Danny Lam, EE Times(11/03/2008 2:24 PM EST) This commentary was contributed by Danny Lam, energy and semiconductor analyst at The Fairview Group Inc. (San Ramon, Calif.).
In theory, digital chips can be moved around from one manufacturing facility to another. For example, a chipset can be built at IBM, TSMC or even SMIC.
Because you can clone a ''mask set'' from the chip, the industry made that practice illegal via the Semiconductor Protection Act (SPA) in 1984. So, even though someone can steal your design and make it, selling it in any reasonable quantity on the open market is a dead end.
In the case of analog parts, the above considerations do not apply. Analog and mixed-signal parts are specific to individual production lines. Generally, they cannot be moved from one line to another without recalibrating the process from scratch.
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