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This article by Michele Alperin was prepared for the April 24,
2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane
In a world where technology leapfrogs into the future,
Milton Chang, president and founder of Systems on Silicon Inc., is
betting on evolution. His start-up chip design company in Monmouth
Junction is developing a chip for a device that integrates network
management for broadband applications into a single device. "Our
view is that networks will evolve versus changing completely at one
shot," says Chang. Consequently, his product will enable the
of traditional and next-generation applications.
While Chang was engineering director for Intec Systems in Manalapan,
which he joined in 1999, he "started thinking about how the
has changed the life of every person." At the same time, he
that although much effort was being devoted to modernizing the
core network infrastructure, few things were being developed to
access networks. "So I decided to do something about it,"
he remembers. He founded Systems on Silicon Inc. (SOSi) to design
chips for the access networks that connect subscribers with their
telecommunication service providers.
His company has just been sold to Chang’s former employer, TranSwitch
Corporation (TXCC), based in Shelton, Connecticut. TranSwitch, which
owned two percent of SOSi, develops multi service access solutions
for the communications semiconductor industry. It paid the equivalent
of $2.4 million in cash for the remaining 98 percent, $900,000
and $1.5 million in debt assumption. SOSi will continue to operate
at Metroplex on Cornwall Drive as a wholly owned subsidiary of
"We produce the brain for the next generation of broadband network
access equipment," says Chang. The Systems on Silicon chip aims
to utilize the information-carrying capabilities of broadband networks
to enable the consolidation of data, voice, and video applications
via a single delivery system. "Right now," explains Chang,
"because of an evolving telecommunications infrastructure, people
are deploying new services, like Voice over Packet (VoP)."
The new device will enable internet service providers to add new
like videoconferencing, virtual private networks, and Voice over
quickly and reliably, without having to install additional expensive
equipment. The overall market for this equipment is expected to grow
to $2.7 billion by 2005.
Many companies are interested in adding VoP capability, because it
is more flexible and can be less expensive than traditional telephone.
VoP enables users to send voice information in discrete packets over
networks like the Internet or over DSL lines. But high quality and
reliable voice transmission is not always available from Internet
service providers, and the device using the Systems on Silicon chip,
Chang promises, will offer voice quality higher than what the existing
network equipment can provide.
VoP is also more flexible than traditional phone service; for example,
it allows users to make phone calls through web pages and, with the
addition of a camera mounted on the computer screen, can provide video
conferencing. Chang believes VoP will enable companies to better serve
their customers. "If you purchase a product and have questions
about installation or service for a home appliance," explains
Chang, "you could click to the vendor’s website and communicate
with a customer service representative." The advantage over a
traditional phone call is that the product could be demonstrated
during the conversation.
Because of Chang’s commitment to evolution over revolution, his chip
will enable a user to choose either traditional telephone service
or VoP. He understands that not everyone will embrace VoP immediately,
because people value the reliability provided by the existing phone
network. The device powered by his chip will also support migration
from traditional service to VoP.
Systems on Silicon targets access equipment for both multi-tenant
units, in which telecommunication systems are brought into a large
building, and carrier-class direct access for a single subscriber
in a single building, like a travel agent or a doctor’s office.
Milton Chang’s academic background is in electrical engineering; he
received a B.S from Chengkung University in Taiwan in 1984 and a Ph.D.
from Michigan State in 1992. He spent three years with Siemens in
Taiwan as a chip designer, moving in 1995 to TranSwitch in
as manager of Internet VLSI, and landing in 1999 as engineering
for Intec Systems in Manalapan.
When Chang started Systems on Silicon in 2000, he brought in friends
who were excited about his vision of improving connections between
subscribers and Internet service companies. He used his own money
at first, then raised a seed investment from family and friends.
he talked to institutional investors and closed Series A financing
with his former employer, TranSwitch, in 2001. He also raised funds
from a venture capital company, Global Technology Venture, based in
Systems on Silicon’s chip is still in the R & D stage but is expected
to come out at the end of 2002. Even though the product is not
says Chang, "we have customers signing up." Since its founding
in early 2000, the company has grown from four to 12 people, most
of them engineers. In that time, it has also moved from the basement
of one of the founders to a smaller office among doctors and dentists
and finally to a more appropriate building for a promising start up.
Now that Chang has sold the firm to TranSwitch, he plans to hire
researchers and upgrade the furnishings.
The current voice quality of VoP telephony is not necessarily good,
and video images may be choppy, but as the Internet’s infrastructure
develops, Chang sees his products working with those technologies
to improve quality.
Chang plans to stay focused on the company’s current application,
but he foresees future applications that will address developing
needs. "We are in a continuous process of reinventing
— Michele Alperin
10, Monmouth Junction 08852. Milton Chang. 732-398-0048; fax,
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