An Interview with Chris Li on Semiconductors and Legacy Hardware Emulation

Read an interview with Chris Li, Stromasys managing director in Asia Pacific, about the important role of legacy hardware emulation in the semiconductor industry:

SEAJ: What do you understand about Japan’s semiconductor industry?

Mr. Chris Li, Stromasys managing director, Asia Pacific: I have been following the trends of the semiconductor industry worldwide, as I have spent a good amount of time studying semiconductors at university. I was an electronics and electrical engineer, and I graduated from London Imperial College in the early 90s. Semiconductors fascinate me with their ability, with the ever increasing packing of transistors, and their versatility, with manipulation by doping. Japan is the world’s third largest electronics manufacturer and the fourth largest export market for SME (semiconductor manufacturing equipment).

The semiconductor monthly sales figures for Japan are over three billion U.S. dollars. The industry had been facing some stiff challenges in the past few years due to a stagnant economy and the fact that Japan missed the mobile trend. However, consumer trends directly impact the semiconductor industry and the trend is moving towards IoT (Internet of Things). Japan is poised to tap this opportunity over their time.

SEAJ: How could Stromasys contribute to Japan’s semiconductor industry?

Li: Given the long history of Japan’s semiconductor industry and the mission-critical applications that have been in use in various stages of the semiconductor manufacturing process, there are inevitably legacy systems being used. By legacy system, I mean a previous or outdated computer system for which production had been stopped for a long time. There are various reasons for these legacy systems to be kept, perhaps due to the risk of rewriting applications, return on investment challenges, interface with peripheral devices, etc. In all cases, these companies are incurring high maintenance charges on the legacy systems; they are bearing the reliability risk of buying used replacement parts, etc.

Stromasys has a very unique range of products called “Charon,” which emulate (or virtualize) various legacy systems. This means that Charon replaces the legacy hardware. Users can port their existing applications (with no re-installation necessary) to a Charon emulator that runs on Linux or Windows on the latest x86 machine or in the cloud. We preserve our clients’ software investment across hardware generations.

SEAJ: How would this benefit our members?

Li: In the semiconductor industry, precision is paramount, and therefore there are good reasons to keep the existing applications intact. With a Charon solution, users don’t have to make a single change to their applications. Even if they have lost the source code, Charon emulation can help. The time and effort for porting the application to a Charon emulator is minimal.

With no dependency on the aged legacy systems, maintenance costs are reduced significantly. Also, users are able to significantly reduce risk of hardware failure and improve performance. The new system provides a wider range of peripheral devices. Finally, there are savings in operation costs, such as decreased power consumption, heat dissipation, and space occupation.

SEAJ: Any success cases of Stromasys in Japan and worldwide?

Li: Stromasys has implemented cross-platform virtualization solutions for the world’s leading companies in over 70 countries. We have been doing businesses in Japan for well over 10 years. One recent semiconductor client is Renesas (at their Palm Bay, Florida site), where they had five SparcStations,
five Sparc Ultras, and a Sun Blade. The Sun Blade ran on Solaris 8, and the rest ran on SunOS
5.6. Nine of these systems were dedicated to controlling furnaces, and the others played various
roles in controlling the tools and equipment related to semiconductor production.

SEAJ: That all sounds good. How about emulation coverage and costs?

Li: Currently, our Charon emulation covers SPARC, Digital VAX, Alpha and PDP-11 and HP 3000 servers. Within each of these server types, there are a large variety of models that we support. We are also partnering with Oracle to provide our Charon solutions in the cloud. In terms of cost, return on investment to clients is phenomenal. In most cases Charon would be less than one year’s maintenance and operation costs. I strongly recommend your members contact us for a free consultation with no commitment. Please see our contact details below.

About Stromasys

Stromasys is a pioneer in enterprise-class cross-platform legacy server emulation solutions, providing modern infrastructure for legacy applications. Our virtualized environments include:

Charon-PDP: Virtualization/ Emulation of PDP-11 systems.
Charon-VAX: Virtualization/ Emulation of VAX/ VMS configurations.
Charon-AXP: Virtualization/Emulation of Alpha/ VMS/ Tru64 solutions.
Charon-HPA: Virtualization/ Emulation of HP 3000/ MPE technologies.
Charon-SSP: Virtualization/ Emulation of SPARC/ SunOS/ Solaris infrastructure.
Charon on the Cloud: Virtualization/ Emulation of SPARC, Alpha, VAX, and HP 3000 systems in the cloud.

Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland with sales, engineering, and research and development offices located around the world, Stromasys has implemented cross-platform virtualization solutions in over 70 countries to help organizations lower costs, protect their investments, improve performance, reduce risk, and provide easier maintenance. To find out more visit www.stromasys.com or follow us on twitter @stromasys_HQ.