eSilicon Corp. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) company acquired a small design team called Sycon, based in Bucharest, Romania, in February 2005 and is now planning to build up its engineering capability there, Harding said. But as part of the due diligence the company also looked at locations in India and China.
“We started [in Bucharest] with 10 to 15 people and we expect to go to 50 within a year,” said Harding. “There are very highly skilled people in Bucharest and Romania, with a well developed work ethic. The Sycon team had a specialty doing low-power design and we’re going to add analog and packaging capabilities,” Harding added.
Harding said that one reason that eSilicon is building on its central European base, rather than setting down in India or China at this time, is because it makes complex chips using leading-edge processes for customers in the U.S. and Europe.
“Being in the same-time zone is critical to our success. Overnighting work to India doesn’t work. Romania has a very low cost structure, IP protection is very good, and you can drink the water,” said Harding.
“Basically, India is overrated as a location for engineering and central Europe has been neglected. Romania is half the cost of India and there’s almost nobody there poaching your staff, unlike India. The market is ripe throughout Eastern Europe. They are well educated and the work ethic is fantastic.”
“We did a formal analysis of sites around the world. We looked at China and found a gross disregard for intellectual property. China is different to India. I think we’re going to have to go China eventually, because of the market development, but I don’t think we are going to have to go to India.”
Harding said eSilicon’s view of the world was partly driven by the leading edge work it does, with 90 percent on 130-nm design rules and 10 percent on 90-nm. This is well in advance of what China needs at present.
“In terms of respect for IP, China is improving. I predict we will have a presence in China, within 24 to 36 months,” Harding said.