By Ron Collett
“We must increase our IC development productivity!” is the persistent invocation from semiconductor industry executives, and it’s getting louder by the day. It’s not surprising. Yet when I ask the question, “What do you mean by productivity?,” executives and R&D managers often give vague answers. Few seem to have a firm grasp of the definition, other than saying “we need to finish projects on schedule, reduce development cycle times and use fewer engineers.” As a characterization of the benefits of boosting productivity, it’s not a bad start.
It reminds me of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s comment in a landmark First Amendment case in which he described the challenge of defining pornography: “Pornography is hard to define, but I know it when I see it.” Maybe semiconductor executives are saying the same thing: “Increased productivity is hard to define, but I know it when I see it.” Justice Stewart subsequently recanted, concluding that pornography can be indeed defined. So too can productivity. [More]