Friday, December 31, 2010

ChipMOS receives approval for extension of repayment schedule on short-term bank loans from Taiwan bank creditors

HSINCHU, TAIWAN: ChipMOS Technologies (Bermuda) Ltd announced that the company's 88.96 percent subsidiary ChipMOS TECHNOLOGIES INC. has reached agreement with and received approval from its bank creditors for an extension of its repayment schedule on its short-term loans.

S.K. Chen, chief financial officer of ChipMOS, said: "We appreciate the continued support of our bank syndicate in reaching this extension agreement. Our goal is to continue to pay down debt in 2011 and subsequently on a repayment schedule anticipated to reduce total debt to less than US$300 million by the end of 2011. This is another step in our ongoing efforts to strengthen our financial position, while concurrently providing the excellent test and assembly services customers rely on ChipMOS for."

The key extended repayment terms and conditions include agreement by ChipMOS Taiwan to repay 20 percent of the outstanding non-revolving short-term loans principal on December 31, 2010 and to repay the balance in eight quarterly installments by the end of 2012.

ChipMOS Taiwan will be required to set aside NT$50 million per month with Bank of Taiwan from January 2011 until December 2012 to fund the scheduled estimated principal repayments. ChipMOS Taiwan can maintain its current revolving short-term facilities, which as of December 29, 2010 had an aggregate outstanding principal amount of $25.2 million, but will be required to increase the collateral to secure up to 60 percent of the outstanding principal amount by the end of 2011.

For repayment of long-term loans, ChipMOS Taiwan also has agreed to set aside with Bank of Taiwan NT$300 million per month for 2011, NT$270 million per month for 2012 and NT$150 million per month for 2013 to meet the principal repayment schedule.

The bank creditors have agreed that ChipMOS Taiwan may arrange additional bank loans for purchasing operating materials by using its available assets as collateral; and also have agreed to not unilaterally foreclose and seize any machinery, property or deposits of ChipMOS Taiwan and to waive any penalties that might otherwise have to be imposed on the Company in case of breach under the existing loan agreements.

Vivante momentum continues in GPU market with 40 licensees

SUNNYVALE, USA: Vivante Corp. has announced that the company has marked four major corporate milestones in 2010. The product milestones include a cumulative 40 companies licensing Vivante GPU cores; and multiple customers having integrated Vivante's industry leading multicore GPUs into semiconductor products launching in 2011.

The financial milestones include the fourth consecutive year of annual revenues more than double the prior year; and royalty revenue received from multiple customers on shipments of licensed SoC products.

Vivante says the pace of growth in the licensable GPU market in 2010 has been dramatic. Demand for GPU IP cores has increased markedly over 2009 across a spectrum of applications including smartphones and tablets; gaming consoles and home entertainment; automotive instrumentation, navigation and rear seat entertainment; highly cost sensitive applications such as printers, cameras and cordless phones; as well as non-graphics computing applications in the GPU pipeline (GPGPU).

"In 2010, we saw a number of factors combine to drive healthy increases globally in both the quantity and quality of our GPU IP licensing business," said Wei-Jin Dai, president and CEO of Vivante.

"The rapid consumer acceptance and demand for Google's Android environment across a range of platforms. The industry's standardization on OpenGL ES 2.0 in application content, as well as the web infrastructure provided by WebGL, Adobe AIR/Flash and HTML5 is driving healthy growth in demand for both our highest performance multicore and established single core GPUs. We are starting to see our existing customer base migrating to the top end of our product line, and in 2010 we have been successful winning new customers based on the common selection criteria of highest performance in the silicon budget and power consumption envelope."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Broadcom completes acquisition of Gigle Networks

IRVINE, USA: Broadcom Corp., a global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications, announced that it has completed the acquisition of Gigle Networks Inc., a privately-held company that develops system-on-a-chip (SoC) solutions for home networking over power lines.

In connection with the acquisition, Broadcom paid approximately $75 million to acquire all of the outstanding shares of capital stock and other rights of Gigle Networks Inc. The purchase price was paid in cash, except that holders of unvested employee stock options will receive Broadcom equity awards.

A portion of the cash consideration payable to the stockholders was placed into escrow. Additional consideration was reserved for future payment upon satisfaction of certain performance goals. Excluding any purchase accounting related adjustments or fair value measurements, Broadcom expects the acquisition of Gigle Networks Inc. to be dilutive by approximately $0.01 per share in 2011.

New Intel solid-state drive 310 series offers full SSD performance in 1/8th the size

SANTA CLARA, USA: Intel Corp. has announced the Intel Solid-State Drive (Intel SSD) 310 Series, an ultra-small solid-state drive (SSD) that delivers Intel X25-class award-winning SSD performance, but in one-eighth the size.

Measuring 51mm-by-30mm and only 5mm thick, the Intel SSD 310 is a fast, ultra-compact SSD that brings flexibility, ruggedness and scalability to innovative form factors and devices.

It can enable highly responsive dual-drive notebooks, innovative single-drive tablets and low-power, rugged embedded industrial or military applications. When paired with a high-capacity hard disk drive (HDD) in a dual-drive system, the Intel SSD 310 can improve overall PC system performance by up to 60 percent.*

A solid-state drive uses no moving parts, and thus is more durable and reliable than a mechanical HDD, while using less power and providing better system responsiveness. The Intel SSD 310 Series contains 34 nanometer (nm) Intel NAND flash memory and is available in an m-SATA form factor in 40 gigabyte (GB) and 80GB capacities.

The Intel SSD 310 supports SATA signals over a PCI Express (PCIe) mini-connector for on-board, compact storage in single-drive netbooks, tablets or handheld devices. Weighing just 10 grams, the compact size also enables dual drive all-in-ones, notebooks or small-form-factor (SFF) desktops to help accelerate boot time and access to frequently used applications or files.

“The Intel SSD 310 series will allow us to provide the advantages of a full-performance Intel SSD paired with the storage of a hard disk drive in a small, dual-drive system,” said Tom Butler, director of ThinkPad product marketing, Lenovo. “We’ve offered Intel SSD solutions for our highly innovative Lenovo ThinkPad laptops for some time, and now we’re looking forward to incorporating this new solution across our ThinkPad line.”

With its rugged design, the Intel SSD 310 Series has been chosen by DRS Technologies for a new ARMOR communications tablet PC to be unveiled at Storage Visions in Las Vegas. The ARMOR mobile and field unit tablet PC is certified by DRS to work in extreme temperatures and hold up to shock, vibration and drops, delivering up to nine hours of operating time.

“In order to meet the rigorous demands of our mobile users, we design for mission-critical tasks that require connectivity and handheld mobility in all-weather operations,” said Mike Sarrica, vice president and general manager for DRS Tactical Systems Inc. “The Intel SSD 310 Series fits the bill by offering a reliable and high performing memory solution.”

“The Intel SSD 310 Series is the first in a wave of SSD products we will introduce throughout the next year,” said Tom Rampone, Intel vice president and general manager of Intel’s NAND Solutions Group. “With this introduction, Intel is offering full SSD performance in a compact, ultra-small form factor.”

Already shipping to customers, the Intel SSD 310 is priced at $99 for the 40GB capacity and $179 for the 80GB version, both in 1,000-unit quantities.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Texas Instruments opens new Kilby Labs location in Bangalore

BANGALORE, INDIA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) announced the first international expansion of Kilby Labs at TI India in Bangalore.

Over the company’s 80 plus year history, innovation has remained a priority. Kilby Labs, named in honor of Jack Kilby, inventor of the integrated circuit (IC) in 1958, is the newest addition to TI’s research and development (R&D) model.

“Kilby Labs brings together some of our brightest minds to focus on breakthrough ideas,” said Gregg Lowe, senior vice president of TI’s Analog business. “It complements the company’s other R&D initiatives by exploring concepts with many unknowns and high risk. TI’s unique model in Kilby Labs spurs cross-team collaboration and gives engineers the time, space and resources to explore their ideas and invent completely new solutions to challenging problems.”

Since its opening in Dallas in January 2009, Kilby Labs has completed five projects and launched one new business unit from the work realized in the lab.

Dr. Biswadip (Bobby) Mitra, President & Managing Director, Texas Instruments India, said: "Right from Jack Kilby's invention of the micro-chip, throughout its history, TI has fueled its growth in creating new markets through its breakthrough innovations. Kilby Labs in India builds upon this principle - betting on the inventive minds of TIers and creating products that open up radically new opportunities for TI."

Kilby Labs India will be led by Dr Venu Gopinathan. Gopinathan joined TI in June 2010 and brings more than 25 years of experience in research in some of the premier institutions of the world.

“Understanding customers’ problems is important in achieving TI’s vision, and the international expansion of Kilby Labs extends our ability to solve these problems across the globe," said Gopinathan. “The objective is to foster breakthrough ideas by giving them whatever they need, to nurture, and then demonstrate them right inside these labs,”

Over 1 million units of Fujitsu Semiconductor’s new low-cost MPEG-2 set-top box chip H20D shipped

SINGAPORE: Fujitsu Semiconductor Asia Pte Ltd (FSAL) announced that the shipment of Fujitsu's new low-cost MPEG-2 set-top box chip H20D has exceeded one million units. The product went into mass production in March 2010. This demonstrates the strong competitive edge of Fujitsu’s set-top box solutions in the highly competitive, low-cost set-top box market.

The H20D chip is based on high-performance ARC architecture, and is aimed at the following markets: cable television, the basic terrestrial set-top box and the second set-top box for home use. It was built using the advanced 90nm manufacturing process, has ultra-low power consumption and was specially designed for the low-cost MPEG-2 basic set-top box. H20D supports serial Flash and SDRAM or DDR memory, and offers customers more choices in RAM memory types to fit their size and pricing criteria, allowing customers to reduce costs.

Furthermore, the H20D comes with an embedded security chip, ChipID, which can be used for cardless CA and other security applications. In addition, the chip comes with sophisticated software development support that can help customers to introduce new products to the market more quickly.

Andy Chang, associate VP of Marketing, Fujitsu Semiconductor Asia, said: "We are pleased to have reached this important milestone and we also greatly appreciate the constant support of our customers. Fujitsu has always focused on innovative technologies to meet our customers’ needs while remaining committed to providing first-class service and support, evident by our strong market demand.

"Many manufacturers are also aware that they will benefit greatly from rolling out next-generation set-top boxes which use more cost- effective technology and have ultra-low power consumption."

Fujitsu has paid close attention to China's cable television, terrestrial television and satellite broadcasting markets, and is very optimistic about the available business opportunities. Fujitsu Semiconductor will continue to offer up-to-date solutions to meet the constantly changing demands of its customers.

TowerJazz signs amendment to lease agreement for manufacturing facility in Newport Beach

NEWPORT BEACH, USA: TowerJazz, the global specialty foundry leader, has signed an amendment to its existing lease confirming the validity of TowerJazz’s lease and extension option, and confirming its right to retain the building that houses its semiconductor manufacturing facility in Newport Beach through March 2027.

This amendment was signed with TowerJazz’s new landlord, Uptown Newport LP, a joint venture consisting of a fund controlled by New York-based DRA Advisors LLC and an affiliate of The Shopoff Group, a real estate investment firm based in Irvine, CA.

“We would like to assure our investors, customers and employees that we will conduct our Newport Beach operations as usual. There will be no impact to our business due to the property sale by Conexant as we have secured the lease extension until the year of 2027,” said Rafi Mor, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Newport Beach.

IDT to showcase innovative sight, sound and touch solutions at CES

SAN JOSE, USA: Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT), the Analog and Digital company delivering essential mixed-signal semiconductor solutions, announced that it will be showcasing its innovative portfolio of video, audio, capacitive touch, and mixed signal Intelligent System Power Management solutions at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 6-9, 2011.

IDT will be demonstrating a variety of products targeted at the consumer electronics market, including award winning devices from its HQV video processing, DisplayPort multi-monitor, PureTouch capacitive touch controller, audio, and PowerSmart power management families.

“With a strategic focus on consumer, communications, and computing markets, CES is an ideal venue to showcase the innovative developments taking place at IDT. The addition of analog and power management expertise has allowed us to build upon our existing portfolio and broaden our product offerings,” said Dr. Ted Tewksbury, president and CEO at IDT.

“We will have a number of industry firsts on display, such as the first single-chip power management and timing controller solution for thin film transistor (TFT) Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels, the first motion-compensated frame rate conversion processors with an integrated resolution-enhancement engine for use in 120Hz and 240Hz televisions and high-definition video projectors, and the world’s first single-layer multi-touch projected capacitive touch screen technology announced earlier this month.”

Along with HQV video processing, timing controller, and re-timer products for Smart TV and 3D displays, IDT will exhibit the world’s first DisplayPort-based device to enable the user to connect up to four monitors to a single DisplayPort connection and support vertical image formats. The IDT VMM1400 complements the comprehensive offerings in IDT’s DisplayPort portfolio.

Also on display will be the IDTP95020 highly integrated microcontroller-based Intelligent System Power Management Solution and the Environmental Noise Cancellation demo for improvement of voice audio transmission quality in noisy environments.

The IDT capacitive touch button controllers will be exhibited alongside the world’s first true single-layer multi-touch projected capacitive touch screen technology. The touch button solutions are capable of detecting up to twenty simultaneous touches, and the LDS6200 family of controllers includes built-in proximity sensing and power-on touch detection features to recognize touch events already present at power on — a critical capability enabling many consumer devices to enter diagnostic modes.

The single-layer touch screen technology increases light transmittance, streamlines the manufacturing process, and lowers the overall solution cost, all while maintaining competitive performance specifications and multi-touch capability.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sales of car MEMS sensors hit record high in 2010

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Driven by the rapid recovery in automotive production and inventory rebuilding among sensor component suppliers, the market for automotive microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensors will expand to record size in 2010, according to the market research firm iSuppli, now part of IHS Inc.

Marking a new high point for the industry, shipments of automotive MEMS sensors will reach 662.3 million units in 2010, up a robust 32.1 percent from 501.2 million units in 2009. The projected year-end levels—including the replenishment of inventory that was depleted during the recession of 2009—will exceed even the pre-crisis high point in 2007 of 640 million sensors, iSuppli research shows.

The recovery in automotive MEMS shipments represents a turnaround from the depressed levels of 2009 when shipments cratered and reached a nadir, and the years ahead will provide additional room for expansion.

Nonetheless, growth will slow in 2011, with shipments anticipated to climb just 7.3 percent as the market normalizes following the exuberance in 2010. Production then will pick up again in 2012, and growth rates will end up north of 13 percent by 2014, as shown in the attached figure.

Big shapers, new applications
“One significant engine of automotive MEMS growth is the use of sensors in passenger cars supporting mandated safety technologies such as electronic stability control (ESC) and tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS),” said Richard Dixon, senior analyst for MEMS and sensors at iSuppli.

“The United States and Europe have led the adoption of legislation on such safety systems—and other countries like Australia and Canada have quickly followed suit. However, similar mandates are now being adopted in South Korea and are expected in Japan, accelerating overall adoption rates worldwide.”

The extra opportunity from both ESC and TPMS for automotive MEMS suppliers to Japan and Korea will correspond to additional revenue of some $120 million in those regions alone for the next five years, Dixon added.

China also will account for a large portion of the automotive MEMS action. Compared to US or European vehicles, the electronics content of low- and mid-range vehicles in China is about 50 percent less. However, sensor penetration will steadily increase—first in powertrain applications in order to reduce carbon emissions that choke Chinese cities and afterward as safety sensors for additional airbags and ESC systems.

Among the new applications providing suppliers greater production opportunities for automotive MEMS sensors, the most prominent include usage of gas sensors to control air quality in the cabin; infrared thermopiles to monitor temperature; microbolometers to aid night-vision systems; and MEMS oscillators to boost rear-view cameras.

Sensor fusion will be a contentious issue, however. While the sales of accelerometers used to measure inclination as part of an electronic parking brake (EPB) will accelerate in Europe in the next five years, EPB prospects are also dampened by ESC systems, which already contain the two-axis accelerometers capable of delivering the required inclination signal for parking brakes.

Sensor fusion uses existing sensor signals and adds application algorithms to augment existing systems, such as ESC, with features like hill-start-assist functionality, for instance. This is a bane for sensor suppliers, which must rely on opportunities that involve standalone systems to provide additional sensors. On the other hand, inclination-based car alarms do not access accelerometers in ESC systems and require standalone accelerometers.

Other applications that will propagate the use of sensors include passenger protection systems that detect impacts by means of either accelerometers or pressure sensors located in the front bumper, as well as stop-start systems that need pressure—and other non-MEMS based measurements to supply critical data when a vehicle’s engine is turned off at a junction.

Inroads also being made by consumer-oriented suppliers
iSuppli also notes that some consumer-oriented MEMS sensor suppliers are making inroads into the automotive market, widening the pool of players participating in the space.

In particular, STMicroelectronics—the leading MEMS supplier for consumer and mobile applications and which so far has targeted non-safety critical automotive applications, such as car alarms and navigation—has now entered the airbag market with a high-g accelerometer.

STMicroelectronics is expected to leverage its significant manufacturing economies of scale, which likely will lead to additional price pressure and new cost structures in the industry.

Rambus and Renesas Electronics sign patent license agreement

SUNNYVALE, USA: Rambus Inc. (Nasdaq:RMBS), one of the world’s premier technology licensing companies, announced it has renewed its patent license agreement with Renesas Electronics Corp.

Renesas Technology Corp. and NEC Electronics Corporation, merged in April 2010 to form Renesas Electronics. This agreement covers the use of Rambus patented innovations in a broad range of logic integrated circuit (IC) products offered by Renesas Electronics. Specific terms of the agreement are confidential.

“This license with a global leader of the semiconductor industry represents continued validation of the strength of our patent portfolio,” said Sharon Holt, senior vice president and general manager of the Semiconductor Business Group at Rambus. “We have enjoyed a long and positive relationship with Renesas Electronics, and we are pleased to renew this important agreement with one of the top five semiconductor companies.”

Monday, December 27, 2010

BSQUARE announces support for Qualcomm Snapdragon MDP for Android

BELLEVUE, USA: BSQUARE Corp., a leading software solutions provider to the global mobile and embedded device community, has announced general availability of the Snapdragon Mobile Development Platform (MDP) for Android, a next-generation development platform based on Qualcomm’s MSM8655 Snapdragon chipset.

The MSM8655-based Snapdragon MDP is designed to accelerate the creation of innovative new Android applications. With the Snapdragon MDP and the profiling tools that it supports, BSQUARE is providing software application developers and device manufacturers a complete application development, testing and optimization platform to leverage the powerful capabilities of the Snapdragon chipsets.

“The mobile market is clamoring for high quality Android applications,” said John Traynor, VP of products for BSQUARE, “By delivering the Snapdragon MDP, a combination of Qualcomm’s chipset technology along with world class support, engineering services and TestQuest test automation tools, BSQUARE is helping developers meet this demand quickly and cost-effectively.”

The Snapdragon MDP, available at www.bsquare.com/qualcomm, includes the MSM8655-based smartphone form-factor with a custom 1GHz CPU, 3.8" WVGA responsive multi-touch touch screen display, 12-megapixel camera, 16mm stereo loudspeakers and 512 MB of RAM.

The Snapdragon MDP has complementary tools to help developers optimize their applications for Snapdragon platforms, some of the tools include the Trepn Profiler for optimizing application power usage, and Adreno Profiler for optimizing 3D graphics performance.

BSQUARE offers developers and manufacturers support via email, access to the BSQUARE Knowledge Base, documentation, complimentary tools and MSM8655-based Snapdragon MDP software updates. Application developers can also benefit from the industry leading TestQuest test automation products from BSQUARE, TestQuest Pro and CountDown, which seamlessly support the MSM8655-based Snapdragon MDP.

“BSQUARE offers expertise in supporting mobile application development and test automation that can help Snapdragon MDP customers bring their applications to market in a more efficient and timely manner,” said Tia Cassett, senior director of business development for Qualcomm CDMA Technologies.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

AZ Electronic Materials revamps semicon processes with new molecular structures from IBM Research

LUXEMBOURG: AZ Electronic Materials, a leading supplier of electronic materials to the semiconductor and flat panel display industries, signed an agreement with IBM to develop alternative, next generation lithography technologies.

AZ will collaborate with IBM Research-Almaden material scientists and engineers to develop a materials package based upon block copolymers for use in implementing Directed Self-Assembly (DSA) processes compatible with conventional lithography and using conventional semiconductor process equipment.

With market predictions for nanotechnology-enabled products to reach $2.41 trillion by 2015, there is a need for lower semiconductor production costs and improved device performance. This collaboration focuses on fundamental scientific research and solutions that will impact the development of industrial applications ranging from the medical sector to consumer devices like cell phones and computers.

For example, the DSA technology has been identified as a potential process to meet the semiconductor industry's 16nm and 11nm half-pitch design requirements, according to the 2009 International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.

"Collaborating with the IBM Research - Almaden team provides AZ the opportunity to apply our leading-edge underlayer technology, and material design and scale-up capabilities, to the development of alternative patterning approaches," said Geoff Wild, AZ's CEO. "IBM's pioneering work in this area gives the AZ-IBM initiative a strong technical basis for success in demonstrating DSA processes for future semiconductor manufacturing nodes."

"As the semiconductor industry looks to overcome the inherent challenges of shrinking design nodes, this has lead to rising design, process development and mask costs," said T.C. Chen, VP of Science and Technology, IBM Research.

"Working with AZ Electronic Materials will enable us to develop the new techniques needed to create groundbreaking, innovative lithographic patterns that can keep industry-wide semiconductor development moving forward while reducing total cost of ownership of the manufacturing tools and processes."

"In the long-term, I expect the electronics industry to continue its focus on improved cost of ownership. One means to address this is to introduce bottom-up type processes which use 'smart chemicals' to extend and enhance the capabilities of semiconductor patterning equipment," said Ralph Dammel, AZ's CTO.

"DSA technology is a step in that direction, and I expect that we will see many more applications for it than are being discussed now. It is AZ's intention to build on IBM's many years of experience with DSA to position ourselves as the premier supplier for such materials."

Work on the multi-year program will be conducted at AZ Electronic Materials' R&D facilities in the USA, Germany and Korea, and at IBM's Almaden Research Center in the USA.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Summit wireless home theater HDMI audio hub and speaker modules receive FCC certification

PORTLAND, USA: Summit Semiconductor LLC, a leader in wireless audio technologies for Home Theater, enables the first consumer products to be approved by the FCC for wireless operation in the uncongested, 5GHz UNII (Unlicensed National Information Infrastructure) radio frequency band.

Hansong Technologies, an original equipment and design manufacturer to global consumer brands, will unveil an audio hub utilizing the Summit Wireless UNII band radio modules that support up to 7.1 Home Theater speaker systems, in the first quarter of 2011.

The small form factor HDMI audio hub provides audio video receiver connectivity and advanced high definition audio decode for digital televisions, Blu-ray players, game machines, digital music players (iPods, etc.) and set top boxes.

In addition to the high definition wireless audio link to the speakers, the audio hub uses Summit Wireless automatic optimization capability that includes SpeakerFinder instant setup and MyZone audio sweet spot calibration which in seconds assigns the correct audio channel to each speaker and produces a time aligned sound field for the listener by instantly adjusting delay and volume to their listening position in the room.

"Speaker brands have been asking us for a digital wireless audio hub based on Summit Wireless technology that can be easily bundled with speakers at a price point that is accessible to the masses," said Helge Kristensen, general manager, Hansong Technologies.

"Summit Wireless is in a class by itself and gaining market momentum because it's the only wireless solution that can deliver reliable audiophile quality sound from 2.0 to 7.1, provide built-in digital signal processing for speaker tuning and can be easily set-up in minutes with their proprietary SpeakerFinder and MyZone technologies."

The HDMI Digital Wireless Audio Hub includes the following:
* Built in HD audio decoder
* Including support for DTS-HD Master Audio, and Dolby TrueHD formats
* Digital audio inputs:
* 5.1 Optical and coax
* (3) HDMI inputs and (1) output
* (2) Stereo analog inputs for iPod, iPhone, MP3 players, Nintendo Wii, and other legacy audio devices
* On Screen Display and LED status indicate input selection and surround mode
Support for stereo to 7.1 speaker configurations
* Compatibility with all Summit Wireless enabled speakers

"There is no argument that the ISM band, where WiFi, Bluetooth, and cordless phones operate, has become crowded and congested," said Tony Parker, vice president of marketing, Summit Semiconductor.

"To address this, the FCC and other standards bodies around the world have opened the new 5.2 - 5.8GHz UNII band spectrum. The UNII band offers up to 21 new channels, significantly more than the three channels available in the 2.4GHz ISM band.

"Today's consumer products with audio applications and future products with video applications will benefit from the uninterrupted bandwidth of the 5GHz UNII band. Wireless audio distribution in 2.4GHz is a prime example where congestion can cause audio dropouts, crackling and pops, or worse, bring down a WiFi or security network. At Summit Semiconductor we designed Summit Wireless' technology to be the most robust wireless audio transport possible; operating in the UNII band is just one of many reasons we deliver an unrivaled wireless audio experience."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Toshiba, Sony sign MoU for transfer of semicon fab facilities

TOKYO, JAPAN: Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp. have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding expressing their intent to transfer from Toshiba to Sony the semiconductor fabrication facilities owned by Toshiba and operated by Nagasaki Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (NSM), a joint venture among Toshiba, Sony and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI), and, following the contemplated transfer, terminate their NSM joint venture relationship.

NSM, which was established in March 2008 and is located in the Nagasaki Technology Center of Sony Semiconductor Kyushu Corp. (SCK), has been manufacturing the high-performance "Cell Broadband Engine" processor, the graphics engine "RSX" and other high-performance semiconductors and leading-edge SoC (system-on-a-chip) for applications in digital consumer products of Toshiba and Sony.

The facilities to be transferred would be the fabrication facilities and equipment for the 300 mm wafer line located within the Nagasaki Technology Center purchased by Toshiba from Sony and SCK and leased to NSM in 2008 and other facilities that Toshiba and Sony will agree to transfer among those in which Toshiba invested in connection with the operation by NSM after the purchase.

After due diligence on the facilities to be transferred and continuing negotiations, Toshiba and Sony aim to execute definitive agreements (with respect to the contemplated transfer of the semiconductor fabrication facilities) as soon as possible before the end of the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011.

Thereafter, Toshiba and Sony aim to complete the transfer early in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012, subject to any necessary government approvals.

Toshiba announces restructuring of system LSI business

TOKYO, JAPAN: Toshiba Corp. is promoting a series of measures to transform its System LSI business, with the goal of boosting profitability by allocating resources to focus product areas, and executing a thorough review of its business model to achieve fabless and fablite models.

Toward this, the company will restructure its current System LSI Division on January 1, 2011.

Toward accelerating decision-making speed and optimizing use of management resources, the division will be reorganized into two: the Logic LSI Division, responsible for cutting-edge SoC (system-on-chip) fabricated on 300mm wafer fabrication lines; and the Analog and Imaging IC Division, which supplies key components for a wide range of products.

The Logic LSI Division will promote a flexible manufacturing strategy responsive to demand volatility by combining use of its own production line with outsourcing. The division will expand outsourcing of cutting-edge products, including 40nm products, to multiple foundries from fiscal year 2011.

By consolidating production on 300mm wafers at Oita Operations, the division will increase management efficiency and will also be able to channel more resources to its development and design sections.

The Analog and Imaging IC Division will concentrate on analog ICs and imaging ICs, particularly CMOS image sensors, and use existing production lines at Oita Operations, including 300mm wafer lines, and Iwate Toshiba Electronics Co. Ltd.

The main focus will be general-purpose products, allowing the division to streamline its production lines. This approach is expected to support business expansion and to enhance profitability.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, Toshiba's system LSI business has promoted strategic allocation of resources under the Toshiba Group Action Programs to Improve Profitability announced in January 2009. The main focus has been on promoting analog ICs, CMOS image sensors and digital SoCs, discontinuing unprofitable products, and restructuring the back-end process through consolidation and increasing overseas production ratio.

As part of the strategy for transforming the system LSI business and securing an asset light business model, Toshiba has signed a memorandum of understanding with Sony Corp., expressing the intent to dissolve Nagasaki Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (NSM) and to transfer 300mm wafer fabrication lines there from Toshiba to Sony.

Promoting this measure in an area where demand is volatile, and concentrating management resources in Oita Operations, will allow Toshiba to enhance its productivity and cost structure.

Going forward, Toshiba expects the present transformation and reorganization to promote operating structures optimized to the characteristics of each part of its system LSI business, and to achieve an organization that contributes to improved profitability.

Nethra Imaging selects Arteris FlexNoC NoC interconnect IP for advanced imaging SoCs

SUNNYVALE, USA: Arteris Inc., a leading supplier of network-on-chip (NoC) interconnect IP solutions, announced that Nethra Imaging has selected its FlexNoC network-on-chip interconnect fabric product and memory scheduler for use in Nethra Imaging's low power, real-time image processing products.

The Nethra Imaging team chose the Arteris FlexNoC interconnect and the Arteris memory scheduler to alleviate wire routing congestion and timing closure issues with many IP blocks communicating simultaneously with DDR memory.

An additional advantage to Arteris FlexNoC's scalable architecture was quality of service (QoS), allowing the Nethra design team to guarantee bandwidth for each IP block and avoid the possibility of dropping pixels. Nethra also benefited from FlexNoC's out-of-the-box support for Tensilica's PIF protocol.

"It only took us two days to evaluate Arteris FlexNoC on our own design," said Ramesh Singh, CEO and president of Nethra Imaging. "We now have a scalable interconnect that can address our foreseeable needs and that can easily adapt to last minute changes to IP or architecture. Furthermore, FlexNoC has allowed us to simplify floor planning and timing closure."

Arteris NoC interconnect IP technology enables SoC designers to achieve lower power, higher memory bandwidth and optimized latencies by individual connections. This improves SoC performance, lowers SoC costs and enables rapid adoption of IPs communicating in a variety of protocols.

The growing Arteris ecosystem provides connectivity to a variety of IPs and IP protocols as well as multiple EDA design flows. Use of the Arteris NoC IP simplifies the front-end design process while easing back-end routing congestion and timing closure issues.

The Arteris FlexNoC product offers ability to reduce the number of interconnect wires required for SoC design. Reducing the number of wires resolves routing congestion at the back-end place-and-route stage, resulting in shorter development cycle time, less SoC complexity, smaller SoC area and less SoC power.

Mattson wins follow-on orders for Suprema photoresist strip systems from major foundry

FREMONT, USA: Mattson Technology Inc., a leading supplier of advanced process equipment used to manufacture semiconductors, announced that a major foundry has placed follow-on orders for multiple Suprema photoresist strip systems for expansion of its latest fab.

The Supremas will be used in front-end-of-line (FEOL), mid-of-line (MoL), and back-end-of-line (BEOL) strip applications for high-volume production at the 3X nanometer (nm) technology nodes and advanced device development at the 2X nm nodes. The systems have already begun shipment in the fourth quarter of 2010.

"These follow-on orders validate our customer's confidence in the Suprema's reliability, productivity, and extendibility for volume-production expansion and future node development," said Rene George, VP and GM of Mattson Technology's Plasma Products Group.

"As the process tool of record for this foundry's 32 nm line, Suprema is qualified on all FEOL strip applications -- including bulk, high-dose implant strip (HDIS), low-dose implant strip (LDIS) -- and provides the innovative strip technology required to address the BEOL cleaning challenges associated with advanced process nodes."

"These latest follow-on orders expands Mattson Technology's presence in the foundry segment and reinforces the Suprema system's strip leadership," continued George.

"We will continue to provide our long-time customer with advanced strip systems that deliver the high productivity, low cost of ownership, and technology extendibility it requires for leading-edge device production and next-generation process development."

Integrated graphics market feeling pressure from lower PC sales

NEW YORK, USA: 2010 was a difficult year for many chipmakers. While the smartphone and tablet trends have given certain key industry players many new sources of revenue, we are seeing somewhat of a double edged sword as the tablet craze is having negative effects on PC sales.

As a result, semiconductor companies whose niches are focused on PC's are already seeing their ratings slashed by analysts and are beginning to report less-than impressive earnings. Additionally, the market for graphics processors is hurting due to a slowdown in laptop sales.

The Bedford Report examines the outlook for companies in the semiconductor industry and provides research reports on NVIDIA and Intel.

According to the analyst firm Jon Peddie Research, graphics product shipments were down 1 percent sequentially in the third quarter. Intel remains the clear-cut market share leader in graphics products with 55.6 percent market share according to Jon Peddie Research.

Intel is hoping to steal more market share from graphics chip rivals Nvidia and AMD early next year when it launches a chip called "Sandy Bridge" that combines a traditional core processor with a graphics processor. Rumors are that Sandy Bridge will find its way into the lower-end range of the next generation of MacBooks.

Nvidia's chief executive Jen-Hsun Huang recently unveiled the company's new graphics processor, known as Kepler, which Huang says is three to four times faster than Nvidia's current Fermi chip generation. Last month, Nvidia reported third-quarter fiscal 2011 earnings per share of 15 cents on revenues of $843.9 million. For the fiscal fourth quarter, the company expects revenues to increase approximately 3 percent to 5 percent sequentially.

Knowles’ MEMS microphones infringe Analog Devices’ patent

NORWOOD, USA: Analog Devices Inc. announced that the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled decisively in favor of Analog Devices in its lawsuit against Knowles Electronics.

Administrative Law Judge Robert K. Rogers, Jr. concluded that Knowles infringes valid claims from one of ADI’s Wafer Anti-Stiction Application (WASA) patents.

Specifically, he ruled that Knowles infringes claims 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 from ADI’s US Pat. No. 7,364,942. As a result, ADI expects the ITC to issue an exclusion order prohibiting Knowles and its U.S. Distributor from importing or selling all infringing microphones in the United States. Additionally, ADI expects to recover damages on all past sales of Knowles’ microphones through its pending lawsuit against Knowles in Delaware.

“Analog Devices began investing in MEMS in 1989 and has developed an extensive and innovative MEMS IP portfolio,” commented Mark Martin, vice president, MEMS/Sensor Technology Group, Analog Devices. “We have leveraged this investment to create the highest performance MEMS microphones available. We are very pleased that Judge Rogers ruled in our favor confirming the strength of our MEMS IP portfolio.”

This recent ruling follows ITC Judge Rogers’ ruling on November 22nd when he found Knowles Electronics’ MEMS microphone packaging patents were invalid, a ruling consistent with the position taken by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where all of Knowles’ asserted claims were rejected in separate reexaminations.

Verigy announces receipt of revised unsolicited proposal from Advantest

CUPERTINO, USA: Verigy Ltd has received a revised proposal from Advantest Corp. to acquire all of the outstanding Verigy ordinary shares for $15.00 per share in cash.

The Verigy Board is not making any recommendation with respect to the revised Advantest proposal at this time, and Verigy currently anticipates continuing to engage in discussions with Advantest regarding its revised proposal, including regulatory considerations in connection with a potential transaction.

There can be no assurances that any transaction will result from the revised Advantest proposal or Verigy's discussions with Advantest.

The Verigy Board continues to recommend the LTX-Credence merger agreement to its
shareholders and is not withdrawing its recommendation to Verigy shareholders in support of the pending merger between Verigy and LTX-Credence, or proposing to do so, at this time.

Pursuant to the merger agreement with LTX-Credence, Verigy also announced that it expects to file today its Registration Statement on Form S-4 and joint proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A copy of Advantest's revised proposal to Verigy will be filed with the SEC.
Morgan Stanley is acting as financial advisor to Verigy. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati is acting as Verigy's US. legal counsel and Allen & Gledhill is acting as Verigy's Singapore counsel.

AMD and Marvell search for exposure in new markets

NEW YORK, USA: 2010 was a difficult year for many chipmakers. While the smartphone and tablet trends have given certain key industry players many new sources of revenue, we are seeing somewhat of a double-edged sword as the tablet craze is having negative effects on PC sales.

As a result, semiconductor companies whose niches are focused on PCs are already seeing their ratings slashed by analysts and are beginning to report less than impressive earnings. Additionally, the market for graphics processors is hurting due to a slowdown in laptop sales.

The Bedford Report examines the outlook for companies in the semiconductor industry and provides research reports on AMD and Marvell Technology Group Ltd.

Analysts had been forecasting negative long term effects of the iPad and other tablet computers on the PC industry. According to market research firms Gartner and IDC's estimates, worldwide PC shipments grew 7.6 percent during the most recent quarter, well below its anticipated projection of 12.7 percent.

AMD's CEO Dirk Meyer said during the company's third quarter earnings call that the tablet "represented a disruption" -- particularly for the laptop business. The market for graphics processors is hurting due to a slowdown in laptop sales. According to the analyst firm Jon Peddie Research, graphics product shipments were down 1 percent sequentially in the third quarter.

Marvell Technology has felt the sting on the tablet trend as well. Earlier this month shares of the company sunk after Goldman Sachs downgraded the company due to its lack of exposure to the tablet market. Marvell tech has plenty of exposure in the smartphone market, however. The company sells the chips used in various models of the immensely popular BlackBerry.

Video surveillance equipment revenue to approach $15 billion in 2014 driving new silicon opportunity

SCOTTSDALE, USA: After a slight downturn experienced in 2009 due to the worldwide economic condition, 2010 global sales of video surveillance equipment will return to the market status it had in 2008 -- along with a more optimistic look for the future.

Revenue from analog cameras, IP cameras, DVR/NVR, and IP encoders will approach $15 billion in 2014, according to In-Stat, driving new semiconductor opportunity along with it.

"With the growth in surveillance equipment shipments, movement toward higher resolutions, and higher attach rates for video analytics, the semiconductor revenue for the video surveillance segment will be stable but misleading," says Michelle Abraham, Principal Analyst. "The decline of average selling prices for commodity components is hiding upsides in sensors, video and analytics processors, and security and encryption processors."

Recent research by In-Stat found the following:

* Growth in IP cameras surpasses analog cameras and drives higher growth rates in hybrid DVRs and NVRs.

* Asia/Pacific will continue to lead shipments of surveillance camera units. However, camera revenue in Asia/Pacific will be lower than Americas and EMEA due to lower prices for both cameras and surveillance systems in the region.

* Revenue for processors in IP cameras, including video encode/image processors and analytics processors, will be 67 percent higher in 2014 compared to 2010.

Additional uses of video equipment can be found in applications such as monitoring health conditions of patients in hospitals and at home, and in queue length management, toll booths, education campuses, public transportation, vehicular traffic monitoring, and law enforcement.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

S&P Equity issues top 10 semiconductor predictions for 2011

NEW YORK, USA: S&P Equity Research semiconductor and semiconductor equipment analysts Clyde Montevirgen and Angelo Zino have issued their 2011 forecasts for the industry.

"The year 2010 is expected to close strong for the semiconductor and semiconductor equipment industries, as sales growth for both are forecasted to reach decade highs," said Montevirgen. "Consequently, we anticipate that most chip and equipment companies will experience multi-year high margins and exceptional earnings increases." Added Zino, "While we think there is still some room to grow, we project more modest advances ahead."

Here's the list of their forecasts for these industries for 2011.

1. We forecast that semiconductor industry sales will rise 7 percent in 2011. Considering recent forecasts from S&P Economics, research from industry and trade groups, and our bottom-up analysis of sales trends for the companies in our coverage universe, we see increasing unit shipments for key end-markets, such as computers, smartphones, and communications.

We note these account for a large percentage of the semiconductor industry's demand. We expect industry sales to rise to nearly $320 billion in 2011 from an anticipated $299 billion in 2010.

2. For 2011, semiconductor equipment sales growth should slow; we estimate that sales will rise less than 10 percent, after our projection for industry revenues to increase more than two-fold for 2010. Although the industry is experiencing a sharp rebound in sales this year, following an extended period of under-investing by semiconductor manufacturers, we forecast that growth will slow going forward, as companies digest recent capital expenditure purchases.

We expect most demand for semiconductor equipment to come from more advanced technology nodes, as well as from larger memory customers and foundries looking to expand capacity.

3. We project that capacity purchases will be driven by flash memory manufacturers, such as Toshiba and Samsung, given our expectation for stronger demand and tight supply in this sub-industry. We anticipate robust unit shipments for smartphones and tablets to be a major catalyst for these manufacturers, which should keep customer profitability at high levels.

Unlike DRAM, which relies heavily on PC demand, the flash memory market depends on a number of different applications and looks to us to be in better shape than DRAM on a comparative basis. The flash memory industry has emerging technologies, such as SSDs, which should drive new demand.

4. We see DRAM segment sales declining in 2011, following our projection for a more than doubling in capital spending in 2010. We believe the biggest growth catalyst for the DRAM segment in 2010 has been the transition from DDR2 (double data rate) technology to DDR3 (both DDR2 and DDR3 are types of DRAM chips that are found in personal computers).

DDR3 technology is the successor to DDR2 and offers advantages such as lower operating temperatures, greater speed, and reduced power consumption. Now that DDR3 has become mainstream, we do not see any major catalyst boosting segment spending in 2011.

5. We forecast that the Asia-Pacific region will make up 55 percent of semiconductor sales by the end of 2011. We see more semiconductor companies trying to make cost structures more variable by outsourcing manufacturing to third-party foundries.

Leading Taiwanese foundries, such as TSMC, have invested heavily in sub 40-nanometer manufacturing processes, which we believe will attract chip companies that do not have the capital to invest in such high-end manufacturing technology. Also assuming softer sales growth and less favorable tax incentives in Europe, as austerity measures continue, we see Asia continuing to gain global share.

6. We expect the semiconductor industry's plant utilization rate to be around 90 percent by the end of 2011. We think the capacity utilization rate will fall from the current mid-90 percent range to the mid-to-high 80 percent range early in 2011, as chipmakers allow excessive inventory in the supply chain to digest.

Although we see increasing capacity from recent capital expenditures, we believe that seasonal strength and a rebound in end-market demand in the second half will help keep plants busy through the fourth quarter of 2011.

7. We forecast that the semiconductor industry's gross margin will widen modestly throughout 2011. Considering our view that chipmakers will start the new year by burning off excessive inventory, we expect first-quarter gross margins in the low-50 percent range, given lower plant utilization rates.

However, we think orders will return to more seasonal patterns starting in the second quarter, and we expect margins to expand to the mid-50 percent area by the end of the year.

8. We see semiconductor equipment manufacturers moving further into higher-growth, adjacent industries, namely solar, given our view that the semiconductor equipment industry is in the midst of a long-term secular decline. We believe pursuing new growth avenues makes sense given the similar processes and technology used within both industries. In addition, the solar industry has higher growth opportunities versus the more mature semiconductor industry, in our view.

We believe companies, both small and large, will be looking to enter the solar arena, whether organically or through merger and acquisition activity. We expect Advanced Energy Industries and Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates to be major beneficiaries of this trend because of their high investment in R&D within this arena.

9. We think the semiconductor equipment back-end industry (packaging and automatic test equipment) will experience pressure to consolidate, given the segment's lower growth rates, high fixed costs, and lower profitability relative to other areas of the supply chain. We believe further consolidation of test equipment companies would facilitate cost savings through economies of scale and drive more effective factory utilization.

10. We think Intel will finally gain some traction in the handset and tablet markets. With Intel's proposed acquisition of Infineon's wireless business unit (expected in early 2011), we see Intel instantly becoming a formidable competitor in the baseband segment of the handset market.

We think Intel will successfully be able to cross-sell its Atom processor with the baseband chips, and we expect even more progress once it creates a single chip solution that integrates both functions. Additionally, we believe that Atom will find some success in the lower-end segment of the tablet market.

Boost GPS receiver performance with ultra-low-noise-figure amplifiers

SUNNYVALE, USA: Maxim Integrated Products has announced the MAX2667/MAX2669, the newest additions to its GPS/GNSS low-noise amplifier (LNA) family.

Designed using Maxim's advanced SiGe processes, these fully integrated LNAs feature an exceptionally low noise figure of 0.65dB. This improves receive sensitivity and read range over discrete or highly integrated CMOS solutions.

The MAX2667/MAX2669 provide the best performance, smallest size, and lowest current consumption available in the market, making them the clear choice for smartphones, personal navigation devices (PNDs), and other battery-powered handheld devices.

The MAX2667/MAX2669 provide different linearity options to suit system requirements. For customers who wish to ensure a higher level of receive performance in the presence of signal blockers, the MAX2669 (at 4.5dBm) provides approximately 8dBm better in-band and out-of-band IIP3 than the MAX2667 (at -3.5dBm), for a mere 4.0mA extra supply current.

For power efficiency, customers can expect longer battery life in their end-equipment design thanks to the MAX2667, which is optimized for a low operating supply current of 4mA (typ). When not in use, both LNAs have an optional logic-enabled shutdown mode that reduces supply current to less than 1microamp.

These LNAs are offered in a space-saving, 0.4mm-pitch wafer-level package (WLP) that takes up a mere 1mm2 of board space, much less than the competition. Only requiring four external components to complete the board-level design (plus an optional resistor for logic-enabled shutdown), the MAX2667/MAX2669 enable the smallest solution footprint for today's handheld designs.

The MAX2667/MAX2669 operate from a 1.6V to 3.3V supply. Fully specified over the -40 degrees Celsius to +85 degrees Celsius extended temperature range, they are available in an ultra-small, 0.86mm x 1.26mm, 6-pin WLP. Prices start at $0.54 (1000-up, FOB USA). The MAX2667EVKIT and MAX2669EVKIT are also available for bench-level evaluation. Pricing for the EV kits is $110.00 (each, FOB USA).

Maxim Integrated Products is a publicly traded company that designs, manufactures, and sells high-performance semiconductor products. The company was founded over 25 years ago with the mission to deliver innovative analog and mixed-signal engineering solutions that add value to its customers' products. To date, it has developed over 6400 products serving the industrial, communications, consumer, and computing markets.

Maxim reported revenue of approximately $2.0 billion for fiscal 2010.

Microsemi announces availability of IEEE 802.3at compliant 60W multiport PoE midspans

IRVINE, USA: Microsemi Corp. has announced two multi-port additions to its 60W PoE midspan family, the industry's first fully IEEE 802.3at standards-compliant high-power PoE solutions to include four-pair powering and gigabit switching support.

Microsemi's new PowerDsine 6-port PD-9506G and 12-port PD-9512G midspans deliver up to 60W of power over all four pairs of Ethernet cabling, cutting power dissipation in half when compared to conventional two-pair solutions and providing 15 percent less energy consumption.

The midspans also include a gigabit interface to more easily support high-power devices such as PTZ cameras and thin clients; and implement 2-event classification as specified in the IEEE 802.3at specifications for communications with connected devices.

"With this new addition to our portfolio, Microsemi now offers a wide range of options for building a 60W PoE infrastructure from as little as one-port increments up to 12 ports at a time. Our comprehensive PD-9500 family gives network administrators the ultimate flexibility for adding a broad range of networked devices while efficiently managing power installation and consumption," said Paul Pickle, corporate VP and GM of Microsemi's Analog Mixed Signal Group.

"Microsemi is continuously innovating and deploying the most efficient power management solutions for our customers, because now, more than ever, power matters."

The PowerDsine 9500G family is designed specifically to power high power network devices over Ethernet cabling, eliminating the need for wiring to external AC power sources. The multiport midspans also feature a proprietary power feed technology that supports all legacy PoE devices, providing the most energy efficient solution in the industry today.

Microsemi's expanded PD-9500 family complements the company's extensive portfolio of midspan products, including managed and unmanaged products in a wide range of densities from single- to 24-port configurations.

The PD-9506G/12G midspan is available in production volumes for a unit list price starting at $1199.

13 fabless IC suppliers forecast to top $1 billion in sales in 2010!

SCOTTSDALE, USA: A forecast of the 2010 billion-dollar fabless IC suppliers, which was excerpted from a ranking of the top 50 fabless IC suppliers in IC Insights' 2011 edition of The McClean Report (to be released in January), is shown in Fig. 1.

IC Insights considers a company fabless when it receives the majority of its finished wafer supply from IC foundries.

As shown in the table, there are 13 fabless IC companies expected to register more than $1.0 billion in sales in 2010, up from 10 companies in 2009 and 8 in 2008. These 13 suppliers are forecast to have a combined $41.4 billion in sales and represent about 70 percent of the $59.6 billion worth of total fabless company IC sales expected in 2010.

The list also shows that nine out of the 13 billion-dollar fabless IC companies expected in 2010, and 9 of the top 10, are based in the US. With no Japanese company in the ranking, it is obvious that the fabless/foundry business model has not significantly caught on in Japan, and, in IC Insights' opinion, is unlikely to do so in the near future.

However, as Taiwanese and Chinese IC design houses continue to advance, IC Insights expects an increasing number of Taiwan- and China-headquartered companies to eventually make their way up the top fabless supplier ranking.

Cellular phone chip supplier Qualcomm is expected to remain the number one fabless IC supplier in 2010. The company is forecast to register an impressive $7.1 billion in sales in 2010, but only after a relatively disappointing 11 percent growth rate.

Altera, Broadcom, and MStar, fresh off its successful IPO, are the shining stars of the big fabless companies with each one expected to register better than 50 percent growth this year.

In 2009, MediaTek displayed the most impressive gain by a billion-dollar fabless IC suppler by registering a strong 22 percent increase in sales to $3.5 billion. However, illustrating how fast fortunes can change in the fabless arena, MediaTek was late in developing devices for the booming 3G cellphone market and is forecast to barely register a gain in sales in 2010 (3 percent).

In late 1Q09, AMD became a fabless company by including its Dresden, Germany fabs as part of the GlobalFoundries spin-off. IC Insights has included all of AMD's sales for 2009 in the fabless IC suppliers list. As shown, AMD is forecast to rank as the third-largest fabless company in the world in 2010 behind only Qualcomm and Broadcom.

Fabless telecom chip supplier ST-Ericsson is a 50/50 joint venture between IDM semiconductor supplier ST and telecom equipment supplier Ericsson. It should be noted that ST incorporates half of ST-Ericsson's sales into its financial results. Thus, ST-Ericsson's total sales are twice the level shown in Fig. 1 with the half attributed and shown as "fabless" being the portion of sales allocated to Ericsson.

Overall, IC Insights believes that most of the large fabless IC suppliers will continue to do well and will help to drive significant sales gains by the pure-play foundries (e.g., TSMC, UMC, GlobalFoundries, etc.).

Moreover, as the barriers to entry (i.e., high design costs, increasingly difficult access to venture capital money, etc.) rise, IC Insights believes that the total fabless IC supplier listing will continue to become increasingly "top-heavy" in the future.Source: IC Insights, USA.

Dover to acquire NXP's Sound Solutions business line

DOWNERS GROVE, USA: Dover Corp. has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the Sound Solutions business line of NXP Semiconductors N.V.

Sound Solutions, which is headquartered in Vienna, Austria, will become part of Itasca, Illinois based Knowles Electronics within Dover's Electronic Technologies segment.

In business since 1929, Sound Solutions is one of the world's leading manufacturers of dynamic speakers and receivers for cell phones and other consumer electronics, and has been a technology leader in these product categories for over a decade.

With a strong reputation for innovation and customer service, Sound Solutions employs approximately 1,000 people, with manufacturing facilities in Vienna and Beijing. Sound Solutions annual revenue is anticipated to be approximately $330 million in 2010.

The purchase price is $855 million, subject to normal closing adjustments. Dover expects the transaction to be slightly accretive to its earnings per share during the first full year of ownership, subject to final purchase accounting allocations.

"The addition of Sound Solutions to Knowles Electronics is consistent with Dover's strategic goals. Sound Solutions is a technology leader in the communications components space, one of our five focus areas, and serves the high growth mobile handset market. By combining Sound Solutions with Knowles we create an industry leader in an attractive and growing market," said Bob Livingston, Dover's president and CEO.

Dave Van Loan, president and CEO of Dover Electronic Technologies segment commented: "The global cell phone market will exhibit strong growth in the coming years, as consumers have found the cell phone to be indispensable and are always interested in the latest technology. This acquisition will allow Dover to leverage that trend by significantly broadening our product portfolio. By adding the products and capabilities of Sound Solutions, Knowles Electronics will now be the leading audio input and output supplier in the mobile handset industry."

"The quality of the audio is clearly a differentiator in today's mobile phone marketplace. With this acquisition, we will become the premier mobile acoustics company in the world with the capability to greatly enhance user experience with our technology. Together, we will be able to serve our global customers at an even higher level and foresee significant cross-sell opportunities," stated Jeff Niew, President of Knowles Electronics.

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals, and is expected to close around the end of the first quarter of 2011.

Dover was advised by Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Liger Capital Advisors.

Broadcom receives favorable claim construction ruling in patent infringement case against Emulex

IRVINE, USA: Broadcom Corp. has received a favorable claim construction ruling in Broadcom's patent infringement case against Emulex Corp.

"The ruling reinforces our infringement case against Emulex's OneConnect, and the components used in Emulex's OneConnect, HBAs, and Fibre Channel switch products," the company said in a statement.

Broadcom, which has accused Emulex of infringing nine Broadcom patents, is seeking damages and an injunction against Emulex.

US District Court Judge James V. Selna issued his final ruling on December 17, 2010 following an earlier Markman hearing. The claim construction ruling is important because it defines the scope of the patent claims that Broadcom has asserted against Emulex. Broadcom has asserted that Emulex's products infringe at least twenty claims of nine Broadcom patents.

Infineon takes number two position in cellular baseband market in Q3 2010

BOSTON, USA: Global cellular baseband revenues reached $3.4 billion in Q3 2010, registering a 12.6 percent year-on-year growth, according to the latest report from the Strategy Analytics Baseband Quarterly Metrics Service module, “BASEBAND Market Tracker: Infineon Grabs Second Spot in Q3 2010.” This report provisionally estimates that cellular baseband revenues for the first nine months in 2010 reached $9.4 billion.

Strategy Analytics reports that the lead up to the end-of-year holiday season helped most baseband vendors to register impressive growth in terms of both units and revenue.

Qualcomm led the cellular baseband market in Q3 2010, with the help of its strong position in the CDMA and W-CDMA baseband markets. Infineon, Broadcom, Spreadtrum, Icera, Marvell and VIA Telecom all made significant progress in Q3 2010, while MediaTek and ST-Ericsson struggled to increase their revenue share in the face of stiff competition. 2010 is proving to be a challenging year for MediaTek after several years of growth from 2004 to 2009.

According to Stuart Robinson, director of the Handset Component Technologies service: “Infineon rose to the number two revenue position in Q3 2010, on the strength of several of high-volume design wins at tier-one handset OEMs. Strategy Analytics estimates that Apple accounted for over one-third of Infineon’s baseband revenues in Q3 2010.”

“Broadcom and Spreadtrum continued to gain market share in cellular basebands and showed impressive growth in units and revenue in Q3 2010,” commented Sravan Kundojjala, senior analyst. He added, “Strategy Analytics estimates that Broadcom and Spreadtrum together accounted for 12 percent of GSM/GPRS/EDGE baseband shipments in Q3 2010, up from just 7 percent in Q3 2009.”

Nova receives $10 million orders from major foundry

REHOVOT, ISRAEL: Nova Measuring Instruments Ltd, a provider of leading edge stand-alone metrology and the market leader of integrated metrology solutions to the semiconductor process control market, announced that a major foundry recently placed $10 million orders for its integrated and standalone metrology tools. The tools will support manufacturing and development for both the 4x and 3x technology nodes.

"We are delighted with this large order from one of our most strategic customers and see it as a real testament to the depth of our long term technological collaboration," said Gabi Seligsohn, president and CEO of Nova.

"As a company we continue to strengthen our position in the foundry segment. This segment plays a key role in leading edge end markets such as tablet computers, smartphones and cellular infrastructure. These end markets are expected to continue to grow and drive high end semiconductor equipment investments."

The company also reported that it expects to ship these orders in the first and second quarters of 2011.

Cypress LED controllers in MSi LED light bulbs help drive major energy savings in Macy’s Stores

SAN JOSE, USA: Cypress Semiconductor Corp. (NASDAQ:CY) today announced that its LED power controller inside LED replacement lamps from MSi are helping to drive major energy savings inside Macy’s stores around the country.

“It’s exciting to see our technology deliver significant benefits in a major project such as Macy’s retrofit”
Macy’s is replacing about 117,000 traditional incandescent light bulbs in 86 stores with new LED lamps that use about 73 percent less energy. Total energy savings are estimated at about 16,200 megawatts per hour every year, the equivalent of planting more than 65,500 trees. The LED lamps have an expected life of 10 years (compared with less than one year for traditional bulbs), reducing landfill disposal.

"Many retailers are a little concerned about the initial investment of converting to LED lighting," said Bruce Johnson, MSi managing partner, "But if they take the time to run the numbers as Macy's has, they'll see that switching over produces a tremendous return on their investment."

“It’s exciting to see our technology deliver significant benefits in a major project such as Macy’s retrofit,” said Brian Moody, director of Marketing for Cypress’s PowerPSoC business. “As more companies see the tangible benefits of LED lighting, we can see a ‘snowball effect’ leading to significant growth in which we are well positioned to participate.”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ambarella iOne camera apps processor enables new class of Android-based smart cameras

SANTA CLARA, USA: Ambarella Inc., a leader in low-power, high-definition video compression and image processing semiconductors, announced the availability of the iOne system-on-chip (SoC), bringing advanced HD camera and multimedia capabilities to the Android platform.

By leveraging the fast growing Android ecosystem and cloud-based video services, the iOne will open the door for a new class of smart camera device capable of no compromise still photography, advanced HD video recording, Internet-connectivity, and running powerful applications.

The iOne SoC’s multi-stream encoding capability supports live video streaming, WiFi upload of video clips to popular websites such as YouTube, and full HD telepresence applications. Its multi-format video decoding enables the playback of Internet and broadcast based video content up to 1080p60 resolution, including 3D HDTV.

The iOne builds upon five generations of Ambarella DSP architectures and algorithms to produce high-resolution still images and HD video quality that rival the finest standalone DSC and camcorder products.

“Coupling our proven video and imaging processing expertise with the Android platform enables next generation cameras to take a significant leap forward in user experiences and capabilities,” said Fermi Wang, Ambarella CEO. “The iOne will fundamentally change the way consumers capture, create and share visual content. We are very excited about the possibilities.”

The iOne is based on a triple ARM CPU architecture specifically developed for low-power mobile media applications. Dual-core 1-GHz ARM Cortex A9 CPUs provide the horsepower to run Android applications while a third 533-MHz ARM-11 handles real-time camera tasks and enables camera boot time of under one second.

The iOne’s unique architecture requires only a single x32 DRAM for extremely low power operation and low total system cost. A powerful 3D graphics engine supports HD GUI requirements and OpenGL ES 2.0.

2011 strong tablet momentum will help to boom the embedded NAND Flash demand

TAIWAN: According to DRAMeXchange, the research department of Trendforce, facing the strong challenge from iPad, most PC and mobile vendors are accelerating their tablet launch in 2H10.

In order to compete with iPad, non-iPad tablet is designed with outperformed hardware spectrum such as more powerful processor performance, larger storage space and open hardware/software competitiveness (USB and Adobe Flash support). Samsung launched the “Galaxy Tab” leveraged with group resource and closed relationship with telecom carriers.

RIM also launch tablet-“Playbook” to aim at their original Blackberry commercial users and it is expected to be launched in 2Q11. Meanwhile, Acer announced to launch new series of tablet in New York at end of November and products will be in the market at March and April next year.Source: DRAMeXchange.

With the better management and control on Android system and customized application, we expect major tablet launch timelines will be scheduled at end of 1Q11 and early 2Q11.

Meanwhile, other emerging tablets brand also raise up from China market. Leverage with the accumulated experience in handset and delicate price sensitivity, the new emerging tablet are price-competitive and mainly are equipped with 7”inch display and Android system.

Even some tablet such as the 10.1” ePad by Zenithink tabbed the Christmas gift list in Amazon.com. the circumstance indicate that new emerging brand tablet PC has certain opportunities when most major-branded tablet PC is still in development process and thus create more diversified outlook for the overall tablet industry.Source: DRAMeXchange.

According to DRAMeXchange, 2010 worldwide tablet PC is forecasted to be 15 million units while 2011 overall tablet PC will strongly be scaled at 50 million units with the maturity of Android system and better acceptance.

Since over 80 percent tablet PC will implanted embedded NAND Flash solution such as eMMC and on-board Flash storage as 16GB/32GB storage, the strong shipment growth will help to stimulate the NAND Flash consumption.

DRAMeXchange expect Tablet NAND Flash consumption will be raised up to over 10 percent in 2011 from 5 percent in 2010. That is, tablet PC does really benefit for the NAND Flash industry.Source: DRAMeXchange.

Cosmic Circuits receives Frost & Sullivan Excellence award

BANGALORE, INDIA & CAMPBELL, USA: Cosmic Circuits, a leading provider of differentiated Analog & Mixed Signal IP cores, has received the Frost & Sullivan Excellence Award. The award recognizes Cosmic Circuits’ contributions to the Analog/Mixed Signal Intellectual Property (IP) Market.

Frost & Sullivan presented the “Frost & Sullivan Excellence Awards” at the Frost & Sullivan Excellence Awards Banquet held in New Delhi on December 16. Cosmic Circuits was awarded in the category of Growth Leadership in the Global Analog/Mixed Signal Intellectual Property (IP) Market.

Ganapathy Subramaniam, CEO of Cosmic Circuits, said: "We are pleased to have been awarded the Frost & Sullivan Excellence Award and consider this as recognition of our efforts in the Analog/Mixed Signal Intellectual Property Market.

"We have 250+ cores in our portfolio which includes Analog Front Ends, PLLs, Silicon Oscillators,, Audio, MIPI Interfaces, Data Converters and Power Management circuits in a variety of technologies, across the leading foundries in the world. We will continue to expand the portfolio in the coming years."

2H’Dec. DRAM contract price declined 10 percent to $0.9/1Gb; likely to reach the bottom around $0.8/1Gb in 1Q11

TAIWAN: According to DRAMeXchange, the research department of Trendforce, 2H’Dec. contract price continued the downward pattern that DDR3 2GB contract“ Average” declined 10 percent to $18($0.97/1Gb) from $20 ($1.09/1Gb). Contract “Low ”dropped 10.5 percent to $17 ($0.91/1Gb).

Despite the continuous migration and increased output, 2H’10 PC sales is still under expectation and PC content did not significantly increase in 4Q10 when DRAM price has declined 50 percent from the peak.

Hence, DRAMeXchange expects that the DRAM market will be in the over-supply in 1H10. However, we also expect DRAM price will bottom up from April and OEM will sharply level up the inventory level for June PC shipment and result in the rebounded DRAM price.

DRAMeXchange forecasts that DDR3 1Gb will likely be back to the level at $1.2-$1.3 in 2H’11. DDR3 1Gb price will be below $1 if the demand is worse than expectation and will force the vendors with bad cost structure to cut the capacity.

DDR3 1Gb will be back to $1.2-$1.3 after capacity cut. That is, DRAMeXchange expects DDR3 1Gb price will be below $1 for three to six months.

In the spot market, DDR2 raises along with DDR3, the medium price recover soon after slightly decline in the very short term. DDR2 1Gb 800Mhz is up 13.5 percent to $1.43 from $1.26 since one DDR2-support-only chipsets are released from the market and it enhances the demand for DDR2.

First-tier module house also raises the DDR2 price as well. From the long term speaking, the upward trend is for short-term and we expect DRAM price will still in the downward pattern with no obvious demand.

GIGABYTE conducts Sandy Bridge training program for partners

MUMBAI, INDIA: As Intel readies to launch on January 5, 2011, its new, 2nd generation core processors (codenamed Sandy Bridge) that will feature the next generation Intel 6 Series chipsets, GIGABYTE Technology India Pvt Ltd has started a major countrywide drive to train its channel and system integrator (SI) partners, on the upcoming GIGABYTE motherboards that will support Sandy Bridge.

GIGABYTE is conducting training sessions for its partners on its Intel 6 Series chipset-based motherboards, such as GA-H67MA-UD2H and GA-P6A-UD7, at over 40 venues across metro, Tier 2 as well as Tier 3 locations.

These sessions, which are a vital constituent of GIGABYTE’s ongoing meets, are being held in a number of states, including Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam, West Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, and Jammu & Kashmir.

Rajan Sharma, GM, Marketing and Sales, GIGABYTE India: “We believe timely information is key to the success for our business, where technology upgrades are faster. Hence, we have rolled out a unique program to educate our partners, so they are best equipped to effectively guide, manage and support their customers, with regard to GIGABYTE’s Intel 6 Series chipset-based motherboards.

“As the Intel 6 Series chipset will have almost two years’ lifespan, it becomes all the more important for both our SI and channel partners, to gain sufficient knowledge to leverage the expected market demand.”

The training programs have been welcomed by GIGABYTE partners, who have flocked in large numbers to be a part of the event. Yogesh Palan of Goa-based Avon Computer, a GIGABYTE Premium Partner, said, “We believe that motherboards that support Sandy Bridge processors, give us a big business opportunity. GIGABYTE’s training program is broadly designed to develop our knowledge and skill-sets necessary to capitalize on this opportunity.”

Added Jayesh Jain of Sybex Marketing, a Mumbai-based GIGABYTE Premium Partner, “It was a highly educative session overall. I found it quite helpful to learn about this newest chipset technology and compatible motherboards, and how they are going to impact the PC market.”

GIGABYTE products are distributed in India by Avnet (India), Ingram Micro, Redington (India) and Neoteric Infomatique Ltd.

Cinemo joins ARM Connected Community

KARLSRUHE, GERMANY: Cinemo, developers of performance enhanced embedded multimedia technologies for in-vehicle infotainment, consumer electronics, and industrial embedded computing, have announced that the company has joined the ARM Connected Community, the industry’s largest ecosystem of ARM technology-based products and services.

“The Connected Community is all about companies working together to provide the most complete solutions in the shortest possible time. By joining the Community, which now comprises more than 775 companies, Cinemo increases the large portfolio of skills, products and services that are centered around the ARM architecture, and currently available to developers worldwide,” said Lori Kate Smith, senior manager, Community Programs for ARM.

As a cross platform and an OS independent solution, Cinemo supports all popular formats bringing the ARM Connected Community platform-specific optimizations, including distributed playback enabling synchronized presentation and interactive control of linear or non-linear multimedia content on multiple clients over a network connection. Cinemo’s built-in audio and video codecs are uniquely optimized for ARM Cortex-A8 and A9 architectures.

Utilizing ARM NEON instruction set extensively for video acceleration, Cinemo’s technologies fully exploit the multimedia capabilities offered by ARM platforms to deliver all members of the ARM Connected Community powerful, reliable, low power consuming, and feature rich High Definition multimedia playback and streaming.

“Cinemo is pleased to join the ARM Connected Community,” said Jim Corbett, executive VP for Cinemo. “We recognize that ARM is a major player in embedded technology and we are happy to leverage our expertise in multimedia technologies and offer an easy-to-integrate multimedia middleware for ARM platforms.”

NXP passes another major milestone in high performance mixed signal strategy

EINDHOVEN, THE NETHERLANDS: NXP Semiconductors and Dover Corp. have signed a definitive agreement whereby Dover's affiliate Knowles Electronics will acquire NXP's Sound Solutions business, the leading provider of speaker and receiver components for the mobile handset market.

The sale of the Sound Solutions business, which for reporting purposes is included in NXP's Standard Products segment, will significantly strengthen NXP's balance sheet while allowing the company to further focus its resources on its core High Performance Mixed Signal business.

Under the terms of the agreement, Knowles will acquire Sound Solutions for $855 million in cash. In conjunction with the transaction, NXP and Knowles have agreed to the terms of a strategic relationship whereby NXP will become Knowles' exclusive source for certain High Performance Mixed Signal semiconductors. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2011.

Knowles is part of the Electronic Technologies segment of Dover and is the world's largest manufacturer of high performance transducers used for hearing aids and other high quality acoustic applications. The Itasca, Illinois-based company also designs, manufactures and assembles MEMS microphones for personal mobile device and communications markets.

The combination of Sound Solutions' speaker and receiver business for mobile phones with Knowles' solutions in the hearing aid component and MEMS microphones markets creates a true leader in the micro-acoustics industry.

"Combining the operations of Sound Solutions and Knowles represents another major milestone in our strategy of focusing on High Performance Mixed Signal markets, and it will help to further improve our capital structure," said Rick Clemmer, president and CEO, NXP Semiconductors.

"The micro-acoustic components market offers significant growth potential, which can be best achieved through a focused company, dedicated to this market and with a complete suite of complementary products required for a leadership position. We look forward to participating in that growth as a strategic supplier to Knowles going forward."

The revenue of the Sound Solutions business was approximately $255 million in the first three quarters of 2010. About 1,000 Sound Solutions employees, who are currently based in Sound Solutions' headquarters in Vienna, Austria, and its facilities located in Beijing, China, will join Knowles. Existing Sound Solutions customers will continue to be supported under the combined company.

Separately, NXP and Technicolor announced that Nutune, a joint venture formed in June 2008 to combine NXP's and Technicolor's can tuner module operations, has been sold to affiliates of AIAC (American Industrial Acquisition Corp.).

Nutune, headquartered in Singapore, has 2,950 employees worldwide, including 2,800 manufacturing employees in Batam, Indonesia. The revenue of Nutune was approximately $79 million in the first three quarters of 2010. Details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Sigma Designs and MIPS strengthen relationship targeting development of next-gen connected devices

SUNNYVALE, USA: MIPS Technologies Inc. announced that Sigma Designs Inc. has re-affirmed its commitment to the MIPS architecture with a new license agreement.

The agreement encompasses a broad spectrum of MIPS32 cores, including the MIPS32 4KEc Pro core, M14K family, 24K Pro family, 34K Pro family, 74K family and the 1004K Coherent Processing System (CPS), as well as the SOC-it L2 Cache Controller.

MIPS Technologies' cores provide Sigma Designs with a host of options including advanced code compression, superscalar performance, multi-threading and multiprocessing, as well as a comprehensive ecosystem of software, hardware and tool support.

Since 2003, Sigma Designs has licensed a wide array of MIPS processor cores for its advanced digital home products. With this new license, Sigma has access to MIPS cores for use across all of its product lines including IPTV and cable set-top boxes, Blu-ray players, home control devices and commercial systems.

"When designing SoCs for the connected products of tomorrow, it is critical that we have a processor architecture that provides superior performance, with low power consumption and a broad ecosystem of support—and we continue to get this from MIPS," said Ken Lowe, vice president of strategic marketing, Sigma Designs.

"We are delighted to continue working with MIPS Technologies and to leverage its wide range of cores to help us create complete solutions that help our customers cost-effectively create differentiated, innovative products."

Sigma Designs' SoCs power millions of home entertainment products and are inside the majority of the world's IPTV set-top boxes. Through their existing relationship, MIPS Technologies and Sigma Designs have launched the first Android set-top boxes, brought a full HD video experience to the Android platform, and are continuing to drive Android into an array of consumer products. This new agreement will enable the companies to continue innovating for the digital home, leveraging Android, Adobe® Flash® Player and other key platforms.

"Sigma Designs is constantly pushing the envelope of innovation, being one of the first MIPS licensees to embrace Android, implementing Imagination Technologies' advanced graphics technology, and incorporating other leading edge technologies into its products," said Art Swift, vice president of marketing and business development, MIPS Technologies.

"We are pleased that Sigma Designs has taken this new license, and we are excited to continue to work closely with Sigma to create a new generation of innovative products."

Plurality joins EEMBC consumer workgroup

EL DORADO HILLS, USA: The Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC) announced that Plurality has joined the EEMBC consortium's Consumer Workgroup.

Plurality develops intellectual property, semiconductors and acceleration boards utilizing the company's manycore processors. These manycore processors will be able to take advantage of the EEMBC Consumer benchmarks, especially those associated with the consortium's MultiBench suite targeting parallelism for multicore architectures.
EEMBC's Consumer working group develops benchmarks for several tasks.

These include benchmarks for approximating the performance of processors in digital still cameras, printers, and other embedded systems that handle digital imaging tasks; and approximating the performance of processor subsystems in multimedia tasks such as image, video, and audio file compression and decompression, including benchmarks focusing on encryption and decryption algorithms commonly used in digital rights management (DRM) and eCommerce applications.

The Consumer working group is also working on providing a standardized, industry-accepted method of evaluating Web browser performance.

"Participation in EEMBC's Consumer work group allows us to influence and track the progress of important industry benchmarks that utilize multicore and manycore processing," said Peleg Aviely, Vice President of Engineering at Plurality. "This helps Plurality optimize our products for customers who work in the market segments addressed by this work group."

"Plurality has already demonstrated some very interesting results using EEMBC's ConsumerBench, which is not even a multicore-specific benchmark," said EEMBC President Markus Levy. "The use of MultiBench will allow them to take full advantage of their manycore architecture that includes the company's unique hardware-based synchronizer/scheduler."

WIN Semiconductors finishes 2009 as largest Apac GaAs supplier

BOSTON, USA: The market value for GaAs revenues, driven by smartphones and consumer adoption of data-intensive applications, has grown strongly from the lows it struggled for in early 2009.

The recently published Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductors (GaAs) report, “GaAs Device Vendor Market Share 2009: Asia-Pacific and Europe,” reports that this growth brought the total market value for GaAs revenues to little more than $4 billion, a slight increase over 2008 revenue levels.

Driven by an industry tendency toward increased outsourcing of foundry business, WIN Semiconductors has vaulted into the fifth spot in the Strategy Analytics GaAs vendor revenue rankings.

WIN Semiconductor’s growth makes them the largest GaAs vendor in the region, surpassing Sumitomo Electric’s Eudyna Devices group. Also, this report highlights the effect of so many large Japanese electronics companies which merged or re-structured during 2009.

“A notable development in this region is the growth of pure-play foundry WIN Semiconductors,” noted Eric Higham, Director of the Strategy Analytics GaAs and Compound Semiconductor Service. “Growth in GaAs demand and a trend to more foundry outsourcing by suppliers has enabled them to double their GaAs revenues in the past two years. With continuing GaAs industry growth, we expect WIN Semiconductors to become the largest GaAs foundry in the world by the end of 2010.”

The report provides strategic comments, representative products and selected news items for a comprehensive set of GaAs vendors in the Asia-Pacific and European regions. It also identifies the top ten global vendors in terms of GaAs device market share. Strategy Analytics estimates that four of the top ten GaAs vendors, led by WIN Semiconductors in the fifth spot, are located in the Asia-Pacific region.

Renesas Electronics America intros R2A20134 LED driver IC for LED lighting apps

SANTA CLARA, USA: Renesas Electronics America Inc., a premier provider of advanced semiconductor solutions, announced the availability of its R2A20134 LED driver IC that supports LED lighting applications with high efficiency and a high power factor at low cost.

The market scale of the LED lighting field is expected to grow substantially, mainly spurred by the adoption of LED lighting as a replacement for incandescent light bulbs. Since LEDs use direct current drive, it is necessary to convert the commercial alternating current (AC) power supply to direct current (DC).

This requirement to add AC-DC conversion circuits has brought to the forefront a demand for elements designed to address issues such as cost, conversion efficiency and power factor. In response, a variety of control methods for LED lighting drivers have been announced.

Using exclusive voltage step-down control technology, Renesas Electronics has succeeded in developing an LED driver IC that delivers high efficiency and a high power factor at low cost.

Zircon announces accelerated distributed networking results for multicore AMD Opteron processors

WAYNE, USA: Zircon Computing announced the results of a recently completed project in which Zircon and AMD collaborated on a key initiative to optimize the performance of Zircon’s latest software release on the multi-core AMD Opteron platform for embedded systems and measure that performance on the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmarking Consortium (EEMBC) Networking Suite 2.0.

“As part of Zircon’s latest software release, version 3.3, Zircon delivered enhanced support for task and data parallelism, thereby reducing the programming effort needed to parallelize application business logic,” said Alexander Mintz, CEO of Zircon Computing, LLC. He adds “we also leveraged the AMD Opteron platform as a powerful environment for delivering elastic applications that can be distributed easily and flexibly on a single multi-core machine up to a cluster or a cloud platform.

“To scale up the EEMBC Networking Suite the Zircon team used the Pipeline pattern to maintain the request object’s lifecycle and update it based on results of its execution on co-located or remote worker threads. Thousands of TCP/IP sessions can thus be emulated in the scope of a single process concurrently on a pool of co-located worker threads, yielding a highly efficient and scalable software router.

“The Data Parallelism pattern was applied to the rest of the Networking Suite to process ranges of indices from data array, thereby minimizing integration efforts and facilitate parallelization of a legacy (non-thread safe) code, yielding near-linear scalability increases on multi-core machines.”

“Zircon is an emerging leader in advancing flexible, cost-effective distributed and parallel computing software to help accelerate applications in multi-core systems and we have shared customers who demand the highest levels of networking performance,” said Buddy Broeker, director, Embedded Solutions, AMD. “The results of the EEMBC Networking Suite 2.0 can offer clear analysis of the benefits that Zircon and AMD bring to networking and router solutions.”

Both patterns are now part of the latest software release, version 3.3, from Zircon Computing.

Siemens Building Technologies Division expands its Mentor Graphics Design Environment

WILSONVILLE, USA: Mentor Graphics Corp. announced that Siemens Building Technologies Division, Switzerland, has successfully benchmarked the Mentor Graphics Expedition Enterprise printed circuit board (PCB) design flow and has smoothly migrated from its existing Board Station design environment and tools of other PCB design solution vendors to Expedition Enterprise and the HyperLynx Signal Integrity (SI)/Power Integrity (PI) analysis product.

The Expedition Enterprise solution provides a concurrent team design flow capability, which enables multiple layout designers from remote locations to simultaneously work from a single design database.

This capability is built on Mentor's award-winning PCB layout architecture which allows for an interactive and automatic design within a single, correct-by-construction design environment. By using the Expedition Enterprise product, Siemens is able to shorten the development process, optimize their design capability, and reduce the number of design cycles.

Siemens Building Technologies Division selected the HyperLynx signal and power integrity product because of its accurate analysis and simulation capabilities, ease-of-use, and quick set-up time. It represents the ideal solution for today’s high-density PCBs.

Combined with the Expedition Enterprise platform, the HyperLynx product offers a comprehensive solution for designing high-performance electronic products. The HyperLynx product suite improves product quality and ensures predictable design costs by reducing the number of prototypes, manufacturing re-spins and overall development costs.

“After evaluating tools from Mentor Graphics and another well-known EDA supplier, the Expedition Enterprise flow finally gained the upper hand,” said Thomas M├Ąder, Director Hardware Engineering Group, Siemens Switzerland (AG), Building Technologies.

“The migration to the new Expedition tool generation was well managed and conducted successfully with great support from Mentor Graphics. We implemented a similar process as before, but with an improved flow that facilitates the cooperation between different locations. Starting as a pilot platform for a real project, which could be completed in less time than previous projects by eliminating many design issues, we have been able to successfully use the new technology after a short transition period.”

“We are very pleased to be able to further expand our long-term partnership with Siemens Building Technologies Division,” said Matthias Knoppik, Area Director for Mentor Graphics Central Europe.

“Mentor’s market-leading products such as Expedition Enterprise help global companies with international operations meet challenges that arise from having resources distributed around the world. This includes enterprise-wide management of IP (intellectual property) and of design teams, as well as supply-chain integration beyond the limits of individual locations. This leads to a boost in developer productivity and makes it easier for teams to collaborate, while ensuring the smooth exchange of information within the company.”