Thursday, December 31, 2009

B-Link Electronics awards multiple WLAN and antenna design wins awarded to RFaxis

IRVINE, USA: RFaxis, a fabless semiconductor company focused on innovative, next-generation RF solutions for the wireless connectivity markets, announced that B-Link Electronic Ltd has selected RFaxis' RFX2402 and RFX2402H RF Front-end Integrated Circuits (RFeIC), along with the new RFaxis high-gain antenna solution, for integration into the B-Link family of WLAN products.

B-Link, established in 1997 and based in Shenzhen, China, is a leading ISO 9001:2000 electronics OEM with in-house R&D and design functions that innovates at a rate of one new product every quarter.

B-Link's manufacturing and quality control facilities enable eight production lines, a portfolio of over 500 connectivity products and a broad line of popular WLAN solutions that serve global high volume demand in Asia, North America, South America, EMEA, and Australia.

"B-Link is a leading electronics OEM and represents a new breed of electronics design and manufacturing firms that have made rapid innovation a core competency," said Mike Neshat, president and CEO of RFaxis. "We are delighted that our state-of-the-art RFeICs and agile antenna designs can further enable B-Link's accelerated development cycles, and at the same time extend the performance and quality of B-Link's wireless connectivity solutions to serve their pervasive global customer base."

Haitao Liu, B-Link's general manager and president, commented: "The RFaxis RFX2402 and RFX2402H RFeICs are the best-cost and best-performance RF front-end solutions for 2.4 GHz WLAN applications, and are truly plug & play in that they are very simple to implement and easily replace the discrete PA and switch in our early-generation WLAN USB device.

For our next-generation WLAN USB device, these two solutions not only deliver 802.11n performance, they also save us substantial PCB board space, resulting in the most compact WLAN dongle designs on the market today."

Liu continues: "We also appreciate RFaxis' antenna design service that has yielded an innovative integrated high-gain antenna for our wireless products. RFaxis' total front-end solutions for wireless connectivity enable B-Link to lead the way for China's burgeoning white-brand electronics market. We are very excited about our relationship with RFaxis, and we are looking forward to driving our high volume business together."

The fully integrated RFaxis RFX2402 RFeIC comes complete on a single silicon die with a linear power amplifier that delivers state-of-the-art EVM power, a low-noise amplifier, a TX/RX switching circuit, a power detector, harmonic filters, and impedance matching.

The RFaxis high-gain/high-power solution for B-Link includes the RFaxis RFX2402H RFeIC designed for WLAN client devices, such as USB dongles, as well as server devices, such as wireless routers and access points.

By leveraging the RFX2402H high power and high sensitivity attributes together with an optimally matched RFaxis high-gain/omni-directional antenna, this total RFaxis front-end solution enables a highly reliable wireless connection over extended distances for any mobile WLAN device.

Production of B-Link's first WLAN USB dongle using RFaxis' RFX2402 is slated to commence in Q1, 2010. Additional B-Link products employing RFaxis solutions will ramp up in Q2, 2010.

FormFactor ships 125th DRAM wafer probe card with advanced TRE technology

LIVERMORE, USA: FormFactor Inc. announced that it has reached a milestone with the shipment of the 125th wafer probe card incorporating the company's proprietary advanced TRE technology.

Advanced TRE technology enables FormFactor's probe cards to make more efficient use of tester channels on test equipment to multiply the number of devices that can be tested simultaneously on a wafer with existing resources. As a result, probe cards incorporating FormFactor's advanced TRE technology can extend the life of existing test equipment, allowing semiconductor manufacturers to defer the cost of purchasing new equipment while still addressing increases in test capacity or new test requirements.

FormFactor has shipped probe cards with advanced TRE technology to several of the top DRAM manufacturers, and are currently being used to test DDR2 and DDR3 DRAM devices with densities ranging from 512MB to 2GB. The production-proven technology brings a new degree of intelligence to FormFactor wafer probe cards through the integration of application specific ICs. With this proprietary capability, FormFactor's advanced TRE enabled probe cards take wafer test parallelism to the next level.

"As DRAM manufacturers drive to smaller technology nodes to lower their production costs, the number of DRAM devices being produced and tested per wafer continues to rise. As a result, our customers need innovative solutions to lower their test costs while maintaining test quality," stated Stefan Zschiegner, senior vice president and general manager of FormFactor's DRAM Product Business Group.

"By enabling higher levels of test parallelism, FormFactor's wafer probe cards with advanced TRE technology can lower the cost of test by up to 30 percent or more, as well as help customers avoid millions of dollars in capital expenditure by extending the life of their existing testers -- all without compromising on test coverage and yield."

RFaxis secures multiple ZigBee design wins From GRT Technology

IRVINE, USA: RFaxis, a fabless semiconductor company focused on innovative, next-generation RF solutions for the wireless and connectivity markets, announced that GRT Technology Co. Ltd has selected RFaxis' RFX2401 RF Front-end Integrated Circuit (RFeIC) for integration into its family of ZigBee solutions.

Founded in 2005 with headquarters in Taipei, Taiwan, GRT Technology is a leading solution provider in the rapidly growing ZigBee market. By leveraging Linux-based software with its highly-integrated ZigBee modules, GRT provides plug and play ZigBee solutions for a great variety of global applications that require real-time data delivery and display from remote wireless sensor networks, including 'Smart Energy' (LED streetlight control, power saving devices, etc); 'Smart Home' (HVAC control, security/alarm systems, RF4CE remote control devices); remote monitoring and care for children and senior citizens; and remote asset tracking and control for agriculture and livestock.

"GRT is a major ZigBee first-mover and has aggressively launched exciting products for the booming ZigBee space," noted Mike Neshat, president and CEO of RFaxis. "We're looking forward to a long and prosperous partnership with GRT, and are excited that our single-chip, single-die RFX2401 RFeIC for ZigBee can enable their mission to deliver global solutions for a better and greener quality of life."

Dr. Di Chiu, GRT general manager, commented: "To lead the way in the exploding ZigBee market, it is critical for GRT to enhance the reliability and extend the range of our ZigBee solutions. We needed an energy-efficient and cost-effective RF front-end that delivers quality performance and is very easy to implement. After assessing a variety of RF front-end solutions, the RFaxis RFX2401 was the clear winner in terms of rapid integration and superior performance & power efficiency over conventional front-end solutions."

GRT and other leading ZigBee solution providers will be showcasing Green-Energy and Smart-Life solutions in the RFaxis suite at the Encore for the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Spansion reports Q3-09 net sales of $327.6mn

SUNNYVALE, USA: Spansion Inc. today announced operating results for its quarter and nine months ended September 27, 2009. Spansion reported third quarter of 2009 net sales of $327.6 million, which reflects the company's refined focus and decision to concentrate primarily on embedded and targeted wireless applications.

The company generated net income on a US GAAP basis of $1.5 million, or diluted net income per share of $0.01. Operating income for the quarter was $20 million and US GAAP gross and operating margins were 28.3 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.

The reduction in net sales and substantial improvements in operating and net income are a direct result of the company's strategy to exit unprofitable markets and restructure the company to support its refined focus. Non-GAAP net income for the third quarter of 2009 excluding restructuring, reorganization, and other special charges and credits was $17.6 million, or non-GAAP net income per share of $0.10.

As a result of a focus on cost reductions, efficiencies and improved asset management, the company continued to generate positive cash flows from operations and ended the third quarter of fiscal 2009 with $263.6 million in cash as compared to $220.5 million and $95.3 million at the end of the second and first quarters of fiscal 2009, respectively.

"Spansion is executing well against its plan," said Randy Furr, Spansion's CFO. "Net income has improved by approximately $135 million year over year for its fiscal third quarter on approximately half the net sales. By focusing on our core businesses and exiting unprofitable applications, we have shown that our strategy is working to deliver stronger financial results."

With a sustainable business model designed for profitability and generating positive free cash flow, the company is focused on servicing its core embedded customers as well as target wireless applications.

The company has completed a number of restructuring activities to realign its business to support a refined target market of Flash memory applications. The company now maintains a more flexible manufacturing network that balances internal and external capacity to fulfill customer demand.

Spansion's Fab 25 in Austin, Texas, is the company's main wafer fabrication facility, with supplemental foundry support provided by Spansion Japan, Fujitsu and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC). For the final manufacturing (assembly, test, mark and pack), Spansion maintains two internal facilities with a number of additional external resources.

"Our restructuring efforts are paying off as highlighted in our improved third quarter performance," said John Kispert, Spansion president and CEO. "Over the past nine months we have taken a number of difficult actions relative to restructuring. I am proud to say that we now have those efforts behind us and can focus on the future. We expect to emerge from Chapter 11 in the first quarter of 2010 with a healthier capital structure and a broad product portfolio, positioned to compete in our target markets."

On December 22, the US Bankruptcy Court approved Spansion's second amended disclosure statement in its plan of reorganization. A confirmation hearing for the plan of reorganization is scheduled for February 11, 2010.

For the nine months ended September 27, 2009, the company recognized approximately $381.6 million as reorganization items in the Condensed Consolidated Statement of Operations. Reorganization items consist primarily of provisions for expected allowed claims and certain charges related to allowed claims.

The US Bankruptcy Court will ultimately determine liability amounts that will be allowed for claims. As claims are resolved, or where better information becomes available and is evaluated, the company will make adjustments to the liabilities recorded on its quarterly or annual financial statements as appropriate. Any such adjustments could be material to the company's financial position or results of operations in any given period.

Spansion Japan
Spansion Japan Limited, a subsidiary of Spansion Inc., commenced corporate reorganization proceedings in Japan on March 3, 2009. As a result, and in accordance with US GAAP, the financial results of Spansion Japan are no longer included in the consolidated financial results of Spansion Inc. post March 3, 2009.

Spansion Japan has supplied, and continues to supply, silicon wafers to Spansion LLC. Historically, the prices for the wafers sold by Spansion Japan to Spansion LLC were governed by a pre-bankruptcy foundry agreement. The prices the company pays to Spansion Japan for the wafers and related services are a material component of the company's "cost of goods sold."

The company believes that the prices under the foundry agreement were significantly greater than fair value and thus the Company attempted to renegotiate these pricing terms with Spansion Japan. These efforts were unsuccessful and in October 2009, the company filed a motion with the US Bankruptcy Court to reject the foundry agreement. An order rejecting the foundry agreement was issued by the US Bankruptcy Court on November 19, 2009.

As a result of the rejection of the foundry agreement, there is no valid contract that establishes pricing for the wafers the company has received from Spansion Japan from February 9, 2009 (which is 20 days prior to the company's chapter 11 filing) through October 27, 2009, which is referred to in this press release as the "dispute period."

The results of operations for the third quarter and nine months ended September 27, 2009 presented in this press release are based on the company's estimates of value for the goods and services provided by Spansion Japan during the dispute period. The US Bankruptcy Court is scheduled to hear evidence to establish the value of wafers purchased during the dispute period from Spansion Japan on January 8, 2010.

If the US Bankruptcy Court finds that the value of wafers purchased during the dispute period from Spansion Japan is different than the company's estimates, it will have an impact on the results of operations and that impact could be material. Moreover, the result of that ruling could also have a material impact on the financial condition of the company.

NEC Electronics America brings USB 3.0 connectivity for feature-rich CE applications to CES 2010

LAS VEGAS, USA: NEC Electronics America, Inc. will highlight the latest generation of Universal Serial Bus (USB) technologies at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES®) January 7-10 in Las Vegas.

A working demonstration of the company’s USB 3.0, or SuperSpeed, capabilities will be showcased in the USB TechZone, located in the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) South Hall 3, booth #30769.

Daily demonstrations of NEC Electronics’ USB 3.0 host controller (part number µPD720200), the industry’s first USB-IF-certified USB 3.0 product, will feature a laptop computer with two USB 3.0 ports, with one port sending a video file at the SuperSpeed transfer rate to a USB 3.0 external storage device.

To demonstrate the backward compatibility of the USB 3.0 host controller, the second port will send the same video file to a USB 2.0 external storage device for comparison. Samples of customers’ motherboards and cards using NEC Electronics’ USB 3.0 device also will be on exhibit.

NEC Electronics introduced the industry’s first USB 3.0 host controller device in May 2009, and confirmed certification from the USB-IF—another industry first—in September 2009. USB 3.0 prototype devices will support data transfer speeds up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0 transfer speeds, and also will support backward compatibility in consumer electronic devices based on the current USB specification.

CES attendees can learn more about NEC Electronics’ USB 3.0 system-on-chip (SoC) design solution, introduced in September 2009. Designers can use the solution to kick start the development of custom USB 3.0 products such as mass storage, display and video.

The SoC design solution helps to reduce risk, improve efficiency and speed time to market, while allowing customers to focus on developing their own differentiated logic. The SoC design solution features NEC Electronics’ USB 3.0 intellectual property (IP) core, which is fully interoperable with the company’s USB 3.0 host controller and also backward compatible with the USB 2.0, 1.1 and 1.0 versions of the USB standard.

NEC Electronics expects rapid adoption of the platform as the need to transfer larger and larger amounts of information from PCs to external hard drives, portable electronic devices, and flash-based thumb drives, continues to grow.

Symwave and Super Talent to showcase USB 3.0 RAIDDrive storage solution at CES 2010

LAGUNA NIGUEL & SAN JOSE, USA: Symwave Inc., a leading silicon supplier of system solutions for SuperSpeed USB devices, and Super Talent Technology, a leading manufacturer of flash storage solutions and DRAM memory modules, jointly announced they will demonstrate Super Talent’s RAIDDrive, the world’s first and only mobile USB 3.0 flash drive at CES 2010 in Las Vegas, January 7-10.

Symwave'’s low power device enables portability without an external power source even from a standard USB 2.0 port. The new Super Talent drive, offered in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities, is 10 times faster than current solutions and is fully backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports.

“Symwave'’s SW6318 device was the obvious choice for our new line of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 mobile storage products,” said C.H. Lee, Chief Operating Officer at Super Talent Technology. “Our USB 3.0 RAIDDrive, based on Symwave’s SW6318 device, delivers phenomenal performance of more than 300 MB/sec.”

“Super Talent continues their leadership in USB drives by delivering the world’s first mobile USB 3.0 flash drive,” said John O’Neill, Vice President of Marketing at Symwave. “By combining their patented technology with our SW6318 device, the industry’s first and highest performance RAID storage controller, Super Talent has delivered a new generation of flash drives with truly jaw-dropping performance.”

The USB 3.0 RAIDDrive uses parallel channels of NAND flash in a performance doubling (RAID0) configuration to achieve the unprecedented performance. Measuring 3.75” x 1.5” x 0.5”, the SuperSpeed drive is compact and portable.

Like most USB pen drives or thumb drives, it doesn’t require a separate cable and plugs directly into any USB port. This product is available now from Super Talent resellers worldwide.

Realtek licenses wide range of MIPS32 Pro series cores for high-performance SoCs

SUNNYVALE, USA: MIPS Technologies Inc., a leading provider of industry-standard processor architectures and cores for home entertainment, communications, networking and portable multimedia markets, announced that Taiwan-based Realtek Semiconductor has licensed a wide range of MIPS32 Pro series cores for broadband, networking, digital home and multimedia SoCs.

Realtek's adoption of the MIPS32 34Kc Pro and 24Kf Pro cores extends the company's current commitment to the industry-standard MIPS architecture.

"We've had a very positive experience with MIPS Technologies. Our initial use of Pro Series cores has given us the flexibility to design chipsets that meet the exacting performance, security and power requirements that our customers demand," said Realtek's Executive Vice President Jessy Chen.

"We are pleased to work with MIPS and leverage the extensive ecosystem surrounding its architecture. Extending our MIPS license allows us to deliver an even more comprehensive range of solutions for the digital home."

"We're delighted that Realtek has demonstrated its continued commitment to the MIPS architecture," said Art Swift, vice president of marketing, MIPS Technologies. "We look forward to working with Realtek to ensure our companies' mutual success as the company rolls out additional innovative MIPS-Based products for the highly competitive and evolving digital consumer market."

MIPS Pro Series cores power distinctive consumer applications that combine exceptional performance with superior area and power efficiency. Leveraging the CorExtend capability, the Realtek development team can add its own highly differentiated instructions and functionality to MIPS-Based SoCs, reducing development costs and accelerating time-to-market.

ITC issues notice of final determination in Tessera’s DRAM action

SAN JOSE, USA: Tessera Technologies Inc. announced that the International Trade Commission (ITC) issued a notice of its final determination in the action brought by Tessera against certain DRAM manufacturers, affirming that Tessera’s three asserted patents are valid.

The ITC, however, determined among other things that the methodology used by Tessera’s expert was insufficient to prove infringement by the respondents of two of the asserted patents.

As to the third patent, the notice indicates that infringement was proven as to some but not all of the accused products, but that, due to patent exhaustion, there was no violation of Section 337. The action is Investigation No. 337-TA-630 (DRAM ITC action).

Tessera has not yet received the Commission’s Final Determination itself and, therefore, does not yet know the details of any reasoning behind the ITC’s conclusions.

“Once again, the ITC affirmed the validity of our asserted patents. We are disappointed, however, with the determinations regarding our infringement methodology and patent exhaustion,” said Henry R. Nothhaft, president and CEO of Tessera.

“We will have an opportunity to appeal this ruling and are already reviewing other avenues open to us to ensure we are fully compensated for use of our technology. We continue to work closely with our licensed customers who are benefitting from their use of our patent portfolio, valuable know-how and trade secrets.”

The respondents in the DRAM ITC action include Acer Inc, Centon Electronics Inc, Elpida Memory Inc., Kingston Technology Co. Inc., Nanya Technology Corp., Powerchip Semiconductor Corp., ProMOS Technologies Inc., Ramaxel Technology Ltd, and Smart Modular Technologies Inc.

Tessera asserted infringement of three Tessera patents -- U.S. Patent No. 6,133,627 ('627), U.S. Patent No. 5,679,977 (‘977), and U.S. Patent No. 5,663,106 (‘106).

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Semiconductor industry continues to underspend on equipment

Commentary from Dr. Robert N. Castellano, The Information Network

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Recovery in both semiconductors and equipment has begun from lows reached in early 2009. However, as shown below, semiconductor sales (dotted line) are nearly back to where they were in September 2008 when the downturn in the industry started. Revenues in October 2009 were down only 5.5 percent from the September 2008 level.

On the other hand, semiconductor equipment sales in November 2009 are down 42.3% from levels reached in March 2008, the start of the downturn in the equipment market.

Semiconductor and semiconductor equipment revenuesSource: The Information Network

As I noted in my column back on July 27 2009, “In January 1995, 11.4 percent of revenue generated by semiconductor manufacturers was spent on new processing equipment. Forward to May 2009 and only 3.8 percent of semiconductor revenue was spent on equipment.” Through October 2009, that figure is now at 3.4 percent.

There have been very bullish forecasts about the semiconductor equipment market for 2010 in recent weeks. SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International) issued a press release on December 1 forecasting a 53 percent increase in 2010 following a 46 percent decrease in 2009.

Gartner issued a release on December 11 forecasting a 56.6 percent increase in 2010 following a 48.1 percent decrease in 2009.

Both forecasts are based on technology purchases for 2010. SEMI in a different press release suggested that there will be no new fabs built in 2010 and pointed out that there were also no new fabs built in 2009.

These comments beg the question how will the equipment market grow 50+ percent in 2010 with no new fabs and no new capacity additions when it dropped nearly 50 percent in 2009 with no new fabs and no new capacity additions? Which leads to a follow-up question will technology purchases alone sustain 50 percent growth.

Reaching 50+ percent growth will result in nearly $20 billion in wafer fab equipment purchases for technology improvements, $7 billion more than in 2009 for a net zero growth in new fabs built.

We need to look to the lithography sector a bit more closely, as it historically makes up about 25 percent of equipment purchases - in 2008 the lithography sector recorded revenues of $5.4 billion according to our analysis while the total wafer processing market was $22 billion.

But, will the lithography market grow 50+ percent in 2010 to maintain its historic 25 percent of the wafer processing equipment market? Intel is already purchasing immersion lithography tools from Nikon. In 2009, we estimate that 59 immersion steppers were sold, primarily by ASML. In 2010, more than 90 will need to be sold to generate 50+ percent growth. That’s a lot of tools priced at $45 million each!

Interestingly, Cymer (CYMI), a major supplier of lasers for immersion lithography tools was downgraded on December 23 by GC Research from Overweight to Neutral. Also, on October 15, ASML (ASML), the lithography market leader, was downgraded by Citigroup from Hold to Sell.

One would think that with a projected growth of 50+ percent we would have seen the reverse. Our analysis points to a growth in the semiconductor equipment market of less than 20% in 2010 but with 50+% growth forecast in 2011. Time will tell.

As I stated on on July 31, 2009: “For 2009, we forecast that the semiconductor equipment market will drop 46 percent. In contrast, we forecast the semiconductor market will drop 26 percent in 2009. Most importantly, growth in the equipment market will continue through 2012, increasing 20 percent in 2010 and 49 percent in 2011.”

Xilinx to showcase India design strength at VLSI conference

INDIA: Xilinx India Technology Services Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Xilinx Inc., is a key participant at the 23rd International Conference on VLSI Design between January 5 and 7, 2010, in Bangalore.

With a rapidly-expanding design team in India and a strong reputation globally as leaders in complete programmable logic solutions, Xilinx is taking a leadership role in evangelizing Targeted Design Platforms to the industry.

Apart from the technology showcase, Xilinx is also chairing sessions such as on ‘Architectural Exploration and Design Closure’. Xilinx India’s CTO, Vamsi Boppana, is one of the leads on the program committee for the VLSI conference, with specific focus on the VLSI CAD stream.

Speaking about Xilinx’ participation in the conference, Boppana said: “It is an intrinsic characteristic of Xilinx to interact with professionals, students, our peers and the industry at large, and we believe that we are able to add value to the overall growth and direction of the industry and its many professionals. We are very excited about the VLSI conference 2010, and we are especially eager to showcase our India design strengths at this platform.”

Highlights of the Xilinx technology showcase at VLSI conference 2010 include:

Spartan-6 and Virtex-6 targeted reference designs for connectivity domain
* Targeted Design Platforms from Xilinx are aimed at providing customers with simpler and smarter design platforms for the creation of FPGA-based solutions in a variety of industries. The designs demonstrated are targeted to connectivity domain.
* Spartan-6 TRD demonstrates a fully functional network interface card developed using integrated blocks on Spartan-6 FPGA, Xilinx IP cores and third party IP core.
* Virtex-6 TRD demonstrates high speed (up to 10Gbps) movement of data between system memory and hardware using PCI Express.

Spartan-6 Air Graffiti demo
* This visual demo is based on SP601 board and is targeted to video domain.
* It captures live video and displays the same with the new Spartan-6 and Virtex-6 logos overlaid. It also captures and traces blue light via the camera input to enable 'air graffiti’.

Partial Reconfiguration demo
* This demo shows the basic steps of creating and implementing a design in PlanAhead. The design targets the ML-505 prototyping board. The FPGA drives LEDs in particular sequences depending on the reconfigurable modules loaded. The design contains two reconfigurable partitions, one with embedded BlockRAM and the other with embedded I/O buffers. Reconfiguring the various partitions drives the LEDs and I/Os differently.

Targeted Design Platform
The Xilinx targeted design platform strategy encompasses the integration of five key elements:

* New Xilinx Virtex-6 and Spartan-6 FPGAs.
* Design environments supporting and integrating industry-proven methodologies.
* Scalable boards and kits adopting the industry standard FPGA Mezzanine Connector.
* Socketable intellectual property (IP) cores.
* Robust reference designs.

Each one of the elements, excluding the Xilinx FPGA device, is delivered by Xilinx or its third-party network and is supported by a robust ecosystem of design service expertise.

Targeted design platforms enable software and hardware designers alike to leverage open standards, common design methodologies, development tools, and run-time platforms. This allows designers to spend less time developing the infrastructure of an application and more time building differentiating features into the end application.

More performance, more logic and more options for FPGA designers

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Altium continues to expand device options for electronics designers. The latest version of Altium Designer now includes complete support for the Spartan-6 device family from Xilinx.

Electronics designers use Altium Designer to target either the FPGA of choice (Altium Designer now supports over 60), or a range of alternatives to compare performance, power consumption, and other design parameters.

Designers have design flexibility without the encumbrances associated with also having to choose multiple vendor development software. Electronics designers can change programmable devices during development without significant software or hardware rework. Crucial design decisions can remain open until much later in the design cycle, allowing more experimentation and more opportunities for innovation.

"Continuing to increase the number of devices we support in Altium Designer lets electronics designers explore more of the cost and performance benefits of today's programmable devices," said Matt Schwaiger, Senior Vice President Global Customer Success, Altium.

"FPGAs such as the Xilinx Spartan-6 - which offers more logic and more performance at lower cost - are becoming pervasive. And electronics designers without any prior experience can use Altium's design solutions to develop entire systems based on an FPGA using their board design skills.

"They can do this because of Altium Designer's unified architecture and high level of abstraction. Board designers can enter the FPGA space and use Altium's graphical interface to develop intelligent and connected FPGA-based electronics. This lets them manage the entire electronics design process within a single system."

"As Xilinx devices have evolved, so too has Altium Designer, enabling electronics designers, with little knowledge of FPGAs, to harness the capabilities found in devices like our new 45nm Spartan-6 FPGA family," Tom Feist, Senior Marketing Director, Xilinx, said.

"The Spartan-6 FPGA family delivers an optimal balance of low risk, low cost, and low power for cost-sensitive applications, while featuring an intelligent mix of hard IP and programmability for greater integration, such as 3.125 Gb/s transceivers and integrated PCI Express endpoint blocks."

RFaxis rocks wireless markets again with new pure CMOS RF front-end platform

IRVINE, USA: RFaxis, a fabless semiconductor company focused on innovative, next-generation RF solutions for the wireless and connectivity markets, unveiled its next-generation pure CMOS RF Front-end Integrated Circuits (RFeIC) platform to complement its current BiCMOS RFeIC platform used to enable its portfolio of fully integrated, single-chip, single-die RF front-end solutions.

If the "Holy Grail" of integration for wireless connectivity is to deliver a complete wireless radio on a single CMOS silicon die, RFaxis' new pure CMOS RFeIC platform enables a game-changing leap towards this goal.

"We leveraged our BiCMOS experience to accelerate the completion of our pure CMOS RFeIC platform to provide our customers and investors a revolutionary sequel to our current portfolio of best-cost/best-quality RF front-end solutions, and to transform the RF front-end game once and for all," states Mike Neshat, president and CEO of RFaxis.

Dr. Oleksandr Gorbachov, CTO of RFaxis, says: "Our RFeIC platforms are essentially RF architectural templates that allow us to quickly spin-up new RF front-end solutions for compelling market opportunities for battery-operated wireless devices and for wireless devices with a continuous power supply. We are very excited about our pure CMOS RF front-end platform because it is a testimony that RFaxis is a true innovation leader."

Dr. Ping Peng, COO of RFaxis, adds: "Furthermore, our new pure CMOS platform is simply elegant, in that our new platform is architected for standard and proven 0.18 and 0.25 micron CMOS processes, and for abundant and inexpensive CMOS silicon material. This means our next-generation RFeICs based on this platform can be reliably and cost-effectively manufactured by a wide variety of major foundries globally."

Neshat continues: "We were told that a fully integrated RF front-end on a single-chip, single BiCMOS silicon die could not be done. Yet we are now manufacturing five major RFeIC lines to be launched in 2010. We were told that a fully integrated RF front-end on a single-chip, single pure CMOS silicon die was impossible. Yet we have proven that such a disruptive platform is viable and is available today only through RFaxis. We will continue to defy conventional thinking and bring to reality breakthrough innovations necessary to fuel the wireless movement."

"We've already achieved the best-cost/best-quality RF front-end solutions based on our BiCMOS RFeIC platform. When we unleash our portfolio of pure CMOS solutions in the summer of 2010, we will dramatically increase our value to our customers, partners, investors, and the wireless ecosystem," concludes Neshat.

The RFaxis BiCMOS RFeIC product lines available for delivery in early 2010 will be unveiled in time for the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in January. More information regarding the RFaxis CMOS RFeIC product roadmap and delivery timetable is forthcoming.

EVE to exhibit at international conference on VLSI design (VLSID 2010) in Bangalore

SAN JOSE, USA: EVE, the leader in hardware/software co-verification and developer of ZeBu-Server, a scalable and affordable emulation system, will exhibit at VLSID 2010 -- the 23rd International Conference on VLSI Design (Booth #17) January 5-7 at the Nimhans Convention Centre in Bangalore, India.

Representatives from EVE will discuss ZeBu-Server, the first commercially available green emulator, useful for all system-on-chip (SoC) verification needs across the entire development cycle, from hardware verification, hardware/software integration to embedded software validation.

ZeBu-Server has a fast compile time and an ability to emulate a single design at a speed of up to 30 megahertz (MHz). Its unique features include a powerful debug environment and support for a wide range of verification components.

Sequans adds industry-leading MIMO decoder in LTE product line

PARIS, FRANCE & CUPERTINO, USA: Sequans Communications has licensed unique LTE IP from Dorfour Ltd., a Tel-Aviv-based 4G IC company.

The IP enables maximum likelihood performance at four times the efficiency in size and power consumption of competing solutions, contributing a key component to Sequans’ LTE solution. Sequans, a leading supplier of WiMAX semiconductor solutions, recently announced the launch of its LTE development program.

“Our cooperation with Dorfour accelerates our LTE development and supports the high performance and low cost development objectives we have for our LTE product line,” said Georges Karam, Sequans CEO. “Dorfour technology also supports both 2X2 and 4X2 transmission schemes.”

Engineers from leading semiconductor company Texas Instruments and leading WiMAX systems provider Alvarion founded Dorfour. The team has been working on LTE technology development for more than two years.

“Sequans’ leadership in semiconductor solutions is evident in their LTE development and we are pleased to contribute to it,” said Amit Lubovsky, one of Dorfour’s founders. “Dorfour’s focus on high efficiency and low power consumption mirrors Sequans’ focus on the same, and our combined technologies will yield a powerful LTE solution.”

Sequans is on track to demonstrate its first LTE solutions in early 2010, in support of pre-commercial operator trials.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Globalfoundries to tap Asia IC-design market through Socle Technology

TAIWAN: Globalfoundries' acquisition of Singapore-based Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing will also enable the US pure-play foundry to tap the IC-design market in Asia thanks to Chartered's equity holdings in Taiwan-based Socle Technology, according to industry sources.

Socle has responded to recent reports doubting whether its strategic partnership with Chartered will carry on, saying that Globalfoundries will take over Chartered's holdings in Socle as part of the company's efforts to combine its technology expertise with Chartered's Asia-based production and customer base.

Socle, which mainly provides system-on-chip (SoC) design services using ARM cores and develops ARM-based platforms, said it looks forward to working with Globalfoundries and having the opportunity to complement the cooperation with its expertise in product design specially for the Asia market.

Chartered holds around NT$190 million (US$5.89 million) worth of the Socle shares, equivalent to over 35 percent of Socle's current paid-in capital of NT$530 million. Song-Hwee Chia, the former Chartered CEO, joined and has led the Socle board of directors since July 2008 when Chartered acquired its majority stake.

Claire Sung, Jessie Shen, DIGITIMES

Symwave demos SuperSpeed USB 3.0 consumer products at CES

LAGUNA NIGUEL, USA: At CES 2010, Symwave is partnering with leading technology companies such as LaCie, OCZ Technology, SuperTalent, XONA Media, and other industry leading OEMs to demonstrate the low power and high performance of the latest USB 3.0 products using its cutting-edge storage controllers.

These products include: a media kiosk for instantly purchasing or renting movies, a pocket sized flash drive able to download media files in a fraction of the time it takes with current USB products, RAID storage solutions that exceed 300 MB/sec performance, and external hard disk drive (HDD) and solid state drive (SSD) products capable of backing-up 500 gigabytes of data in under 30 minutes.

Global semicon 2010: Have a more aggressive plan B in your back pocket!

UK: According to Malcolm Penn, chairman and CEO, Future Horizons, October set the fourth quarter off with a blast, with IC units up 9.2 percent versus the same period last year and a staggering 22.8 percent versus September 2009. More importantly ASPs were up 5.3 percent versus October 2008, bringing the October 12:12 growth in value to plus 15.1 percent. This is the first such positive growth since July 2008!

October’s strength also makes our 3 percent fourth quarter growth incredibly conservative, with no sign at all of a near-term industry bust. With industry struggling to keep pace with second half-year demand, there has been no chance yet for inventories to be replenished after their Q4-08/Q1-09 purge.

We are now condemned to enter 2010 with tight fab capacity and no excess stock. Already, device lead times are starting to feel the pinch; no one we speak to yet believes what the data is saying.

As such, our New Year’s message to industry is simple: "By all means, plan your budget and operations for a modest growth year, but you better have a more aggressive Plan B in your back pocket."

To read the full report, click here!

Happy 2010 and a prosperous new decade.

Infineon reaches agreement to settle legal dispute with Fairchild

NEUBIBERG, GERMANY: Infineon Technologies AG has settled a patent infringement lawsuit with Fairchild Semiconductor.

Infineon initiated the lawsuit in November 2008 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The patents in the suit and counter suit consisted of 14 patents related to super-junction power transistors along with trench power MOSFETs and IGBT power transistors.

The lawsuit has been settled through a broad patent cross license relating to semiconductor technology. As part of the agreement, Fairchild will make payments to Infineon. The specific terms and conditions of the agreement are confidential.

Infineon and Fairchild will inform the US District Court, District of Delaware, that they had reached a settlement and will file a stipulation of dismissal. Infineon is currently in patent licensing discussions with a number of semiconductor companies.

Infineon views such discussions as essential to the continuing protection of its intellectual property and business interests.

Monday, December 28, 2009

ON Semiconductor commences tender offer for acquisition of California Micro Devices

PHOENIX, USA: ON Semiconductor today announced that it has commenced its tender offer for the acquisition of California Micro Devices Corp.

This move represents the next step toward an acquisition first announced on December 14. As previously reported: “The acquisition of California Micro Devices (CMD) will significantly strengthen our offering of application specific integrated passive (ASIP) devices to protect products in the wireless, computing and consumer electronics end-markets,” said Keith Jackson, ON Semiconductor president and CEO.

“In addition, CMD’s expertise in protection solutions for the high brightness LED (HBLED) market, as well as their strengths in LC-based EMI (electromagnetic interference) filtering and low capacitance ESD (electrostatic discharge) protection, complement our existing portfolio of protection and lighting solutions. With technology and process development expertise in ESD and EMI protection, CMD is highly differentiated in the marketplace – as demonstrated by their strong relationships with leading global customers across multiple large and growing applications.

“Combined with ON Semiconductor’s global sales channel footprint and effective channels of distribution, we expect to be able to support a broader and deeper penetration of CMD’s overall product portfolio with market-leading customers. This should enable us to accelerate revenue growth for CMD’s products and increase market share. We also believe CMD’s products and operations will benefit from ON Semiconductor’s world-class manufacturing capabilities.”

The cash tender, through PAC-10 Acquisition Corporation, an indirect, wholly-owned ON Semiconductor subsidiary, is for all outstanding shares of CMD common stock at a price of $4.70 per share, without interest and less any applicable withholding or stock-transfer taxes.

The tender offer is subject to conditions set forth in the Offer to Purchase, including a minimum share-tender condition and other customary conditions, as described in the Offer to Purchase.

Unless extended, the tender offer and any withdrawal rights to which CMD stockholders may be entitled will expire at midnight, U.S. Eastern Time, on Tuesday, January 26, 2010 (which is the end of the day on January 26, 2010). Following acceptance for payment of shares in the tender offer and completion of the transactions contemplated in the merger agreement and described in the Offer to Purchase, CMD will become an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of ON Semiconductor.

Where's the semiconductor equipment market headed in 2010?

From Dr. Robert N. Castellano, The Information Network, USA

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: There have been very bullish forecasts about the semiconductor equipment market for 2010 in recent weeks. SEMI (Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International) issued a press release on December 1 forecasting a 53 percent increase in 2010 following a 46 percent decrease in 2009.

Gartner issued a release on December 11 forecasting a 56.6 percent increase in 2010 following a 48.1 percent decrease in 2009.

Both forecasts are based on technology purchases for 2010. SEMI in a different press release suggested that there will be no new fabs built in 2010 and pointed out that there were also no new fabs built in 2009.

These comments beg the question -- how will the equipment market grow 50+ percent in 2010 with no new fabs and no new capacity additions when it dropped nearly 50 percent in 2009 with no new fabs and no new capacity additions? Which leads to a follow-up question - will technology purchases alone sustain 50 percent growth?

Reaching 50+ percent growth will result in nearly $20 billion in wafer fab equipment purchases for technology improvements, $7 billion more than in 2009 for a net zero growth in new fabs built.

We need to look to the lithography sector a bit more closely, as it historically makes up about 25 percent of equipment purchases - in 2008 the lithography sector recorded revenues of $5.4 billion according to our analysis while the total wafer processing market was $22 billion.

As I stated in my column of November 2 on, our analysis suggests the semiconductor industry is coming down to a critical inflection point for lithography.

Nikon recently shipped its first model S620 tool and ASML (ASML) recently shipped its first NXT tool recently. The NXT and S620 will be running off against each other at multiple key customer sites around the world over the next six to eight months. After that time, the market share for the lithography market will be set for the next several years as semiconductor manufacturers design-in DUV immersion processes in their future chips.

Once customers make a decision they will use that immersion tool for the next three to four years before EUVL comes along. Customers don’t want to change after they optimize their immersion process.

By mid 2010, the market will change – either ASML will be set as the dominant immersion company probably through the end of the immersion era (since no new immersion tools are being developed after these) or Nikon will take a big jump forward and gain position with the new S620.

Nikon’s S620 has a throughput increase of >70 percent vs. its older S610. The S620 immersion tool is already shipping to companies like Intel (INTC). ASML recently reported DRAM manufacturers, in particular Samsung and Hynix, are placing new orders with ASML for 193nm ArF immersion tools.

The S620 is Nikon’s most competitive product in the last 10 years. It is capable of achieving 200 WPH, 2 nm overlay and a resolution equivalent to the NXT. ASML has commanded a price premium over the years because they had a throughput advantage. That advantage will be gone when the NXT and S620 run off. Customers will make decisions by mid-2010 based on these run offs.

ASML already has a large market share so best case they keep their dominant position. On the other side, if Nikon wins 1-2 major accounts with the new S620, it will be a major win for Nikon and shift in market share. In 2008, our analysis shows that there were a total of 69 immersion lithography tools sold. ASML sold 54 and Nikon sold 15.

But, will the lithography market grow 50+ percent in 2010 to maintain its historic 25 percent of the wafer processing equipment market?

I stated in an article in Seeking Alpha on September 15 that “We nevertheless are cautious about 2010, because all we see going forward are technology purchases, rather than capacity purchases. Utilization is increasing, but with 31 fab closures in 2009, this is analogous to increased productivity due to layoffs. The lithography sector will drag the market as the 200 $5 million i-line tools typically sold in a year as capacity purchases will not be sold. Excess equipment inventory from the 31 fab closures will also weigh down the market.”

That means that the lithography market must be buoyed by immersion tools as described above selling for about $45 million each. In 2009, we estimate that 59 immersion steppers were sold, primarily by ASML. In 2010, more than 90 will need to be sold to generate 50+ percent growth. Interestingly, Cymer (CYMI), a major supplier of lasers for immersion lithography tools was downgraded on December 23 by GC Research from Overweight to Neutral. Also, on October 15, ASML was downgraded by Citigroup from Hold to Sell.

One would think that with a projected growth of 50+ percent, we would have seen the reverse. Our analysis points to a growth in the semiconductor equipment market of less than 20 percent in 2010, but with 50+ percent growth forecast in 2011. Time will tell.

Wind River selected for NASA Ares next-generation launch vehicles

ALAMEDA, USA: Recently, NASA selected Wind River VxWorks 653 as the real-time operating system (RTOS) for the flight and command computers in the Ares I and Ares V next-generation launch vehicles.

VxWorks 653 will be the cornerstone for the Instrument Unit Avionics (IUA), providing guidance, navigation and control capabilities for the upcoming Ares I manned launch vehicle and the Ares V cargo vehicle, which will send future astronauts and large-scale hardware into orbit.

The Ares next-generation project represents four years of innovation and a highly complex hardware and software environment. Wind River's depth of experience and industry success in aerospace and defense were key factors in NASA's decision to use VxWorks 653. Wind River provides NASA with the assurance that VxWorks 653 will serve the life of the system, providing the reliability necessary for mission-critical operations in space flight.

The Ares I rocket, a crew launch vehicle in development for NASA's Constellation Program, is the essential core of a reliable, cost-effective space transportation system that will carry crewed missions to the moon and out into the solar system. Ares V is NASA's cargo launch vehicle and the "heavy lifter" of America's next-generation space fleet, serving as NASA's primary vessel for safe, reliable delivery of large-scale hardware into space.

"The aerospace and defense industry requires reliable, effective software tools that comply with rigorous certification requirements," said Rob Hoffman, vice president and general manager, aerospace and defense, Wind River. "Wind River has worked with NASA for more than two decades and the inclusion of VxWorks 653 in the Ares launch vehicles underscores our commitment to providing aerospace customers with the robust mission-critical device software that they need."

The Wind River VxWorks 653 platform delivers the stringent, complete ARINC 653 integrated modular avionics (IMA) foundation aerospace and defense companies need to address the safety requirements of mission-critical applications, while enabling the use of noncritical applications on shared computer platforms.

It is coupled with complete and proven RTCA DO-178B Level A certification evidence that enables rapid acceptance by global safety certification authorities or internal review processes.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Qualcomm announces leadership changes

SAN DIEGO, USA: Qualcomm Inc. announced that Len Lauer, chief operating officer, has resigned and accepted a CEO role at another company.

This organizational change provides an opportunity to re-align Qualcomm's business groups. As a result, the Qualcomm MEMS Technologies (QMT) organization will now report to Steve Mollenkopf, EVP and president, Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT).

With the display business entering an important phase of expansion, close partnership with QCT will help QMT as they work with device manufacturers and tackle the challenges of commercializing, scaling and evolving the Mirasol product line. All remaining services businesses will now report to Steve Altman, president.

"During the past three years, Len's leadership and expertise have helped Qualcomm expand business opportunities and further strengthen its relationships with operators and content providers. We are thankful to him for his service and wish him the best as he pursues new opportunities," said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman and CEO, Qualcomm.

"Steve Altman and Steve Mollenkopf have been invaluable in helping to guide Qualcomm's strategy and success and I am pleased to have such a capable and seasoned executive leadership team to ensure a seamless transition for our customers, our suppliers and our employees."

Conexant retires remaining senior secured debt, establishes new credit facility

NEWPORT BEACH, USA: Conexant Systems Inc., a fabless semiconductor company, announced that it completed the previously announced planned redemption of the remaining $61.4 million of outstanding aggregate principal amount of its floating rate senior secured notes due in November 2010.

The company also announced that its special purpose entity, Conexant CF, LLC, established a new accounts receivable credit facility with Silicon Valley Bank for $15 million through November 30, 2010.

The senior secured notes redemption was completed on December 18, 2009. The total aggregate redemption amount paid was $62.3 million, including accrued interest. The company funded the redemption with cash on hand. Pursuant to the terms of the indenture governing the notes, the redemption was made at 101 percent of the principal amount of the notes due, plus accrued interest to the redemption date.

Payment was made by The Bank of New York Trust Company, N.A., the trustee of the indenture, in accordance with terms specified in the redemption notice and the redemption procedures of the trustee.

Conexant’s comprehensive portfolio of innovative semiconductor solutions includes products for imaging, audio, embedded-modem, and video applications.

Sherman McCorkle joins EMCORE's board of directors

ALBUQUERQUE, USA: EMCORE Corp., a leading provider of compound semiconductor-based components, subsystems, and systems for the fiber optics and solar power markets, today announced that Sherman McCorkle was elected to join its Board of Directors as a Class B independent director.

Sherman McCorkle is a native New Mexican and has been deeply involved in the New Mexico business community for most of his career. He is President and Chief Executive Officer of Technology Ventures Corp., (TVC), an Albuquerque-based organization that assists start up companies in developing and commercializing technologies from research universities and the national laboratories.

Prior to joining TVC as President & CEO in 1993, McCorkle served as CEO & President of Sunwest Credit Services Corp. commencing in 1988. In 1977, he co-founded and was Charter Director of Plus Systems Incorporated, the original platform that enabled national and international electronic banking and ATM systems. In addition, he is a co-founder and Charter Director of New Mexico Bank and Trust and First Community Bank.

"As Chairman of Sandia Science and Technology Park, Sherman was instrumental in persuading EMCORE to locate and expand its operations in Albuquerque, and has been a great advocate of EMCORE in reaching out to the local community, state government, and congressional offices," stated Reuben F. Richards, EMCORE's Chairman of the Board. "We are excited about the addition of Sherman to our Board, and look forward to working with him as we enter the new decade."

"It is a great honor to serve on EMCORE's board," commented McCorkle. "I am very proud of EMCORE's accomplishment over the last decade in Albuquerque. They took drawing board concepts from Sandia National Labs and successfully commercialized them to emerge as the largest high-efficiency solar cell provider in the world. EMCORE has served as an excellent example of what is possible by commercializing local technologies. I look forward to being a part of this very exciting company."

McCorkle was elected to fill a Board vacancy and began service as a director immediately upon his election. As a Class B director, he will stand for re-election at the Company's 2010 annual meeting of shareholders.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

DRAM shortage will likely happen in 2H10

TAIWAN: With the recovering PC shipment at 2009, DRAM shortage had accelerated since August and reach at the peak in October. Some PC-OEMs even spent $55, 1Gb for $3.25 equivalent, for DDR2/2GB module from module houses at spot market. Despite with the shortage ease in November and December, most PC-OEMs and PC-ODMs still indicate the strong shipment momentum while this situation resulted in the flat DRAM contract price during the periods.

According to DRAMeXchange, CAPEX for DRAM vendors will increase 80 percent YoY to US$7.85B from $4.30B in 2009 (Fig. 1). However, this amount is still below the low CAPEX level at 2001~2003.

We expect that the CAPEX will likely grow to the level of $10B-$12B in 2011~2012. We at DRAMeXchange think that the DRAM market will be more balanced in next two year given the discipline CAPEX enhancement, recovering PC shipment and other DRAM application growth. DRAM vendors can maintain their operational profitability.

According to DRAMeXchange, 1Q10 DRAM aggregate demand will be slightly below aggregate supply, which we think DRAM price will appropriately fall 10~20 percent. Meanwhile, we also see the DDR3 will turn to the mainstream memory spectrum in 1Q10 while market share will account 60 percent and will likely reach 80 percent of commodity DRAM at 2H10. We at DRAMeXchange expect that in 1Q10 DDR3 price will show the less price decline than DDR2 given the strong platform migration momentum.

According to DRAMeXchange, 2010 PC shipment YoY growth will be up to 13 percent. DT will merely grow 0.6 percent YoY to 120M units and 160M units for regular notebook with 22.5 percent YoY. Netbook will also grow 22 percent to 35M units as well. We at DRAMeXchange expect that content per box growth rate will be up 16 percent to 2.92GB from 2.52GB in 2009 since 4GB is the standard spectrum for consumer models, 6GB for high level products and anticipated corporate replacement in 2H10.

Also, we at DRAMeXchange think DRAM will likely face serious shortage in 2H10 triggered by the hot PC sales and PC-OEMs may pull up the inventory level in 2Q09 to handle the shortage for 2H10. This situation will result in the warming up effect for slow season in 2Q10. DRAM price decline will likely be eased in 2Q10. That is, DRAM vendors will have great opportunity to remain profit for whole year.

As for the Taiwanese DRAM vendors, Inotera&Nanya raised enough funds for the 50nm migration with the fully support from Formosa Group and their CAPEX will be up to US$1.8B in 2010. Accumulated CAPEX amount from other TW vendors such as PSC, Rexchip, ProMOS, Winbond, total TW DRAM CAPEX amount will reach $2.7B, which is slightly higher than $2.6B for Samsung.

As for the technology migration, Inotera and Nanya will aggressively migrate to 50nm and probably produce few 40nm products with the cooperation relationship with Micron. Other Taiwan DRAM vendors will focus on the relationship with Elpida. Although Elpida can migrate to 50nm this year due to the insufficient fund but we DRAMeXchange has seen that Elpida can accelerate the 4Xnm technology migration to lower the cost in 2H10 with the external fund assistance.

Technology migration plans of Powerchip (PSC) and Rexchip will likely follow Elpida’s plans but will be impact by the immersion equipment settlement issue. ProMOS will possibly pull up to full capacity with the outsourcing volumes for Elpida. Winbond current is aggressively negotiating co-operation with Elpida on various products such as commodity DRAM, mobile memory and specialty DRAM besides the previous plans on graphic memory.

1HDec. mainstream MLC NAND Flash avg. contract price roughly dropped 1~20 percent

TAIWAN: 1HDec. NAND Flash contract prices partially remained flat or declined that mainstream MLC NAND Flash “Average” price dropped 1-20 percent, while SLC NAND Flash price remains flat.

DRAMeXchange has seen some NAND Flash related suppliers and clients intend to lower inventory level while some are ready for pricing promotion during the year end hot season. That is, 1HDec. MLC NAND Flash contract price demonstrates the downward pattern due to the faded hot season.

Given the sharply falling memory card price over the past one month, low-density MLC products has the aggressive downward pricing drop than high-density products, says DRAMeXchange.

Given the inventory adjustment move from some memory card makers & dealers, pricing promotion by NAND Flash related vendors and supply enhancement by white-box memory cards, recently low-capacity memory card spot price significantly plunged and it resulted in the price drop for low-density NAND Flash chips.

Fig. 1: 16Gb MLC NAND Flash contract price trend.Meanwhile, in December some system product customers and memory card vendors apparently lower the inventory level due to the year-end accounting settlement purpose while 3Xnm products portion has been accelerated by NAND Flash suppliers, according to DRAMeXchange.

Therefore, the supply and demand situation has been revised from the tighter supply in November to looser status in December. Some downstream customers look forward for the pricing discount from NAND Flash suppliers for the sake of end product promotion for year-end hot-season sales. NAND Flash suppliers follow system product customers’ strategy to lower the 1HDec. contract price to stimulate the year-end holidays sales.

Given the series of inventory adjustment and pricing promotion by the year end, it’s natural to occur some reasonable correction ahead of the coming 1H slow season, especially for that NAND Flash price wildly surged over the past one year.

However, the following NAND Flash price trend will still be determined by the NAND Flash end-product sales condition. As NAND Flash downstream clients will check the sales result for year-end hot-season and the procurement requirement for the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays in January, we expect the recovering re-stock demand to be able to help stabilize the NAND Flash price trend as well.

Fig. 2 32Gb MLC NAND Flash contract price trend.

Micron reports results for Q1-2010

BOISE, USA: Micron Technology Inc. announced results of operations for its first quarter of fiscal 2010, which ended December 3, 2009.

For the first quarter of fiscal 2010, the company had net income attributable to Micron shareholders of $204 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, on net sales of $1.74 billion. These results compare to a loss of $100 million, or $0.12 per diluted share, on net sales of $1.3 billion for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 and a loss of $718 million, or $0.93 per diluted share, on net sales of $1.4 billion for the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

Amounts and presentations for periods prior to fiscal 2010 have been recast for the effects of the adoption of new accounting standards for convertible debt and noncontrolling interests.

“We realize there are still challenges in the global economy, but our team members deserve a lot of credit for generating positive operating cash flow throughout the downturn,” said Steve Appleton, Micron Chairman and CEO. “Our technology, cost competitiveness and strong balance sheet will provide a great foundation for taking advantage of improving market conditions.”

Revenue from sales of DRAM products increased 50 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter due to a 25 percent increase in sales volume and a 21 percent increase in average selling prices. Revenue from sales of NAND Flash products increased 21 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter due to a 16 percent increase in sales volume and a 5 percent increase in average selling prices.

The company’s gross margin on sales of memory products improved from 12 percent in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009 to 27 percent in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 due primarily to the increases in average selling prices.

The company generated $326 million in cash flows from operations in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 and ended the quarter with cash and investments of approximately $1.6 billion.

Global motherboard shipment value projected to drop in Q4 2009

DUBLIN, IRELAND: Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "The Worldwide Motherboard Industry, 4Q 2009" report to its offering.

This research report presents industry size and value forecast and recent quarter review of the worldwide motherboard industry. The report includes shipment volume and value, shipment breakdowns by maker, ASP, and price trends.

The report also examines manufacturer rankings, assembly levels, CPU connector adoption, production locations, shipment destinations, and business types, and provides assembly level breakdown for CPU types, production locations, shipment destinations, and business types. The content of this report is based on primary data obtained through interviews with motherboard makers.

The report finds that the worldwide motherboard shipment volume peaked in the third quarter, mainly boosted by growth momentum in the Chinese market. Nevertheless, the Chinese market is expected to see demand decline in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, in Western Europe and North America, as notebook PC demand has outgrown desktop PC demand, the desktop replacement effect is expected to eclipse the holiday demand at the year-end. As shipment volume of low-priced motherboards is expected to continue growing, the fourth-quarter motherboard ASP is forecasted to slip.

Affected by shipment volume and ASP declines, the worldwide motherboard shipment value is projected to drop in the fourth quarter of 2009.

TowerJazz USA Aerospace and Defense Division selected by General Dynamics and US Air Force for large die ROIC manufacturing program

NEWPORT BEACH, USA: TowerJazz, the global specialty foundry leader, announced its USA Aerospace and Defense Division has been awarded a contract by General Dynamics Information Technology, a business unit of General Dynamics, to support the MATES (MAnufacturing TEchnology Support) program within the US Air Force for large-die read-out-integrated-circuit (ROIC) production.

The MATES program contract was originally awarded to General Dynamics in 2004. TowerJazz is a leading manufacturer of ROICs which are key elements in many commercial and military detectors, sensors, and imaging systems spanning air, land, sea and space. With this award, it will enhance the ability to support production requirements of increasingly complex future ROIC designs.

TowerJazz has recently expanded CMOS production for ROICs used in imaging arrays in both un-cooled and cooled applications in support of increased demand spanning 0.5-micron to 0.18-micron technology nodes. The two year program with General Dynamics will focus on 0.18-micron large-die, stitched ROICs.

In the 0.18-micron node, TowerJazz is making available to its ROIC customers a wide range of features from its commercial technology including high density capacitors (up to 5.6fF/um2), 1.8, 3.3, and 5V FETs, native devices, bipolar devices, resistors with near-zero temperature coefficients and a wide array of metal options. TowerJazz also provides cryogenic models for its devices ensuring a high degree of confidence in the first time success of cooled ROIC designs.

TowerJazz supports the manufacture of ITAR designs in its Newport Beach, CA 8-inch silicon factory. This is a full on-shore operation with ITAR mask suppliers continuing a tradition started over 20 years ago when this facility was the primary semiconductor manufacturing site for Rockwell International.

“TowerJazz is extremely excited to have this opportunity to partner with General Dynamics in support of the Air Force’s MATES Program for large die ROIC fabrication. This program will leverage past and ongoing accomplishments at TowerJazz in support of on-shore fabrication critical to our National Defense and assist in enabling the next generation of essential Aerospace and Defense applications,” said Mike Scott, Director of Sales and Marketing, USA Aerospace and Defense Division, TowerJazz.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mistral launches FPGA-based radar receiver

BANGALORE, INDIA: Furthering its initiative in offering world class electronic solutions to meet the demanding requirements of the aerospace and defense applications, Mistral Solutions, a leading product realization company specializing in real-time embedded solutions, today announced the availability of its Radar Receiver.

The Radar Receiver, named ‘SaraAmsh’, is a 1U form-factor, 19” sub-rack mountable, compact unit; with an 8-channel receiver that supports direct IF sampling. The Radar Receiver is built around a Virtex-5 FPGA based processing engine with powerful processing and high bandwidth features that make it ideal for DSP applications including signal intelligence, electronic warfare and counter measures.

Some of the key features of Mistral’s Radar Receiver include:
* 1U form factor chassis
* 8-channel receiver sampling between 10-250 MSPS
* Direct IF sampling – all channels can be synchronized for the same sampling time
* Minimum Detectable Signal (MDS): -88dBFS
* Bandwidth: 700MHz ( -3dB)
* Dynamic Range: 2Vpp
* Supports multiple I/O interfaces like FMC (VITA 57), GigE, optical and electrical serial standards like serial-FPDP, PCIe, Aurora, SRIO, XAUI
* FPGA based processing at wire speed supports multiple algorithm running in parallel
PowerPC based Host interface with VxWorks/Linux BSP
* High bandwidth I/O between FPGAs for optimizing/maximizing performance
* Available in commercial and rugged industrial version

A. Venkatakrishna, Vice President-Hardware Design, Mistral Solutions, said: "The Radar Receiver designed by Mistral is unique as compared to most other COTS boards available in the market. Its integrates multiple ADCs, FPGA processing engines, Single Board Computer and various serial and parallel industry standard interfaces, to provide customers a complete solution.

"Customers can focus on their end-application instead of spending valuable time integrating multiple COTS boards available in the market to build their own Radar Receiver solution,” said . “One of the important requirements users look for in a Radar Receiver is synchronization between channels, and Mistral’s Radar Receiver has been architected to achieve this," he added.

The scalable design for the Radar Receiver ensures that multiple 1U Radar Receiver units can be stacked together to provide additional receiving channels and enhanced processing.

The Radar Receiver comes with a basic set of proven capabilities like optical sFPDP, GigE and memory controllers. It also provides remote configuration of FPGA PROM and the analog and digital sections of the complete solution, from a HOST PC.

Based on customer requirements, Mistral can provide customization services, to help customers adapt the Radar Receiver for specific applications: like configuring it to work as a receiver and/or transceiver to adapt it for a DRFM/RTS or a Software Defined Radio application.

Mistral can also develop production-worthy drivers and application software in VxWorks and Linux.

Mistral’s solutions for defense and aerospace
Backed by several years of experience in supporting the technology needs of the Mil-Aero segment, Mistral offers high-performance, high-capability data acquisition and signal processing solutions that cater to the exacting requirements of surveillance, communication and radar applications.

Mistral’s expertise includes designing, building and deploying customized solutions for defense electronics applications by integrating multi-vendor solutions with custom software and hardware.

STMicroelectronics advances audio-chip performance

INDIA: STMicroelectronics, the leading maker of audio chips for flat-panel TVs, today announced details of its next-generation STA370BWS SoundTerminal chip, which delivers increased performance at a highly competitive price.

The new chip employs ST’s leading-edge Full Flexible Amplifier (FFX) technology to deliver high-quality stereo audio at 10W and above, in various consumer applications, including the latest ultra-thin LED-backlit flat TVs.

Advanced chip manufacturing technologies govern the performance and cost of today’s digital audio chips, delivering advantages that include reduced noise and distortion, support for more sophisticated audio processing, and extra features integrated on the chip to reduce the total number of system components. In addition, each technology evolution delivers higher functionality per chip size than its predecessor, enabling extremely competitive pricing relative to performance.

The STA370BWS is the first audio device to use the company’s proprietary BCD8 process technology. An evolution of ST’s successful market-leading BCD6S process, BCD8 is the eighth generation of ST’s Bipolar/CMOS/DMOS technology, which allows the company to build analog, logic, and high-voltage functions on a single chip to increase performance and reduce cost.

In developing the STA370BWS, ST has leveraged its BCD8 process to integrate more sophisticated audio signal processing within the CMOS section, enabling a better listening experience for end users. The device also performs a short-circuit check at power on, which increases application safety and prevents pc-board damage, leading to minimum rework costs for equipment manufacturers.

The device’s on-chip power amplifier also delivers better performance over conventional digital amplifiers, using ST’s FFX technology, which provides improved audio at the amplifier output. In addition, ST’s F3X technology, the third-generation of FFX amplifiers, used in the STA370BWS’s auxiliary output, further improves audio quality by suppressing non-audio signals, such as the carrier waveform that governs the amplifier’s timing, to produce clearer, purer sound throughout the output-power range.

The STA370BWS is the first in a new generation of ST’s SoundTerminal portfolio. The portfolio currently includes the STA333BW, STA335BW, STA339BW, STA339BWS and STA369BWS. The new STA370BWS has a resale price of $2.50 for 10,000-piece orders, and is now sampling to lead customers.

Infineon raises guidance for Q1 financials

NEUBIBERG, GERMANY: Infineon Technologies AG today raised the guidance for the first quarter of the 2009/10 fiscal year.

For the first quarter of the 2009/10 fiscal year Infineon now expects high single digit growth in group revenues compared to the fourth quarter of the 2008/09 fiscal year and high single digit margin for the Combined Segment Result. This increase is mainly driven by the Automotive (ATV) and Industrial & Multimarket (IMM) segments.

In the previous outlook for the first quarter of the 2009/10 fiscal year as given on November 19, 2009, Infineon expected revenues and Combined Segment Result to be approximately on the same level as in the fourth quarter of the 2008/09 fiscal year.

“This pleasing performance is the result of our leading market positions and strict cost management, helped also by an improved industry environment”, said Peter Bauer, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG.

Siano powers GPS mobile TV revolution, teams with world's largest PND makers

NETANYA, ISRAEL: Leading mobile TV chip maker, Siano Mobile Silicon announced that the world's largest Personal Navigation Device (PND) makers, Garmin, Mio, Navigon and others -- have integrated its leading MDTV receiver chips into their latest consumer GPS products.

The design wins represent a major penetration of the consumer GPS market for Siano, further enhancing its position as a one-stop shop for MDTV chip solutions in emerging mobile TV markets.

Based on Siano's family of high-performing receiver chips, the PND devices will offer a superior mobile digital TV (MDTV) viewing experience - enabling reception in the most extreme conditions to meet the high demands of PND users, such as crystal clear reception in tough urban canyons, and when traveling at high speeds.

Siano enables all vendors with 'free-to-the-user' mobile TV viewing, transmitting television programmes from major terrestrial television channels. Representative of Siano's global market reach, the navigation plus TV devices with Siano inside are available in Korea, Europe, China, and Brazil, supporting the different mobile TV technologies of these regions.

"Personal Navigation is a perfect fit for mobile TV roll-out." said Alon Ironi, CEO of Siano. "Characterized by large screens, powerful graphics/video performance and mobility - digital television on-the-go is the ultimate complementary feature for navigation devices. We are excited to be working with the top global PND brands - and look forward to accelerating the adoption of mobile TV into GPS consumer markets worldwide."

Michelle Abraham, Principal Analyst covering mobile TV at research firm In-Stat, added: "Mobile TV opens up audiences and markets for PND vendors. Given the consumers' desire to access multimedia content on the go, combining GPS with additional entertainment services such as mobile TV is a must have criterion for PND players to maintain their competitive edge in the market."

Siano will be demonstrating the latest in MDTV innovations at CES 2010.

Mobius Photonics moves to new facility

MOUNTAIN VIEW, USA: Mobius Photonics, an innovative producer of short pulsed fiber laser sources (IR, green, and UV laser), has moved its corporate headquarters to a larger facility in Mountain View, California. The move reflects the company's plans to enhance production capabilities and grow its operation.

"The additional floor space we've gained in the new facility is intended to help our production operate more effectively and efficiently," said Derek J. Richard, director of laser manufacturing. "This move is an important step in our growth plans."

The 10,000-square-foot facility houses the company's office and manufacturing space and includes a 3,200-square-foot cleanroom. Mobius Photonics intends to use the space to further develop its technologies and to produce fiber lasers for applications ranging from semiconductor and microelectronics processing to scientific uses such as stimulated emission depletion (STED) microscopy.

Founded in 2005, Mobius Photonics produces fiber-based laser sources for applications ranging from material processing for solar cell manufacturing, semiconductor fabrication and assembly, and flat panel display manufacturing, to scientific uses such as STED microscopy.

The Mobius Photonics team combines in-depth understanding of customer needs with manufacturing experience, and pushes the state-of-the-art by working in close collaboration with suppliers and customers.

Cypress TrueTouch solution implements touchscreen in KDDI's SH003 phone

SAN JOSE, USA: Cypress Semiconductor Corp. announced that its TrueTouch touchscreen solution implements the touchscreens for new KDDI mobile phones manufactured by Sharp Communication Systems Group.

The SH003 phone offers a 12.1-megapixel camera, and leverages the TrueTouch solution to deliver user-friendly multi-touch gestures to manipulate photo images and control other functions. Cypress previously announced the TrueTouch solution implements the waterproof touchscreen for the KDDI Sportio water beat mobile phone.

The new KDDI SH003 has a 3.4-inch full wide VGA LCD with brilliant colors, with the TrueTouch touchscreen enabling gestures such as tap, pinch and others. The phones also offer rich entertainment capabilities such as one-segment. The SH003 supports up to 16GB microSDHC memory cards.

“It is very satisfying to see the proven success of Cypress’s touchscreen technology in the Sportio water beat model lead to TrueTouch designs in the new SH003,” said Norm Taffe, executive vice president of Cypress’s Consumer and Computation Division. “With our established, leading-edge multi-touch all-point technology and our roadmap to support even more innovative features, we plan to continue building touchscreen market share with the top handset makers worldwide.”

Cypress’s TrueTouch family, based on the PSoC architecture, includes single-touch, multi-touch and “multi-touch all-point” offerings. Cypress was the first company to introduce multi-touch all-point functionality, which can track up to 10 simultaneous touches. This capability enables designers to create new usage models for products such as mobile handsets, portable media players (PMPs), GPS systems and other products, and has been in mass production since 2008.

TrueTouch is the industry’s most flexible touchscreen solution, as the unique PSoC architecture allows designers to implement differentiated features and make last-minute design iterations without board changes.

Cypress recently announced its next-generation high performance TMA300 multi-touch all-point family. This controller provides best-in-class scan times for true multi-finger touch and superior signal-to-noise ratio for the most demanding touchscreen applications.

“More and more leading Japanese companies are selecting the TrueTouch solution for its unrivaled flexibility and performance,” said Hitoshi Yoshizawa, Japan country manager for Cypress. “However, customers are also choosing Cypress for our flexible business model, allowing them to select from preferred vendors instead of requiring them to purchase a fixed touchscreen module.”

The flexibility of the TrueTouch solution allows customers to rapidly develop leading-edge solutions without having to buy turnkey modules. They have a choice of using touch sensors (glass or film) and LCDs from preferred partners, and can develop innovative mechanical designs ranging from flat to curved surfaces of varying thickness.

In addition, TrueTouch devices offer Cypress’s legendary noise immunity with patented capacitive sensing technology that enables flawless operation in noisy RF and LCD environments.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Infineon raises guidance for Q1 financials

NEUBIBERG, GERMANY: Infineon Technologies AG today raised the guidance for the first quarter of the 2009/10 fiscal year.

For the first quarter of the 2009/10 fiscal year Infineon now expects high single digit growth in group revenues compared to the fourth quarter of the 2008/09 fiscal year and high single digit margin for the Combined Segment Result. This increase is mainly driven by the Automotive (ATV) and Industrial & Multimarket (IMM) segments.

In the previous outlook for the first quarter of the 2009/10 fiscal year as given on November 19, 2009, Infineon expected revenues and Combined Segment Result to be approximately on the same level as in the fourth quarter of the 2008/09 fiscal year.

“This pleasing performance is the result of our leading market positions and strict cost management, helped also by an improved industry environment”, said Peter Bauer, CEO of Infineon Technologies AG.

Elpida begins mass production of 40nm 2-Gigabit DDR3 SDRAM

TOKYO, JAPAN: Elpida Memory Inc., Japan's leading global supplier of DRAM, today announced that its Hiroshima Plant has begun volume production of 40nm process 2-gigabit DDR3 SDRAMs. Since completing development of the DDR3 SDRAM last October it has taken Elpida only two months to ramp up mass production.

The new 2-gigabit DDR3 SDRAM achieves 44% more chips per wafer compared with Elpida's 50nm DDR3 SDRAM and a 100% yield for DDR3 products that operate at 1.6Gbps, the fastest speed standard for current DDR3. It also supports high-speed products.

Compared with 50nm products, it uses about two-thirds less current and supports 1.2V/1.35V operation as well as DDR3 standard 1.5V, resulting in reduced power consumption of around 50 percent.

Initially, Elpida plans a phased expansion of 40nm 2-gigabit DDR3 SDRAM mass production at its Hiroshima Plant. In the second quarter of 2010, 40nm process production will also begin at Rexchip, a subsidiary in Taiwan, to increase the manufacture of 40nm process products in order to lower products costs.

Depending on conditions in the DRAM market, Elpida may transfer 40nm process technology to foundry partners ProMOS and Winbond to expand production based on this technology to an even higher level.

Rubicon provides additional details on production capacity expansion plans

FRANKLIN PARK, USA: Rubicon Technology Inc., a leading provider of sapphire substrates and products to the LED, RFIC, semiconductor and optical industries, today released additional details related to the Company’s two year capacity expansion plan which was outlined on its third quarter earnings conference call last month.

The Company is adding production capacity as its existing facilities are nearing maximum capacity and demand for sapphire substrates, particularly for use in the LED industry, is expected to be strong in coming years.

Raja Parvez, President and CEO, noted, “We believe we are at the beginning of a long term growth cycle in the LED industry. Demand for LED backlighting for applications such as LED televisions and notebook computers continues to experience considerable growth. In addition, the other current LED applications, such as automotive and signage, should continue to strengthen as the global economy improves, and progress continues to be made in the area of general illumination.”

The Company plans to add a new 2nd generation crystal growth facility near its existing facilities in Illinois which will nearly double the current crystal growth capacity and will house larger furnaces providing even greater ability to serve the growing demand for large diameter substrates.

Concurrent with the addition of another crystal growth facility, the Company will build a facility in Asia to expand post crystal growth processing operations. This facility will reduce manufacturing costs while enhancing revenue generating capacity through the expansion of large diameter post crystal growth processing capability.

Parvez continued: “These expansion initiatives are designed to ensure Rubicon maintains its global leadership in high quality, large diameter sapphire substrates and to ensure our pricing remains competitive while maximizing our revenue and margins generated from our existing and new manufacturing facilities.”

Both new facilities are expected to open by the end of next year. Equipment will then be installed and additional capacity will begin to come on-line. While additional capacity will begin coming on-line once the facilities are opened, the Company estimates that it will take approximately twelve months from the opening for all machinery and equipment to be installed and operational. The Company expects to spend between $60 and $65 million over the next two years on these two new facilities.

William Weissman, Rubicon’s Chief Financial Officer said: “We expect both facilities to be fully operational by the end of 2011 and that this new capacity will increase our annual revenue generating capacity to at least $130 million once the facilities are fully operational. This estimate is based on today’s pricing and certain assumptions related to our product mix.”

Amkor raises business outlook for Q4-09

CHANDLER, USA: Amkor Technology Inc. today updated its outlook for certain financial information for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2009.

“Due to higher than expected customer demand across our product lines, net sales for the fourth quarter are expected to be up around 6% from the third quarter of 2009, representing an improvement over our previous guidance of flat, plus or minus 2 percent,” said Ken Joyce, Amkor’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

The company also expects gross margin for the fourth quarter to be around 26 percent. The expected gross margin is higher than the company’s previous guidance of 23 percent to 25 percent, primarily as a result of the expected improved level of net sales.

Amkor is a leading provider of semiconductor assembly and test services to semiconductor companies and electronics OEMs.

Fairchild's China-based Global Power Resource Centers deliver innovative solutions for energy-efficient system design

SAN JOSE, USA: Fairchild Semiconductor’s Global Power Resource Centers (GPRCs), located in Shenzhen, Shanghai and Taipei, have further enhanced their reputation as a valuable resource for system design engineers around the world by announcing the development of a number of innovative, energy-efficient solutions.

These solutions target a wide range of applications and markets including the rapidly emerging LED, netbook and PC power segments.

Each of these design centers collaborate with local customers to provide innovative design solutions for targeted end applications. The Shenzhen center developed solutions targeting LED-backlight LCD TVs by leveraging existing Fairchild ICs and tailoring system solutions to meet the customers’ specific requirements.

The Shanghai center is focused on LED lighting and has developed solutions ranging from 2-3W to 1000W for use in home, outdoor and automotive applications. The GPRC engineering team in Taipei targets the rapidly expanding, high-efficiency Green netbook and notebook markets, developing solutions that significantly lower standby power in these devices. This team has also been working with customers to enable PC power with 85 percent efficiency and is currently exploring solutions that will address the forthcoming 90+ standard.

“Fairchild has six GPRCs around the world and half of them are based in Greater China, which clearly underlines our commitment to this market,” commented Benjamin Tan, Fairchild’s regional vice president of Sales and Marketing, China and South East Asia on the ongoing success of the centers.

“We continue to listen to and work closely with our customers, as they power China’s relentless drive towards becoming a global powerhouse for new product development. We do this by providing them with direct access to Fairchild’s system design experts through our GPRCs.”

Fairchild's customers in Greater China include some of the world’s leading manufacturers of LCD TVs, computing power units and LED lighting solutions. In addition to the GPRCs, Fairchild offers further support for its customers in Greater China through four joint lab operations, three IC design labs in Shanghai, Beijing and Taipei and 14 sales sites across the region. The joint labs are mainly focused on display and home appliance applications and operate in conjunction with leading manufacturers:

As the world’s leading global supplier of high performance products that enable energy efficiency Fairchild works closely with a significant number of customers in China and around the world, in a wide range of applications. The company shares its accumulated experience and knowledge with its global engineering design team and this is continuously fed back into new products.

By leveraging its deep expertise in power semiconductor technology, Fairchild’s Greater China GPRCs have played a significant role in enabling the company to develop energy-efficient solutions that address government and consumer led demand for ‘greener’ electronic devices and appliances.

“At Fairchild, nothing is more important to us than empowering design engineers. That’s why we take a ‘customer centric approach’ to everything we do,” conclude Tan. “The practical, energy-efficient solutions that have been developed in our GPRCs by our Field Application Engineers (FAEs), working closely with our customers, validates our approach and brings tangible benefits to our customers, consumers and the environment.”

FineArch realizes success with Cosmic Circuits' analog IC cores

BANGALORE, INDIA: Cosmic Circuits, a leading provider of differentiated Analog and Mixed-Signal IP cores, announced that FineArch Inc, an LSI provider for mobile entertainment devices, realized success with Analog IP cores licensed from Cosmic.

As a company offering silicon-proven Analog IP cores, Cosmic Circuits enables its customers achieve the optimal levels of Analog integration into their nanometer system-on-chips, while maximizing the certainty of success with chip integration, time-to-market and chip-cost goals.

FineArch Inc is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, and are innovators in processor and LSI designs for mobile entertainment. The success of this engagement is yet another example of the several leading applications using differentiated Analog IP from Cosmic.

Dr. Ken Ohta, CEO of FineArch commented: “We required silicon-proven Analog-IP to integrate into our ASIC designed in an advanced technology node. Cosmic Circuits was ready with proven silicon IP that we could leverage. Their IP was compact and flexible, and the SOC integration went very smooth”.

He added: “The IP worked first-pass on our Silicon and enabled us to deliver to our customers. In the competitive market that we are in, certainty in achieving time-to-market and quality is very important for us, while not sacrificing on differentiation. Cosmic was a perfect fit for us”.

Ganapathy Subramaniam, CEO of Cosmic Circuits, added: “We are happy to see a customer such as FineArch using our Analog IP and meet their chip development goals successfully. With our broad portfolio of proven nanometer analog IP cores and the level of expertise and proactive support that we offer, we continue to demonstrate certainty of customer success with use of our differentiated cores.”

Cosmic Circuits constantly endeavors to bring differentiated and quality Analog and Mixed-Signal IP cores to the design-community for integration on system-on-Chips. Cosmic’s recently announced the availability of cores in advanced nodes such as 40nm, in addition to 65nm and older technology nodes.

The technology families that are available include data-converters, power-management, clocking, Audio analog, chip-to-chip low-power interfaces, and general purpose functions.

Intel will finally be making money on its Atom processor

Industry insight from Dr. Robert Castellano, The Information Network

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Back on January 7, 2009, the Information Network issued a release discussing Intel’s Atom processor, questioning whether Intel’s slashed revenues of about a billion dollars for Q4 2008 were do to the company misjudging the success of the netbook and its Atom processor.

According to our argument, Intel manufactured $29 Atom processors slated for a burgeoning netbook market, instead of profitable Penryns priced at $279 and used in notebooks.

The thesis presented by The Information Network was that at a price difference of $250 per processor between the Penryn and Atom, Intel lost $1.14 billion in revenue in 2008 by making the cheaper Atom processors because of contractual obligations with netbook manufacturers.

According to the analysis, a total of 2,436 Atoms can be made on one 300mm wafer for a total selling price of $70.6K per wafer (neglecting edge loses and yields for this quick calculation).

In contrast, a total of 660 Penryns used in notebooks and priced at about $279, can be made on one 300m wafer for a total selling price of $184.1K per wafer.

This week, Intel announced that the new N450 Atom is 60 percent smaller and 20 percent more efficient than its predecessor. That translates to 4,060 Atoms made on one 300mm silicon wafer. At a selling price of $64 per Atom, the total selling price per wafer of $259.8K – more than the Penryn chip for the notebook market.

According to a report by The Information Network entitled Intel vs. ARM in Mobile Devices and Netbooks/Smartbooks, 31.1 million netbooks are forecast to be made in 2010.

The report also notes that Intel will exhibit an 80 percent share of the netbook market, competing against ARM. Neglecting volume discounts to netbook manufacturers, Intel stands to make $1.6 billion on the Atom for just netbooks.

Since the price differential of a 300mm wafer with the new N450 Atom ($259.8K) vs. the old N270 ($70.6K) is $189.2K and a total of 6,130 wafers of good Atoms will be processed (neglecting yield loss), Intel stands to generate $1.2 billion more on sales of the N450 for netbooks in 2010 than it would have with the N270.

Add to Intel’s revenues the low-power chipset that works together with the Atom CPU. Nvidia has reportedly landed orders for Ion 2-based chips designed to support the N450, so the company also stands to generate substantial revenues.

According to Intel, the company has over 80 design wins to-date for the new Atom platform from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like ASUS, Acer, Lenovo, Dell, MSI Computer, Toshiba, Samsung and Fujitsu. The N450 adds muscle to ARM’s challenge in its Smartbook space.

At CES, I anticipate quite a lot of announcements coming out of the ARM camp to counter Intel. Nvidia, for one, will make a major announcement about its Tegra family, which marries an ARM-based processor with its GeForce GPU.