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No. 351, December 1998

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American Companies in Japan


The expansion of the high-speed communications market has persuaded VITESSE SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. to open a wholly owned direct sales subsidiary in Tokyo. The facility also will include a design center where field application engineers will work with customers in designing Vitesse's technology into their products. The Camarillo, California company makes high-bandwidth communications and automatic test equipment chips for applications that require a combination of high speed, considerable complexity and low power dissipation. Its products have been handled by INTERNIX, INC.

Samples of the 400-MHz version of SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s 64-bit UltraSPARC II are available now, with a 450-MHz version coming in the spring of 1999. The new processors, designed for high-performance servers and workstations, are binary-compatible with existing SPARC applications and middleware and are fully compatible with Solaris 7, the latest version of Sun's Unix operating system. To raise the UltraSPARC II to the higher clock speeds, manufacturing partner TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. will use 0.25-micron process technology.

TRISCEND CORP. has named INTERNIX, INC. to distribute its recently introduced E5 Configurable Processor Family and the companion FastChip software development tool beginning in January. A configurable processor combines on a single chip a dedicated, industry-standard processor, programmable logic, memory and a dedicated system bus. This technology allows an embedded system designer to quickly configure a customized processor derivative. The San Jose, California company's E5 family of configurable processors will cost around $80 each, while the FastChip software will be priced at $825.

Hoping to speed the deployment of ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) technology, TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. has a January shipment date in Japan and elsewhere for its next-generation ADSL chipset for central office and customer premises equipment applications. The TNETD3000 offers a 60 percent power reduction as well as a 33 percent smaller footprint. Chipsets for central office equipment will cost $105 each, while the client-side part will go for less than $60, both in quantities of 10,000 units. ADSL technology permits high-speed communications over regular telephone lines.

DSP COMMUNICATIONS, INC. and TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. have codeveloped the first single-chip baseband solution for Japan's PDC (personal digital cellular) standard. The PDChip D5311E integrates a DSP (digital signal processor) core based on TI's TMS320C54x technology with logic circuits as well as the analog circuits needed for baseband processing. Previous PDC chip generations required separate chips for the digital and the analog functions. Cupertino, California-based DSP Communications has started shipments of the new PDChip to its handset customers in Japan.

Buyers of NEC CORP.'s Mate NX corporate PCs and VALUESTAR NX home PCs have the option of upgrading to NVIDIA CORP.'s RIVA TNT 3D graphics processor, the fastest such part available. The computer maker incorporated the Santa Clara, California company's first 128-bit 3D processor, the RIVA 128, in its VALUESTAR NX and Mate NX lines in 1997.

A general-purpose, dual-operational amplifier that is only slightly larger than the die itself is on the market from NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.'s subsidiary. The key to this breakthrough is the use of National's leadless Micro-SMD package, which is applied to the die at the wafer level using an encapsulation process on the front and the back of the wafer. The LMC6035JBP is optimized for low-power applications. Also new from National is the LMC2001, the first of a new class of operational amplifiers guaranteeing very high precision over both time and temperature variables for 10 years.

BURR-BROWN CORP.'s local unit is sampling two new products. The PLL1700 is a multiclock generator PLL (phase lock loop) device used to synchronize audio and video clocks in DVD systems. It is sample-priced from $2.65 in quantities of 100. The PCM1704U is a 24-bit digital-to-analog converter with an exceptionally high dynamic performance that is targeted at high-end consumer and professional audio applications. In batches of 100, this part costs between $35 and $62.

Eighteen months after bringing its digital, mixed-signal and memory engineering Test Stations to Japan through a distributor, INTEGRATED MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS, INC. opened a direct sales and support office in Tokyo. At the same time, the Beaverton, Oregon company introduced three next- generation Test Stations. Vanguard, the flagship IMS system for complex, high- speed digital ICs, can be configured with up to 512 input/output pins, each supporting data rates of 500 megabits per second as well as 16 500-MHz clocks. The Orion test station is designed for debugging advanced, high-speed memories, including DRAMs, static RAMs and SDRAMs. It is priced at one-half to one-third the standard cost of automated test equipment typically used for at- speed engineering tests. For design validation of mixed-signal chips, IMS released the Electra Mx high-pin-count engineering test station.

With copper expected to replace aluminum and its alloys for interconnections as device geometries shrink to 0.18 micron from 0.25 micron, SEMITOOL, INC. has allied with ULVAC JAPAN, LTD. to develop copper deposition tools. The focus of this tie-up is the Kalispell, Montana company's electrochemical deposition equipment and Ulvac's physical vapor deposition technologies. The two manufacturers will exchange technical information, pursue joint development of optimized processes and team up on marketing and sales activities. In Japan, Semitool's recently opened direct sales unit (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 21) and Ulvac will offer technical services, including joint demonstrations.

For companies making the transition to copper interconnects, APPLIED MATERIALS, INC. has introduced a low K CVD (chemical vapor deposition) dielectric film that can be integrated with existing process technologies. Black Diamond is deposited by the new DLK chamber, which has a throughput of 60 to 100 wafers an hour depending on the thickness of the film. The first Black Diamond product, BD27, has a dielectric constant of 2.7. It was designed for 0.18-micron process technology. BD27 initially is available on Applied Materials' Centura platform with up to four DLK chambers. The Santa Clara, California manufacturer's subsidiary has priced the new system from $2.1 million.

Manufacturers of epitaxial wafers no longer need to destroy 4 percent to 5 percent of their output testing the resistivity of the silicon forming the epi layer. The Epimet system developed by SEMITEST, INC. makes the resistivity measurement in a nondestructive manner by using an optical technique to sense this parameter as a function of depth. The Billerica, Massachusetts company has appointed HAKUTO CO., LTD. to distribute Epimet, which costs roughly $702,500. Given the system's short payback period, Hakuto expects Epimet sales to total $4.1 million in the first year of marketing and double that in the second.

Having signed MARUBENI SOLUTIONS CORP. as its exclusive distributor last summer, APLEX, INC. now has a product for the Yokohama company to market. It is the AVera polisher module, a new chemical mechanical planarization tool that Sunnyvale, California-based Aplex has been developing for two years. AVera features a unique vertical belt technology called EV2, short for equal vertical velocity, that is said to overcome the pattern sensitivity drawback to using CMP for sub-0.25-micron polishing. The vertical belt design also allows two wafers to be polished simultaneously while maintaining single-wafer control. Marubeni Solutions is installing a beta AVera system at its Yokohama technology center for customer demonstrations in the first quarter of 1999.

ROBOTIC VISION SYSTEMS, INC. has incorporated its machine vision expertise in an inspection system for "bumped" wafers for flip-chip interconnect. The WS- 1000, which can handle 100mm to 200mm wafers, provides real-time monitoring of bump height, missing bump/extra bump, diameter, coplanarity and shape. It can inspect an entire wafer or a single die and has a random sampling capability. Under a year-old agreement, KAIJO CORP. is marketing the Hauppauge, New York maker's system (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 339, December 1997, p. 15). It has priced the WS-1000 at $495,900. Sales are forecast at 10 machines a year.

Memory manufacturers in Japan and elsewhere have committed to shipping RAMBUS INC.'s Direct RDRAM in volume in 1999 for use as the main memory in a number of new PCs from leading suppliers. To facilitate this ramp-up, HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. introduced the HP 95000 High Speed Memory Series of ATE systems for production testing of the new generation of high-bandwidth DRAMs. The first member of the HSM Series, the HP 95000 has the flexibility to test both memory core and embedded logic in a single pass. It can test as many as 16 devices in parallel at a data rate of 1.0 gigahertz. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has priced the base configuration of the HP 95000 HSM Series at $4.1 million. Given the number of local Rambus licensees, the company expects to sell 50 systems. It will have competition for this business, however. SCHLUMBERGER LTD.'s ATE unit has released the DX2200 system for production testing of Direct RDRAM chips and other high-performance memories. The system, the second member of the Schlumberger ATE memory test family, will be readily available in Japan during the first quarter.

An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.

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