Monday, October 31, 2011

GLOBALFOUNDRIES board of directors appoints Ajit Manocha as CEO

MILPITAS, USA: GLOBALFOUNDRIES announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Ajit Manocha as the company’s CEO on a permanent basis, effective immediately. He had served as interim CEO since June.

Manocha is a veteran semiconductor industry executive with more than 30 years of global expertise in operations, general management, and manufacturing. As interim CEO, Manocha has played a critical role in strengthening GLOBALFOUNDRIES, focusing on improving operations, increasing customer engagement, and laying the groundwork for technology leadership in the future.

“The Board worked diligently to review and interview a number of outstanding candidates who had excellent qualifications to become our CEO,” said Jim Norling, chairman of the GLOBALFOUNDRIES Board of Directors. “We were excited to see the caliber of individuals who were eager to lead this company. In the end, we decided the best candidate is in-house and we’re extremely pleased that Ajit has accepted our offer to become our permanent CEO.”

“Ajit’s efforts over the last four months – his passion, his energy, his leadership skills and his ability to help drive the business and its operations to a new level – make him the right person to lead GLOBALFOUNDRIES forward,” said Ibrahim Ajami, vice chairman of the Board and CEO of the Advanced Technology Investment Co., the majority shareholder in GLOBALFOUNDRIES. “With Ajit’s confirmation, ATIC remains committed to ensuring that GLOBALFOUNDRIES becomes an industry-changing platform of innovation, customers’ preferred choice, and the leading semiconductor foundry in the world.”

In a very short time, Manocha has overseen the company’s focused effort to achieve operational excellence, boost customer satisfaction and accelerate leading-edge capacity expansion plans. GLOBALFOUNDRIES is manufacturing the foundry industry’s first High-k Metal Gate (HKMG) product, and is expected to ship more HKMG volume in 2011 than all other foundries combined. The company also is in the midst of capacity build-outs at its fabs in Germany, New York and Singapore.

“I am looking forward to accelerating the momentum our 12,000 employees have created the last four months,” said Manocha. “I have been a part of the vision of this organization since its inception three years ago and am eager to continue to drive the company forward. Given the demand from our customers, our strong global assets and our committed investor with its long-term perspective, we’ll strive for market leadership in the semiconductor foundry industry.”

Manocha previously served as executive VP of Worldwide Operations at Spansion. Prior to Spansion, he served as executive VP and Chief Manufacturing Officer at NXP (formerly Philips Semiconductors), where he was responsible for worldwide IC manufacturing, supply chain management and purchasing for the semiconductor division.

Manocha has held senior executive and management positions at AT&T Microelectronics and AT&T Bell Laboratories where he began his career as a research scientist. There he was granted more than a dozen US and international patents for several inventions in the field of microelectronics.

ST takes lead in advanced telecom protection

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: STMicroelectronics has made a significant step forward in broadband equipment protection by unveiling the industry's first device meeting forthcoming industry standards setting out tougher criteria for voltage surges.

ST's LCP12 IC protects against high-voltage surges on the tip and ring connections of Subscriber Line Interface Cards (SLICs), which connect telecom local loops to the access network. These voltage surges can be caused by lightning strikes or by electromagnetic coupling or direct contact with AC power lines.

The LCP12 provides the protection specified by telecom standards used throughout the Americas, Europe and the Far East, such as the GR-1089 CORE standards, ITU-T-K.20/21 covering operator and customer-premises equipment, and the similar Mainland China YD/T standards. As the only protection device rated for surge currents up to 75A for the 5/310us waveshape at 4kV, the LCP12 is uniquely able to comply with forthcoming revisions to the Chinese standards.

The new device integrates thyristors to protect against positive and negative surges on two wires, and provides a higher level of protection than its predecessor, the LCP02. Moreover, the LCP12 is fully compatible with existing equivalent devices, hence providing a drop-in upgrade capable of satisfying the new tougher protection standards going forward. With its wide firing-voltage range, from -120V to +120V, the LCP12 is compatible with most dual battery-voltage SLICs in use today.

The LCP12 is housed in the industry-standard SO-8 wide package and is available to qualified customers, priced from $1.196, with a minimum order quantity of 1,000 units.

Meet BeagleBone -- open source hardware platform

DALLAS, USA: Innovators: Get ready for the latest open source development platform that easily enables incredible inventions like wirelessly networked autonomous robots, self-teaching electronics education kits, intelligent digital signage, flexible retro-gaming devices, home automation and much more. is pleased to introduce the newest member of its wildly popular pack — the BeagleBone. Three years ago, BeagleBoard blurred the lines between desktop and embedded computing, paving the way for rapidly accelerated open source innovation on ARM processors.

At $89, the new BeagleBone development board, based on a Texas Instruments (TI) Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessor, features the best open source development value for hobbyists, developers and engineers. It delivers bare bones hardware with access to interface signals for sensors and controls, while eliminating the need for additional equipment with a single cable development environment.

"It's exciting to see developers release more amazing open-source hardware for the community to use and share," said Limor Fried, engineer, Adafruit Industries. "BeagleBoard, and now the BeagleBone, are fantastic platforms for any open-source hardware developer to learn from and build upon."

Emerson, Freescale and Kontron advance I/O connectivity for COM Express form factors

AdvancedTCA Summit, SAN JOSE, USA: Emerson Network Power, Freescale and Kontron have collaborated to expand I/O connectivity options for the COM Express specification, paving the way for broader and more rapid deployment of advanced processing technologies such as Freescale’s QorIQ AMP products into the popular form factor.

The PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) standard for COM Express is best suited to a limited range of processor architectures. Today, collaboration between Emerson Network Power, Freescale and Kontron has expanded I/O connectivity options by establishing a new pin out definition for modules that are compatible with COM Express mechanical requirements.

The new pin out definition allows a range of implementations to take advantage of Freescale’s QorIQ AMP and P Series products, including the T4240 processor. The T4240 device integrates a host of hardware accelerators, with 12 dual-threaded, 64-bit Power Architecture cores, providing 24 threads to address high-end data plane processing applications.

Dual-threaded efficiency, improved DMIPs per thread and higher frequency deliver 4x performance gain and more than 2x power efficiency gain over Freescale’s previous-generation QorIQ P4080 device. Advanced capabilities allow for intelligent sharing and duplication of resources between threads and a larger amount of on-die cache per core.

“The collaboration of Freescale, Emerson Network Power and Kontron has proven to be extremely beneficial in developing this pin out for the popular COM Express standard,” said Brett Butler, VP and GM, Freescale’s Networking Processor Division. “We recognized that customers wanted alternative architectures on this form factor, and the collaboration was able to bring this to market quickly.”

“While we are pleased with the initial definition and acceptance of a pin out for COM Express that we defined with Freescale, we recognize that the newer generation of processors from Freescale provides an opportunity to create more functionality, flexibility and quicker time to market,” said Shlomo Pri-Tal, CTO of Emerson Network Power’s Embedded Computing business. “Working with Kontron and Freescale made this new definition come together quickly.”

“We have a proven track record in setting standards in the Computer on Modules market and a long-standing relationship with Emerson Network Power in a number of standards bodies,” said Dirk Finstel, CTO of Kontron. “It was a natural fit to work with Emerson Network Power and Freescale to provide the market alternatives on the popular COM Express form factor. Freescale’s presence in Aerospace and Defense, networking and telecom markets provides greater opportunity for the compatible COM Express modules.”

Alereon announces breakthrough advances in UWB technology

AUSTIN, USA: Alereon Inc. announced major enhancements to its UWB product family and roadmap that exploit the large untapped spectrum in the UWB frequency bands authorized in the US, Europe, China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Canada, and many other major economies.

Alereon’s announcement makes major advances in UWB technology versus the original UWB that has been shipping in customer products worldwide such as the Samsung Central Station CA750 and CA650 integrated monitor and docking stations.

“Alereon’s advancements in UWB allow us to now provide customers with the wireless performance and convenience they have envisioned for many applications where Wi-Fi is simply not suitable,” said Eric Broockman, Alereon CEO.

“By driving significant performance enhancements in this untapped spectrum, we avoid the congestion, interference and throughput issues that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth suffer in the 2.4 and 5GHz spectrum which is destined to get even worse as more Wi-Fi devices come to market. Alereon's UWB performance enhancements are especially important to applications such as wireless monitors that require all day glitch free video performance, streaming video applications such as wireless HDMI cable replacement or Android handset to HDTV or specialty applications such as medical, industrial and military applications.”

Alereon is advancing UWB technology along four important axes: Protocols, Performance, Power and Price. Today, Alereon is announcing the availability of TCP/IP protocol over UWB as an alternative to the original wireless USB protocol developed by the USB Industry Forum. TCP/IP is the protocol commonly used over Ethernet and Wi-Fi for connecting to the Internet. Alereon’s new TCP/IP protocol support is available for Alereon’s currently shipping chipset families. Alereon will initially support TCP/IP in a Windows environment, but future support for Android and Linux are planned for early next year.

Along the Price and Power axes, Alereon is announcing today the AL6301UWB BaseBand/MAC, a new 65nm low power chip for use in future generations of wireless monitors, USB mini-dongles and tablets. The AL6301 BBP/MAC uses a low power, and highly efficient 65nm manufacturing process. The AL6301 also includes sophisticated clock gating for low power operation and very low leakage power. The package size is a diminutive 6mm x 6mm – thus enabling very small adapter boards suitable for mini-dongles and portable applications. Power has been reduced 20 percent from the previous generation 90nm AL5301. The new AL6301 is available now.

Finally on the Performance axis, Alereon is announcing the development of the next generation AL7350, an advanced UWB BaseBand/MAC that is capable of achieving 1Gbps PHY rates at short range on the desktop and 2X extended range versus earlier WiMedia 1.1 compliant UWB chipsets. The AL7350 implements the more advanced WiMedia 1.5 specification together with maximum ratio combining. The new 1Gbps chip is currently in alpha sampling and will be available for general sampling in mid-2012.

Global semiconductor sales increase 2.7 percent in September

Caroline Kazmierski

WASHINGTON, D.C., USA: The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), representing US leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and design, announced that worldwide sales of semiconductors were $25.8 billion for the month of September, an increase of 2.7 percent from the prior month when sales were $25.1 billion. Overall quarter-over-quarter sales increased 2.1 percent and on a year-to-date basis sales grew 2.2 percent. All monthly sales numbers represent a three-month moving average.

“September’s global sales demonstrate an optimistic close to the 3rd quarter,” said Brian Toohey, president, Semiconductor Industry Association. “While global economic uncertainty creates limited visibility for the remainder of the year, recent positive indicators and developments in the US and Europe are encouraging.”

“We would like to extend our sympathies to the people of Thailand suffering through a humanitarian crisis caused by devastating flooding,” Toohey continued.

A 13.7 percent quarter-over-quarter increase in Japan was driven by progress made in their recovery efforts. Additionally, strong demand for automotive applications and mobile processing in handheld devices like smart phones, tablets and eReaders added to the quarter-over-quarter increase. An updated World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) forecast is expected to be released at the end of November.Source: SIA, USA.

Parade responds to market demand for unidirectional USB 3.0 repeater/redriver solutions

SAN JOSE, USA: Parade Technologies Ltd, a leading video display and interface IC supplier, announced three new additions to the company'’s USB 3.0 Repeater/Redriver IC product line.

Parade's new PS8711 is a single-channel unidirectional USB 3.0 Repeater/Redriver with both pin- and I2C-configurable performance controls; the PS8722 is a dual-channel unidirectional USB 3.0 Repeater/Redriver with pin-configurable performance controls; and the PS8725 is a dual-channel unidirectional USB 3.0 Repeater/Redriver with I2C-configurable performance controls.

All three devices are available in a 3x3mm TQFN package, the most compact USB 3.0 Redriver package available. And all three devices are offered in both 1.5V and 3.3V power supply versions. The 1.5V versions of each device are the lowest power USB 3.0 Repeater/Redrivers available.

"Parade is a key IC supplier to most of the world’s leading computer OEMs, who have asked for signal reconditioning solutions that allow for optimal PCB placement to maximize system performance," explained Jimmy Chiu, VP of Marketing at Parade. "With a unidirectional Redriver, a USB input signal can be reconditioned by a device immediately adjacent to the USB controller, while the USB output signal can be reconditioned by a second repeater located next to the external USB receptacle."

USB is widely used in computers, peripherals, smart-phones and consumer electronics. The latest and fastest version of USB -- USB 3.0 features the additional “SuperSpeed” data rate, a ten-fold speed increase over the USB 2.0 “High-Speed” data rate. Market research firms expect that USB 3.0 adoption will grow at 178 percent CAGR through 2015.

Operating at 5Gb/s, USB 3.0 is susceptible to degradation as the signal travels through PCB traces and lengthy cables. USB Repeater/Redrivers are used for signal reconditioning between the USB controller device and external USB ports to enhance signal integrity.

All three Parade devices are fully compliant with the USB 3.0 specification. Unlike other USB Repeater/Redrivers, Parade devices incorporate a pin- or I2C-configurbale automatic compliance-testing mode. This eliminates the need for special pin configurations when performing system compliance verification.The PS8711, PS8722 and PS8725 are sampling now, and production volumes will be available in December 2011. The PS8711 will be priced at $1/ea. in high volume. The PS8722 will be priced at $1.50/ea. in high volume. The PS8725 will be priced at $1.50/ea. in high volume.

TI intros Sitara AM335x ARM microprocessors

DALLAS, USA: Imagine upgrading from ARM9-based product designs to add 3D interactive touch screens, higher resolution displays, faster performance and multiple, flexible integrated connectivity options for a more robust offering — all while keeping design costs and power levels low. Visualize taking these new products to market in six months with an inexpensive development platform and free, complete software development kit. Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) now makes this design vision a reality with its new Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors.

“The new Sitara AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors from TI allow designers to explore infinite possibilities for upgrading their systems without increasing cost or power consumption,” said Dipti Vachani, general manager, Sitara ARM microprocessors, TI. “Moreover, TI gives you all the tools, free software and 24/7 support to design. That's true design ease — paramount to every TI embedded processor offering.”

Starting at $5 and consuming as low as 7 mW of power, the AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors provide low power consumption, prolonging battery life and reducing heat emissions, to enable portable, pocket-sized, fan-less applications. Offering developers high performance with advanced 3D graphics capabilities, touch screen controller and sophisticated peripherals all on a single chip reduces printed circuit board (PCB) space, complexity and bill of materials (BOM) costs by as much as $40 for smaller sized applications such as portable navigation, handheld gaming and educational devices, home and building automation and more.

“TI's feature-packed AM335x ARM microprocessors and the associated software and hardware development boards provide embedded system designers with low-cost, low-power and easy-to-use solutions,” said Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist, In-Stat. “Total system solutions like these allow embedded designers to take advantage of the huge investments in ARM core technology and open source software, such as the Android operating system, to ensure a roadmap for future investments in silicon and software.”

The AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors offer multiple robust development tools. Designers can quickly and easily begin development with the $89 BeagleBone, the newest, best-value open source hardware platform from the community. Designers can also use the full-featured AM335x evaluation module (EVM) with a seven-inch LCD touch screen and access to all peripherals for $995.

The EVM includes TI’s WL1271 single-chip 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth technology in a broadly available module and is the first widely available platform to enable Wi-Fi Direct. The combination of the AM335x ARM Cortex-A8 microprocessors and proven WL1271 solution provides a very low-cost, high-performance wireless connectivity platform.

Altera showcases efficient and safety-integrated drive systems at SPS/IPC/DRIVES 2011

SAN JOSE, USA: Altera Corp. announced it will demonstrate its latest industrial embedded solutions for energy-efficient and safety-integrated drive systems at SPS/IPC/DRIVES Electric Automation Exhibition and Conference in Nuremberg, Germany.

Altera will highlight how its Cyclone series of FPGAs enables integrated, high-performance industrial systems such as drive systems with a high-performance control loop in floating point. Visitors to the booth also can test drive the industry's first Virtual Target for software development on the new Cyclone V SoC FPGA with the integrated ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor. Many designers use Cyclone FPGAs in a wide range of industrial applications including drives, PLCs, inverters and embedded control.

IDT intros world’s lowest power DDR3 register for high-efficiency data centers

SAN JOSE, USA: Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT) has introduced the world’s lowest-power register for DDR3 memory modules. The new DDR3 register is the industry’s first Gen 3 device and is designed to enable enterprise servers to operate at the highest speeds within an unmatched power envelope, maximizing the performance and power efficiency of large-scale cloud computing data centers.

The IDT SSTE32882KB1 DDR3 register and phase-locked loop (PLL) has been fine-tuned for best-in-class performance, maximizing motherboard channel margins at speeds up to DDR3-2133. The device incorporates innovative power saving techniques to lower power consumption by up to 20 percent in full active mode and 40% in idle mode, shattering the existing power overhead typically associated with Registered Dual In-Line Memory Modules (RDIMMs).

When coupled with the latest generations of low-power DRAMs, IDT’s new register can reduce total RDIMM power consumption by more than 15 percent under idle conditions, a critical measure of power for energy efficiency rating agencies. Given that a typical server in a data center spends most of its life in idle mode, this level of power efficiency can offer hundreds of thousands of dollars in operational savings over the lifetime of a data center installation.

“As the leader in DDR3 memory interface solutions with a growing portfolio of ultra-efficient power management products, we fully understand the importance of energy efficiency in enterprise computing,” said Rami Sethi, director of marketing in the Enterprise Computing Division at IDT. “IDT’s dedication to continual innovation in reducing both component and system power consumption and improving power delivery is well-received by our customers who keep coming back to IDT for their next generation needs.”

The IDT SSTE32882KB1 includes a number of innovative proprietary features, such as RCW readback, to improve the customer experience and facilitate test and debug capability for module makers and system manufacturers. These devices complement the latest IDT family of low power temperature sensors with serial presence detect (SPD) for a full low power solution for enterprise-class memory modules.

The IDT SSTE32882KB1 is currently sampling to qualified customers and is available in a 176-ball BGA package. The new IDT DDR3 registers are priced at $5.00 each for volumes of 10,000 units.

MagnaChip expands LED driver product portfolio to notebook and tablet PCs

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA & CUPERTINO, USA: MagnaChip Semiconductor Corp., an Asia-based designer and manufacturer of analog and mixed-signal semiconductor products, has launched a 4-channel LED driver for notebook computer applications and a 6-channel LED driver for tablet PCs.

The 4-channel LED driver, MAP3105, has an input voltage range of 4V to 26V and an embedded MOSFET which can boost output voltage to as much as 45V with a switching range of 500KHz ~2MHz. MAP3105 also maximizes LED brightness by increasing input current up to 40mA per channel, while minimizing current matching to less than 2 percent per channel. MAP3105 is offered in a TQFN-16L package and is 3mm x 3mm in size.

In addition, the 6-channel LED driver, MAP3106, has an input voltage range of 5V to 24V and an embedded MOSFET which can boost output voltage to as much as 40V with a switching range of 330KHz ~1MHz. MAP3106 is offered in a QFN package and is 4mm x 4mm in size.

Operating efficiency and safety have also been enhanced through a multitude of designed-in protection functions including current overload protection, LED open/short protection, over voltage protection, open Schottky diode protection among others.

H.K. Kim, executive VP of MagnaChip's Power Solutions Division said: "We are very pleased to have launched the fully integrated 4-channel and 6-channel LED backlight driver which expands our product portfolio of drivers for notebook and tablet PCs. Our goal is to continue to deliver leading-edge products by expanding our product portfolio with the latest in advanced technologies."

Touchstone adds two drop-in replacement parts alternate-source Maxim product family

MILPITAS, USA: Touchstone Semiconductor, a developer of high-performance analog integrated circuit solutions, announced the immediate availability of two new, drop-in replacements in its Maxim alternate-source family, bringing the total number to nine analog ICs. These new voltage reference analog ICs are pin-compatible, specification-identical and functionally identical to Maxim Integrated Products’ MAX6025A/B.

Touchstone’s nine alternate-source parts can be used in conjunction with Maxim products to ensure a constant supply of product so companies can meet product shipping deadlines. All Touchstone alternate-source Maxim ICs are in stock and available to ship immediately.

Touchstone’s two new analog products include the TSM6025A and TSM6025B, low-power, single-supply, precision +2.5-V voltage reference ICs that can be used for the MAX6025A/B.

The TSM6025A/B are series-mode voltage reference ICs. The TSM6025A/B consume only 27μA of supply current at no-load, and exhibit an initial output voltage accuracy of less than 0.2 percent and a low output voltage temperature coefficient of 15ppm/°C. In addition, the TSM6025A/B’s output stage is stable for all capacitive loads to 2200pF and is capable of sinking and sourcing load currents up to 500μA. Its supply current is not affected by changes in the applied supply voltage, unlike two-terminal shunt-mode references that require an external resistor.

These ICs offer a small form factor, few external components and low supply-current operation and are ideal for low-power, precision applications. The TSM6025A/B are available in a 3-pin SOT23 package. Prices start at $1.70 each per 1,000 part quantity.

Electronics manufacturers use Touchstone’s products as additional product supply in the case of hard-to-get sole-sourced products. Touchstone’s other alternate-source products include:

* TSM9938F, a low-power current-sense amplifier that can be substituted for the MAX9938 and is guaranteed to operate from +1.6V to +28V, consume no more than 1μA supply current, offer a 50V/V fixed-gain option and exhibit a maximum input offset voltage of 500µV.

* TSM9634F, a low-power current-sense amplifier that can be used in place of the MAX9634 and is guaranteed to operate from +1.6V to +28V, consume no more than 1μA supply current, offer a 50V/V fixed-gain option and exhibit a maximum input offset voltage of 250µV.

* TSM9117 and TSM9118, low-power, single-supply comparators with reference that can be used as drop-in-replacements for the MAX9117 and MAX9118 and consume less than 600nA supply current.

* TSM9119 and TSM9120, low-power, single-supply comparators only that can be used the MAX9119 and MAX9120. They consume less than 400nA of supply current.

* TSM917, which can replace the MAX917 nanopower comparator, operates from a single +1.8V supply and consumes no more than 750nA of supply current.

austriamicrosystems announces highest performance NFC reader IC for payment and automotive apps

UNTERPREMSTAETTEN, AUSTRIA: austriamicrosystems, a leading global designer and manufacturer of high-performance analog ICs, has announced the AS3911 NFC (near field communications) and HF (high frequency) reader IC. The AS3911 has unique capabilities not available in the market and enables a number of applications, including EMV (Europay MasterCard Visa) payment, access control, automotive, NFC Infrastructure, and ticketing.

With an on-chip capacitive sensor, the AS3911 reader IC requires only 5 μA of current and can wake in the presence of a tag. This unique feature allows for the lowest current consumption in the industry. The IC also provides automatic antenna tuning to eliminate manual tuning while providing 1 W of output power, eliminating the need for an external booster circuit. This is an important feature for the 650 mW of power needed to read credit/debit cards. Competing solutions require a complex external booster circuit. The AS3911’s high level of integration and exclusive antenna management means halving typical system cost.

austriamicrosystems’ AS3911 is the only chip on the market with on-chip error handling for EMV applications. Alternative reader ICs do error correction on the host microcontroller. In addition, the AS3911 includes the analog front end (AFE) and a highly integrated data framing system for handling ISO 18092 (NFCIP-1) initiator, ISO 18092 (NFCIP-1) active target, ISO 14443 A and B reader (including high bit rates) and FeliCa (Felicity Card) reader.

Other standards and custom protocols can also be accommodated by adjusting the AFE and implementing framing in an external microcontroller. Additionally, the AS3911 is the first reader IC on the market that supports the Very High Bit Rate (VHBR) draft amendment to the 14443 standard, allowing for data rates up to 6.8 Mbit/sec.

Bruce Ulrich, Wireless Product Line director at austriamicrosystems, commented: “Customers repeatedly requested a reader chip designed for NFC applications. The AS3911 provides the features and performance to optimize the infrastructure readers for NFC. Customers need flexibility, RF performance, and speed to enable them to overcome the weaker performance of the NFC enabled phones. This is where users need peak RF performance and flexibility combined with low power. The AS3911 reader IC gives designers a system solution to speed their time to market.”

The AS3911 includes features that make it very well suited for low power designs. In addition to the capacitive sensor detecting the presence of a card without switching on the reader field, a card can also be detected by performing a measurement of amplitude or phase of the signal on the antenna. The AS3911 also contains a low power RC oscillator and wake-up timer to wake the system after a defined time period and check for a tag. Additionally, this IC is qualified for use in automotive applications so it can be used for car access, ignition and diagnostic functions.

The AS3911 operates over a wide power supply range -- from 2.4 V to 5.5 V -- and over a wide temperature range of -40 to 85ºC and is housed in a 32-pin QFN (5x5 mm) package.

Fujitsu Semiconductor intros NAGRA certified STB chipsets to ensure content security

SINGAPORE: Fujitsu Semiconductor Asia Pte Ltd (FSAL) announced that its HDTV multi-decoder processor MB86H611 (a member of MB86H61 series) with advanced security architecture has been successfully certified by NAGRA, the world’s leading provider of advanced content protection and multi-screen user experience solutions.

The announcement underscores a good fit for the company’s HDTV decoder family with today’s market where modern content security architectures are increasingly reliant on the video chipset.

With the rapid growth of the operator market around the globe, content protection has become increasingly important to industry players, particularly in emerging markets. Fujitsu Semiconductor has leveraged its expertise in the cost-sensitive free-to-air STB market for the development of paid TV solutions. Compliance with NAGRA’s on-chip security requirements version 1.1 (NOCS 1.1), enables the MB86H611 to run NAGRA’s latest products on Fujitsu’s platform.

The MB86H61 series is a highly integrated HD Multi-Standard Digital Television Decoder designed to meet the needs of the globally expanding HD set-top-box and IDTV market. The MB86H61 is a single-chip video decoder that supports H.264 / AVC, MPEG-2, AVS and VC-1 video decoding in high definition resolution with up to 1080p 50/60Hz output.

Core processing units include a high performance ARM 1176JZF-STM CPU with more than 475DMIPS, an advanced, programmable audio processor which offers the full flexibility of decoding MPEG1 layers 1, 2 and 3 (MP3), HE-AAC, Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital plus and a 2D graphic engine to accelerate OSD.

Rich interfaces consist of copy-protected HDMI, CCIR656 (SD) or SMPTE 296M/274M (HD) for video output; 4x I²S from 8kHz to 192kHz, SPDIF and stereo audio DAC for audio; as well as eSATA/SATA 3Gb/s, SDIO, two USB 2.0 and 10/100 Base-T Ethernet MAC. A deep power-down mode reduces power consumption during standby mode.

“With increased demands from customers, the performance bar for set-top boxes has been pushed higher and higher. At the same time, security remains a critical concern that needs to be constantly addressed,” said Andy Chang, associate VP of Fujitsu Semiconductor Asia Pte Ltd. “Fujitsu’s set-top box chipsets with integrated NOCS technology ensures certified platform level security for multiple purposes such as controlling and securing digital outputs.”

Samples of the MB86H611 chipset are available and the development of set-top boxes embedded with NAGRA’s Conditional Access System (CAS) and Digital Rights Management (DRM) products have begun.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Databeans revises 2011 global DRAM market projections and overall semiconductor revenue

Matt Scherer

RENO, USA: Databeans announced in October 2011 that it would revise its DRAM forecast down slightly from its previous estimates to $31.5 billion in worldwide sales for the entire 2011 year. This has pulled down the overall semiconductor industry projection which is now $303.5 billion, a 2 percent increase from 2010.

This change has come from weakness in the consumption of consumer and computing devices across all regions which left DRAM suppliers with considerable inventory overstock. Another issue is that DRAM has seemed to reach its limits in the PC space. Simply stated, further price reductions do not benefit OEMs as the average PC already includes more DRAM than consumers demand.

This freeze in consumption means that current stock is not moving and prices of DRAM, especially the industry bellwether DDR3 2GB, have tumbled in recent months. In fact, overall DRAM average selling prices have dropped 17 percent from May to August and are now hovering around $1.73. At this cost, many suppliers are selling the chips at a lost just to move product off their shelves.

As a result, many DRAM supplier revenues have been hurt by the lower gross margins that came from the declines in DRAM prices. For example, in September 2011 Boise, Idaho-based memory chip maker Micron Technology posted a surprise quarterly loss. The firm, which remains the last memory supplier located in the United States, has struggled the declining demand for PC memory chips.

Meanwhile, the company's overseas competitors, which include suppliers like Samsung, Elpida, and Hynix Semiconductor, have also been stung by the DRAM slump, but most of these players have started shifting more of their production over to NAND Flash memory (which is mainly used in growing product categories such as tablets and smartphones) in order to offset the losses experienced in their DRAM units.

The situation has become grim enough that some experts believe that if smaller DRAM makers are to survive this current situation they should either diversify into new products or seek mergers with larger, more established players. This is particularly true for the Taiwanese manufactures, such as ProMOS, Powerchip, and Nanya, which have reported losses over the past few months. ProMOS, in particular, has lost revenue for 16 straight quarters. This is because they typically face far greater price strains than other suppliers, which is the result of their higher manufacturing costs and more difficult market dynamics. What’s more, leaders like Samsung and Hynix, can take advantage of their leading-edge process technologies and manufacturing facilities.

Despite all of this, the future is not completely dark for DRAM. Because DRAM is so closely tied with consumer confidence, a rebound in consumer driven demand will provide DRAM with a boost as well. As such, Databeans projects a slight decline in global DRAM revenue from 2011 to 2013. However, the market should see a rebound in 2014, which should continue into the following couple years until the end of the forecasted period. As a whole, Databeans expects a compounded annual growth rate of roughly 5 percent over the five-year period spanning from 2011 to 2016.

2011 Worldwide Semiconductor Revenue Forecast by Product Type

Microchip’s Thailand factories operating normally; no imminent danger due to location

CHANDLER, USA: Microchip Technology Inc. announced that both of its factories in Thailand are continuing to operate normally, and are in no imminent danger of flooding because of where they are located (approximately 50 miles east of Bangkok). There is, however, extensive flooding in other parts of Thailand, including sections of the city of Bangkok, and our heartfelt sympathy and concern goes out to the people of Thailand who have been impacted by these floods.

“Our highest priority remains the safety of our 3000+ Thailand employees and their families,” said Ganesh Moorthy, Microchip’s COO. “While a majority of our employees live outside the areas expected to flood, we already have more than 200 employees who are affected. That number will unfortunately go up in the coming days, and we are doing everything we can to help our employees who are affected or at risk of being affected.”

The primary international airport in Bangkok remains open, and Microchip’s shipping and receiving is operating normally. While there have been reports of a Bangkok airport that is flooded, that is the old airport in the north of the city, which Microchip doesn’t use. Instead, Microchip uses Thailand’s primary international airport, known as Suvarnabhumi Airport, which is located east of Bangkok.

Subcontractor supply chain update
While Microchip’s subcontractor supply chain in Thailand has been impacted, the Company has already implemented alternative solutions to nearly all of these suppliers. The following is an update on Microchip’s Thailand subcontractors:

HANA Semiconductor, located in Ayutthaya (north of Bangkok), is under water and expected to be out of commission for several months. Microchip runs very little volume at Hana, and is moving the products it ran there to other subcontractors.

Stars Microelectronics, also located in Ayutthaya, is also under water and out of commission. Microchip builds some of its wireless modules at Stars, and has already shifted production to an alternative subcontractor.

Vigilant Technology, located near an area of Bangkok that is at risk of flooding, has shut down as a precautionary measure until the risk has subsided. Microchip has alternative sources for the packages built at Vigilant, and does not expect any impact from this shutdown.

UTAC has three factories in the Bangkok area, and all three are continuing to operate normally.

“The contingency plans that Microchip developed over the years have been put to good use, and the fact that we are continuing to operate as normally as one can under the circumstances is no accident,” Moorthy continued. “Rather, it is a testament to the preparation, thoughtfulness and hard work of our team in Thailand.”

MIPS' processor IP at heart of Sequans' LTE SoCs for handsets and tablets

SUNNYVALE, USA: MIPS Technologies Inc. announced that the new LTE (Long Term Evolution) SoC (System-on-Chip) from 4G chipmaker Sequans Communications S.A. is powered by MIPS industry-standard processors. Targeted at smartphones and tablets, the SQN3110 SoC is Sequans' second generation LTE baseband chip. It incorporates dual MIPS32 24Kc processor cores, and is the first of a planned series of MIPS-Based LTE chips from Sequans.

LTE is a 4G wireless broadband technology that is quickly proliferating across the world. According to recent research from IHS iSuppli, growth of LTE infrastructure spending will reach $27.9 billion by 2014, a CAGR of a 107.5 percent from $1.5 billion in 2010. And research firm In-Stat forecasts that LTE subscriptions will experience an unprecedented 3,400 percent growth between 2011 and 2015. The MIPS architecture is used widely in LTE network infrastructure solutions, and now through licensees such as Sequans, is gaining traction in user equipment (UE) such as handsets and tablets.

Implemented in an advanced 40nm process technology, the new SQN3110 SoC achieves LTE CAT4 data throughput with ultra-low power consumption. With Sequans' 4G "slim modem" approach, the SoC provides high performance with compact area and low system cost. Compared with the previous generation LTE chip, the new MIPS-Based SoC features increased data throughput, 3GPP Release-9 support and improved power consumption.

"As the leading provider of 4G SoCs for handsets, Sequans leveraged its deep WiMAX and LTE experience to deliver this new SoC that offers key benefits for handsets and tablets. The SQN3110 SoC offers uncompromised performance in a low-power implementation with a high level of integration. MIPS' flexible solutions and business model are enabling us to offer a broad range of options to our customers," said Dr. Georges Karam, president and CEO, Sequans.

"MIPS Technologies continues to make inroads into the mobile market, with a growing presence in applications processing, baseband processing, and other mobile-related functionality. Sequans is clearly at the forefront of 4G chip development, with more than 10 million chipsets shipped to-date. We are pleased to team with Sequans as the company brings its high-performance, low-power MIPS-Based LTE chips to the world. The rapid adoption of 4G technologies provides a significant opportunity for Sequans to proliferate its products across the globe," said Sandeep Vij, president and CEO, MIPS.

Friday, October 28, 2011

After slow results of Google TV, Intel turns away from TV semiconductors

EL SEGUNDO, USA: With little room left to maneuver in the tough TV system-on-chip (SoC) market central to the ambitious Google TV initiative, Google partner Intel Corp. is quietly reshuffling resources away from the connected television semiconductor space and redirecting attention to the more profitable arena of chips for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, according to an IHS iSuppli Digital TV & Set-Top Box Market Tracker report.

While Intel is a giant in the semiconductor field, the chipmaker is struggling to compete in the TV SoC space. Dominating the TV SoC market in the first half of 2011 were two Taiwanese players: Mstar Semiconductor Inc., with 39 percent market share; and MediaTek Inc., with 12 percent. A third major player, US-based Trident Microsystems Inc., had 6 percent market share, as shown in the figure.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

The rest of the market was split up between two groups. Approximately 27 percent was held by vertically integrated manufacturers—also known as “captive” suppliers—including Samsung Electronics, Toshiba Corp. and Sony Corp., which make TV SoC chips to supply their own internally produced televisions. A second group comprising independent silicon providers—such as Zoran Corp.—accounted for the remainder of the TV SoC market with 14 percent share. That leaves Intel and others with a scant 2 percent share of market left to fight over.

“In a television semiconductor market characterized by entrenched suppliers and weak near-term growth prospects, Intel was facing enormous challenges in trying to establish itself as a competitor,” said Randy Lawson, principal analyst for display and consumer electronics at IHS. “And with the first-generation Google TV products proving unsatisfactory given their slow sales, it’s no surprise that Intel is moving away from the television SoC market.”

Google TV had been intended to enable a framework supporting the development of so-called Smart TVs. However, clear standards have yet to be defined for the effort, which was jointly announced in 2010 by Intel, Google Inc., Sony and Logitech International.

Smart TVs are defined as televisions that support Internet connectivity and interactive features. This contrasts with the traditional TV model of one-way broadcast transmissions viewed by a passive audience.

To the disappointment of the search giant and Intel, Google TV sales have not yet taken off as expected. To move inventory, Logitech this summer slashed prices of its Google-TV-enabled Revue device to $99, down from $299 at the time of release. Moreover, an upgrade has not materialized as promised by Google, further thwarting Intel’s hopes of providing more chips—and thus deriving greater revenue—for the initiative.

Myriad difficulties will prove difficult for Intel to overcome
Despite robust projections showing Internet-enabled televisions will make up more than 65 percent of global TV shipments by 2015, the Smart TV space remains hampered on several fronts, Lawson noted.

One challenge is the lack of a coherent definition for what exactly constitutes a Smart TV, adding confusion for consumers still grappling with a flood of new television technologies.

A second factor is the pessimistic outlook in the near future for the television market, which presents a significant hurdle for new suppliers like Intel. Already, US semiconductor company Broadcom Corp. indicated it would exit the TV video processing chip market because of the forbidding competitive landscape. Fellow American player Trident Microsystems Inc. also announced it would reduce workforce by 20 percent due to declining sales in the set-top box and TV semiconductor segments.

A third difficulty for Intel is the decelerating consumer electronics (CE) semiconductor market—specifically for televisions. IHS expects zero growth this year in flat-panel TV semiconductor market revenue, due to steep pricing pressures throughout the supply chain because of weak end-market and consumer demand. In particular, the large-sized liquid crystal display (LCD) television industry is suffering a surfeit of supply from panel manufacturers, and a worrisome increase in overall semiconductor inventory levels this year also points to lower shipments and declining revenue.

New synergies emerging between TV and video
Notwithstanding the slumping TV SoC market, a trend is developing for the adoption of video processing technologies by new mobile CE devices, Lawson observed.

“As video consumption and recording capabilities extend into more handheld CE devices, the video-processing algorithms and techniques used in large-screen, high-definition TV sets are finding their way into portable CE devices like smartphones and tablets,” said Lawson. “In particular, functions like image scaling, frame-rate conversion, resolution and color enhancement, as well as noise and artifact suppression are gaining importance in mobile CE devices—where video playback requirements are becoming more extensive, and where increasing display resolutions even for displays sized smaller than 10 inches is driving the need for higher quality.”

It makes sense, then, that Intel—having garnered little traction in the TV market during the past few years—will now focus more development efforts in the mobile CE application processor space, according to Lawson. Not only are the margins greater here than in the TV SoC industry, the chipmaker also can stake a place in the new field to support the convergence of features between video-processor uses for TV and those for portable media-consumption devices.

Intel likewise intends to maintain business development efforts within the service provider/operator set-top box SoC business, where cost pressures are lower and opportunities abound that can improve the consumer viewing and interactive TV experience, given the full gamut of “smart”-enabled features offered by Google TV.

All told, the expansion in sales of smartphones and media tablets—two key CE application markets—is expected to outstrip growth in the traditional CE equipment space held by TVs, set-top boxes and DVD players or recorders. And while Intel plans to continue supporting the CE4100 chip device for the set-top box market, further product development specific to the TV space has been shelved, IHS has determined. Instead, resources are now expected to move to higher-priority projects focusing on smartphones and tablets.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Tablet PC architectures dominated by ARM and iOS; new Kindle could light a fire under Android

SANTA CLARA, USA: Shipments of tablet PCs with ARM processors are expected to grow 211 percent Y/Y in 2011 to 59.9 million units, while tablet PCs with x86 processors (typically used in notebook and netbook PCs) are not expected to experience strong growth until 2013, according to the newly-launched DisplaySearch Tablet Quarterly report.

Similarly, Windows 8, which is also associated with mobile PCs, is not expected to take significant share until 2013. Global tablet shipments are expected to reach nearly 330 million units by 2017, up from less than 60 million units in 2011, so this market segment

“The tablet PC and notebook PC markets are on a collision course as both product categories continue to evolve and improve on their respective weaknesses,” said Richard Shim, DisplaySearch Senior Analyst. “As such, each product category will influence the other over time. Still, the incumbent platforms have inherent advantages in the early years.”

Fig. 1: Worldwide Tablet PC Shipment Forecast by Processor (millions)Source: DisplaySearch, USA.

More brands will challenge Apple for a share of the tablet PC market and are expected to experiment with the various platforms available to them in the market. PC brands are likely to gravitate toward the familiar—Windows and x86 platforms—with some branching out towards the ARM platform as well. The emergence of Amazon as a tablet hardware vendor introduces even more non-Windows and non-x86 thinking into the tablet PC ecosystem, requiring players like Microsoft and Intel to catch up to the changing landscape of consumer computing.

Fig. 2: Worldwide Tablet PC Shipment Forecast by Operating System (millions)Source: DisplaySearch, USA.

“Although several processor architectures could be used to power tablet SoCs, the rich software ecosystem of the ARM architecture built around smart phones is proving to be a key differentiating factor,” according to Jim McGregor, Chief Technology Strategist for In-Stat, an NPD Group Company. “Unlike notebook and netbook PCs, where consumers have chosen products based on the processor or PC vendor, consumers of new mobile devices care more about what they can do with the devices, which is associated more with the device applications and services.”

Ultimately the developer community and the apps they create will play a significant role in the success of any emerging platform.

The new DisplaySearch Tablet Quarterly report tracks quarterly changes in tablet PC products and strategies and forecasts the impact of those changes on the market. It covers the changing landscape of screen sizes, features that are expected to be included and excluded in future tablets, and operating systems, including these highlights:

Cellular connectivity could be a potential catalyst for shipment growth and will be an influential technology in the growth of the tablet category. The share of tablets with embedded cellular connectivity will reach about 10% in 2013 and will exceed 25% by 2017.

Many display manufacturers are transitioning tablet panel production to larger plants, Gen 6 and Gen 8, which will lead to greater panel capacity for tablets. This transition could affect pricing.

Global Unichip refines business direction

HSINCHU, TAIWAN: Global Unichip Corp. announced that it is refining its business and technology model, focusing its evolution into a full service, flexible, ASIC company.

The announcement comes more as a formalization of an on-going process than as a change of direction. Over the past few years, GUC has dedicated significant resources to developing advanced technology, low power design expertise, a robust segment-specific IP portfolio and System-in-Package (SiP) technology. The Gartner Group ranked Global Unichip as the 14th largest ASIC company in 2010 based on its revenue of $327 million, up from 16th place in 2009.

According to president Jim Lai, the company's key differentiation is a flexible capability that allows it to take on traditional ASIC designs as well as more customized and focused challenges. GUC's business model supports both the integrated services of an IDM and a la carte services including IP licensing and customization, System-on-Chip (SoC) design, physical implementation, design consultation and licensing, Design for Test (DFT)/Design for Manufacturing (DFM), package design, and supply chain management. The company has branded this model the Flexible ASIC Model.

Taken together, GUC provides Flexible ASIC Services covering three core capabilities: SoC integration, implementation methodologies, and integrated manufacturing.

Lai also indicated that the company's nimbleness is enhanced by GUC's robust value chain ecosystem. GUC has always been strongly aligned with foundry partner TSMC and has developed close relationship with packaging and testing companies. On the IP and tool side, GUC has strengthened its ARM hardening capabilities and has developed strong ties with Synopsys and Cadence.

"We see GUC's Flexible ASIC Model as the new generation approach to this traditional semiconductor business. Going forward, we will focus on penetrating specific segments inside the mobile, networking, computing, and consumer electronics markets where we are establishing design expertise and domain knowledge," Lai said.

Global Unichip's technology strengths mirror the requirements of its target markets. The company is one of the few in the world who provides 28nm designs and who has developed significant experience on 40nm designs, particularly those targeting low power applications.

"Our ultimate goal," Lai points out, "is to innovate and deliver world class Flexible ASIC Services that elevate IC visionaries to the next level of leadership in their markets."

GUC will continue to provide local ASIC, design, and business services through its global operations in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, North America, as well as from its headquarters in Taiwan.

AppliedMicro revitalizes cloud with world’s first 64-bit ARM architecture compliant processor

SUNNYVALE, USA: Applied Micro Circuits Corp. or AppliedMicro, announced “X-Gene,” the world’s first 64-bit ARM architecture compliant processor for next-generation cloud computing, wireless infrastructure, enterprise networking, storage and security applications.

X-Gene multi-core processors based on high-performance ARMv8 compliant cores operating at up to 3.0 GHz will offer compelling performance at a fraction of the power and cost of existing solutions. With unparalleled single-thread performance, full CPU and I/O virtualization, and System-on-a-Chip (SoC) enabled glueless multi-processing, X-Gene will enable AppliedMicro to define the next generation of cloud computing.

Today’s multi-billion dollar cloud computing server landscape is dominated by systems that have a fundamental imbalance between the compute, memory, storage and networking components. Driven by the relentless pursuit for the utmost CPU performance, these imbalanced components are both power hungry and costly. AppliedMicro’s solution changes this paradigm by optimizing the system with a simpler, more elegant approach to reduce server cost, power and complexity by more than 50 percent. The new processors from AppliedMicro will implement the ARMv8 architecture, which includes the new ARM 64-bit instruction set, to deliver the world’s first “server-on-a-chip” integrating compute, networking and server elements into a single footprint.

“The current growth trajectory of data centers, driven by the viral explosion of social media and cloud computing applications, will continue to accelerate,” said Dr. Paramesh Gopi, president and CEO of AppliedMicro. “In offering the world’s first 64-bit ARM architecture processor, we harmonize the network with cloud computing and environmental responsibility. Our next-generation of multicore SoCs will bring in a new era of energy efficient performance that doesn’t break the bank on a limited power supply. In doing so, AppliedMicro becomes a more complete cloud computing technology provider for one of the hottest growth drivers in the industry.”

“Collectively, data centers around the world consume nearly 1.5 percent of total electricity production and almost $44.5 billion a year is spent on powering the servers in these data centers,” said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst from Linley Group. “Looking at the growth projections for data center usage and the future of power generation growth, this trajectory is unsustainable. A new paradigm for developing data centers based on energy efficiency will certainly help make data centers scale realistically with future demand growth.”

AppliedMicro’s initial ARM-based SoC design will be optimized for cloud server systems with a software-friendly architecture that greatly improves system utilization. AppliedMicro has implemented a sophisticated microarchitecture for the ARMv8 64-bit ISA and optimized it to deliver the highest performance while maintaining the power and cost profile associated with ARM technology. This server-on-a-chip will integrate multiple copies of AppliedMicro’s ARMv8 compliant 64-bit cores and a high-performance terabit coherent fabric with on-chip 10-Gigabit LAN, storage and WAN physical layer IP, as well as a 100-Gigabit per second inter socket communications interface to extend coherency to multi-chip configurations.

The SoC design integrates server-class dynamic power management to maximize power savings during the idle state while maximizing performance and responsiveness with the ability to configure thermal dissipated power (TDP) to meet varying system requirements. This technology allows the SoC to achieve an unprecedented level of standby power of less than 300mW.

The X-Gene’s unprecedented level of SoC integration in cloud server system designs reduces the chip count while also eliminating the power-hungry interfaces. In addition, the X-Gene platform is designed with Reliability, Availability and Serviceability (RAS) features required in the server space.

“We are excited to collaborate with AppliedMicro, who are early implementers of 64-bit ARM architecture based solutions,” said Lance Howarth, executive VP Marketing, ARM. “As cloud computing continues to redefine high end computing workloads, highly integrated solutions like AppliedMicro’s server-on-a-chip will offer an optimized balance of power, performance and price for an emerging generation of efficient server solutions.”

AppliedMicro’s new processor family will leverage build upon the already large installed ARM software and hardware ecosystem and appeal to the open source software community much like its 32-bit predecessor. Server class open-source OS will be fully enabled by the time of production.

First samples of AppliedMicro’s X-Gene server-on-a-chip devices are expected in the second half of 2012 and will be produced at TSMC.

AppliedMicro showcases world’s first 64-bit ARM v8 core

ARM TechCon 2011, SANTA CLARA, USA: Applied Micro Circuits Corp. demonstrated core functionality of the world’s first 64-bit ARM processor on an FPGA platform during ARM TechCon 2011. This milestone comes on the same day as ARM Holdings’ announcement of its 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set architecture, and parallels AppliedMicro’s launch of the industry’s first 64-bit ARM “Server-on-a-Chip” solution in a single footprint, designed to deliver disruptively low power and cost points.

“The demonstration marks a fundamental achievement by AppliedMicro’s engineering team to provide a proof of a single PMD core running both UBoot and 64-bit Linux,” said Vinay Ravuri, VP of AppliedMicro’s Embedded and Processing Business Unit. “It also provides pre-silicon customer evaluation of our 64-bit ARM solution and paves the way for a more sustainable future of cloud computing as we leverage this architecture to provide high-performance devices that consume less power and lower costs compared to today’s server chips.”

The demonstration platform consists of Xilinx Virtex-6 running Server SoC consisting of ARM-64 CPU complex, coherent CPU fabric, high performance I/O network, memory subsystem along with fully functional SoC subsystem.

Applied Micro’s 64-bit processor family will leverage a large installed base of ARM software and hardware solutions and appeal to the open-source software community, similar to its 32-bit predecessor. With tremendous interest shown by top-tier OEMs and ODMs in the cloud computing space, the platform is fully enabled with server class open-source Linux distributions.

Additionally, Applied Micro is working with a number of server-class and embedded Linux vendors. Full open-source compilers and tool chains will be provided by AppliedMicro and ARM ecosystem partners. Additionally, optimized compilers, tool chains, and debuggers will be provided by key strategic partners.

Full ecosystem support for the FPGA platform with performance metrics will be available for customer evaluation by the first half of 2012. A full suite of cloud computing applications driving various target workloads, such as Web, Memcached, Hadoop, Webserver, will also be available in that timeframe.

ST begins shipping STM32F4 fast-track design tool to distribution partners

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: Following the successful launch of its advanced STM32F4 ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller family, STMicroelectronics has begun shipping the STM32F4 Discovery Kit to appointed distributors worldwide. The kit provides an ultra low-cost development environment enabling fast, convenient design starts using the new devices.

The STM32F4 Discovery Kit builds on ST's proven formula, established with its sub-$10 USB plug-in Discovery Kits for the STM8S/L and STM32L/VL families. The kit includes a board featuring the STM32F407VGT6 microcontroller and circuitry to speed up development of applications utilizing the microcontroller's signal-processing capability and innovative peripherals. The board includes a MEMS motion sensor for functions such as movement and gesture detection, a MEMS digital microphone plus audio DAC with class-D speaker driver, pushbuttons, indicator LEDs and a USB micro-A/B connector for USB OTG connectivity.

The kit embeds the STLINK/V2 for rapid debugging and programming and is compatible with third-party Integrated Design Environments (IDEs) such as Atollic TrueSTUDIO, IAR EWARM, Keil MDK-ARM and Tasking VX-Toolset. It can also be used with IAR and Keil free-of-charge distributions for designs with code size up to 32KB and Atollic TrueSTUDIO Lite, which has no limitations on code size or usage time.

In addition, the kit provides a large library of sample code for actions such as audio playback and recording firmware upgrade from an USB key, interacting with the system watchdog, and using the microcontroller's low-power modes. Sample software demonstrating the MEMS motion-sensing capability is also pre-loaded in on-board Flash.

"The STM32F4 Discovery Kit includes everything required for beginners and experienced users to start new designs quickly," said Michel Buffa, GM of STMicroelectronics' Microcontroller Division. "Over 120,000 discovery kits for STM8 and STM32 microcontrollers are now in the field, and we have already shipped more than 10,000 units of the STM32F4 Discovery Kit. I expect demand to grow as developers look to the STM32F4 family for increased performance and feature integration."

ST announced the STM32F4 microcontroller family, the world's highest performance Cortex-M product with 210DMIPS/363 Coremark at 168MHz – comprising the STM32F405, STM32F407, STM32F415 and STM32F417 series - in September 2011. The new devices extend ST's STM32 platform to include over 250 pin- and software-compatible devices, and enable developers to leverage the advanced signal-processing capabilities and increased speed of the ARM Cortex-M4 processor with Floating Point Unit (FPU).

Compared to existing ARM Cortex-M3 based STM32 variants, the family provides access to extra, innovative peripherals including a parallel camera interface supporting data speeds up to 54 Mbytes/s, dedicated audio features including a PLL and full-duplex I2S, and up to 15 communication interfaces such as SPI, SDIO, CAN and up to two USB OTG ports.

The STM32F415 and STM32F417 also integrate a crypto/hash processor providing hardware acceleration for AES 128, 192, 256, Triple DES, and HASH (MD5, SHA-1), in addition to the CRC calculation unit and analog true Random Number Generator featured on all STM32F4 devices. Family members also share power-saving innovations such as dynamic power scaling, an enhanced low-power RTC, and efficient 90nm CMOS process technology.

ARM discloses technical details of next version of ARM architecture

SANTA CLARA, USA: ARM disclosed technical details of its new ARMv8 architecture, the first ARM architecture to include a 64-bit instruction set. ARMv8 broadens the ARM architecture to embrace 64-bit processing and extends virtual addressing, building on the rich heritage of the 32-bit ARMv7 architecture upon which market leading cores such as the Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 processors are built.

The ARM architecture is unique in its ability to span the full range of electronic devices and equipment, from tiny sensors through to large scale infrastructure equipment. Building on the industry standard 32-bit ARM architecture, the new ARMv8 architecture will expand the reach of ARM processor-based solutions into consumer and enterprise applications where extended virtual addressing and 64-bit data processing are required.

The ARMv8 architecture consists of two main execution states, AArch64 and AArch32. The AArch64 execution state introduces a new instruction set, A64 for 64-bit processing. The AArch32 state supports the existing ARM instruction set. The key features of the current ARMv7 architecture, including TrustZone, virtualization and NEON advanced SIMD, are maintained or extended in the ARMv8 architecture.

“With our increasingly connected world, the market for 32-bit processing continues to expand and evolve creating new opportunities for 32-bit ARMv7 based processors in embedded, real-time and open application platforms,” said Mike Muller, CTO, ARM. “We believe the ARMv8 architecture is ideally suited to enable the ARM partnership to continue to grow in 32-bit application spaces and bring diverse, innovative and energy-efficient solutions to 64-bit processing markets.”

In support of the introduction of the ARMv8 architecture, ARM is working to ensure a robust design ecosystem to support the 64-bit instruction set. The ARM compiler and Fast Models with ARMv8 support have already been made available to key ecosystem partners. Initial support for a range of open source operating systems, applications and third-party tools is already in development. Working together the ARM partnership is collaborating to accelerate development of a 64-bit ecosystem, in many cases as a natural extension to the broad ecosystem in place to support ARMv7 based devices in the market today.

"ARM is an important partner for Microsoft," said KD Hallman, general manager, Microsoft Corp. "The evolution of ARM to support a 64-bit architecture is a significant development for ARM and for the ARM ecosystem. We look forward to witnessing this technology's potential to enhance future ARM-based solutions."

“The combination of NVIDIA’s leadership in energy-efficient, high-performance processing and the new ARMv8 architecture will enable game-shifting breakthroughs in devices across the full range of computing – from smartphones through to supercomputers,” said Dan Vivoli, senior VP, NVIDIA.

“The current growth trajectory of data centers, driven by the viral explosion of social media and cloud computing, will continue to accelerate. The ability to handle this data increase with energy-efficient solutions is vital,” said Vinay Ravuri, VP and GM of AppliedMicro’s Processor Business Unit. “The ARM 64-bit architecture provides the right balance of performance, efficiency and cost to scale to meet these growing demands and we are very excited to be a leading partner in implementing solutions based on the ARMv8 architecture.”

The ARMv8 architecture will enable the development of ARM architecture compatible devices that can be designed to maximize the benefits across both 32-bit and 64-bit application areas. This will bring the advantages of energy-efficient 64-bit computing to new applications such as high-end servers and computing, as well as offering backwards compatibility and migration for existing software through a consistent architecture.

The ARMv8 architecture specifications describing all aspects of the ARMv8 architecture are available now to partners under license. ARM will disclose processors based on ARMv8 during 2012, with consumer and enterprise prototype systems expected in 2014.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

ACM Research Shanghai launches ultra iSFP polishing platform

SHANGHAI, CHINA: ACM Research Shanghai Ltd has introduced its newest semiconductor manufacturing platform, the integrated Ultra iSFP. The tool performs damage-free 65nm to 45nm copper (Cu) interconnect stress free polishing (SFP).

It integrates the electrochemical mechanism of SFP with ultra low down force chemical mechanical planarization (ULCMP) and thermal flow etch (TFE) to take advantage of the specific benefits of each process step, while ensuring there is no damage to the underlying device structure.

Using the Ultra iSFP to form SiO2 based air gap interconnect structures offers several advantages. Its process is simple, allowing for the use of a traditional SiO2 dielectric and damascene process, which means that no new material development is required and it eliminates damage for ultra narrow Cu line and ultra tiny interconnect structures. The tool features an automatic alignment structure, with no hard mask required. Finally, by selectively forming air gap interconnect structures in narrow line spaces, as opposed to wide line spaces, it provides both excellent thermal property for heat dissipation and excellent mechanical strength to resist pressure in packing.

“The benefits of Ultra iSFP are significant,” said David Wang, founder and CEO, ACM Research. “By capitalizing on the unique benefits of SFP, ULCMP and TFE in a single process tool, we have been able to successfully manufacture air gap interconnect structures with copper line-widths of less than 0.2 um while solving critical Cu/air-gap integration issues.”

The Ultra iSFP operates by passing the wafer through a low down force chemical mechanical planarization (CMP) process that uses endpoint detection to ensure a continuous 150nm Cu film, therefore protecting the underlying low-k structure. The wafer then undergoes a brush clean to remove large particles and a space alternating phase shift (SAPS) megasonic clean to remove tiny particles and oxide.

Following an in-tool, non-contact Cu thickness measurement, the wafer moves into the SFP process chamber to selectively remove the non-recess Cu to the barrier, followed by a bevel cleaning step. The clean wafer enters the TFE process where the barrier is removed after pre-heat, then the wafer is cooled before being transferred into the equipment front end module (EFEM) to be returned to the front opening unified pod (FOUP).

The electrochemical SFP polishing mechanism is a customer-proven critical enabling technology that ensures accurate polishing performance with no damage to the low-k and ultra low-k dielectrics. Based on a smart polishing control system, SFP is able to control global Cu line recess and dishing by using a pre-measured Cu film thickness map. Additionally, there is no erosion or deformation to the dielectric layer and barrier during the SFP polishing process, which can eliminate the damage of the Cu/low-k or ultra low-k dielectrics generated by the mechanical stress, effectively solving Cu/low-k and Cu/ultra low-k dielectric integration issues.

“The technology advances achieved with Ultra iSFP technology represent major breakthroughs in Cu/air-gap interconnect process integration. Due to its ability to reduce heat generation and increase heat dissipation, Ultra iSPF will become a critical technology to enable TSV applications,” added Wang.

ACM Research Shanghai wins first order for Ultra C megasonic cleaning tool from leading Korean memory manufacturer

SHANGHAI, CHINA: ACM Research Shanghai Ltd has sold its first Ultra C 12-inch, single-wafer megasonic cleaning tool to a leading memory manufacturer based in Korea. Implementing ACM’s space alternated phase shift (SAPS) technology, the Ultra C delivers superior particle removal efficiency (PRE) with minimum material loss and uses extremely low chemical concentration functional water with no harsh chemicals. The tool will be implemented as part of the customer’s manufacturing process for its most advanced devices.

ACM’s Ultra C advanced SAPS technology shows an overwhelming improvement over alternative solutions, achieving an industry best PRE of 96 percent for particles 65 nm and above and 74 percent for particles between 44 nm and 65 nm, with material loss of less than 0.2 angstrom/cleaning step. By comparison, a competitive solution demonstrated a PRE of 84 percent for particles 65 nm and above and only 13 percent for particles between 44 nm and 65 nm in size according to customer data. With its superior PRE performance, the Ultra C offers customers a 1.3 percent increase in production yield at the 45nm node.

“This order clearly validates our cleaning technology,” said David Wang, founder and CEO of ACM Research. “Smaller device nodes have a very tight window for material loss, and the critical particle diameter is smaller, meaning that the small particles are more difficult to remove. Our SAPS megasonic technology has been proven and accepted by a leading IC manufacturer as a viable solution for removing these nano-scale particles. A clear breakthrough technology, the Ultra C is well positioned to displace current cleaning technologies at the 45 nm manufacturing node and beyond.”

The Ultra C targets advanced cleans in post-gate etch, pre-mask, post-implant, pre-oxidation, post-etch and pre-metal processes. The tool has shipped and final acceptance is expected shortly.

ACM’s proprietary space alternated phase shift (SAPS) megasonic technology enables highly uniform megasonic power density to achieve within wafer (WIW) and wafer-to-wafer (WTW) non-uniformity of less than 2 percent, compared to 10-20 percent non-uniformity offered by other single-wafer megasonic cleaning tools currently on the market.

Megasonic power is effective because the process causes cavitation (the formation of bubbles), which helps remove particles and bring them to the surface. The key is to control the mechanical process window of the megasonic energy so that there is enough energy to cause cavitation, but not so much that it causes damage to a patterned wafer.

As the process window for achieving a high PRE without causing damage is so narrow, it is critical to have excellent uniformity of energy distribution across the entire wafer. When megasonic power is not uniformly distributed, ‘hot spots’ form on the wafer where megasonic energy is higher, causing bubbles to collapse. ACM’s SAPS megasonic technology uses a stable cavitation bubble oscillation method, allowing the bubbles to continuously inflate and deflate without collapsing. SAPS technology enables damage-free megasonic cleaning with ultra-uniform energy distribution for optimal particle removal efficiencies.

AppliedMicro showcases world's first 64-bit ARM v8 core

SANTA CLARA, USA: Applied Micro Circuits Corp. demonstrated core functionality of the world's first 64-bit ARM processor on an FPGA platform during ARM TechCon 2011. This milestone comes on the same day as ARM Holdings' announcement of its 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set architecture, and parallels AppliedMicro's launch of the industry's first 64-bit ARM "Server-on-a-Chip" solution in a single footprint, designed to deliver disruptively low power and cost points.

"The demonstration marks a fundamental achievement by AppliedMicro's engineering team to provide a proof of a single PMD core running both UBoot and 64-bit Linux," said Vinay Ravuri, Vice President of AppliedMicro's Embedded and Processing Business Unit. "It also provides pre-silicon customer evaluation of our 64-bit ARM solution and paves the way for a more sustainable future of cloud computing as we leverage this architecture to provide high-performance devices that consume less power and lower costs compared to today's server chips."

The demonstration platform consists of Xilinx Virtex-6 running Server SoC consisting of ARM-64 CPU complex, coherent CPU fabric, high performance I/O network, memory subsystem along with fully functional SoC subsystem.

Applied Micro's 64-bit processor family will leverage a large installed base of ARM software and hardware solutions and appeal to the open-source software community, similar to its 32-bit predecessor. With tremendous interest shown by top-tier OEMs and ODMs in the cloud computing space, the platform is fully enabled with server class open-source Linux distributions. Additionally Applied Micro is working with a number of server-class and embedded Linux vendors. Full open-source compilers and tool chains will be provided by AppliedMicro and ARM ecosystem partners.

Additionally, optimized compilers, tool chains, and debuggers will be provided by key strategic partners.

Full ecosystem support for the FPGA platform with performance metrics will be available for customer evaluation by the first half of 2012. A full suite of cloud computing applications driving various target workloads, such as Web, Memcached, Hadoop, Webserver, will also be available in that timeframe.

Tanner EDA and Dongbu HiTek release foundry-qualified PDK for BD180 low voltage 0.18um process

MONROVIA, USA & SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: Tanner EDA, the catalyst for innovation for the design, layout and verification of analog and mixed-signal (A/MS) integrated circuits (ICs) and Dongbu HiTek, a world-class wafer fabricator, have finalized qualification of Dongbu HiTek’s 0.18um BD180LV process design kit (PDK).

The BD180LV kit integrates seamlessly into Tanner’s cohesive, integrated tool flow. Designers using Tanner EDA’s analog design suite, HiPer Silicon, will have certified libraries to draw on as they create ICs for production at Dongbu HiTek foundries, reducing design risk and providing faster time to market and higher quality of outcomes.

On May 3, 2011, Tanner EDA and Dongbu HiTek announced that they were jointly developing foundry-certified PDKs to deliver access to Dongbu HiTek’s analog foundry capabilities on Tanner EDA’s tool flow. This BCDMOS process is ideal for integrating analog circuits (using Bipolar), logic circuits (using CMOS) and high-voltage circuits (using DMOS) all on the same chip.

“Electronic designers no longer need to rely exclusively on analog IDMs for high-performance analog CMOS performance in order to differentiate products,” said Taek Soo Kim, VP of Dongbu’s HiTek’s technical engineering division. “As this collaboration with Tanner EDA shows, we continue to be committed to providing Dongbu customers with the best choices in electronic design automation software at critical development nodes.”

“We are pleased to add this qualified PDK to our portfolio,” said John Zuk, VP of marketing and strategy for Tanner EDA. “Our customers continue to cite the strong affinity of Tanner EDA tools in the power management space and continued collaboration with Dongbu HiTek enables us to deliver on our commitments of interoperability, productivity, and quicker design cycles for our customers.”

GSA reports increased funding, M&A and IPO activity for Sept. 2011

USA: GSA has released September/Q3/9M Statistics from its Global Semiconductor Funding, IPO and M&A Update, including:

* In September 2011, 12 semiconductor companies raised $121.3 million, up 85.8 percent from the $65.3 million raised in August 2011.

* For the first nine months of 2011, 68 semiconductor deals raised $943.8 million, a dollar amount decrease of 7.1 percent YoY.

* In Q3 2011, 22 semiconductor companies raised $268.2 million, a dollar amount increase of 7.9 percent over Q2 2011 and 26.6 percent over Q3 2010.

* On September 13th, fabless semiconductor company Parade Technologies announced that public trading of its shares would begin as a result of the company’s initial public offering on Taiwan’s GreTai Securities Market.

* In September 2011, the number of semiconductor mergers and acquisitions (M&As) announced (i.e., M&As of entire fabless, IDM and semiconductor supplier companies, not sectors/product lines or foundry facilities) increased by eight MoM and decreased by one YoY.

* For the first nine months of 2011, 86 semiconductor M&A deals were announced, a 2.4 percent increase YoY.

* The third largest semiconductor M&A announced during the first nine months of 2011 took place in September when Broadcom Corp. purchased NetLogic Microsystems for $3.7 billion.

Free TI StarterWare enables quick and simple programming of TI embedded processors

DALLAS, USA: Embedded software programming comprises the majority of the product development cycle. Significantly reducing learning curves and accelerating development time in the embedded design process, Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has announced its free StarterWare software packages, offering user-friendly, production-ready software for Sitara 32-bit ARM microprocessor (MPU), C6000 digital signal processor (DSP) and DSP + ARM developers.

StarterWare provides application developers with a flexible starting point that does not require the use of an operating system. In addition, StarterWare allows for easy migration to other TI embedded devices.

StarterWare simplifies and accelerates development
TI's new StarterWare software packages simplify the ARM MPU and DSP development process, offering application programming interfaces (APIs) to configure and interface with peripherals. In addition, StarterWare includes lightweight software stacks to enable USB, network and graphics functionality. Example code and application notes included with StarterWare reduce development time up to 10X.

The software packages do not require using or learning the intricacies of an operating system, enabling developers to accelerate time to market. Without having to access the hardware through an operating system, developers can fine-tune the system to achieve optimal resource management of the CPU, peripherals and memory, and to reduce system latencies by up to 500X compared to running under the Linux operating system. In more complex systems that may require an operating system to manage multiple data flows, StarterWare provides an optimum foundation. Many real-time operating system (RTOS) vendors are planning to leverage StarterWare in their offerings for TI embedded processors.

In addition to these benefits provided by StarterWare for TI's Sitara 32-bit ARM MPUs and C6000 DSPs, TI's DSP + ARM processors are supported with a simplified and low-latency inter-processor communication software layer that does not require an operating system, enabling processing and input/output (I/O) tasks to be efficiently shared between the two cores for optimized system performance.

IXYS Westcode intros 2.1kV high power distributed gate thyristor

BIEL, SWITZERLAND: IXYS Corp. announced that its wholly owned UK subsidiary, Westcode Ltd, launched the first in a new range of higher power higher efficiency distributed gate thyristors (DGT) with improved technology and thermal optimisation of silicon in the package. The first introduction is a 2.1kV/1.8kV device with an average current rating of 1700A.

“The new thyristor has a 56mm (2.21 inch) diameter silicon giving up to 20 percent increase in current rating, combined with faster switching when compared to our standard products, and includes a redesigned gate structure for improved dynamic performance,” commented Frank Wakeman, Marketing & Technical Support manager. “To allow compatibility with the minimum of adjustment to existing cooling/clamping system designs, the package of this new introduction fits within the same envelope as the current Westcode range of 50mm (1.97 inch) and 53mm (2.09 inch) silicon products. The new device is available with six turn-off (tq) options from 20usec to 60usec.”

He explained, “The increased silicon diameter and improved gate design allows for better optimisation of current rating and turn-off time thereby giving a faster device with higher current rating than Westcode’s established product range.”

The device is offered in two voltage classes and six tq limits. Part number R1700MC18# has Vdrm 1.8kV and R1700MC21# has Vdrm 2.1kV, both parts have Vrrm 1.8kV. Last character ‘#’ indicates the tq, E = 25usec, F = 30usec, G = 35usec, H = 40usec, J = 50usec and K = 60usec.

Typical applications for this device include induction heating power supplies for melting, billet heating and surface treatments, as well as resonant high power supplies, UPS, power pulse switches for lasers, Electric power for trains and motor control.

Further products are planned with voltage 1.2kV, 1.6kV, 2.5kV and 2.8kV and will be launched over the next 12 months. Each of these future introductions will offer the same performance advantages as the 2.1kV device.

IDT unveils world’s first ultra-low-power ±50 ppm CrystalFree CMOS oscillators

SAN JOSE, USA: Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT) announced that it has released the industry’s first CMOS oscillators to feature a breakthrough ±50 ppm frequency accuracy and ultra-low power consumption. The new devices replace traditional quartz crystal-based oscillators (XOs) for up to 75 percent power savings in any of a broad range of applications requiring a ±50 ppm timing reference, including computing, communications, and consumer markets.

IDT’s new 3LG family of CrystalFree CMOS oscillators guarantees ±50 ppm lifetime frequency accuracy. They are pin-to-pin compatible with existing quartz-based solutions, making the transition to a CMOS-based oscillator and the resulting power savings a seamless proposition. The devices support low-voltage-differential-signaling (LVDS), low-voltage positive emitter-coupled logic (LVPECL), and host-clock signal level (HCSL) standards for compatibility in a variety of applications.

IDT’s 3LG devices are designed using a standard silicon manufacturing process and are offered in industry-standard plastic packaging, resulting in lead time, reliability, and cost of ownership advantages over crystal oscillators. The 3LG family leverages the fundamental technology of the successful 3CN family of ±100 ppm products that are in volume production today.

“The transition away from quartz-based oscillators has begun. As the world-leader in silicon timing solutions, we continue to develop high-performance, low-power solutions to meet the needs of the market,” said Fred Zust, GM and VP, Communications Division at IDT. “Quartz-based oscillators have drawbacks in power, cost, availability, and reliability. IDT’s CrystalFree oscillators save up to 75 percent power versus their quartz-based counterparts, and also offer undeniable benefits for design simplicity, short lead times, and phenomenal reliability.”

“The semiconductor industry is moving forward at a rapid pace, but one thing that has remained unchanged for the last 50 years is the use of quartz crystal as the primary frequency source for electronics. To date, semiconductor-based frequency control products have not had the accuracy needed to challenge the incumbency of quartz in production systems,” said Sergis Mushell, principal research analyst at Gartner. “With superior pricing and performance versus crystal-based solutions, these semiconductor-based frequency sources will have a significant impact on the crystal oscillator market.”

The new devices generate stable frequencies up to 125 MHz and offer high-performance phase jitter of less than 1 picosecond over the wide frequency offset of 12 kHz to 20 MHz. In addition, semiconductor-grade shock and vibration resistance provides extreme reliability over the lifetime of the device, while the ultra-small, low-profile packages conserve valuable board area in compact designs.

The IDT 3LG CrystalFree ±50 ppm oscillators are currently sampling to qualified customers. The IDT 3CN CrystalFree ±100 ppm oscillators are in full production today, available in industry-standard packages. For high volume applications, IDT’s CrystalFree oscillators can support fast, high-volume production with short lead times, typically fewer than four weeks, to support any frequency requirement.

LSI announces agreement to acquire SandForce

MILPITAS, USA: LSI Corp. announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire SandForce Inc., the leading provider of flash storage processors for enterprise and client flash solutions and solid state drives (SSDs). Under the agreement, LSI will pay approximately $322 million in cash, net of cash assumed, and assume approximately $48 million of unvested stock options and restricted shares held by SandForce employees.

SandForce’s award-winning products include flash storage processors at the heart of PCIe flash adapters and SSDs. Flash storage processors provide the intelligence required to deliver the performance and low-latency benefits of flash storage in enterprise and client applications. With market-proven, differentiated DuraClass technology, SandForce flash storage processors improve the reliability, endurance and power efficiency of flash-based storage solutions.

The acquisition greatly enhances LSI's competitive position in the fast-growing server and storage PCIe flash adapter market, where the WarpDrive family of products from LSI already uses SandForce flash storage processors. The complementary combination of LSI’s custom capability and SandForce’s standard product offering propels LSI into an industry-leading position in the rapidly growing, high-volume flash storage processor market space for ultrabook, notebook and enterprise SSD and flash solutions.

“Flash-based solutions are critical for accelerating application performance in servers, storage and client devices,” said Abhi Talwalkar, LSI president and CEO. “Adding SandForce’s technology to LSI’s broad storage portfolio is consistent with our mission to accelerate storage and networking. The acquisition represents a significant, rapidly growing market opportunity for LSI over the next several years.”

Michael Raam, SandForce president and CEO, said: “The combination of SandForce and LSI allows us to deliver differentiated solutions in the PCIe flash adapter segment by tightly integrating flash memory and management. In addition, leveraging our flash storage processors with LSI’s comprehensive IP portfolio and leading-edge silicon design platforms will lead to innovative solutions.”

The transaction is expected to close early in the first quarter of 2012 subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Upon closing, the SandForce team will become part of LSI’s newly formed Flash Components Division, with Raam as general manager.

GigOptix TFPS Mach-Zehnder modulators now fully Telcordia qualified

SAN JOSE, USA: GigOptix Inc., a leading fabless supplier of semiconductor and optical components that enable high-speed information streaming, today announced the completion of reliability qualification for its Mach-Zehnder Modulators (MZM) that are implemented using GigOptix’s proprietary Thin Film Polymer on Silicon (TFPS) technology.

The full compliance of the TFPS modulator series of products as tested against Telcordia GR-468 standard, is a monumental milestone for GigOptix, as this is the first polymer modulator to come to market, fully qualified, that will truly disrupt the current market for Mach-Zehnder Modulators (MZM).

The TFPS modulators offer significant advantages over the existing crystalline semiconductor technologies used today. GigOptix’s proprietary material enables industry leading low drive voltage in the smallest form factor available. The low drive voltage reduces power consumption by more than 20 percent compared to competing modulator technologies, while the small form factor enables smaller 300pin optical transponders. The modulators also offer simpler manufacturing processes and larger bandwidth.

Intrinsic polymer material properties and TFPS modulator processing allows the modulator to reside on the same silicon chip as the silicon-based drivers, offering an integration platform for small footprint components. The technology also allows for the integration of the modulator, laser, and driver in a small footprint module.

Dr. Raluca Dinu, GigOptix’s VP and GM of Optics, states, “After more than 10 years of hard work and groundbreaking innovation, our revolutionary TFPS products and materials are now fully qualified and available commercially to the market.”

“Three years ago, when GigOptix acquired Lumera, we could only dream of what the proprietary polymer material could accomplish and with the full Telcordia qualification of the TFPS modulators, we finally see one of those dreams turn to reality,” stated Dr. Avi Katz, chairman and CEO of GigOptix. “The team has brought a highly innovative product from a R&D experiment into a fully qualified, highly disruptive, commercial product. I have the deepest of respect and gratitude for the entire GigOptix team in bringing this vision to fruition.”

Passing the stringent requirements of the Telcordia GR-468 is essential, as it demonstrates that the TFPS modulators meet the long-term reliability standards required by today’s telecommunication sub-system and system integrators.

The TFPS modulators have passed the specific testing requirements as outline in the Telcordia GR-468 standard including:

High Temperature Operation Lifetime (HTOL) tested at 85° C
Temperature cycling
Low temperature storage
Vibration, mechanical and thermal shock
Fiber pull, twist, and cable retention testing.

The LX8401 (40G DPSK) MZM is available in production quantities. The LX8220 (40G DQPSK), LX8900 (100G Dual Drive NRZ), and LX8901 (100G DPSK) MZMs are available for sampling.

Analog Devices’ signal processing technology helps CERN’s large Hadron collider achieve highest possible superconducting magnet performance

NORWOOD, USA: The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland and the University of Sannio, Benevento, Italy, have collaborated on the design of an advanced instrument for measuring magnetic fields in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) superconducting magnets. Called the Fast Digital Integrator (FDI) board, this measurement device uses Analog Devices’ A/D converters, analog multiplexers and DSP components to provide the LHC with the highest possible performance achieved to-date in measuring magnetic fields.

The new FDI board enables 100 times the resolution and frequency bandwidth of the previous generation digital integrator. This significant improvement in dynamic range enables scientists to detect even more minute artifacts that contribute to magnetic field variations, field decay and other time dependent phenomena typical in high-field superconducting accelerator magnets that all negatively affect the quality of particle beams under study. The new FDI boards are used at CERN to measure magnetic flux at 10 revolutions per second through fast-rotating calibrated coils that evaluate the magnetic field produced by the LHC’s 8 Tesla accelerator magnets.

“Prior to the FDI board, the available electronic components were not suitable in terms of accuracy or resolution, which in the case of the Large Hadron Collider easily approaches 10 parts per million,” said Pasquale Arpaia, professor of engineering at the University of Sannio. “We chose to work with Analog Devices because the quality of the company’s products, documentation and support are all very high. This helped make it possible for the FDI to reveal new magnetic investigation regions that we were not able to explore before.”

The LHC is the world’s largest and highest-energy particle accelerator, as well as the biggest machine ever built by humans. Construction started in 2003 and the LHC was operational in 2008. Its mission is to probe some of the most fundamental questions of physics and advance the understanding of the most fundamental laws of nature.