Monday, August 31, 2009

ISA, UKTI sign MoU – to build complementary semicon capabilities

The India Semiconductor Association (ISA) and the UKTI today signed a historic memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the residence of Sir Richard Stagg, British High Commissioner in New Delhi, India

The MoU was signed between B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA and Jane Owen, director UKTI.

In attendance were the board members of the ISA, senior executives from the Indian semiconductor industry and officials from the UKTI ICT sector.Source: ISA

Sir Richard Stagg touched upon the long history and tradition of India-UK trade with rich social and cultural bonds, which has continued strongly with new generations of industries as the global economy has reshaped, in so small part through technology.

He said: “IT, and semiconductors, in particular, has played a key role in determining how international trade happens. It has already done much, and has the potential to do much more.

“The next phase as far as India and the UK are concerned will undoubtedly be about more collaborative efforts, building on deep strengths of each country’s semiconductor industry.”

Sir Stagg expressed his happiness that the ISA had chosen the UK as one of its three key country partners. He was especially pleased to see such enthusiastic commitment to the UKTI’s India ICT GVC (Global Value Chain) program.

The UKTI’s GVC program is a unique initiative, which matches Indian businesses with the best UK technology firms to seize new business opportunities together.

Jane Owen added, “Through the GVC program, we want to build on the complementary capabilities of our two industries to develop and implement new solutions around the big issues today and tomorrow.”

Poornima Shenoy, president, ISA, highlighted the fact that there can be areas, as well as geographic areas that can be of interest to India. The data being provided by the UKTI has also helped the Association to do enhance this aspect. “You (UKTI), have the opportunity to be the first mover,” she said.

She added: “The focus on the three verticals -- healthcare, energy and automotive from both sides is of relevance. This will bring about focus to interactions and help drive business by the respective verticals.”

B.V. Naidu, chairman, ISA, said that the UKTI is top priority for the ISA. He added: “We are really on a growth path. This year, the government of India has also set up a task force – for the India Semiconductor Vision 2020 Document. A lot of innovation and co-operation is being driven by the government of India. Companies in the UK and India can tap this opportunity in a major way.”

Full report follows later.

GSI Technology acquires SRAM product line from Sony Electronics

SANTA CLARA, USA: GSI Technology Inc., a leading provider of high-performance SRAM products incorporated primarily in networking and telecommunications equipment, has signed and closed definitive agreements with Sony Electronics Inc. under which GSI acquired substantially all of the assets related to Sony’s SRAM product line.

At closing, GSI paid Sony approximately $5.2 million in cash. GSI will make a further cash payment to Sony of approximately $1.7 million following a post-closing adjustment to reflect actual product inventory on hand at closing.

GSI will also make future cash payments based on the sale of certain acquired SRAM products over an eight quarter period. The acquisition will be accounted for under the purchase method of accounting.

The acquisition will not have a significant impact on GSI’s total revenues or, except for adjustments required by purchase accounting rules, on its operating results for the second fiscal quarter ending September 30, 2009.

Based on historical sales data and current sales projections, GSI believes that the new product line will generate additional revenues of approximately $1 million in the third quarter ending December 31, 2009 and expects that the new product line should generate quarterly revenues of approximately $2 million by the quarter ending September 30, 2010.

GSI also expects that, after a transition period of one to two quarters, gross profit margins comparable to GSI’s overall gross margins will be achieved.

“The acquisition of Sony’s portfolio of advanced SRAM products is an excellent strategic fit for GSI and strengthens our position as a leading supplier of high performance SRAM products,” said Lee-Lean Shu, Chairman and CEO.

“The acquisition further extends our broad SRAM product portfolio and provides us with additional scale to support our ongoing investment in research and development.”

Intel selects WANdisco to support development between US and China

SANTA CLARA & SAN RAMON, USA: Intel and WANdisco, a leading provider of infrastructure software for replication, scalability and high availability, announced that Intel’s Consumer Electronics Group has selected WANdisco’s Subversion MultiSite to support over 1,000 developers located at sites in Shanghai, Oregon and Arizona.

Intel joins an ever growing list of globally distributed organizations that rely on WANdisco’s unique technology to overcome the problems of wide area network performance, reliability and availability.

Before implementing Subversion MultiSite, all three teams used one central Subversion server. But slow and unreliable networks between the US and China caused unacceptable delays throughout the entire development lifecycle. Developers and QA staff were forced to work long hours while they waited for the latest changes from other sites, in an effort to stay on schedule. New product releases were frequently delayed.

“With Subversion MultiSite, we’re 24 by 7 now,” said Jeremy Capps, IT Manager at Intel. “We went from over two hours of downtime each day to zero. Slow networks are no longer a problem for remote users and our build process is three to four times faster.”

Before selecting WANdisco, Intel conducted a thorough search for a solution that could solve the problem of network reliability and speed between China and the US. Part of this effort included a review of alternative Source Code Management Solutions and open source alternatives such as Svnsync.

“We searched for open source tools that might fill our need and tested them. We found that our build time was three to four times slower with these products, which were not even close to usable for our application. We had time-outs, false reports and so on. WANdisco is the only product available that fills this need,” continued Jeremy Capps.

After Intel implemented Subversion MultiSite, network performance and reliability were no longer issues. Now, the latest changes are always available everywhere and everything happens at local area network speed. Problems are caught and fixed when they occur, reducing QA and rework.

In addition, downtime for maintenance went from over two hours each day to zero because of Subversion MultiSite’s built-in hot backup, failover and automated recovery features. As a result, development cycle time and cost have been reduced by over 30 percent.

Capps continued, “Since implementing WANdisco we’ve seen some overjoyed developers in our remote locations.”

“We are extremely pleased that Intel has realized the savings in time and cost that WANdisco’s unique technology brings to the development lifecycle in a globally distributed organization,” said David Richards, President and CEO of WANdisco. “Intel’s experience is consistent with what we hear from our customers across the board.”

TC issues initial determination in Tessera’s DRAM ITC action

SAN JOSE, USA: Tessera Technologies Inc. announced the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in the International Trade Commission (ITC) action brought by Tessera against certain DRAM manufacturers issued an Initial Determination finding Tessera’s asserted patents are valid, but not infringed by the respondents. The action is Investigation No. 337-TA-630 (DRAM ITC action).

The ALJ’s decision, termed an “Initial Determination,” is subject to review by the full Commission. Within 120 days of the issued Initial Determination, the Commission can affirm, modify or reverse the ALJ’s decision in developing the ITC’s final determination.

“We intend to once again seek review of the Initial Determination by the full Commission,” said Henry R. Nothhaft, president and CEO of Tessera. “The Commission previously agreed in our Wireless ITC Action that our technology was valid and that we had proven infringement at trial. We hope that it will again reverse the ALJ’s Initial Determination. Furthermore, we have not taken into account any revenue based on the outcome of this ITC action in preparing our financial guidance. We remain focused on developing innovative technologies and are confident in the future of our business.”

The respondents in the DRAM ITC action include Acer, Inc., Centon Electronics, Inc., Elpida Memory, Inc., Kingston Technology Co., Inc., Nanya Technology Corporation, Powerchip Semiconductor Corp., ProMOS Technologies Inc., Ramaxel Technology Ltd., Smart Modular Technologies, Inc., and TwinMOS Technologies, Inc. Tessera is asserting infringement of three Tessera patents, U.S. Patent No. 5,663,106 (‘106), U.S. Patent No. 6,133,627 ('627), and U.S. Patent No. 5,679,977 (‘977) and is seeking, among other things, an exclusion order barring importation of infringing products that incorporate the patented technology.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Intel raises Q3 revenue and gross margin expectations

SANTA CLARA, USA: As a result of stronger than expected demand for microprocessors and chipsets, Intel Corporation now expects revenue for the third quarter to be $9.0 billion, plus or minus $200 million, as compared to the previous range of $8.5 billion, plus or minus $400 million.

The gross margin percentage for the third quarter is expected to be in the upper half of the previous range of 53 percent, plus or minus two percentage points. All other expectations are unchanged.

Intel’s third-quarter Business Outlook was originally published in the company’s second-quarter 2009 earnings release, available at The company is scheduled to report its third-quarter financial results on Oct. 13.

Status of business outlook
Through Aug. 31, Intel’s corporate representatives may reiterate the Business Outlook during private meetings with investors, investment analysts, the media and others.

From the close of business on Aug. 31 until publication of the company’s third-quarter earnings release, Intel will observe a “Quiet Period” during which the Business Outlook disclosed in the company’s press releases and filings with the SEC should be considered to be historical, speaking as of prior to the Quiet Period only and not subject to an update by the company.

Risk factors
The above statements and any others in this document that refer to plans and expectations for the third quarter, the year and the future are forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties.

Many factors could affect Intel’s actual results, and variances from Intel’s current expectations regarding such factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in these forward-looking statements. Intel presently considers the following to be the important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the corporation’s expectations.

Ongoing uncertainty in global economic conditions poses a risk to the overall economy as consumers and businesses may defer purchases in response to tighter credit and negative financial news, which could negatively affect product demand and other related matters.

Consequently, demand could be different from Intel's expectations due to factors including changes in business and economic conditions, including conditions in the credit market that could affect consumer confidence; customer acceptance of Intel’s and competitors’ products; changes in customer order patterns including order cancellations; and changes in the level of inventory at customers.

Intel operates in intensely competitive industries that are characterized by a high percentage of costs that are fixed or difficult to reduce in the short term and product demand that is highly variable and difficult to forecast.

Additionally, Intel is in the process of transitioning to its next generation of products on 32nm process technology, and there could be execution issues associated with these changes, including product defects and errata along with lower than anticipated manufacturing yields.

Revenue and the gross margin percentage are affected by the timing of new Intel product introductions and the demand for and market acceptance of Intel's products; actions taken by Intel's competitors, including product offerings and introductions, marketing programs and pricing pressures and Intel’s response to such actions; and Intel’s ability to respond quickly to technological developments and to incorporate new features into its products.

The gross margin percentage could vary significantly from expectations based on changes in revenue levels; capacity utilization; start-up costs, including costs associated with the new 32nm process technology; variations in inventory valuation, including variations related to the timing of qualifying products for sale; excess or obsolete inventory; product mix and pricing; manufacturing yields; changes in unit costs; impairments of long-lived assets, including manufacturing, assembly/test and intangible assets; and the timing and execution of the manufacturing ramp and associated costs.

Expenses, particularly certain marketing and compensation expenses, as well as restructuring and asset impairment charges, vary depending on the level of demand for Intel's products and the level of revenue and profits.

The tax rate expectation is based on current tax law and current expected income. The tax rate may be affected by the jurisdictions in which profits are determined to be earned and taxed; changes in the estimates of credits, benefits and deductions; the resolution of issues arising from tax audits with various tax authorities, including payment of interest and penalties; and the ability to realize deferred tax assets.

The current financial stress affecting the banking system and financial markets and the going concern threats to investment banks and other financial institutions have resulted in a tightening in the credit markets, a reduced level of liquidity in many financial markets, and heightened volatility in fixed income, credit and equity markets.

There could be a number of follow-on effects from the credit crisis on Intel’s business, including insolvency of key suppliers resulting in product delays; inability of customers to obtain credit to finance purchases of our products and/or customer insolvencies; counterparty failures negatively impacting our treasury operations; increased expense or inability to obtain short-term financing of Intel’s operations from the issuance of commercial paper; and increased impairments from the inability of investee companies to obtain financing.

Gains or losses from equity securities and interest and other could also vary from expectations depending on gains or losses realized on the sale or exchange of securities; gains or losses from equity method investments; impairment charges related to debt securities as well as equity and other investments; interest rates; cash balances; and changes in fair value of derivative instruments.

The current volatility in the financial markets and overall economic uncertainty increases the risk that the actual amounts realized in the future on our debt and equity investments will differ significantly from the fair values currently assigned to them.

The majority of our non-marketable equity investment portfolio balance is concentrated in companies in the flash memory market segment, and declines in this market segment or changes in management’s plans with respect to our investments in this market segment could result in significant impairment charges, impacting restructuring charges as well as gains/losses on equity investments and interest and other.

Intel's results could be impacted by adverse economic, social, political and physical/infrastructure conditions in countries where Intel, its customers or its suppliers operate, including military conflict and other security risks, natural disasters, infrastructure disruptions, health concerns and fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

Intel's results could be affected by adverse effects associated with product defects and errata (deviations from published specifications), and by litigation or regulatory matters involving intellectual property, stockholder, consumer, antitrust and other issues, such as the litigation and regulatory matters described in Intel's SEC reports.

Dialog ships DA6001 Intel Atom companion power management IC to Harman Becker

KIRCHHEIM & TECK, GERMANY: Dialog Semiconductor Plc announced it has collaborated with Harman Becker, the Harman International Automotive Division, in the development of the DA6001 power management IC as a companion device for the Intel Atom processor.

The DA6001 is to be used in the Harman International Automotive Division's in-vehicle infotainment command centres, with Dialog having already shipped the first engineering samples to the company. The companies have also recently signed an agreement to continue the collaboration for a successor device supporting Intel's forthcoming next generation Atom processor.

The DA6001 is the only available integrated power management and clock supply IC for the Intel Atom processor. It is targeted at embedded applications and meets the automotive industry's extended temperature and reliability standards. The integrated solution from Dialog allows a substantial reduction in the number of active and passive system components required in a design.

'Harman systems, using the Dialog technology, will deliver energy efficient scalable solutions with rich multimedia features to our global automotive customers; converging home and in vehicle entertainment,' commented Marek Neumann, Vice President Advanced Engineering at Harman International Automotive Division.

'Engaging closely with Dialog for this development, especially with their team's deep understanding of the Atom processor, was a welcome option for us in easing the design complexity of our system,' added Neumann.

Jalal Bagherli, CEO at Dialog commented, 'This collaboration with Harman Becker, an automotive infotainment market leader, is proving to be key for Dialog. It has provided an excellent product offering to fill the gap in the embedded market with Intel. It has also further cemented our role in satisfying the demanding needs of the automotive industry with a uniquely integrated system power and clock supply solution.'

Samples of the DA6001 and development board are now available, with volume production and automotive qualified devices available in the second half of 2009.

Friday, August 28, 2009

2HAug NAND Flash contract price affected by mixed market factors

TAIPEI, TAIWAN: The 2HAugust NAND Flash contract price remains flat for high density products, while mild rise for low density products since output portion based on 4Xnm & 3Xnm advanced process technologies increases and reducing output portion for low density products based on mature process technologies, says DRAMeXchange.

Meanwhile, NAND Flash suppliers’ low-capacity memory card shipment to the handset customers has a higher priority. Therefore, low density NAND Flash contract price for 2HAugust shows a mild rise pattern.

Despite the increasing output portion from advanced technology for high density MLC NAND Flash and weaker procurement demand for memory card and UFD customers in August, 2HAugust high density NAND Flash contract price still remains flat since hot season restock orders used in high-capacity handset and MP3 products will keep warming up in 3Q09, according to DRAMeXchange.

Fig. 1: 32Gb MLC NAND Flash contract price trendSource: DRAMeXchange, August 2009

Given the expected recovering restock demand from electronics system and memory card customers starting from September for China Holidays in early October and year-end hot season in US & Europe, the 3Q quarter-end effect and increasing output portion of 3xnm process technologies from most NAND Flash suppliers after August will partially offset the positive market factors.

DRAMeXchange states that the NAND Flash contract price may continue to partly demonstrate mild rise and partly stay stable in the short term under the interaction effect of positive and negative market factors.

Fig. 2: 16Gb MLC NAND Flash contract price trendSource: DRAMeXchange, August 2009

LSI No. 1 in host bus RAID controller unit shipments for second consecutive year

BANGALORE, INDIA: LSI Corp. today announced that Gartner Inc. ranked LSI as the worldwide leader in host bus RAID controller unit shipments for 2008. According to the latest market data released by the firm, LSI maintained its No. 1 position for the second consecutive year with 31.4 percent unit share.

In addition, LSI claimed the top spot in the third-party enabling vendor category based on the company’s MegaRAID SATA+SAS RAID controller shipments. According to the report, LSI grew its unit share in host bus SAS RAID controllers to 67.7 percent, more than twice the share of its closest competitor.

Gartner defines third-party enabling vendors as companies that design, manufacture and sell host bus RAID controllers for integration into computing and storage platforms manufactured by other vendors and system integrators.

“We believe our significant growth and continued leadership prove that our strategy to offer the most powerful and complete RAID controller portfolio in the industry is paying dividends,” said Phil Bullinger, executive vice president and general manager, Engenio Storage Group, LSI.

“As the industry rapidly transitions to serial RAID technology, we’re confident that our extensive SAS and SATA product families, strategic investments and focused innovations will continue to meet and exceed the needs of our OEM and channel customers.”

Strontium launches high density 4GB DDR-3 and DDR-2 memory for desktops, notebooks

SINGAPORE: Strontium Technology today unveiled their 4GB DDR3 1333 MHz modules for desktops and laptops. The 4GB DDR3 module from Strontium exhibits higher capacity, lower energy consumption and better heat dissipation, making it an optimal memory upgrade for today’s powerful, compute-intensive hardware and software platforms.

Vivian Singh, CEO of Singapore based Strontium Technology, said: “Dual- and multi-core CPUs for multi-tasking operations, 64-bit operating systems and sophisticated applications require high performance memory with reduced power consumption. To address the need for a more powerful memory support, we have come up with 4GB DDR3 in a single module for our customers.”

Strontium also released the all-new 4GB DDR2 800 MHz modules for desktops and laptops. These modules are a perfect memory solution for users who are looking to upgrade their existing PCs with higher density and superior performance DDR2.

Ajay Kogta, Country Manager, India Sub-continent, said, "Strontium 4GB DDR-3 and DDR-2 modules would be available through our regular channel partners. Suggested retail price for 4GB DDR-3 1333MHz is Rs. 14,000 and 4GB DDR-2 800MHz is Rs. 9,000 for desktops and laptops respectively.”

According to Kogta: “Strontium will enter the Indian market for external storage in the near future. Strontium will continue to introduce new products and new versions of existing products that keep pace with technology and satisfy increasingly sophisticated customer requirements.”

Piyuesh Pandey, Brand Manager, India Sub-continent said “Strontium recommends customers and resellers to focus on the chipset on the modules as a decision making tool. Strontium uses only major brand chipsets from leading industry players like Hynix and Micron to make Strontium branded modules.”

All of Strontium memory modules pass rigorous tests to ensure quality, compatibility with all major leading brands of notebooks and desktops and highest performance to customers. Strontium memory modules also come with a lifetime warranty and feature functions such as 2Q calibrations, fly-by topology and dynamic on-die-termination to ensure signal integrity and thus higher performance. All Strontium modules are Lead-free, RoHS-compliant and Halogen-free.

Q2 semicon update from Pinestream Advisors

USA: While Q2 sales, earnings and market caps in the semiconductor sector posted modest increases, private company M&As and venture/PE investment in this space remained exceedingly weak.

Further, with many VCs having limited dry powder, Pinestream Advisors believes there are 100s of outstanding values in today’s economic climate…in analog/mixed signal, power management, RFICs, processors, packaging/materials, etc.

Having profiled and analyzed >1600 private semiconductor companies (including the VCs who invest in them), Pinestream Advisors provides an unparalleled depth and breadth of industry knowledge and relationships to augment your strategic planning, partnership and M&A activities.

With a track record that includes $1B in exits and capital raises and increased shareholder value by $2.6B as F1000 executives, serial entrepreneurs and VCs, Pinestream applies this unique skill set in providing cost effective, value-added strategic advisory services to our clients.

SMSC launches first TrueAuto Ethernet transceiver

HAUPPAUGE, USA: SMSC, a leading semiconductor company that provides Smart Mixed-Signal Connectivity solutions, launched the LAN88710 MII/RMII 10/100 Ethernet Transceiver, its second TrueAuto Ethernet solution.

This device is designed specifically to meet the high reliability standards required by automotive applications such as on-board diagnostics or fast software download interfaces for central gateway and telematics modules, navigation systems, radio head units and connectivity devices.

The LAN88710 transceiver offers increased access speed for diagnostics and software downloads over traditionally slower speed interfaces typically used to connect to the vehicle today. When used within today's complex vehicle electrical systems, which are packed full with user content, the LAN88710 transceiver can help diagnose issues faster and lower software maintenance time so repairs are completed more quickly and cost less.

The TrueAuto LAN88710 transceiver has been specifically designed, validated, qualified, characterized and manufactured for the high reliability requirements of the car. The device provides a simple, digital interface via the MII standard (IEEE 802.3u) to a typical MAC layer integrated within an embedded microcontroller.

Built into an embedded device within the car, the chip can function as a network branch to the outside world, connecting the car to a personal computer, diagnostic tool or to a complex Ethernet network in the repair shop.

The size of embedded program and data memories in today’s modern cars is growing rapidly. For example, the newly released BMW 7 Series has more than one Gbyte of memory while the previous model had just short of 100 Mbytes of memory.

While repair shops usually diagnose and fix problems, they also have the ability to update the software and data embedded in various control devices inside the car. Access into the car to obtain this valuable information is through the On Board Diagnostics (OBD) connector.

This standardized connector today not only provides a slow communication interface but updating software through this interface can takes hours, which significantly increases both repair times and cost.

As a result, many car companies are working on an upgrade of the OBD connector to provide the car with a high-performance data interface for diagnostics and software downloads -- Ethernet. The initiative is expected to lead to a new ISO/SAE standard that mandates this interface as part of the OBD connector.

Ethernet is a widely used networking technology in the repair shop IT infrastructure. Its broad proliferation, high-bandwidth and optimized communication for bursts or packets of information also make it an excellent connectivity solution to the automobile.

It can connect the external Ethernet-based infrastructure of the repair shop to a vehicle in a repair bay to then move large amounts of diagnostic information and software data seamlessly between the two.

“Transferring data between the diagnostics bay and the car is time consuming and often spotty when using today’s traditional diagnostics interface,” said Dr. Christian Thiel, Vice President and General Manager of SMSC’s Automotive Information Systems group. “SMSC’s automotive Ethernet transceiver delivers high data speed at the reliability grade that our automotive customers expect.”

Synfora acquires Esterel Studio, adds control-intensive IP development capabilities

MOUNTAIN VIEW, USA: Synfora Inc., the premier provider of algorithmic synthesis tools for integrated circuit and system designers of large, complex processing applications, announced that it has purchased Esterel Studio, a tool suite developed by Esterel EDA Technologies.

Esterel Studio is based on the Esterel synchronous programming language in use for the design of control logic and bus systems by three of the top 10 semiconductor companies in system-on-chip (SoC) designs.

“Esterel Studio is complementary to the PICO algorithmic synthesis platform and was already part of an integrated flow used by several of our customers,” said Synfora CTO Vinod Kathail. “This step is a part of our long-term vision of providing integrated solutions for application accelerators and more control-oriented IP."

Esterel Studio is primarily used to design control-intensive silicon intellectual property (IP) blocks and complex reactive systems such as control circuits, embedded systems, human-machine interface and communication protocols. Companies such as STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, NXP and Intel have used the Esterel programming language for more than 50 production designs.

Esterel Studio supports a complete flow from design to verification and supports textual or graphical design of large state machines with arbitrary embedded data path, animated simulation and debugging. Esterel studio is able to generate either HDL (Verilog, VHDL) code or C/SystemC models from the same source code, which ensures that the models used in virtual platforms for software validation agree with the final hardware design.

Esterel Studio also supports formal verification of the produced results, a critical capability for complex control-oriented designs. In conjunction with the PICO platform, this will provide Synfora customers with an integrated design environment for the development of both control-intensive and algorithmic-intensive blocks.

Freescale samples eight-core QorIQ P4080 processor

Freescale Technology Forum China, SHENZHEN, CHINA: Freescale Semiconductor is now sampling its QorIQ P4080 multicore processor –- the flagship member of Freescale’s QorIQ product family and the company’s fourth device now available based on 45-nm process technology for optimal performance and power efficiency.

Market acceptance for Freescale’s QorIQ P4080 product has been exceptionally strong. Numerous early-adopter customers have initiated product development with the P4080 device and OEMs from around the world have selected the P4080 for their systems. Freescale’s P4080 design wins span all regions and multiple markets including router, media gateway, military/aeronautics, and 3G/4G wireless infrastructure applications.

The advanced QorIQ P4080 processor is designed to set new standards for performance, power efficiency, scalability and programmability. An industry breakthrough for multicore solutions, Freescale’s CoreNet communications fabric enables performance to scale linearly across multiple enhanced Power Architecture cores thus enabling the number of integrated cores to increase as needed to meet customer requirements.

The QorIQ P4080 also offers system designers exceptional performance through datapath acceleration and a tri-level cache hierarchy.

“The P4080 sets a new standard for embedded multicore processing,” said Brett Butler, vice president and general manager for Freescale’s Networking Processor Division. "The device’s early market acceptance underscores its highly advanced architecture and clearly demonstrates Freescale’s commitment to extending its leadership in networking and communications markets.”

NXP ships one millionth FlexRay transceiver for automotive networking

EINDHOVEN, THE NETHERLANDS: NXP Semiconductors announced that it has shipped its one millionth FlexRay transceiver to the automotive industry.

This landmark shipment re-iterates NXP's number one position as the leading supplier of in-vehicle networking technology, making it the only provider to ship over a million FlexRay Physical Layer compliant transceivers. It also reflects a rapid increase in the adoption of FlexRay in-vehicle networking technology among car OEMs globally.

FlexRay is the automotive standard for deterministic, fault-tolerant, high-speed data communication and it clearly delivers the networking performance demanded by newer and enhanced automotive applications such as brake-by-wire and steer-by-wire.

As the next generation In-Vehicle Networking, FlexRay has much higher bandwidth than existing CAN and is expected to be the communication backbone for Drive-by-Wire applications, which will help reduce car weight and energy consumption and allow for better safety.

NXP’s FlexRay transceiver was first road tested by BMW with its 2007 BMW X5, the first series production car with a built-in FlexRay system. In 2008 this was followed by the fifth generation 7 series, which use up to 11 FlexRay node transceivers.

Kai Barbehön, BMW Department Manager Platform-Technologies and FlexRay Consortium Executive Board Member says: "In order to implement new features such as the BMW Dynamic Driver Control which offers our customers exceptional ride control, BMW has used NXP FlexRay technology.

"BMW is committed to further develop the FlexRay bus system that provides the safety, speed and robust quality demanded in automotive applications and counts therefore on the strong partnership within the semiconductor industry in the future, too."

Jeroen Keunen, FlexRay Consortium Executive Board Member and General Manager of Integrated IVN & FlexRay MST of NXP Semiconductors adds: "Over the past 15 years, the automotive networking team at NXP has constantly strived to drive innovation so that we can bring the latest in-car comfort and safety to the end consumer. We’re delighted to have reached this landmark and having passed the industrialization phase of FlexRay.

"As one of the founding members of the FlexRay Consortium, NXP is working actively to broaden the adoption of FlexRay Technology towards a global scale, enabling car OEMs worldwide to meet their requirement to reduce emission and fuel consumption and increased driving experiences."

According to a Strategy Analytics report, the global automotive networking protocol deployment will lead to a number of network nodes deployed of 2 billion units per annum and a bus transceiver market worth almost $1 billion by 2015.

FlexRay Technology is expected to gain an increasing share of this key market as demand for robust, real time electronic control in safety-critical applications expands. By 2015 Strategy Analytics expects FlexRay to account for around eight percent of global bus transceiver revenues, from less than one percent in 2009.

Chris Webber, VP Automotive Practice at Strategy Analytics says: “The primary challenge facing vehicle makers is how to make cars more feature-rich, cleaner and safer while also reducing costs. Vehicle multiplex networks are a key tool in minimizing the complexity and cost impact on vehicle architectures of increasing electronic content. The rapidly moving development in the in-vehicle networking industry means that suppliers must continually innovate."

NXP has taken the lead in providing the best-in-class FlexRay solutions and driving standardization across the industry through its work with the FlexRay Consortium and a number of partners, who have driven innovation in the industry.

Complementing the TJA1080A product, NXP recently released the TJA1081 and TJA1082 FlexRay node transceivers addressing car manufacturers’ need for high-speed, fault-tolerant communication systems and flexible and scalable electronic networks.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gyroscopes spin up in video games and cell phones

EL SEGUNDO, USA: When Nintendo Co. wanted to enhance the sensitivity of its motion-sensitive video-game controllers, it turned to 3-axis gyroscope technology in the form of its Wii Motionplus add-on.

Soon, a flood of other companies in the consumer electronics and cell phone markets also will turn to Microelectromechanical System (MEMS) gyroscopes due to technological developments that have made these parts more attractive for such applications, iSuppli Corp. predicts. This will cause gyroscope revenue in these areas to more than double by 2013.

The global market for gyroscopes used in consumer electronics and cell phones will expand to $347.2 million in 2013, up from $152.9 million in 2008, as presented in the figure.

iSuppli: Global Forecast of MEMS Gyroscopes for Use in Consumer Electronics and Wireless Applications (Revenue in Millions of US Dollars)Source: iSuppli, USA

“Gyroscopes have always been too big, too power hungry and too expensive for mobile and consumer applications,” said Richard Dixon, senior analyst for MEMS at iSuppli.

“However, recent progress on silicon and quartz gyroscopes has changed the game—literally. MEMS gyroscopes will penetrate gaming applications in much larger numbers later this year and in 2010. These sensors will also begin to make inroads into the mobile-phone market earlier than first anticipated—again beginning at the end 2009 or early in 2010—for image stabilization and user interfaces.”

Gyroscope suppliers gear up
A major driver behind the expansion of the gyroscope market is the flourishing number of offerings of multi-axis parts. Previously, there were just two major suppliers of 2-axis gyroscopes: Panasonic Corp. and InvenSense Inc.

However, this list grew in June when STMicroelectronics bolstered its portfolio by offering no less than 10 dual-axis gyroscopes. Tri-axis gyroscopes, a must for gaming, also are emerging.

While InvenSense already offers a two-package 3-axis gyroscope solution today, STMicroelectronics intends to introduce a monolithic solution in 2010.

iSuppli anticipates that revenue from shipments of multi-axis gyroscopes for consumer and wireless applications will overtake those single-axis devices by the end of the year and will account for 80 percent of the consumer gyroscope market by 2013.

“This represents a great opportunity for companies offering multi-axis gyroscopes and even parts combined with 3-axis accelerometers in low-cost inertial measurement units,” Dixon said. “On the other hand, this will put pressure on those companies that only have a single-axis technology on their shelves.”

Looking for sales in all the right places: Used semiconductor equipment

PHOENIX, USA: Semico Research Corp. study, “Used Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment: Looking for Sales in All the Right Places,” identifies opportunities in the used semiconductor market.

This week, as the study is being released for publication, it is being reported that Texas Instruments is interested in taking over the 300mm assets from Qimonda’s US-based fab in Virginia. This announcement confirms one of the major opportunities pointed out in the study.

One of Semico’s major findings relates to advanced 300mm fabs which currently offer manufacturing capability from 90nm to 45nm. These fabs will be converted from the production of once leading-edge processors and memory devices to the production of other semiconductors such as analog devices, image sensors, mixed signal parts and other logic devices.

Some of these semiconductors will migrate to production at 90nm or less, using the 300mm tools at their original design capabilities.

The study goes on to identify other opportunities for semiconductor products that use trailing edge, mature and advanced 300mm technologies.

Trailing Edge Fabs (Technology Nodes > 0.80µm): Wafer demand for trailing edge semiconductors will increase more than 20% from 2008 through 2013. Bargain-priced 200mm tools are now on the market. This creates a sales opportunity for used 200mm tools to be used for trailing edge production at nodes well below their original capabilities.

Mature Fabs (Technology Nodes from 0.80µm to 130nm): Wafer demand for products requiring 0.80µm to 130nm capacity will increase more than 16 percent from 2008 through 2013. This creates an opportunity for the sale of used 200mm tools to be put back into production to meet capacity requirements.

Semico’s Study MA108-09 predicts that other semiconductors will migrate to production on 300mm equipment. The purpose will be to increase production capacity while realizing the cost benefits of production on 300mm wafers. This is exactly what TI appears to be doing by purchasing the advanced Qimonda tools. TI is acquiring 300mm wafer capacity for production of analog products.

The Semico study, “Used Semiconductor Manufacturing Equipment: Looking for Sales in All the Right Places,” provides five-year forecasts for worldwide semiconductor shipments by device type, wafer demand and fabs required for production (Trailing Edge, Mature, Advanced and Leading Edge). Finally, the study provides a five-year forecast for semiconductor equipment supply and demand.

Bosch will strengthen position in automotive MEMs with integrated approach from Akustika

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: The acquisition of MEMs silicon microphone company Akustika by Bosch will strengthen its leadership in the automotive MEMs devices, according to the report: The Global MEMs Device, Equipment, and Materials Markets: Forecasts and Strategies for Vendors and Foundries, recently published by The Information Network.

“Excuse me if I yawn at the announcement that MEMS microphone manufacturer Akustica Inc. has been acquired by Robert Bosch North America and will become part of its MEMS division, Bosch Sensortec GmbH (Reutlingen, Germany),” noted Dr. Robert Castellano, president of The Information Network.

The company was started in 2001 and has sold over 5 million CMOS microphones for consumer devices like PCs and cell phones.

Competitor Knowles Acoustics, which shipped its first MEMS Microphone two years later, announced that it sold its ONE BILLIONTH microphone this past week. Knowles was acquired by the Dover Corp. a few years ago.

So why would Robert Bosch acquire a MEMs microphone company with market share in the noise level with 36 employees, even though it is one of the oldest entrants in the market? X-Fab provides foundry services for Akustica's microphone chips, so Bosch is only buying IP.

Akustica's products employ standard complementary metal oxide (CMOS) semiconductor processes and microelectromechanical systems (MEMs) to fabricate acoustic membranes and other sensor structures in the same chip with analog and digital circuitry.

However, many MEMS manufacturers prefer to use a hybrid approach to make cost-effective devices rather than a pure monolithic method. Often, the MEMS element is on one chip while the signal-conditioning circuitry is on another, usually an ASIC. Interconnecting the two requires a very careful approach to ensure that acceptable yield and reliability levels are achieved.

Clearly, Bosch is not positioning itself in the MEMs microphone sector but in Akustika’s patents for integrated CMOS and MEMs technology. With Bosch’s expertise in the MEMs marketplace, we suspect they will be successful in using Akustika’s technology in all of their MEMs sensor applications, which has the potential for reduced size and production cost.

Bosch is the market leader in automotive MEMs, with revenues of $430 million in 2009, double the revenues of its nearest competitor Denso of Japan. More than 80 percent of Bosch's MEMs production is sold internally to its automotive subsystems for stability control and tire pressure monitoring.

In the automotive MEMs market, Bosch also competes against Analog Devices, Freescale Semiconductor, Infineon, and VTI of Finland. If the integrated technology can be applied Bosch’s products, it will impact market share of its competitors.

By way of background, we started analyzing the silicon MEMs microphone market in 2003. Since that time the market has grown from 2 million units sold in 2003 to nearly 300 million sold in 2008.

The market, which included initial entrants Knowles Acoustics, Akustika, and Sonion Denmark), has grown to include Analog Devices, NXP Semiconductors, Wolfson Microelectronics, Freescale Semiconductors, STMicroelectronics, and Infineon. China suppliers entered the market in recent years and include Shangdong Goer Acoustics Technology Co. Ltd, Suzhou MEMSensing Microsystems Co. Ltd., and AAC Acoustic Technologies (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd.

Cellular is the major market for MEMs silicon microphones Handsets with dual MEMS (micro electro-mechanical systems) microphones from the world's top-five handset vendors are expected to hit the market in the first quarter of 2009.

The dual MEMS microphones will enter the handset development design-in stage at all top-tier handset vendors in the third quarter of this year, allowing the vendors to launch handsets at the end of the first quarter, or early in the second quarter, of 2009.

For 2009 the report forecasts a 5 percent downturn in the cellphone market, from 1,216 million units in 2008 to 1,156 million units in 2009. The smartphone market, which includes the iPhone, will grow 21 percent from 175 million units in 2008 to 191 million units in 2009. This sector is the key growth area for the MEMS microphone.

For Q2 2009, Nokia let the smartphone market with a 44% share, followed by RIM with a 21 percent share and Apple with nearly a 14 percent share. Competitors such as Sharp, Fujitsu, and HTC held the other 21 percent.

Linux OS market grows in 2008, long term prospects remain good: IDC

FRAMINGHAM, USA: A recent IDC study reveals that worldwide revenue from Linux operating system software grew by 23.4 percent from 2007 to 2008, and that growth will be followed by a 2008-2013 CAGR of 16.9 percent. With this growth, worldwide Linux operating systems revenue will cross $1 billion for the first time in 2012, growing to $1.2 billion by 2013.

By comparison, Linux server operating system subscriptions will exhibit a different profile, with a contraction of net new subscriptions expected in 2009, followed by a steady recovery through 2013.

Meanwhile, nonpaid Linux server operating system deployments are predicted to grow more quickly than new subscriptions through 2013, leading to a net increase of nonpaid Linux server operating systems deployed compared to total worldwide Linux server operating systems being placed into service.

The combined total of Linux server operating system subscriptions and nonpaid deployments is expected to show a 2008-2013 CAGR of 1.1 percent -- a low growth rate that is impacted significantly by the anticipated contraction in 2009.

IDC notes that this low growth rate of new deployment can be misleading, since growth of virtualized deployments will also be taking place aboard existing servers, a metric not directly considered in the predicted growth of net new subscriptions and deployments.

"The dynamics we are seeing here are fascinating. The convergence of the difficult economic conditions, the maturing of enterprise virtualization software, and the increasing use of replica copy deployments of Linux server operating systems is leading to a shift where the success of the market is increasingly defined by the installed base rather than by the number of brand new subscriptions or deployments being made,” said Al Gillen, program vice president, System Software at IDC. “This phenomenon is not unique to Linux –- as we see the same trend playing out with Windows server operating environments.”

Gillen adds, “We find that more customers are seeing nonpaid Linux as a viable solution for certain non-critical business needs, despite the lack of commercial applications and the potential support challenges that come with a non-commercially-supported distribution.”

Additional key findings include:
* The top revenue-producing vendors are Red Hat and Novell, which together account for 94.5 percent of worldwide Linux operating systems revenue in 2008.
^ In terms of new subscriptions of server operating environments, Red Hat and Novell accounted for 90 percent of worldwide Linux subscriptions in 2008.
* Nonpaid Linux server operating systems continues to increase in importance on the overall market dynamics, with nonpaid Linux server operating system deployments accounting for 43.3 percent of the worldwide total, up from 41.4 percent in 2007.

Arasan Chip Systems adds MIPI HSI IP to its strategic Mobile Initiative program

SAN JOSE, USA: Arasan Chip Systems Inc. a leading provider of Intellectual Property (IP) Cores, announced the release of its MIPI high speed synchronous interface (HSI) controller IP and software stack.

HSI is a full- duplex, low latency protocol, that is optimized for die-level interconnect between an Application Processor and a Baseband chipset. With this release, Arasan continues to offer the most comprehensive portfolio of MIPI IP available in the market today.

The HSI Controller IP and Software Stack are compliant with the HSI v1.0 specification. The IP core is compliant with the HSI Physical Layer Draft v1.1. By integrating this standard interface, application processors and wireless chipset developers are assured of an ecosystem of inter-operable components which can be combined to develop region and application specific mobile platforms.

The HSI physical interface consists of two sets of unidirectional data and control signals combined to form a full-duplex connection. The protocol accommodates up to eight logical channels over this interface with an aggregate bandwidth of 200 Mbps in each direction. Optimized for deployment in mobile platforms, the protocol incorporates features to reduce power through clock gearing and dynamic frequency scaling.

The layered HSI Software Stack is architected to be easily portable to multiple OS's and hardware platforms. The stack can also be used on SoC's that have multiple HSI interfaces. The stack supports multiple priority levels per logical channel and DMA modes for efficient data transfer.

"Mobile platforms need to have the flexibility to support multiple wireless protocols depending on geographic and market conditions," said Somnath Viswanath, Product Marketing Manager at Arasan. "Integrating Arasan's HSI Controller IP and Software Stack provide mobile SoC designers the flexibility to easily connect different HSI based wireless chipsets to their application processor, thereby tailoring their solution for the end market."

Arasan provides a "Total IP Solution" for its MIPI HSI IP. The collateral available for this standard consists of RTL source code for the controller IP, synthesis scripts, test environment, documentation and a Portable Software Stack which are all backed by Arasan's world-class customer support.

Via Licensing issues patent call for IEEE 802.11n standard

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Via Licensing Corp. announced a call for patents that are essential to the practice of the IEEE 802.11n standard, Enhancements for Higher Throughput, which is currently in draft form and is based on the IEEE P802.11n (D11.0) Draft Telecommunications and information exchange between systems - Local and Metropolitan Area Networks-Specific Requirements-Part 11: Wireless LAN Medium Access Control (MAC) & Physical Layer specifications.

Upon its ratification by the IEEE, this call for patents shall apply to the final 802.11n specification.

The IEEE 802.11 standard is an internationally published open standard that defines a range of methods for providing wireless local area networking services. By offering increased speed and range capabilities to support high data rate applications and providing an alternative to wired networks, 802.11n enhances the IEEE 802.11 standard.

Networks based on the 802.11n standard will support streaming high-definition video applications, enable faster transfer of multimedia content, and provide enhanced capacity and performance for enterprise systems.

Any entity with a patent or patent application that is found to be essential by an independent patent evaluator is invited to join a group of essential patent holders that plan to convene to discuss the commercial terms of a joint patent license to be offered under reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms.

Additional information about the IEEE 802.11 standard is available from the IEEE website at

Via Licensing is issuing this patent call for the purpose of identifying the owners of patents that are essential to the practice of the IEEE 802.11n standard. A patent is essential if it contains at least one independent claim that is necessarily infringed by the creation of a compliant implementation of either the mandatory or optional portions of the normative clauses of the IEEE 802.11n standard.

Any entity that believes it has patents or pending patent applications that are essential as described above should email, specifying an interest in submitting a patent or patent application for consideration of essentiality to the IEEE 802.11n standard.

AMD publishes ninth annual global climate protection plan and 2008 corporate responsibility report

SUNNYVALE, USA: AMD released two reports demonstrating the company’s ongoing dedication to sustainability, the ninth annual Global Climate Protection Plan (GCPP) and the 2008 Corporate Responsibility Report.

From responsible product design to award-winning energy conservation projects at its major campuses, AMD’s corporate responsibility efforts help the company achieve greater transparency, promote the use of IT as a tool for positive social change, enhance the communities where AMD does business and minimize the company’s environmental impact.

The 2008 Corporate Responsibility Report provides information on AMD’s economic performance and programs that address environmental protection, corporate governance and social responsibility. The GCPP presents the company’s strategy, goals, and commitment to global climate protection and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are pleased with the progress we’ve achieved on environmental and social issues in the past year and excited to share the results with the public, our customers and technology partners,” said Dirk Meyer, AMD president and CEO. “AMD’s commitment to operating our business responsibly remains a top priority, and while we are pleased with our record, we’re focused on continuing to drive improvement.”

2008 Corporate Responsibility Report highlights:
* Forming the AMD Foundation and its signature education initiative, AMD Changing the Game, to promote the use of video game development as a tool to improve science, technology, education and math (STEM) skills through the creation of social issue games.
* Opening the new Austin, Texas “Lone Star” campus which achieved LEED Gold certification from the US Green Building Council in early 2009 and is powered by 100 percent renewable energy.
* Communicating regularly with external stakeholders to build relationships and improve transparency via semiannual customer surveys. This data provides regional stakeholders, account teams and business units with an overall understanding of customers’ concerns and ideas on how to improve the customer experience.
* Enhancing the communities where AMD does business with efforts such as joining the Green Power Group California Affiliates. AMD and 14 other large companies with operations in California now share best practices for purchasing and developing new sources of renewable energy.
* Strengthening the financial foundation of the company by creating GLOBALFOUNDRIES, a leading-edge semiconductor manufacturing company.

Highlights from the ninth annual GCPP:
* Achieving our EPA Climate Leaders goal of reducing normalized emissions1 by 33 percent by the end of 2010. Relative to the 2006 baseline, AMD has reduced emissions by approximately 20 percent including a 13 percent reduction from 2007 to 2008.
* Receiving a Climate Protection Award in 2008 from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), recognizing the company’s emission reduction strategy and implementation efforts.
* Driving lower PC power consumption through the development of innovative products and technologies that increase energy efficiency. Product highlights include the 45nm AMD Phenom II X4 processors with Cool’n’Quiet 3.0 technology that deliver up to 50 percent lower power consumption at idle when compared to previous generation technology, and the 45nm Quad-Core AMD Opteron EE processor, AMD’s lowest ever quad-core server power band at 40W ACP.
* Implementing energy conservation projects at all of AMD’s major campuses, resulting in AMD Suzhou’s Test, Mark and Pack facility receiving a 2008 Energy Conservation prize from the Suzhou Economic Development Bureau. Programs implemented at AMD’s Suzhou facilities reduced power consumption by approximately 4,655 Megawatt-hours (MWh) per year, enough energy to power more than 2,000 Chinese households for a year.
* Obtaining significant energy savings at AMD facilities through the installation of energy-efficient IT. For example, AMD’s Markham, Ontario data center replaced 1,152 servers with 312 servers using new energy efficient Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors resulting in calculated annual energy savings of more than 1,750 MWh.
* Promoting employee engagement in sustainability initiatives such as the AMD North American Go Green commuter program, eliminating an estimated 1,027,000 miles of driving, conserving approximately 50,000 gallons of gasoline, and avoiding approximately 430,000 kg of CO2 equivalent emissions in 2008.

Freescale intros multicore MSC8154 DSP to speed adoption of LTE, other 4G wireless standards

SHENZHEN, CHINA: Freescale Semiconductor introduces the MSC8154 processor – a four-core version of Freescale’s award-winning, high-performance MSC8156 digital signal processor (DSP). The device is designed to add a variety of price, power and throughput options to Freescale’s portfolio of high performance DSPs based on StarCore technology.

The MSC8154 is manufactured using 45-nm process technology and is pin- and code-compatible with the MSC8156 device. This allows designers to use the same board design for lower bandwidth macro- or micro-base station designs.

Freescale also introduces the availability of supporting software to help OEMs speed software development for 3G-LTE base stations, as well as a high-density reference board design and DSP enablement platform that enables customers and third parties to speed development of next-generation wireless infrastructure equipment.

The MSC8154AMC (Advanced Mezzanine Card) integrates three four-core MSC8154 DSPs and is designed for 3G-LTE, TDD-LTE, WCDMA and WiMAX base stations as well as media gateway systems. Freescale also offers the MSC8156AMC solution, which is based on the six-core MSC8156 DSP.

“Freescale’s MSC8154 processor builds on the success of the MSC8156 six-core device and introduces a lower cost option with optimized performance for lower bandwidth base station applications,” said Scott Aylor, general manager of DSP Products for Freescale’s Networking & Multimedia Group. “In addition, the AMC reference design provides OEMs with an ideal platform to take full advantage of the benefits of future wireless standards.”

Applied Ventures invests in Tera-Barrier Films for plastic electronics

SINGAPORE & USA: Tera-Barrier Films Pte Ltd, a new spin-off from the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), announced that Applied Ventures, LLC, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials Inc. has made a strategic investment in the company.

The funds will be used for the development and manufacture of a new proprietary, moisture resistant film that can significantly extend the life span of devices such as organic solar cells and flexible displays.

Tera-Barrier Films was founded by two A*STAR IMRE’s researchers, Dr. Mark Auch and Senthil Ramadas, who will serve as the company’s CEO and CTO, respectively. The ultrahigh barrier film technology was successfully developed at IMRE and the barrier properties were validated by solar and flexible display manufacturers.

Tera Barrier is still closely linked to IMRE as it operates under a laboratory-in-a-research institute scheme, allowing research continuity and the uninterrupted development of the films.

The new film protects the easily degraded moisture-sensitive organic materials of plastic devices and targets the burgeoning plastic electronics industry. Applications of the film include the manufacturing of flexible, lightweight and cheap electronics such as disposable or wrap-around displays, identification tags, low cost solar cells and chemical- and pressure-sensitive sensors.

“This investment is in line with Applied Materials’ strategy to spur development of a broad range of products that not only serve customers' needs, but conserve the Earth's natural resources, and make alternative energy and environmental solutions more accessible and affordable,” said J. Christopher Moran, vice president and general manager of Applied Ventures.

“We are pleased that our investment in Tera-Barrier will be used to support the commercialization of this breakthrough technology to enable a new generation of advanced devices.”

Tera-Barrier Films is a portfolio company of Exploit Technologies Pte. Ltd., the marketing and commercialization arm of A*STAR. Tera-Barrier has signed a license agreement with Exploit Technologies to obtain the rights to develop and market products using the breakthrough flexible substrate technology.

Boon Swan Foo, Executive Chairman of Exploit Technologies said: “We are encouraged to have attracted such interest from Applied Materials, a global leader in the field of nanomanufacturing technology solutions. This is a strong endorsement of A*STAR IMRE’s technology and of Tera-Barrier Films’s long term development and marketing plans; especially so in the current economic climate, where corporate investments have slowed down significantly. We believe this investment will move Tera-Barrier Films in the right market direction.

“Just as we have taken an active role since flexible film’s early days to shape the business plan, raise funds and eventually start the company, we are looking forward to working with Applied Materials in continuing our efforts to grow the company. Exploit Technologies hopes to collaborate with more such committed industry players to bring a robust pipeline of A*STAR’s technologies to market like flexible substrates, and support promising start-ups like Tera-Barrier Films.”

“The investment by Applied Ventures enables Tera-Barrier to move forward with commercialization plans into the flexible solar cells and printed electronics market,” comments Dr. Mark Auch, CEO of Tera-Barrier Films.

“Tera-Barrier Films is in the process of securing product qualification and sample orders and has strong subcontract partnerships in place for scalable production of high performance barrier films. We are excited to be able to bring to market a key enabling product that could help promote faster growth in our target markets.”

MIPS, Sigma Designs bring full HD experience to Android platform

SUNNYVALE, USA: MIPS Technologies Inc., a leading provider of industry-standard processor architectures and cores for digital consumer, home networking, wireless, communications and business applications, and Sigma Designs Inc., a leader in digital media processing system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for consumer electronics, announced that they are bringing a full high-definition (HD) experience to the revolutionary Android platform.

At the DIGITIMES Tech Forum Multimedia Day in Taipei on August 27th, the companies will demonstrate an Android-based system displaying 1080p video on a full HD flat screen display.

This HD video demonstration is a major milestone toward the creation of a reference platform for an Android-based set-top box (STB) -- a goal that Sigma and MIPS have been jointly working toward with other members of the STB working group of the Open Embedded Software Foundation (OESF). The goal of the OESF consortium is to drive Android into new consumer electronics segments beyond the mobile handset, where Android is already finding success.

"After showing a Blu-ray reference design for Android in June, we are pleased to now show full HD video on a MIPS-Based platform from Sigma -- a platform that was selected as an official Android reference port for the OESF STB working group," said Ken Lowe, vice president of strategic marketing, Sigma Designs.

"Support for Android is a priority on Sigma's roadmap as we enable our customers to quickly, easily and cost-effectively bring exciting new functionality to their next-generation of connected devices including DTVs, STBs and Blu-ray players."

"We are excited to join with Sigma to announce this latest Android on MIPS milestone and another industry-first," said Art Swift, vice president of marketing at MIPS Technologies.

"Since we announced public availability of the Android on MIPS source code earlier this month, over 600 people have registered to access the code, and we actually had to add server and network capacity in order to meet demand! Together with our ecosystem partners, silicon partners and Early Access Customers, we are making incredible progress in driving Android into devices beyond the mobile handset."

To enable Android to run on an HD screen rather than the small screen of a mobile handset, Sigma and MIPS undertook enhancements to Android libraries and the MIPS architecture.

Sigma Designs extended libraries within Android to support hardware graphics acceleration and hardware decoding to take advantage of their SoC capabilities for HD. MIPS Technologies is also making performance optimizations specifically for the MIPS32 architecture. This optimized code will be available in the future as part of the publicly-available Android on MIPS code.

mPhase reports rapid advancement with leading MEMS foundry partner

LITTLE FALLS, USA: mPhase Technologies Inc. reported that its work with a world leading MEMS foundry has resulted in the rapid advancement of its Smart NanoBattery technology.

Last week, mPhase announced a laboratory discovery of a polymer coating that improves the ability to control activation of the Smart NanoBattery. mPhase, along with its MEMS foundry partner, have since determined that the laboratory results appear to be able to be replicated in a foundry manufacturing environment.

mPhase previously found that the coating would prevent short circuiting and provide electrical isolation on conductive surfaces of the battery's porous membrane while providing better activation control.

The mPhase team is now working with its MEMS foundry partner to transfer the technical testing results using additional dielectric coating materials and processing methods that are available in a foundry production environment.

The foundry production environment should allow for more consistent and uniform development of the membrane structure which the coating is applied to. The coated membrane physically separates the liquid electrolyte and solid electrodes enabling a potentially infinite shelf life for the Smart NanoBattery.

The activation of each battery cell can be better controlled with the addition of this coating, which creates precise and controlled battery activation capabilities.

"We have made rapid progress during the past few weeks and are encouraged by our technical results and continue to work closely with our MEMS foundry in advancing this unique battery technology," said mPhase CEO Ron Durando.

"These advancements mark another important milestone in our progress and create the potential for developing batteries with an unsurpassed shelf life that can be electronically controlled."

The Smart NanoBattery is being developed as part of the U.S. Army STTR Program. mPhase was awarded $750,000 for a two year Phase II development contract by the U.S. Army in September 2008 to develop this unique new battery technology for military purposes.

Strong bit demand, weak capex spending to favor Flash suppliers

USA: The flash memory market is setting up for a dramatic shift in the supply-demand balance—one that will greatly favor NAND flash memory suppliers in the next several years, according to IC Insights' recently released Mid-Year Update to the McClean Report.

Unit shipments and bit volume demand continue to increase. At the same time, however, there has been a severe reduction in flash memory capital spending. Combined, these two factors will put upward pressure on average selling prices through 2012.

NAND flash memory unit shipments have declined only one year (2001) since IC Insights started tracking this market in 1993. Moreover, flash units are not forecast to decline through 2013 and that includes 2009 with all of its economic challenges. Unit growth has resulted in very strong flash bit volume growth as well.

Driven by handheld and wireless consumer, computer, and communications devices, flash bit volume increased by triple-digit figures between 2005 and 2008. As difficult as the global economy has been in 2009, NAND flash bit volume is still forecast to increase 83 percent!

Samsung, Micron, and other flash manufacturers show no signs of slowing flash bit volume growth in their forecasts. In fact, their roadmaps suggest that bit volume will continue to roughly double each year through 2013.

While unit and bit-volume demand are forecast to escalate, industry-wide capital spending for NAND flash memory has been severely curtailed. Fig. 1 shows NAND bit volume increasing through 2009 yet total industry-wide capital spending for NAND flash memory is forecast to decline 73 percent in 2009 to only $3 billion (NAND accounts for 99 percent of total flash bit volume). Moreover, no significant expansion or capex spending plans have been announced for 2010, according to the Mid-Year Update.Source: IC Insights, USA

With unit demand increasing and a minimal amount of new facilities and upgrades planned, conditions are setting up for average selling prices to move higher through the balance of 2009 and into 2010. In fact, the rise in ASPs could last well into 2012 since it will take some time before new capacity expansions are brought online.

This trend, though a potential burden to OEMs, could be a significant blessing for flash suppliers who have seen only steep price declines for their products over the past several years.

Allen Lu named president of SEMI China

SAN JOSE, USA: SEMI announced the appointment of Allen Lu, Ph.D. as the president of SEMI China. Lu assumes responsibility for the association’s programs, products and services in China.

He will oversee relationships with SEMI members, government and academia in the region; support SEMI international programs; and serve SEMI members from all regions that have interests in China. Lu succeeds Rong-Ling Chen, who has served as acting president of SEMI China since April 2009 and who will continue to serve SEMI as an advisor to Lu.

Lu has 20 years of semiconductor industry experience with a background in technology, business and management. Prior to joining SEMI as regional president, Lu managed the Intel Technology Manufacturing and Engineering group’s China Fab Program, overseeing capital equipment supplier chain development for Intel’s first Asia fab in Dalian, China.

Prior to that, Lu started Intel’s Public Affairs organization in China managing government affairs, community relations, and education programs, and served as the Director of Intel China Public Affairs for four years.

Lu also worked in Intel’s California Technology and Manufacturing group for six years as a technologist and Group Leader. Preceding his work at Intel, Lu was senior process engineer and project leader for Applied Materials.

Lu began his semiconductor career as a research scientist at Northwestern University and North Carolina State University. Lu has a B.Sc. from the University of Science and Technology of China and a Ph.D. in solid state physics from the University of Virginia.

“We are extremely pleased to have Allen Lu join SEMI as the president of SEMI China,” said Stanley T. Myers, president and CEO of SEMI. "Allen has demonstrated leadership in both the IDM and equipment manufacturing aspects of the semiconductor industry, and he possesses business acumen with a strong background of working with government, academia, and other organizations on behalf of the industry."

"We are both fortunate and honored that R.L. Chen agreed to serve as acting president during the transitional period after the departure of Mark Ding," said Myers. "R.L. has had an illustrious career in the Chinese semiconductor industry and possesses great familiarity with SEMI members and operations in the region. He is a strong supporter of SEMI, and we offer our heartfelt thanks for his contributions.”

“I am deeply honored to join SEMI as the president of SEMI China,” said Lu. “China is an exciting business environment with continuing growth opportunities in its semiconductor, PV, and FPD industries.

“My broad experiences in several aspects of the semiconductor industry supply chain will help me as we grow the value that we provide to SEMI members here in China and around the world. I value the deep relationships that SEMI already has in China, and together we will achieve great things for the industry.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spansion to sell Suzhou final manufacturing facility to Powertech

SUNNYVALE, USA: In a move designed to lower fixed costs over the long-term, enhance its manufacturing flexibility, and further its restructuring efforts, Spansion Inc. announced its wholly owned subsidiary Spansion LLC has signed a definitive agreement with Powertech Technology Inc. (PTI) to sell to PTI its final manufacturing facility located in Suzhou, China, and certain related equipment.

Under the terms of the agreement and subject to US bankruptcy court approval, PTI will pay Spansion LLC approximately $31 million in cash, subject to certain adjustments, over the six months following the closing and Spansion LLC will transfer 100 percent of its shares in its subsidiary Spansion Holdings (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., which is the holding company of the Suzhou facility.

Also following the closing, PTI will provide final manufacturing services to Spansion at the Suzhou facility pursuant to a Supply Agreement between Spansion LLC and PTI.

The planned sale is another step in Spansion's strategy to focus on its own core competencies and efficiently utilize its assets by shifting to a more variable, outsourced manufacturing model.

It also demonstrates further progress in Spansion's corporate reorganization, which is designed to create an operating model to support a leaner, more competitive company that has greater operational efficiencies and is positioned for positive free cash flow and profitability.

"As an industry-leading final assembly and test service company, we believe PTI is an ideal final manufacturing resource for Spansion," said John Kispert, Spansion President and CEO.

"Spansion is executing on our strategy to refine our business model and focus on our core competencies. We believe this agreement will help Spansion emerge from the Chapter 11 process a stronger and more focused company."

The Spansion Suzhou facility is one of four factories in Spansion's final manufacturing network, with approximately 565 employees. Operating in China since 1998, the Suzhou facility is certified to ISO 9001:2000 and ISO/TS 16949:2002 as well as ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards.

Operations at Spansion Suzhou include: multi-chip-package (MCP) development; high-volume manufacturing of MCP, FBGA, and TSOP packages; assembly, test, mark and pack; and customer support.

"We expect an uninterrupted supply of products to our customers after the transfer of ownership of the Suzhou facility," said Ajit Manocha, executive vice president, operations. "In addition, we fully expect to maintain Spansion's high quality standards for customers as we transition to becoming a customer of PTI in the future."

The transaction and its final terms are subject to US bankruptcy court approval.

Global semiconductor revenue to decline 17 percent in 2009

STAMFORD, USA: The global semiconductor revenue is on track to total $212 billion in 2009, a 17.1 percent decline from 2008 revenue of $255 billion, according to the latest outlook by Gartner, Inc. This forecast is better than the second quarter projections when Gartner projected semiconductor revenue to decline 22.4 percent this year.

“The semiconductor market has performed better than expected, as was evident when second quarter semiconductor revenue increased 17 percent in sequential sales,” said Bryan Lewis, research vice president at Gartner.

“Consumers reacted strongly to reduced PC and LCD TV pricing as price elasticity was amazing. The industry also benefited from the China stimulus package that worked remarkably well to boost short-term demand. Governments worldwide took action quickly and extensively to avoid a meltdown, and it worked.”

Some of the leading semiconductor vendors reported positive second quarter sequential revenue growth that bodes well for the PC and cell phone segments. For example, Intel posted 12 percent sequential revenue growth, while Samsung, the No. 2 semiconductor vendor based on 2008 revenue, posted a 30 percent increase sequentially in chip sales driven by firming memory prices, exchange rates, and a rebound in PC production. Qualcomm, the No. 8 ranked semiconductor vendor last year, reported that its cell phone chip sales increased 35.7 percent sequentially.

While the outlook for 2009 has improved, Gartner analysts point out that all major segments of the semiconductor market are expected to experience double-digital declines in revenue this year. The largest segment of the semiconductor market, application-specific standard product (ASSP), will reach $57.2 billion in 2009, but this is a 16.5 percent decline from 2008 revenue.

The memory market, the No. 2 segment, is forecast to total $41 billion, a 13.5 percent decline from last year. The microcomponents segment (microprocessors, micro controller units, digital signal processors) is on pace to reach $39.4 billion in 2009, a 19.2 percent decline from 2008.

While the industry did see some better than expected results in the second quarter of 2009, the question is can this optimism be sustained through 2010. Gartner’s latest outlook for 2010 is worldwide semiconductor revenue to total $233 billion, a 10.3 percent increase from 2009 projections.

“The fourth quarter of 2009 and first quarter 2010 will be extremely important in shaping the annual growth for 2010,” Lewis said.

“We are currently expecting the fourth quarter of 2009 to be slightly positive, in line with typical seasonal patterns, but foundries have reported they are concerned that demand may drop off more than seasonal in the fourth quarter, and it may carry into first quarter 2010. Gartner's most likely scenario is calling for a negative 5 percent growth in the first quarter of 2010 as customers take a pause and absorb all the devices they purchased over the previous three quarters.”

TI dramatically reduces system cost in consumer audio with class-D amplifiers

BANGALORE, INDIA: Texas Instruments Inc. today introduced a 15-W stereo, true filter-free, analog-input, class-D audio amplifier.

The device’s advanced electromagnetic interference (EMI) suppression technology eliminates the need for costly inductor-based output filters, reducing bill of materials (BOM) cost by as much as 50 percent.

The TPA3110D2’s SpeakerGuard protection circuitry protects speakers from damage, helping to reduce end equipment customer returns and associated support costs.

The device also features enhanced performance, making the TPA3110D2 an excellent choice for consumer audio applications, including HDTVs, media docking stations, digital radios and sound bars.

The TPA3110D2:
* Filter-free advanced EMI suppression technology reduces bill of materials costs by as much as 50 percent, yet meets EMC performance specifications. Costly inductor-based output filters are replaced with low-cost ferrite bead filters, reducing board space.
* SpeakerGuard technology includes an adjustable power limiter and DC protection circuitry on the audio inputs, preventing speakers from being overdriven or damaged by DC currents due to board component failure or defects on the audio input circuitry.
* Ultra-low THD+N performance of < 0.1 percent THD+N over full power range at 1 kHz and advanced click-and-pop suppression circuitry enables outstanding audio performance and fidelity.
* Flow-through pin-out facilitates hassle-free layout and optimizes thermal performance with high-voltage pins on one side and input and control pins on the other.
* Differential inputs enables excellent common mode noise rejection and high-fidelity audio.

Renesas selects Synopsys Proteus OPC for 45-nm node production

MOUNTAIN VIEW, USA: Synopsys Inc. announced that Renesas Technology Corp., the world's No.1 supplier of microcontrollers and one of the world's premier semiconductor system solutions providers for mobile, automotive and PC/AV (Audio Visual) markets, has adopted Synopsys Proteus OPC for 45-nanometer (nm) production.

With the introduction of 45-nm and below technologies, the demand for optical proximity correction (OPC) becomes greater due to design complexity and layer volume, making time to market and cost of ownership critical factors in OPC vendor selection. Proteus OPC is the industry's most cost-effective solution, since its highly scalable engine runs on standard hardware.

"At Renesas, we are faced with the challenge to tape out large volumes of 45-nm designs with severe schedule constraints," said Hitoshi Sugihara, department manager, DFM & Digital EDA Technology Dept., Design and Development Unit at Renesas Technology Corp. "We selected Proteus OPC since it meets our technology, schedule, and costs requirements. This decision will enable us to sustain our leadership in microcontrollers and semiconductor system solutions."

Proteus delivers near-linear scalability so that designers can efficiently utilize hundreds of cores, allowing them to balance turnaround-time with cost. Proteus is the only tool that enables users to effectively manage technology requirements, turnaround time and cost through the inclusion of both frequency- and space-domain simulation engines.

With this capability, users can deploy the more accurate frequency-domain engine for the most critical layers and utilize the faster space-domain engine for the non-critical layers. ProGen, Proteus' highly customizable solution calibrates a single model that is utilized by both the space- and frequency-domain engines.

"As a leading semiconductor system solutions provider focusing on cutting-edge designs, Renesas has a critical need for an OPC solution that reduces turnaround time and cost," said Howard Ko, senior vice president and general manager of the Silicon Engineering Group at Synopsys. "Renesas' adoption of Synopsys Proteus OPC is proof that Synopsys' technology is the best solution to address these advanced design requirements."

NEC intros SoC for STBs with extensive multi-format video support

IBC 2009, KAWASAKI, JAPAN, DUESSELDORF, GERMANY & SANTA CLARA, USA: NEC Electronics (TSE: 6723) today announced the availability of a new image-processing solution, the EMMA3SL/P system-on-chip (SoC) based on NEC Electronics’ enhanced multimedia architecture (EMMA) platform.

The EMMA3SL/P SoC is a set-top box (STB) device compliant with H.264 high definition (HD), the next-generation image-compression standard, as well as the multi-format video support used for the increasing number of worldwide internet-protocol television (IP TV) STBs, such as DivX, VC-1, and WMV. The new SoC is also the first among the company’s EMMA products to support China’s audio/video standard (AVS).

The EMMA3SL/P device is an image-processing SoC that integrates key functions needed to receive and decode digital broadcasts, including MPEG-2 HD audio/video decoders, transport-stream demultiplexers, as well as display controllers for enhanced display and graphics features.

The new SoC includes these features:
(1) multi-format video support for IP TV STBs, in addition to support for the H.264 HD standard and China’s AVS,
(2) integrated enhanced security features, and
(3) 20 percent reduction in the number of on-board pins compared to the company’s existing products, due to the high level of function integration.

Digital audio/visual (AV) applications are a strategic business focus for NEC Electronics, and the company is actively promoting chips for this market segment.

Having released the world's first digital broadcasting STB SoC in 1998 under the brand name "EMMA," the company has built a formidable range of digital AV SoC devices since then covering three main areas — STBs, digital TVs and DVD recorders.

With these devices, NEC Electronics reached a cumulative total shipment of 100 million as of April 2009. NEC Electronics introduced two EMMA devices in January 2009, the EMMA3SL/LP and EMMA3SL/L SoCs, to the wider H.264 STB market.

Due to specific emerging demand for increased multi-format video especially in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, NEC Electronics announced an expansion of its STB device roadmap with advanced security features and cost efficiency, building on technology gained from previous products.

UMC establishes new business development center; to focus on solar, LEDs

TAIPEI, TAIWAN: United Microelectronics Corp., at its 2nd Board of Directors meeting of the 11th term held today, approved the establishment of New Business Development Center and its 100 percent owned subsidiary, UMC New Business Investment Corporation. Wen Yang Chen, senior vice president of UMC, will be responsible for New Business Development Center.

UMC established the center to capitalize in high growth and high profit potential industries through timely strategic investment. This will bring new momentum for UMC to further grow and enhance UMC's future asset turnover and profitability.

Capital for UMC's 100 percent owned subsidiary, UMC New Business Investment Corp., is likely to reach NTD 1.5 billion. The company will invest based on the research and evaluation performed by UMC New Business Development Center. In the future, the company will acquire absolute majority of the investees' shares and aggressively participate in the decision-making process and operation of the invested companies.

Recently, major developed and developing countries have listed energy saving and carbon reduction as primary administrative policies to face the challenge of potential energy shortages in the future. Technologies for renewable energy and energy saving will become the focus for future technology development; the growth of related industries is predictable.

The utilization of solar energy has high development potential in the renewable energy sector, while LED is a focus area for energy saving. UMC's knowledge and technologies are highly applicable to the fundamentals of these two industries; hence UMC New Business Development Center will focus on these two areas by utilizing UMC's existing expertise and technologies.

In the short-to-mid term, UMC plans to complete the development of related technologies and establish a preliminary scale of operations. For the long term, as key proficiencies mature and resource integration is complete, the new energy business is expected to become another UMC core business with high competitive advantages.

Wen Yang Chen, UMC senior vice president, is currently responsible for operations and sales of UMC's 8-inch (including 6-inch) fabs. He will also be responsible for the operation of UMC New Business Development Center, which will allow him to leverage his extensive experiences in the semiconductor industry to conduct evaluations on various investments, and the integration, management and utilization of human resources, technology and capital.

Enhancing UMC's profitability and improving shareholders' equity has always been UMC's goal. UMC will continue to strengthen its foundry industry competitiveness, while also adopting an intelligent capital utilization strategy through this new energy business development to increase capital utilization performance, build momentum for long-term growth, and to create even greater benefits for UMC's shareholders.

Samsung says memory ‘dynamic duo’ critical for today’s data centers

SAN FRANCISCO, USA: Samsung Electronics, the largest producer of DRAM and solid state drives (SSDs) in the world, today announced that the ‘dynamic duo’ of server power savings: Samsung’s DDR3 memory chips and SSDs, has the potential to sharply reduce data center costs.

DDR3, which can be specified at 1.35Volts, and enterprise SSDs, which can be installed in arrays of servers as a replacement for far less-efficient hard disk drives, have the combined potential to save over 10 percent of power usage per server, and sometimes even more.

“With anywhere from dozens to thousands of servers in any given data center, the potential for substantial cost savings with DDR3 and SSDs is enormous,” said Jim Elliott, vice president, memory marketing, Samsung Semiconductor, Inc.

“Blending the exceptionally low power of today’s DRAM with performance optimized, high capacity enterprise SSDs provides data center managers with a solid alternative to slower, high-voltage DRAM and hard disk drives,” he added.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the need for reducing energy consumption in servers will reach critical proportions over the next three years as consumption is expected to reach 120 billion kilowatts a year by 2011. To reduce this significantly, data center managers must adopt newer technologies that provide substantial energy savings and greater performance efficiencies.

Samsung said the use of higher density, low-voltage DDR3 as a replacement for its long-running DDR2 predecessor, can save over 70 percent in reduced power consumption, through lower voltage requirements and the use of more energy-efficient 40nm class process technology.

In a data center environment, SSDs provide a compelling value when the total cost of ownership is considered, including hardware cost, maintenance, repairs and reduced electricity bills. A single SSD can realize up to 70 percent in power savings.

Samsung Enterprise SSDs can process as much as 100 times the number of IOPs (input/outputs per second) per watt as a 15K rpm 2.5-inch SAS HDD with a very low heat load on data center air conditioning. The IOPs-based performance of one SSD can equal up to 40 hard disk drives.

“The combination of Samsung’s DDR3 and SSDs in new server architectures will provide more powerful green IT solutions and help immensely in putting the brakes on unnecessary energy drain. This has already been proven by server OEMs that have adopted our 50nm class process DRAM,” Elliott added.

DDR3 and SSDs deliver more than energy-savings. DDR3 effectively doubles the performance level of its predecessor, DDR2, with speeds of up to 1333 megabits (mbps) per second. Samsung’s 100 gigabyte (GB) SSD reads data sequentially at 230 megabytes per second (MB/s) and writes it sequentially at 180 MB/s.

With module densities ranging from 2GBs to 16GBs (and soon 32GBs), Samsung’s DDR3 enables OEMs to more easily design servers that use up to 192GBs of memory per system (16GBx12), considerably more than traditional server configurations. With virtualization requiring higher density memory, Samsung’s memory solutions become all the more attractive.

In addition to virtualization, Samsung’s “dynamic duo” will benefit a wide range of other data center storage applications such as video on demand, web serving and secure online transaction processing.

Magma's Quartz deployed by NVIDIA as primary design rule checker for 40nm and below

SAN JOSE, USA: Magma Design Automation Inc., a provider of chip design software, announced that its Quartz DRC has been deployed by NVIDIA Corp. as the primary physical verification checker for designs targeted at 40-nanometer (nm) and smaller process nodes.

NVIDIA, which invented the graphics processing unit and continues to lead its development, is using the Magma physical verification tools for applications ranging from custom cell development to full-chip verification. NVIDIA selected Quartz for 40 nm and below after use on multiple 65-nm designs and finding they delivered significantly faster turnaround time than existing physical verification tools.

"We have been using Magma's Quartz physical verification solution in production since we moved to the 65-nm process node, and it has proven to be both accurate and significantly faster than other solutions," said James Chen, VLSI technology manager at NVIDIA. "Through dozens of tapeouts, we've seen that Quartz provides the sign-off accuracy needed via certified runsets provided by our foundry partners. Though design sizes and rule complexity have increased significantly, we've been able to meet aggressive design schedules by leveraging Quartz's linear scalability on standard, low-memory Linux machines."

Quartz DRC and 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 while using 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.

"Quartz DRC and LVS have enabled silicon success for a wide range of customers, including those doing the most advanced designs in the world," said Anirudh Devgan, general manager of Magma's Custom Design Business Unit. "NVIDIA's decision to deploy Quartz as the primary physical verification design rule checker for 40-nm and smaller process nodes is an endorsement of the software's ability to provide the fastest turnaround-time while using very cost-effective hardware systems."

SUSS MicroTec expands 3D integration activities in Japan

GARCHING/MUNICH, GERMANY: SUSS MicroTec, a supplier of innovative process and test solutions for the semiconductor industry and related markets, has shipped a LithoPack300 lithography cluster to Japan.

The system has been successfully installed at the customer site where it will be used for 3D integration technology development. The cluster solution with coat, bake, expose and develop modules for wafers up to 300mm constitutes a cost-efficient approach for the challenging Through-Silicon-Via (TSV) manufacturing and backside redistribution layer (RDL) in 3D integration production.

With this integrated lithography solution and further solutions for permanent and temporary wafer bonding SUSS MicroTec offers a complete process and technology portfolio for 3D integration. SUSS MicroTec has recently announced its participation in a range of research projects on 3D integration processes driving technology advances from the equipment supplier side.

The LithoPack300 combines two 300mm photolithography modules in one system and represents the most cost-efficient integrated lithography solution in the market. The MA300 Gen2 module, a 300mm next generation mask aligner platform, provides excellent back-side processing capabilities that enable highly accurate photolithography processes for the manufacturing of back side redistribution layers or TSV etch masks.

The ACS300 module offers closed cover coating technology and best-in-class edge bead removal precision and therefore enables optimum thick resist processing for 3D integration processes.

“In recent years SUSS MicroTec lithography systems have developed into an enabling platform for next generation 3D Integration technologies”, said Rolf Wolf, general manager of SUSS MicroTec’s lithography division. “Today SUSS Mask Aligners can be enhanced with tooling for submicron alignment, wafer edge handling or UV-bonding for wafer to wafer stacking, all features that have become critically important for 3D applications.

“With the involvement of SUSS MicroTec in international research cooperations we are proud to become further involved in 3D integration process development.” said Raymond Lau, Business Manager for SUSS MicroTec in Japan.

“Our Japanese customers will directly benefit from these technical advances. We enjoy being able to offer a well-engineered solution portfolio for 3D integration that really meets their specific needs.”