Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 344, May 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


SEMICONDUCTORS

System-on-a-chip supplier LSI LOGIC CORP. has earmarked more than $757.8 million to add a third wafer fabrication facility at its production complex in Tsukuba, Ibaraki prefecture. Work on the front end will begin in 1999. At capacity operation, it is designed to turn out 20,000 200- millimeter (8-inch) wafers a month with line geometries as narrow as 0.19 micron. Key to this capability is the use of cutting-edge argon- fluorine excimer wafer steppers. The chips will go into digital appliances. Milpitas, California-headquartered LSI's NIHON SEMICONDUCTOR INC. operation, a joint venture with KAWASAKI STEEL CORP., has produced wafers since 1987.

Come next January, industry sources say, TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC.'s subsidiary will launch volume production of a digital signal processor chip for its advanced multimedia display processor for next-generation applications. This product combines the high-performance DSP with four microprocessors. The part converts images into digital signals at a rate of nearly 5.8 billion operations per second, roughly 10 times more than standard microprocessors. Output of the DSP is projected at 3 million units in 2000. .....Meanwhile, TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC.'s local unit will sample in the second half of this year a floating-point DSP that provides up to 10 times the performance of current-generation counterparts operating at 1 billion floating-point operations per second at 167 MHz. Both pin- and code-compatible with TI's fixed-point TMS320C62x DSP, the new TMS3206C6701 will allow manufacturers to reduce the system chip count from as many as 10 DSPs to just a single 'C6701. The part will be sample-priced at $379.

Japanese computer manufacturers wasted no time announcing new servers and workstations built around INTEL CORP.'s just released 350-MHz Pentium II and 400-MHz Pentium II microprocessors, which bring advanced 3D image processing capabilities to these Windows NT machines. Builders of notebook computers were equally fast to introduce products incorporating new mobile Pentium II processors operating at clock speeds of 233 MHz or 266 MHz. In quantities of 1,000 units, Intel's subsidiary has priced the slower engine for portables at $460; the other costs $685.

System-on-a-chip products are the new design focus of OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. To help the company make the transition to what it calls the Silicon Platform Architecture, electronic design automation expert CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC. will provide consulting services and EDA tool support. The main focus of the partnership is the development, sharing and reuse of intellectual property blocks for SOC designs so that Oki Electric can deliver advanced chips tailored to meet a particular customer's needs in a short amount of time.

LSI LOGIC CORP. has two more design wins to its credit. SONY CORP.'s two second-generation DVD (digital video disk) video players incorporate a DVD decoding engine that integrates all key DVD player functions into a single device. The L64020 chip includes a MPEG-2 audio/video decoder, plus Dolby Digital and Linear PCM audio decoders and subpicture units. Meanwhile, CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD. is using LSI's digital-still-camera- on-a chip solution, the DCAM-101, in its new QV-5000SX digital camera, which has a resolution of 1.3 million pixels.

The first single-chip DVD drive solution is sampling at $22 per part in quantities of 10,000. The highly integrated, mixed-signal CR3700 DVD Drive Manager is a product of Fremont, California-based CIRRUS LOGIC, INC. The part delivers the functionality currently performed by several chips. It also provides a direct interface to MPEG-2 audio and video decoders for DVD players. Volume production of the CR3700 is scheduled for the third quarter of this year.

Users of notebook computers that have a built-in CD-ROM drive will be able to listen to CDs without plugging their machine in if the motherboard is equipped with the Audio DJ Chip from O2 MICRO CORP. The Santa Clara, California semiconductor start-up has tapped KANEMATSU SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. and TEKSEL CO., LTD. to market the IC. Sales of the $5.00 or so part are scheduled to start in July.

IGS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. of Santa Clara, California and SHARP CORP. have codeveloped a standardized, reusable design block for graphics controllers used in liquid crystal display panels. The IP Core is said to cut in half the development time for graphics controllers. In July, the Japanese partner will begin to sample a chip with the embedded IP Core. The controller accelerates graphics processing while lowering power consumption. Sharp plans to use the IP Core to promote its ASIC (application-specific IC) business.

A pair of new power controllers is on the market from NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.'s subsidiary. The LM2630, which costs $3.00 apiece in units of 500 parts, provides all the active functions for step-down switching converters. The other part, the LM2635 high-speed synchronous step-down power controller, is fully compliant with INTEL CORP.'s latest voltage regulator module DC-DC converter specifications. It is priced around $1.50 per part when 1,000 are purchased.

HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is touting the power-saving features of its parent's HSDL-2300 Infrared Data Association-compliant infrared transceiver, which is designed for portable equipment data communications applications. The reduced power consumption is the result of the use of adjustable optical-power management, a first for a HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. transceiver. The part also is extremely compact. HP Japan has priced the HSDL-2300 at $5.70. It expects to sell 10 million units a year.

The world leader in ion implanters, VARIAN ASSOCIATES, INC., is refining its Japan strategy 10 months after setting up a wholly owned subsidiary in the wake of the demise of its longtime manufacturing and marketing relationship with TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 333, June 1997, p. 15). The local operation of the Palo Alto, California manufacturer is switching to direct marketing of both ion implanters, in which it controls about 60 percent of the world market, and sputtering equipment. It also plans to open two more service facilities within 1998. Equally important, Varian will spend roughly $15.2 million to build a R&D facility somewhere in Kanagawa prefecture. Scheduled to be ready by September 1999, the center will focus on ion implanters for 300-mm (12-inch) wafer processes.

In an unusual arrangement, LAM RESEARCH CORP., which ranks among the world's largest manufacturers of semiconductor production equipment, has outsourced production of a new dry etch system to YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP. Shipments of the Alliance system to Japanese chip producers will start in the second half of this year. The Fremont, California company's subsidiary will handle marketing. The etcher will be exported in the future, although no timetable has been decided. YEC expects to build 30 or so Alliance systems a year.

Rapid thermal processing equipment supplier AG ASSOCIATES, INC. is in the process of filling follow-on orders for multiple Heatpulse 8800 systems totaling $2.5 million from a major but unnamed Japanese semiconductor maker. The RTP equipment will be used for various annealing and salicidation applications in volume production of DRAM and logic devices using 0.35-micron and 0.25-micron design processes. The San Jose, California company credited the new contract to the superior performance, high throughput rates and low cost of ownership of Heatpulse 8800 systems. It also said that the strong customer support capabilities of distributor CANON SALES CO., INC. were instrumental.

Start-up CUTEK RESEARCH, INC. has tapped KANEMATSU SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. to market its equipment for electrochemical deposition of copper on IC wafers. A prototype system will be available in June. The San Jose, California company's technology can be used with 200-mm (8-inch) and 300-mm (12-inch) wafers that have line geometries down to 0.25 micron. Given the technical challenges of packing more chips on a wafer, Kanematsu Semiconductor expects strong industry demand for CuTek's product.

As part of its worldwide product development strategy for semiconductor test equipment, SCHLUMBERGER LTD.'s Automated Test Equipment unit established a technology center at the Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture facility of its subsidiary. The new operation's mandate is to develop high- speed but cost-effective systems for testing next-generation devices by working closely with Japanese semiconductor manufacturers as well as with Schlumberger ATE engineers around the world. A team of engineers already has been hired to staff the development center.

An exchange rate of ¥132=$1.00 was used in this report.
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