Triad Semiconductor to partner with NCSU

The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area – July 28, 2006 by Matt Evans

Triad Semiconductor, which is pioneering a faster and less-expensive method of designing computer chips, has expanded into a larger facility in Winston-Salem.

It also hopes to see a boost when its cutting-edge technology is incorporated into the engineering program at N.C. State University in Raleigh this fall.

The 13-person company moved into a 6,000-square-foot facility near Stratford Road June 1, according to CEO Lynn Hayden. The new space will allow the company to accommodate the growth that has come with a doubling of revenues over the past year, a pace Hayden anticipates will continue for the next several years.

“We outgrew our old location” in the Piedmont Triad Research Park, Hayden said. Instead of moving to a bigger space within the research park, Triad Semiconductor decided to triple its space at another site.

While the company has not yet begun to turn a profit, Hayden expects to reach a positive cash flow in the next 12 to 15 months. It also plans to hire five additional staffers, including engineers, by the end of this year.

Some of that growth may come as a result of a partnership with N.C. State that will see students in the university’s system engineering classes making use of Triad Semiconductor’s “via-configurable array” technology to design circuits. That technology, according to Chief Technical Officer Jim Kemerling, allows the engineer to design a circuit on top of a “base array” layer that performs many of the back-end functions that have to be handled separately in a fully customized microchip.

“Our customers can easily, relative to designing a whole chip, configure that array using that single layer,” which can be done at about one-tenth the cost and one-quarter of the time of fully-customized chip design, Kemerling said. Chips designed on Triad Semiconductor’s platform are used in applications ranging from tire pressure gauges to medical devices, and can be applied to just about anything that uses sensors or other electronics, he said.

Cheaper and faster is good for customers for obvious reasons, according to N.C. State engineering professor Kevin Gard. But students will benefit because Triad Semiconductor’s technology will allow them to design, fabricate and evaluate a full circuit in the time span of a single semester, which hasn’t been possible using traditional methods.

“It allows the students to innovate in the circuit design without having to worry about all the other things associated with doing an integrated circuit,” such as laying out schematics and doing manual verifications that take a long time but are repetitive and don’t contribute much to the learning, Gard said.

Triad Semiconductor will make a significant investment in the partnership by working directly with students and fabricating the chips they design, Hayden said. He thinks it will be worth it, though, to have new engineers entering the marketplace trained on their technology and either coming to work directly for Triad Semiconductor or telling their future employers about it.

“It’s a small world out there, and getting smaller all the time,” Hayden said. “Word of mouth is the best advertising.”

Triad Semiconductor

CEO: Lynn Hayden
Address: 3900 West Point Blvd., Winston-Salem 27103
Phone: (336) 774-2150
No. of employees: 13
Web site: www.triadsemi.com