Engineers at PMC-Sierra, which officially opened its semiconductor design office in Colorado Springs this week, showed off the small semiconductor devices that power the Internet to a group of local business leaders.
The devices are smaller than a business card and can require 18 months to two years and from 40 to 100 engineers to design just one.
The tiny chips, which are used for big main frame storage systems around the world, are the fastest- growing division of the California-based semiconductor company.That is one reason PMC snatched up a storage division from the Colorado Springs Maxim Design Center and plans to grow the division by at least 30 percent a year.
PMC’s acquisition of Maxim’s storage division came with employees and intellectual property. Now, there are 24 employees at PMC’s Colorado Springs design center and the general manager has plans to hire three more engineers in the next week.
“The prime reason we are developing a team here is for the people, the talent,” said Travis Karr, PMC vice president and general manager, enterprise storage solution. “We didn’t buy a revenue stream; we bought a group of people. We are really excited about the innovation that has come out the team that exists and the abilities – we think we can grow this site, with senior talent but ring in new employees.”
Ten years ago, PMC, – which has offices in five U.S. cities, Canada, Asia and the Middle East – wasn’t in the storage business. Today, storage is about two-thirds of the company’s $650 million annual revenue. Karr said as the company’s storage business grew, he found himself doing more business with companies up and down the Front Range.
PMC, which was founded in 1984 and went public in 1991, had wanted to open a design center in the Springs for years, Karr said. Then the opportunity came up to purchase a division from Maxim.
“Storage is everywhere, said Sriram Tyagarajan, PMC director of system engineering who is based in Allentown, Penn., and came out to the Springs to help open the PMC office at 57755 Mark Dabling Boulevard.
“Everything needs to be stored somewhere,” he said.
Colorado Springs has an ecosystem of engineers and of clients, Tyagarajan said. PMC makes the devices that manage how computers talk to drives. Its clients use the devices to build their own data storage systems, Tyagarajan said.
Data storage is one of the targeted industries the city is trying to attract, said Tammy Fields, vice president of business attraction for the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC.
“These are quality jobs,” she said.
The semiconductor industry in the Springs was big in the 1980s and 1990s. It was mostly manufacturing.
“A lot of the manufacturing is gone,” said Greg Tabor, PMC principal engineer, enterprise storage division in the Springs. “But what is filling in are the design jobs. We wished we had more manufacturing here, but we have a very growing community of local engineering talent in the chip industry and data center industry.”
PMC spent the last two months remodeling 13,000 square feet in the Mark Dabling office.
“We look forward to participating economically, socially and being a part of Colorado Springs,” Karr said. “And, hopefully in two years, this building will be busting at the seams and will be looking for more space.”