Fabless semiconductor group debates RosettaNet membership

Looking to benefit from the RosettaNet business-to-business communications platform, the Fabless Semiconductor Association (FSA) is eyeing a membership in RosettaNet, but is balking at the $80,000 required for an annual board membership.

FSA features semiconductor technology suppliers who outsource manufacturing. Among the group's members are Actel, Conexant, Nvidia, Transmeta, and Xilinx. The group held a meeting here Wednesday featuring a discussion of RosettaNet and presentations about ERP technology. RosettaNet currently has no representation pertaining to the issue of fabless semiconductor manufacturing.

"I think some of the fabless people would like to have some way of inputting into RosettaNet so [our] requirements were known, but [FSA members] don't really want to spend $100,000," said Ron Jones, a member of FSA and president and CEO of consulting firm N-Able Group in Fremont, Calif. He was immediately corrected by Tim Lavelle, executive director of the RosettaNet, who said membership on RosettaNet's semiconductor manufacturing board costs $80,000 per year.

RosettaNet is a consortium of vendors developing e-business process standards. The organization is trying to streamline business processes between trading partners and the supply chain, with initiatives in areas such as order management and invoicing. Some of it its members are Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Intel.

Jones suggested a committee be formed to provide a liaison to RosettaNet. But Lavelle responded, "If you're not part of the board, then you're not really getting a first-row opportunity to influence the processes that are being addressed."

Lavelle acknowledged, "As far as getting input from fabless companies, that's a big hole in our organization."

RosettaNet has made a proposal to have FSA sponsor a member company to participate on a RosettaNet board and provide input, but that plan has not been adopted, Lavelle said.

Another option besides board membership in RosettaNet is a partner-level membership, which costs $5,000 for U.S.-based companies, but partners cannot initiate and lead programs, Lavelle said. However, a partner can participate in programs, which might be a good starting point, he said.

Jones, who ran Wednesday's meeting, said FSA would take up the issue again at a meeting on October 3 and ponder ways to participate in RosettaNet in the meantime.

RosettaNet technology may displace EDI at some companies, Lavelle said. "RosettaNet is not going to go away. It's not just a fad," he said.

Companies that develop a standard under RosettaNet are not entitled to royalties on any intellectual property they contribute, according to Lavelle.

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