CEO Talk – Jacek Hanke, Digital Core Design

February 11, 2019, anysilicon

This interview was held with Jacek Hanke, CEO, Member of the Board at Digital Core Design.



Tell me a bit about your background? How did you first get started with Digital Core Design?


I established Digital Core Design with my two colleagues in 1999. The three of us were “young and wild, and free…” – we knew each other since university – we all studied at The Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice, Poland. When we graduated in 1999, we got some interesting job posts from big companies from USA, Japan and Western Europe. So we figured out, why not open our own? that it was 1999, so the IP Core market was pretty young, we were pretty young, too – so it must have been good. That was our origins, we’re celebrating 20 years anniversary this year, being the same one of the first companies that built the IP Core market.


Tell me about Digital Core Design ?


As I mentioned, Digital Core Design was founded in 1999, so we’re celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. During these years we have launched more than 70 different architectures, among them the World’s Fastest 8051 CPU –DQ80251, which is more than 75 times faster than the original invented by Intel. One can say that promoting 8051 architecture makes no sense, but I cannot agree. Thanks to its simplicity, well-known architecture and millions of successful implementations, ‘51s are still looking good. That’s why apart from the World’s Fastest 8051, we also offer World’s Smallest 8051 and other variants tailored to customer’s specification needs. We build our portfolio in a way to give an engineer a possibility to choose an appropriate product from DCD’s IP Core universe. So it’s no wonder that apart from the 8051 we also have other 8-, 16- and 32-bit CPUs which can be easily paired with any of our I3C, I2C, UART, USB, CAN, LIN, MAC and other peripherals. And if it’s still not enough, let’s not forget about our latest solution,  cryptographic CPU.


When did you start Digital Core Design ? What were you doing before that?


It was so long ago, that I can’t remember… But honestly speaking, twenty years ago I was studying with my colleagues, but we already successfully completed some implementations of various projects, like 32-bit CPUs and others. So even though my entire professional career is connected with Digital Core Design, I must admit that the EE is a significant part of more than half of my life. I do like what I do and even now, apart from managing the company, I‘m also one of the leading inventors and engineers in DCD, doing the best I can to support our customers’ needs.



What problem did you see that needed to be fixed? What is your approach to solving that?


There are several problems which had occurred during recent years, but I’m glad that most of them have already been fixed. For that reason, honestly saying, I don’t like talking about problems – I prefer to focus on opportunities and chances  the company and industry receive. So let’s not waste time on bad things and move forward.


How was the role/offering of Digital Core Design changed during the recent years?


I believe that not only my company faced the transformation of the market. Twenty years ago even a standalone IP Core was a pretty much interesting solution. But now we have to face the complexity of the project. System-on-Chip becomes a standard, so various IP Cores connected with each other are the target. That’s why we have been building our portfolio in a way that all the puzzles match. For example, if an engineer needs an 8-bit CPU – we can offer dozens of applicable solutions (dependent on size, performance, power consumption); if 32-bit CPU is needed – no problem too, he can choose both from various industry standards or go for DCD’s own 32-bit CPU, the D32PRO, which is a royalty-free, deeply embedded and fully scalable solution. Along with these CPUs one can choose various peripherals which exactly match project needs. Good old fashioned I2C or maybe the newest I3C, UART software compatible with 16450, 16550, 16950, USB HID, Audio, ULPI? As you can see, every project is different, so we must’ve been ready for it. And we are. Our customers appreciate the fact that they can get everything from one vendor, which offers technology independent designs and brings added value to their project.


Did any of the market consolidation (or acquisition) affected your business and how?


Digital Core Design offers technology independent IP Cores, so both consolidations and acquisitions didn’t affect our business in a negative way. We carefully observe what’s going on and being part of the market for over 20 years is also an advantage for DCD. What I can say is that aforementioned changes influenced our business in a very positive way. E.g. what we’ve seen during the past years in the 32-bit market helped us to master our own 32-bit, royalty-free and fully scalable CPU. In the following months we’ll officially present our own cryptographic CPU, which will be the 1st solution available on the market; it will offer 100% safety – even when faced with quantum computers.


Which market segment seems promising to you? And why?


I believe that safety becomes crucial in the modern world, that’s why cryptography is a must-be. On the other hand we cannot forget about RISC-V, which rapidly gains new designs. So let’s now stick these two things together: cryptography and RISC-V… This is something that will rock! Please excuse the lack of technical details, but all I can say is that it is a solution based on patented by Polish scientists cryptographic patterns and DCD’s technology. You probably know that Polish cryptographers decoded the Enigma before the Second World War, so I’m proud that we can base our solution on their heritage. A unique mixture of scientists’ excellence in the field of cryptography and DCD’s technology experience enabled to design a unique product which will be officially presented at the Polish National Booth during the Hannover Messe fair show in Hannover, Germany.



What is a typical customer for Digital Core Design?


Everyone! Estimated data shows clearly that more than 500 000 000 electronic devices around the globe are based on DCD’s IP Cores. But of course our typical direct customer is an engineer, being more precise – deeply embedded engineer. So what do we do apart from offering him a unique IP Core? We support him, in every aspect which can make his work easier. Firstly, we tailor every single IP Core to specific project needs – that saves valuable time. Secondly,  We know that multitasking is a standard for almost every one of us. That’s why we offer during the free 3-months support we provide our support over phone and e-mail. Of course every single IP Core is tailored to the project needs, so this also proves efficiency of an engineer. Lastly, let’s not forget about our webpage with datasheets and instant messenger ready to help when additional information is needed. So as you can see, this kind of holistic support and care for our customers is our hallmark.


Customers are focused on time-to-market, first-time-right, price, etc. Do you see a change in customer behaviour in recent years? Where is the focus today and why?


Generally these needs remain the same: time-to-market, price… The constant need for “bigger, better, faster” is well known, not only in EE. So we faced it and face it every day. What we see lately is a quality tag which becomes more crucial than the price. Of course everyone will work on it to pay less and get the value for money, but the vectors have changed. That’s why we don’t fight a price war, as there’ll always be some other company which will go $10/100/1000 lower. Our solutions have been utilized in various projects, some of them were worth hundreds of thousands other millions, some even more. And our customers know that even if DCD’s part was just a small puzzle in the final solution – it works perfectly and gives ultimate performance.


What are the 3 top things you wish your customers would do better (or different)?


Order more! But seriously… I’m not the one who should tell my customers what to do better or differently. I’m here to satisfy their requirements. That’s why DCD’s team is ready to serve our customers’ needs. As I mentioned earlier, we tailor our offer to the project, not the project to our IP. That’s why I don’t wish to change customers’ behavior, my arms are wide open and ready for any project in which one of DCD’s IP Cores can be utilized.



Are you currently hiring? What type of jobs?


Digital Core Design is in the state of permanent development, hence we are keen on hiring prospective and ambitious people who share the same values and are unafraid of going beyond the ordinary. Of course the foresaid refers also to students, so no matter if you’re still learning or are an experienced engineer, if you think you can help DCD to master more innovative products, just drop us an e-mail at info@dcd.pl or use instant messenger on our www.dcd.pl webpage.



What is the best moment in your day?


I must admit that there are at least two best moments in my day. One, when I enter my office and the second when I leave it… Please don’t take me wrong, but after 20 years of running my company I still love what I do, that’s why every morning in my office brings some excitement. But we all know that work is not everything, so as I said, I also enjoy the moments when projects are closed and I can get some rest.


How do you keep yourself energized and engaged during the day?


Coffee?! I believe that all the projects I’m involved in give me energy during the day. It’s always like an adventure to me – every project is different and every single one is suited to particular requirements set by a customer Achieving success without appropriate dose of engagement, would be simply impossible.


What is your preferred lunch discussion topic?


Every topic is good to discuss, even, or maybe especially work. It’s always worth to talk and listen to what others want to say. It leads to success.


How do you spend your time outside working hours?


I love my job, but I also love the time when I’m outside… For me personally sailing is the best way to spend my free time. I’ve loved it since I was a child and even though the yachts are now bigger and better and the basins are wider – the pure joy which comes when you are sailing remains the same. Yes, being a captain on the yacht and captain of the ship called Digital Core Design gives me the same satisfaction.

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