Monday, April 30, 2012

IDT acquires Fox Electronics

SAN JOSE, USA: Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT) announced that it has acquired Fox Electronics, a leading global supplier of frequency control products (FCPs), in an all-cash transaction for approximately $30 million, of which $26 million was paid at closing. Fox Electronics’ revenue was approximately $23 million in calendar year 2011, and the company is profitable.

“Fox’s crystal, crystal oscillator and innovative XpressO products combined with IDT’s award-winning CrystalFree solutions make us the industry’s most comprehensive one-stop shop for frequency control products,” said Ted Tewksbury, president and CEO at IDT. “In addition, Fox helps accelerate the adoption of CrystalFree by enabling customers to purchase pMEMS and CMOS solid-state oscillators alongside traditional quartz-based components through an established and trusted sales channel.”

“Everyone within Fox Electronics is enthusiastic about this exciting new direction with IDT,” said E.L. Fox, Jr., president at Fox Electronics. “With IDT’s frequency control products, including CrystalFree technology, and their number one position in silicon timing, Fox’s product portfolio and industry leadership in the frequency control market will be a great fit.”

Fox Electronics, a private company based in Florida, is a world leader for frequency control solutions with an expansive portfolio including the XpressO family of revolutionary quick-turn oscillator products, quartz crystals, voltage-controlled crystal oscillators and more. Fox’s FCP-focused sales team will be a valuable asset to grow IDT’s crystal and CrystalFree product offerings.

IDT to acquire PLX Technology

SAN JOSE & SUNNYVALE, USA: Integrated Device Technology Inc. (IDT) has signed a definitive agreement pursuant to which IDT will acquire PLX. Under the terms of the agreement, unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies, IDT will acquire all of the outstanding shares of PLX common stock pursuant to an exchange offer, followed by a second step merger.

In the acquisition, PLX stockholders will receive (i) $3.50 in cash and (ii) 0.525 shares of IDT common stock for each PLX common share outstanding. Based on IDT’s closing stock price on April 27, 2012, the transaction is valued at approximately $7.00 per PLX share and results in a total transaction value of approximately $330 million.

“The proposed acquisition of PLX Technology represents an exciting expansion of IDT’s core serial switching and interface business,” said Ted Tewksbury, president and CEO at IDT. “Our two companies have complementary product sets, technologies and customer bases, and we share a focus on delivering the highest-performance system-level interconnect solutions for data centers and other applications. IDT and its shareholders will benefit from the top-line contribution of our enhanced product portfolio as well as the increased profitability provided through the added scale and expanded operating margin. This transaction is aligned with our long-term strategy of expanding our core businesses through organic growth and acquisitions.”

“This proposed transaction will enable our stockholders to realize significant value today and benefit from the many growth and cost reduction opportunities of the combined company,” said Ralph Schmitt, president and CEO at PLX. “We expect that a transaction with IDT will enhance PLX’s commitment to its customers to deliver innovative technologies that meet their needs and demands.”

As a result of the combination, IDT anticipates it will achieve total run-rate cost synergies, excluding transaction related charges, in excess of $35 million by fiscal year 2014. IDT currently projects the transaction to be accretive to non-GAAP earnings by the third fiscal quarter of 2013 with more significant accretion by fiscal year 2014, in each case based on an assumed closing during the first fiscal quarter of 2013. Increased scale and expected cost savings are expected to lower combined non-GAAP operating expenses, generate significant operating margin expansion, and accelerate IDT’s timing to achieving its stated target operating model.

The companies expect that the proposed transaction will close as early as IDT’s first fiscal quarter 2013, which is the second quarter of calendar 2012. The exchange offer is subject to customary closing conditions, including the tender into the exchange offer by PLX stockholders of shares representing at least a majority of the outstanding shares of PLX common stock on a fully diluted basis, and the expiration or termination of the applicable waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. IDT expects to finance the cash portion of the acquisition through existing cash balances and committed financing. The proposed transaction is not subject to any financing condition.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, PLX may solicit superior proposals from third parties for a “go shop” period of 30 calendar days continuing through May 30, 2012. It is not anticipated that any developments will be disclosed with regard to this process unless PLX’s board of directors makes a decision with respect to a potential superior proposal. Deutsche Bank, which is acting as PLX’s financial advisor, will advise PLX during the go shop period. There are no guarantees that this process will result in a superior proposal. The merger agreement provides IDT with a customary right to match a superior proposal. The agreement also provides for certain break-up fees payable to IDT in connection with the termination of the agreement in certain circumstances.

J.P. Morgan is acting as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP is acting as legal advisor to IDT. Deutsche Bank is acting as financial advisor and Baker & McKenzie LLP is acting as legal adviser to PLX.

Micron and Hynix close gap on NAND flash market leaders in Q4

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Solid manufacturing and strong pricing allowed Micron Technology Inc. and Hynix Semiconductor Inc. to post strong performances in the global NAND flash business in the fourth quarter, allowing them to narrow the gap in market share between them and the industry leaders, and setting the stage for further advances in 2012.

No. 3-ranked Micron Technology Inc. of the United States achieved 11.7 percent revenue growth in the fourth quarter compared to the third, according to a new IHS iSuppli Data Flash Market Tracker report. Meanwhile, fourth-placed Hynix Semiconductor Inc. of South Korea expanded its revenue by 5.4 percent.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

These strong performances contrasted sharply with the overall market’s 2.8 percent contraction. The results from Micron and Hynix were even more remarkable when compared to the 4.6 percent decline for market leader Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., also of South Korea; and a 12.3 percent decrease for second-ranked Toshiba Corp of Japan.

“Both Micron and Hynix managed to avoid any production issues in the fourth quarter, allowing them to keep their NAND flash production at high levels,” said Michael Yang, senior principal analyst for memory and storage at IHS. “This allowed them to keep their average selling prices high. On the other hand, Samsung and Toshiba decided to throttle back production arising from concerns relating to oversupply. We believe that Micron and Hynix will continue to gain share in 2012.”

Hynix, in particular, is expected to increase its share as the company engages in capital spending at a higher rate than the industry average.

Overall, Micron’s NAND market share in the fourth quarter rose to 19.6 percent, up from 17 percent in the third quarter. For its part, Hynix saw its portion of market revenue increase to 13.3 percent, up from 12.2 percent.

The fourth-quarter performance of Micron and Hynix were also notable when compared to the same period in 2011. Revenue for Micron surged by 88 percent compared to a year earlier, while that of Hynix increased 69 percent.

Toshiba suffered the largest sequential decline of all of the NAND flash suppliers. However, the decrease was unrelated to the Japanese earthquake disaster, with the company having already recovered from the catastrophe before the fourth quarter. Instead, the company made a conscious decision to reduce production in the face of oversupplied market conditions.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

Microsemi intros system management design tools for wired and wireless communications apps

ALISO VIEJO, USA: Microsemi Corp. has introduced a suite of system and power management design tools for high availability wired and wireless communications infrastructure equipment.

The new design tools include Microsemi's Mixed Signal Power Manager (MPM) 4.0 reference design, which supports up to 64 power rails and mixed analog and digital point-of-loads (POLs), as well as PMBus-based communication. The company also offers an evaluation kit that can be used with Microsemi's SmartFusion customizable system-on-chip solution (cSoC) to enable quick product-functionality assessments.

"Our new power management solution significantly reduces the cost and complexity of board-level power management design by integrating system management functions required in communications infrastructure applications," said Esam Elashmawi, VP and GM at Microsemi.

"Increasingly, the communications market values the inherent secure and reliable nature of our technology portfolio, bringing more value to the equipment that uses our products while protecting the brand of our customers."

MPM 4.0 power management solution
Microsemi's comprehensive MPM 4.0 power management solution includes a graphical user interface that simplifies the visualization of the power sequencing and margining that occurs in complex high availability systems. In addition, trimming, event logging and alarm generation are supported. MPM 4.0 also includes a reference design containing all sources files and firmware, allowing customers to customize products and support a mix of power rails.

An evaluation kit to accelerate initial design testing and experimentation is also offered. The kit includes Microsemi's SEU-immune SmartFusion cSoC, which is offered in standard or military temperatures in a variety of packages. SmartFusion devices include an integrated FPGA, an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, and programmable analog in a single device. The kit also includes Microsemi's NX9415 3.3 V and LX9610 1.5 V nominal regulators.

Additional features include:
* Supports up to 64 channels.
* Both analog and digital POL supported.
* PMBus support for digital POL.
* Margining and trimming for analog POL.

Microsemi's new power management evaluation kit DMPM-DC-KIT is in stock and priced at $349. The graphical interface and reference design are available now to qualified customers at no charge.

Broadcom enables massive network scalability with world's highest density 100GbE switch solution

IRVINE, USA: Broadcom Corp. has introduced the BCM88650 series, the world's highest density 100 gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switching solution, enabling the design of switching platforms with densities up to 4,000 100GbE ports.

With the industry's highest level of integration, the BCM88650 system on chip (SoC) combines the features and functionality of a complete line card into a single chip. Together with Broadcom's leading FE1600 (BCM88750) fabric, the BCM88650 SoC enables a new generation of high density networking solutions exceeding 100 terabits per second (Tbps).

As the popularity of social networking, streaming video and high bandwidth business services continue to climb, demand for higher-speed networks is growing at an astounding pace. As a result, scalable and affordable 100GbE platforms are a key requirement for next generation switching infrastructures. Large data centers with thousands of servers require 100 Gbps network connectivity in the core to the edge, while large service provider networks require high density core switching platforms with 100 Gbps interfaces to support the increasing access capacities such as 10G PON.

The BCM88650 series is the only merchant silicon solution that can process a single stream of 200Gbps traffic at Layer 2-Layer 4 with integrated advanced packet classification and deep-buffer traffic management features to support data center, carrier Ethernet and packet transport requirements.

Analysts expect 100GbE technology to significantly outpace the growth of 40GbE in its first years of introduction. In many ways, 40G has acted as a trailblazer for 100G, reducing risk at the component level and familiarizing service providers and test equipment vendors with coherent networking.

Composite collaboration leads to faster plastic electronics

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA: The speed with which your smart phone reacts to your touch as you swipe it is governed by the rate at which electrical charges move through the various display components.

Scientists from Imperial College London (ICL) have collaborated with colleagues at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) to produce organic thin-film transistors (OTFTs) that consistently achieve record-breaking carrier mobility through careful solution-processing of a blend of two organic semiconductors. The OTFTs and their processing methods offer a host of future electronic applications.

Professor Aram Amassian's group at KAUST teamed with Dr. Thomas Anthopoulos, Department of Physics, ICL, and colleagues Professor Iain McCulloch and Dr. Martin Heeney, Department of Chemistry, to develop and characterize a composite material that enhances the charge transport and enables the fabrication of faster organic transistors. They described their novel semiconductor blend in a joint paper published in Advanced Materials, In response to the challenge of expensive vacuum deposition processes, synthetic organic chemists have been increasingly successful in synthesizing conjugated, soluble small-molecules.

"While they have a tendency to form large crystals, reproducible formation of high quality, continuous and uniform films remains an issue," remarked Dr. Anthopoulos, lead Imperial investigator. By contrast, polymer semiconductors are often quite soluble and form high-quality continuous films, but, until recently, could not achieve charge carrier mobilities greater than 1 cm2/Vs.

In this collective work, chemists from Imperial, working with device physicists in the College's Centre for Plastic Electronics and material scientists at KAUST combined the advantageous properties of both polymer and small molecules in one composite material, which offers higher performance than do these components alone, while enhancing device-to-device reproducibility and stability.

The improved performance is attributed in part to the crystalline texture of the small-molecule component of the blend and to the flatness and smoothness achieved at the top surface of the polycrystalline film. The latter is crucial in top-gate, bottom-contact configuration devices whereby the top surface of the semiconductor blend forms the semiconductor-dielectric interface when solution-coated by the polymer dielectric.

The smoothness and continuity of the surface and the absence of apparent grain boundaries are uncommon for otherwise highly polycrystalline small molecules in pure form, suggesting that the polymer binder planarizes and may even coat the semiconductor crystals with a nanoscale thin layer. "The performance of the polymer-molecule blend exceeds 5 cm2/Vs, which is very close to the single-crystal mobility previously reported for the molecule itself," noted KAUST co-author Prof. Amassian.

The materials scientists at KAUST addressed the phase separation, crystallinity, and morphology of the organic semiconductor blend by using a combination of synchrotron-based X-ray scattering at the D1 beam line of the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), cross-sectional energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy (EF-TEM), and atomic force microscopy in topographic and phase modes.

"This work is particularly exciting as it shows that by applying complementary powerful characterization techniques on these complex organic blends, one can learn a lot about how they work. It's a textbook example of a structure-property relationship study highlighting the usefulness of such collaborations," said Professor Alberto Salleo of Stanford University, an expert on advanced structural characterization of polymer semiconductors. "A mobility of 5 cm2/Vs is already a spectacular number. The methods described chart the way for researchers to obtain even higher mobilities."

"In principle, this simple blend approach could lead to the development of organic transistors with performing characteristics well beyond the current state-of-the-art," added Dr. Anthopoulos.

Samsung tapes out Gigahertz+ ARM Cortex-A15 processor with Synopsys IC compiler

MOUNTAIN VIEW, USA: Synopsys Inc. announced the successful collaboration between Synopsys and Samsung Electronics on the implementation of an ARM Cortex-A15 MPCore processor.

The processor core was implemented by Samsung Austin Research Center (SARC) using Synopsys IC Compiler place-and-route technology, a cornerstone of the Synopsys Galaxy Implementation Platform.

Running at operating speeds in excess of a gigahertz on Samsung's 32nm low power process, the hardened core has already been deployed in the industry's first Cortex-A15 processor-based SoC for mobile computing devices. The high speed was enabled through a unique combination of innovative optimization techniques and differentiated high-performance technologies which have made IC Compiler the tool of choice for high-performance designs across multiple process nodes.

"Our mission is to deliver the highest frequency while minimizing power for high-end processor and graphics cores targeted to the mobile computing and digital home markets," said Keith Hawkins, VP, SARC. "Globally, this was the first production tapeout of a Cortex-A15 processor and we relied exclusively on IC Compiler and the Galaxy tool suite to predictably achieve our performance and power targets."

Samsung fabricated the three–million-instance, dual-core Cortex-A15 processor on a 32LP high-K metal gate (HKMG) process. Synopsys collaborated closely with SARC on an implementation methodology based on key high performance technologies and optimization techniques in the Galaxy Implementation Platform to meet Samsung's stringent mass production criteria for an on-time tapeout.

The processor core relied on Physical Datapath in Design Compiler Topographical and IC Compiler for the structured placement of registers to meet power and area objectives. Layout-based debug with Design Compiler Topographical allowed quick analysis of library, netlist and placement issues to close timing. Clock mesh in IC Compiler and PrimeTime® provided the low skew and increased on-chip-variation (OCV) tolerance necessary for the high-performance core.

"Samsung is a leading provider of silicon in the mobile computing market, as can be seen by its smart phone and tablet market penetration," said Antun Domic, senior VP and GM, Implementation Group at Synopsys. "Being at the forefront of next generation mobile products, Samsung has driven many of the technology innovations that have reinforced the position of IC Compiler as the leading choice for high-performance design. The benefits of our ongoing partnership can be seen in the impressive level of performance delivered by this gigahertz-plus processor core."

Voltage references combine ultra-low noise, high accuracy and value for precision apps

NORWOOD, USA: Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) introduced a series of voltage references offering the industry’s best combination of noise performance, initial output voltage accuracy, low temperature coefficient (TC), and excellent long-term stability at unmatched price points. The new ADR45xx series of voltage references are specifically suited for high-resolution data converters and precision applications in data acquisition systems, instrumentation, process control, and automotive battery monitoring.

With low frequency noise of 0.5 ppm, maximum temperature coefficient of 2 ppm/⁰C over the full operating temperature range of -40 ⁰C to +125 ⁰C, and a typical long-term drift of only 25 ppm/1khr, the ADR45xx series of voltage references provide high accuracy over time and temperature variations critical for many precision applications. This performance is achieved with a maximum quiescent current of 950 µA and $3.45 price, making the devices ideal for portable and budget sensitive designs. Also available is an A-grade version with a TC of 5 ppm/⁰C at $2.45.

ADR45xx Voltage References key features:
* Maximum TC: 2 ppm/⁰C
* Output noise (0.1 – 10 Hz): < 1µVP-P @ 2.048 VOUT typical
* Initial output voltage error: ±0.02 percent (max)
* Input voltage range: 3 V to 15 V
* Operating temperature: -40 ⁰C to +125 ⁰C
* Output current: +10 mA source/-10 mA sink
* Low quiescent current: 950 µA (max)
* Low dropout voltage: 300 mV @ 2 mA (VOUT ≥ 3 V).

Acacia subsidiary enters into settlement agreement with Freescale

NEWPORT BEACH, USA: Acacia Research Corp. announced that its MEMTech LLC subsidiary has entered into a license settlement agreement with Freescale Semiconductor, Inc. covering patents relating to certain MEMS devices.

Acacia Research Corp.'s subsidiaries partner with inventors and patent owners, license the patents to corporate users, and share the revenue. Acacia Research's subsidiaries control over 200 patent portfolios, covering technologies used in a wide variety of industries.

austriamicrosystems intros world’s first lightning sensor IC targeting low power, portable apps

UNTERPREMSTAETTEN, AUSTRIA: austriamicrosystems, a leading global designer and manufacturer of high performance analog ICs, introduced the world’s first lightning sensor IC, the AS3935 Franklin Lightning Sensor with an embedded intelligent algorithm.

Named after American innovator, Benjamin Franklin, the austriamicrosystems’ low power lightning sensor provides people with advanced warning of approaching electrical storms giving them additional time to take shelter.

The AS3935 Franklin Lightning Sensor utilizes a sensitive RF receiver which detects the electrical emissions from lightning activity. A proprietary algorithm in the AS3935 then converts the RF signal into an estimation of the distance to the head of the storm. The algorithm, which draws on extensive meteorological survey data, produces an estimated distance-to-storm calculation from 40km down to 1km, while rejecting disturbances from man-made signals such as motors and microwave ovens.

Portable lightning sensors can play a crucial role in keeping people from harm and protecting equipment from damage in locations that are prone to violent lightning storms. Unaided, humans can typically hear thunder at a distance of approximately 10km. This can often leave far too little time to find shelter when in the path of a fast-moving, highly-active electrical storm. In the case of being on a golf course or a baseball field, the extra time that a lightning sensor can provide could mean the difference between life and death.

The national weather service agencies today utilize sophisticated, large pole-mounted fixed sensors but portable lightning sensing equipment is not widely used by consumers or businesses today because it is cumbersome, inaccurate and prone to false alerts from man-made signals.

With the introduction of the revolutionary AS3935 Franklin Lightning Sensor it is now possible for the first time to incorporate this innovative sensor technology into a wide variety of portable devices. With multiple low-power modes, a listening mode current consumption of 60µA and housed in a 4mm x 4mm 16-pin MLPQ package, the AS3935 can easily be integrated into a variety of portable or outdoor devices targeting biking, hiking, marine, golfing, sporting events (football, soccer, baseball, etc.), and also in-building equipment such as uninterupted power supplies (UPS), power conditioners, telcom equipment, intelligent networks and smart grids needing early detection for use in surge damage prevention.

A typical application for the AS3935 requires only a simple microcontroller with a SPI or I2C interface and seven other passive components allowing it to fit easily in a space about the size of an automobile keychain remote.

With extensive field trials conducted in Finland and the US (Florida), the AS3935 Franklin Lightning Sensor showed good correlation when compared to the larger, more complex systems.

"Based upon field trials conducted by Florida Tech, preliminary results of studies conducted in Florida and in Finland show that the austriamicrosystems’ lightning sensor has the potential to be used as a lightning early warning system that could augment other methods such as the 30-30 rule for lightning safety," said Dr. Joseph Dwyer, Professor, Department of Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology, one of the world’s leading research institutions in the field of lightning physics.

Bruce Ulrich, Wireless Product Line director at austriamicrosystems, said: “This innovative, highly-integrated sensor was designed with intelligence and low power capabilities that make it suitable for a variety of low-power portable and fixed products requiring very little board space. It is now possible to protect both humans and equipment from harm by providing early warning of impending danger. I have personally seen little league baseball teams in danger because the umpire did not have enough information to call-the-game because of lightning; now there is a way to provide that protection.“

The AS3935 Franklin Lightning Sensor IC is available for sampling today.

Worldwide semiconductor market grew 3.7 percent in 2011 to $301 billion, 6-7 percent revenue growth likely in 2012

SAN MATEO, USA: Worldwide semiconductor revenues increased more than 3.7 percent year over year to $301 billion in 2011, according to the latest version of the International Data Corp. (IDC) Worldwide Semiconductor Applications Forecaster (SAF).

The industry weathered the macroeconomic uncertainties in the U.S and Europe, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, China's slow down in the second half of the year, and floods in Thailand. Meanwhile, device applications, such as smartphones, media tablets and e-readers, automotive infotainment, notebook PCs, datacenter servers, and wireless and wired communication infrastructure drove robust consumption of semiconductors.

IDC's SAF tracks more than 100 semiconductor companies. Over 40 of these companies experienced year-over-year revenue growth greater than 5 percent, while about the same number of companies saw their revenue decline by more than 5 percent.

Intel, with total semiconductor revenues of $51.8 billion in 2011, once again was the overall market leader. It registered impressive revenue growth and also increased its share of the semiconductor market by three percent. Samsung was the number two vendor overall with semiconductor revenues of $29 billion.

Rounding out the top 5 chip suppliers were Texas Instruments, Toshiba, and Renesas Electronics, the latter two benefiting from the strong yen relative to the US dollar. The next five suppliers were Qualcomm, Hynix, STMicro, Micron, and Broadcom. Together, the top 10 vendors represented 53 percent of total worldwide semiconductor revenues, an increase of 3 percent over 2010. The top 25 vendors captured 72 percent of overall semiconductor revenues for the year.

Many companies grew revenues substantially over the industry average. For example, Apple enjoyed an impressive 140 percent year-over-year semiconductor revenue growth. Other large companies with strong year-over-year growth were ON Semiconductor, Intel, Qualcomm and Renesas Electronics. Notable small-to-medium sized companies experiencing strong growth in 2011 were Spredtrum Communications, CoreLogic, Microsemi, Sequans, Icera, MegaChips, Nichia Chemical, Osram, RobertBosch, Skyworks, and Cavium. All these companies benefited from strong growth in the wired and wireless communications, consumer, automotive, and industrial market segments.

Within the semiconductor device types, microprocessors registered strong growth due to high demand and increased ASPs for Intel's chips. Similarly, NAND revenues also increased. However, DRAM saw revenue decline more than 25 percent due to supply glut and falling ASPs. Pure play DRAM vendor Elpida Memory saw revenue declines of 40 percent in 2011, ultimately leading to its bankruptcy earlier this year.

Both Asia/Pacific and Americas showed growth above the industry average, while Japan and Europe showed negative growth. Among the market segments, semiconductor revenues for the computing segment declined year over year due to the DRAM price collapse. The consumer segment was essentially flat, while wireless communication and automotive segments registered over 10 percent year-over-year semiconductor revenue growth.

"There is a trend underway toward more integration, as companies try to position themselves for the next phase of growth and as device applications become more and more intelligent and move toward supporting high-level operating systems, connectivity, and application processing capabilities. In addition, as large companies with strong cash balances vie for competitive positions, mergers and acquisitions will be a key theme," said Mali Venkatesan, research manager, Semiconductors at IDC, who led the study and compiled the SAF results.

A number of mergers and acquisitions came to fruition in 2011, most notably Qualcomm–Atheros, Texas Instruments–National Semiconductor, SMSC–Conexant, Broadcom–NetLogic, CSR–Zoran, and Microsemi–Zarlink. This trend is expected to continue in 2012.

"As mentioned in IDC's 2012 predictions for the worldwide semiconductor market, the current semiconductor cycle, which started mid-2011, will bottom out in the second quarter of 2012 and fab utilization rates will pick up and accelerate in the second half of this year. Overall, IDC expects 2012 semiconductor revenue growth to be in the 6-7 percent range," added Venkatesan.

Power Integrations reports verdict in patent case against Fairchild

SAN JOSE, USA: Power Integrations announced a verdict reached in the company’s 2008 patent-infringement lawsuit against Fairchild Semiconductor. After a three-week trial in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, a jury found that Fairchild infringes two Power Integrations patents. The infringement findings cover approximately 75 Fairchild products, including the following products and those with substantially identical infringing circuitry.The jury also upheld the validity of the infringed patents, and further found that Fairchild has induced others to infringe Power Integrations’ patents. Power Integrations will seek an injunction preventing further infringement and is seeking financial damages, as well as enhanced damages for willful infringement, issues that are to be decided in a separate trial to be held at a later date.

Of the two counterclaim patents asserted in the case by Fairchild, one was found by the jury not to be infringed. The jury found the second Fairchild patent to be infringed by a limited number of Power Integrations products, but further found that Power Integrations did not induce infringement by any customers, including customers outside the United States, who are therefore unaffected by the verdict.

Power Integrations is challenging the enforceability of the Fairchild patent, an issue still to be decided by the judge overseeing the case. Nevertheless, Power Integrations estimates that even if the verdict were ultimately upheld, the sales potentially impacted amount to only about 0.1% of the company’s revenues.

The latest verdict follows rulings in two earlier cases brought by Power Integrations against Fairchild and its System General subsidiary. In 2006, Fairchild was found to infringe four Power Integrations patents, including the same two patents found infringed today. The Court issued a permanent injunction against more than 100 infringing Fairchild products in that case, and later found the infringement to be willful, resulting in enhancement of the damage award, which currently stands at $12 million. The results of that case are currently under appeal.

Also in 2006, the International Trade Commission (ITC) found that System General, later acquired by Fairchild, infringed two Power Integrations patents and issued an exclusion order barring the infringing products from the US market.

Balu Balakrishnan, president and CEO of Power Integrations, said: “We are gratified that the legal system has once again helped us protect our innovations, and we hope this decision will put a stop to Fairchild’s repeated violations of our intellectual property.”

Power Integrations found to infringe Fairchild's patent rights

SAN JOSE, USA: Fairchild Semiconductor announced that a jury in the US District Court for the District of Delaware found Power Integrations, Inc. infringes a Fairchild US patent covering primary side regulation. Power Integrations products found to infringe include certain LinkSwitch II and LinkSwitch-CV products, including the LNK603-606/613-616, SC1092, SC1097-99, SC1103, LNK632DG and LNK623-626. The same jury also found all asserted Fairchild patents valid.

“I am delighted and gratified that the jury has affirmed the validity of our patents. We will continue to provide innovative solutions that make our customers successful,” said Tom Yang, senior VP, technology, for Fairchild’s Power Conversion, Industrial and Automotive products division. Yang is the sole inventor of the patent found to be infringed, US Patent No. 7,259,972.

In the same case, the jury found that Fairchild did not infringe two of four US patents asserted by Power Integrations. Fairchild was found to infringe two other Power Integrations US patents. Fairchild products found to infringe include certain PWM controller products.

Fairchild has already introduced next-generation, replacement products and will be contacting customers about which products are affected by this lawsuit and which products are not implicated.

The verdict concluded the first phase of trial in the litigation which began in 2008. Willfulness and damages in the case will be determined in a second phase, which has yet to be scheduled and may occur after appeals of the first phase.

Fairchild and Power Integrations are involved in three other patent lawsuits. Fairchild is asserting patent infringement claims against Power Integrations in Suzhou, China. The companies currently await a ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in their appeal of a 2004 lawsuit. And the companies are also asserting patent infringement claims against each other in a case scheduled to be tried next year in federal court in San Francisco.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Strong industrial market propelling demand for integrated analog ICs and electronics for measurement, communications and security

SUNNYVALE, USA: The industrial market is outgrowing nearly every other market segment and driving growth for analog integrated circuits (ICs), according to Chris Neil, senior VP of the Industrial and Medical Solutions Group at Maxim Integrated Products Inc.

Data from a number of industry sources shows that industrial was the fastest-growing market for analog ICs from 2006-2011 at a 9 percent annual rate. From 2011-2015, industrial is projected to be the second fastest-growing market for analog semiconductors at a continued 9 percent annual growth (behind mobility at 13 percent).

Electronics, particularly analog and mixed-signal solutions, help solve expensive global problems such as reducing factory operating costs, lowering the cost of energy production necessary to meet the ever-increasing electricity demand, and mitigating skyrocketing healthcare costs. End systems designed to address these issues, including factory automation equipment, smart meters, and portable medical devices, are driving demand for analog ICs in the global industrial market.

"Industrial's surprising rate of growth is counterintuitive, possibly due to its brick and smoke-stack image," said Neil. "However, the 'industrial reality' is that industrial systems companies are addressing big problems that affect us as individuals and as societies, and it is, in fact, a very dynamic and relevant market segment. Electronics will help solve these problems by deploying real-time predictive maintenance in factories to increase the availability of high-quality goods to larger audiences, by reducing peak energy demand by using and distributing energy more efficiently through an optimized smart grid, and by lowering healthcare costs by reducing expensive hospital stays by employing wearable and portable monitoring devices."

All of these industrial applications require accurate measurement, robust communications, and security. "These are Maxim's strengths, and we also have the 'extra accelerator'…analog integration," said Neil. "By combining multiple functions onto one piece of silicon, we can increase system performance, reduce power consumption, make devices more portable, and lower their cost."

World touch controller IC market dynamics

LONDON, UK: The world touch controller IC market is growing at a fast rate, due to the emergence of natural user interface (NUI) devices as well as the rapid penetration of touch systems in consumer electronics.

Last year, global revenue of the touch controller market was $312.5 billion, accounting for only 0.4 percent of the total semiconductor industry. By the end of 2016, this share is expected to increase to 1.65 percent.

The demand for touch controller ICs from the APAC region is expected to grow at an astonishing CAGR of 50 percent during 2011-2016. Most of the product supply (over 60 percent) is coming from North America.

Vimicro and Samsung form strategic partnership to develop products for China security surveillance market

BEIJING, CHINA: Vimicro International Corp., a leading multimedia semiconductor and IP-based surveillance solution provider, announced the signing of a strategic cooperative agreement with Tianjin Samsung Techwin Opto-Electronic Co. Ltd outlining broad-based cooperation in the areas of technology, products, and business development.

Tianjin Samsung Techwin Opto-Electronics is a joint venture that was founded by Samsung Techwin and Tianjin Zhonghuan Electronic Information Group in 2008.

Through this strategic partnership, Vimicro and Samsung will engage in comprehensive co-operation, collaborating both domestically and internationally on technology, products, and business practices, as well as jointly developing products for the China security surveillance market.

For example, the companies will jointly focus on improving sales of Samsung's front-end surveillance equipment and Vimicro's ViSS large-scale video surveillance platform and NVR bulk-storage network video storage and management platform.

According to the Agreement, Samsung and Vimicro will improve the compatibility of their respective existing network-based surveillance products and jointly develop new functions with broader compatibility. In terms of technology and product development, Samsung will primarily focus on front-end surveillance equipment and Vimicro will primarily focus on security surveillance system platform development.

"We are pleased to have established this important strategic partnership with Samsung," said Jiaowei (Kevin) Jin, Vimicro's president and COO. "By leveraging Samsung's world-class technology and R&D capabilities along with our domestic leading market position, we look forward to developing even more-advanced security surveillance products and integrated solutions for our industry clients, as well as expanding the Chinese security surveillance market."

Operation lifetime doubles in smart meters and other wireless sensor node apps with new wireless transceiver from ST

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND: STMicroelectronics has introduced a high-performance, ultra-low-power wireless transceiver for Automatic Meter Infrastructure and other wireless sensor node applications, such as alarm and security systems, home and building automation, and industrial monitoring and control. ST's SPIRIT1 transceiver combines excellent receiver sensitivity with unbeatable current consumption, delivering 50% power reduction over existing solutions in the market.

Replacing traditional electromechanical meters, ‘smart’ electronic meters bring many advantages for utility providers and consumers alike. Features like full remote control, power peak and consumption analysis, anti-tampering mechanisms, fault alert, and time-variable tariffs, help make both the supply and usage of electricity, gas or water more efficient and economical.

ST's SPIRIT1 transceiver handles the communication between smart meters in households and businesses and the neighborhood data concentrator, which relays the information to the utility provider control center. By enabling short-range transmissions in frequency ranges below 1 GHz 1, SPIRIT1 ensures proper wireless signal propagation through concrete walls and building structures.

Power consumption is a critical parameter in battery-powered wireless metering applications. SPIRIT1 delivers an unparalleled competitive advantage of extremely low current consumption, slashed by as much as 50 percent over existing solutions in the market. This enables SPIRIT1-equipped applications to be in operation for up to twice the time of other solutions without the need to replace batteries.

SPIRIT1 boasts an outstanding receiver sensitivity of -120dBm. This allows the designer to lower the output power of the transmitter and thus further decrease the overall current consumption, while maintaining a highly robust communication channel. The transceiver supports advanced technologies like frequency hopping, auto-acknowledgment and antenna diversity to secure error-free data transmission even in harsh-environmental or challenging-logistical conditions.

Additional embedded features include 128-bit data encryption, error correction and detection, FIFO memory blocks, as well as highly flexible and programmable data packet management, which contribute to reducing the computation load of the host microcontroller and the overall system cost.

ST’s SPIRIT1 Sub-GHz RF transceivers are currently available for sampling to lead customers. The resale price will be $1.8 for 1,000 pieces.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Parade intros jitter-reducing HDMI repeater for computer and consumer system apps

SAN JOSE, USA: Parade Technologies Ltd, a leading video display and interface IC supplier, announced a new addition to its portfolio of HDMI interface and signal conditioning devices. The new PS8401 is an HDMI jitter-cleaning repeater chip that compensates for HDMI signal skew caused by long signal traces, connectors and cables.

Without jitter-cleaning technology, systems may fail the HDMI 1.4 jitter compliance test or exhibit poor video performance. The PS8401 was developed specifically to enable ease-of-design for higher interface rates up to 2.97Gbps, which are specified in the latest HDMI 1.4 standard.

HDMI interface clock rates have continued to increase as display resolution, color depth, and refresh rates increase. The HDMI 1.4 specification includes new display formats, such as 4K x 2K and 1080P 3D, which increase clock rate requirements up to 297MHz. This clock rate translates into a serial data interface rate of 2.97Gbps. At such high rates, the HDMI receiver or display is more sensitive to distortion or noise in the HDMI signal. Such noise can take the form of timing jitter, and excessive timing jitter on the HDMI signal can lead to undesirable display errors.

The PS8401 is designed to attenuate timing jitter and other noise from the HDMI signal. It contains an HDMI receiver that recaptures the signal data and removes noise, a retiming circuit that removes the timing jitter, and an HDMI transmitter that outputs a clean, restored HDMI signal. The HDMI receiver also includes an input equalizer to remove distortion from signal loss through the transmission path.

“Our job is all about making high speed signal implementation easier,” explained Jimmy Chiu, executive VP of Marketing at Parade Technologies. “Before the 297MHz clock rate came along, our customers treated HDMI as just another high speed signal in their system design. But HDMI at 297MHz is a real game-changer. There is very little tolerance for system-generated interference and long circuit board traces, making system design quite challenging. The PS8401 now provides a means to remove these challenges, as it removes the jitter.”

In an HDMI video source, signal distortion and noise coupling can occur between the HDMI transmitter and the HDMI output connector. In this application, the PS8401 is placed physically near the connector to provide a clean output signal from the system. Likewise, in an HDMI receiver or display, distortion and noise coupling can occur in the HDMI cable, and between the HDMI input connector and HDMI demodulator chip, a signal path that may also include switch devices. Placing the PS8401 near the input connector restores the HDMI signal prior to the final signal path, providing more operating margin for the HDMI demodulator.

Restoring the intermediate transmission path signal improves system interoperability and increases compliance margin. It also provides increased flexibility to the system designer, adding more freedom in HDMI transmitter or demodulator chip placement with the system.

Personal computers and portable devices can also benefit from jitter-reducing HDMI repeaters. The PS8401 is capable of receiving an AC-coupled signal--the desired format for highly integrated chips, such as processors and GPUs--and transmitting a DC-coupled signal that is common for an HDMI output connector. The computer system environment is especially prone to internal signal noise due to form factor constraints and nearby high-speed data signals.

Parade is widely recognized as a leading vendor of high-speed signal integrity devices. The company was among the first to offer repeaters for DisplayPort®, and among the first to have similar products for USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps. Parade also offers a full selection of HDMI receiver switch devices and TMDS level shifters for PC and DisplayPort cable adapter applications.

The PS8401 is packaged in a 5x5mm TQFN, making it easy to place near an HDMI output or input receptacle. The PS8401 is sampling now, and production volumes will be available in Q3 2012. The PS8401 is priced at $1.25/ea. in high volume.

Spreadtrum announces commercial availability of 1GHz TD-SCDMA and EDGE Android 2.3/4.0 platforms

SHANGHAI, CHINA: Spreadtrum Communications Inc. announced the commercial availability of the SC8810, Spreadtrum's 1GHz TD-SCDMA Android platform, and the SC6820, Spreadtrum's 1GHz EDGE/Wifi Android platform. Both the SC8810 and the SC6820 support Android 2.3 and Android 4.0 designs.

"We have now secured more than 200 design wins for our 1GHz TD-SCDMA and EDGE/WiFi Android platforms, and we are expecting to see volume shipments of more than one million units during the second quarter," said Dr. Leo Li, president and CEO of Spreadtrum Communications. "With these designs, our customers are targeting a $50-100 retail segment, unsubsidized."

The SC8810 and SC6820 have been adopted by China and global OEMs on large scale to address the growing demand for low-cost smartphones in China and emerging markets. Both products support both Android 2.3 and Android 4.0 platforms, deliver best-in-class power consumption and demonstrate graphics/web performance on par with globally popular premium smartphone models, while supporting sub-$100 unsubsidized retail price points. The solutions are designed into handsets that are expected to launch commercially starting in May.

Cosmic Circuits attains ISO 9001:2008 certification

BANGALORE, INDIA & CAMPBELL, USA: Cosmic Circuits, a leading provider of differentiated analog and mixed-signal IP cores and ICs, announced that it has received the ISO 9001:2008 certification.

Cosmic Circuits IP business unit 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. Cosmic Circuits IC business unit has 5 devices in productions with main focus on sensor ASICs (analog companion chips for sensors) and PM ASICs (power management ICs for portable devices).

Quality policy of Cosmic Circuits is consistently meet customer needs and achieve customer satisfaction by:
1) Delivering products verified to meet agreed requirements.
2) Timely delivery of products and services to meet our customers’ requirements.
3) Continual improvement of our processes and systems.

C. Srinivasan, VP of Engineering, Cosmic Circuits, said: “Nearly 100M ICs have been shipped with our IPs. Our IC business unit shipped nearly 15M ICs last year. As we scale our operations, the ISO9001:2008 certification builds confidence that the necessary processes are in place to enable customer success. This certification illustrates to customers globally our strong commitment to quality throughout our organization.”

Maxim's security reference design enables licensing control and secure feature-set upgrades for Spartan-6 FPGA-based designs

SUNNYVALE, USA: Maxim Integrated Products Inc. announced a reference design to protect Xilinx Spartan-6 field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). The reference design comprises free security software from Maxim or Xilinx and the Maxim DS28E01-100, a 1-Wire secure memory device.

Operating over a single pin, the built-in challenge-and-response SHA-1 authentication scheme in the DS28E01-100 prevents unauthorized product builds and safeguards FPGA IP. The reference design allows manufacturers to remotely turn on fee-based software-controlled feature upgrades, without physically altering the installed hardware.

The security scheme requires secret keys to be loaded in the FPGA and the 1-Wire secure memory. Maxim's reference core seamlessly overlays on the Spartan-6 device; utilizes less than 5 percent of the logic cell resources and eases the loading of secret keys into the FPGA. Maxim can also preprogram* the DS28E01-100 with customer-specified keys prior to delivery.

Spreadtrum launches industry's first 40nm 2.5G baseband

SHANGHAI, CHINA: Spreadtrum Communications Inc. announced commercial availability of the SC6530, the industry's first 2.5G baseband designed in 40nm CMOS silicon.

"The SC6530 is an industry first for the 2.5G market," said Dr. Leo Li, president and CEO of Spreadtrum. "By leveraging the most advanced process node in the 2.5G segment, we are able to achieve higher performance at lower cost relative to competitive alternatives."

The SC6530, in addition to its 40nm design, is the first 2.5G product from Spreadtrum to integrate its leading-edge baseband and RF transceiver technology into a single-chip, simplifying design and reducing overall solution footprint. The chip incorporates an ARM9 processor for high performance on a low-cost platform, and supports quad-band GSM/GPRS, triple-SIM function, HVGA display, H.264 decode and integrates an audio PA. The SC6530 couples its advances in performance, cost and integration with Spreadtrum's mature, proven turnkey software.

The SC6530 is commercially available now. Spreadtrum expects to achieve volume shipments in May.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Fab 8 adds tools to enable 3D chip stacking at 20nm and beyond

MILPITAS, USA: GLOBALFOUNDRIES announced a significant milestone on the road to enabling 3D stacking of chips for next-generation mobile and consumer applications.

At its Fab 8 campus in Saratoga County, NY, the company has begun installation of a special set of production tools to create Through-Silicon Vias (TSVs) in semiconductor wafers processed on the company’s leading-edge 20nm technology platform. The TSV capabilities will allow customers to stack multiple chips on top of each other, providing another avenue for delivering the demanding requirements of tomorrow’s electronic devices.

Essentially vertical holes etched in silicon and filled with copper, TSVs enable communication between vertically stacked integrated circuits. For example, the technology could allow circuit designers to place stacks of memory chips on top of an application processor, which can dramatically increase memory bandwidth and reduce power consumption—a key challenge for designers of the next generation of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

At leading-edge nodes, the adoption of 3D stacking of integrated circuits is increasingly being viewed as an alternative to traditional technology node scaling at the transistor level. However, as new packaging technologies are introduced, the complexity of chip-package interaction is going up significantly and it is increasingly difficult for foundries and their partners to be able to deliver end-to-end solutions that meet the requirements of the broad range of leading-edge designs.

“To help address these challenges on new silicon nodes, we are engaging early with partners to jointly develop packaging solutions that will enable the next wave of innovation in the industry,” said Gregg Bartlett, CTO of GLOBALFOUNDRIES.

“Our approach is broad and collaborative, giving customers maximum choice and flexibility, while delivering cost savings, faster time-to-volume, and a reduction in the technical risk associated with developing new technologies. With the installation of TSV capabilities for 20nm technology in Fab 8, we are adding an important capability that will be supplemented by our joint development and manufacturing partnerships with companies across the semiconductor ecosystem, from design to assembly and test.”

GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ new Fab 8 campus stands as one of the most technologically advanced wafer fabs in the world and the largest leading-edge semiconductor foundry in the United States. The site is focused on leading-edge manufacturing at 32/28nm and below, with 20nm technology development well underway. The first full-flow silicon with TSVs is expected to start running at Fab 8 in Q3 2012.

IR to showcase automotive power platform for hybrid and electric vehicles

PCIM Europe 2012, EL SEGUNDO, USA: International Rectifier, (IR) will showcase a new power platform for hybrid and electric vehicles (H(EV)) at PCIM (Power Conversion Intelligent Motion) Europe 2012 which is being held at the Nuremberg Exhibition Center, Nuremberg, Germany, May 8-10, 2012.

IR’s new COOLiR silicon and advanced COOLiR2 packaging technology provides an innovative power management platform approach for H(EV) vehicles that helps address the need to reduce the size, weight and system cost of electric power train components while increasing system reliability for long lifetime, low maintenance and low warranty cost. The new automotive power platform will be featured at the IR booth, Stand111, Hall 11.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate IR’s new automotive power platform at PCIM Europe. This new approach combines the most advanced silicon with a unique module concept that allows OEM and major system suppliers to take advantage of outstanding silicon performance in an innovative modular system package that meets industry needs for a scalable, easy to customize yet cost-effective solution at highest power density,” said Henning Hauenstein, VP, IR’s Automotive Products Business Unit.

The IR booth will also feature the company’s latest power management solutions for a wide range of applications including demonstrations of the newest motor control products and GaN-based power device platform, GaNpowIR. IR’s latest ICs for lighting and AC-DC switch mode power supplies (SMPS), CHiL digital controllers and SupIRBuck integrated voltage regulators for DC-DC applications, as well as benchmark MOSFETs and IGBTs will also be featured.

IXYS intros higher efficiency higher power bipolar module in TO-240 standard outline

BIEL, SWITZERLAND: IXYS Corp. announced the introduction of the highest power density bipolar module in the industry standard TO240 outline.

IXYS’ extensive range of proven industrial power modules have been enhanced by the mass production release of the highest power TO-240 based thyristor module in the market today. The new modules comply with the JEDEC outline requirements of TO-240 and feature IXYS’ proprietary DCB for improved efficiency, reliability and thermal efficiency.

The MCMA140 range of dual thyristor modules has a rated current of 140 amperes at a module case temperature of 85 degrees C, which improves the power rating over current competitor offerings by over 17 percent. The MCMA140 can therefore be used to either increase existing system power ratings with a simple pin-to-pin compatible swap-out or design new systems with smaller modules that facilitate a reduced material content and smaller heat sink and final system size.

“IXYS continues its commitment to providing ‘Greener’ solutions to our customers that reduce the material content without compromising our well known efficiency and reliability,” commented Bradley Green, IXYS’ president of European Sales and Business Development. “By reducing module sizes, increasing power density and designing our products for extremely long life cycles, IXYS is in line with our corporate environmental initiatives by reducing size and weight, using less material while providing continued market leading efficiency to our customers.”

The MCMA140P1600TA is an example of a dual thyristor module rated at 140 amperes and 1600 volts with future products planned for 800 to 2,200 volts. Available variations include thyristor and diode power modules.

The MCMA140 module range is the product of choice within electrical power stages of UPS, power quality equipment, motor drives, power conditioners and modulators.

Vistec provides ITME in Warsaw with a high-performance electron-beam lithography system

WARSAW, POLAND & JENA, GERMANY: Vistec Electron Beam GmbH, a leading supplier of electron-beam lithography systems, announced that the noted Institute of Electronic Materials Technology (ITME) in Warsaw purchased a Variable Shaped Beam system SB251 from Vistec. The advanced lithography tool will be used for research and manufacturing of various kinds of micro-optical and diffractive elements, new materials as well as masks for optical lithography.

As a leading research institute in Poland, ITME is working in the multidisciplinary area of research, development and manufacturing of materials, innovative devices and components for application in electronics, micromechanics and optoelectronics. "We selected Vistec’s electron-beam writer to support our research, development and manufacturing efforts due to its high performance and flexibility. We anticipate that the new Vistec SB251 will significantly contribute to successfully meet our research and development agenda," said Dr. Zygmunt Luczynski, director of ITME. The decision was made as a result of a European tendering procedure.

The Vistec SB251 is a universal system, which has been designed for both direct write as well as mask making exposures. The system is capable of handling and exposing transparent & non-transparent materials, which are in use in semiconductor and optics applications. Equipped with a 50kV electron optics, an address grid of 1nm and an exposure platform with a stage travel range of 210mm x 210mm the system enables lithography below 50nm on various substrates from pieces up to 200mm wafers and 7inch masks.

A graphical user interface (GUI) and fully automated cassette-to-cassette substrate handling allow the effective usage in a diverse, multiuser environment at Institutes like ITME. Furthermore the system features the data preparation software package ePLACE (provided by EQUIcon GmbH).

"With the Vistec SB251 our long term partner ITME receives an advanced electron-beam lithography system. Due to its high flexibility and reliability the SB251 is perfectly tailored to the diversified applications ITME is facing now and will be challenged with in the future," comments Wolfgang Dorl, GM of Vistec Electron Beam. "We are very pleased that ITME placed the order with Vistec, which further continues our successful collaboration started more than 20 years ago."

StarChip announces sampling of SCF335H, its new gen of SIM controllers

MEYREUIL, FRANCE: StarChip, experts in designing, qualifying and industrializing Smart Card ICs, announced that it is currently sampling its SCF335H product, the new generation of SIM controllers designed to cover demands of USIM Java Card applications.

The SCF335H is the first product of a new family that will fully encompass the telecom smart card ICs market. With this very competitive new generation, StarChip planned to cover SIM native, USIM Java card, LTE and high-end SIM/NFC applications. The SCF136H covering the Native market, will be available in 2012.

The SCF335H is based on Cortus APS3s 32bit CPU enabling 25Mips@25MHz across a broad spectrum of temperatures and offering advanced low power modes. Its unified flash memory provides robust data retention (>25years) with several hundred millions cycles of endurance thanks to our E3 (ECUBE) mechanisms.

To provide ultimate flexibility the memory size of the SCF335H can be tailored to customers’ requirements by a simple configuration to be done at the customer premises. Finally, the software tools provided have been optimized to further improve the code density.

All together those improvements allow at least 30 percent cost savings on the SCF335H compared to the previous generation of StarChip SIM controllers. This announcement demonstrates the commitment of StarChip to become a long-term leading supplier to the smart card ICs market by providing state-of-the-art yet economically efficient solutions to our customers.

“The SCF335H, first product of our new generation of SIM controllers family fully illustrates our strategy: Give our customers the features necessary to their application and Innovate to drive cost down,” said Yves Fusella, CTO of StarChip. “At StarChip, we constantly seek new ways to improve performance of our products keeping in mind that whatever solution implemented it has to bring benefits to our customers’ application. Such continuous improvement will be illustrated in the coming months with several breakthrough announcements on more competitive yet technically advanced products.”

AMD selects HP for cloud data center

USA: HP announced that AMD (has improved business efficiency and streamlined operations by consolidating its worldwide data centers and standardizing on HP Networking solutions.

AMD’s innovative computing and graphics technologies run a wide range of computing devices – such as personal computers, game consoles and servers – all of which power internet and business operations spanning cloud computing and virtualization environments throughout the world.

With 18 data centers worldwide, AMD recognized the need to consolidate its infrastructure to optimize resources as well as improve power and cooling efficiency. AMD conducted a comprehensive testing and review process of solutions from multiple networking vendors before choosing HP. The HP 12500 Switch Series and HP 5820 Switch Series will be used in AMD’s newest private cloud data center, where the company makes heavy use of virtualization and cluster technologies.

“We were experiencing suboptimal business operations due to infrastructure sprawl,” said Farid Dana, director, IT, Global Infrastructure Services, AMD. “HP Networking’s open, standards-based architecture offered us the flexibility to easily integrate solutions and expand our infrastructure while leveraging existing investments.”

Additionally, AMD deployed HP server solutions, including HP ProLiant BL465c G7 servers with AMD Opteron 6200 Series processors, to help improve the compute power of its internal engineering cloud, which performs up to 40 million engineering simulations per month. The HP server platform supports AMD’s virtualized environment as well as the company’s business applications and services.

Implementing HP Networking and server technologies helped AMD reduce its data-center footprint by more than 50 percent while increasing network capacity and improving performance. AMD plans to upgrade other sites with HP Networking hardware in the near future.

AMD also engaged HP Critical Facilities Services (CFS) to build a new data center. HP CFS provides consulting, design and assurance services for building new or retrofitting legacy data centers. Working with HP CFS, AMD designed the data center from the ground up to meet changing business requirements with lower facilities capital and operating costs.

Samsung’s quad-core application processor drives advanced feature sets in smartphones and tablets

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA: Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd introduced the industry’s first quad-core application processor built on the High-k Metal Gate (HKMG) low-power process technology. With unprecedented performance capabilities exceeding 1.4GHz based on the ARM CORTEXTM A9 quad-core, the powerful, yet energy-efficient Exynos 4 Quad, allows system-level architects to integrate maximized power efficiencies into smartphones and tablets which enables double the processing power at a 20 percent lower power bill over its predecessor, the 45nm process-based Exynos 4 Dual.

“The quad-core processor offers phenomenal multitasking abilities surpassing any single or dual application processor. Since all the cores must share a single battery, the power management and efficiency in the limited battery capacity are indispensable for mobile computing devices,” said Taehoon Kim, VP of System LSI marketing, Device Solutions, Samsung Electronics. “Given the diverse functionalities consumers are demanding from their mobile devices today, the Exynos 4 Quad meets those high-performance needs while keeping power consumption very low.”

Multi-core processing delivers enhanced performance, enabling users to accomplish more tasks in a shorter period of time. For example, a task such as streaming video can run on one core while the other cores update applications in the background, connecting to the web and scanning virus-check simultaneously.

Benefitting from a use case where the parallel processing and workload sharing among the four cores is necessary, the Exynos 4 Quad is particularly well-suited for heavy-load applications such as 3D games, video editing, and calculation-intensive simulation.

Due to its 32nm HKMG low-power process and power-saving design, the Exynos 4 Quad has two times the processing capability over the 45nm process based Exynos 4 Dual while consuming 20-percent less power. To improve power efficiency, Samsung adopted hot-plug functionality to support on-off switching for each core as well as the per-core dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS), which offers a dramatic reduction in power consumption by adapting different levels of voltage and frequency when changing workloads.

Having identical form factor measurements (12mm X 12mm X 1.37 mm), the Exynos 4 Quad is pin-to-pin compatible with the 32nm process based Exynos 4 Dual, allowing mobile device designers to immediately adopt the new solution without additional cost, engineering or design efforts.

In addition, the new processor incorporates a full HD 30 frame per second video hardware codec engine for high resolution 1080p video recording and play-back, an embedded image signal processor interface for high-quality camera functionality and an HDMI 1.4 interface for sharp and crisp multimedia content transmission.

Samsung developed a power management IC (PMIC), the S5M8767, as a companion chip to power the Exynos 4 Quad processor. By integrating various circuitry such as nine highly efficient and programmable buck converters and 28 low-dropout regulators (LDOs) into the small package of 5.0 mm x 5.0mm x 0.4mm, the S5M8767 is designed to scale up or down the dynamic voltage depending on the clock speed in 6.25mV step for managing power delivery and maximizing battery life at the system level.

Already in production, the Exynos 4 Quad is scheduled to be adopted first into Samsung’s next Galaxy smartphone that will officially be announced in May. Samsung’s Exynos 4 Quad is also sampling to other major handset makers.

“The application processor is a crucial element in providing our customers with a PC-like experience on mobile devices. Samsung’s next Galaxy device, which will be officially announced soon, offers uncompromised performance and ground breaking multi-tasking features, thanks to Exynos 4 Quad’s powerful performance and efficient energy management technology,” said Hankil Yoon, senior VP of Product Strategy Team, Samsung’s Mobile Communications Business.

Last year, Samsung introduced a new online hub dedicated to its Exynos processor.

Cadence reports Q1 2012 financial results

SAN JOSE, USA: Cadence Design Systems Inc. announced results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2012.

Cadence reported first quarter 2012 revenue of $316 million, compared to revenue of $266 million reported for the same period in 2011. On a GAAP basis, Cadence recognized net income of $31 million, or $0.11 per share on a diluted basis in the first quarter of 2012, compared to net income of $6 million, or $0.02 per share on a diluted basis in the same period in 2011.

Using Cadence’s non-GAAP measure, net income in the first quarter of 2012 was $47 million, or $0.17 per share on a diluted basis, as compared to net income of $23 million, or $0.09 per share on a diluted basis in the same period in 2011.

“Cadence is off to a good start for 2012, with strong operating performance leading to an increase in our outlook,” said Lip-Bu Tan, president and CEO. “We continue to roll out new technology, including the newest release of our Encounter digital design platform targeted at the 20-nanometer node, as well as new design IP products for memory, networking and high-performance computing.”

“Our operating performance in Q1 gives us confidence that we will achieve our long term profitability and growth objectives,” added Geoff Ribar, senior VP and CFO. “I am also pleased by the reduction in DSOs, accounts receivable and deferred revenue, driven by our ongoing efforts to match cash collections with the timing of revenue recognition.”

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 2012, the company expects total revenue in the range of $315 million to $325 million. Second quarter GAAP net income per diluted share is expected to be in the range of $0.13 to $0.14. Net income per diluted share using the non-GAAP measure defined below is expected to be in the range of $0.17 to $0.18.

For 2012, the company expects total revenue in the range of $1,270 million to $1,300 million. On a GAAP basis, net income per diluted share for 2012 is expected to be in the range of $0.45 to $0.49. Using the non-GAAP measure defined below, net income per diluted share for 2012 is expected to be in the range of $0.66 to $0.70.

MEMS Industry Group to get inside look at R&D of 'miniature machines' at Carnegie Mellon

PITTSBURGH, USA: MEMS Industry Group (MIG) is bringing the global micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) supply chain to Pittsburgh for its annual meeting, giving leading MEMS suppliers an opportunity to tour Carnegie Mellon’s microsystems labs on May 8.

Having launched commercial successes such as MEMS microphone- maker Akustica, now owned by the Bosch Group, and BodyMedia, creator of MEMS information systems tracking calories and sleep patterns, CMU’s MEMS labs remain research pioneers for the ‘miniature machines’ that allow consumers to experience electronic devices and the environment in new ways.

"Our members are going to see what’s coming down the pipeline at one of the world’s leading engineering institutions," said Karen Lightman, managing director of MEMS Industry Group and a CMU alumna. "During their tour of CMU’s MEMS labs, MIG members will have the opportunity to interact with faculty and graduate students to experience the cross-pollination between the commercial business sector and academia, where R&D work often generates new products and technologies for the betterment of society. This is a unique experience, and we are honored and proud to have our members be part of it."

CMU’s Maarten de Boer, an associate professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department, and Gary Fedder, director of the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES) and a professor of the Robotics Institute, will host MIG members as they tour a cache of labs involving micro-nanofabrication, micro-nanorobotics, micro-fluidics and other technologies.

"These lab tours and demos are designed to help important industry leaders see some of our leading-edge work involving development of ultra-reliable technologies and to explore new device concepts applicable to many industry sectors from electronics to biomedical engineering," said De Boer.

Each year, MEMS devices are shipped globally in a variety of consumer products, including mobile phones, tablets, laptops, video games and cameras. They are also embedded in biomedical devices and quality of life applications, automotive safety systems and smart industrial systems. By 2015, industry analysts predict that the MEMS industry will grow to nearly $12 billion. In fact, MEMS products are so ubiquitous that their growth now outpaces growth of other segments of the electronics industry.

"We are experiencing steady and sustained market acceptance in our industry," said Lightman. "With all of our success, I strongly believe that we have barely scratched the surface of what we can achieve with MEMS. It is through the research and development being conducted at academic institutions like CMU that we will continue to tap the potential of MEMS in the future."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

DisplayLink supports 3rd generation Intel Core processors

PALO ALTO, USA: DisplayLink, the leading provider of technology for virtual graphics and USB-connected computing, announced its support for 3rd generation Intel Core processors and supporting mobile Intel HM76 and Intel B75 express chipsets with SuperSpeed USB 3.0.

DisplayLink’s DL-3000 chip platform with USB 3.0 is shipping today in adapters, monitors and docking stations from leading vendors. The broad availability of onboard USB 3.0 in systems using 3rd generation Intel Core processors means that a huge new segment of the market now has access to easy-to-use docking, and multi-display possibilities. With DisplayLink technology, Ultrabook devices can now enjoy full docking station functionality, portable USB 3.0 monitors can be quickly connected without the need for a separate power cable, and up to six displays can be driven by a single computer over just one “Plug and Display” USB cable.

“USB 3.0 will soon be universally available on nearly all new PCs, which means that products incorporating DisplayLink’s DL-3000 chip platform have a huge new base of potential users,” said John Cummins, VP of sales and marketing for DisplayLink. “It’s never been easier for IT departments, small businesses and mobile professionals to have it all – docking stations, multiple displays, lightning-fast connectivity, HD quality, and travel-ready convenience – at minimal expense with no configuration headaches.”

In addition to traditional business and consumer productivity applications, DisplayLink technology opens the market for embedded business solutions that require the ability to easily connect, share and manage digital content between many screens. Those include retail in store, on-the-shelf and window displays, digital security surveillance, electronic gaming machines and more.

Improve real-time-control system performance by 5x and increase efficiency with TI's C2000 32-bit F2803x and F2806x Piccolo MCUs

HOUSTON, USA: Upgrading designs, improving performance and simplifying development of digital real-time-control systems, Piccolo microcontrollers from Texas Instruments Inc. (TI), are bringing new efficiencies and innovations to motor control applications.

The TMS320F2803x and TMS320F2806x Piccolo microcontrollers now contain a C-programmable, integrated control law accelerator (CLA) co-processor via a new C-compiler to enable even greater levels of innovative designs. The CLA is a 32-bit floating-point math accelerator, designed to work independently of the TMS320C28x CPU core to offload complex, high-speed control algorithms.

This offloading frees the CPU to handle input/output and feedback loop metrics, resulting in up to a 5x increase in performance for closed loop applications. The CLA also provides direct access to on-chip peripherals for parallel execution of algorithms to accelerate system response time and improve efficiency.

Accessible through the controlSUITE software platform are new CLA C-compiler software libraries and system examples available for motor control application development. The CLA provides efficient software partitioning, and TI's optimized, free source code software libraries and system examples running on the control law accelerator (CLA) provide software code blocks, enabling developers to easily and quickly create customized designs while delivering 15-20 percent performance gains in motor control applications.

Features and benefits of F2803x and F2806x Piccolo microcontroller systems:
* C-programmable, 32-bit floating-point co-processor via a new C compiler for the CLA on F2803x and F2806x Piccolo microcontrollers ease programming, improve flexibility and compatibility with meta-language tools and enable direct access to on-chip peripherals for parallel execution of algorithms. The CLA also enables faster system response, high MHz control loops and improved triggering and fault detection to increase system robustness.

* F2803x Piccolo microcontrollers incorporate TI's enhanced pulse width modulators (ePWMs @ 150ps resolution), 12-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and two 10 MHz oscillators on chip and can replace multiple electronic components (i.e. external power ICs) to lower overall system cost while enabling advanced power electronics management.

* F2806x Piccolo microcontrollers incorporate a Viterbi, Complex Math and CRC Unit (VCU) in addition to the C28x core and CLA, providing 75 tailored math instructions to accelerate processing of communications algorithms. Also included on-chip are USB 2.0 and CAN for improved communications throughput and PWMs, a 16 channel, 3 MSPS 12-bit ADCs and three analog comparators with 10-bit reference, to eliminate external design components.

* Motor control and digital power development kits to use with software, training and 24/7 support to make development easy and get products out quickly.

* Code compatibility across the C2000 microcontroller platform allows developers to scale solutions from 40 MHz to 300 MHz.

* controlCARD, controlSTICK and C2000 experimenter kits, C2000's flexible and modular design concepts, allow developers to experiment with various C2000 microcontrollers to fit price, performance and peripheral feature set requirements.

* Includes controlSUITE software, providing easy-to-use open source demonstration GUIs, software examples and documentation for motor control development, as well as digital power.

Mobile phones and tablets spur modest upgrade in 2012 chip industry growth forecast

EL SEGUNDO, USA: Strong ongoing consumer demand for wireless products like cellphones and media tablets has prompted a 1 percentage point upgrade in the growth outlook for the overall semiconductor industry in 2012, according to an IHS iSuppli Global Manufacturing Market Tracker report.

Global semiconductor revenue is expected to reach an estimated $324.6 billion in 2012, up 4.3 percent from $311.4 billion last year. This represents a slight increase compared to the previous IHS forecast of 3.3 percent issued in January.

Growth this year will improve on the tepid 1 percent expansion of 2011, with all indications pointing to an industry poised to regain its footing as the overall global economy stabilizes.

Barring an unforeseen economic slump in world markets or grave missteps by the industry, revenue should continue to climb during the next few years, hitting approximately $412.8 billion by 2016.Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

“Semiconductor revenue growth is expected to rise in 2012 compared to last year as consumers begin to believe that the global economic recovery is for real,” said Len Jelinek, director and chief analyst of semiconductor manufacturing at IHS. “The biggest drivers of demand will be consumer-oriented products from the wireless semiconductor segment, such as smartphones and media tablets. The iPhone and iPad from Apple Inc. are perpetual best-sellers in their category, but a swarm of competing products will also help enlarge the total pool of offerings and thus increase sales. In particular, semiconductor suppliers can anticipate an exceptionally robust third quarter this year in preparation for strong holiday sell-through.”

Meanwhile, the ultrabook platform will have only a minimal impact in driving sales revenue in 2012 for the massive semiconductor market, even though the long-term growth potential of the product is strong. But with the introduction of Windows 8 by Microsoft Corp. and touch-screen capability for the operating system later this year, ultrabooks will have the potential to become a key market revenue driver in 2013.

The three major areas of strength for the semiconductor industry this year will be NAND flash, logic application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) and microprocessors (MPU). The revenue increases in NAND and logic ASICs are a result of expected higher sales from tablets and smartphones, while the revenue expansion in MPUs will be driven by renewed growth in notebooks and the gradual emergence of ultrabooks.

Inventory challenges remain; reductions needed
Although semiconductor suppliers have reduced their inventory by 7.5 percent over the last six months, total inventory remains at high levels both in terms of aggregate dollar value as well as in days of inventory. As a result, the industry remains in a tenuous position. Further reductions are necessary for manufacturers to experience sustained demand, and companies must continue to monitor inventory levels closely to reduce them through the first half of the year.

The largest portion of inventory is held by integrated device manufacturers (IDM)—the companies that both design and manufacture their own semiconductor chips. By tradition, IDMs do not reduce inventory as aggressively as fabless semiconductor companies—the firms that undertake chip production for clients that do not have their own factories. This is partly because IDMs have larger product portfolios, and also because IDMs believe that in good times they will be able to reduce inventory much more quickly.

Since the end of the second quarter of 2011, IDMs have reduced their inventory by only 5.4 percent—a minimal count when one considers that IDMs on average hold between 77 and 79 percent of finished goods inventory.

Sustainable growth will not occur until the industry reduces total inventory by at least another 5 percent, IHS believes.

Source: IHS iSuppli, USA.

G3-PLC recommended as one of the communication standards for Japanese smart meter to a HEMS

SUNNYVALE, USA: Maxim Integrated Products Inc. announced that its G3-PLC protocol has been recommended by the Smart House Standardization Study Group, sponsored by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), as one of the communications platforms that Japanese electrical utilities should use for communication between a smart meter and a home energy management system (HEMS) in home area networks (HANs).

In partnership with Electricité Réseau Distribution France (ERDF) and Sagemcom, Maxim developed the G3-PLC specification to promote open-endedness and interoperability among smart grid implementations. G3-PLC supports the IPv6 Internet protocol to allow new Internet-based energy-management systems. The specification also supports two-way communication for demand response and other smart grid applications.

G3-PLC was recently established as an ITU communications standard and used as the basis for the IEEE 1901.2 PLC standard. The protocol is already approved for use in neighborhood area network (NAN) and HAN applications in various countries, including the US, France, Spain, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.

Testing by Japanese utilities proved that G3-PLC communicates reliably from the meter into the home, even with strong noise on the powerline from home appliances. Additionally, the G3-PLC specification met METI’s key requirements, which included a widely accepted standard that supports the IPv6 Internet protocol.

An important capability of a HEMS system is to provide an in-home display (IHD) of energy consumption and cost information. IHDs provide real-time information on energy usage and electrical rates, thus enabling energy conservation, especially during peak load periods. METI is encouraging the use of IHDs to help Japan cope with decreased electricity generation when nuclear facilities were closed following the March 11, 2011, tsunami disaster.

“G3-PLC will enable Japanese utilities to design smart grid networks that they can source from multiple manufacturers. It will also let Japanese customers set up next-generation, energy-management control systems in their homes,” said Michael Navid, executive business manager for Maxim’s Powerline Products. “G3-PLC will definitely help Japanese consumers better understand and conserve their energy usage,” he added.

TI intros industry's most highly integrated audio codec for mobile devices

DALLAS, USA: Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) introduced the industry's most highly integrated audio codec with embedded miniDSP cores, providing echo and noise cancellation at wideband voice sampling rates up to 16 kHz.

The TLV320AIC3262 integrates five amplifiers and two miniDSP cores, and gives designers the ability to interface to up to three devices simultaneously, such as application, Bluetooth and baseband processors. Audio and voice samples can be received, mixed and processed seamlessly within the codec. The inclusion of TI audio and voice algorithms, as well as third party algorithms, available on the codec and as additional licenses, benefits designers creating multi-purpose and high-definition audio designs for mobile devices.

Key features and benefits of the TLV320AIC3262:
* Third-generation miniDSP technology enables wideband noise and echo cancellation at up to 16 kHz to create clear, high-definition voice quality for circuit-switched or VoIP calls, including video conferencing applications.
* SRS WOW HD, included as a standard feature at no additional cost to customers, improves audio playback quality and enables faster processing by offloading the duties of the host processor to the codec. Designers can also evaluate other certified pre-integrated SRS solutions such as TruMedia, CircleSurround Headphone and TruSurround HD, which are available commercially through direct licensing agreements with SRS Labs Inc.
* Three asynchronous audio buses plus asynchronous sampling rate conversion (ASRC) allows designers to connect to multiple audio sources and mix multiple sample rates.
* Intelligent speaker protection algorithms control voice coil temperature and diaphragm excursion to enable maximum possible loudness without damaging the speaker.

The TLV320AIC3262 is available now in a 4.8-mm x 4.8-mm WCSP package, priced at $4.95 in quantities of 1,000.

Japanese semiconductor equipment companies gained share in 2011

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: Although the Yen decreased more than 9 percent against the dollar between 2010 and 2011, many Japanese companies were still able to increase their market share against US and European suppliers, except of course the Lithography sector that ASML dominated.

In Plasma Etch, for example, TEL increased its share of the more than $4 billion sector from 23.5 percent in 2010 to 26.3 percent in 2011 as measured in US Dollars. Hitachi High Tech more than doubled its share, which increased from 5.7 percent in 2010 to 11.8 percent in 2011.

In Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD), Ulvac increased its share of the $1.5 billion sector from 8.4 percent in 2010 to 11.5 percent in 2011.

In Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP)/diffusion, Hitachi Kokusai increased its share of the $1 billion sector from 7.9 percent in 2010 to 9.4 percent in 2011.

So, why does this all matter? We forecast that the semiconductor equipment market will drop as much as 10 percent in 2012. So far, the Yen/USD exchange average has not depreciated against the dollar, meaning revenues based on the US dollar can increase an additional 10 percent if we use the 2010 exchange basis. For example, Ulvac's semiconductor equipment revenues increased 28 percent in Yen but 41.3 percent in Dollars. A weak Yen makes Japanese pricing more attrractive.

Semiconductor sales are projected to grow only about 2 percent in 2012, but so far this year semiconductor sales are still dropping. While capex announcements from companies such as Intel, Samsung, and TSMC are in the stratosphere, overall capex is still projected to decrease about 10-12 percent.

Bottom line, 2011 could be another year of share gains for Japanese semiconductor equipment manufacturers at a time when the overall equipment market is down.

Fairchild's 30V PowerTrench MOSFET provides designers best-in-class power density with less board space

SAN JOSE, USA: Driven by power efficiency standards and end-system requirements, power supply designers need energy efficient solutions that help shrink their applications power supply form factor without compromising power density. Fairchild Semiconductor’s FDMC8010 30V Power 33 MOSFET meets these needs by delivering best-in-class power density and low conduction loss in a 3.3mm x 3.3mm PQFN form factor.

Using Fairchild’s PowerTrench technology, the FDMC8010 is well suited for applications where the lowest RDS(ON) is required in small spaces such as high-performance DC-DC buck converters, Point of Load (POL), high-efficiency load switch and low-side switching, voltage regulator modules (VRM), and ORing functions. By using the FDMC8010, designers can move from a 5mm x 6mm to a 3.3mm x 3.3mm package, saving 66 percent of the MOSFET footprint area.

In isolated 1/16th brick DC-DC converter applications, the Power 33 MOSFET’s max RDS(ON) of only 1.3mΩ max, is 25 percent less than the competitive solution in this footprint. Additionally, the device reduces conduction losses thereby improving thermal efficiency by up to 25 percent.

Features and benefits
* High performance technology for best-in-class RDS(ON) of 1.3 mΩ max.
* 3.3mm x 3.3mm industry-standard form factor, PQFN – saves board space.
* Through lower power conduction loss, the device can achieve higher power density and higher efficiency than competitive solutions.
* Package is lead-free and RoHS-compliant.

GainSpan reference design code for TI MSP430 offers easy Wi-Fi connectivity and access to extended capabilities

SAN JOSE, USA: GainSpan Corp., a leader in low power embedded Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi connectivity for the Internet of Things, introduced reference design code for Texas Instruments' MSP430 that significantly reduces the development time to add Wi-Fi connectivity to embedded systems based upon this microcontroller (MCU).

This new code makes it possible for designers to rapidly develop their application on the MSP430 and easily communicate with a GainSpan Wi-Fi module of choice through a serial interface, using straightforward AT commands, with the GainSpan Wi-Fi module providing all Wi-Fi and networking functionalities.

Now, customers developing MSP430-based products can quickly and easily add GainSpan low power Wi-Fi connectivity and take advantage of advanced networking features and capabilities not readily available with other Wi-Fi modules including enterprise security, embedded DHCP, DNS and HTTP (S) servers, wireless provisioning, and over the air firmware upgrades.

As with similar reference design code provided by GainSpan for other MCUs, the new reference design code running on the MSP430 includes both SPI and UART drivers, a hardware adaptation layer (HAL), and an MCU-independent application layer that includes the AT library. The Application code includes UDP, TCP and HTTP traffic, supports multiple concurrent sockets and AP functionality. This code is easily portable to other host microcontrollers.

With its small RAM and ROM (Flash) footprint, the MSP430 reference code can run on the most memory constrained MCUs. Even when including the drivers, UDP, TCP and multiple sockets, it uses less than 8 Kbytes of flash and 2 Kbytes of RAM and can be used with the IAR Embedded Workbench Kickstart Edition.

"In addition to our strong partnerships with microcontroller leaders like Freescale and Renesas, and associated Wi-Fi boards and software solutions we provide to our joint customers, we provide Reference Design code in support of other popular MCU's in response to the needs of our customers," said Bernard Aboussouan, VP of marketing at GainSpan.

GainSpan offers a wide range of low-power Wi-Fi connectorized or pin compatible soldered down modules, with output power ranging from 9 to 18 dBm with options for built-in trace or external antenna through a U.FL connector. Most operate over an industrial operating temperature range of -40 to 85 degrees Celsius and are certified or pre-certified for all major regulatory requirements including FCC, IC and ETSI.

Customers can easily select host interfaces, security, provisioning methods, Wi-Fi and networking features running on the modules, and build a customized binary for their embedded devices, without the need of an expensive compiler. The SDK-Builder, a low cost, web-based tool, provides a baseline default configuration (essential wireless stack features, WPA/WPA-2 personal security and networking services) and lets developers choose software features and functionalities via a menu.

Synopsys extends HAPS debug visibility by 100X

MOUNTAIN VIEW, USA: Synopsys Inc. announced the release of a new Deep Trace Debug feature for users of its HAPS FPGA-based prototyping systems. With HAPS Deep Trace Debug, prototypers can take advantage of approximately 100 times more signal storage capacity than the traditional memory storage employed by on-chip FPGA logic debuggers.

The new Deep Trace Debug feature enhances both capacity and fault isolation capabilities while freeing up the on-chip FPGA memory required for validating complex system-on-chip (SoC) designs.

"The Qualcomm Atheros' Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo products use leading-edge Wi-Fi standards to achieve Gigabit-per-second throughput, requiring advanced hardware-software validation techniques like those available in Synopsys' HAPS systems," said Manoj Unnikrishnan, director of engineering at Qualcomm Atheros.

"Our traditional approach required multiple runs with a lot of trial and error. The high-capacity sample storage available with HAPS Deep Trace Debug allows us to quickly identify bugs and speed full system validation. In addition, HAPS Deep Trace Debug will help us improve state machine coverage, prototyping coverage, and test pattern generation."

Confirming correct functionality of high-speed interface designs often requires sampling at dozens of frequencies for several milliseconds at a time. Traditionally, designers have had to make a choice between capturing long signal trace histories that consume extensive FPGA memory resources or saving FPGA memory resources but losing detailed visibility into signal trace history.

By pairing the Synopsys Identify Intelligent Integrated Circuit Emulator (IICE) with a HAPS Deep Trace Debug SRAM daughter board, HAPS Deep Trace Debug allows many unique signal probes with complex triggers to be recorded and provides deeper memory to store extensive state history as the system executes. The SRAM daughter board also frees up the FPGA's on-chip RAM for prototyping an SoC design's memory blocks.

"The GSI Technology NBTSRAM designed onto the HAPS Deep Trace Debug SRAM daughter board enables designers to make the best use of HAPS' interconnect bus bandwidth when performance of the SoC prototype is a high priority," said David Chapman, VP of marketing and applications engineering at GSI Technology. "Our SRAM devices provide both pipeline and flow-through operation to provide the SoC prototyper the flexibility to choose between fast read memory response and maximum clock frequency. The combination of the GSI NBT SRAM family and Synopsys' Deep Trace Debug feature enables engineers to use their HAPS systems for SoC memory IP hosting or as an extended debug trace buffer."

"With the increased hardware and software complexity of SoCs, designers require advanced debug tools to improve the robustness of their system validation process and facilitate early software development," said John Koeter, VP of marketing for IP and systems at Synopsys. "HAPS Deep Trace Debug represents an important productivity improvement for debugging complex SoCs by enabling prototypers to capture the long signal trace history needed to identify the root cause of design bugs."

Mentor Graphics launches next gen Veloce2 emulation platform with VirtuaLAB capabilities

WILSONVILLE, USA: Mentor Graphics Corp. announced the availability of the Veloce2 platform, the next-generation of emulation solutions for the verification of electronic system and Systems on Chip (SoC) designs. Built to accommodate up to two billion gate designs, the Veloce2 platform delivers twice the performance, twice the capacity and four times productivity gain in the same footprint and power consumption as the first-generation Veloce platform.

In addition, a new concept called Veloce VirtuaLAB gives verification engineers access to easy-to-use, software-based peripherals, connected to the Veloce platform, which provide a “virtual lab” environment to verify complex electronics systems including the embedded software and the SoCs that make up the system prior to first silicon availability.

Veloce2 is built upon the totally new, full custom emulation IC, Crystal2, developed from the ground up by Mentor. Delivering fast compile, full debug visibility, and advanced memory modeling, Crystal2 is at the heart of the Veloce2 platform’s performance and capacity gains. The Crystal-based Veloce architecture is highly scalable with impressive performance and capacity gains in the same physical footprint and power signature.

The Veloce2 software suite is backward compatible with first-generation Veloce emulators, boosting the productivity of current Veloce customers and preserving their investment while extending the useful life of their Veloce hardware. Future generations of Veloce will adhere to this common software philosophy, making Veloce emulators an excellent long-term investment.

The Veloce VirtuaLAB builds on the emulator’s ability to run hardware designs written in RTL at megahertz speeds. By integrating RTL models of key peripherals like USB, Ethernet, PCIe and the like, the Veloce VirtuaLAB is able to create a full target environment that allows developers to validate both the hardware and embedded software, before any hardware is manufactured. This significantly accelerates product development cycles.

Since the Veloce VirtuaLAB is entirely software-based, it is easily replicated to support multiple software and hardware developers simultaneously. Previously, system developers had to connect physical peripherals to the emulator via hardware speed adaptors, making the process cumbersome and expensive to support multiple users simultaneously. In effect, Veloce VirtuaLAB takes the emulator out of the lab environment and moves it into a data center environment where the resource can be shared across multiple projects and geographies. Veloce VirtuaLAB peripherals are available for most popular protocols, such as multimedia video/audio standards, Gigabit Ethernet, USB, PCI Express, SATA, and SAS with more to come.

The fourfold productivity increase of Veloce2 in concert with VirtuaLAB peripherals provides an ideal environment for software and hardware engineers to verify the embedded software and SoC components of a variety of products such as high-end CPUs, network switches/routers, digital set-top boxes, tablet PCs, netbooks, smartphones, digital cameras and other electronic products.

“Mentor is once again leading the way in emulation by delivering pioneering solutions that can be easily used and expanded across multiple design teams for the verification of complex electronic systems,” said Eric Selosse, VP and GM of the Mentor Emulation Division. “Veloce2 and VirtuaLAB, our next-generation of plug-and-play peripherals, further enhance our position as the premier vendor of complete emulation solutions.”