information Industry within the municipal government. He is also deputy director of the Beijing Semiconductor Industry Association.

It is a problem that China has worked on for years. One that Liang and others in China suggest was one of the reasons the central government decided to move towards a market-based economy. While the situation has improved markedly in China in recent years, there is still plenty of room for improvement, Liang acknowledged.

But China is learning. One piece of evidence to support that is the start-ups that have been launched out of China’s universities. It’s not a lot, especially when compared to the United States or Europe. But it’s growing. The aforementioned Tsinghua University, for example, has spawned three large start-ups. Beijing University has launched two. North East University in Shenyang has launched six companies.

Many of those companies are retaining close ties with their respective universities, participating in and sponsoring related research programs. In some cases, the two are tightly conjoined, as in the NEU Information and Technology Co. Ltd., a spin-off of North East University (NEU), which also plays host to the Shenyang Embedded Technology and Engineering Research Center.

“The company is a platform for product development,” explained Deng Qingxu, a doctorate and a graduate of NEU, and VP of NEU Info. and Tech.

But while the situation has improved considerably in recent years, the problem of turning Chinese brains into Western-style profit still persists here in China, he acknowledged. “It’s not totally overcome,” he said, adding that probably no more than 50 percent of what gets developed in research labs here makes into a commercial application.

He observed that government support still tends to focus on pure research, as opposed to letting market demands drive research. And the government is still aggressively pursuing research, to be sure.

In addition to encouraging innovation and IP development through the tried and true method of market demand, it is putting a lot of financial resources into R&D. On one hand, it is doling out money to support companies large and small with promising IP. Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) is an oft-mentioned example of this. SMIC is manufacturing 90-nanometer designs for certain customers at its 300mm fab in Beijing, the only 300mm fab in China.

Another method is through government grants. The central government has set aside some $16 million (130 million yuan) a year specifically for system on chip (SoC) development, for example. The government is also currently building two R&D centers – one in Beijing and one in Shanghai.

Electronic News Travels to China“In my opinion, research should be more practical; there should be more cooperation with industry,” Deng said. “That way you find out what the urgent needs are and concentrate on them.

“Just following random ideas in white papers, this isn’t fruitful,” he added, suggesting that relationships between research centers and industry could be tighter still. “As a researcher, you should take your cues from the factory.”

Editor’s Note: As explained at length elsewhere on this site, this is a news story written by me that originally appeared on the now-defunct Electronic News’ website, which is long gone. It’s former sister pub Electronic Design News (EDN) currently holds the copyright to all Electronic News copy (to the best of my knowledge). You can still see a copy of this story at EDN.