Cisco launches semiconductor design center in Spain

Cisco today announced plans to launch a center for the design of next generation semiconductor devices in Spain.

Cisco seems to have chosen Spain, in part, because the European Union last year enacted the EU Chips Act backed by €43 billion of policy-driven investment.

In Spain, Cisco plans to set up an engineering center to design and prototype next generation semiconductor devices. It will be co-located with the Cisco Innovation Center in Barcelona.

According to Andreu Vilamitjana, Managing Director Cisco Spain, via an email, Cisco already has semiconductor design centers in the United States, Israel, India, China and Armenia.

Avid Think analyst Roy Chua said most of the networking vendors, including Cisco, Juniper, Nokia, etc. do some semiconductor design in-house. But they are fabless, counting on external fabs like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company to do the production of the silicon.

Chua added that Cisco has been designing chips for some time for switching/routing and silicon photonics. The last most notable launch was Cisco's Silicon ONE at the end of 2019. Silicon ONE is also offered to external parties wanting to use the networking chipset. Silicon ONE was supposed to be the result of $1 billion of investment. Silicon ONE efforts were accelerated with their $320 million acquisition of fabless Israeli silicon startup Leaba Semiconductor in early 2016.

Of today’s news, H.E. Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain, stated, “Spain is on the way to become a key player in achieving the EU objective of reaching 20% of the world chip market by 2030.” He also mentioned that Spain has “incentives in place to attract talent and strengthen the current Spanish ecosystem.”

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said, “Semiconductors are essential to so much innovation, and our advances in this field help overcome the performance, economic, and power consumption limitations of current infrastructure.”

It takes a fairly long time for semiconductor innovation to move through prototyping, testing and manufacturing. The semiconductor industry has come into the sights of many governments around the world, including the U.S., since the Covid pandemic and strained relations with China have resulted in semiconductor supply-chain problems.

Cisco has a history of working in Spain. In 2019 it created a digital acceleration program called Digitaliza that encompasses critical infrastructures, public services, manufacturing, energy, fintech and smart tourism. As part of Digitaliza, Cisco plans to educate and reskill 40,000 students, workers and unemployed people in digital technologies in the next 12 months through the non-profit Cisco Networking Academy.