Friday, July 31, 2009

inSilica licenses Beyond Semiconductor's BA22 processor

SANTA CLARA, USA: inSilica Inc. has licensed the BA22 RISC processor solution from Beyond Semiconductor for use in its next generation camera processor.

The value to inSilica of Beyond Semiconductor's IP solution is to reduce power in its camera processor SoC while reducing overall silicon area cost.

The BA22 processor offers extensive power control features, including clock management and a variety of sleep modes. In addition, the BA22 offers the best-in-class code density for similar processors, resulting in lower memory requirements and consequently, a smaller die area.

"We are delighted to sign this mutually beneficial agreement with Beyond Semiconductor. Their proven IP for consumer solutions will allow us to continue to lead the semiconductor industry in developing efficient, low-cost and low-power camera processor platforms for our mobile products," said Ram Rangarajan, Vice President, Imaging. "We enjoy working with Beyond Semiconductor's excellent team."

"inSilica's decision to design our BA22 RISC processor IP solutions into its high volume mobile chip product, demonstrates their confidence in our ability and our IP," said Matjaz Breskvar, CEO at Beyond Semiconductor. "We look forward to continuing our strategic partnership with inSilica and contributing to their long-term success."

GaAs epitaxial market trends upward despite recession!

BOSTON, USA:The Strategy Analytics annual forecast, “Markets for SI GaAs Epitaxial Substrates: 2008-2013,” covering the semi-insulating (SI) GaAs (gallium arsenide) epitaxial substrate market, concludes that the 2008 SI GaAs epitaxial substrate market grew 22 percent year-on-year, but projects a flat-to-negative market in 2009.

Growth is forecast to return in 2010, leveraging multiple GaAs device insertions in next-generation cellular handset platforms, augmented by GaAs device demand from other markets.

While suppliers have traditionally focused on providing HBT (Heterojunction Bipolar Transistor), HEMT (High Electron Mobility Transistor) and FET (Field Effect Transistor) epitaxial structures, the market is seeing greater emphasis on solutions that allow multiple structures to be combined on the one substrate in order to provide BiFET (Bipolar Field Effect Transistor) or BiHEMT (Bipolar High Electron Mobility Transistor) devices.

“We estimate that BiFET/BiHEMT structures accounted for 6% of the total SI GaAs epitaxial substrate market in 2008,” observed Asif Anwar at Strategy Analytics.

“While still small, this segment will show the fastest growth through 2013 as GaAs device manufacturers look to differentiate their products by offering integrated solutions.”

This study provides an examination of supply chain dynamics, coupled with extensive analysis of end-demand drivers for SI GaAs epitaxial substrates.

The resulting scenario through 2013 suggests epitaxial substrate demand will grow at a CAAGR (compound annual average growth rate) of 5 percent over 2008 to 2013. The corresponding market for GaAs MOCVD (Metal Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition) and MBE (Molecular Beam Epitaxy) substrates will be worth $402 million in 2013.

2Q09 branded NAND Flash makers sales rose 33.6pc QoQ to $2.786bn

TAIPEI, TAIWAN: Benefited from NAND Flash suppliers’ production-cut effect and restock demand from emerging market, NAND Flash ASP rose about 20 percent QoQ in 2Q09.

Total branded NAND Flash shipment increased about 10 percent QoQ and it resulted in the overall branded NAND Flash makers’ revenue improvement in 2Q09. 2Q09 branded NAND Flash makers’ total sales increased 33.6 percent QoQ to $2.786bn from $2.086bn in 1Q09.

According to the ranking, Samsung remains its leadership place with 37.2 percent market share and records $1.037bn revenue, followed by Toshiba with 34.5 percent market share and $960mn revenue.

Hynix ranks No. 3 with 10.3 percent market share and $288mn revenue, while Micron takes the No. 4 seed with $236mn. Intel and Numonyx grab No. 5 and No. 6 with $193mn and $72mn, respectively.

Benefited from the inventory replenishment from mobile market, NAND Flash shipment slight increased with raising ASP in 2Q09. Samsung’s 2Q09 revenue was up 38.3 percent QoQ to $1.037bn, while the 2Q09 market share climbed to 37.2 percent from 36 percent in 1Q09.

Toshiba maintained lower utilization in 2Q09, but quarterly sales increased 29.7 percent QoQ to $960mn because of the enhancing ASP. The 2Q09 market share is slightly down to 34.5 percent from 35.5 percent in 1Q09.

With boosting 23 percent QoQ ASP and 40 percent QoQ shipment, Hynix’s sales significantly rose 68.4 percent QoQ to $288mn in 2Q09. The 2Q09 market share is up to 10.3 percent from 8.2 percent in 1Q09.

Micron and Intel camp demonstrated the upward shipment pattern with lower ASP in 2Q09. Micron’s sales rose 18 percent QoQ to $236mn with 8.5 percent market share in 2Q09. Intel recorded $193mn revenue with 24.5 percent QoQ growth rate and 6.9 percent market share in 2Q09.

Numonyx recorded $72mn revenue with 2.9 percent QoQ despite of mild shipment decline and slightly raising ASP in 2Q09. Numonyx market share in 2Q09 is about 2.6 percent.Source: DRAMeXchange

Multiple wins for Axcelis' Optima XE high energy implanter

BEVERLY, USA: Axcelis Technologies Inc., a leading supplier of innovative, high-productivity solutions for the semiconductor industry, announced that it has achieved multiple wins for its Optima XE single wafer high energy implanter from two major manufacturers of memory devices located in Asia.

The systems will be used for the development of next generation devices at the 32nm node, as well as for high volume chip manufacturing.

Mary Puma, chairman and CEO commented: "We're very excited about these recent sales. The Optima XE offers unique technical advantages to customers striving to meet the demands of high volume device manufacturing at 32nm and beyond. It is the industry's only high energy implanter with high beam current over a broad energy range to meet today's as well as emerging implant applications.

"Combined with rapid tune times and long source life, the Optima XE delivers unmatched productivity. These wins are validation of the confidence customers have in Axcelis as the industry leader in high energy, and allow us to further extend our leadership position in this applications space."

The Optima XE provides a complete range of energy levels from 10keV to 4.5MeV. Its inherent flexibility and broad energy range allow a single tool to support chipmakers' dynamic high energy requirements for DRAM, NAND and NOR FLASH, embedded memory, image sensor and logic device manufacturing.

The Optima XE combines Axcelis' industry leading and production-proven RF Linac high energy, spot beam technology with a high-speed, state-of-the-art single wafer endstation, enabling unmatched productivity. Axcelis' advanced spot beam ensures that all points across the wafer see the same beam at the same angle, resulting in exceptional process control and maximum yield.

Top 20 semicon rankings Q2-09 -- TSMC climbs up, AMD slips down!

Very interesting, isn't it? And I am not surprised! TSMC deserves to move up the top 20 semiconductor companies rankings!! It seems that AMD especially needs to really get its act together.

First, to the rankings. Recently, IC Insights released the list of the top 20 semiconductor sales leaders during Q2-09.Source: IC Insights

In this list, there are four fabless semiconductor companies -- Qualcomm, Broadcom, MediaTek and Nvidia in the top 20, and one foundry -- TSMC, perhaps, emphasizing the growing influence of TSMC as well as the fabless semiconductor companies.

AMD slips! Again?
I had written a couple of posts some time back on AMD and Intel, where the former had commented on the EC ruling on Intel, and also how both were at each other's throats, and had asked the question -- how will all of this help the market?

Well, one hopes that AMD will come back very much stronger in the next quarter, despite its uninspiring guidance for 3Q09, saying that it expects its sales to be "up slightly" from 2Q09.

TSMC, Hynix, MediaTek shine
Coming back to the table, the clear movers are TSMC, and no surprises there, as well as Hynix and MediaTek. In fact, with a little better Q3 performance, TSMC could well move up to the third position, overtaking both Texas Instruments and Toshiba.

Look at the last column -- the 2Q09/1Q09 percentage change -- TSMC has grown by a whopping 93 percent! One other thing! TSMC is reportedly eyeing business opportunities in solar photovoltaics and LEDs in a bid to diversify its revenue channels. Should these happen, expect TSMC to move up higher!

The closest to TSMC in terms of growth are Hynix at 40 percent and Qualcomm at 36 percent, respectively. MediaTek, another impressive mover, grew by 20 percent. Of course, there is Samsung as well, with 29 percent growth.

ST, Micron, Nvidia and NXP have done well too! According to IC Insights, Nvidia replaced Fujitsu in the Q2-09 top 20 rankings. And that brings us to the shakers or those who fared poorly.

Fujitsu, AMD, Freescale slide!
I've already touched upon AMD. Fujitsu cited flash memory and automotive device sales to have suffered immensely this quarter. However, it hopes Q3 will be better and said that customer demand was picking up. So, it could well be back in the Top 20 during Q3.

Yet another slip was in store for Freescale. It slipped from 16th position in 2008 to 18th position during Q1-09, and slid further to 20th position in Q2-09. Perhaps, overdependance on automotives has been its undoing.

An interesting statistic from IC Insights -- Fujitsu, with -9 percent and Freescale, with -2 percent growth, were the only two top-20 companies from Q1-09 to register a 2Q09/1Q09 sales decline!

Wonderful industry guidance
It is heartening to see 19 of the 20 companies registering positive growth this quarter. It won't be improper here to commend IC Insights on its wonderful industry guidance!

In an IC Insights study from late December 2008, it was very vocal in advising firms to adopt a quarterly outlook! It also forecast a significant rebound in the IC market beginning in the third quarter of the year!

IC Insights also stood out by pointing out in early July that H2-09 is likely to usher in strong seasonal strength for electronic system sales, a period of IC inventory replenishment, which began in 2Q09, and positive worldwide GDP growth.

IC Insights had marked 4Q08 as the beginning of the downturn/collapse and Q1-09 as the bottom of the cycle. This quarter (Q2) has largely been a replenishment phase for the inventories. Going by that count, Q3 could well see a true seasonal increase in demand. IC Insights also said that during Q4-09, market growth will mirror the health of the worldwide economy and electronic system sales.

There is light, after all, at the end of the tunnel! Wonder why are the industry folks continue to tell each other -- we still aren't having a good time! Maybe, it is time for them to shed their pessimism and from holding back on investments, and move on to show steely optimism, and indulge in really aggressive buying and selling! After all, work and progress will happen ONLY if you work!!

Top 20 semiconductor suppliers sales surge 21 percent in 2Q09!

USA: The 2Q09 results from the top 20 semiconductor producers illustrate why IC Insights has, since the beginning of this downturn, encouraged its clients to think quarterly about 2009! As shown below, the semiconductor industry continues to move through this silicon cycle very quickly on its way to recovery.

4Q08 — The beginning of the downturn/collapse
1Q09 — The bottom of the cycle
2Q09 — Inventory replenishment phase
3Q09 — Seasonal increase in demand
4Q09 and beyond — Market growth will mirror the health of the worldwide economy and electronic system sales

Over the past few years, much has been said regarding the "maturing" of the semiconductor industry and less volatile cycles. However, IC Insights' new Mid-Year Update to The McClean Report shows that the trend toward a less volatile semiconductor market does not apply when looking at the industry on a quarterly basis.

As shown in Fig. 1, the top 20 semiconductor companies, in total, registered a 2Q09/1Q09 sales increase of 21 percent. This was a 37-point swing compared to the 1Q09/4Q08 results when these same top 20 suppliers endured a sales drop of 16 percent!Source: IC Insights

As discussed in detail in IC Insights' Mid-Year Update to The McClean Report, much of the semiconductor sales surge in 2Q09 was due to inventory replenishment after the severe cutbacks of 4Q08 and 1Q09. However, seasonal demand for electronic systems is forecast to drive 3Q09 semiconductor sales up by at least another 8 percent.

IC Insights continues to forecast a 17 percent decline for the full-year 2009 semiconductor market (the same forecast it presented in December of 2008).

Spurred by the bottoming of the worldwide economy from global recession in 1Q09, the semiconductor market is forecast to continue along its recovery path in the second half of this year and gain further momentum in 2010.

TSMC — As forecast by IC Insights, the world's largest IC foundry almost doubled its sales in 2Q09. In fact, all of the four major pure-play foundries (TSMC, UMC, Chartered, and SMIC) registered very strong 2Q09 sales.

TSMC is expecting another 20 percent increase in sales in 3Q09. Moreover, the company raised its 2009 capital spending budget from $1.9 billion to $2.3 billion, which is good news for the struggling semiconductor equipment suppliers. Considering that the company only spent $390 million in the first half of 2009, a huge jump in spending (to $1.9 billion) is scheduled for the second half of this year!

Hynix — One of the world's largest memory suppliers, Hynix displayed a 40 percent sales surge in 2Q09/1Q09 and replaced AMD in the top 10. The company cited rebounding average selling prices (ASPs) for both flash memory and DRAM as a key boost to its sales figures.

IC Insights expects that memory ASPs will continue to rise in the second half of 2009 and beyond as the severe cutbacks in memory capital spending and facility closures further restrict available capacity.

MediaTek — High-flying fabless IC supplier MediaTek joined the top 20 ranking by jumping six positions in 1Q09. As shown, the company moved up another two spots, to number 17, in 2Q09 with a 20 percent jump in sales.

The company continues to attribute much of its success to the "stay-at-home-economy" driving digital TV IC sales as well as continued strength in its core wireless communications business.

AMD — The second-largest MPU supplier in the world has continued to find that it is no fun to be in competition with the giant Intel! As shown, the company fell out of the top 10 in 2Q09 by barely growing (+0.6 percent), while Intel increased its sales by 12 percent. Moreover, AMD's guidance for 3Q09 was uninspiring, saying that it expects its sales to be "up slightly" from 2Q09.

Freescale — Freescale dropped from being ranked 16th in 2008 to 18th in 1Q09 to 20th in 2Q09 and was one of only two top-20 companies (along with Fujitsu) to register a 2Q09/1Q09 sales decline (-2 percent).

The company is in the midst of a major re-organization (eliminating its cellular phone business) and its fortunes are increasingly influenced by the health of the automotive industry.

Fujitsu — Fujitsu dropped from being ranked 17th in 1Q09 to 22nd in 2Q09 (Nvidia replaced Fujitsu in the 2Q09 top 20 ranking) as its 2Q09/1Q09 sales declined by 9 percent. The company stated that its flash memory and automotive device sales suffered the most in 2Q09.

However, Fujitsu believes that its customers' excess device inventories have now been depleted and that consumer demand is picking up.

ASM wins new ALD business in Japan

ALMERE, THE NETHERLANDS: ASM International N.V. (ASMI) and Euronext Amsterdam (ASM) announced that it has sold its Pulsar q (ALD) system for high-k gates to two top Japanese logic device manufacturers for insertion in the 32/28nm technology node.

The tools will be used for hafnium-based high-k gate dielectrics, as well as for the dielectric capping layers used to tune work function of the gate stack. One customer also ordered ASM's EmerALD® process module for metal gates.

"These orders further extend our leadership position in delivering manufacturing solutions for high-k gates, having now shipped well over 100 Pulsar ALD tools," said Bob Hollands, Director of Marketing for Transistor Products at ASM. "The performance benefits of high-k films deposited in the Pulsar, and our customer-focused approach that enables process integration solutions, were key factors in gaining these new customers.

"With process integration knowledge for high-k gates growing, we are seeing the adoption of high-k metal gates now accelerate rapidly. The combination of Pulsar and EmerALD demonstrates the benefit of ASM's capability to deposit in a clustered system the high-k film, the dielectric capping layer and the metal electrode."

QuickLogic CSSP adds additional capability to Icera’s Espresso 300 3G soft modem

SUNNYVALE, USA: QuickLogic Corp., the lowest power programmable solutions leader, announced the selection of its Customer Specific Standard Product (CSSP), based on the ArcticLink solution platform, for the Icera Espresso 300 3G soft modem platform, that is now entering production.

Icera is a leader in software-defined wireless chipsets and is the only company to deliver software-based cellular modems for broadband data cards, USB sticks, and mobile internet devices.

Icera’s reference design uses a wafer-level chip scale (WLCSP) version of the ArcticLink solution platform to compliment its second-generation baseband chip design. QuickLogic provides higher speed, smart data transfers between USB and SD/SDHC memory via QuickLogic’s innovative Smart Programmable Integrated Data Aggregator (SPIDA) system block.

Mobile data service providers anticipate customer demand for USB-based broadband data cards to reach nearly 40 million units in 2009, according to the market research firm ABI Research. By working with QuickLogic, Icera was able to rapidly address the emerging market for USB data cards that incorporate a micro SD/SDHC memory card interface.

By using the QuickLogic CSSP, based on the ArcticLink solution platform, Icera was able to quickly adapt their leading edge USB data card reference design, without compromising power consumption or impacting performance –- in terms of both the modem and the USB-to-SD/SDHC memory transfers.

As a result, consumers can now have one USB device plugged into their PC, incorporating both a cellular modem and removable memory function.

“QuickLogic’s technology and capabilities were key to our ability to quickly respond to the shifting market requirements without compromises,” said Rick Dingle, vice president of Customer Engineering at Icera.

“The CSSP approach and the use of QuickLogic’s SPIDA-proven system block embedded within the ArcticLink solution platform provided us with the opportunity to work with QuickLogic on architecting and adapting the solution for power and performance efficiencies. By working directly with QuickLogic’s architecture and development teams, Icera was able to go from specification to first samples in less than eight weeks.”

“QuickLogic’s CSSP solutions provide innovative companies such as Icera with the flexibility to implement custom designs optimized for power consumption and performance while saving them the time, expense and effort of spinning base platform silicon,” said Andrew J. Pease, QuickLogic’s president.

“Because CSSPs are not customized until after fabrication and test, we have an appropriate die bank awaiting the needs of many different customers, giving them customized solutions at standard product pricing and availability.”

The ArcticLink-based CSSP that Icera chose belongs to a family of solution platforms that embed a unique combination of QuickLogic’s patented ViaLink programmable fabric technology and hard-wired logic for commonly requested functions to maximize speed, and minimize power consumption and cost.

QuickLogic implemented additional proven system blocks (PSBs) with state-of-the-art power consumption and performance characteristics in the programmable fabric to meet specific customer requirements.

This breadth of functions gives customers the ability to quickly receive a customer specific design with the right combination of functionality, performance, size, and cost without the delays and expense that characterize other custom design approaches.

STMicro, Stollmann to deliver complete NFC solution

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND & HAMBURG, GERMANY: STMicroelectronics and Stollmann, a leading supplier of communication protocol software, announced a joint agreement to offer turnkey NFC interface solutions, complete with all the necessary hardware and software components, to leading manufacturers of handsets and mobile consumer devices.

Near Field Communication (NFC), is a fast-growing wireless connectivity technology that can be used with various consumer devices, including mobile phones, enabling fast and secure short-range data-transfer wireless services, such as payment and transport ticketing applications.

ST's NFC chips and Stollmann's NFC software stack are now available for sampling to lead customers, and provide all the API (Application Programming Interface) and implementation technology required to meet NFC standards, including compliance with NFC Forum specifications.

"Stollmann is very well known for its expertise in the development of connectivity software," said Laurent Degauque, Telecom and NFC marketing manager, Digital Secure Access (DSA) Division, STMicroelectronics. "This is an important cooperation that will allow ST's customers to benefit from a complete and ready-to-use NFC solution that complies with all relevant standards."

"This co-operation with STMicroelectronics is a major milestone for Stollmann and its software solutions for NFC," said Christian Luhrs, Managing Director of Stollmann. "The combined strength of ST, with its leadership in contactless chips, and Stollmann, a leading protocol stack supplier, should mean that we see NFC handsets and other mobile devices in the hands of providers and consumers very quickly."

Within the framework of this cooperative effort, Stollmann is adapting its portable NFC software with the Java JSR-257 API to ST's NFC chips, including the extended functions that will be supported by ST.

ST's ST21NFCA chip supports all popular formats for contactless smart cards and RFID tags as well as an extended set of wired interfaces and protocols. These include I2C and SPI interfaces with ETSI HCI and a Single-Wire Protocol (SWP) interface for Secure Elements (SE). This chip supports all NFC modes (Peer-to-peer, Reader/Writer and CardEmulation).

The Stollmann protocol stack facilitates NFC communications with NDEF and RTD formats and supports direct legacy access to contactless smart cards and RFID tags. The NFaCe+ API allows simple access to any type of smart card. It is also possible to adapt the system to existing interfaces such as PCSC. The stack itself has been developed with porting to different platforms in mind.

Stollmann offers a JSR-257 implementation for Java platforms suitable especially for mobile phones and similar devices and supporting extended functions for legacy transfers.

Fairchild's P-channel MOSFET offers lowest RDS(ON) in a 1x1.5mm WL-CSP package

SAN JOSE, USA: Fairchild Semiconductor brings designers of smart phones, cell phones, netbooks, medical and other portable applications a single P-Channel MOSFET that enables higher levels of efficiency and a small form factor.

The FDZ197PZ offers an RDS(ON) value of 64mOhm at VGS= -4.5V, 15 percent less than alternate solutions. This feature increases efficiency and offers a 1mm x 1.5 mm footprint, reducing board space requirements.

Its WL-CSP package provides excellent power dissipation and conduction losses characteristics compared to conventional plastic-packaged MOSFETs in a similar footprint. Unlike other MOSFETs in its class, the FDZ197PZ offers robust ESD capability (4kV), protecting the device from stresses caused by ESD events that could potentially disable the application.

This P-Channel MOSFET is fabricated with Fairchild's advanced-performance PowerTrench® MOSFET process technology, making it possible to achieve lower RDS (ON) and higher load currents in smaller package sizes.

The WL-CSP package features 6 x 300┬Ám Pb-free solder balls for the board connection, providing excellent electrical and thermal resistance values compared to other WL-CSP pin outs. It features a low package height of only 0.65mm when mounted, facilitating slimmer designs.

The FDZ197PZ is part of a comprehensive portfolio of advanced MOSFETs and answers the industry’s need for compact, low-profile, high performance MOSFETs for charging, load switching, DC-DC and boost applications.

Mentor unveils Android, Embedded Linux strategy by acquiring Embedded Alley

Design Automation Conference 2009, SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Mentor Graphics Corp.unveiled its Android and Linux strategy, including the acquisition of Embedded Alley Solutions Inc., an innovative leader in Android and Linux development systems.

By combining Embedded Alley’s Android and Linux products and services with the Mentor Graphics Nucleus real-time operating system (RTOS), tools and middleware, Mentor can now provide device manufacturers with all the software they need to build their products, and work closely with them throughout their product lifecycle to supply tools and services at every stage.

“Mentor’s strategy acknowledges two strong trends we see in embedded device development today,” stated Glenn Perry, Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division General Manager.

“One is a huge demand for Google’s Android platform in new, complex devices beyond the mobile phones for which Android was originally developed. The other is the growing use on multi-core processors of multiple operating systems, usually Linux and an RTOS like Nucleus. Our investment in Embedded Alley, and its products, open source expertise, and services, will allow our customers to innovate and build better products with power savings, performance optimization, and reduced system cost and risk.”

Mentor’s Android, Linux, and Nucleus products and services provide all the tools, runtime components and expertise required for customers to get to production with innovative products.

This ecosystem for Android- and Linux-based devices is supported by leading semiconductor partners, including ARM, Freescale, Marvell, MIPS, RMI, and Texas Instruments (TI). In separate announcements today, Mentor Graphics revealed support for the ARM Mali graphics processing unit family, Freescale Power Architecture processors and Marvell Sheeva MV78200 Dual-core Embedded Processors.

Embedded Alley was the first to market commercial Android tools and services in May 2009, for the RMI Au1250 SoC and the MIPS architecture.

“The Embedded Alley team is excited to bring our vast experience in open source development to Mentor Graphics,” said Pete Popov, CEO of Embedded Alley. “This is a huge win for our customers, who can now benefit from the combination of Embedded Alley's services and development systems with Mentor's products, services and outstanding support.”

“TI is pleased to learn that Mentor Graphics has acquired Embedded Alley, allowing Mentor to provide additional value to our customers developing with Android and/or Linux on our various TI solutions, including our OMAP35x platform,” said Gerard Andrews, OMAP35x product line manager, TI.

“With the combined expertise from Mentor Graphics and Embedded Alley, we’re confident that they will be able to deliver innovative and even stronger multi-OS/multi-core products that inspire new Linux- and Android-based designs. We’re excited and look forward to seeing the synergy between these two companies and their solutions that ultimately addresses our customers’ key careabouts on an open software platform, community participation and support.”

Perry continued: “As early developers in embedded Linux, Embedded Alley is well-known in the open source community, both as active participants in major projects such as OpenEmbedded, Advanced Linux Sound Architecture, and Linux kernel development, and as leaders in commercial development based on open source software. Their strong reputation follows them into the Android commercial tool market, now placing Mentor Graphics at the forefront of open source software in embedded devices.”

Embedded Alley gained a tremendous lead in Android solutions by investing early and building on their deep Linux/open source experience and technologies. As pioneers in the embedded Linux community, the Embedded Alley team has been instrumental in defining product offerings, shaping business models and building market strategies for embedded systems.

Its unique approach to commercial open source products avoided “boxed” Linux distributions, and gave developers more flexibility and immediate access to the latest open source innovations.

Micron intros new way to increase server memory capacity

BOISE, USA: Micron Technology Inc. has produced the industry’s first DDR3 load-reduced, dual-inline memory module (LRDIMM) and will begin sampling 16-gigabyte (GB) versions this fall.

By reducing load on the server memory bus, Micron’s LRDIMMs provide the option to support higher data frequencies and significantly increase memory capacity.

The new LRDIMMs will be manufactured using Micron’s leading-edge 1.35-volt, 2-gigabit (Gb) 50-nanometer DDR3 memory chips, allowing the company to easily and cost-effectively increase server module capacity because of the chips’ high-density and industry-leading small die size. Micron’s 2Gb 50nm DDR3 product is currently in qualification with customers and is ramping toward high volume production.

Most midrange enterprise servers today utilize approximately 32GB of DRAM per system but this is expected to more than triple by 2012, according to a recent report from Gartner Inc.

With server manufacturers continuing to take advantage of multi-core processors and data centers opting for efficient virtualization technology, memory requirements are being driven ever higher.

By increasing the available memory a server system has, it is able to run more programs concurrently, handle larger data files more efficiently, and generally exhibit better overall system performance.

Micron’s LRDIMMs currently use Inphi’s recently announced isolation memory buffer (iMB) chip in place of a register to reduce the bus load when transferring data between the memory and processor. Micron’s new LRDIMMs reduce this load by 50 percent for a dual-rank module and 75 percent for a quad-rank module, when compared to today’s standard DDR3 server modules -– registered DIMMs (RDIMMs).

By reducing the load on the bus, Micron’s LRDIMMs enable servers to handle higher frequencies of data to improve overall system performance and support increased number of modules for greater system memory capacity.

Today, using RDIMMs, a typical server system can accommodate up to three quad-rank 16GB RDIMMS per processor. However, that same system can support up to nine quad-rank 16GB LRDIMMS per processor, pushing the memory capacity from 48GB to 144GB.

Measuring performance levels, Micron’s 16GB LRDIMM offers an increase of 57 percent in system memory bandwidth, when compared to an RDIMM. And as server power consumption continues to be a top concern for customers, Micron’s LRDIMMs will also operate at the industry’s lowest 1.35-volts.

“With the rise in virtualization, our new 16GB modules allow customers to easily expand their memory capacity. While traditional RDIMMs limit the amount of memory that can be accommodated due to their loading profile, LRDIMMs eliminate that problem by reducing the module load,” said Robert Feurle, vice president of DRAM marketing at Micron.

“And because our LRDIMMs are designed using Micron’s new low-power 2Gb-based 50nm DDR3 chips, which reduces module chip count, we are providing customers with a more cost-effective and efficient means to scale server memory capacity and performance, while also reducing the power levels.”

Micron is currently sampling an 8GB LRDIMM with select enablers. Mass production of its 16GB LRDIMMs is expected to begin in 2010.

Mentor enables Android on Freescale products

Design Automation Conference 2009, SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Mentor Graphics Corp., through its acquisition of Embedded Alley, a leading provider of embedded Linux and Android solutions, announced that the company is extending the popular Android mobile applications platform to support Freescale’s QorIQ and PowerQUICC III processors, which are built on Power Architecture technology.

Mentor now adds the Embedded Alley Development System to the ESD product offering, enabling device OEMs to deploy Android or Linux on devices built with these industry-leading Freescale products.

With this new release for the Embedded Alley Development System, the company broadens its support for Android and also continues to grow the application space for the Google/OHA software stack.

By supporting Android on QorIQ and PowerQUICC III processors, Mentor Graphics opens numerous industries and applications to Android deployment, including networking and network appliances, storage, printing and imaging, multimedia, and industrial control applications.

“Mentor Graphics’ experience and know-how with Power Architecture technology and in-depth knowledge of the Android platform positions us as a strong ecosystem partner to Freescale and an ideal supplier to OEMs,” said Glenn Perry, Mentor Graphics general manager for the Embedded Systems Division.

“Our support for Android on Freescale’s top Power Architecture processors brings a consumer-grade user interface and applications framework to new realms of intelligent devices and industrial equipment.”

“Enabling Android for QorIQ and PowerQUICC III processors offers Freescale’s customers additional choices and flexibility to help enable differentiated end-user experiences,” said Kamal Khouri, senior manager, Platform Product Management for Freescale’s Networking and Multimedia Group.

“Our collaboration with Mentor Graphics allows OEMs to build smart, feature-rich devices based on Freescale processors using either their own value-added applications or shrink-wrapped software from the Android Marketplace.”

Mentor Graphics’ engineering and productization efforts to enable Android for processors built on Power Architecture technology begins with the integration of Android-specific Linux kernel patches (for 2.6.28), and encompasses a range of other investments that include:

* Porting the Dalvik virtual machine underlying Android to Freescale’s PowerQUICC and QorIQ processors, including architecture and build support and comprehensive optimization for Dalvik acceleration.

* Extending Android bionic run-time library and linker support to accommodate Power Architecture technology.

* Utilizes SPE APU, and/or Power Architecture FPU performance enhancement across all software modules.

* Integrating and testing board support and industry-specific device drivers, CODECs and other middleware.

* Supporting Power Architecture technology in the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) and Android targets in the Mentor Graphics customizable Development System
Platform and integration testing of Android stack components and shrink-wrap Android applications.

The Embedded Alley Development System for Android-based devices from Mentor Graphics will be available starting in August 2009.

Based on the Open Handset Alliance “Cupcake” release of Android, the initial Mentor Graphics tool kit will include support for the Freescale MPC8536E development system, complemented by customer-tailored support from Mentor Graphics

Akros offers first integrated, 2kV-isolated, quad-output power SoC

SUNNYVALE, USA: Akros Silicon Inc. has introduced an isolated quad-output digital power SoC that sets a new integration benchmark for the isolated DC-DCs that are used in a wide range of industrial, datacom, automotive, medical, residential gateway, display and other distributed power applications.

Built around Akros’ field-proven and patented GreenEdge™ digital isolation technology, the AS1454 eliminates the need for low-speed, bulky opto-couplers and integrates the functionality of up to eight separate ICs used in current implementations. This leads to a substantial reduction in design footprint and bill-of-material costs.

The AS1454’s built-in cross-isolation DC-DC timing management and digital power control delivers 92 percent DC-DC efficiency with excellent light-load efficiency management for energy-efficient, green-power applications.

The result is a power SoC that delivers cost and energy savings—all while simplifying system designs with digital power and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) management features.

The AS1454 integrates a wide input range (9V-72V) isolated primary converter, a 2kV isolation barrier, a high-current-capable buck or boost PWM controller, and two 2A buck regulators into a single device.

Its wide-input voltage range allows it to be used in 12VDC/24VDC/24VAC distributed power applications in industrial, building management, analog surveillance camera and automotive systems, as well as 48V distributed power applications in telecom, datacom, industrial and medical equipment requiring a 36V-72V input voltage range.

It offers selectable spread-spectrum clocking on all pulse-width modulators (PWM) to reduce power-supply spectral noise by more than 15dB to lower the EMI signature of the switch-mode power supplies and ease system design for EMC compliance.

“With worldwide focus on energy saving initiatives, power subsystems play an increasingly value-added role in overall system design,” said Amit Gattani, Network Power Business Unit Director for Akros Silicon.

“The AS14x4 product family allows our customers to address energy efficiency and lower cost requirements of next-generation equipment, while reducing system level design complexity and development costs. With the AS1454 platform solution, our customers can leverage Akros’ leadership in silicon to deliver cutting-edge products even under challenging budgets and cost targets.”

The AS14x4 product family consists of the AS1454, AS1444, AS1434 and AS1424 devices that cover the gamut of system power and feature requirements. The AS1454/34 are I2C-capable with advanced system diagnostics and programmability features. AS14x4 products are available in footprint-compatible, 64-pin 9x9 QFN, Reduction of Hazardous Substance (RoHS)-compliant packages. Device pricing is available upon request.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More positive indicators for semicon equipment market

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Expected announcements that capex was increasing are giving hope that the equipment downturn has bottomed out, according to the report “The Global Market for Equipment and Materials for IC Manufacturing,” recently published by The Information Network.

We noted in our column on Tuesday that “Singapore-based foundry Chartered Semiconductor raised its 2009 capital budget forecast by a third on growing demand, and we expect similar positive activity coming from Taiwan-based foundries TSMC and UMC as they report this week.”

Well, Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC) reported on Wednesday that it was, in fact, raising its capex morning for CY09 from less than $400 million to $500 million. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) also revised upward its 2009 capex budget to $2.3 billion. Previously, it estimated a capex of $1.9 billion for the year.

For UMC, revenue increased 108.8 percent quarter-over-quarter and wafer shipments increased 134 percent sequentially to 898 thousand in the second quarter, compared to 384 thousand 8-inch equivalent wafers shipped in the first quarter. The overall utilization rate for the quarter was 79 percent, compared to 30 percent in the previous quarter and 85 percent a year ago.

For TSMC, the world’s largest foundry, revenues for the second quarter were up 87.9 percent sequentially. TSMC recorded wafer shipments of 1.97 million 8-inch equivalent units in the second quarter, up 121 percent from 892,000 units in the first.

We stated in our column last Thursday that the chip market recovery had begun, but tightened purse strings was keeping the semiconductor equipment market from exhibiting comparable up and down cycles characteristic of the semiconductor market.

We stated that “In January 1995, 11.4 percent of revenue generated by semiconductor manufacturers was spent on new processing equipment. Forward to May 2009 and only 3.8 percent of semiconductor revenue was spent on equipment.”

As shown in the chart below, up until 2001, the semiconductor and the semiconductor markets moved in tandem, exhibiting a peak and a valley every three years. After 2001, things changed –- the semiconductor market continued strong growth until late 2008 while the equipment market was essentially flat until mid-2008.Source: The Information Network

For 2009, we forecast that the semiconductor equipment market will drop 46 percent. In contrast, we forecast the semiconductor market will drop 26 percent in 2009. Most importantly, growth in the equipment market will continue through 2012, increasing 20 percent in 2010 and 49 percent in 2011.

Magma Quartz DRC and Quartz LVS support TSMC’s unified physical verification format

BANGALORE, INDIA: Magma Design Automation Inc. announced that Quartz DRC and Quartz LVS now support TSMC’s interoperable design rule check (iDRC) and layout-versus-schematic (iLVS).

With the two unified electronic design automation (EDA) data formats and scalable Quartz physical verification solution, Magma and TSMC are working to make their mutual customers’ adoption of TSMC’s 40nm process technology faster, easier and less costly.

"TSMC has taken a leadership role in defining an interoperable, common language for all DRC and LVS tools," said ST Juang, senior director of Design Infrastructure Marketing at TSMC.

“The unified iDRC and iLVS files eliminate the need to develop and maintain multiple custom runsets, improve data accuracy and consistency, and enables designers to choose the EDA tool that best meets their requirements. Ultimately, our customers can adopt our advanced process technologies early for their designs.”

Quartz DRC and Quartz LVS are architected to process integrated circuit (IC) designs of any size, at any technology node, in the least amount of time. Magma's is the first truly scalable physical verification solution, able to provide turnaround time that is up to an order of magnitude faster than existing solutions by leveraging existing compute resources.

The Quartz tools are fully compatible with third-party IC implementation flows and can read file formats used by traditional physical verification tools.

“The scalable architecture of Quartz DRC and Quartz LVS was designed specifically to provide fast, efficient physical verification of large, complex designs,” said Anirudh Devgan, general manager of Magma’s Custom Design Business Unit.

“That scalability and native support for the Tcl procedural language used by the TSMC iDRC and iLVS formats make Quartz DRC and Quartz LVS the ideal solution for designs targeting TSMC’s processes.”

Mentor's Nucleus GUI and Linux platform for ARM Mali GPUs

DAC 2009, SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Mentor Graphics Corp. today announced the integration of its Nucleus graphics user interface (GUI) with the ARM Mali graphics processing unit (GPU) family of acceleration solutions.

The joint platform consists of Embedded Linux running on an ARM1176 processor with an integrated Mali-200 GPU. The tight integration of the Nucleus Graphics GUI solution with ARM’s optimized OpenGL ES device driver enables embedded designers to easily utilize the power of the GPU to deliver products with more compelling user interfaces.

By integrating the Nucleus Graphics GUI solution with the Mali-200 GPU, it is now possible for graphic artists and usability specialists to exploit the potential of this advanced 3D accelerator.

The Nucleus Graphics product abstracts the complexity of the OpenGL ES API to enable anyone to incorporate sophisticated 3D effects such as lighting, spinning, fading, twisting and zooming into their GUI designs without any programming knowledge.

“OpenGL ES is a powerful but complex API and few GUI technologies available today are designed from the outset to accommodate 3D effects and layouts. As a result, getting the best out of a 3D accelerator has generally required a lot of manual embedded programming,” said Ian Smythe, director of marketing, Media Processing Division, ARM.

“With this development, the Nucleus Graphics GUI solution enables anyone designing a GUI to make full use of Mali graphics acceleration capabilities.”

“The ARM Mali family of acceleration solutions is ideal for embedded systems and it is the perfect platform for Nucleus Graphics,” said Glenn Perry, Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division general manager.

“With our partnership with ARM, I expect to see a wide range of more dynamic and visually compelling products across the automotive, consumer, medical, and industrial markets over the next couple of years.”

The ARM Mali-200 3D GPU incorporates a fully programmable vertex and fragment shader architecture, making it ideally suited to a range of applications –- from advanced user interfaces and browsing experiences to console-quality gaming.

Mentor announces Linux and Nucleus multi-OS support for Marvell Sheeva embedded processors

DAC 2009, SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Mentor Graphics Corp. today announced the availability of a combined open-source Linux and Nucleus operating system (OS) solution for the Marvell Sheeva MV78200 dual-core embedded processor.

“Our collaboration with Mentor Graphics’ embedded systems team has allowed Marvell to address the multi-OS needs of our customers using dual-core processors,” stated Dr. Simon Milner, vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Business Unit, Consumer and Communications Business Group at Marvell Semiconductor.

“The performance and real-time qualities of Mentor’s Nucleus OS complement the power and flexibility of Linux, while their tools and services give our mutual customers a boost in product development.”

This dual operating system support was co-developed by Mentor and Marvell, a leader in storage, communications, and consumer silicon solutions providing processors for devices that require enterprise-class performance with low-power consumption. Applications include network controllers, switches and routers, high-performance storage, enterprise printers, DVRs, NVRs and video surveillance, and high-volume SMB gateways.

“Our collaboration with Marvell delivers innovative system solutions that address the needs and requirements of our mutual customers today,” stated Glenn Perry, Mentor Graphics Embedded Systems Division general manager. “Multiple OSs on multicore SoCs, middleware, and services are critical for today’s low-power, high-performance devices, so we are excited about the breadth and depth of capabilities that can be realized with Marvell.”

The MV78200 is a dual-core, high-performance, low-power, highly integrated processor with the Marvell Sheeva CPU cores. Built on Marvell’s innovative Discovery system controller platform, the MV78200 is a complete SoC solution, optimized for low power operation and ideally suited to a wide range of applications ranging from sophisticated routers, switches and wireless base stations to high-volume laser printer applications.

Developers can use the dual OSs to manage separate functional requirements, yet allow them to easily and reliably communicate with each other. Mentor’s Nucleus OS is a fast, scalable and deterministic OS that can be used for operational tasks such as those required in printing drums and ink coverage for enterprise printers, whereas the Linux OS would be used for user interaction and communication.

Display driver depression follow flat panel succession!

Recently, Randy Lawson, Senior Analyst, Digital TV and Display Electronics, iSuppli Corp., discussed the application market for large and small LCD panel display driver semiconductors, including consumer, monitor monitor/notebook PC displays, consumer plasma displays and cell phone and portable displays.

The LCD driver semiconductor market took a disastrous turn in the second half of 2008 as the economic downturn kicked into high gear and the entire electronics supply chain suffered unprecedented declines. Now, as the industry enters H2-09 and forecasts prognosticating better times, vendors of these display driver ICs are looking at when they will see the market recover.

Revenues history of display driver market
Going by the revenues history, the display driver market peaked in 2005 in terms of revenues. The year 2008 saw revenues for display driver ICs dip ~$1 billion from 2007 levels.

The economic crisis resulting in large production cutbacks in all panel types was the main cause. Also, the driver IC unit shipments fell ~30 percent in 2H-08, compared to 2007 levels.

There have been various factors limiting revenues -- ASP pressure due to panel price, competition, technology shift, particularly, advancements in multichannel and gate-in-panel technologies.

In the last half of 2008 panel production went dramatically low. Some Taiwanese panel fabs were at 50 percent capacity or lower, said Lawson. This market, in terms of iSuppli, has peaked in terms of revenue outlook. It is a very large market in terms of units.

Tracking 2009 recovery
iSuppli has been tracking the monthly shipments of large panel driver ICs in 2009, a main area to watch for recovery signs. Q4-08 was devastating with over 30 percent drop in shipments. However, the large panel driver IC shipments improved from January onward. Also, the panel fab utilization rates increased. The low inventories of IC increased the orders.

However, according to iSuppli, the Q3 outlook is likely to be flat to Q2-09 due to higher quarterly baseline.

Dec. 08 vs. Nov. 08 was down 40 percent in terms of unit shipments. From Jan. 09 onward, shipments started going back up. It really went up in February and March as well. Going into April, things are slowing down a little bit, but it is positive for now. Lawson said that Q3 will likely be pretty flat. The industry is still down on a YoY basis, a point to be noted.

Driver IC units forecast
According to iSuppli, the large LCD saw ~13 percent CAGR and small LCD ~2 percent CAGR. The overall driver IC unit growth rate is likely to be ~10 percent CAGR from 2008-12. Growth will be due primarily to the large panel applications as mobile displays unit growth limit potential for small panel driver ICs, advised Lawson.

"We still have a pretty robust outlook for driver ICs from 2008-2012. LCD TV growth is remaining. Monitors and notebook PCs continue to show relatively strong growth in the long term trend," he said.

Large panels are where the driver ICs will find its biggest opportunity. Small panels will be down this year due to much lower unit shipments. This is due to the quite lower volume shipments of mobile handsets, which make up approximately two-thirds of all categories of drivers in the small categories.

Display driver market forecast -- revenue outlook
In this area, the revenues are likely to be more dictated by large panels. The small panel driver revenues are falling due to the ASP erosion exceeding units growth.

As for the large LCD driver IC revenue swings during the forecast period, 2008 and 2009 will contract due to the overall poor economy hurting customer demand. However, 2010 and 2011 should see strong growth return based on very attractive prices for panels and emerging markets taking more share of LCD TV market and growing.

On the whole, the total revenues are likely to contract >13 percent from 2008 to 2012. The year 2009 will be dramatically down by 20 percent over 2008. "Revenue growth is not there for small LCD drivers. The unit growth strong enough in small drivers to counteract the ASP erosion," said Lawson.

Also, some of the market for small panels is LTPS, which typically has a smaller driver IC and cheaper driver IC anyway, as some of the functionality of the LTPS panels can be integrated into the panel, making for a cheaper driver IC.

Revenue rebound likely in 2010
Definitely, turbulent revenues lie ahead! As mentioned, 2009 driver IC revenues will show significant decline in 2009 over 2008. Panel production levels are still below a year ago levels.

A rebound is likely in 2010, but it won't take the industry back to where it was! Keep in mind that the rebound that happens will be due to a rebound in consumer demand as well as the strength of the China market.

Driver IC unit growth has been slowing in the large panel category. This is due to the adoption of multichannel, high-column drivers as well as the gate-in-panel technology effect. Some maturing in LCD monitor and TV applications in Western markets is also causing slower end system unit growth.

As for small panels, the application growth rate is limited. As mentioned, the cell phone unit growth has been declining. Also, the LTPS share has been growing (driver ICs are smaller and less complex).

There have been continual ASP declines. Also, small panels are transitioning from 130nm to 110nm and 90nm, while large panels transitioning from 0.35um to 0.18um/0.16um. Also, there is a transition from 8-inch to 12-inch wafers.

Market share rankings
In this area, there haven't that many changes. Himax has moved up a bit. iSuppli has added several other companies, such as Lusam, Raydium, Sitronix, Orise, etc., into its tracker.

Q1-09 display driver IC market shares
Q1-09 revenue levels dipped well below Q4-08 revenue levels due to production cutbacks and weak demand in large panel category. The revenue levels were down ~50 percent YoY for Q1-09 as the LCD panel market struggled to find stability in the middle of a disastrous Q4-08 and severe cutbacks in panel production, and thus, IC orders.

The Q4-08 revenues were $1,310mn and Q1-09 revenues were $1,017 revenues -- about 30 percent down. Just for the sake of statistics, Q1-08 was $1,936mn.

Large LCD driver market outlook
Here, revenues are likely to grow ~10 percent over the next four years, primarily a rebound from the dismal H2-08 and 2009 levels. LCD TVs will remain a growth engine, overtaking monitor driver IC volumes from Q3-09 forward.

Lawson said: "There are still large markets such as China, and regions that are still in transition to flat panels. More consumers are buying more TVs per household, and decreasing the time between buying TVs."

However, the monitor driver market has stayed mainly flat, and multichannel use and gate-in-panel are causing diminished unit growth as well.

LCD TV driver type forecast
There is clearly a trend toward multichannel, which is likely to grow for cost, space and reliability savings. It lowers the ICs per panel ratio, and lowers IC unit growth rate as well.

Growth is also expected in 10-bit as well as in TV space for improved image quality. The 10-bit growth may be trimmed due to short term focus on 120/240Hz performance, advised Lawson.

Most of this will be driven by the larger panel category. One trend is toward LED backlighting, which is increasing the contrast ratio.

Small/medium markets scenario
A majority of this market is driven by mobile handsets, which account for two thirds of the market. Almost all of the small display drivers are single chip except for clamshell phones.

Some other major applications of small display drivers include digital cameras/camcorders, automotive, digital photo frames, handheld games/PDAs, PNDs, PMPs, as well as some other applications.

Small display driver forecast
Here, active matrix remains the only growth area left. "Gains will be offset by steep CSTN/MSTN declines," said Lawson. "The ASP erosion is also an issue." There is a transition from 130nm/110nm to 90nm, as well as a move to 300mm and LTPS growth.

All of these present further revenue downward pressure as ASP decline exceed the end market growth. Also, the growth in active matrix is not yet enough to offset the revenue decline in cheap drivers used in CSTN/MSTN.

OLED driver ICs
OLED driver ICs are likely to see revenue growth to ~$150mn by 2012. The OLED volumes are still dominated by mobile communication sub-displays, said Lawson.

The AMOLED move to main displays is likely to be next largest market. It is also getting boost from a market shift from pure-music MP3 players to PMPs.

However, competition from TFT-LCD in the near term is likely to slow the OLED panel volume growth. Also, growth in TVs could be a huge market catalyst, but that is not likely to happen until at least beyond 2011.

Lawson added: "The top line is relatively small as OLEDs are still in a mode of competing against amorphous silicon, LTPS, TFT LCDs, etc.. Until OLEDs can resolve some of the manufacturing issues to get to larger sizes, this will remain one of the smaller markets in the whole driver IC category."

Driver IC process node migration -- 2009-10
A majority are currently built on 0.35micron. As mentioned, a process node transition has been occurring in the driver IC market.

Small/portable display driver designs are leading transition to smallest geometry nodes (90nm from 2010 onward).

Technology trends
As for the technology trends for driver ICs, these include TCON (timing controller) functional integration. Frame rate conversion/MEMC, DisplayPort and other new interfaces becoming more prevalent as well.

In packaging, there is a transition to higher pin count/more channels to save cost (large panel). There is an increased use of COG (chip-on-glass) gate-in-panel technology in monitors/notebooks. These are targeted at smaller screens.

There is also a bit-depth move to 10bit. Here, LCD TV performance is spurred by the DeepColor standard and premium TVs. Another interesting feature is the addition of integrated memory for mobile handset displays.

As for interfaces, handset interfaces will see more of serial high speed to reduce cost, EMI, and interconnectors. Here, there will be a role to play for MIPI (GSM market) and MDDI (CDMA market).

MIPI will probably become the predominant industry standard, but it has yet to take off. MDDI, a Qualcomm standard, has already been deployed in millions of displays.

Next, large panel ICs will move beyond RSDS, LVDS, etc., such as Cascade type, Vx1, PPDS, AiPi, and others. Also, DisplayPort is potentially applicable for panels.

In summary, the panel driver IC market unit growth is solid, but its revenue presents a different story. The unit volumes growth looks healthy due to primarily large panel applications.

The year 2009 will see improvement from the Q1-09 trough, but it will still not show revenue growth from 2008 level. The ASP erosion is likely to lessen in 2009 due to shortages, but the long term trend remains downward in face of process migration and panel price declines.

Expect more diversification/collaboration from DDI firms, noted Lawson. As the DDI market matures, large companies will be seeking new growth markets, synergy to cut costs and improve efficiencies.

Recent examples include Novatek and Cheertek, Himax Media Solutions and Renesas SP Drivers (Renesas, Powerchip, Sharp combined efforts).

Next, the small LCD and OLED driver markets are dominated by mobile phones. Here, MSTN and CSTN volumes will shrink to less than 15 percent by 2012. Also, TFT, LTPS and OLED will remain the growth areas for small/portable displays.

Finally, the large LCD driver market will see growth in gate-in-panel in LCD monitors, and especially in notebook panels. There will be multichannel, fewer driver ICs per panel, higher reliability, and lower component count. Transition to multichannel is key, as TV transition will impact volumes significantly.

Arasan Chip Systems announces e-MMC 4.4 card controller IP core

SAN JOSE, USA: Arasan Chip Systems Inc., a leading provider of Intellectual Property (IP) cores, announced the availability of the Embedded MultiMedia 4.4 Card Controller IP compliant with the recently ratified JEDEC e-MMC 4.4 standard.

Arasan's e-MMC 4.4 Card Controller enables memory card designers to support the higher bandwidth and new security, card partition features offered by e-MMC 4.4.

e-MMC 4.4 has a peak bandwidth of 104MBps. It incorporates multiple modes for data security including a secure partition accessible only with a pre-assigned security key.

The standard also permits Hosts to partition and manage card memory. e-MMC 4.4 cards support multiple boot modes that simplify system design. The boot partition can be configured for enhanced operation to lower BOM costs by eliminating an extra chip for boot code. These features make e-MMC 4.4 the preferred solution for emerging mobile platforms.

"The increasing features and complexity of mobile systems is driving designers to use e-MMC 4.4 to securely access boot code and manage user data," said Somnath Viswanath, Product Marketing Manager at Arasan.

"Designers incorporating Arasan's e-MMC 4.4 Card Controller can leverage its new features and get a head start in their card development so as to be the first in the market with e-MMC 4.4 cards."

Arasan's e-MMC 4.4 IP core is backward compatible with the prior 4.3 standard. The core supports all e-MMC 4.4 security mechanisms such as a replay protected memory block, password based, power-on, temporary or permanent write protection.

Arasan's e-MMC 4.4 IP supports Secure Trim and Erase operation that guarantee data deletion. A dedicated hardware reset pin provides easy initialization of the card.

The e-MMC 4.4 card can be configured with multiple memory partitions, each with a different performance and endurance parameter tuned to support Host access of data or boot code. The e-MMC 4.4 Card Controller IP can be used to design embedded or removable non-volatile storage.

Arasan provides a "Total IP Solution" for its e-MMC 4.4 Card Controller IP which consists of RTL code, synthesis scripts, test environment and detailed documentation all backed by World-class customer support.

Spansion positioned for Chapter 11 emergence

SUNNYVALE, USA: Spansion Inc. announced select financial results for its second quarter ended June 28, 2009 that demonstrate the ongoing progress the company is making in its restructuring efforts.

Spansion Japan Ltd, a subsidiary of Spansion Inc., commenced corporate reorganization proceedings in Japan on March 3, 2009. As a result, Spansion Inc. is no longer able to consolidate the financial results of Spansion Japan Ltd in accordance with US GAAP. Financial information presented here represents GAAP-based information for Spansion Inc. and excludes Spansion Japan Ltd.

In the second quarter of 2009, net sales were $376 million, down slightly from the prior quarter. Net sales for the second quarter reflect continued strong support for the company's products and is reflective of its strategy to focus on the embedded solutions market.

Target applications in the embedded solutions market include automotive, consumer, mobility, networking, personal computers and peripherals, and telecommunications.

"Spansion is executing well against its plan and these results are evidence of our strong performance. The company delivered higher than forecasted net sales, decreased operating expenses and significantly improved its cash balances, providing solid momentum for emergence from Chapter 11 in the fourth quarter," said John Kispert,
Spansion president and CEO.

"As a result of a focus on cost reductions, efficiencies and asset management we increased our cash position to $220 million at the end of our second quarter, which is a great improvement from Spansion's cash-challenged position earlier this year."

The new operating model is designed to support a leaner, more competitive company that has greater operational efficiencies and is positioned to lead to positive free cash flow and profitability.

Spansion continued to focus on efficiencies and cost reductions in all three major operating expense categories: Research and Development (R&D); Sales and Marketing; and General and Administrative. Investment in R&D continues at a rate slightly greater than 10% of net sales, supporting Spansion's ongoing development of industry-leading products and technologies.

Total operating expenses, excluding restructuring charges, dropped more than 20 percent in the second quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2009.

Spansion ended the second quarter of 2009 with a cash balance of approximately $220 million, reflecting the continued strong market position with its customers, stable pricing and reduced operating expenses.

The second quarter of 2009 cash balance represents an increase of approximately $125 million compared to the first quarter of 2009 ending cash balance of $95 million.

Spansion Japan Limited's cash balances are excluded from these financial results due to the deconsolidation.

"Spansion and its creditors are managing the bankruptcy process very well," said John Brincko, Spansion's lead restructuring advisor. "Over the next few months, I anticipate Spansion will file a plan of reorganization and successfully emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the fourth quarter as a strong, focused company and a formidable competitor in the Flash memory marketplace."

As a result of the commencement of corporate reorganization proceedings in Japan, Spansion Inc. and Spansion Japan must negotiate new third-party agreements, which are subject to the approval of various parties, including the creditors of each company. Therefore, it is not possible to announce full operating results and balance sheet information at this time.

Semico’s executive briefs provides in-depth, quick guide to 30 key electronic markets

USA: The naysayers and skeptics believe it will take two years, maybe more, to return to 2007 electronic and semiconductor sales levels and that growth will never reach high double digit rates again. Semico believes otherwise!

Jim Feldhan, president of Semico Research does see a change in consumer buying patterns. The new consumer is a “value consumer”. We may no longer be buying bigger homes, but instead, opting for goods that improve our lifestyle, such as a smartphone or a netbook.

Semico’s new report, “The Executive Briefs”, validate this conclusion. At Semico, we track more than forty end use markets in Consumer, Computing, Wired and Wireless Communication, as well as the automotive and industrial applications. The Executive Briefs covers 33 of the markets. Semico believes there are applications within these market segments that will enjoy double digit growth in the years ahead.

Netbooks have recently made a “splash” in the computing arena. Consumers seeking more portable, lower power, lower cost options for internet connectivity, emailing, and social networking have jumped all over these smaller form factor computing devices.

In 2009, netbook shipments will reach an estimated 12.5 million units. By 2013, Tony Massimini, Semico Chief Technology Officer, projects netbook shipments to reach 59.5 million units. Revenue during this timeframe will see a 27.4 percent CAGR increase.

Memory and Micro Logic chips within a netbook, account for over 67 percent of total netbook semiconductor content. Regionally, China and Asia Pacific will dominate netbook production by 2013, with over $15 billion in revenue production.

All this demand also translates into manufacturing capacity needs. Worldwide production at the 65nm process technology node will increase from a projected 1.9 million wafers in 2010 to 6.5 million wafers in 2013.

Netbooks are only one of a number of end applications within the computing end use market. As a whole, the computing segment will grow 12.4 percent, or over $200 million, between 2009 and 2013.

For those charged with analyzing data and the consequential decision making for semiconductor companies up and down the supply chain, wouldn’t you want to find out where the growth will be in the future rather than dwelling on ‘the good ‘ole days?

The aforementioned data is only a small sampling of what’s included in Semico’s latest installment of its Executive Briefs.

Within each of these markets are a total of 30 end-applications, which are tracked by the Semico Map Model database. All of this data has been organized into one cohesive report. The Executive Briefs provide in-depth, semiconductor rich, detail for the years 2008-2013 and include up to 40 tables and figures with expert analysis and explanation.

GlobalFoundries in strategic customer engagement with STMicroelectronics

SUNNYVALE, USA: GLOBALFOUNDRIES announced a strategic customer relationship with STMicroelectronics.

One of the world’s leading suppliers of semiconductor solutions, ST will partner with GLOBALFOUNDRIES to produce products based on 40nm Low Power (LP) bulk silicon technology.

The 40nm LP process is ideal for the next generation of wireless applications, handheld devices, and consumer electronics, which require excellent performance and long battery life. First tape out and production of ST products by GLOBALFOUNDRIES is planned to start in 2010.

“When we launched GLOBALFOUNDRIES, our long-term vision was to bring a new business model to the foundry market and to become the partner of choice for the largest and most innovative semiconductor design and manufacturing companies,” said Doug Grose, Chief Executive Officer, GLOBALFOUNDRIES.

“With the addition of an industry-leader in low-power technology like STMicroelectronics we now begin to deliver on this vision. We look forward to harnessing our full capabilities for ST to provide best-in-class service in bringing their 40nm design innovation to life in high volumes and at mature yields.”

“To ensure ample capacity for our customer/partners at the leading-edge of low-power design, ST needs an agile and high-performance manufacturing partner that can adapt to our changing needs,” said Jean-Marc Chery, Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, STMicroelectronics.

“With a strong commitment to manufacturing and technology excellence at the leading-edge, we believe GLOBALFOUNDRIES is an excellent partner to collaborate on low-power design innovation in 2010 and beyond.”

GLOBALFOUNDRIES production is currently centered at a state-of-the-art 300mm manufacturing campus in Dresden, Germany –- otherwise known as Fab 1. Consistently ranked as one of the top fabs in the industry, Fab 1 has a proven track record of ramping leading-edge technologies at high-volume and mature yields, most recently evidenced on a seamless ramp of 45nm process technology.

In July 2009, GLOBALFOUNDRIES also broke ground on Fab 2, a $4.2B wafer manufacturing facility in Malta, N.Y. Once complete, Fab 2 is expected to be the most advanced semiconductor foundry in the world.

Altera extends temperature range of Stratix III FPGAs for military apps

SAN JOSE, USA: Altera Corp. has extended the temperature range for selected members of its Stratix III FPGA family to support military applications operating in rugged environments.

Offering Stratix III FPGAs with an extended temperature range is part of Altera's enhanced commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) strategy, which ensures military customers have access to the technology and economy of scale advantages provided by commercially available products.

Components used in military applications such as radar, electronic countermeasures and ground-combat communications equipment are required to operate in extreme environments. Selected members of Altera's high-performance Stratix III FPGAs support these applications by enabling operation between -55°C to +125°C.

Altera's military-grade Stratix III FPGAs deliver a core clock performance up to 600 MHz, offer 533-MHz DDR3 DIMM support and feature up to 150K logic elements (LEs), 8 Mbits of embedded memory and up to 896 18x18 embedded multipliers. Stratix III FPGAs also feature Altera's innovative Programmable Power Technology, enabling customers to minimize power consumption and maximize performance in military applications.

"Altera's enhanced COTS strategy strives to meet the DOD's mandate of using commercially available products in military systems that meet their reliability, risk and performance requirements," said Amr El-Ashmawi, senior business unit manager of Altera's military/aerospace business unit. "With our military-grade Stratix III FPGAs, Altera delivers an FPGA solution that specifically addresses the military's size, weight and power constraints while helping keep costs in check."

Altera's Stratix III FPGA family is currently shipping in volume, offering broad support across commercial, industrial and military temperature ranges.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

iSuppli upgrades DRAM market rating to positive

EL SEGUNDO: Amid a shortage of DDR3 memory and a resulting rise in pricing, iSuppli Corp. has upgraded its rating of near-term conditions for DRAM suppliers to positive.

iSuppli had maintained its negative rating since September 2008 until it upgraded the condition to neutral two weeks ago.

“The improvement in circumstances is a welcome relief to a DRAM market that has been stuck in a state of oversupply for nearly three years,” said Nam Hyung Kim, chief analyst for iSuppli.

“The oversupply has been a disaster for the global DRAM industry, with revenue dropping to $23.6 billion in 2008, down from $34 billion in 2006,” Kim said. During this period, the profitability of DRAM suppliers evaporated completely, and the combined operating loss for the entire DRAM industry amounted to $15 billion during the last three years.

Kim added: “With rising demand and limited supply for DDR3, the global DRAM industry is set for a sustainable recovery that will extend into the fourth quarter and pave the way for a robust annual increase in 2010.”

DRAM revenue plunged by 19.5 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. However, with the rise in DRAM pricing, revenue increased by 37.5 percent in the second quarter compared to the first. Revenue is set to continue to rise on a sequential basis by more than 20 percent each in the third and fourth quarters.

The figure presents iSuppli’s worldwide quarterly revenue growth forecast for DRAM.Source: iSuppli, July 2009

Kim this month visited Asia where DRAM suppliers confirmed the DDR3 shortage. The suppliers reported PC OEMs are making a rapid shift from DDR2 DRAM, which has been the industry standard for nearly three years, to DDR3 because of its high performance and low power usage.

However, suppliers have not yet ramped up production of DDR3 enough to meet this new demand. DDR3 captured only 8.4 percent of total bit shipment in the first quarter of this year and is expected to reach 15 percent of total bit shipment in the second quarter, based on iSuppli’s preliminary data.

iSuppli predicts the DDR3 shortage will persist during the third quarter because suppliers won’t be able to meet current demand. While the limited investment of DRAM suppliers is slowing their 50nm migration—a process necessary to ramp up DDR3 production quickly—the DDR3 shortage will cause supplies of DDR2 to tighten as Tier-One suppliers continue to convert production from DDR2 to DDR3.

Nevertheless, if DDR2 prices rise, suppliers in Taiwan are likely to increase their utilization rates, limiting price increases. Thus, depending on Taiwanese suppliers, a recovery in DDR2 prices could be limited, widening the price gap between DDR2 and DDR3.

The price crossover between DDR2 and DDR3 is expected to arrive near the end of the year or in early 2010 when DDR3 volume rises to be equal with DDR2’s.

While the DDR3 shortage and the improvement in market conditions are positive developments for suppliers, they represent bad news for PC OEMs and other DRAM buyers.

“Prices are rising in the third quarter, a time when DRAM buyers typically begin to make purchases for the holiday season,” Kim noted. “Adding to the current tight supply for notebook LCD panels, the increase in DRAM prices will result in lower profitability for the PC makers in the second half of the year.”

Tektronix releases Educator’s Resource Kit

BANGALORE, INDIA: Tektronix Inc. has released a comprehensive new Educator’s Resource Kit that uses hands-on problem-based laboratory experiments to teach students the fundamentals of test and measurement for basic electronics.

The kit is designed to help ensure that students are prepared to be immediately productive in the workplace and able to use the latest in test and measurement instrumentation.

Virtually every electronic product developed today is an embedded system and may contain microprocessors, microcontrollers, DSPs, RAM, Flash, EEPROMs, FPGAs, A/Ds, D/As, serial and parallel buses, embedded audio and switch-mode power supplies.

Students need to be trained on the test equipment and procedures used to design and troubleshoot these multi-component embedded systems. The labs in the Educator’s Resource Kit address the most common challenges faced in the electronics industry today.

“With the rapid pace of change in the electronics industry, educators are finding it increasingly challenging to keep their curriculum current with the latest advances. Staying current is particularly important, and daunting, in embedded systems design,” said Bob Bluhm, vice president and general manager, Value Oscilloscope Product Line, Tektronix.

“The Educator’s Resource Kit offers an easy-to-implement method to keep electrical engineering curriculum up to date. We’ve had a long history of partnership with leading educational institutions throughout the world, and this is the most recent product of those relationships.”

The new kit provides a complete set of instructional materials to upgrade lab curriculum to feature the latest and most commonly used test equipment. Materials include six different scalable, problem-based laboratory experiments with an instructor’s guide and student reference fact sheet for each experiment, a training board to provide real-world signals for the lab experiments and an Oscilloscope Reference Guide that mounts directly on the oscilloscope and details the common controls and features of today’s digital oscilloscopes.

Labs span such topics as Introduction to Oscilloscopes, Introduction to Arbitrary/Function Generators, Parallel and Serial Bus Analysis and Debugging a Digital Design.

The labs are built around the popular Tektronix MSO/DPO2000 Series oscilloscopes. In addition to basic oscilloscope functions and features, the MSO/DPO2000 oscilloscopes deliver advanced capabilities, such as up to 16 digital channels, deep memory and serial and parallel bus decode.

With the industry’s lowest price for such advanced capabilities, the MSO/DPO2000 Series is an ideal choice for budget-conscious educational institutions.

In addition to the new Educator’s Resource Kit, Tektronix is also offering a free Fundamentals Library of 15 technical papers covering basic concepts to advanced test and measurement techniques.

For example, Oscilloscope Fundamentals explains how oscilloscopes work, describes different types of oscilloscopes, outlines electrical waveform types, reviews basic oscilloscope controls, and explains how to take simple measurements.

Infineon's Q3 revenues up 13 percent Q-on-Q

NEUBIBERG, GERMANY: Infineon Technologies AG reported results for the third quarter of the 2009 fiscal year, ended June 30, 2009.

Infineon’s revenues in third quarter were Euro 845 million, up 13 percent compared to the second quarter and down 18 percent year-over-year. Infineon’s third quarter Segment Result improved significantly compared to the previous quarter, net loss was Euro 23 million.

“Thanks to higher sales, higher factory loading and the cost savings from our IFX10+
cost-reduction program, we improved our operational performance considerably during
the third quarter compared to the previous quarter. Together with strict cash
management, we generated positive free cash flow from continuing operations of Euro
152 million and reduced our net debt position significantly”, said Peter Bauer, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG.

During the third quarter, Infineon implemented a series of measures to improve its balance sheet and to achieve a more focussed product portfolio. The company launched a cash tender offer for a portion of its outstanding bonds and issued new convertible bonds.

In July 2009, it announced the sale of its Wireline Communications business and launched the pending rights offering, backstopped by Apollo. “If successful, these steps would complete the refinancing of the company”, said Peter Bauer.

The sequential increase in revenues reflects increased revenues in all of the company’s five operating segments. The Wireless Solutions (WLS) segment achieved by far the strongest percentage increase in revenues, with the segments Industrial & Multimarket (IMM), Automotive (ATV), Wireline Communications (WLC), and Chip Card & Security (CCS) following at some distance.

Third quarter earnings improved significantly compared to the second quarter. The drivers of the improvement included significant cost reductions, mainly due to the IFX10+ cost-reduction program, higher factory loading as Infineon carefully adjusted production according to the improved demand environment, and higher sales levels driven by the company’s strong product portfolio.

All of the company’s operating segments achieved positive Segment Result, except the ATV segment which posted a Segment Result of negative Euro 17 million.

Net loss from continuing operations for the third quarter was Euro 20 million, resulting in basic and diluted loss per share from continuing operations of Euro 0.03. For the second quarter, net loss from continuing operations was Euro 150 million, and basic and diluted loss per share from continuing operations was Euro 0.20.

Infineon reported loss from discontinued operations, net of income taxes, of Euro 3 million for the third quarter. As a result of Qimonda’s application to open insolvency proceedings on January 23, 2009, Infineon deconsolidated Qimonda during the second quarter.

For the third quarter, Infineon reported group net loss of Euro 23 million, and basic and diluted loss per share of Euro 0.03.

In the third quarter, Infineon’s free cash flow from continuing operations was Euro 152 million, compared to a free cash flow from continuing operations of negative Euro 22 million in the second quarter. This strong improvement was driven by improved operating results and the company’s strict cash management.

ARM sees demand for HD mobile media, entertainment grow as Mali GPU licensing momentum continues

BANGALORE, INDIA: ARM announced that it is seeing demand for mobile devices offering a high-definition (HD) entertainment and browsing experience rapidly increasing in Asia, as two more licensing agreements for its ARM Mali graphics processing units (GPUs) are made with mobile technology providers in the region, Rockchip and Telechips.

Leading mobile analyst house, Screen Digest, has highlighted the importance of a quality of end-user experience in mobile entertainment provision. The analyst house estimates that as high-end mobile devices become more mainstream, the mobile gaming, video and TV market will grow 300 percent to €8.5 billion (approximately US $12 billion) by 2013 in Asia Pacific, North America and Europe.

Rockchip has licensed three ARM technologies to enable OEMs to enhance the quality of graphics and to allow complex applications to be run on portable devices without jeopardizing battery life.

The China-based semiconductor developer has licensed the ARM Mali-55 GPU, the ARM926EJ-S processor and the ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller for use in next-generation mobile phones and portable media players, offering consumers cutting-edge media experiences while on the move.

Korea-based Telechips has extended its license of the ARM Mali-200 GPU for its multimedia applications processor, now in silicon and set to deliver stunning interfaces and user-friendly navigation on a range of mobile and consumer electronics devices.

“Today's high-end mobile devices with large screens and computer-like capabilities are big drivers for mobile content consumption and especially for mobile games and mobile video,” said Ronan de Renesse, senior analyst at Screen Digest.

“Highly demanding applications and services such as TV, video and games on mobile devices are set to generate in excess of €8.5 billion by the end of 2013 in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific; three times more than it did in 2008. Quality of experience is key for the market to reach its full potential.”

Consumers today want to be able to enjoy next-generation entertainment on a range of mobile devices. By incorporating ARM graphics technologies into their solutions, ARM Partners are enabling OEMs to meet the demands of today’s discerning consumers by delivering spectacular, high-definition video, user-friendly browsing and console-quality gaming experiences on mobile devices.

"The combination of the ARM Mali-55 GPU and ARM processor IP enables us to meet OEM requirements for the right balance of low power, performance and area, bringing advanced end user experiences to consumers on a wide range of mobile phones and portable media devices," said Feng Chen, CMO, Rockchip.

"The range of market-proven IP, supporting system elements and extensive ecosystem that ARM provides helps us to continue bringing end-to-end SoC solutions to market."

"Extending our relationship with ARM enables us to take further advantage of Mali graphics IP, delivering high performance OpenVG, OpenGL ES 1.1 and OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant mobile and consumer electronics solutions to our customers," said Jang-Kyu Lee, COO and VP, Telechips. "The Mali-200 GPU brings cutting-edge user interfaces and navigation experiences to devices, fulfilling the increasing demands of consumers."

“These two new licensing agreements demonstrate the growing demand for next-generation graphics expertise amongst semiconductor companies and OEMs in Asia. ARM’s collaborative approach to graphics acceleration solutions, combined with the strength of the Mali range and the reach of the ARM Partner ecosystem, has led to the adoption of Mali GPUs by 22 licensees to-date,” concluded Lance Howarth, general manager, ARM Media Processing Division.

ST's revenues of $1,993 million, up 20pc sequentially

SINGAPORE: STMicroelectronics (reported financial results for the 2009 second quarter and first half ended June 27, 2009.

“ST’s second quarter results reflect solid progress across several key fronts,” said President and CEO Carlo Bozotti.

He added: “Revenue results of $1.99 billion for the second quarter came in above the high end of our internal planning target range of $1.73 to $1.93 billion, principally driven by stronger-than-expected performance across most market segments including Computer, Automotive, Telecom and Industrial and in China and Asia-Pacific.
Bookings steadily increased through the second quarter despite a still uncertain environment.

"Our strong actions on fab loading to reduce inventory levels have led to a reduction in inventories of almost $400 million in just six months, accelerating inventory turns sequentially to 4.1 turns from 2.9 turns. As expected, these actions have driven our second quarter gross margin to an extraordinary low level.

"It is clear that the global recession has negatively impacted our financial results in the first half of 2009, but it has not slowed our efforts to develop leading-edge products.

"In the second quarter our pace of innovation continued as we brought to the market many next-generation products including analog controllers and power MOSFETs for power management in computer motherboards, high-voltage MDMesh power MOSFETs for switched-mode power supplies, MEMS gyroscopes, and advanced GPS solutions. Additionally, we ramped-up 55nm technology in ICs for set-top-boxes and, in wireless, we shipped in volume TD-SCDMA devices.”

Q2 review
ST’s net revenues for the second quarter of 2009 total $1,993 million and include the complete integration of the former Ericsson Mobile Platforms business into ST-Ericsson and $18 million from the licensing of technology.

Net revenues increased 20 percent sequentially reflecting an increase in demand across ST’s served market segments, as well as in all regions, with particular strength in China and Asia Pacific. Net revenues declined in comparison to the year-ago quarter in all market segments except Telecom, and in all regions except Asia Pacific, due to business conditions.

On a sequential basis, all market segments posted growth with Computer increasing by 36 percent, Automotive by 19 percent, Telecom by 14 percent, Industrial by 7 percent and Consumer by 1 percent.

Distribution registered the strongest sequential improvement by 44 percent reflecting the better alignment of inventory to current demand levels and improving market conditions. In comparison to the year-ago quarter, performance was led by the 17 percent growth of Telecom driven by the NXP Wireless and ST-Ericsson wireless transactions.

All other market segments decreased in the year-ago period with Computer down by 13 percent, Consumer by 33 percent, Industrial by 37 percent, and Automotive by 38 percent. Distribution decreased 36 percent reflecting a destocking of the channel and weak industry conditions.

Gross margin in the second quarter of 2009 was 26.1 percent, in-line with the first quarter of 2009 gross margin of 26.3%. As anticipated, ST’s second quarter gross margin was at an extraordinary low level due to significant unused capacity charges, inefficiencies related to manufacturing operations and a negative mix impact driven by the market demand in certain geographies, in particular, China.

In comparison to the year-ago period, lower manufacturing efficiencies, volumes and price more than offset the improved contribution of product mix, the positive effects from currency, licensing ST’s technology and the inclusion of the wireless transactions.

In the 2009 second quarter, combined SG&A and R&D expenses were $896 million compared to $837 million in the prior quarter and $751 million in the year-ago quarter.

As anticipated, combined SG&A and R&D expenses in the second quarter increased sequentially due to the integration of one additional month of the former Ericsson Mobile Platforms business into ST-Ericsson and a higher number of days in the second quarter, but were partially offset by ongoing cost reduction programs.

During the second quarter, the Company’s cost realignment initiatives were focused on completing the phase-out of wafer manufacturing operations in Carrollton, Texas, the ongoing reduction in workforce programs and the announced cost reduction actions at ST-Ericsson.

In conjunction with these efforts, ST posted second quarter restructuring and impairment charges of $86 million compared to $56 million and $185 million in the first quarter of 2009 and year-ago period, respectively.

Virage Logic intros SiPro PCI Express PHY IP

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Virage Logic Corp. has announced its new offering, a silicon and volume production-proven 40-nanometer (nm) G PCI Express Gen1/Gen2 Physical Layer (PHY).

The SiPro™ PCI Express PHY product line represents the first offering in Virage Logic’s advanced interface IP SiPro product portfolio that is a result of its collaboration with AMD announced in January 2009. This agreement grants Virage Logic the rights to license and modify certain AMD standards-based advanced interface IP that was designed for and used in the 40nm ATI Radeon™ graphics products from AMD.

“Our relationship with AMD has enabled us to accelerate the expansion of our broad product portfolio with production-proven standards-based IP for PCI Express,” said Kamalesh Ruparel, vice president and general manager, Application Specific IP (ASIP) solutions, Virage Logic.

“As the semiconductor industry’s trusted IP partner, we are committed to helping our customers reduce risk and speed new product development, particularly at the advanced nodes such as 40nm. The introduction of SiPro PCI Express PHY is yet another example of how we are delivering on that commitment.”

The Virage Logic SiPro PCI Express PHY is based on the successful implementation by AMD at 65nm, 55nm and 40nm, where it has been used in high-volume production for PC-oriented chipsets and graphics adaptors.

PCI Express standards are typically used in high-performance applications delivering large amounts of data from point-to-point, including storage, servers, networking, communications, high-end video applications and add-on PC cards.

“AMD has a long history with Virage Logic and views them as a trusted provider of highly differentiated physical IP,” said Chekib Akrout, corporate vice president, Central Engineering, AMD.

“Virage Logic has made a long-standing commitment to providing high-quality advanced semiconductor IP solutions and AMD’s internally designed, production-proven IP is the perfect complement to Virage Logic’s comprehensive product offering.”

ST's Cartesio+ processor for automotive infotainment and PNS

SINGAPORE: STMicroelectronics has introduced Cartesio+, a new application processor with embedded GPS for next-generation in-car and portable navigation systems.

Combining superior processing power and positioning accuracy with a rich set of integrated peripherals, ST’s Cartesio+ enables cost- and space-efficient navigation and infotainment applications with enhanced user experience.

“Capitalizing on the success of the first-generation Cartesio application processor, which made ST into one of the leading suppliers for GPS- enabled System-on-Chip ICs, the next-generation Cartesio+ offers high integration and high-performance features, while meeting the constraints of cost-sensitive applications,” said Domenico Rossi, General Manager of ST’s Car Radio and Multimedia Division.

“It is a cutting-edge System-on-Chip device that offers high-sensitivity embedded positioning capabilities and meets the power requirements of portable applications, while satisfying the most stringent automotive quality constraints.”

The Cartesio+ System-on-Chip is manufactured in ST’s 55nm process technology and integrates a powerful ARM1176 processor with a GPS/Galileo positioning subsystem enhanced with indoor sensitivity, an advanced 3D graphics engine, and a large set of connectivity peripherals, including multiple SD/MMC, CAN and USB with integrated physical layers.

The device’s embedded graphics acceleration engine is optimized for 3D map content rendering using ST’s patented anti-aliasing technique, which smoothes jagged edges in digital images improving map readability, without impacting on processor performance.

Cartesio+ also integrates a video input port for connecting auxiliary devices, such as a rear-view camera for safe parking, and a hardware JPEG decoder for fast picture browsing without taxing the chip’s main processing resources.

Cartesio+ also offers advanced power management capabilities, based on ‘power island’ technology, which allows areas of the chip to operate at different voltage levels. The device also supports dynamic scaling of the core frequency to improve battery life for portable applications.

To support customer designs, ST offers a complete cost-optimized kit for portable navigation devices, built around Cartesio+, which couples the application processor with ST’s STA5630 advanced GPS RF chip with integrated Low-Noise Amplifier, and three other key components from the Company’s rich portfolio: the STW4210 power management chip, an audio processing amplifier/LED display driver, and the STA2500D Bluetooth controller.

Building on ST’s world-class abilities in automotive technologies and applications, the new Cartesio+ processor has been designed to meet the specific and rigorous demands for quality and reliability in the automotive market.

Cartesio+ is a scalable device available with two different feature sets: the STA2064 and STA2065, which have been optimized for BOM-sensitive and performance-demanding applications, respectively.

Samples are available now to lead customers, with volume production scheduled for December 2009.