Interview: John Kispert Discusses QSPI Flash And Recent Acquisitions

Interview: John Kispert Discusses QSPI Flash And Recent Acquisitions

John Kispert is the chief executive officer at Spansion.We recently talked about Spansion's new FL-1K quad SPI serial flash memory product as well as the acquisition of the microcontroller and analog business of Fujitsu Semiconductor.

Wong: Spansion recently released its FL-1K quad SPI (QSPI) serial flash memory. Can you give us some details about the chip?

Kispert: We recently announced the production of a new family of 16 MB, 32 MB and 64 MB Spansion FL-1K Serial Flash memory devices. This family of quad I/O serial Flash memory features high performance (up to 108MHz clock frequency), flexible 4K-Byte sectors for efficient erase and program code management, and enhanced security. This family of Flash memory serves a variety of applications from set-top boxes and digital televisions to printers and home networking, to automotive, smart meters, tablets and next-generation PCs.


Wong: The chips have a one-time programmable (OTP) feature. How does it work and what are the advantages to using it?

Kispert: The level of connectivity across devices in a variety of industries is increasing. While that connectivity enables a better user experience, it also opens a host of new security challenges. To address that, Spansion has equipped the FL-1K family with a one-time program (OTP) feature.  This feature ensures that memory can only be programmed once, making it impossible for hackers to access data and reprogram it. The FL-1K family comes equipped with three OTP security registers.

In addition, the FL1K has the block level protection where different portions of the main memory array can be protected. For the 32Mb and 64Mb versions, Spansion also added a new variable size protection scheme, allowing system makers to fine tune the area needing protection and optimizing the use of the memory space.

Taken together, the OTP and block level and variable size protections help prevent inadvertent programming, malicious hacking, and enable greater accessibility while providing high levels of system integrity.


Wong: The family includes support for automotive temperature ranges. What kinds of applications will this part be used for?

Kispert: Vehicles are becoming increasingly reliant on electronics to provide safety, comfort, driver assistance and entertainment. More and more electronic systems are being incorporated in a small space, generating more heat. Spansion’s FL-1K family can support a temperature range of -40 C to +105 C. With that support, automobile manufacturers can improve the usability of applications like the advanced safety systems, infotainment, telematics, cameras, and more. Spansion also plans to expand the temperature range of the family thus enlarging greater coverage of applications and usage model.

Wong: What were the driving forces behind the acquisition of the microcontroller and analog business of Fujitsu Semiconductor?

Kispert: Over two years ago, we set out a strategy for Spansion to transition from a discrete memory provider to a leading global provider of systems solutions for the embedded market. We have leading market share in the embedded market and understand the unique systems requirements and need for more integrated solutions. We introduced our first system solution last year with our Acoustic Coprocessor, which combines memory, logic and software to improve voice recognition in cars. With this acquisition, we can accelerate our product portfolio in system-on-chip solutions, as well as broaden our portfolio to include new MCU and Analog products. Fujitsu was an ideal choice since we have a longstanding partnership with them and they also served similar embedded markets.


Wong: Can you talk a little bit about the importance of this acquisition from an industry perspective?

Kispert: In the global embedded markets we serve such as automotive, communications, industrial and consumer, there is an increasingly need for memory and well as microcontrollers as the industry moves to more intelligent, connected solutions. In particular, there is a growing amount of non-volatile memory needed in microcontrollers and this trend will continue. With our leading edge embedded charge trap (eCT) technology at advanced technology nodes and the new MCU products we now have, we will be able to offer integrated and differentiated solutions to the market.


Wong: What about from a customer perspective?

Kispert: Our customers have a broader portfolio to select from with the same level of quality, performance and reliability they are accustomed to receiving from Spansion. They are excited about the systems we can deliver to them in the future. Our distributors will also find ease in serving their customers needs by offering high-performance integrated solutions from Spansion.


Wong: What kinds of products/solutions should we expect to see as a result?

Kispert: The combination of products and technologies will enable us to produce advanced stand-alone and embedded system-on-chip solutions for next generation electronics in automotive, industrial, consumer and communications, ranging from NOR, NAND Flash memory, proprietary and ARM-based microcontrollers, power management and system-on-chip solutions. These new systems will result in faster, intelligent, secure and energy efficient electronics.

Wong: From a cultural perspective, can you talk a little bit about how the integration process is going?

We were able to close the acquisition in 90 days and as a result, we formed a tightly integrated global team of professionals, who have been working on integrating the various functions and processes. While we still have work to do, we are off to a great start and are benefiting from the synergies across people, products, technology and the embedded markets we serve.


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