Saturday, February 27, 2010

NXP announces Q4 and full year 2009 results

EINDHOVEN, THE NETHERLANDS: NXP Semiconductors announced fourth quarter sales of USD 1,130 million, a comparable increase of 8 percent over the third quarter of 2009 (nominal 9.3 percent) and a comparable increase of 12.6 percent over the fourth quarter of 2008. Sales continued to improve across each segment and region, with the exception of the Home business segment.

Full year total sales amounted to $3,843 million versus $5,443 million in 2008. Sales in 2009 were lower by $792 million due to the divestment of our wireless activities in July 2008. The remaining decline in sales was mainly related to the severe global financial crisis and the weak economic environment that affected all business segments in the first half of the year.

Rick Clemmer, Chief Executive Officer of NXP, said: “In the fourth quarter, we saw for the first time in the last 6 quarters, a year on year growth on a comparable basis. We built on the momentum of Q3 and saw continued growth in almost all business segments. This was preceded by a tough first half of the year where the business was significantly impacted by the global economic and financial crisis. The success to date of the accelerated and expanded Redesign Program, the execution of our strategic focus on High Performance Mixed Signal, improvements in our capital structure and our agility to respond to market conditions, sees us enter 2010 with more confidence, better focused and better equipped to win.”

Adjusted EBITDA in the fourth quarter of 2009 was $171 million compared with $147 million in the third quarter and USD 41 million in the same period of 2008. This improvement is attributable to higher sales and improved gross margin. The company achieved a gross margin of 38.6 percent, up from 35.8 percent in the previous quarter and 21.6 percent in Q4 2008.

NXP'’s cash position at the end of Q4 2009 was $1,041 million compared with $1,061 million at the end of the third quarter, taking into account payments for Redesign in the fourth quarter of $72 million.

The difference in cash position between the end of Q4 2009 and the end of Q4 2008 ($1,796 million) is mainly explained by the Redesign payments for the full year 2009, which amounted to $385 million and $286 million which was spent on bond buy backs.

European Semiconductor Distribution (DMASS) expects growth to return in 2010

LONDON, UK: With a total decline of 24 percent, 2009 proved to be one of the worst years of European semiconductor distribution since the 1980s. Although the sales drop narrowed over the second half of the year, by a quarterly comparison the distribution market in Europe lost ~40 percent of its value since record Q1/2007.

In Q4/2009, the decline narrowed to 10.7 percent over Q4/2008 and the quarter ended with 960 million Euro of combined sales, according to DMASS (Distributors’ and Manufacturers’ Association of Semiconductor Specialists).

Georg Steinberger, Chairman of DMASS, commented: “The worst effects of the crisis seem to be over, for the moment, and our industry returns to its normal cyclical behaviour, from buying freeze directly to allocation. The current booking situation suggests a healthy growth for at least the first half of 2010. And it seems that the current market swing is not entirely driven by inventory correction. Combined with the fact that we are comparing against a very bad year, by all standards, 2010 is set for double-digit growth.”

From a regional comparison perspective, the growth rates in Q4 reached from +0.4 percent (Iberia) to -17.7 percent (UK and Rest of Europe) compared to Q4/2009.

Germany as the biggest market declined by 9.6 percent to 314 million Euro, Italy by 11.2 percent to 104 million Euro, France by 15.8 percent to 78 million Euro and UK declined 17.7 percent to 83 million Euro.

Eastern Europe (total) ended at 111 million Euro (-6.1 percent) and the Nordic region (Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark) at 87 million Euro (-11.5 percent). Benelux, Iberia, Poland and Czech Republic even finished positively over Q4/2008.

Georg Steinberger said: “A quarterly view does not really reflect the overall situation of one specific country. Over the entire year all regions and countries suffered almost likewise, regardless of the electronics industry structure there. The only country with a less than 10 percent decline over the year was Poland, but with its heavy dependence on contract manufacturing this could change in a heartbeat, even during a year of recovery.”

Memories was the only major product group that suffered less than 20 percent decline over the entire 2009. While analog, opto and programmable logic -- all ended up slightly below the average decline for the entire year, power, MOS micro and other logic landed around the -28 percent mark.

Flash memories (-1.7 percent), LEDs (-11.6 percent), DSPs (-15.8 percent) and RF discrete (-18.7 percent) were the products with the least decline over 2009, while DRAM managed 1.5 percent growth.

Georg Steinberger added: “The past product development does not really tell us anything of an industry trend, apart from the fact that EPROMs seem to become a dying technology altogether. The current booking hype goes across all segments and technologies, from commodities to 32-bit MCUs.”

Friday, February 26, 2010

eBeam Initiative membership grows to 27

SAN JOSE, USA: The eBeam Initiative, a forum dedicated to the education and promotion of a new design-to-manufacturing approach known as design for e-beam (DFEB), announced that six additional companies spanning the entire semiconductor value chain have joined the Initiative to support the new DFEB mask roadmap for high-volume applications.

The roadmap incorporates new innovations to e-beam mask making using DFEB in conjunction with e-beam mask writing equipment currently on the market. Leading mask manufacturers, mask-writing equipment manufacturers, integrated device manufacturers (IDMs), foundries, as well as lithography experts, have joined the 21 founding members.

The addition of these new members validates the industry's support for expanding DFEB's role to enable cost-effective production of complex photomasks needed for high-volume chip designs at the 22-nm node and beyond.

Extending 193-nm immersion lithography to the 22-nm node has been an incredible challenge for the semiconductor industry, requiring a number of innovations that have made it technically feasible but costly as well. The last critical piece of the puzzle to enabling cost-effective optical lithography at the 22-nm node turns out to be e-beam mask writing.

New members in the Initiative include: GLOBALFOUNDRIES, JEOL, KLA-Tencor, NuFlare Technology, Petersen Advanced Lithography (PAL) and Samsung Electronics.

CEO of D2S and managing sponsor of the Initiative, Aki Fujimura, stated: "The support from all of the Initiative members will enable the cost advantages of DFEB to be brought to bear on one of the fastest cost growth areas in optical lithography—the photomask. We are excited about the new member base given the expertise they bring in mask making, and where DFEB is headed."

"Using DFEB mask technology with 193i lithography is an innovative approach to a difficult industry problem and I'm delighted to work with other eBeam Initiative members to implement it," said John S. Petersen, president and chairman of Petersen Advanced Lithography, Inc. and past fellow of International SEMATECH.

"As we approach the 22-nm logic node, assist feature patterns become more complex and with this complexity the individual features need to become more and more curvilinear. But we have to solve the problem of increased mask costs due to significantly higher e-beam shot counts when using curvilinear assist features. The DFEB mask technology solves this by taking advantage of the naturally rounding nature of electron beams to reduce shot count."

Open-Silicon increases global presence with Open-Silicon Japan

MILPITAS, USA: Open-Silicon, Inc., a leading ASIC design and semiconductor manufacturing company, has launched Open-Silicon Japan with headquarters in the Landmark Tower, Yokohama, Japan. The company has already secured its first Japanese customer.

Open-Silicon's expansion to Japan enables the company to support the escalating demand for low-power ICs—both next-generation ASICs and "power-down derivatives"—which are required in the mobile, consumer, networking, and server products that come from Japan. Open-Silicon offers a strong low-power capability with its PowerMAX technology, which provides low-power design techniques like back biasing, custom low power cells, and power recovery. The company also recently joined the Power Forward Initiative, a low-power industry group.

"As Japanese semiconductor companies consolidate and go to a fab-lite model for 40nm, 28nm, or 22nm, the trend is to shift to foundry-based silicon for which Open-Silicon is a great fit," said Rick Murayama, managing director of Open-Silicon Japan. "Our predictability and reliability enable customers to enjoy the same high level of quality and service they have enjoyed from the large traditional IDMs."

Open-Silicon attributes much of its success to the OpenMODEL, the semiconductor industry's first end-to-end custom SoC development solution based on a revolutionary business model that provides a seamless, low-cost, and low-risk alternative to traditional models for complex ASIC design and development.

Designers can choose their foundry, package supplier, and IP from any available on the open market, or they can ask Open-Silicon to propose complete solutions leveraging the best available technology.

In addition, Open Silicon continues to broaden its ecosystem partnerships and expand it design capabilities. The company recently acquired Silicon Logic Engineering (SLE) to increase the front-end capabilities for designing derivative ICs, which are increasingly in demand as semiconductor companies look to maximize the returns on their initial platform IC investments.

IEEE completes revised IEEE 1800 standard to make semiconductor chip design and verification more efficient

PISCATAWAY, USA: IEEE, the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology, announced completion of IEEE 1800-2009, a revision to an existing IEEE standard.

The new IEEE 1800 defines a single, comprehensive standard language that is designed to help boost the productivity of electronic system design and verification engineers and make possible broader and improved Electronic Design Automation (EDA) tools to more quickly bring complex system-on-chip (SOC) devices to market.

“IEEE 1800 has been so successful because of the sustained attention of such a broad representation of the EDA, semiconductor and system-design communities throughout the standard’s lifecycle,” said Karen Pieper, chair of the IEEE P1800 SystemVerilog Working Group. “We encourage all stakeholders to continue to engage and build consensus through the IEEE to advance the ongoing innovations that our industry will require.”

An open meeting of the IEEE P1800 SystemVerilog Working Group will take place Feb. 26 in San Jose, Calif., in conjunction with DVCon 2010. Input gathered at this meeting will be used to establish the scope of the next revision of the IEEE 1800 standard. For more information on attending or participating remotely, please visit

Continued increases in logic functionality, verification complexity and power issues resulting in a larger number of lines of Register Transfer Level (RTL) code characterize contemporary SOC designs. These trends also make multi-discipline verification significantly more complex.

In addition to expanding the original IEEE 1800 SystemVerilog standard to meet these challenges and address the language’s increased usage, the newly revised standard ensures backward compatibility with the legacy IEEE 1364-2005 Verilog standard to improve ease of use.

IEEE 1800 is a comprehensive standard that mergers into it the underlying IEEE 1364 Verilog language. IEEE 1800 also includes errata fixes and resolutions, general enhancements, and significant improvements and extensions to the SystemVerilog Assertion (SVA) language.

“IEEE 1800 has become the dominant global design and verification language standard to allow higher-capacity chips to be produced with greater efficiency,” said Dennis Brophy, chair of the IEEE-SA Corporate Advisory Group. “Broad corporate participation in the development of the standard under the corporate program has ensured IEEE 1800 addresses the pressing design and verification challenges of industry.”

Octera and Cytech sign global alliance agreement

SAN DIEGO, USA: Octera Solutions Inc. of Carlsbad, CA, and Cytech of Hong Kong, along with its ASEAN subsidiary, announced a comprehensive alliance to offer global semiconductor technical support and product distribution service to their manufacturing partners, such as Altera Corp.

The agreement includes the ability to cross-market the companies’ respective IP portfolios, to run global marketing campaigns, to effectively cover OEM customers with design and manufacturing across more than one geographic region and to provide effective tracking of design projects wherever the production takes place in the world, removing the need for complex and inefficient internal tracking systems.

"This is a comprehensive agreement and represents a big step forward for our company," said John Burton, President of Octera Solutions.

"For four years now we have been pioneering a highly technical approach to selling semiconductors in North America, including the field technical personnel, our central design services engineering team and the development of innovative marketing campaigns, IP and reference designs. At one stroke we are now able to fully work with our global customers, track business to Asia and promote our services across the entire globe.

"Cytech has the same philosophy of system level solution selling for semiconductors, the same suppliers and fundamentally ‘get’ what we are trying to do. They are the perfect partner for us."

"We have been impressed with Octera’s progress in North America," commented Johnny Chan, CEO of Cytech.

"Although still relatively small compared to the broadliners, they are growing incredibly quickly and offer a true, technically focused distribution service for their linecard. Many of their customers manufacture in Asia, and we are able to help them track orders right across the region through our offices there. Moreover, we can now work with many North American and Asian customers, who have engineering in both locations, in a way that has not been possible before.

"In addition, Octera instantly provides the best possible North American sales vehicle for our own IP and services. We see boundless opportunities for the two groups working together in the future."

Tokyo Electron Device announces evaluation platforms with Virtex-6 FPGAs

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN: Tokyo Electron Device Ltd has released the inrevium TB-6V-LX240T, LX365T, LX550T, and SX475T-PCIEXP series evaluation platforms fitted with Virtex-6 FPGAs from Xilinx.

The inrevium TB-6V- LX240T, LX365T, LX550T, and SX475T-PCIEXP make ideal evaluation platforms for the development of high-performance graphics engines for next-generation televisions and multi-function printers, or for the high-speed arithmetic processing found in high-performance computing applications.

Fitted with industry-leading, high-capacity, Virtex-6 LXT or Virtex-6 SXT FPGA family devices, the standard platform delivers both exceptional performance via 8-lane PCI Express Gen 2 interface and 2-channel 1,066 Mbps DDR3 SDRAM SO-DIMM high-speed memory interfaces and rapid evaluation of wide-bandwidth and high-speed data transfer systems.

TED developed these new domain platforms in accordance with the Targeted Design Platform concept promoted by Xilinx and are fitted with the industry-standard FPGA mezzanine card (FMC) connector that provides flexible support for a range of different external interfaces implemented on FMC daughter cards available from TED today in addition to providing a future-proof upgrade path as new interfaces are developed.

Thus, preserving the initial investment in the base board purchase. Using the platforms in conjunction with the supplied reference designs facilitates a significant reduction in the development workload required of complex FPGA designs hosting high-performance PCI Express applications, application software and similar tasks, resulting in customer end products being brought to market more quickly.

ABOV Semiconductor purchases J750 for microcontroller testing

NORTH READING, USA: Teradyne Inc. announced that ABOV Semiconductor, a fabless microcontroller semiconductor company, selected the J750 test system for characterization and production test of its portfolio of 8-bit and 32-bit microcontrollers. The first system has been installed at ABOV’s Ochang research and development site in South Korea.

After evaluating alternative solutions in the marketplace, ABOV selected the J750 because it offers the best economic value and most complete digital performance and analog measurement coverage for their wide range of microcontroller products. ABOV also valued the broad adoption of the J750 in the marketplace as thousands of systems are installed and widely available at subcons and Outsourced Semiconductor Assembly and Test (OSAT) facilities.

“The broad market acceptance of the J750 and its ability to meet all the wafer sort and final test insertion measurement requirements across ABOV’s microcontroller product lines was extremely attractive,” said Junghoon Kim, director of Production Division, ABOV Semiconductor. “In addition, the J750 offers the headroom to handle our future testing needs by giving us the ability to scale up to their Ex instrumentation when the timing is right.”

“The J750 platform is the ideal choice in the marketplace for microcontroller test,” said Kyle Klatka, Consumer Digital Market Segment manager, Teradyne. “We are pleased that ABOV selected the J750 as it continues to offer the most compelling cost of test economics for price-sensitive, consumer digital applications and is readily available at dozens of subcons.”

Magma and Chengdu ICC establish joint lab to foster growth of analog and digital IC design in Western China

CHENGDU, CHINA & SAN JOSE, USA: Magma Design Automation and Chengdu ICC (CDICC), a government-funded organization that promotes integrated circuit (IC) design in Chengdu, announced the recent opening of a joint IC design lab.

Established in the National IC Design Chengdu Industrial Base, one of seven technology incubation parks in China, the lab will provide local designers with access to Magma's advanced analog and digital IC design software and comprehensive training programs.

"Chengdu Hi-tech is focused on building the semiconductor industry in western China," said Duan Zhigang, vice director of Chengdu Hi-tech Zone Innovation Service Center.

"We work with leading IC design companies, wafer fabs, test and assembly providers, and other associated enterprises, including Fujitsu, Conexant, Freescale, Intel, SMIC, Panovasic, CSMSC, GoldTel and IPGoal, to create a complete industrial supply chain. With closer cooperation with Magma and the establishment of the Chengdu ICC-Magma IC design lab we further enhance the advantages of doing semiconductor business in western China."

"Designers in China and the rest of the world are facing increasing complexity, power, area, cost and time-to-market challenges," said Rajeev Madhavan, CEO of Magma Design Automation. "By making the Magma software and training available in the new lab, we can work more closely with our customers in Chengdu to help them overcome these challenges and train engineers in local design services companies to provide additional resources."

The joint lab will help IC design companies develop technical expertise, shorten the design cycle, accelerate the time to market for their products, and improve their ability to meet the demands of the international semiconductor market.

Magma will offer technical training on its Talus and FineSim software to IC design companies in the National IC Design Chengdu Industrial Base.

Talus, an integrated IC implementation platform, is used by many of the world's top chip companies to develop complex chips in 45/40-nm process technology. FineSim, a complete simulation platform, is the industry's first circuit simulator to truly support multi-CPU simulation, providing three to four times faster simulation than traditional simulators while maintaining accuracy.

Global semiconductor revenue to grow 20 percent in 2010

STAMFORD, USA: Worldwide semiconductor revenue in 2010 is forecast to reach $276 billion in 2010, a 19.9 percent increase from 2009 revenue of $231 billion, according to the latest outlook by Gartner Inc.

“We have seen clear evidence that the semiconductor industry is poised for strong growth in 2010,” said Bryan Lewis, research vice president at Gartner.

“While the semiconductor market declined 9.6 percent in 2009, sequential quarterly revenue growth was amazingly strong through the last three quarters of 2009. After the gloom early in the year, PC unit production growth actually turned out to be positive in 2009 and is expected to grow close to 20 percent in 2010, fueling strength in semiconductors.

“Given the sales momentum and earlier cutbacks in capital spending, semiconductor foundry and packaging utilization rates are approaching constraints and most regions and most applications are seeing increased orders. The key question now is will the recovery continue at its current rate or will we see a correction?”

Gartner is closely tracking the balance of electronic system sales versus semiconductor sales and inventory in past downturns and the current one and believes that a minor correction in semiconductor sales is needed in the near future to rebalance chip sales with system sales.

The third quarter is generally the strongest quarter for semiconductor sales with sequential growth of 9 percent as system companies build product for back-to-school and the holiday season. Gartner’s new semiconductor forecast shows a 7 percent rise in third-quarter sales followed by a relatively flat fourth-quarter, which will better align semiconductor sales with system sales.

PCs and memory are the primary drivers for semiconductor revenue growth in 2010. “Rising DRAM prices coupled with strong PC demand will lead to over 55 percent DRAM revenue growth in 2010, making DRAM the fastest growing device type by far,” Mr. Lewis said.

Gartner analysts expect the semiconductor industry to show continued growth through its forecast period in 2014. The market is on track to surpass the $300 billion mark in 2012 when the market is forecast to total $304 billion.

SiPort appoints David Rolston CEO

SANTA CLARA, USA: SiPort Inc., a leading supplier of integrated circuit platform solutions for digital terrestrial broadcast receivers, announced the appointment of Dr. David W. Rolston as chief executive officer (CEO).

Rolston brings to SiPort more than 25 years experience in the technology industry and a successful track record in building profitable businesses in both start-ups and multinational market leaders.

“David’s proven ability to develop and execute sound business strategies in fast-growth, competitive environments make him an ideal leader for SiPort”, said Dick Sanquini, Chairman of the Board at SiPort Inc.

“We became the leader in HD Radio IC shipments by working closely with customers to implement truly innovative products. David’s skill set helps build on that success across the entire worldwide digital radio market. David takes over the reigns from Aiman Kabakibo, a Founder and Interim CEO of SiPort. Aiman assumes a new role, Executive VP and Founder, responsible for SiPort’s products and the handset market segment. He will work closely with David to insure a smooth transition while ramping his new responsibilities.

“SiPort’s engineering and business teams have defined the platforms for HD Radio, the most dynamic segment of the worldwide digital radio market today, and we are just getting started”, said Rolston. “I’m really looking forward to helping the company achieve its full potential by continuing to design and deliver worldwide digital radio solutions that connect people to digital radio content.”

Dr. Rolston most recently served as chairman and CEO of Forterra Systems, a provider of enterprise-grade virtual-world software technology. Before joining Fonterra, he was general manager and vice president of engineering at ATI, Inc. where he managed the development of advanced graphics/video chips used in popular personal computers, mobile phones, HD televisions, and many well-known gaming consoles. He has also held general management and marketing positions at Silicon Graphics, Inc, and served as Chairman and CEO of Multigen-Paradigm. Dr. Rolston earned a BSE from Northern Arizona University, an MSE in systems engineering and a PhD in computer science from Arizona State University.

”SiPort has made important contributions to the growth of the HD Radio Market notably as the HD Radio chip supplier to Microsoft’s Zune HD personal media player,” noted Robert Struble, president and CEO of iBiquity Digital Corporation, the developer of HD Radio Technology. “We believe that under David’s leadership, SiPort will continue to be a driving force in the adoption of HD Radio Technology across many market segments. We are excited to continue our work with him and his team to bring the benefits of HD Radio ICs to a larger universe of listeners.”

HD Radio technology is a free over-the-air digital broadcast from radio stations in conjunction with their analog signals. This new technology enables radio stations to simulcast both digital and analog audio within the same channel as well as add new channels and data services.

By subdividing the data stream into sub-channels, HD Radio Technology supports many new features including pause, rewind, and play functionality, searchable content by genre, the tagging of a song for future online purchase, and digital data services.

NXP and IBM announce results of landmark road pricing trial

SINGAPORE: NXP Semiconductors and IBM announced the final results of a landmark road pricing trial conducted in the Netherlands, which demonstrated that with the help of technology, drivers can be motivated to change their driving behavior, reducing traffic congestion and contributing to a greener environment.

The six-month road pricing trial, conducted in the city of Eindhoven, was designed to provide the Dutch government with insights to address the challenge of traffic congestion in the Netherlands.

The test was overwhelmingly successful, with 70 percent of drivers changing their behavior to avoid rush-hour travel when presented with the right incentives, demonstrating that road pricing systems can have a positive effect on driving habits and help alleviate traffic.

“The test has vastly exceeded our expectations,” said Maurice Geraets, senior director, NXP Semiconductors. “Together, NXP and IBM have logged more than 200,000 test kilometers as part of the trial, and the complete system has proven to be highly reliable.

“The technology is ready to charge car owners fairly for the use of the car based on road type, time of day and the environmental characteristics of the car, and to give effective feedback to drivers to influence their behavior – helping them save money and make more efficient, greener driving choices on a daily basis. Further, the Eindhoven trial has demonstrated that our technology is ready for implementation in any large-scale traffic management program.”

"The results of our GPS based solution in Eindhoven show that nationwide implementation of road user charging is feasible. Already, successful IBM implementations of congestion charging schemes in Stockholm, Brisbane, Singapore and London are now also achievable with GPS which makes country wide implementations possible for millions of cars”, said Eric-Mark Huitema, mobility executive at IBM. “Smart traffic and transportation systems have tremendous potential to reduce traffic congestion, contribute to a cleaner environment with reduced carbon dioxide and small particles emissions."

Key findings of the trial included:
* 70 percent of drivers improved their driving behavior by avoiding rush-hour traffic and using highways instead of local roads.
* On average, these drivers in the trial saw an improvement of more than 16 percent in average cost per kilometer.
* A clear system of incentives is critical to changing driving behavior.
* Instant feedback provided via an On-Board Unit display on the price of the road chosen and total charges for the trip are essential to maximizing the change in behavior.

The Netherlands Road Pricing Trial in context
The Netherlands will be introducing a new road-use charge starting in 2012 for trucks and lorries, and 2013 for passenger cars. The new road pricing system – Paying differently for mobility (Anders Betalen voor Mobiliteit) – is expected to be up and running nationwide by 2016.

Many EU countries are now in the process of exploring road pricing programs as one of the measures to reduce congestion and CO2 emissions. In the Netherlands, once fully implemented, the Price per Kilometer (De kilometerprijs) system is expected to achieve the following benefits:

* A 58 percent reduction in delays caused by traffic jams;
* A 15 percent reduction in the total number of kilometers driven annually;
* A 10 percent reduction in CO2 emissions;
* A 6 percent increase in total passenger kilometers via public transportation;
* More than 50 percent of Dutch households will pay less than they do currently for the motor vehicle tax and vehicle purchase tax.

Numonyx and Macronix heat up NOR flash memory market in Q4

EL SEGUNDO, USA: The economic recovery has translated into a sales rebound for the long-suffering NOR-type flash memory market, similar to the momentum the overall memory market is enjoying, according to iSuppli Corp.

Overall NOR revenue in the fourth quarter of 2009 amounted to $1.23 billion, up 0.7 percent from $1.22 billion in the third quarter.

“This marks the third consecutive quarter of sequential growth for the market, after revenue dipped to less than $1 billion during the dismal first three months of 2009,” said Michael Yang, senior analyst for memory and storage at iSuppli. “NOR flash revenue in the fourth quarter was boosted by demand from multiple consumer products, including LCD-TVs, cell phones and computers. Demand was so strong that NOR was in a state of shortage for most densities.”

However, the fourth-quarter growth was not spread evenly among the NOR suppliers, and there were distinct winners and losers. Specifically, Numonyx and Macronix were the big winners, being the only companies among the Top-5 suppliers to achieve sequential growth in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The figure presents iSuppli’s fourth-quarter 2009 revenue ranking for the Top-5 NOR flash suppliers.Source: iSuppli, USA

Distancing itself
Numonyx, which assumed the mantle as the No.-1 provider of NOR flash memory in the third quarter of 2009, cemented its position in the fourth quarter. The company’s NOR flash revenue grew to $434 million, up 7.2 percent from $405 million in the third quarter of 2009. More importantly, this resulted in a commanding 35.4 percent share of the total NOR flash market, up from 33.3 percent in the third quarter.

“As Spansion continues to restructure itself after filing for bankruptcy—and moves away from investing heavily in the wireless segment—Numonyx has been able to step in and garner design wins from disaffected former Spansion customers,” Yang said.

“Obviously, this success is part of the reason companies looked to Numonyx as a possible acquisition target. With a pending acquisition ahead, this should solve the potential problems Numonyx might have had with production capacity issues.”

New powerhouse emerging?
Macronix also had an excellent fourth quarter, with $128 million in NOR revenue, up 4.1 percent from $123 million in the third quarter. The company was the top beneficiary of the renewed spending on consumer electronics products and PCs.

Macronix has doubled its market share since 2008 to 10.4 percent of the total NOR flash market and continues to find success with its serial NOR products in the embedded space.

The company has a number of serial products in the pipeline that should continue to fuel its profits in the embedded space.

Macronix is seeking to acquire additional manufacturing capabilities to ensure that production can keep up with its success, although nothing has been finalized yet.

Consolidation ahead?
The industry has been poised to reinvent itself, evident by the recent acquisitions of SST and Numonyx. This spells opportunity for those companies with the right products and strategies to further distance themselves from the pack.

Source: iSuppli, USA

ST intros SPEAr microprocessors for embedded-control apps

INDIA: STMicroelectronics has unveiled four new members in the SPEAr microprocessor family, targeting embedded-control applications across market segments from computer peripherals and communication to industrial automation.

Based on the latest ARM core technology, ST’s SPEAr microprocessors enable equipment manufacturers to develop complex yet flexible digital engines at a fraction of the time and cost of competing solutions.

Manufactured in state-of-the-art low-power 90nm and 65nm HCMOS (high-speed CMOS) process technologies, ST’s SPEAr (Structured Processor Enhanced Architecture) embedded microprocessors provide high levels of computing power and connectivity.

The devices combine one or two advanced ARM9 processor cores (ARM926EJ-S up to 400MHz in typical conditions, or 333MHz in worst-case conditions of temperature and voltage) with memory interfaces, and a large set of IP blocks delivering connectivity, communication, and audio/video functions for different applications.

The SPEAr microprocessors target networked devices used for communication, display and control in applications including VoIP phones, wireless access devices, printers, thin-client computers, PC docking stations, bar-code scanners/readers, home appliances, residential control and security systems, and medical lab/diagnostics equipment.

The SPEAr family members are:

The SPEAr300 is an excellent choice for human-machine interface and security applications. It contains:
* Camera Interface
* LCD and Keyboard Controller
* Crypto Accelerator
* TDM Bus
* USB 2.0
* Fast Ethernet

The SPEAr310 is tailored for telecom network applications. Integrated IP blocks include:
* 5 fast Ethernet ports
* TDM Bus
* 2 HDLC ports
* Crypto Accelerator
* USB 2.0

The SPEAr320 is suitable for factory automation and consumer applications. Its function blocks include:
* 2 CAN interfaces
* 4 Serial ports
* Standard parallel port
* LCD Controller
* Crypto Accelerator
* USB 2.0

The dual-core SPEAr600, with benchmarked performance of 733 DMIPS (Dhrystone million instructions per second), targets highly compute-intensive embedded applications across market segments. In addition to the two cores, it contains:
* Giga Ethernet
* USB 2.0
* External local bus access for glueless FPGA connection
* LCD Controller

Facilitating a full-system project approach, ST provides SPEAr development kits that contain a complete set of elements to develop and test the customer system with minimum time and resource requirements.

ST’s new SPEAr embedded microprocessors are in full production. The single-core models (SPEAr300/310/320) are priced below US$7 for mass production quantities, the dual-core SPEAr600 sells below US$9 for mass production quantities.

Invest in America alliance to fund American tech firms, create jobs for college grads

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA: Intel President and CEO Paul Otellini has announced a $3.5 billion initiative to support investment in US-based growth-oriented industries and detailed a commitment to significantly increase jobs available this year for recent college graduates.

Otellini announced these initiatives in a speech titled "Rebuilding the Foundations of American Growth," delivered at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

The Invest in America Alliance, led by Intel and supported by many leading venture capital firms and corporations, aims to further anchor the nation's competitiveness on the global stage. It serves as the private sector's complement to existing state and federal job creation programs through long-term investment in industries and talent poised to produce the next breakthroughs in technology innovation.

The Alliance is a two-pronged effort. The first includes a commitment from Intel Capital, Intel Corporation's global investment organization, and 24 leading venture capital firms to invest $3.5 billion in US-based technology companies over the next two years.

These investments, which include a new, $200 million Intel Capital Invest in America Technology Fund, will target key innovation and growth segments such as clean technology, information technology and biotechnology.

Joining Intel in this effort is Advanced Technology Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, Bridgescale Partners, Canaan Partners, DCM, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Flywheel Ventures, Good Energies, Institutional Venture Partners, Investcorp Technology Partners, Khosla Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Menlo Ventures, Mohr Davidow Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, North Bridge Venture Partners, QuestMark Partners, Sevin Rosen Funds, Storm Ventures, Telesoft Partners, Updata Partners, U.S. Venture Partners, Venrock and Walden International.

Second, the Invest in America Alliance also includes commitments from 17 technology and other corporate leaders to increase their hiring of college graduates, some by as much as two times, to create the products and provide the services of tomorrow. Companies joining Intel in this pledge are Accenture, Adobe Systems, Autodesk, Broadcom, CDW LLC., Cisco, Dell, eBay, Inc., EMC, GE, Google, Inc., HP, Liberty Mutual Group, Marvell Semiconductor, Microsoft and Yahoo!.

"Strong, enduring economies grow out of a culture of investment and a commitment to innovation," Otellini said. "We simply must have a clear, consistent strategy to promote innovation, investment and start-up companies. There are things business can do, and ought to do, independent of what government achieves.

"It would be a long-term mistake to let our future scientists and engineers sit idle after graduation. Today's announcements are both an investment in the country's innovators and a signal to the global marketplace about America's commitment to innovation and future competitiveness."

Other venture capital firms and corporations are expected to join the Invest in America Alliance with investment funds or hiring goals in the coming weeks and months.

Today's announcement follows Intel's commitment last year to invest $7 billion to upgrade its US manufacturing facilities that are now producing the most advanced semiconductor technology in the world. This investment also supported 7,000 high-wage, high-tech manufacturing American jobs and more than 4,000 contract jobs for technicians and construction workers in Arizona, New Mexico and Oregon.

VC investment
Clean technology, information technology and biotechnology are vital segments of the emerging US economy and important for global competitiveness. The $3.5 billion commitment from Intel Capital and leading venture capital firms will help create jobs in current market segments and also in newer industries such as molecular diagnostics, bioinformatics, electric vehicle ecosystem and wireless infrastructure.

"Venture capital investments have played an important role in creating jobs at home and keeping America at the leading edge of technology globally," said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president. "With $3.5 billion of equity capital to invest in the most promising new ventures in the country, our collective goal is to continue to drive technology innovation and stimulate economic activity."

As part of the overall commitment, Intel Capital announced today the $200 million Intel Capital Invest in America Technology Fund. Over the past two decades, Intel Capital has made over 1,350 investments in US businesses, totaling more than $6.2 billion. In 2008, venture-backed companies provided over 12 million U.S. jobs (11 percent of private sector employment in the United States).

College graduate hiring
Of the companies joining Intel in a commitment to significantly increase hiring of college graduates in 2010, many will be doubling graduate hiring over 2009 levels. In total, this represents 10,500 jobs for graduates to be hired for a range of positions.

While the new jobs will largely be for those with engineering and computer science backgrounds, positions available also include financial analysis, marketing, management consulting, sales and other business skills in the majority of states across America. The hiring at these companies extends beyond those now graduating. For example, Intel's overall hiring plan for the year includes graduates and other experienced hires.

"Many more college graduates will now be able to put their education to work thanks to these 17 companies. We hope this is just a start and welcome companies across all industries to join this open effort," said Richard Taylor, vice president and director of Human Resources for Intel. "Many college graduates have been among the hardest hit by the economic downturn and providing them a place in the economy today is the best way to ensure America's innovation and competitiveness tomorrow."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

ISA's pre-budget recommendations

BANGALORE, INDIA: The India Semiconductor Association (ISA), the apex trade body representing the Indian semiconductor industry, has submitted valuable budget recommendations to the Government of India (GOI) and has requested to favorably consider the memorandum, which ISA believes will greatly enhance the competitiveness of the domestic semiconductor industry.

The ISA has been making concerted efforts to boost the electronics system design and manufacturing ecosystem (ESDM) in India and recognizes the need for reforms to empower the domestic electronics system, design and manufacturing sector.

The budget recommendations have been framed keeping in mind core areas of:
1. Semiconductor design: VLSI design, embedded software and reference board design.
2. High-tech manufacturing - Amendments to the Semiconductor Policy 2007.
3. Promotion of domestic electronics manufacturing.
4. Tax and duty structure.
5. Encouraging pre-competitive research.

Some key features are captured here.

A. Semiconductor design: VLSI design, embedded software and reference board design
* Initiatives need to be undertaken to promote innovation in R&D and product design. Creation of local IP should be encouraged.

* National projects (national knowledge network, rural broadband and others) should be executed using Indian products.

* The Government should encourage incubating Indian start-ups. The government may set up a focused venture fund of about $50 million to provide seed and start-up capital for the new ventures to undertake R&D and product development.

* Extension of fiscal benefits under the STPI scheme till the year 2015 as a large number of companies have been unable to avail of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) scheme due to a variety of factors beyond their control, including location issues.

* Extension of direct service tax exemption to STP and EOU Units akin to SEZ units. Presently, as outlined above, requiring STP units to avail of the same exemption through the refund route is not logical and cumbersome.

* Expedite the publication of the draft safe harbour rules and framework for advance pricing agreement so that all relevant stakeholders may provide their inputs to the GOI.

B. High-tech manufacturing - Amendments to the Semiconductor Policy 2007
* The global economic slowdown has severely impacted the semiconductor industry leading to piling up of inventories and reduced capital expenditure. It is, therefore, proposed that the deadline of March 2010 may be extended till March 2015.

Lowering of threshold limit for ATMPs and other eco-system units
* It is suggested that the threshold limit for certain categories of ecosystem units such as ATMPs, optical LEDs, storage devices, LCDs, FPD, photovoltaics, fuel cells, micro and nano technology products (as defined in the SIPS (Special Incentive Package Scheme) needs to be lowered to attract investments in the sector.

C. Recommendations to promote domestic electronics manufacturing

Preference for “Indian Products”
* It is recommended that a clause be added in all the purchases by the Central Government, State Governments, PSUs as well as the purchases done by the other organizations (NGOs and Corporates), where the Government funds are being used should have preference for “Indian Products” by reserving minimum of 30 percent purchases for “Indian Products” that meet the technical specifications and quality standards, so as to ensure that this recommendation does not affect the end-user prices. The “Indian Product” supplier would be required to meet the L-1 price from the open tender. For private telecom operators, their license condition must also require them to buy 30 percent of their total capital expenditure in the form of “Indian Products”.

* In case, there is no “Indian Product” for a certain application, the 30 percent requirement must be met through products that are “assembled” in India.

Increased tax concessions on R&D
* The tax deduction for R&D companies (who are DSIR registered) should follow a graded scale, based on the percentage of their revenues that they spend on R&D. A higher percentage means that the complexity of the product R&D is higher and hence it is expected to have higher value-addition and also a longer gestation period. The following structure for increased tax deduction is proposed:* For R&D spend in between 5-10 percent, for every extra percentage in R&D spend, the tax deduction should increase linearly by 30 percent.

* As a special stimulus to encourage Indian Product companies, they should be exempt from MAT for a period of five years, so that they can be use the extra cash generated from tax savings to reinvest in R&D and hence increased their global competitiveness. Without this exemption, the benefit of R&D tax deductions is marginal. Since there are not too many Indian product companies currently, the actual loss to the exchequer will be minimal, while the existence of this tax concession is expected to encourage creation of many Indian products.

D. Tax and Duty Structure
* Continuation of excise duty/CVD rates announced in the Fiscal Incentive package at 8 percent on all electronic products -– computers, peripherals and components.

* The 4 percent SAD – Special Additional Duty, should be abolished on all electronic products and components.

E. Recommendations to encourage pre-competitive research
* Offer R&D grants to companies that generate product revenues from the country and have substantial local value addition done from within the country.

* Offer tax rebates for patent filing expenses to encourage companies to innovate and gain competitive edge in their respective areas of business.

* Set aside a fund of Rs 100 crores to provide multiplier grants for collaborative research programs between industry and academia in the areas related to semiconductors and electronics.

* Facilitate setting up of ‘Center for Research in Embedded Systems and Semiconductor Technology’ (CREST).

Top 10 forecast to account for 66 percent of capital expenditures in 2010

SCOTTSDALE, USA: The top 10 semiconductor industry capital spenders (Fig. 1) are forecast to represent two-thirds of the total outlays this year. The 66 percent share this year would be 11 points higher than the 55 percent share they held in 2005.

Fig. 1Source: IC Insights

As shown in Fig. 1, the top 10 capital spenders are forecast to increase their spending by 67 percent in 2010, much higher than the 51 percent jump now expected for total semiconductor industry spending this year. Moreover, if Intel were excluded, the remaining nine companies in the top 10 ranking would increase their spending by 91 percent in 2010!

Some brief comments on the top four companies' spending plans for 2010 are shown below.

Samsung: After ranking as the second largest spender in 2009, the company is highly likely to be the largest spender in 2010. Samsung has released conservative guidance for its capital spending plans this year ($4.7 billion for memory) and it would not be surprising to see the company's total 2010 semiconductor capital outlays at $6 billion or more!

Intel: Intel is in no rush to add significant capacity. Considering the company holds about 85 percent of the total MPU market, it knows how much MPU capacity is really needed and it will not overspend. Expect MPUs to remain relatively scarce this year as Intel (and AMD) would like to enjoy firming average selling prices (ASPs) for awhile longer.

TSMC: Spurred by the challenge from the upstart GlobalFoundries, the world's largest foundry is significantly ramping up its capital spending plans. As shown, TSMC is planning a 79 percent increase in capital outlays this year. The $4.8 billion dollar budget for 2010 is the highest level of spending by TSMC since 2000!

Toshiba: Flash memory demand is booming. However, Toshiba is very sensitive to the overspending/overcapacity history of the memory market (which drove it out of the DRAM segment). Look for the company to be aggressive, but not overly so.

The March Update to The McClean Report will provide additional comments for the remainder of the top 10 spenders. The March Update will also present the latest information regarding the 2010 capital spending plans of 34 major semiconductor companies and review IC Insights' latest capital spending forecast through 2014.

Although many companies are planning to more than double their capital outlays this year, IC Insights believes that they will not be able to prevent rising IC ASPs and shortages from occurring (especially during the second half of this year).

Samsung expands green line-up with industry’s first volume 40nm-class 4Gigabit DDR3

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd has begun mass producing the industry’s first low-power (green) four gigabit (Gb) DDR3 devices using 40 nanometer (nm) class process technology. The high-density memory is expected to bring significant power savings to data centers, server systems and high-end notebooks.

“When our 40nm-class DDR3 was first introduced last July, we were well ahead of the curve for high density, high performance DDR3,” said Dong-Soo Jun, executive vice president, memory marketing, Samsung Electronics.

“Now, in just seven more months, we have introduced an ultra-low power ‘Green Memory’ – the 4Gb DDR3, which is double the density of its predecessor. At a module density of 16-gigabyte (GB), the 4Gb based module can save 35 percent in power consumption, to support customer requirements for more energy-efficient designs.”

Samsung’s 40nm-class Green DDR3 is optimized to enhance energy-efficiency ratings for servers seeking to comply with or exceed new Energy Star power consumption specifications.

Production of the 4Gb DDR3 raises the amount of memory for use in servers to 32Gigabytes (GB) per module, which is twice the maximum density achieved with modules based on 2Gb components.

With the start of volume 4Gb DDR3 production, Samsung plans to migrate more than 90 percent of its DDR DRAM production to 40nm-class process technology, to provide its customers with the most cost-efficient DRAM component available today, at the same time solidifying its market-leading position.

Today, servers are equipped with an average of six registered dual in-line memory module (RDIMMs) sockets per CPU, with which up to a 96GB DRAM capacity can be accommodated. Power consumption varies depending on the component featured. A module based on 60nm-class 1Gb DDR2 components consumes 210W, while a 40nm-class 2Gb DDR3-based module consumes 55W, representing an approximate 75 percent savings.

However, the new 40nm-class 4Gb DDR3-based module consumes a mere 36W, which represents about 83 percent savings over the 60nm-class 1Gb DDR2 module. With growing concern about energy costs in data centers, these memory power savings translate into an overall reduction in server power of 10 percent per system.

By applying Samsung’s 40nm 4Gb DDR3-based modules to existing server systems, DRAM density can raised at least two-fold and system life-time can be extended sharply to prolong server life span in reducing new system investment.

The 4Gb DDR3 raises the small outline dual inline memory module (SoDIMM) density to 8GB. This enables a system level density of up to 16GB for two socket modes, or 32GB for four socket models, which is expected to meet much of the growing demand for high-performance notebooks with advanced graphics.

The new 4Gb DDR3 supports both 1.5V and 1.35V specifications. Available memory modules include 16 and 32GB RDIMMs and 8GB SoDIMMs with a 1.6-Gigabit per second (Gbps) performance rate.

Mentor intros FloTHERM IC for semiconductor package thermal characterization and design

SANTA CLARA, USA: Mentor Graphics Corp. announced the FloTHERM IC productivity tool targeting the semiconductor industry for thermal characterization and design.

Addressing increased complexity, chip density, and high-speed requirements for today’s silicon designs, the FloTHERM IC solution is deployed as a unique web-based platform that delivers a high level of automation to the design tasks associated with full-spectrum thermal characterization and validation.

A typical semiconductor thermal team spends approximately 60 percent of its time on standard package thermal characterization and design, and the remaining time for customer-specific characterizations.

The FloTHERM IC tool dramatically reduces the time spent on thermal characterization and design by providing an automated process that includes pre-verified thermal models to reduce the risk of modeling errors. The tool can also achieve reductions of up to 25 percent in the time usually needed for customer-specific characterizations.

The FloTHERM IC tool is based on proven Mentor Graphics technologies: the industry-leading FloTHERM computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software, used to simulate airflow, temperature and heat transfer in electronic systems, and the FloTHERM PACK Smart Parts modeling tool. This new solution addresses the following essential areas of a semiconductor package thermal characterization and design:

* Full-spectrum thermal metric and compact model generation with full adherence to published JEDEC standards.
* “Package-aware” parametric design for “what-if” analysis.
* EDA tool interfacing for detailed modeling of BGA substrates for physical layout.
* Data mining of simulation data to enable optimized design time and re-use.

"Within our organization, our teams all need access to thermal information at different stages of the design and manufacturing cycle. My group has an extensive background in using FloTHERM IC for electronics cooling applications; however, not everyone needs access to the full power of FloTHERM IC. That is why FloTHERM IC can fulfill an important role in the design process," stated Dr. Claudio Maria Villa, Thermal Design, Corporate Packaging and Automation Group, STMicroelectronics.

"FloTHERM IC’s intuitive interface makes it convenient for experts and non-experts to access the technology online, quickly build a model from the libraries and test their performance, thereby freeing thermal experts to focus on solving difficult semiconductor packaging thermal problems and mission-critical issues instead of fulfilling routine requests."

The product’s wizard-based user interface is simple to use, designed for both the core thermal team and field engineers. Supported fully by an intuitive and flexible library and database infrastructure, the software enables a complete range of JEDEC thermal metrics and compact models to be generated easily and efficiently.

“We recognize the importance of thermal analysis for today’s semiconductor packaging market, and we believe our FloTHERM IC solution will be a competitive advantage for our customers,” stated Dr. Erich Buergel, general manager of Mentor Graphics Mechanical Analysis Division. “The ease of use and the ability to perform critical analyses quickly will provide tremendous ROI for our semiconductor customers who are concerned with market-delivery and cost constraints.”

Bluetooth, NFC, UWB, 802.15.4 and Wi-Fi ICs likely to exceed 2 billion units in 2010

SINGAPORE: Global shipments of short range wireless ICs (Bluetooth, NFC, UWB, 802.15.4, Wi-Fi) are expected to surpass two billion units this year, increasing approximately 20 percent compared to 2009. Shipments are forecast to total five billion in 2014, according to new market data from ABI Research.

“Bluetooth ICs made up a significant part of the total short range wireless ICs shipments,” says industry analyst Celia Bo. “Bluetooth took more than 55 percent, following by Wi-Fi at around 35 percent; the rest of the shipments were made up of NFC, UWB and 802.15.4 ICs.”

Mobile handsets maintain the highest adoption rate for Bluetooth ICs. In addition to data transmission between mobile handset and Bluetooth headset, the application of Bluetooth technology is gradually moving into computers and consumer electronics products such as laptops, UMDs, and the wireless remote pole of game consoles.

Low power consumption and short range transmission are two key technical features of Bluetooth technology. Furthermore, in December 2009 the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) announced the adoption of Bluetooth low energy (BLE) which opens an absolutely new market for products and devices needing low cost and low power wireless connectivity. Likely vertical markets include healthcare, security, and home entertainment.

Chip manufacturing technology migration is driving down chip cost too, and as Bluetooth chip ASPs continue to decline, new business opportunities will be created.

Combination chips, integrating two or more short range wireless technologies to deliver further cost reduction and chip size decreases, are paving the way for another trend in short range wireless IC market development.

The three major integration solutions – Bluetooth+FM radio, Bluetooth+Wi-Fi+FM, and Bluetooth+FM+GPS – are forecast to account for more than 30 percent of all Bluetooth combination chip shipments in 2010. The combination chip using BLE is expected to make up 50 percent of total Bluetooth combo IC shipments in 2014.

Luminus Devices raises $19 million in venture funding

BILLERICA, USA: Luminus Devices, Inc., designer, developer and manufacturer of high light output PhlatLight LEDs, today announced the closing of its round of funding totaling $19 million, led by current investors Argonaut Private Equity, Braemar Energy Ventures, Paladin Capital Group and Stata Venture Partners.

This investment creates a fully funded operating plan to increase profitability, maintain minimal debt, support growth and the expansion of Luminus’ products and applications. This includes “Big Chip” LEDs in specialty lighting applications, projection displays, digital signage and ultra-violet industrial processes.

“Luminus’ investor syndicate is one of the strongest groups of venture backed talent in the clean energy technology space. With their experience investing in solid state lighting companies, their support facilitates our leadership team’s implementation of a strong growth strategy across a diverse portfolio of global markets, products and applications,” said Keith T.S. Ward, president and CEO, Luminus Devices. “This financing has dramatically improved our balance sheet, simplified our equity structure, while better aligning investor objectives with management’s market-focused strategy.”

Designed to provide an ultra-bright, reliable light source, PhlatLight LEDs are currently used by some of the world’s largest companies, including Acer, LG, Philips Vari*Lite, Sony, Samsung and Toshiba. Luminus’ display business is thriving as PhlatLight LEDs are now being powered in every projection platform technology, including: DLP, 3LCD and LCOS. Luminus technology enables products that use LEDs in all projector categories, including pico, pocket and data, as well as home theater.

“We continue to be bullish on energy efficiency, especially in the area of LEDs and solid state lighting, which makes up a large portion of our portfolio. With our expertise in the area and Luminus’ dominance as a LED manufacturer and supplier across multiple market segments, it provides a great investment opportunity for Braemar,” said Dennis Costello, managing partner, Braemar Energy Ventures.

“Through our past investments in the company, as well as those of our partners, we’ve been able to support the growth of Luminus’ technology. Today, we’re pleased to see more and more lighting applications are using PhlatLight LEDs.”

“We invest in companies with strong leadership and breakthrough innovations in high growth markets. We’re proud to back the Luminus team again. It’s incredibly rewarding to see the rapid adoption of the PhlatLight LED products in a diverse range of commercial, industrial and defense applications,” said Dr. Paul Conley, principal, Paladin Capital Group.

“This funding will allow Luminus to fully execute its operating plan to achieve profitable growth. Luminus PhlatLight LEDs uniquely enable new technologies in a broad spectrum of applications. Their management team is highly focused on supporting their existing customers and enabling new markets,” said Lee Barbieri, managing partner, Stata Venture Partners.

TEL joins SEMATECH’s lithography program at UAlbany NanoCollege

ALBANY, USA & TOKYO, JAPAN: Tokyo Electron Ltd (TEL) and SEMATECH announced that TEL has joined SEMATECH’s Lithography Program at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany.

The TEL team will work alongside SEMATECH engineers at CNSE’s Albany NanoTech Complex to advance extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) and related infrastructure – including mask defect reduction, mask metrology, source, resist processing, etch, and overall manufacturability and extensibility of the technology.

As the industry prepares to start EUVL pilot line operations within a year, the remaining challenges in EUV resist processing must be addressed, including linewidth roughness (LWR) reduction, LWR uniformity across wafers, partitioning LWR reduction between resist processing and etch, as well as pattern collapse. TEL and SEMATECH are uniquely positioned to cooperate in those areas and to lead the industry in enabling pilot line-ready resist processing.

“We are excited by this opportunity to join TEL’s engineering expertise with SEMATECH’s R&D capabilities and know-how to develop leading-edge EUV lithography capability for our semiconductor customers,” said Masayuki Tomoyasu, Senior Vice President of TEL Technology Center, America, LLC. “We look forward to working with SEMATECH to meet the technical and economic requirements of EUV technology and move the industry forward.”

“We are building on our longstanding relationship with TEL, which is also participating in our Front End Processes and 3D Interconnect programs,” said John Warlaumont, vice president of advanced technology at SEMATECH. “We’re pleased to join forces in our lithography program as well, as we work together with TEL to advance EUVL technology and accelerate its progress to high-volume manufacturing.”

“We are delighted to welcome this new alliance between SEMATECH and TEL, both of which are among the global technology leaders engaged in next-generation nanoelectronics research and development at the UAlbany NanoCollege,” said Richard Brilla, vice president for strategy, alliances and consortia at CNSE. “This new collaboration will enable advanced research for EUV lithography to support the critical needs of industry, while further demonstrating the success of the SEMATECH-CNSE partnership in accelerating leading-edge technologies.”

Through global leadership and collaboration, SEMATECH’s Lithography Program aims to drive consensus-based solutions and infrastructure development to ensure that capable, cost-effective lithography is available when needed to member companies and the semiconductor industry.

Infineon files patent infringement lawsuit against Elpida Memory

NEUBIBERG, GERMANY: Infineon Technologies AG announced that the company and its subsidiary Infineon Technologies North America Corp. have filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) against Elpida Memory Inc. on February 19, 2010.

The complaint asserts that Elpida has engaged in unfair trade practices by making for importation into the United States, and selling after importation, certain DRAM semiconductors and products that infringe four of Infineon's patents covering key inventions in semiconductor processing and device manufacturing.

“Infineon has always been at the forefront of advanced semiconductor processing technologies. We will protect our intellectual property rights, which arise from our commitment to cutting-edge research and development,” said Prof. Dr. Hermann Eul, Member of the Management Board, Sales, Marketing, Technology and R&D at Infineon Technologies.

Infineon's complaint with the ITC seeks an exclusion order that operates to bar from entry into the US infringing DRAM semiconductors and products that are imported by or on behalf of Elpida.

Portable PCs push past desktops

SCOTTSDALE, USA: For nearly two decades, personal computers have been a bellwether of industry health, accounting for about one-thirds of the world's IC revenues since the early 1990s.

Following several years of extraordinary growth, portable computer shipments exceeded unit volumes of desktop PC systems for the first time in 2009 (Fig. 1). IC Insights shows portable computer shipments numbered 152 million in 2009 compared to 134 million desktop PCs. Through 2013, the gap is forecast to widen.Source: IC Insights, USA

Shipments of portable PCs (counting all types of mobile platforms and price ranges) are now forecast to increase at a CAGR of 21 percent per year between 2003 and 2013 compared to a CAGR of just 2 percent for desktop PCs in the same 10-year period.

Arguably, the most-watched system trend in PCs today is the growing wave of low-cost portable computers, which continues to swell with a wider range of overlapping platforms being aimed at cost-conscious PC users.

In 2008, sub-$500 portable systems became the rage when Intel accelerated its marketing and microprocessor campaigns behind inexpensive Internet-centric mini-notebook systems, which the company has successfully labeled as "netbooks."

But during 2009, new efforts were launched by IC suppliers (including Intel) and computer makers to create a new class of low-cost portable PCs for consumers, often called "ultraportables," which are built with low-voltage chip designs and deliver the performance of full-featured laptop notebooks in systems costing $600-$900.

While the PC industry segment continues to undergo tremendous changes, it also faces new challenges as it enters a new decade. A growing range of tradeoffs in cost, performance, and system architectures are requiring PC makers and IC suppliers to support more hardware configurations, which are narrowly targeted at specific types of computer users in business and consumer markets.

The growth in low-cost notebook computers for consumers and a shift of higher growth rates to poorer developing countries have made the PC segment even more competitive. Less-expensive portable PCs are now grabbing more sales in both established and emerging markets, and as a result, new cost pressures are being added to the supply chain for flat-panel color displays, wireless-networking solutions, small disk drives, and battery-friendly ICs.

Source: IC Insights, USA

10 reasons to be optimistic about the IC industry in 2010

SCOTTSDALE, USA: Are you uncertain about the 2010 IC industry recovery? It may help to consider these actual data points and current expectations that offer support for an increasingly positive outlook for the IC industry this year.

1. On January 26, 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised its worldwide GDP forecast for 2010 from 3.1 percent to 3.9 percent. Given the narrow scale of worldwide GDP growth, this was a big upgrade to its forecast.

2. On January 21, 2010, The Conference Board stated that the US Index of Leading Economic Indicators was up 1.1 percent in December of 2009. Over the last eight months of 2009, the Index was up 8.8 percent, the highest increase since 1983!

3. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) stated that the January 2010 US manufacturing sector Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) was a very strong 58.4 (any figure over 50 indicates growth). Moreover, the PMI order figure was 65.9, the highest since 2004!

4. China's manufacturing sector PMI was a very strong 57.4 in January of 2010. This was the highest PMI figure in China since the survey was started there in 2004! Amazingly, even when China's economy (i.e., GDP) was growing at greater than 11 percent in 2006 and 2007, it did not register a PMI index as high as was seen in January of 2010.

5. China's GDP growth in 4Q09 was 10.7 percent. IC Insights believes that it is highly likely that China's GDP growth will be at least 10% in 2010, up from 8.7 percent in 2009. Remember, China is the largest market in the world for cellphones and automobiles and the second largest in the world for PCs.

6. Although the first quarter of the year is typically a seasonally slow quarter for IC suppliers (i.e., negative 1Q/4Q sales), some companies (e.g., TI, Altera, ON Semi, Microchip, etc.) have stated that they currently expect an increase in 1Q10/4Q09 IC sales! IC Insights believes that 1Q10 IC market results will provide a good indicator of just how strong IC market growth will be in 2010.

7. Following the severe correction in the first half of 2009, IC unit volume inventories have been under control. In fact, there are an increasing number of stories about shortages and extended lead times for various IC devices in 1Q10. Unfortunately for the IC buyer (but good for the IC supplier—due to increasing pricing leverage), IC supply is forecast to become even tighter in the second half of this year.

8. In 4Q09, 300mm IC fabrication capacity utilization was over 95 percent. Such high utilization rates typically lead to rising IC average selling prices (ASPs) and a fast-growing IC market.

9. According to SEMI, December 2009 North American semiconductor equipment bookings rose to $863 million. The December 2009 bookings figure was 3.5X the level of March 2009! Spurred by high IC capacity utilization and surging IC unit demand, semiconductor manufacturers are expected to increase their capital spending by at least 45 percent in 2010. Moreover, IC Insights believes that a semiconductor capital spending increase of up to 60 percent is possible this year.

10. After a lackluster 2009, PC and cellphone unit shipments are expected to register double-digit growth rates. Windows 7 is forecast to give a boost to PC sales this year. Moreover, the cellphone market is moving increasingly toward 3G smartphones, which contain much higher IC content than 2.5G cellphones. Thus, the two main drivers of the IC market, PCs and cellphones, are poised to register strong growth in 2010.

The 10 points listed above should provide the reader with some encouragement with regard to the IC industry and its suppliers in 2010. Is it clear skies and smooth sailing for the rest of the year? Not, quite. Some potential "pot holes" on the road to 2010 success include: a possible spike in oil prices to greater than $100 barrel; a major terrorist attack that weakens consumer confidence and the economy along with it; and/or, another major shock to the financial system like a major collapse of a country's economy (e.g., Greece or Dubai).

Forecasts are just that, they are not a guarantee. However, after excluding the emotional "fear of the future" factor, the recent actual data and current forecasts from a number of different sources all point to at least a good (i.e., 15 percent growth) and possibly great year (i.e., ≥20 percent) for the 2010 IC industry.

Source: IC Insights

NI to host data acquisition showcase and workshop

BANGALORE, INDIA: National Instruments will be launching the NI Data Acquisition Showcase & Workshop today.

This event is the first of its kind and specially designed for Key decision makers and business owners to experience at hand, the technology that drives easy data acquisition, analysis and presentation at efficient costs.

Top management and decision makers will attend the workshop to witness the DAQ Showcase and to learn how to Acquire any Signal from Anywhere, Flexibility & Scalability, Technology for Increased Performance, Time advantage and greater Value with NI DAQ products.

Event Highlights:
* NI DAQ Showcase - Display of products from signal conditioning to reporting.
* NI DAQ Workshops – Experience how to Acquire, Analyze and Present Data quickly and efficiently.
* NI DAQ technical consultation-Customized solutions for your DAQ requirements.
* Live Demonstrations on:
o Systems with acquisition from various sensors types with inbuilt signal condition on different buses and form factors.
o Building Management System.
o Sun tracker demo.
o High Speed Audio Recorder.

Shalom Bresticker receives Accellera’s 2010 Technical Excellence Award

NAPA, USA: Accellera, the electronics industry organization focused on EDA and Intellectual Property (IP) standards, announced that Shalom Bresticker, Senior CAD Engineer, Intel, is the 2010 recipient of its 7th annual Technical Excellence Award.

The Award recognizes Bresticker’s volunteer contributions to Accellera’s SystemVerilog, Open Verification Library (OVL) and Verilog Analog/Mixed Signal (AMS) standards.

Accellera’s chair, Shrenik Mehta, presented Accellera’s Technical Excellence Award at 3pm on Wednesday, February 24, 2010, during the organization’s Design and Verification Conference and Exhibition (DVCon) at the Doubletree hotel in San Jose, California before the Panel, What Keeps You Up at Night?

“Shalom Bresticker’s achievements are important for the industry because they provide clarity and improve the quality of existing and future Verilog-related design and verification language standards,” said Shrenik Mehta, Accellera’s chair. “Because of Shalom’s expertise, contributions and understanding of the language and its place in the electronic design and verification ecosystem, we have better quality standards.”

Mehta continued: “Shalom has a long standing devotion to the development of a quality specification for the Verilog and SystemVerilog languages. He has scrutinized the standards at every step in the process for completeness and accuracy. Tool developers and users of the language for design and verification have better standards because of his constant attention, and devotion to producing quality standards. He is someone whom many should look to emulate.”

"It is an honor to be recognized by Accellera for my work on the Verilog standard and its related language standards,” added Shalom Bresticker.

ST locks in STM32 advantages with new megabyte devices

INDIA: STMicroelectronics has extended its STM32 microcontroller family with extra features and up to 1-Mbyte of on-chip Flash.

The additional Flash at least doubles the memory available to STM32 developers, thereby supporting future scalability, increasing system performance, and providing advanced application features, such as next-generation graphical user interfaces for consumer and industrial products.

With the introduction of these STM32 XL-density devices, ST now has 99 STM32 variants; the industry’s largest family of microcontrollers using the advanced ARM Cortex-M3 32-bit processor core, offering a range of memory densities, operating speeds, and integrated features to solve diverse application demands.

All STM32 devices are pin and software compatible, and share from a common pool of peripherals. This commonality allows developers to upgrade products with minimal redesign, and to re-use their intellectual property, tools and hardware in multiple projects to reduce costs and speed-up time to market.

Additional new features of the STM32 XL-density devices include additional high-speed volatile memory (RAM), up to 96KB, which can simplify software design and speed-up execution. Six more timers are also included, increasing flexibility for applications such as motor control, factory automation or power distribution.

Furthermore, a Memory Protection Unit (MPU) has been added, which is transparent to existing software but allows new applications to protect specific code or data during execution. This feature permits efficient use of existing certified software modules in projects such as medical or metering equipment, saving the time and cost to re-certify the complete application.

The 1MB Flash memory is organized in two banks of 512Kbytes. This dual-bank architecture thereby enables safe upgrading of applications in the field by uploading new software into the second memory bank. The update can then be copied across safely into the main bank, and the process managed to protect against hazards such as power loss while the upgrade is being applied.

The new devices complement the existing product lines of the industry’s most extensive Cortex-M3 microcontroller portfolio. The STM32F101Access Line XL density devices continue to provide the low-cost and high-functionality established with the original STM32 Access Line.

The STM32F103Performance Line XL density devices extend the existing Performance Line that features faster 72MHz core and extra connectivity like USB and CAN, to applications that require additional memory. With these XL density devices, both lines now comprise versions with 768Kbyte or 1Mbyte Flash memory in a choice of 64-, 100-, or 144-pin packages.

The complete STM32 product portfolio includes the Access Line devices, the USB Access Line with on-chip USB support, the 72MHz Performance Line with USB and CAN, and the Connectivity Line supporting Ethernet, USB OTG and dual CAN. The new STM32 XL density devices are now sampling to lead customers. High-volume availability will begin from Q2 2010.

Prices for 10Kunit range from $4.78 for the Access Line STM32F101RFT6 with 768Kbyte Flash and LQFP64 package, to $7.11 for the Performance Line STM32F103RGZ6 with 1MByte Flash and LQFP144 package.

National Semiconductor intros industry’s first PMBus system power management and protection IC

HONG KONG: National Semiconductor Corp. has announced the industry’s first system monitoring, protection and control integrated circuit (IC) with on-chip power management bus (PMBus) support.

The LM25066 provides designers of blade servers, storage networking systems, routers/switches and modular subsystems with a solution that improves system reliability and reduces operating expenses in data centers.

National’s LM25066 integrates high-performance monitoring, protection and control blocks that precisely control and manage the electrical operating conditions of each blade in the chassis. It also provides accurate monitoring of critical system power consumption and fault conditions.

The LM25066 continuously supplies the system management host with real-time power, voltage, current, temperature and fault data for each blade subsystem. The LM25066’s system management bus (SMBus) communications interface delivers this data using the PMBus protocol. The host’s system diagnostic and optimization routines use the data to increase system reliability and minimize the data center’s total power consumption.

Key features - LM25066 PMBus System Power Management and Protection IC
The LM25066 features a voltage input range of 2.9V to 17V and a selectable 25 mV/50 mV current limit threshold for addressing a wide range of intermediate bus voltages and load currents. The LM25066 monitoring block measures both current and voltage at 1,000 times per second with a current measurement accuracy of three percent over the full temperature range of -40 degrees C to 125 degrees C.

Additionally, its simultaneous sampling of current and voltage provides a true power measurement of the server blade power consumption. The monitoring block also captures the peak current and peak power and computes the average of subsystem operating parameters (Vin, Iin, Pin and Vout).

A temperature monitoring block on the LM25066 interfaces with a low-cost external diode for monitoring the temperature of the external MOSFET or other critical temperature source. The LM25066 reports the status of all system parameters and fault conditions through the SMBus interface and offers individually programmable warning thresholds for all faults. This feature provides design flexibility and dynamic system protection.

The LM25066 control and protection blocks include National’s unique hot-swap architecture that provides both current and power limiting to protect sensitive circuitry during insertion of boards from a live system backplane or any other "hot" power source. The LM25066 protection block also provides adjustable under/overvoltage and hysteresis.

National supports the LM25066 with a suite of powerful development tools that simplify application design and system verification. System designers may also use these tools to create value-added features for their subsystems.

The LM25066 is supplied in a 4x5mm, 24-lead LLP package and is priced at $5.95 each in 1,000-unit quantities. The LM25066 is sampling now with full production volumes expected in the second quarter of 2010.

Déjà vu in the equipment market?

Dr. Robert N. Castellano, The Information Network

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Historically, the equipment industry has had several years of negative growth two years running. In no situation did growth exceed 23 percent during the following year. And, in none of these years, did we have such a severe downturn in the worldwide economies that still hasn't recovered, such as in 2010.

Yes, we had great growth the second year, but not the first. That's why I don't see the 50 percent growth happening in 2010, but we do in 2011.Source: The Information Network

We have been saying for many years that the industry underwent a paradigm shift following the downturn in 2001. Why should 2010 be any different when it comes to huge capex on semiconductor equipment? The semis will continue to spend less and retain profits.Source: The Information Network.

One more thing that is disturbing in our opinion. We are worried about forecasts of excessive growth in chip sectors that may not materialize and give us a repeat of 2000. Indeed, 2000 may reach the 50+ percent equipment growth that SEMI and Gartner are predicting, but maybe for the wrong reasons.

Any readers with some type of longevity will remember about erroneous forecasts of huge demand for DRAMs in 2000, when semis bought excess equipment because lead times were getting longer and they bought just in case the forecast for a huge DRAM market in 2000 would indeed materialize.

Recent reports about Samsung buying all the lithography tools they can get their hands on are of deep concern. It could force us into the same situation in 2010 followed by a disastrous 2011. A recent report forecasting 40 percent growth in DRAMs by iSuppli brings up visions of déjà vu all over again.

LTX-Credence announces multiple X-series systems purchased by Nordic Semiconductor

MILPITAS, USA: LTX-Credence Corp., a global provider of focused, cost-optimized ATE solutions, announced that Nordic Semiconductor, a leading supplier of short-range radio communication integrated circuits, has purchased, and taken delivery of, multiple X-Series test systems.

These test systems confirm Nordic's commitment to the X-Series as its principal engineering and production test platform for all radio communication products. The systems are in production at Nordic's subcontract test partners in Asia.

"We selected the X-Series as our next generation RF test platform because it offers excellent performance at a cost in line with the economics of mainstream consumer radio communication devices," said Ole-Fredrik Morken, supply chain manager at Nordic.

"The innovative architecture of the X-Series allows us to increase manufacturing flexibility by easily upgrading our existing CX applications to the MX enabling higher throughput by increasing the number of devices tested in parallel. Also, we continue to draw on the support of LTX-Credence's experienced RF technical staff to help us meet our aggressive timeline objectives. These new systems represent a significant increase of our production test capability, and demonstrate our commitment to LTX-Credence's X-Series."

"Nordic's commitment to the X-Series shows that innovation, product enhancements that lower the cost of test, and highly skilled technical support, has proven to be the right combination for long-term customer relationships," said Dave Tacelli, CEO and president at LTX-Credence.

"We are pleased that after reviewing competitive offerings, Nordic renewed its strategic decision for the X-Series. We will continue to provide leading RF test technology and cost effective improvements for the RF/wireless market, including short-range wireless devices."

ST's ultra low-loss rectifier diodes for more efficient, greener power supplies

INDIA: STMicroelectronics has introduced a new family of high-efficiency power rectifiers that will help product manufacturers achieve energy-efficiency approvals, such as 80 PLUS.

Saving energy has become a major selling point for power-supply and computer manufacturers. The 80 PLUS incentive program proposes to increase power supply efficiency, which helps reduce global carbon emissions by reducing wasted energy.

The new STPS50U100C is a rectifier diode and can be used in the output of power supplies for adapters, desktop PCs, servers, TV and video products, communication equipment, and many other electrical appliances. It is the first member of a new family of ultra-low forward voltage (ULVF) Schottky rectifier diodes from ST, which will provide a range of diode properties to fulfill various applications.

The forward voltage drop is the main source of power losses in power Schottky diodes used for secondary rectification, therefore minimizing this voltage drop is a key innovation driver.

The new ULVF family uses enhanced technology providing a significant increase of the overall efficiency. This new family will handle higher power density providing a high safety margin to address a large scale of high-output power supplies, and will be available in compact, industry-standard packages. Package options will include TO-220 and I2PAK, with other styles planned to be made available in the future.

Key features of the STPS50U100CT:
• Typical forward-voltage drop (VF): 0.64V at 25A (0.38V @ 5A).
• Maximum leakage current of 200μA.
• Maximum average forward current: 50A.
• Repetitive peak reverse voltage: 100V.
• Surge non-repetitive forward current: 250A.
• Maximum junction temperature: 150°C.
• ECOPACK2-compliant packages meeting RoHS Regulations.

The STPS50U100C is in full production now, in TO-220 (STPS50U100CT) and I2PAK (STPS50U100CR) package options, respectively, priced from $1.50 in quantities of 1,000 pieces.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cortus announces uCLinux for APS3 family of processors

FRANCE: Cortus is pleased to announce uCLinux for the APS3 family of processors. This version of Linux is ideally suited to low power, high performance, embedded systems. The APS3 family of processors are modern, powerful processors, specifically designed for embedded systems, featuring a tiny silicon footprint.

The APS3 architecture is ideally suited for uCLinux. The clean, uniform, architecture means that the ported kernel code is straightforward, easily implemented and understood. There are no hidden pitfalls due to inconsistencies in the architecture which could reduce performance or trip up unwary programmers. Developing application programs is uncomplicated and creating drivers for new peripherals and hardware is simple.

Thanks to the rational design of the APS3 and close coupling of the compiler developer team and hardware engineers the port employed very little assembly code, in contrast with most other ports, whilst retaining all performance and features. This means that the port is easy to understand and the development of additional drivers is facilitated.

An example of the advantages of the APS3 architecture is shown by the efficient implementation of system calls. By taking advantage of the “trap” instructions and flexible register set most system calls pass parameters without using the stack or external memory – ensuring no cycles are wasted.

Mike Chapman, CEO of Cortus, said: “We think that this must be the smallest ever CPU core running Linux. We are delighted to be able to offer a cost effective solution to our customers who require the power of the Linux operating system for their sophisticated applications.

"Using our core gains silicon space and power consumption and now with more operating system choices, our processor cores are a perfect fit with operating systems and this port allows our customers to provide a high quality, simple to use, solution to their customers.”

The Cortus APS3 is a 32-bit processor designed specifically for embedded systems. It features a tiny silicon footprint (10k gates, the same size as an 8051), very low power consumption, high code density and high performance.

A full development environment is available, which is available for customization and branding for final customer use. The ecosystem around the APS3 is rich and well developed, it includes a full development environment (for C and C++), peripherals typical of embedded systems, bus bridges to ensure easy interfacing to other IP and system support and functions such as cache and memory management units.

For the most demanding designs the APS3 can be used in a multi-core configuration. The APS3 processor core is currently in production in a range of products from security applications to ultra low power RF designs.

Altera transitions 40-nm Arria II GX FPGAs to production

SAN JOSE, USA: Altera Corp. is shipping in volume production the first members of its 40-nm Arria II GX FPGA family.

The Arria II GX device family delivers customers a low-power, low-cost and high-performance FPGA solution specifically targeting 3-Gbps transceiver applications. Arria II GX FPGAs are currently leveraged in a wide variety of high-volume applications in the broadcast, military, wireless and wireline markets.

The Arria II GX FPGAs now shipping in production include the EP2AGX45 and the EP2AGX65, featuring 45K logic elements (LEs) and 65K LEs, respectively. The devices provide excellent system bandwidth and power efficiency for developers of cost- and power-sensitive applications including access equipment, remote radio head, HD video cameras and military security equipment.

The eight embedded transceivers offered in the EP2AGX45 and EP2AGX65 operate at data rates up to 3.75 Gbps. Arria II GX FPGAs support several key industry standard serial protocols such as PCI Express (PCIe), Gigabit Ethernet (GbE), CPRI, GPON, XAUI and triple-speed SDI.

Arria II GX FPGAs are the latest members of Altera's 40-nm FPGA portfolio to ship in production. With these additional devices and the Stratix IV FPGAs already in production, Altera offers the industry's broadest selection of 40-nm FPGAs in production today. Altera expects its entire family of Arria II GX FPGAs to be in full production by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

"Our 40-nm FPGA portfolio supports a wide range of performance, densities and price points that enable our customers to quickly bring their unique, high-performance applications to market," said Luanne Schirrmeister, senior director of component product marketing at Altera. "The production availability of Arria II GX FPGAs helps us uniquely target the growing number of cost-sensitive applications that require higher bandwidth and higher complexity devices."

Dongbu HiTek adopts Mentor's Eldo for optimized cell characterization flow

WILSONVILLE, USA: Mentor Graphics Corp. announced that Dongbu HiTek has adopted the Eldo analog circuit simulator for cell library characterization flow.

During their evaluation, the Eldo analog circuit simulator demonstrated superior performance and circuit convergence over Dongbu HiTek’s existing SPICE engine. The net outcome from the adoption of the Eldo simulation is twofold: shortened overall library characterization time, and reduced reliance on a single, simulation engine methodology.

Prior to adopting the Eldo simulator, Dongbu HiTek had a single SPICE engine methodology that presented many risks of cell characterization error and suffered from slow performance and a bad convergence rate.

In contrast, the Eldo simulator provides user-friendly and comprehensive functions for library cell characterizations. Dongbu HiTek was able to insert the Eldo simulator into their existing design and verification flow, thus removing the dependency on a single solution and reinforcing their competitiveness. The new library characterization flow with the Eldo simulator shortened time to market (TTM) by improving the convergence rate and reducing the characterization time.

“Eldo provides the high-accuracy and impressive runtimes required for library cell characterization,” said Taek-Soo Kim, vice president, Dongbu HiTek. “After a thorough evaluation, Dongbu found that Eldo sped up the sign-off process of library characterization, and shortened the verification period, as Eldo provides an alternative methodology to existing SPICE engine.”

“The Eldo evaluation with Dongbu HiTek showed very positive results for them, and we were able to meet all the criteria they defined to prove the value of the tool,” said Robert Hum, vice president and general manager of the Mentor Graphics Deep Submicron Division. “We look forward to more engagements with Dongbu HiTek where our tools can be used to strengthen the competitive advantage they extend to their customers.”