INMOS - an overview

Table of Contents


Company background

History and Ownership
The three-phase strategy




Colour Look-up Tables
Digital Signal Processors


Static RAMs
Dynamic RAMs

Military Products


Sales and Distribution

Design and Manufacture

Product Design
Quality and Reliability
Second sources

Future developments

Research and development
Process Development
Manufacturing investment
Microsystem products
Static RAM products

INMOS’ future strength


INMOS supplies high end memory and microprocessor products for companies manufacturing high performance systems in the United States, Europe, Japan and the far east. INMOS’ current product lines include very fast static random access memories (RAMs), proprietary microprocessors called transputers, colour graphics devices and digital signal processing products.

The Company’s fabrication facility is in Newport, South Wales and final test facilities are located both at Newport and Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The Corporate headquarters, product design team and worldwide sales and marketing management are based in Bristol, UK.

In 1986 INMOS revenues amounted to $68M*, including first deliveries of a number of significant new products which in turn led to rapid growth of revenues in 1987. It is confidently expected that this growth will continue in 1988 and beyond.

* The Company annual report and accounts figures are shown in US dollars. Revenues for 1987 will be published after year end March 1988.


History and Ownership

INMOS lnternational was founded in 1978 with equity funding of 65M from the British Government’s National Enterprise Board.

The Company was founded by two leading American semiconductor figures Dr Paul Schroeder and Dr Richard Petritz and a British computer scientist, – Iann Barron. Iann Barron is Corporate Development Director at INMOS today.

In September 1984, the British Government sold its interest in INMOS to THORN EMI, the British electronics group, for 95M. THORN EMI technology advisor Douglas Stevenson, was appointed Chief Executive of INMOS in April 1985.

THORN EMI is currently seeking a partner or partners to bring further investment to INMOS and this in turn will provide long term support for the Company’s product and marketing growth plans. In the meantime INMOS has the full and continuing support of THORN EMI.

The Three-Phase Strategy

The business strategy for INMOS called first for the Company to develop its process technology and launch a series of memory products. These first products were used to fine tune the process and to generate revenues.

The second phase of the business plan was for the Bristol facility to develop an innovative microprocessor. The goal of the processor strategy was to design a processor that would cooperate with other processors through dedicated communications links. Such an approach would let systems builders design extendable systems to match the computational problem at hand. To develop such a device would require considerably more time than was required to develop the memory components.

The final phase of the plan was also to be spearheaded by the Bristol operation. This phase called for the development of products that, in effect, are systems in silicon (system specific). The first system specific device from INMOS was a colour look-up table introduced in July 1985, and this has now developed into a range of products. These products dominate the colour graphics market and have a wide range of customers including IBM who use one of the range in their new family of personal computers, the Personal System/2. The second system specific device was a digital signal processor aimed at the fast expanding DSP market.



The objective of lNMOS is to compete in the standard products market with an integrated portfolio of high performance products. The longer term objective is to compete in the silicon systems market where complete systems combining memory and processing capability will be integrated on a single silicon chip.

The Company's emphasis is on innovation - in process, design and markets. By identifying emergent markets INMOS uses these strengths to create a leadership market position. This is successfully happening with transputers, which are creating their own market sector in the microprocessor business, the G17x family of colour look-up tables and the A100 transversal filter for digital signal processing.


Microsystems products, which include transputers, colour look-up tables and DSP devices now account for over 50% of total revenues and are expected to account for 70-80% over the next few years.


From laser printers to video telephones and from industrial control to molecular modelling, robotics and supercomputers, transputers are being designed into a wide spectrum of applications throughout the world. More than 50 companies in the US, Japan and Europe have products based on transputers on the market today and this number increases each mopth. Companies such as Kobe Steel (Japan), British Aerospace {UK), IBM (Japan), Microway (US) and Topoligix (VS) have designed and built transputer based products. In addition to these products there are a number of publically announced projects under development such as those at Ford Aerospace (US), CGE (France), Atari (US) and CAP Scientific (UK). Also there are about 200 projects in progress at more than 100 universities worldwide.

Dataquest suggests that the 32 bit microprocessor market is expected to grow from $288M in 1987 to $1176M in 1992 and yet these figures do not take into account systems using multiple processors. Transputers can not only be built into systems using 1, 2, 200 or 2000 or more devices but transputers can also be attached to conventional microprocessors in existing systems to boost performance.

There are 3 transputers in the range, the IMS T212 16 bit transputer, the IMS T414 32 bit transputer and the latest floating point transputer, the IMS T800 where the 64 bit floating point processor and 32 bit processor are integrated on a single chip. The T800 in the 20 MHz version realises 4M Whetstones which is significantly greater than the two chip floating point version of the Intel 386 or Motorola 68020. This performance gives the transputer a competitive edge against the Intel and Motorola products even in conventional single processor applications.

Other transputer products include the IMS C011 and CO12 link adaptors which are used to connect transputers to conventional microprocessors or standard peripherals, the IMS C004 which is a 32 way cross point switch for 'softwiring' or reconfiguring large transputer systems, and the IMS M212 disc controller containing an integral 16 bit transputer.

The recently introduced TRAMs (transputer modules) use an innovative mother-daughter board packaging technology to build multi-transputer systems exactly matched to the user’s application. This new range complements INMOS’ fixed board range.


INMOS developed its own programming language, occam, because there was no suitable programming language for parallel systems. To obtain maximum performance from a transputer system, occam offers the best solution. Since many customers already have programs written in other languages INMOS has developed compilers for the scientific languages 'C', FORTRAN and Pascal. There is a choice of two development tools to enable the user design software to run on a single or network of mixed transputers. These tools are for the IBM PC XT/AT or NEO PC-9801.

Occam is rapidly gaining acceptance. There are occam user groups in the UK (over 1700 members), West Germany and the US and a new group is about to start in Japan. Well over half of British universities teach occam and have done so for more than 3 years.

Colour look-up tables

Just how large the colour graphics market will become it is difficult to assess. The undisputed growth in this area is accelerating due to the availability of workstation graphics performance and sophistication becoming available on personal computers.

Computer graphics created by the INMOS colour look-up table family have aided the move of personal computers into the high resolution 3 dimensional graphics arena. The recently announced PS2 range of personal systems from IBM uses an IMS G171 colour look-up table in all its models, Hitachi produce a VGA graphics board for the IBM PC XT/AT or compatibles and a number of clone manufacturers in Europe and the Far East are designing members of the G17X family into their new ranges.

The IMS G170, G171, G175 G176 and G178 are variants of a basic product which provides 256 colours at any one time from a possible selection of over 250K colours. This product range has become a de facto standard and colour look-up tables are now an essential feature of all colour graphics systems.

Digital Signal Processors

According to Electronic Trend Publications the digital signal processing market anticipates growth from $311M in 1986 to $1460M in 1991. In recent years DSP has been the province of the military but the technology, being the natural choice for high speed communications systems, radar, sonar, ultrasonic imaging and speech processing, is now moving it into the commercial domain. Electronic Trend Publications see telecommunications as the market sector with the greatest potential, expecting to account for $584 million by 1991.

lNMOS developed a new product, the IMS A100, to address the needs of signal processing where large numbers of consecutive multiplications and additions have to be processed. The novel architecture of the device provides a performance of 80M multiplications and additions per second and greater throughput can be achieved by connecting several A100s together.


Static RAMs

INMOS designs and manufactures a broad range of fast static RAMs ranging from 4K to 64K in a number of configurations. Revenues from memory products in 1988/89 wilt account for 30% of revenues.

As microprocessors become faster and faster, so the demand for fast memory products increases. Despite the semiconductor recession of 1985/6, the number of fast static RAMs shipped worldwide continued to grow throughout the period. The growth of the computer market coupled with the increasing amount of memory in each computer has led to the continued demand for static RAMs. From Dataquest’s actual figures of $353M in 1986 for the worldwide fast static RAM market, it anticipates the market growing to $763M by 1991.

Static RAMs form an integral part of INMOS’ business for in addition to the range of static RAM devices offered by INMOS, both transputers and colour look-up tables have fast static RAM on-chip.

Dynamic RAMs

INMOS also produces a limited number of fast 64K dynamic RAMs, primarily for high performance military applications.


All INMOS products are designed so that they can satisfy the requirements of a military environment in terms of temperature range and reliability under adverse conditions. In general, all INMOS products are qualified to MID-STD-883C.


The Company’s geographic mix has been changing year by year due in part to the penetraton of the Japanese and Far Eastern markets. Revenues in 1987 from the US accounted for 69% of business, Europe 21%, Japan 7% and the rest of the world 3%.

Sales and Distribution

INMOS has 5 sales companies in France, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US and 12 sales offices in Atlanta, Boston, Bristol, Colorado Springs, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Munich, Paris, San Jose, Tokyo and Washington. In addition, INMOS uses 52 representative companies, worldwide and an extensive distribution system at 30 companies worldwide.


Product Design

From the beginning, INMOS has placed great emphasis on the use of computers to improve the design process.

At Bristol, a complete CAD system has been developed for the design of integrated circvits. The CAD system consists of a suite of simulation and layout software which runs on proprietary hardware. This is now being redesigned so that the software will execute on arrays of transputers, thus giving INMOS a greatly enhanced capability.


All products are manufactured at INMOS’ Duffryn, Newport facility which began operations in 1983. This is an 8000 square metre building with a 3000 square metre cleanroom operating to Class 10 environment in the work areas. The facility operates a 4 inch wafer line and has the capacity to upgrade to a 6 inch sub micron capability.

To produce high performance products, where each microchip may consist of up to 300,000 transistors, INMOS uses advanced manufacturing equipment. Wafer steppers, plasma etchers and ion implantors form the basis of fabrication at INMOS.


Subcontractors primarily in Korea and Taiwan are used to assemble devices.


The final testing of commercial products is carried out at INMOS’ Coed Rhedyn, Newport operation whilst military final test takes place at Colorado Springs.

From the start INMOS has used redundancy in chips as a method for yield improvement and was the first company to do so commercially. The substitution of a defective row or column in the memory array is done by laser fusing.

Quality and reliability

Stringent controls of quality and reliability provide the customer with early failure rates of less than 1000 ppm and long term reliability rates of better than 100 FITs (one FIT is one failure per 1000 million device hours). Requirements for military and space applications are even more stringent.

Second sources

INMOS is not currently involved in second sourcing agreements of any of its products. The company has, however, successfully transferred its 256K DRAM technology to NMB Semiconductor in Japan and this product is now the worlds’ leading fast dynamic RAM.

The semiconductor industry appears to be moving away from the tradition of second sourcing. Neither Intel nor Motorola have obtained second source agreements for their 32 bit microprocessors which is representative of the changing attitudes of both supplier and customer.

1NMOS’ own customers such as Hitachi, IBM, British Aerospace and the NEC group have recognised the advantages and competitive edge that INMOS devices bring tc their products and consequently they have moved quickly to bring their products to market. Concerns over second sourcing have not held them back, nor indeed the 60 or more other transputer customers also with products on the market.


Research and Development

INMOS has achieved technical success based on its leadership position in products and process technology and it invests substantially in research and development, averaging 18% of revenues since inception. It is anticipated that the level of R and D will remain within this range in the future.

Process developments

One aspect of the work of the Technology Development Group at Newport is to scale the present 1.2 micron technology to 1.0 micron for products to be manufactured in 1988. In addition work is in progress on the development of 0.8 micron CMOS technology.

Manufacturing investment

A technology breakthrough at Newport means that with only relatively minor enhancements to existing manufacturing equipment the next generation of products can be manufactured on current equipment.

Microsystem products

Currently under development are the next generation of transputers, colour graphics products and DSP devices.

Static RAM products

A new process technology developed in Colorado Springs for an advanced range of 256K static RAMs is currently being transferred to Newport It will be 6-9 months before this move is complete and the process refined. During this period INMOS will be considering the options of manufacturing the static RAMs itself, using a foundry or licensing the parts to be manufactured by another company or a combination of the 3 options. In the meantime, INMOS is moving into production a new 25 nanosecond 64K static RAM based on the new technology so that expertise in the process is built today.


Of the products manufactured by INMOS today, 70% of them did not exist 2 years ago. Over this period, the Company has undergone an aggressive development and manufacturing programme and has moved to address new geographic opportunities. The design and prototyping cycles of many customers are moving towards completion and consequently we regularly see the launch of new products based on INMOS devices. During 1988 and 1989 and indeed into the the 1990’s, major manufacturers throughout the world will be bringing their transputer, colour look-up table and DSP based products to market. The evidence today suggests that we are merely at the beginning of INMOS’ product success.


INMOS international plc (Worldwide Headquarters)
INMOS Limited 1000
Aztec West
Telephone (0454) 616616
Telex 444723
Fax (0454) 617910

Contact: Jan Lyons

INMOS Corporation 1110 Bayfield Drive
PO Box 16000
Colorado Springs
CO 80935 USA
Telephone (719) 630 4000
Telex 910 920 4904
Fax (719) 630 4325
INMOS Japan K.K.
4th Floor
No 1 Kowa Bldg
11-41 Akasaka 1-chome
Tokyo 107
Telephone (03) 505 2840
Telex 29507
Fax (03) 505 2844
Danziger Strasse 2
8057 Eching
Telephone (089) 319 10 28
Telex 522645
Fax (089) 319 10 29
Immeuble Monaco
7 rue Le Corbusier
94518 Rungis Cedex
Telephone (1) 46 87 22 01
Telex 201222
Fax (1) 45 60 40 53

March 1988 42 1106 00