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No. 365, February 2000

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American Companies in Japan


All of the DRAMs produced by KMT SEMICONDUCTOR, LTD. of Nishiwaki, Hyogo prefecture go to the joint venture's minority owner, MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC. The Boise, Idaho chipmaker has signed up another company to market these products in Japan. FUJI ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. joins such other distributors as SHINSHO CORP. The Tokyo IC trader anticipates that its Micron business will generate first-year revenues of $47.6 million. Last year, Micron and KOBE STEEL, LTD., its partner in KTM Semiconductor, announced a major expansion program.

In a worldwide release, INTEL CORP. introduced mobile Pentium III processors running at 600 MHz and 650 MHz. The two parts, which are fabricated using the chipmaker's new 0.18-micron process know-how, feature the Intel SpeedStep technology. It automatically switches a portable computer between a battery-opti-mized performance mode, when the two processors operate at 500 MHz, and a maximum performance mode that is nearly equivalent to a desktop system when the machine is connected to an AC power source. All of the PC makers competing in Japan, whether American or Japanese, announced high- end notebook computer models incorporating the latest Intel mobile processors.

ECHELON CORP., the developer of LONWORKS control networks, authorized TOSHIBA CORP. to produce and market Neuron Chips and derivatives for another 10 years. Neuron Chips provide the logic for the Palo Alto, California company's open, interoperable control networking systems, which enable users to connect a range of LONWORKS-compatible motors, switches and valves to such equipment as security systems, light switches and heating and cooling systems in a peer-to-peer networked environment. Toshiba has manufactured Neuron Chips since they were introduced in 1992. Japan is turning into a key LONWORKS market.

Handsets for the 64-kilobit-per-second high-speed packet data service that DDI CORP. and IDO CORP. just launched on the nationwide cdmaOne network use the MSM3000 chipset and high-speed packet data software from QUALCOMM INC., the originator of the CDMA (code-division multiple access) digital wireless technology. These handsets give DDI and IDO customers fast Internet access. The first companies to develop handsets for the new service using Qualcomm's chipset and system software were CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD., HITACHI, LTD., SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD., SONY CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP.

TERALOGIC, INC., which is making a name for itself as a developer of ICs and software for advanced TVs, set-top boxes and PC-TV convergence products, has won another customer from the ranks of Japan's big consumer electronics manufacturers (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 27). MATSUSHITA ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS CO., LTD. will integrate the Mountain View, California firm's Janus HDTV chip and reference platform into an add-on card that will bring to PCs the advantages of high-defi-nition digital video and audio as well as data broadcasting services. One of MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD.'s U.S. marketing units will release the Panasonic DTV PC card later in 2000. The Janus IC, TeraLogic says, is the PC industry's first single chip that is capable of decoding and displaying on a PC all 18 digital TV formats offered in the United States.

In its latest win, ZORAN CORP.'s Vaddis IV DVD decoder chip is the power behind TOSHIBA CORP.'s new generation of four DVD players and their enhanced audio and video capabilities, including 3D virtual surround sound and video zooming. As with earlier Vaddis DVD decoder chips, Santa Clara, California-based Zoran worked with FUJIFILM MICRODEVICES CO., LTD. to bring the Vaddis IV to market.

Big photomask supplier DAI NIPPON PRINTING CO., LTD. has taken delivery of its first MEBES 5500 electron-beam mask pattern generation system from ETEC SYSTEMS, INC. The Hayward, California manufacturer's equipment will enable its longtime customer to pattern masks below 150 nanometers while still retaining excellent resolution, thereby meeting IC makers' requirements for cutting-edge masks. Etec Systems figures that the MEBES 5500 delivers up to 16 times the throughput of earlier MEBES systems.

AMTECH SYSTEMS, INC. secured the first order from a Japanese semiconductor company for its IBAL robotic system for cassette-to-cassette wafer transfer, beating out a large Japanese competitor for the business of the unnamed chipmaker. The Tempe, Arizona manufacturer attributed its win to several IBAL features, including a near-zero footprint, modularity, cost and reliability. Moreover, unlike some competing products, IBAL loads individual boats of wafers without any intermediate phase.

An exchange rate of ¥1057=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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