“Synergy was created as a tool for customers to tackle IoT revolution”

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Peter Carbone is Vice President and General Manager of the Synergy IoT Platform Business Division responsible for managing the business development and engineering operations for the Renesas Synergy Platform solution.

Prior to this role, Mr. Carbone was Vice President of Marketing for Renesas Electronics America, where he oversaw the General Purpose business development, and marketing for the Americas market. This included the company’s microcontrollers (MCUs), microprocessors (MPUs), analog and power devices, SoCs, network and memory products.

Yashoranjan K, Director of General Purpose Sales & Marketing Division, Renesas Electronics India Private Limited. In an exclusive conversation with ELE Times Peter Carbone and Yashoranjan K. talked about Synergy platform by Renesas and how it is set to revolutionize the development of IoT devices.

ELE Times: Please brief about Renesas Electronics Corporation and its focus domains.
Yashoranjan K: Renesas Electronic Corporation we are basically Japanese company headquartered in Japan. Renesas is actually a merger of Hitachi, Mitsubishi and NEC semiconductor divisions. In India we have two verticals automotive and non-automotive vertical. We have four offices in India headquartered in Bangalore. We have sales and marketing offices in Delhi and Mumbai and also an office in Pune. The 3 solutions offerings and the pre focus domains basically for us are automotive, industrial OA/ICT. OA/ICT is office automation. We have two distinctive domains, automotive and the non-automotive. I will discuss primarily the non-automotive part of the business. In the non-automotive domain we focus on the industrial home electronics segment and OA/ICT.

The industrial segment basically is from factory automation that is your factory automation bus whether it’s different kind of factory automations and feed bus is available in factory automation industrial also is from the metering and the smart grid which is important for the India market Also the general purpose MCUs and the embedded systems catering to consumers in general and industrial applications.

ELE Times: How important is Synergy for Renesas? What is going to be Synergy’s contribution to IoT?
Peter Carbone: IoT revolution is going to start effect on how we look at the electronic age and new services will start to come about that. Products are now going to have APIs which ecosystems can use and new economies can be created because of new age of IoT. This shift is going to cause a new set of companies to grow and old companies to go out of business and some of them transform themselves.

Synergy was created as a tool for customers to make that transition. For our customers they needed to tackle IoT revolution, IoT paradigm. Building that bridge and the infrastructure was not the differentiation. They know they have to seek new areas of value generation and differentiation. Therefore Synergy was created to be that bridge to enable customers, to make that product IoT enabled, provide cloud connected solutions.

There is also an element of time in the market. We saw people focusing on first to market especially during the internet revolution. They were more profitable that the ones looking at cutting bottom costs. They also saw problems of complexity- technology and business complexity. Things are connected now and security has become an issue. So, when customers look at that, they also look at how they did this. Therefore we introduce two concepts- pipe and platform model.

In the pipe model,a traditional way to build products. You design it then source the component, then make it, then ship it; someone gets a PO and then sells it. You make revenue hence make more products.

In the platform model, what the customer does is they look to create a platform to build their business upon. They look for sources of content for that platform and they look at how to use that platform to create a higher value on that.

ELE Times: What is your perspective on the Indian IoT market and what is going to be Renesas contribution to the IoT market?
Yashoranjan K: From India and Synergy, we are at the right time because of the new initiative of the government in India. There are many initiatives like Digital India. There are initiatives like smart cities, digital India. Recently I saw an article in which it said they will concentrate on the internet speed itself and there are many announcements happening where the government said it will start supporting startups with IoT. Also with smart cities, they are talking of simple things as e-rickshaw to intelligent dustbins. They are talking about waste management, security, surveillance; all these are coming in IoT domain. That is why it is more important for us.

In Indian market there are many startup companies coming up in India. Startups do not come with huge upfront capital and they have big dreams there is always barriers to entry because I know I can do this, but I need a platform. Synergy gives you the ideal solution for these issues. Because the upfront cost of GUI-X is expensive, is actually built into the MCU costing. So there is no upfront huge investment to startups. So they can go ahead and prove their solutions, their ideas and Synergy we have 2 models- production license and evaluation license. They can get the complete platform with the latest ARTOS, GUIX, the TCP/IP stacks, USB stacks as evaluation versions. They need to take licensing models only when they go for mass production. With that you can prove your concept, build your product, once you are proven you only apply for the licence model.

ELE Times: If you could also talk about the overall response Renesas Synergy has received?
Peter Carbone: Well, I can speak on a global basis. The response has been fantastic. We introduced in the US in October, in Europe in Feb, Japan around the same time. Now Asia launch is- July to Oct. There is really isn’t so many alternatives out there and from customers perspective they said this is what we needed. They are tired of having to design everything from the beginning and the challenges a lot of customers have they don’t have all the resources. For us to build that bridge so that they can get their product to market faster and with more differentiation has been good. The response on the quality and completeness of the platform has been very good. Always there are areas of improvement we have to do.

ELE Times: Many companies are working in the IoT space; do you think Synergy will stand the test of time in terms of updates?
Peter Carbone: From our regard, we have investments that are needed to create an integrated scalable robust platform is in hundreds of millions of dollars. The competitors will have to make similar investments to get to where we are. Second thing is that from the commitment, where this fit within Renesas. The Synergy platform is one of the largest strategic investments we have made now and have been making for the last 2 years. I would say from a company wise its very core to us, it is from us area to definitely increase our top line revenue and also it is in direct correspondence to lots of feedback and market intelligence received from the customers. It solves core customer problems.

ELE Times: Please brief about the training and specification of using and implementing the platform. Have you started working towards this?
Peter Carbone: For the certification and training for the platform, we have couple of things. From certification- from the very onset we have established a objective to obtain various certification, so we recently got the home appliance certification 60370, we are currently working to the factory automation certification 60508, 61508 certification and in late 2017-18 several medical certification which we cannot announce now, we are working to that. The other aspect of that is the Synergy platform has gone through internal and external audits that upon a customer request we can share on how we are applying and complying to our IEC 12 guidelines and in terms of the second question, in terms of training, it has been going on a regional basis, we have been having a series of training seminars and training third parties both in US and Europe, even in Japan.

ELE Times: How does Synergy plan to capture design engineer’s market segment?
Peter Carbone: Till 2017, be the transition yet. We have introduced three products in production now. We have another six products to introduce in 2017. By then we will have full extensive family, all products and software will have been tested for almost two years at that point and our ecosystem of Arren software would be pretty extensive at that point so that alternative approach from competitive would be significantly different in terms of our approach versus theirs.

ELE Times: Have we also been working on cost factor? We would like to know more on how pricing will go in terms of market?
Peter Carbone: When we created the pricing strategy for Synergy, we talked about total cost ownership which mean to reduce correspondent total cost ownership with Synergy by 20%- 30% versus they look at purchasing the price of competitor device. MCU verses buying our platform based product. As it was explained another important thing is our business model is a differed business model. It means you pay little and when you start to pay when you start shipping the products. So price of platform is incorporated into when you buy MC products. Here your product might be little more priced than traditional MCU products. But overall, it reduces the total cost by 20%- 30%. And per year cost at the time of production verses another model, you have to buy software licenses in order to offer tools in order to start development.
ELE Times: One of the major challenges we see with connected devices is the security. It remains a major concern; how do you think Synergy impact is going to help or solve problems for the engineers?
Peter Carbone: Synergy, from basics across all our product, safety and security is core concern. We have hardware base security and software that comprises device called device cycle management. So we have Criptocell-raders, unique ID, support hardware which allows the customer. We have software to create ‘root of trust’ secure boot and then to authenticate any formal updates. We have VSA partner who provide VPN software, secure SSL connection to websites and alternative certificate management services. So from security perspective, Synergy is well far out and extensible skill from the lower end to higher end.

ELE Times: With rapidly evolving threats in the IoT domain; Is synergy ready for that evolution?
Peter Carbone: Absolutely! It is part of our device life cycle management. Security threat and other things, you need to constantly be able to securely and remotely update your products to increase security protection, add new features and even to correct potential bugs. So when I talk of ‘root of trust’ security boot, which will turn a lot of the environment to authenticate and receive the firmware updates and security updates from a remote server.

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