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

No. 345, June 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


SEMICONDUCTORS

Ensuring that it has adequate capacity for forthcoming 0.35-micron flash memories, SILICON STORAGE TECHNOLOGY, INC. signed a new foundry agreement with SEIKO EPSON CORP. The two companies have had a similar arrangement in place since 1996 covering 0.5-micron process technologies. SST expects the first 0.35- micron products to be available early in 1999. They will be marketed in North America by Seiko Epson's semiconductor sales and marketing unit. As part of the agreement, the Sunnyvale, California company is licensing its SuperFlash technology to the Japanese firm for use in embedded applications.

Manufacturers of cellular phones now can make it more difficult to clone them thanks to INTEL CORP.'s Advanced + Boot Block flash technology. This chip, sample-priced between $7.90 and $17.00 per part in quantities of 10,000 units, adds a unique "silicon serial number," which, in combination with an unalterable, one-time programmable module, enables cell phone makers to put a second level of unique serial numbers in the phone. Intel's subsidiary also is sampling for $4.15 to $9.85 per unit in volume the Fast Boot Block flash, which reduces memory bottlenecks by increasing memory performance in embedded systems up to five times more than traditional flash approaches.

XILINX, INC. has an alternative to adding more standard DSP (digital signal processor) processors to scale up performance, which, relative to the gain, is expensive in terms of cost, board space, power consumption and development time. The San Jose, California company's solution is the programmable Xilinx DSP, a standard, off-the-shelf FPGA (field-programmable gate array) that is configured to implement DSP functions parameterized to specific applications. The Xilinx CORE Generator, which delivers system-level DSP functional blocks automatically, is free of charge from the company's subsidiary.

Although new to Japan, SYNERGY SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. is projecting sales of $11.1 million for the first year that its high-speed, energy-conserving ECL (emitter- coupled logic) devices are on the market. The Santa Clara, California company, whose primary focus is the development of high-speed mixed-signal products, chose Tokyo-based independent trader HAKUTO CO., LTD. as its distributor.

By pooling their design and manufacturing expertise, VIVID SEMICONDUCTOR, INC. and OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. expect to capture a majority of the market for TFT LCD column driver ICs. The Chandler, Arizona company has developed technology that cuts the power consumption of energy-draining driver ICs while delivering true color to mobile computers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, pp. 17-18). It licensed this extended voltage range architecture and charge conservation technology to Oki Electric, which will make TFT LCD column driver ICs for comarketing under the Vivid Technology by Oki label. Samples are scheduled to be available in August at $15 per part, with commercial shipments starting in October. The partners expect to sell 1 million chips a month in FY 1999. They also plan to develop driver ICs for portable TVs and such new applications as personal DVD systems. Oki Electric already makes small and medium-sized CMOS driver ICs for TFT LCDs.

VIRTUAL SILICON TECHNOLOGY, INC. has tapped SOLITON SYSTEMS K.K. to market, sell and support its physical library and semiconductor intellectual property products. The Sunnyvale, California company provides process-specific and foundry- portable versions of its Diplomat libraries and "hard" IP to manufacturers of ASICs (application-specific ICs), ASSP (application-specific standard product) designers and systems developers working with 0.25-micron and 0.18-micron process technologies.

Development of a power-saving, smaller, faster and cheaper motor controller IC is the goal of an alliance between ANALOG DEVICES, INC. and SANKEN ELECTRIC CO., LTD. The expected part will combine a DSP, the Norwood, Massachusetts company's contribution, with a power IC from Sanken. Their initial target is a controller chip for refrigeration compressors. Then the partners will tackle products for other appliances and later for automotive applications, including power-steering systems, and computer equipment. Over three years, Analog Devices and Sanken expect combined sales of $80 million for the DSP-equipped motor controller part.

Through its subsidiary, ANALOG DEVICES, INC. is shipping to PC manufacturers a temperature sensing and monitoring IC for INTEL CORP.'s mobile Pentium II processors. The ADM1021, part of the PC Life Guard family, integrates Analog Devices' analog/digital converter and signal conditioning technologies. A number of new products are on the market from NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.'s subsidiary. The LM4882 is what is known as a boomer audio power amplifier, a product designed specifically to provide high-quality output power to portable systems with a minimal amount of external components using surface-mount packaging. Depending on the exact packaging, the part is individually priced at 70 cents or 59 cents in quantities of 1,000 units. The company also released a pair of 12- bit A/D converters for high-speed, high-resolution imaging applications. The ADC12081 operates at 5 MHz, the ADC12181 at 10 MHz. Both run off a 5-volt power supply. It complemented these parts with a pair of 14-bit A/D converters operating at 2.5 MHz from a 5-volt power supply. One, the ADC14061, also is designed for scanners, digital cameras and other high-speed, high-resolution imaging systems. The other, the ADC14161, is intended for communications equipment applications. In 1,000-unit lots, the parts are priced at $33.30 and $35.35, respectively.

An unnamed major Japanese semiconductor maker has taken delivery of AG ASSOCIATES, INC.'s first Starfire 200-millimeter (8-inch) rapid thermal processing system. Installed in the company's R&D facility, the equipment will be used for various RTP applications in both R&D and pilot production of ICs with line geometries of 0.18 micron. The two-chamber Starfire, which is based on a new cluster tool platform, is said to provide the advanced temperature measurement and control capabilities needed to address the stringent requirements of 0.18-micron processing at a low cost of ownership. The system can handle as many as 90 wafers an hour. CANON SALES CO., INC. is the San Jose, California manufacturer's distributor.

Automatic test equipment manufacturer LTX CORP. has given fellow ATE maker ANDO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. the right to market, sell and manufacture in Japan the Fusion system-on-a-chip test platform. In exchange, Ando, which specializes in memory and digital testers and provides local support for the Westwood, Massachusetts firm's products, will pay LTX $10 million and return to the company a block of common stock that it owns. Ando also will pay royalties on sales of Fusion systems. The two companies plan to codevelop new options and capabilities for the platform. They also will serve as a second supply source for the other's customers.

An exchange rate of ¥135=$1.00 was used in this report.
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