Saturday, April 30, 2011

PLDA PCI Express 3.0 IP successfully simulated with Xilinx 7 series GTX transceivers

SAN JOSE, USA: PLDA, the industry leader in the high-speed interconnect IP market, announced the immediate availability of their PCI Express (PCIe) 3.0 FPGA IP with complete support for the Xilinx 7 series FPGAs. The PLDA PCIe IP Core is ready for simulation targeting Xilinx 7 series GTX transceivers at Gen3 speed, taking advantage of the flexibility and faster runtimes of Xilinx ISE Design Suite 13 software.

PLDA is a Xilinx Alliance Program Member, providing PCI Express soft IP for a variety of Xilinx FPGA products. The PLDA PCIe 3.0 FPGA cores are highly configurable soft IP products, with the ability to tailor and select features to optimize gate count and reduce the overall footprint. Key features of the PLDA PCIe 3.0 IP Core for Xilinx 7 series include:

* Full data rate support for PCIe Gen3 (8.0 GT/sec), Gen2 (5.0 GT/sec) and Gen1 (2.5 GT/sec) speeds.
* Comprehensive reference designs to deliver a faster and more reliable route to silicon.
* Leading technical support provided directly by the IP design team, ensuring easy integration and first-pass silicon success.

“Our customers are seeking improved productivity as their design cycles continue to be shortened. PLDA’s PCIe 3.0 IP core, which is specifically designed to interface with the GTX transceivers built into our Kintex-7 and Virtex-7 FPGAs, fits into our Plug-and-Play initiative to accelerate customer development cycles.” said Rick Tomihiro, director of IP Marketing at Xilinx. “With AMBA 4 Advanced Extensible Interface (AXI4) support and integration to our CORE Generator tool, cores from PLDA can dramatically enhance design flexibility, speed development time and reduce risk.”

Stephane Hauradou, PLDA’s CTO, added: “With Xilinx leadership in 28nm FPGAs, PLDA continues to be on the leading edge of PCI Express and interface IP design. We see our ability to tailor our IP to integrate with leading products like the Xilinx 7 series FPGAs as a key enabler of design excellence.”

Silicon Motion announces multiple LTE transceiver wins with Samsung

TAIPEI, TAIWAN & SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: Silicon Motion Technology Corp., a leading fabless semiconductor company that designs, develops and markets semiconductor solutions for multimedia consumer electronics, announced that its new LTE transceiver has been adopted by Samsung Electronics and is now shipping in a number of Samsung LTE handsets including the world's first LTE 4G mobile handset, the Samsung Craft (SCH-R900), the world's first LTE Android handset, the Samsung Indulge (SCH-R910), and Samsung's first LTE Android handset for Verizon, the Samsung Droid Charge (SCH-I510).

Our new FC7800 series of LTE transceivers represents the leading-edge RF design and technology capabilities of Silicon Motion's mobile communications business which trades under our FCI brand.

"Samsung is an innovative global handset leader that we have been working very closely with for many years. We are proud to announce that we have been chosen by Samsung and have begun shipping our LTE transceivers for the world's first LTE mobile handset and the world's first Android LTE mobile handset, available in the US with Verizon and MetroPCS," said Wallace Kou, President and CEO of Silicon Motion.

"Mobile communications continues to be a core Silicon Motion product line and new, advanced products such as this are critical in expanding our business and driving long-term growth for our Company. We continue to support Samsung in developing new, leading-edge mobile communications devices and expect our LTE business to grow significantly in 2011."

"Silicon Motion has been a strong partner of Samsung for many years," said Jeff Hwang, Vice President of Samsung's R&D North America and CDMA Mobile Communications Group. "We wanted to deliver the most advanced 4G LTE handset and chose Silicon Motion for their strong RF design expertise. We continue to value our close working relationship with Silicon Motion and expect to maintain our strong partnership in the future."

"Samsung is a major customer and strategic partner for our RF and mobile TV SoC products," said Sangwoo Han, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Silicon Motion's Mobile Communications product line. "We will continue to develop our multi-band 4G LTE RF products to meet our customers' needs and capitalize on the rapidly growing LTE market opportunity."

Our FCI FC7800 series of LTE RF transceivers represents the cutting edge in mobile RF technology, and products from this series currently in production include FC7831 and FC7850. This series of LTE transceivers was developed by the Company's R&D team in Korea in conjunction with Samsung to accelerate time-to-market for LTE solutions that require high performance, low power consumption and small die size with tight baseband integration to rapidly bring advanced LTE handsets to wireless carriers that are introducing commercial 4G LTE wireless services worldwide.

Our first product, FC7830, which was launched early last year is a single-chip CMOS LTE transceiver in a 7mm x 7mm BGA package and offers MIMO diversity with two receive and one transmit capability for high data rate support. FC7831 is an enhanced version of FC7830 with lower power consumption. FC7850 is a LTE plus HSPA+ single-die solution. In the last six months, we have shipped over 500,000 units of our LTE transceivers.

Friday, April 29, 2011

DelfMEMS successfully deliveres custom RF MEMS samples to NTT DOCOMO

VILLENEUVE D'ASCQ & LILLE, FRANCE: DelfMEMS, a rising player in the RF MEMS field, reports today it has successfully delivered custom samples to NTT DOCOMO INC., DelfMEMS has provided arrays of custom MEMS ohmic switches to enable tunability into Radio-Frequency front-end modules -FEM- for mobile applications. Voltage, size, losses, isolation, ultra-fast switching time and power handling will be evaluated by the innovative telecom operator according to the requested specifications until 6 GHz.

DelfMEMS is setting-up an open technology platform to propose a new integrated micro-mechanical building block that is based on a strong, totally new IP portfolio that solves past issues of RF MEMS ohmic switches. MEMS switch is considered as the optimum RF switching technology that drastically decreases power consumption and bill of material by minimizing losses between the antenna and active devices of a FEM.

"Concerning RF MEMS, after so many promises and disappointments, we are working with a very basic approach : step by step. This step is a huge one and we are extremely proud of the validation of these delivered custom MEMS-arrays by an operator such as NTT DOCOMO. They are pioneer in the mobile field, and we hope to help them to increase data transfer and to decrease power consumption of the global chain from handsets to base stations," says Olivier Millet, CEO.

"The last advantage, but not the least, is that even if current insertion losses of our MEMS switches are better than advanced SOI or SoS technologies, we already know how to decrease them again in the next months with a lower cost and a lower size."

SEMI president and CEO Stan Myers announces retirement

SAN JOSE, USA: SEMI, the global industry association serving the manufacturing supply chain for the microelectronics, display, photovoltaic and related industries, today announced that president and CEO Stanley T. Myers has informed the SEMI International Board of Directors of his intention to step back from executive leadership of SEMI this year.

Myers has participated for more than 50 years in the semiconductor industry, including 24 years as a SEMI board member and 15 years as president and CEO of the association. He was chairman of the SEMI International Board in 1994.

In consideration of Myers’ announcement, SEMI Chairman Rick Wallace appointed a Board search committee to evaluate candidate successors for the role that Myers will be vacating. Tim O’Shea with the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles will conduct the search for SEMI. Myers plans to continue supporting the association when a new president and CEO is named.

“Stan is a driving force at the helm of our industry association,” said Rick Wallace, CEO of KLA-Tencor Corporation, who serves as chairman of the SEMI Board of Directors. “Under his leadership, SEMI has grown and diversified to meet the changing needs of member companies that participate in one of the world’s most complex and sophisticated high-tech industries. As Stan anticipates the next chapter of his life, we appreciate his thoughtful and deliberate framework for a succession plan.”

Prior to his appointment as SEMI president and CEO, Myers worked for 17 years at Siltec where he served as president and CEO until 1985. In 1986, Siltec was acquired by Mitsubishi Materials Corporation. Siltec changed its name to Mitsubishi Silicon America (MSA) and Myers continued as president and CEO until he moved to SEMI in 1996. Prior to Siltec/MSA, Myers worked for Monsanto Corporation for 18 years.

Myers is chairman of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advisory Board to MATEC (Maricopa Advanced Technology Education Center). He also is a member of the Engineering Advisory Board to the School of Engineering, San Jose State University.

Myers was the recipient of the Exemplary Community Leadership Award by the Silicon Valley Conference on Community and Justice in 2006. In May 2007, he was inducted into the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Hall of Fame at the University of Kansas. In February 2008, Myers was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame.

Alpha & Omega Semiconductor intros PairFET high density power stage products

SUNNYVALE, USA: Alpha and Omega Semiconductor Ltd (AOS), a designer, developer and global supplier of a broad range of power semiconductors, announced the release of high power density 25V and 30V PairFET products in both DFN 5x6 and DFN 3.3x3.3 package (integrated High-Side and Low-Side MOSFETs in one package).

This new product family provides compact and efficient DC-DC solutions in notebook PCs, desktop PCs, all-in-one PCs, graphic cards, servers, and networking point-of-load (POL) converters.

The flagship product of the PairFET family is AON6924 which delivers up to 30A of output current from a single DFN 5x6 power package. The AON6924 replaces two DFN 5x6 MOSFETs with a single package, which saves more than 50 percent board space and simplifies PCB layout.

"The AON6924 PairFET offers significant advantages over existing discrete solutions by shrinking solution size and by increasing system power efficiency. This enables design engineers to meet their design objectives of delivering high power density DC-DC synchronous buck converter solutions," said Peter Wilson, director of Low Voltage MOSFETs at AOS.

Icahn issues open letter to shareholders of Mentor Graphics

NEW YORK, USA: Carl C. Icahn issued the following open letter to shareholders of Mentor Graphics Corp.:

767 Fifth Avenue, 47th Floor
New York, New York 10153
April 28, 2011

Dear Fellow Shareholders:
Most of Walden Rhines' recent letter makes no sense to us or is simply an obfuscation of the facts. Additionally, we fail to understand why Rhines would resort to fear mongering tactics when we are only seeking minority representation on the Board of Directors of Mentor Graphics. What is this entrenched Board afraid of?

We ask all shareholders to ask themselves this question – if you inherited ownership of this Company, would you allow the composition of this entrenched Board to remain unchanged (especially in light of its abysmal 17-year record(1))? American shareholders (at least in theory) enjoy a system of corporate democracy. This democracy is only possible if shareholders exercise their right to vote and hold those in power accountable. However, Rhines seems desperate to keep the status quo and to prevent any changes from happening.

It is our belief that this entrenched Board and Walden Rhines do not want to sell this Company and will hide behind "business judgment" defenses and intimidation tactics, such as their recent efforts to publicly name certain logical strategic buyers and prejudge the regulatory risks of entering into a transaction with those buyers. We demand that this Board be open to such possibilities. While we believe shareholder performance may be improved through improved oversight of SG&A expenses and dilution, the magnitude of potential cost synergies and strong strategic rationale make a sale to a strategic acquirer an opportunity this Board should not dismiss.

In light of Rhines' and this entrenched Board's history, we question whether they will act in all shareholders' best interests. It has been our experience that companies often prefer not to engage in hostile deals, and the history of this Board makes it even less likely. Rhines seems to like to mischaracterize our words and recently made the following statement in a letter.

ST boosts next-generation basestations as mobile broadband booms

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: STMicroelectronics has announced a highly integrated device enabling wireless infrastructure equipment makers to meet the demand for more flexible and compact next-generation mobile network basestations, and at lower cost. The STW82100B series will also be used in equipment such as RF (radio-frequency) instrumentation and general wireless-infrastructure applications.

Demand for broadband services is driving the fastest growth ever seen in the mobile communications industry. Mobile network operators are quickly rolling out faster (HSPA/HSPA+) services offering data rates at 14.4Mbit/s and above. Commitment to the higher-speed next-generation standard 3GPP-LTE is growing more quickly still. Infonetics Research sees market for LTE infrastructure, which requires several types of basestations, exceeding $11bn by 2014.

ST's new ICs, the STW82100B series, meet the high-performance and low-cost demands of equipment suppliers by integrating important basestation functions, such as the RF frequency synthesizer and down-converter in a single device. Its suitability is already proven for new standards, such as LTE. ST's high-quality BiCMOS process has been used to achieve this advanced level of integration, while also meeting all key performance requirements. ST chips implemented in this advanced technology process are already being widely used by major basestation manufacturers.

"This family of products shows the effectiveness of silicon-germanium (SiGe) integration in challenging RF applications and demonstrates, once more, the potential of ST's proprietary BiCMOS technology," said Flavio Benetti, Marketing Director of ST's Networking and Storage Division. "Today, ST is also successfully serving other markets such as optical communications applications with BiCMOS process options offering high-speed transistors operating at up to 230GHz FT / 280GHz FMAX."

The STW82100B series (STW82100B, STW82101B, STW82102B, STW82103B) is built on the foundation of ST's proven RF frequency synthesizer ICs (STW81102 series), which are widely used in basestations and other wireless applications worldwide. It provides flexibility for designers by supporting different modes of operation.

When used in the receiver section it can be configured to offer a dedicated LO (Local Oscillator) frequency generator for each antenna path, or can be used in a more traditional antenna-diversity scheme. In transmitter loopback circuits, designers can profit from its excellent gain flatness and the integrated 10-bit DAC to drive an external PIN diode for optimal signal level calibration.

Major features of the STW82100B:
* High input linearity
* 8dB conversion gain
* 10.5dB noise figure
* Excellent 'spurious performance'.

The STW82100B is in mass production now in the VQFPN 7 x 7mm package, priced at approximately $6.00 in quantities of 1000. Alternative pricing options are available for larger quantities. An evaluation kit will also shortly be available.

ASM achieves two wins for plasma enhanced ALD memory apps

ALMERE, THE NETHERLANDS: ASM International N.V. has announced two wins for its plasma enhanced atomic layer deposition (PEALD) technology.

First, ASM received multiple system orders for its plasma enhanced atomic layer deposition (PEALD) reactor from a leading memory customer in Asia. Second, it also qualified a new PEALD oxide application with a different memory manufacturer for the 2X nm node.

"Our innovative PEALD technology is seeing strong market validation with high volume business from multiple top tier memory customers," said Tominori Yoshida, general manager of ASM's Plasma Products business unit. "Alongside our growth in volume manufacturing, we continue to demonstrate technology leadership with our development efforts and expanding IP portfolio. Our increasing range of production-ready PEALD applications position us to support memory manufacturers now and as they move towards the challenging 1X nm node."

The PEALD systems were ordered by a leading memory customer for high volume manufacturing and will be installed in multiple facilities in Asia. The reactors will be used to deposit dielectrics for advanced lithography double patterning applications at the 3X nm technology node and below. This order represents the second major manufacturer to adopt ASM's PEALD system for use in double patterning in high volume manufacturing.

Further highlighting ASM's leadership in PEALD for memory devices, the company has also qualified a new oxide application for an advanced PEALD SiO layer that targets manufacturing at the 2X nm node and below. The new application is expected to enter volume production later this year with a different Asia-based manufacturer.

ASM's PEALD reactors are optimized to deposit dielectrics including SiO, SiN and SiCN. A major advantage of ASM's PEALD process is its ability to deliver conformal thin films at low temperatures, which is especially beneficial for double patterning lithography technologies where thin dielectrics are deposited over temperature sensitive photoresists for critical dimension control and pitch reduction.

Each of the systems ordered includes multiple PEALD reactors implemented on ASM's XP platform. The XP is a production-proven standard platform that can be configured with plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD), thermal ALD or PEALD reactors.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

IR intros automotive DirectFET2 power MOSFET chipset

EL SEGUNDO, USA: International Rectifier (IR) announced the introduction of an automotive DirectFET®2 power MOSFET chipset optimized for DC-DC applications used in internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, hybrid and electric vehicles.

The new 40 V logic level gate drive chipset comprises the AUIRL7732S2 MOSFET and AUIRL7736M2 MOSFET optimized to help minimize switching and conduction losses in DC-DC converters. The devices may also be used in more generic heavy load applications such as inverter drives on pump and fans and relay replacement in junction box applications.

“The DirectFET2 power package offers low resistance and parasitic inductance 10 times lower than a D2Pak resulting in excellent high frequency switching performance with reduced waveform ringing which in turn helps limit EMI and filter size. Also featuring dual-sided cooling and low on-state resistance, the new automotive DirectFET2 chipset is an ideal solution for DC-DC conversion,” said Benjamin Jackson, product manager, IR’s Automotive Products Business Unit.

The AUIRL7732S2 logic level MOSFET features low gate charge (Qg) and a PCB footprint 38 percent smaller than an SO-8 package making it well suited for the control MOSFET position in a synchronous buck converter. The AUIRL7736M2 MOSFET is applicable for the synchronous switch position and features low Rds(on) and PCB footprint the same size as a 5x6 PQFN or SO-8 package. The low inductance of the AUIRL7732S2 and AUIRL7736M2 enables better switching performance at higher frequencies than traditional MOSFETs.

The automotive DirectFET 2 product line is built on the result of several years of research and development with the aim of producing a product platform specifically designed for automotive applications and built on the highly reliable and proven consumer grade DirectFET products.

The devices are qualified according to AEC-Q101 standards, feature an environmentally friendly, lead-free and RoHS compliant bill of materials, and are part of IR’s automotive quality initiative targeting zero defects.

SMSC inter-chip connectivity technology licensed by AMD

HAUPPAUGE, USA: SMSC, a leading semiconductor company creating valued connectivity ecosystems, announced that Advanced Micro Devices Inc. has licensed SMSC's patented Inter-Chip Connectivity (ICC) technology.

ICC enables the USB 2.0 protocol, which is now standard in billions of electronic devices, to be delivered over short distances consuming a fraction of the power of a traditional USB 2.0 analog interface while retaining 100 percent software compatibility with an analog USB 2.0 connection.

The High Speed Interconnect (HSIC) specification (an addendum to the USB 2.0 specification) incorporates ICC technology. Where applicable, such as in portable applications, the ICC technology dramatically decreases power consumption and silicon area compared to an analog USB 2.0 interface.

Under its ICC license with SMSC, AMD can develop devices that are designed to be compliant with the HSIC specification for USB 2.0 host applications.

Cadence reports Q1 2011 financial results

SAN JOSE, USA: Cadence Design Systems Inc. announced results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2011.

Cadence reported first quarter 2011 revenue of $266 million, compared to revenue of $222 million reported for the same period in 2010. On a GAAP basis, Cadence recognized net income of $6 million, or $0.02 per share on a diluted basis in the first quarter of 2011, compared to a net loss of $12 million, or $(0.04) per share on a diluted basis, in the same period in 2010.

Using Cadence’s non-GAAP measure, net income in the first quarter of 2011 was $23 million, or $0.09 per share on a diluted basis, as compared to net income of $6 million, or $0.02 per share on a diluted basis, in the same period in 2010.

“Demand was strong for our products and services across all regions in the first quarter,” said Lip-Bu Tan, president and chief executive officer. “Demand for the Cadence Verification Computing Platform continued to be strong. We also introduced the industry’s first complete DDR4 memory controller solution, and saw strong renewals and increasing run rates in our Silicon Realization products.”

“We met or exceeded expectations for our key operating metrics in Q1,” added Geoff Ribar, senior vice president and chief financial officer. “The continuing momentum in our business gives us the confidence to increase our outlook for fiscal 2011.”

The company also announced today that Charlie Huang, currently senior vice president and chief strategy officer, has been appointed senior vice president, worldwide field operations, effective immediately. Tom Cooley, who previously held that role, is leaving the company. “I want to thank Tom for his many years of significant contributions and dedication to Cadence,” said Lip-Bu Tan. “Most notable among his accomplishments were leading a successful transition to a highly ratable business model and building a world class sales team.”

Tan continued: “I am pleased that Charlie Huang, an EDA veteran with deep technical expertise and a successful track record, will be leading our field organization. Charlie led the development of our strategy and is well positioned to further develop highly collaborative technology-based relationships with customers and partners. I am excited to have Charlie take on this new role.”

Huang has served as senior vice president and chief strategy officer of Cadence since January 2009. Since April 2010, he has also served as chief of staff. From 2007 to 2009, he served as senior vice president of business development. Huang was general partner at Telos Venture Partners, a Cadence-affiliated venture capital firm, from 2004 to 2005. From 2001 to 2007, he held several positions at Cadence in engineering management and business development. Before joining Cadence, Huang co-founded and was chief executive officer of CadMOS Design Technology Inc., an EDA company that was acquired by Cadence in 2001.

In addition to using GAAP results to evaluate Cadence's business, management believes it is useful to measure results using a non-GAAP measure of net income or net loss, which excludes, as applicable, amortization of intangible assets, stock-based compensation expense, integration and acquisition-related costs, acquisition-related income tax benefits, income tax benefits related to the settlement of an IRS examination, shareholder litigation costs and charges, gains or losses and expenses or credits related to non-qualified deferred compensation plan assets, executive severance costs, restructuring charges and credits, amortization of discount on convertible notes, losses on extinguishment of debt, equity in losses or income from investments, write-down of investments, and gains or losses on the sale of investments.

Non-GAAP net income or net loss is adjusted by the amount of additional taxes or tax benefit that the company would accrue if it used non-GAAP results instead of GAAP results to calculate the company's tax liability. See "GAAP to non-GAAP Reconciliation" below for further information on the non-GAAP measure.

The following statements are based on current expectations. These statements are forward-looking, and actual results may differ materially.

Business outlook
For the second quarter of 2011, the company expects total revenue in the range of $270 million to $280 million. Second quarter GAAP net income per diluted share is expected to be in the range of $0.04 to $0.06. Net income per diluted share using the non-GAAP measure defined below is expected to be in the range of $0.09 to $0.11.

For the full year 2011, the company expects total revenue in the range of $1,075 million to $1,115 million. On a GAAP basis, net income per diluted share for fiscal year 2011 is expected to be in the range of $0.11 to $0.19. Using the non-GAAP measure defined below, net income per diluted share for fiscal year 2011 is expected to be in the range of $0.36 to $0.44.

Qualcomm announces commercial release of Augmented Reality platform

SAN DIEGO, USA: Qualcomm Inc. announced the immediate commercial availability of its Augmented Reality (AR) Platform for Android smartphones. Offered through Qualcomm’s online developer network, this 1.0 release marks the successful completion of the company’s beta program. Developers can now build, market and commercially distribute applications based on the Qualcomm AR platform.

Qualcomm’s award-winning AR platform will enable a broad range of experiences that entertain, engage and inform consumers with a new form of interactive media. The platform’s rich feature set enables developers to build high-performance, interactive 3D experiences on real world images, such as those used in print media (books, magazines, brochures, tickets, signs) and on product packaging.

The platform supports multiple development environments. The Qualcomm AR Android SDK supports native Android development with the Android tool chain, including the Android SDK and NDK. The Qualcomm AR Unity Extension supports rapid development with the Unity 3 game development tool. A web application is also included for creating and managing image resources that can be used with either development environment.

Industry-leading performance is achieved through Qualcomm’s innovations in advanced computer vision algorithms and close integration of hardware and software. The effect of this performance is a higher fidelity user experience in which graphics content appears more real against the real world background. While applications built on the platform will run on all Android smartphones using Android 2.1 or greater, optimal performance will be exhibited on phones using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chipset.

“Qualcomm has a long history of providing advanced technologies that drive innovation and opportunity for the mobile ecosystem,” said Jay Wright, senior director of business development, Qualcomm. “We continue the tradition by making leading AR technology widely available to developers for commercial use. With more than 6,000 registered developers, we look forward to a new generation of AR applications available in the Android Market and other application stores.”

Qualcomm and Big PlayAR recently collaborated with the Dallas Mavericks to introduce the first commercial application using Qualcomm’s platform. Mavs AR, a game developed by Big PlayAR, has enabled fans attending the Mavs playoff games at American Airlines Center to point their smartphone running the Mavs AR application at their ticket to play a virtual basketball game in the palm of their hands.

“We are thrilled with Mavs AR – it has really added a new layer of fun and interaction to the Mavs fan experience,” said Mavs owner Mark Cuban. “Based on the game’s success, we expect to use AR for future fan promotions, and Qualcomm’s AR platform has demonstrated itself as a powerful platform for creating these types of 3D experiences.”

The Qualcomm AR Platform is available immediately.

Global handset semiconductor market revenue jumped 15 percent in 2010

LONDON, UK: 2010 saw the global handset semiconductor market achieve an estimated revenue jump of about 15 percent compared to 2009, on a shipment growth of 13 percent.

According to ABI Research practice director Peter Cooney: “Consistent demand for smartphones has become the major driver behind semiconductor market growth. In view of the return on investment (ROI) and the technological barriers to entry, many semiconductor vendors are contemplating merger and acquisition strategies to align their technologies for the future.”

Between the end of 2008 and the end of 2009, smartphone shipments grew about 19%, while growth over the course of 2010 surged a further 71 percent. That rising smartphone demand resulted in a YoY revenue growth of 34 percent for application processors.

Among connectivity chipsets, Wi-Fi grew 62 percent in the same period. The top 10 application processor suppliers, including Qualcomm, TI, Samsung, Apple, and Marvell, together accounted for some 85% of all revenues for the segment in 2010.

Baseband processor revenue grew approximately 11 percent in 2010; the top four suppliers, Qualcomm, MediaTek, TI and ST-Ericsson together earned 82 percent of the total. Qualcomm led the global handset baseband market in CDMA and W-CDMA segments, while MediaTek took the top position in GSM/GPRS/EDGE and TD-SCDMA segments.

Competition in handset semiconductor markets has become more intense, leading to increased M&A activity. Intel completed its acquisition of Infineon's wireless solutions business in 1Q2011. Broadcom acquired Beceem in November 2010, marking a return to the leading edge of the processor technology market. In January 2011 Qualcomm announced its intention to acquire Atheros; and Samsung announced M&A plans at CES, a sign of what’s to come in the aggressively competitive world of the mobile handset.

Cooney concludes, “The total revenue delivered by handset semiconductors is set to continue growing over the next five years, driven primarily by the growing numbers of ICs supporting multiple functions in the next generations of smartphones.”

Dumbfounded by the semiconductor forecasts? Me too!

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: It seems a week doesn’t go by when we see forecasts for semiconductor and equipment change. For example:

3/30/2011. - VLSI Research Inc. has increased its IC forecast amid stronger-than-expected demand in the first quarter. IC sales for 2011 are now expected to increase 12.2 percent, compared to the previous forecast of 8.9 percent.

4/25/2011 - It's a mixed picture for ICs, according to VLSI Research Inc.'s "Semiconductor Analytics" report. For the week ended April 15, IC billings were $4.72 billion in the period, down 6 percent from the previous week, but up 8 percent from the like period a year ago, according to the report.

April 6, 2011 - Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) reduced its growth estimates for the global non-memory semiconductor market this year due to the depressing effect of China's inflation-fighting measures and the earthquake in Japan, Chairman Morris Chang said in a statement. Chang said TSMC revised down its growth forecasts for the non-memory chip industry to 4 percent this year from its earlier estimate of 7 percent as "the semiconductor industry will not be as strong as we just thought three or four months ago."

April 11, 2011 - In an ironic twist, supply disruptions related to the Japan earthquake and tsunami will contribute to higher than previously expected global semiconductor revenue in 2011, as shortages bolster pricing for key memory devices, new IHS iSuppli research indicates. The latest IHS iSuppli semiconductor forecast for 2011, issued on March 30, calls for annual semiconductor revenue growth of 7 percent, up from the 5.8 percent expansion predicted in the previous outlook from early February. Global semiconductor revenue in 2011 now is expected to amount to $325.2 billion, compared to the previous forecast of $320.1 billion.

The last is my favorite. As if..iSuppli knows more than TSMC chairman Morris Chang!

Fortunately the news coming out of these magazines is free, and you get what you paid for. But, how many of you actually paid for the reports offered by these companies? We can help. Below is an example of our Proprietary Leading Indicators (PLLs) for semiconductors.

Our PLLs started turning down in March 2008, seven months before the semiconductor revenues started turning down.Source: The Information Network, USA.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

ON Semiconductor expands PureEdge silicon-based crystal oscillator clock module portfolio

PHOENIX, USA: ON Semiconductor announced the further extension of its silicon based crystal oscillator (XO) clock module range. The six new additions to the NBX series provide a cost-effective, high accuracy reference clock solution with dual voltage capabilities and class-leading total frequency stability as low as ±20 parts per million (ppm).

The new devices meet clock generation requirements in the latest 2.5 V/3.3 V low-voltage positive emitter coupled logic (LVPECL) designs for applications in routers, switches, servers and basestations.

The new devices support frequencies for applications such as SONET, Gigabit Ethernet, and LAN/WLAN. The NBX series offers equivalent or better performance compared to quartz-based third overtone XOs or surface acoustic wave (SAW) products. This is underlined by ultra-low phase noise of -160 decibels relative to the carrier per hertz (dBc/Hz), typical RMS phase jitter of 0.5 picoseconds (ps), and a low bit error rate.

“This frequency and voltage range expansion gives designers of LVPECL clock tree designs even greater choice,” said Ryan Cameron, director, custom industrial and timing products business unit at ON Semiconductor. “With improved performance, dual voltage flexibility and reduced lead times compared to quartz-based alternatives, the NBX series is keeping ahead of the increasing demands of applications in this sector.”

New frequencies supported are 622.08 megahertz (MHz) for the NBXMBB024 and NBXSBB024; 156.25 MHz for the NBXHGA017; 125.00 MHz for the NBXHGA019; 161.1328 MHz for the NBXSGA008; and 50.00 MHz for the NBXHGA053.

The NBX devices are packaged in Pb-free, RoHS compliant, hermetically sealed 5x7x1.9mm ceramic CLCC-6 SMD packages. Budgetary pricing for these products is $3.00-$5.50 per unit for quantities of 1,000 units.

TI to give away hundreds of MCU kits in its "Tool Swap" program

DALLAS, USA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) announced a new "Tool Swap" program to give developers a chance to get rid of underperforming microcontroller (MCU) tools from competitors and make the switch to TI's leading solutions.

The program is sponsored by Digi-Key Corporation and will take place on May 3-5 at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC), Silicon Valley in San Jose, Calif. Each day of the program, the first 100 developers to bring a used competitive kit to the TI booth can exchange their old hardware for an MSP430 eZ430-Chronos watch, Stellaris Cortex-M3 EVALBOT robotic evaluation board or C2000 Piccolo controlSTICK.

From ultra-low-power MSP430 MCUs, to Stellaris Cortex-M MCUs, to real-time control C2000 MCUs, TI offers the broadest range of microcontroller solutions in the industry. Beyond differentiated silicon, TI is committed to delivering robust software and tool platforms that are unmatched by any other semiconductor provider.

TI's experimenter, developer and application specific kits are designed to address every design stage – from device exploration, to prototype and production. Each TI MCU tool includes all of the hardware and software necessary to get started in 10 minutes or less.

Attendees will have the option to switch out their competitive MCU hardware tool for one of these superior TI solutions (while supplies last).

POLYTEDA joins Si2’s design for manufacturability coalition

AUSTIN, USA: The Silicon Integration Initiative (Si2) announced that POLYTEDA Software Corporation, a provider of advanced physical verification solutions, is the latest member of Si2’s Design for Manufacturability Coalition (DFMC).

POLYTEDA joins other key players in the semiconductor supply chain, including Cadence Design Systems, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM Corporation, Intel Corporation, Magma Design Automation, Mentor Graphics, STMicroelectronics, Synopsys, Tela Innovations and Texas Instruments, as DFMC members.

DFMC’s charter is to specify open standards for software interfaces between EDA software tools and manufacturing software. The specification includes standard terminology definitions, semantics and exchange formats for relevant manufacturing information. It also includes standard software application program interfaces (API) for models describing different manufacturing processes, yield mechanisms and circuit behaviors.

“The complexity of process steps and inter-dependency with many manufacturability related issues, especially at 40nm and below, are driving the runtimes and complexity of physical verification to unacceptable levels,” said Randy Smith, CEO of POLYTEDA.

“In the short time we have been with the DFMC coalition of Si2, the active participation we have seen between the member companies to come up with an OpenDFM format is impressive. In addition, standards are typically influenced by the dominant, older technologies of the time. But it is also important to understand the emerging technologies so that the new standards do not close off the benefits of the latest developments in these critical areas. We expect to provide that insight for Si2.”

On November 9, 2010, the DFMC members unanimously approved the first official release of the OpenDFM 1.0 standard. This is an open, high-level DRC language that can generate popular verification languages with no loss of accuracy or performance. OpenDFM 1.1 has added significant capabilities, including targeting functions, and has recently been released to the industry.

“DFMC projects are moving very quickly to solve industry problems in the common areas linking design and manufacturing,” said Steve Schulz, president and chief executive officer of Si2. “We thank the DFMC members for their important technical contributions and cooperation in ensuring that all the pieces of OpenDFM work together.”

Membership in the DFMC is open to all interested parties across the semiconductor supply chain.

MOS-AK/GSA Modeling Working Group holds Spring Workshop in Paris

SAN JOSE, USA: The MOS-AK/GSA Modeling Working Group, a global compact modeling standardization forum, held its annual spring workshop on April 7-8, 2011 at LIP6/ Pierre and Marie Curie University (UPMC) in Paris, France.

More than 60 international academic researchers and modeling engineers attended three sessions to hear 13 technical compact modeling talks and nine poster presentations. The MOS-AK/GSA Modeling Working Group organized the event with the help and full sponsorship of Marie-Minerve Louerat and the LIP6 laboratory within UPMC.

The workshop’s three sessions focused on high-voltage metal-oxide semiconductor (HVMOS) modeling, technology computer-aided design (TCAD)/CAD simulations and advanced compact modeling.

In the HVMOS modeling session, modeling experts presented advances in high-performance HV metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET) modeling at the 40 nanometer CMOS node; reviewed reliability and aging models for HVMOS; introduced extraction of a scalable electrical model for HV (600/800V) MOS transistors; and presented the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)-HV MOSFET model for the first time.

The TCAD/CAD simulations session discussed emerging simulation topics concerning open source/GNU CAD tools (the quite universal circuit simulator (QUCS) and NGSpice simulator) and their applications for device-level compact modeling.

Finally, the advanced compact modeling session covered physics-based compact models essential for FinFETs, radio frequency (RF) heterojunction bipolar transistors (HBTs) and high electron mobility transistors (HEMTs), and emerging lateral-diffused metal-oxide semiconductor (LDMOS) devices.

The event ended with high-quality technical poster presentations covering compact model development, implementation, deployment, device-level circuit simulations and model standardization.

TI intros 18-V hot-swap controller with high efficiency and accuracy

USA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has introduced the industry’s smallest 18-V hot-swap controller with power limiting that protects server and telecom equipment from over-current, over-voltage or short circuit events.

The TPS24720 controller with programmable FET safe operating area (SOA) protection comes in a 3-mm x 3-mm standard QFN package, increases system reliability and simplifies hot-swap design. .

Power protection with current monitoring
The controller minimizes in-rush current and protects the load and the FET from potentially damaging transients. The TPS24720’s programmable current limiting feature allows it to control an external N-channel MOSFET and provide accurate current monitoring.

In addition when programmed to a 25-mV current limit threshold, there is a 50-percent reduction in sense resistor power loss compared to competitive devices with the same accuracy.

The TPS24720’s analog current monitor can provide real-time current data to ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontrollers and TI’s UCD9081 power supply
sequencer to monitor overall system operation.

Growth at top 20 MEMS foundries lags market, as IDMs capture volume consumer business

LYON, FRANCE: MEMS foundries shared unequally in the MEMS market’s robust 25 percent growth in 2010. Total combined revenues of Yole Développement’s annual ranking of the Top 20 MEMS foundries –which account for the vast majority of world’s total MEMS foundry capacity—climbed only about 10 percent last year, as companies doing their own internal production instead grabbed most of the big growth in consumer and automotive markets.Source: Yole Développement, France.

STMicroelectronics continued to dominate the MEMS foundry business, capturing nearly a third of the total foundry market, but there was plenty of re-shuffling among the rest of the leading players in this highly fluid sector. Silex Microsystems saw robust 85 percent growth to some $37 million in sales, to become the largest of the pure play independents, largely on demand for its via-first, highly doped silicon TSV technology. Sales at Asia Pacific Microsystems jumped some 60 percent, to move the Taiwan company into fourth position.

But in a market largely driven by demand for high volume sensors for smart phones and other consumer gear, large MEMS IDMs with 8-inch lines and assured supply capability captured much of the new business. The IDMs also benefited from the robust recovery of the automotive market, as those qualified devices remain largely made in house. Smaller fabless companies generally saw slower growth, as they had to compete with the giants for volume orders.

“In the future, the large IDMs like Bosch, STMicroelectronics and Panasonic will continue to capture much of the big growth in consumer MEMS markets,” said Jean Christophe Eloy, CEO of Yole Développement. “And those foundries coming from the large volume semiconductor industry will become more and more important. The foundry business will increasingly be in other hands than before, as much of the growth will be captured by new players.”

Yole Développement estimates TSMC roughly doubled its MEMS revenues last year, to jump from about $10 million to about $20 million in MEMS foundry revenues. Other semiconductor industry companies like XFab, Jazz Semiconductor and UMC also saw healthy growth, though remain relatively smaller players. Though not yet large enough to make the list, SMIC’s MEMS foundry business is also growing, and GlobalFoundries plans an aggressive move into the MEMS market.

Though the specialty MEMS foundries may be serving lower volume customers, those applications include much specialized, higher margin business in optical, telecommunications and biomedical applications. “These foundries may not be seeing the same big growth, but they are making a good, profitable business,” says Eloy.

And there’s a large and growing group of these larger specialty foundries increasingly separating themselves from the pack. Nine MEMS foundries now have revenues of about $20 million or more, and six of those are now doing more than $30 million in annual business. As recently as 2006, only five MEMS foundries reached the $20 million mark.

Sensonor vaulted onto the list in number third position, with $35 million in foundry business, as Infineon spun out the MEMS unit to make its tire pressure monitoring systems as a foundry. Texas Instruments, meanwhile, slipped to fifth place from second, on the slowing of demand for ink jet heads from Lexmark, as the maturing inkjet printer market slowed and transitioned from disposable to permanent heads.

IDT announces industry’s widest range poly-phase power metering products for smart grid apps

SAN JOSE, USA: Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT) announced a new family of poly-phase power metering ICs that offer the widest dynamic range and lowest temperature coefficient in the industry. These new devices allow smart energy meter manufacturers to increase performance while consolidating functionality and lowering cost. The poly-phase power metering ICs expand on IDT’s award-winning 90E2x family of single-phase devices.

The 90E32 and 90E36 poly-phase metering ICs feature the industry’s widest dynamic range of 5000:1 (90E32) and 6000:1 (90E36), and the lowest temperature coefficient with proprietary temperature compensation technology, offering superior performance over a wide range of usage patterns and environmental conditions, increasing flexibility for meter manufacturers. The devices are fully compliant with international (IEC, ANSI) and Chinese (GB, DL) standards, and can be used for both three-phase four-wire (3P4W) and three-phase three-wire (3P3W) active and reactive energy meters.

“These newest power metering products enrich IDT’s award-winning portfolio and address the demands of our customers, who have quickly made our single-phase devices a success,” said Sean Fan, vice president and general manager of IDT. “Our engineering and applications expertise helps to enable the rapid and economical deployment of smart grid technology across the globe. The wide dynamic range and low temperature coefficient specifications are exactly what smart energy meter manufacturers need for their next generation products.”

“We are pleased to see IDT announcing another innovative power metering IC, in addition to the previously introduced single-phase devices,” said Li Xianhuai, CTO of Wasion Group Limited, a premier energy meter manufacturer in China. “IDT enables us to offer differentiated features and performance to our end customers. The unprecedented wide range and high accuracy is critical for poly-phase meter applications and the smart grid infrastructure.”

In addition, the IDT 90E36 features an on-chip Discrete Fourier Transform (DFT) analysis engine with Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) detection, raw analog to digital converter (ADC) data access via a direct memory access (DMA) port and other versatile parameter measurement functions. These features provide added flexibility during the development process and expand the device’s applications to Data Acquisition Terminal (DAT) units and other electrical parameter monitoring instruments.

The IDT 90E32 and 90E36 are currently sampling to qualified customers and are available in a 48-pin TQFP package. The IDT 90E32 and 90E36 are priced at $2.85 and $4.50 each for volumes of 10,000 units, respectively.

TI intros industry’s smallest wireless power receiver chip

USA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) recently introduced its next generation of wireless power technology, which is 80-percent smaller than TI’s previous receiver chip.

The tiny, highly integrated device makes it easy for designers to implement wireless charging in their existing and new designs for portable consumer devices, such as smart phones, gaming systems, digital cameras, and medical and industrial equipment.

The bq51013 receiver integrated circuit (IC) combines voltage conditioning and full wireless power control in a small 1.9-mm x 3-mm WCSP package. The new circuit supports up to 5 W of output power, provides up to 94-percent efficient AC/DC power conversion and is the only IC required between the receiver coil and system.

“Smartphone and consumer electronics manufacturers are demanding wireless power, and TI is well positioned to help our customers drive widespread adoption of this technology that makes life easier for people on the go to charge their devices,” said Sami Kiriaki, senior vice president over TI’s Power Management business.

“Designers can use the bq51013 to quickly integrate wireless power into existing and new applications with minimal impact to overall solution size.”

Cosmic Circuits tapes out clocking solutions in 55nm

BANGALORE, INDIA & CAMPBELL, USA: Cosmic Circuits, a leading provider of differentiated Analog and Mixed-Signal IP cores, announced the tape out of its clocking solutions in 55nm.

Cosmic Circuits offers a broad portfolio of differentiated Analog IP cores in nanometer technology nodes covering Data-Converters, Analog-Front-End platforms for Wireless and Audio, Power-Management, Clocking and MIPI Interfaces.

The system-clocking PLLs are implemented in 55nm process technology, and will offer SoC designers a wide range of analog and digital PLLs to choose from – these include PLLs that support input frequencies ranging from 32 kHz- 1600 MHz without requiring any external components, PLLs that occupies extremely low core area, and spread-spectrum PLLs for EMI suppression.

Sundararajan Krishnan, director of IP, said: “We are very committed to a PLL roadmap that extends into the advanced process nodes and this tape-out is a significant step in that direction. We now have PLLs available in the 28nm, 55nm and 65nm process technologies and will complete our offering in the low-power flavors with the soon-to-be-available 40nm PLLs. We have taken a lot of care in specifying the features of these IPs to provide our SoC customers ample choice in PLL selection."

Freescale announces RF power LDMOS transistors that cover full frequency bands for wireless base stations

AUSTIN, USA: Freescale Semiconductor introduced two LDMOS RF power transistors that allow wireless base station amplifiers to cover all channels in an entire allocated frequency band. The high-efficiency transistors help reduce capital and operating expenditures, and their wide instantaneous bandwidth allows operators to increase network flexibility.

Most of today’s amplifier systems operate with instantaneous (video) bandwidth limitations of 20 to 40 MHz and require a separate power amplifier for each channel. However, increasing wireless data traffic is driving a trend to extend amplifier systems to cover entire wireless frequency bands. Freescale’s new RF power LDMOS transistors deliver a compelling combination of high linearity, high efficiency, wide instantaneous bandwidth and high power that extend the instantaneous signal bandwidth to an industry-leading 160 MHz, making them ideal for these next-generation amplifier systems.

Freescale’s MRF8P20165WH/S for the 1930 to 1995 MHz PCS band and the MRF8P20140WH/S for the 1880 to 2025 MHz TD-SCDMA bands F & A, can support the corresponding wireless spectrum with one amplifier. This significantly reduces the number of power amplifiers needed for a multi-band base station and enables network operators to consolidate devices and equipment, resulting in lower operating expenditures.

In addition, the wide instantaneous bandwidth of Freescale’s new LDMOS devices increases network flexibility for network operators by allowing network equipment sharing between operators and by simplifying upgrades.

Operators can add/exchange spectrum holdings within a frequency band without upgrading equipment, and because wideband/multi-band PAs are generally agnostic to modulation formats, operators can upgrade to 4G LTE and other wireless standards with a simple software change and no additional hardware. This means network operators save on both capital and operating costs. Operators also can reconfigure channels on the fly and apply channel consolidation to support increased data rates.

“The need for RF power transistors to deliver exceptional linearity and efficiency over a full wireless band is no longer simply desirable; it is essential,” said Ritu Favre, VP and GM of Freescale’s RF Division. “The devices we are introducing today are the first in a family of broadband RF power transistors that includes all current and emerging wireless bands. Each device will be designed to combine all of the attributes – high efficiency and linearity and high output power – required to allow carriers to meet the challenges of the future.”

Freescale’s MRF8P20165WH/S and MRF8P20140WH/S meet linearity requirements for PCS and TD-SCDMA standards while delivering efficiency of at least 43.7 percent when amplifying multiple wireless carriers separated by up to 65 MHz (PCS) and 140 MHz (TD-SCDMA). Both devices are dual-path designs, and can implement the final stage of a Doherty amplifier with one path as the main amplifier and the other as the peaking amplifier.

MEMS and sensors: A market in motion

PHOENIX, USA: Smart phones are a booming market. MEMS and sensors are a booming market. Together, they constitute a "can't-lose" market that is impossible to ignore. Semico Research has just released a report, titled "MEMS and Sensors: A Market in Motion," that specifically addresses the MEMS and Sensor content in smart phones.

With each generation, smart phones are becoming more feature rich. MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) and sensors are important components that enable many of these features. MEMS devices offer not only additional functionality but also smaller size and lower power consumption. This makes MEMS very attractive to the smartphone market.

Semico has identified a dozen functions in a smartphone that either have a MEMS solution now, or could potentially migrate to MEMS. Penetration rates, unit shipments, ASPs, and revenues for these MEMS and sensor devices are all included in this report.

Smart phones are expected to grow 30.8 percent this year over 2010, with units approaching half a billion. MEMS and sensors for smartphones are highly fragmented markets with many chip vendors involved in different areas. Semico estimates that the total TAM for MEMS and sensors in the smartphone market will reach $3.0 billion in 2011, an annual growth of 52.7 percent. Semico's complete smart phone forecast is also included in this study.

New Cadence Allegro technology boosts productivity and predictability for silicon, SoC and system developers

SAN JOSE, USA: Cadence Design Systems Inc. has introduced the latest version of its Allegro PCB and IC packaging technology, delivering new capabilities that provide a significant increase in both productivity and predictability across silicon, SoC and system development.

New technologies include advanced miniaturization capabilities, uniquely integrated power delivery network analysis, DDR3 design-in kit, bolstered co-design features, and flexible team-design enablement to address global designer productivity. The company also announced that the Allegro 16.5 technology will be available through product configuration that enables users to access advanced features on-demand for specific design tasks, thus optimizing total cost-of-ownership.

“Coming on the first anniversary of the announcement of the EDA360 vision, our Allegro 16.5 release strengthens the connection between Silicon, SoC and System Realization—the three key tenets of EDA360,” said John Bruggeman, senior vice president and CMO of Cadence. “We have leveraged our leadership in PCB and IC package design to drive a true end-to-end flow across all product creation disciplines, which speeds time to market while improving productivity and profitability for our customers.”

The new Allegro 16.5 features and capabilities are aimed at easing the path to co-design and analysis between engineers involved in Silicon, SoC, and System Realization, and enabling more predictable and efficient design flows that deliver higher-quality end products.

Allegro offers constraint-driven approach for system realization
Assisting system developers, the Allegro 16.5 release provides many capabilities that enable a more productive, predictable path and closure to product creation. New in this version of Allegro is a constraint-driven flow for embedded components that employs advanced miniaturization techniques used in state-of-the-art products--such as smart phones, tablet PCs and avionics--to reach new levels of functional density.

Traditionally, manual layout is used to place and route embedded components, but this is an error-prone process with multiple iterations and no design rule checking. The Allegro technology enables a simpler way to place and route these components with its constraint-driven approach. The new Allegro Power Delivery Network Analysis is seamlessly integrated with Allegro PCB Editor for comprehensive power trade-offs of fully routed PCBs.

"The Allegro 16.5 embedded component capability supports advanced and traditional embedded component fabrication methods," said Christian Maudet, Team Leader Back End Workbench (ATDM) for Thales Aerospace, Space, Defense and Security. "Cadence worked with us closely to understand requirements for advanced embedding techniques for PCB and IC packages, and delivered a full operational and complete approach that exceeded our expectations.”

"We partnered with Cadence for the past 18 months to ensure that maximum functionality is available to our joint customers in the latest version of Allegro to support our ECP technology," said Mark Beesley, director of Advanced Packaging ECP, AT & S. "ECP is used to enable further miniaturization of electronic devices while at the same time improving electrical performance of critical signals in a cost-effective manner."

Increasing use of standards-based interfaces such as DDR4 and PCI Express 3.0 is making timing closure on PCBs extremely challenging. The new PCB Interconnect Design Planning option uses a Cadence-patented hierarchical abstraction, coupled with semi-automatic approaches, that leverages feedback from the route engine to accelerate the path to timing closure.

The new concurrent team design authoring capability of Allegro also shortens the time it takes to create design intent by leveraging the power and skill of a distributed engineering team.

New DDR3 PCB design kit advances SoC realization
Selecting and integrating SoC IP that works with package and board implementations has always been a major challenge. Starting with Allegro 16.5, Cadence will extend SoC Realization by providing package-board-aware SoC IP.

With this release, a package-board-aware DDR3 SoC IP methodology kit will be available to provide a compliant and fast implementation path from silicon IP to package and board. Similar support for other protocols, such as the recently announced DDR4 memory standard, will come in the future, according to Cadence.

Allegro Links to Encounter, Virtuoso to Extend Silicon Realization Capabilities
Allegro technology is built upon a unique silicon-package-board co-design approach, with direct bi-directional integration with flows from the Cadence Encounter Digital Implementation System and Virtuoso custom analog products lines, including low-power, mixed-signal, gigahertz, RF, and SiP/3D-IC flows.

Allegro products provide a scalable PCB and IC package design solution that leverages a constraint- and rules- driven methodology, from logical design authoring through physical implementation to signal and power integrity analysis and signoff.

Extending Silicon Realization, the new system-in-package (SiP) distributed co-design capability works with Encounter Digital Implementation System and Virtuoso custom analog technology to enable cross geographic, company and team design, reducing time to package-optimized chip tapeout.

New Allegro configuration enables 'on-demand' access
The new Allegro configuration—base plus options—lets design teams create an environment that meets their specific needs, without paying for extra capabilities they don’t want and won’t use. The options provide cost-effective, scalable solutions for complex PCB and IC packaging designs.

AMD embedded G-series platform gets RTOS support from Express Logic

SUNNYVALE, USA: AMD announced embedded software provider Express Logic has brought its industry-leading ThreadX real-time operating system (RTOS) to the AMD Embedded G-Series platform.

The AMD Embedded G-Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) offers an advanced, low-power, multi-core x86 CPU and a discrete-class DirectX-11-capable GPU on a single, small-footprint die. This family of APUs was created expressly for the requirements of embedded systems, many of which require the precise, deterministic timing of an RTOS.

"A robust RTOS is critical for many embedded systems. With the addition of ThreadX to AMD’s growing embedded ecosystem, our customers can deploy the same reliable and royalty-free licensed OS that’s currently deployed in more than one billion industrial and consumer devices worldwide,” said Buddy Broeker, director, Embedded Solutions, AMD. “The combination of the AMD Embedded G-Series APUs and ThreadX is a very attractive platform, especially for our customers in highly regulated markets like transportation, medical devices, and gaming, where reliability and time-to-market are critical"

ThreadX offers “instant on” and a footprint as small as 6KB with automatic scaling as required by the application. In addition to many features and tools designed to make its RTOS easy to implement, Express Logic also offers a ThreadX Safety-Critical Certification Pack that can help speed certification of regulated systems.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Intel to transfer world-leading manufacturing expertise to accelerate MiaSole ramp to 150MW

SANTA CLARA, USA: MiaSole, the leading manufacturer of copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) thin-film photovoltaic solar panels, announced that it has entered into an agreement with Intel's Technical Manufacturing Services practice.

Under this agreement, Intel will provide customized manufacturing services and systems, strategic consulting, operational knowledge and training to MiaSole as the company ramps its manufacturing facilities in 2011 and 2012.

"The engagement is part of Intel's broader strategy to partner promising high tech innovation with Intel's world class manufacturing and Copy Exactly! methodology. This will enable companies like MiaSole to scale to high volume manufacturing cheaper, faster, and better," commented Brian Krzanich, senior VP and GM of Intel's Manufacturing and Supply Chain.

Manufacturing is central to MiaSole's business; the company has increased its annualized production capacity to over 50 Megawatts (MW) in just over a year, and is on-track to triple capacity to over 150 MW by the end of 2011. However, the agreement with Intel – a world-leader in manufacturing with over 40 years of experience – will accelerate the production ramp with improved repeatability and consistency required for high-volume manufacturing. This will further reduce the overall cost of solar energy and broaden its worldwide adoption.

"We are thrilled to learn from Intel's manufacturing expertise. The best technology manufacturer on the planet is now teaching us what it means to be world-class. This contribution will strengthen our goals to achieve manufacturing scale at our California factory this year," said Dr. Joseph Laia, CEO of MiaSole.

ST's MEMS microphones enhance audio experience in mobile phones and portable computers

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: STMicroelectronics introduced two new digital MEMS microphones. Combining superior sound quality with robustness and reliability at reduced size and cost, ST's MP34DB01 and MP45DT02 microphones enable enhanced audio experience in mobile phones and portable computers, as well as in many other existing and emerging applications with a voice input.

According to iSuppli, the market for MEMS microphones for consumer electronics and mobile handsets is forecast to grow revenue at a CAGR of 24% between 2009 and 2014. The driving factors include the breakthrough in the use of noise suppression requiring multiple microphones, as well as adoption in new consumer applications beyond handsets and laptops, such as slate tablets and gaming.

ST's MEMS microphones use best-in-class acoustic sensor technology jointly developed with OMRON(2) that is inherently less susceptible to mechanical vibration, temperature variations and electromagnetic interference, while providing high-fidelity reproduction of audio signals. Integrating ST's electronic control circuit and OMRON's micro-machined sensor in a single package, the microphones deliver superb audio performance at lower power consumption than traditional condenser (ECM) microphones. This optimized power consumption ensures longer battery life in portable devices for an extended user experience.

In addition to the size, robustness and energy economy advantages over ECM microphones, MEMS microphones enable dramatic advancements in sound quality, realized by incorporating multiple microphones in one device. Such microphone arrays, facilitated by the small form factor, superior sensitivity matching and frequency response of ST's microphones, enable the implementation of active noise and echo cancelling, as well as beam-forming, a sound-processing technology that helps isolate a sound and its location. These features are valuable with the increasing use of cell phones and other devices in noisy and uncontrollable environments.

Another important factor in multiple-microphone applications is the high temperature stability of MEMS microphones after reflow that ensures ample flexibility in placing the auxiliary microphones, including in locations with higher temperature excursions.

ST's MP34DB01 microphone is the only device in the market with real high-fidelity audio bandwidth, delivering flat frequency response in the full audio band of 20–20,000 Hz, coupled with an unparalleled signal-to-noise ratio (62 dB) and power-supply noise rejection (70 dB).

Housed inside an ultra-small 3x4x1 mm package, the microphone has been specifically designed for mobile phones, with the acoustic port hole placed on the bottom of the package. This layout enables phone manufacturers to mount the microphone on the backside of the cell-phone printed circuit board for slimmer designs and still obtain a short acoustic path from the environment to the microphone.

The MP34DB01 has already been qualified by top-tier cell-phone makers and is now in mass production.

The other addition to ST's MEMS microphone family, the MP45DT02, is a top-port 3.76 x 4.72 x 1.25mm device that ideally suits the size and sound-inlet position requirements of laptops and tablets. The microphone provides an excellent signal-to-noise ratio (58 dB) and superior frequency response to alternatives for that market.

ST's MEMS microphones perfectly pair with the latest generation of the company's Sound Terminal audio processing chips that feature a dedicated built-in interface for direct connection of a MEMS microphone, saving parts count and cost.

ST's bottom-port MP34DB01 MEMS microphone is available for volume shipping and the top-port MP45DT02 microphone will start mass production in Q2 2011. Unit pricing for both devices is $1.4 in quantities of 1,000 units.

Vivante GPU IP cores power Freescale i.MX 6 series of application processors

SUNNYVALE, USA: Last week at the Linley Tech Mobile Conference held in Silicon Valley, Freescale Semiconductor detailed the GPUs licensed from Vivante powering the recently announced i.MX 6 series of applications processors.

The i.MX 6 series is Freescale's latest line of application processors scalable from single, dual and quad cores and including multi-stream 1080p video plus Freescale's Triple-Play graphics architecture. The multicore Freescale i.MX 6 series delivers an order of magnitude improvement in graphics performance for Freescale customers targeting the hottest selling smart mobile, automotive infotainment, eReader and networked embedded device categories.

Integrating up to three Vivante GC Series GPU cores, the i.MX 6 series Triple Play architecture delivers more than ten times the graphics performance of Freescale's current generation applications processors, enabling a visually stunning and responsive user experience for next generation devices.

The Vivante GC2000 also introduces GPGPU technology for OpenCL applications to further enhance Freescale's platforms by offloading the CPU for image processing and other high performance computations. The combination of Vivante graphics and GPGPU cores bring new applications to life in mobile devices featuring stereoscopic 3D video playback, desktop-quality gaming, augmented reality and content creation capabilities – all delivered in ultra-sleek form factors with significant battery life advantages over many of today's most popular mobile devices.

"Our i.MX 6 series offers consumers the outstanding compute and graphics performance and visual fidelity our customers demand to drive their new product introductions and roadmaps for their next-generation smart mobile devices," said Rajeev Kumar, consumer product line manager for Freescale's Multimedia Applications Division.

"Graphics performance, quality and technology innovation are key selection criteria and differentiators in the markets we serve. The Vivante GPUs integrated into the quad-, dual- and single-core i.MX 6 series are compelling elements of our newest family of application processors. Offering a common unified software stack and development tool compatibility across the i.MX 6 series enables our customers to address the widest range of applications with fast time to market."

Vivante CEO Wei-Jin Dai says: "The era of smart mobile devices has arrived and with it comes the need for application processors that can deliver the highest graphics performance and experience with true on-the-go mobility. The wide adoption of tablets has also created strong consumer demand at an exponential growth rate for GPU integration across a range of mobile, embedded, consumer and automotive platforms.

"Our leadership in performance, features, customer support, low power and integration in our products is the driving force behind everything we do at Vivante to align our core competencies with the market. Freescale's focus on best-in-class GPU performance with i.MX 6 creates a natural match between our companies and engineering organizations. Vivante is proud to be a key supplier to Freescale and their broad array of leading edge customers readying i.MX 6 products whose displays will become a part of every consumer's life over the next few years."

IOsemi adopts Berkeley Design Automation analog FastSPICE platform

SANTA CLARA, USA: Berkeley Design Automation Inc., the nanometer circuit verification leader, announced that IO Semiconductor Inc., a fabless semiconductor company developing high-performance front-end chips for multi-band, multi-mode cellular applications, has selected the company’s AFS Platform for RF verification and characterization.

"At IOsemi we have tremendous verification and characterization challenges for our ZEROcap™ CMOS technology designs," said Stuart Molin, CTO at IOsemi. "We have standardized on the Analog FastSPICE Platform because it provides nanometer SPICE accuracy 5x to 10x faster than traditional SPICE, exceeding our requirements for verification and characterization of our high-performance CMOS RF front-end devices."

The Analog FastSPICE Platform is the industry’s only unified verification platform for nanometer analog, RF, mixed-signal, and custom digital circuits. The AFS Platform combines foundry-certified nm SPICE accuracy, 5x-10x faster single-core performance than any other SPICE circuit simulator, >10M-element capacity, and the industry’s only comprehensive silicon-accurate device noise analysis.

The AFS Platform is a single executable that uses advanced algorithms and numerical analysis to rapidly solve the original device equations and full-circuit matrix without any approximations. It includes licenses for AFS Nano SPICE simulation, AFS circuit simulation, AFS Transient Noise Analysis, AFS RF Analysis, and AFS Co-Simulation.

"We are delighted with the IOsemi selection of the Analog FastSPICE Platform for their verification and characterization flow," said Ravi Subramanian, president and CEO of Berkeley Design Automation. "Achieving best-in-class cellular front-end performance in an RF-CMOS platform is a tremendous challenge. IOsemi's adoption of the AFS Platform reinforces the fact that today’s leading fabless semiconductor companies select Berkeley Design Automation for nanometer circuit verification."

M/A-COM Technology Solutions acquires Optomai

LOWELL, USA: M/A-COM Technology Solutions (M/A-COM Tech) announced that it has acquired privately-held Optomai Inc.

Optomai is a fabless semiconductor company that develops high performance integrated circuits and modules for next generation 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps fiber optic networks. Based in Silicon Valley, California, Optomai’s product portfolio and expertise in GaAs and InP circuit design complements M/A-COM Tech’s existing CATV/Broadcast and Point-to-Point/Infrastructure businesses, and accelerates its penetration of the rapidly growing optical communications market. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"With user demand for data driving exponential bandwidth growth, it is paramount that our telecom and datacom customers achieve high performance with cost per bit efficiency," said Chuck Bland, CEO, M/A-COM Tech. "Optomai products are designed-in as innovative, compact, and cost-effective solutions that enable high-speed 40/100G networks, and the joined teams have the expertise to further expand our fiber optics business."

Optomai brings to M/A-COM Tech an accomplished team of business and engineering professionals with a proven track record in the optical communications industry. Optomai’s comprehensive product portfolio includes 40G and 100G modulator drivers and transimpedance amplifiers for both line side and client side applications.

“M/A-COM Tech offers the quality brand and reputation of a top tier IC solutions provider, and the sales channel and operational scale to make Optomai products pervasive in the marketplace,” said Vivek Rajgarhia, CEO of Optomai and now serving as General Manager of M/A-COM Tech’s Optoelectronics business unit. “Together we will deliver significant value to our combined customer base.”

Accent intros industry first advanced transceiver supporting future smart utility network standard

SOPHIA ANTIPOLIS, FRANCE: Accent, a world leader in semiconductor integration of communications and metering technologies, announced today the immediate availability of its Sub-GHz RF transceiver supporting the advanced performance needs defined by the standardization efforts of the IEEE 802.15 TG4g task group. The group’s charter is to create a global standard for a PHY amendment to 802.15.4 targeting applications such as smart-grid utility networks.

Proprietary RF mesh networks comprise the dominant technology of choice for Smart Grid deployments in North America, primarily based on FSK technology. The new 802.15.4g standard will enable interoperability among Smart Grid devices, such as smart meters, and more advanced performance capabilities. In addition to defining a common mandatory FSK mode, 802.15.4g currently specifies optional OFDM and MR-OQPSK modulation formats. The task group reflects overwhelming industry support with members from leading utility, equipment, and silicon companies.

The RF transceiver, based on a Zero-IF architecture, is designed specifically to exceed requirements of 802.15.4g across mandatory and optional modulation schemes, including high performance data rates up to 800 kbps and input sensitivities up to -118 dBm. The software reconfigurable receiver has high dynamic range and guarantees better than 30dB SNR on wide range of input levels. Finally, the transceiver features unparalleled integration reducing BOM and external component part count.

“The importance and positive societal benefits of Smart Grid deployments is recognized worldwide, with many countries implementing stimulus and deployment targets to accelerate adoption,” said Federico Arcelli, CEO of Accent. “With the introduction of the 802.15.4g transceiver, Accent continues its track record of enabling Smart Grid equipment vendors with leading technologies in a flexible platform to meet their evolving product needs.”

The transceiver is now sampling with lead customers and is available as a technology option for Accent’s ASMgrid Platform.

TI simplifies MCU development with free Grace software platform that generates C code and eliminates manual peripheral configuration

DALLAS, USA: Continuing its mission to provide easy-to-use tools, Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) announced the Grace software platform, a free visual plug-in that enables developers to easily enable and configure ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontroller peripherals through a graphical user interface (GUI).

With Grace software, developers can interact with buttons, pull-down menus and helpful pop-ups to generate easy-to-understand C code that automatically configures the low-level register settings of analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), operational amplifiers (op amps), timers, serial communication modules, clocks and other peripherals.

By simplifying the peripheral configuration process, Grace software enables developers to focus on their differentiated application layer and user experience, removing barriers to microcontroller development and quickening time to market.

As a free Code Composer Studio IDE plug-in, Grace software seamlessly integrates into the MSP430 microcontroller tool chain and development process, compatible with all MSP430G2xx (Value Line) and MSP430F2xx devices, most eZ430 modules and the LaunchPad development kit. Open source tutorials and project examples are also included. Additionally, Grace software technology is scalable, with the potential to support other TI embedded processing solutions.

Key features and benefits of the Grace software platform
* Free plug-in for Code Composer Studio IDE, which provides an intuitive graphical environment for enabling and configuring MSP430 peripherals.
* Helpful tool tips and pop-ups based on MSP430 datasheets and user guides provide a rapid understanding of the various peripherals and configuration options.
* Generates easy-to-understand C code and minimizes configuration conflicts or collisions between multiple peripherals to further quicken time to market.
* Compatible with LaunchPad, eZ430-F2013 and eZ430-RF2500 development tools to offer a completely user-friendly development environment for first-time microcontroller users.
* Grace provides a Basic, Power User, and Register-level view offering different levels of abstraction for setting up peripherals.

Latest innovations in Synopsys IC Compiler deliver up to 40 percent power reduction at HiSilicon

MOUNTAIN VIEW, USA: Synopsys Inc. announced that HiSilicon, a leading fabless semiconductor house supplying end-to-end ASIC solutions for communications networking and digital media markets, has reduced stand-by power consumption by up to 40 percent using the latest technology in Synopsys' IC Compiler, a key component of Synopsys' Galaxy Implementation Platform.

Driven by their success, HiSilicon has deployed IC Compiler in their production design flow for ICs targeting green networking applications. HiSilicon is a leading enabler of green networks, driving toward building highly integrated and differentiated ASICs delivering more than 50 percent standby power savings.

"Device performance is our top priority, but in the green networking space, leading-edge performance with the lowest power is a key differentiator," said Yan-Qiu Diao, senior director, research and development, at HiSilicon Technologies Co., Ltd. "IC Compiler's new final-stage leakage recovery capability delivered 40 to 50 percent standby power savings while preserving timing on blocks in our recently taped out designs. We have since deployed final-stage leakage recovery in our production tape-out flow."

Traditional methods for reducing leakage, the power consumed by ICs in idle or stand-by mode, have relied largely on multi-threshold libraries. New channel-length-biased cell libraries can effectively provide many variants of a given cell with the same functionality but different leakage power consumption.

IC Compiler's latest release provides a powerful final-stage leakage recovery capability architected to manage a multitude of these leakage variants in order to substantially reduce stand-by power consumption while preserving timing. HiSilicon initially exercised this capability on a few trial blocks.

Encouraged by more than 40 percent standby power savings coupled with very low impact on timing, they immediately applied this capability on several blocks of a live tape out and succeeded in substantially lowering their power consumption. This new capability is the latest addition to IC Compiler's comprehensive solution for advanced low-power designs.

"Delivering capabilities that enable designers to stay at the forefront of the power-performance technology curve is a critical driver shaping every release of IC Compiler," said Antun Domic, senior vice president and general manager, Implementation Group at Synopsys. "As a key enabler of energy efficient equipment used in green networks, HiSilicon was pleased to recognize the improvements delivered by IC Compiler's final-stage leakage recovery."

INSIDE Secure showcases expanded product portfolio at Cards Brazil 2011

AIX-EN-PROVENCE, FRANCE: Continuing its commitment to the Latin American market, INSIDE Secure, a leader in semiconductor solutions for secure transactions and digital identity, announced it will be participating at the upcoming Cards Brazil 2011 conference and exhibition being held May 2-4 in São Paulo, Brazil.

At the conference, an INSIDE executive will be speaking about near field communication (NFC), and the INSIDE team will be demonstrating and discussing the versatility of the company’s portfolio of secure microcontrollers, secure solutions, smart card readers and NFC products.

INSIDE Secure also announced it has engaged the services of Kobama Representações of São Paulo, Brazil as sales representatives for Brazil. Kobama specializes in representing electronic components manufacturers.

INSIDE Secure will be exhibiting at Cards Brazil 2011 in Booth 3 in the Frei Caneca Convention Center, where INSIDE will have technical and product experts available in the booth to discuss products and solutions. INSIDE and its partners will present a number of demonstrations underscoring the versatility of INSIDE’s solutions for secure transactions and e-ID applications, highlighting INSIDE’s contact and contactless smart card processor and smart card reader solutions, VaultIC security module, SecuRead system-in-package NFC solution and other secure products and solutions.

Conference attendees also will be able to hear Bertrand Moussel, INSIDE’s executive vice president of worldwide sales, discuss the application of NFC technology into mobile commerce. Mr. Moussel will make his presentation, “NFC: Moving to Mobile Commerce,” on Wednesday, May 4 at 11:45 a.m. as part of Forum 9, New Technologies: Trends and New Applications for the Card Industry conference session.

“With our newly expanded portfolio of products and solutions, INSIDE is now able to address a much broader range of applications for customers in Brazil and the rest of Latin America, and I am looking forward to presenting our ideas at this conference,” said Moussel, “With the help of our partners, we have already established ourselves as one of the technology leaders in this exciting market, and we intend to continue our commitment and seek new opportunities to further strengthen our position.”

INSIDE will demonstrate loading an e-ID photograph into a dual-interface smart card through a contact reader and retrieving it again using a contactless reader. Another demonstration will show how INSIDE’s VaultIC turnkey security module can be used in a USB e-Token to provide a cost-effective solution for portable authentication. INSIDE will also demonstrate mobile devices used for payment, access control, transit fares and ICAO e-ID applications.

Industry’s first digital zero-power AC/DC PWM controller cuts wasted power and costs in offline chargers and adapters

LOS GATOS, USA: iWatt, Inc., a developer of energy-efficient digital power supply control integrated circuits (ICs) used in leading-edge power supplies, announced the iW1700 Zero Power AC/DC Digital PWM Controller.

The controller is designed to enable low-cost, energy-efficient 120V/230VAC offline adapters and chargers (up to 5W) which consume zero no-load power for cell phones, audio players, digital cameras, and other low-power portable devices.

iWatt’s patented adaptive digital PWM/PFM technology sends the controller into sleep mode when the load is disconnected, cutting no-load power consumption to less than 4 mW, or effectively zero. (The IEC 62301 standard for measuring standby power in household electrical appliances rounds power usage of 5 mW or less to zero.)

Enabled by digital techniques, the iW1700 features primary-side control to eliminate an opto-coupler, quasi-resonant switching for low EMI, cycle-by-cycle waveform analysis, and a high (up to 72 kHz) switching frequency to achieve no-load charger performance, meet manufacturers’ power-supply requirements, and still enable a low bill-of-material (BOM) cost.

No-load (or standby) power is the energy used by “vampire” chargers left plugged into outlets after their end devices are disconnected or “vampire” electrical appliances that are supposedly turned off. Standby power from such “energy vampire” devices consumes more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of annual US electricity amounting to more than $10 billion in annual energy costs according to Energy Star.

This wasted energy is said to be enough to power 9.4 million US households which consume, on average, 10,656 kilowatt hours per household per year. To keep vampire chargers from wasting energy, users must either unplug their chargers, or press a relay switch that comes on very few mobile chargers. Neither measure has caught on.

The iW1700 seamlessly eliminates no-load power waste without a relay switch or microcontroller using iWatt’s proprietary digital algorithms to switch between PWM and PFM modes multiple times as the end device charges. This approach eliminates audible noise, improves efficiency, and reduces switching losses by operating at a pre-determined minimum frequency at no-load. When the load is disconnected, the controller enters sleep mode and turns off non-essential circuits.

The device also includes an active start-up function which disconnects the start-up resistor after the IC powers up. This eliminates the standby power the resistor normally wastes, and allows fast, one-second or less start-up time.

Portable device manufacturers often require that power supplies meet a minimum output undershoot voltage to prevent their devices from resetting when the output changes from no-load to full load. iWatt meets these specifications using digital techniques in its adaptive, cycle-by-cycle waveform analysis which delivers tight regulation of the output voltage and output current, as well as fast response to step load changes. The iW1700 maintains better than ±3% output voltage and current regulation over the entire operating line, load, and temperature range, regardless of manufacturing variability or component tolerances.

Suitable for touchscreen smart phones and other portables which can be sensitive to common-mode noise, the iW17100 drives an external low-cost bipolar junction transistor (BJT) power switch which has intrinsically lower common-mode noise than a MOSFET power switch. Built-in frequency jitter and quasi-resonant (or valley mode) switching enable iW1700-based power supplies to meet EN55022 class-B-conducted EMI with 10dB margin.

With a high switching frequency, up to 72 kHz, to reduce the size of the transformer and capacitors, designers can fit a 5V/1A universal AC input zero power charger into a compact 25mm x 25mm x 25mm form factor using only 28 low-cost components. An active average efficiency of 80 percent, well above the 68.2 percent specified by Energy Star EPA version 2.0, keeps components in such compact chargers from overheating.

The iW1700 comes in a low-cost, standard six-pin SOT-23 package and is available now at $0.25 in 10,000-piece quantities.

LG Electronics licenses ARM processor technology to drive platform strategy in home and mobile markets

CAMBRIDGE, UK: ARM announced a new licensing agreement with LG Electronics that provides access to the high performance, low-power ARM Cortex processor and ARM Mali GPU families.

This includes the Cortex-A15 MPCore and Cortex-A9 MPCore processors, as well as the ARM Mali-T604 GPU and ARM CoreLink interconnect and system IP. The comprehensive license will reinforce LG Electronics’ already strong technology leadership and will be used to drive the company’s platform strategy in applications that include digital TV, set top boxes (STB), mobile phones, tablets and smart grids.

"LG’s relationship with ARM over a number of years has provided significant value to our overall business. In addition, the ARM ecosystem has provided LG with partners to help differentiate our product offering," said Boik Sohn, VP and Head of System IC Center, LG Electronics.

"The scalability of ARM processing solutions combined with the software ecosystem will enable smart, open platform systems, and drive connectivity and web enabled interactions. This new licensing agreement will provide LG with the next generation processor technology that will allow us to maintain leadership in display enabled connected devices, such as smart digital TV’s and smart phones, and drive our platform strategy."

LG, who first licensed ARM technology in 1995, has incorporated ARM processors across its product lines, from handsets to Digital TVs.

"Working with technology leaders, such as LG Electronics, has helped ARM to develop the most advanced, energy efficient processors for use in key markets, such as home and mobile computing," said Ian Drew, executive VP of Marketing, ARM. "With access to the latest ARM IP, LG will be well positioned to maintain its technology leadership and drive innovation in display technology and smart connected devices."

TowerJazz announces availability of highest speed foundry SiGe technology

ChipEx 2011 International Semiconductor Forum 2011, MIGDAL HAEMEK, ISRAEL & NEWPORT BEACH, USA: TowerJazz, the global specialty foundry leader, announced the availability of SBC18H3, the industry’s highest speed foundry SiGe technology.

The technology addresses next-generation needs for high-speed interfaces in communication protocols such as Thunderbolt, optical fiber, and high-data rate wireless by improving performance while reducing noise and power consumption of key building blocks. SBC18H3 also targets applications such as automotive collision avoidance systems, millimeter-wave radar and GHz imaging.

SBC18H3 is TowerJazz’s third generation 0.18um SiGe technology and offers transistors with 240GHz Ft and 260GHz Fmax in a cost-effective and analog-friendly 0.18um node. The technology is built on the same mature integration platform used for the prior two TowerJazz SiGe processes now in high-volume production (SBC18H2 at 200GHz and SBC18HX at 155GHz). IP of high-speed components such as TIAs, Laser Drivers, SerDes, CDRs from H2 and HX can be readily ported to the new H3 process since they are all in the same 0.18um node, allowing them to benefit from improved performance as well as reduced power consumption and noise.

Power consumption is dramatically reduced with H3 where, for example, a 77GHz amplifier can be made to consume three times less DC power than was possible with older technology. At the same time, noise is improved to levels that far exceed those of prior SiGe technology and are superior to numbers typically reported for more expensive III-V material systems (minimum noise figure at 20GHz is measured at less than 1dB and at 40GHz at only 2dB). This can be important in many communication systems but particularly in wireless applications, improving sensitivity of GPS systems, for example.

SBC18H3 process design Kits (PDKs) include mm-wave components important for high speed designs such as a transmission-line toolbox, p-i-n diodes for RF switching, and support for small size MIM capacitors. TowerJazz offers a monthly MPW for quick and cost-effective prototyping of designs, and leading customers have already built initial SBC18H3 prototype designs through this MPW service.

“SBC18H3 extends our leadership position in providing the highest speed SiGe foundry services,” said Dr. Marco Racanelli, senior VP and GM, RF and High Performance Analog Business Group. “The process extends the high-end of our overall portfolio of SiGe technology that currently spans from the 0.35um to the 0.13um node and is available in two of our 8-inch factories for flexibility of supply and capacity.”

2H’Apr. concerned DRAM vendors and aggressive procurement increased DDR3 average price

TAIWAN: According to DRAMeXchange, a research department of Trendforce, 2H’Apr. contract price indicates slightly upward trend that DDR3 2GB average price is up by 1.39% to $18.25 ($0.98/1Gb), DDR3 4GB average price is also up by 1.43 percent to $35.5 ($2.06/2Gb). We see the new procurement strategy from PC-OEM and problematic yield rate at 40nm process is the main concern besides the earthquake impact.

Some PC-OEMs tried to raise shipment in gaining market share, taking advantage of Acer’s erroneous product positioning and gloomy finance report, thus, it enhanced the DRAM demand. Meanwhile, two DRAM vendors encountered the shipment delay due to the problematic yield rate. The order re-allocation also credited to the momentum in raising contract price.

Wafer supply visibility for DRAM industry lasts to the end of June, the recovery of Shin-Etsu and SUMCO will be the key
Among all the components facing shortage, silicon wafer is a component severely impacted by the Japan earthquake. According to DRAMeXchange, silicon wafer visibility can be sustained until June given the overall industry inventory level. Most of the silicon wafer supply for Elpida and Rexchip is from the severely affected Shin-Etsu Fukushima Fab.

Shin-Etsu can support Polish wafer steadily and help the overall Elpida group to sustain a wafer visibility to June or even July. 25 percent of PSC silicon wafer supply is from the Shin-Etsu Fukushima Fab and mainly on the output of 45nm products. The wafer supply visibility can be assured to June with the help from Elpida. As for Hynix, 20 percent silicon wafer is from Shin-Etsu Fukushima Fab, and the incremental volume will be acquired from LG and other silicon wafer vendors.

As for the other DRAM vendors such as Samsung, Micron, Nanya, Inotera and Winbond are less impacted because most of the silicon wafers are from non-Japan areas. However, silicon wafer supply in 2H11 will be depended on the recovery of Shin-Etsu and SUMCO.

As for the recovery, Shin-Etsu Fukushima Fab is estimated to be back to normal operation in May, 70 percent of capacity is estimated by the year end. SUMCO Yonezawa is expected to recover in May while raising output from other Fabs. SUMCO is likely to reclaim its pre-quake capacity in May.

MIPS' processor IP drives new hybrid media player/STB chipset from ALi

SUNNYVALE, USA: MIPS Technologies Inc. announced that Taiwan's ALi Corp. based its new system-on-chip (SoC), which is targeted for the emerging "triple play" market, on the popular MIPS32 24KEf core. MIPS32 24K cores are widely used across the globe in digital home and networking products including broadband access devices, digital TVs, set-top boxes, and digital media players.

Through triple play initiatives, telecom carriers will provide to consumers a combination of voice, digital television broadcasting and broadband internet services. To support triple play, many governments and carriers around the world are upgrading network infrastructure and broadband technology, and developing new hardware platforms.

With a hybrid design for DVB-C HD/DVB+IP dual-mode operation, the new M3701G chipset from ALi is targeted for products that support triple play services, such as the next generation of networked media players and set-top boxes.

Daniel Huang, COO, ALi, said: "As a leader in digital TV set-top box SoC chips, ALi is pleased to facilitate three-network integration. With our new chipset, we are offering our customers a scalable and flexible path to triple play success. For triple play, the performance and architecture of the SoC chips are extremely important. The 24KEf core provides high performance multimedia processing, an open architecture for Linux support, floating point design for support of value added services, and extremely efficient operation. Supported by MIPS' broad ecosystem of tools and software for the digital home, this core is the ideal choice for our new SoC."

Art Swift, VP of marketing and business development, MIPS, added: "ALi has continually shown its commitment to developing leading-edge products to drive the next-generation home entertainment experience. From being one of the first MIPS licensees to join our Early Access Program for the Android platform on MIPS two years ago, to unveiling this new hybrid networks design with support for the latest applications, the company continues to design innovative MIPS-Based products."

The M3701G chipset is available now from ALi. It includes support for MPEG-2/4, H.264, AVS (Audio Video Standard), VC-1 and VP8 decoder. It also includes a high-performance graphics acceleration Open VG v1.1 engine. It features built-in QAM, Ethernet MAC, three USB ports, HDMI, a double-tuner, and more.