Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 356, May 1999

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American Companies in Japan


SEMICONDUCTORS

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. reportedly is weighing the possibility of making next-generation system chips for digital TV sets, personal digital assistants and other coming digital personal electronics products at its Shiga prefecture semiconductor plant. The project, if given the go-ahead, would involve an initial investment of $83.3 million to renovate part of IBM JAPAN LTD.'s existing wafer fabrication facilities. Operations would start in 2002. The current version of IBM's system chip, which combines high-speed data-processing capabilities with memory capacity, is based on 0.18-micron design rules. It also features the company's proprietary copper interconnection technology.

With demand for flash memories continuing to climb, especially for use in cellular phones, ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. and FUJITSU, LTD. are said to considering another expansion of their equally owned FUJITSU AMD SEMICONDUCTOR LTD. wafer fab in Fukushima prefecture. The joint venture's two lines currently have the capacity to make 26 million flash memories a month. This output is split between 8-megabit and 16-megabit parts, although volume production of 32-megabit is scheduled to start this summer. On the drawing boards is a $125 million capacity jump to 26 million flash memories a month. AMD and Fujitsu, which divide the factory's output down the middle, are estimated to control 40 percent or so of the world flash memory market. Another transpacific alliance, this one between INTEL CORP. and SHARP CORP., reportedly has a similar share.

Japanese companies making notebook computers for the value-conscious segment of the market have a new processor option from INTEL CORP.'s subsidiary. The mobile Celeron processor running at 333 MHz, which contains 128 KB of integrated L2 cache, not only delivers a higher performance than its 266-MHz and 300-MHz counterparts but also lowers power consumption and provides a smaller package. International pricing for the part in quantities of 1,000 units is $160 for a BGA (ball-grid array) package or $215 for the Intel Mobile Module.

TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC.'s marketing unit had a late May release data for a pair of video D/A converters. The 8-bit THS8134 part costs $6.80 per unit in volumes of 1,000, while the 10-bit THS8133 D/A converter lists for $8.90 each in the same quantity.

Leveraging its FLEX 10K architecture while moving to 0.22-micron processing, programmable logic device manufacturer ALTERA CORP. put out the higher- performing, lower-power-using 2.5-volt EPF10K100E. The part features 100,000 gates of logic and nearly 50,000 bits of embedded RAM. Pricing of the part, which is available in several packages, starts at $33 in 50,000-unit quantities.

The XpressFlow 2080 Ethernet switching chipset from VERTEX NETWORKS INC. is among the additional communications-oriented products from the Irvine, California company that MCM JAPAN LTD. is distributing. The chipset brings advanced capabilities to a wide variety of applications, network switch sizes and speeds. For instance, it allows designers to mix and match port combinations between 10 megabits per second, 100 Mbps, 622 Mbps and Gigabit Ethernet speeds at will.

Handsets developed by HITACHI, LTD., SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. for Japan's now nationwide cdmaOne network all incorporate fifth-generation MSM3000 Mobile Station Modem chipsets from QUALCOMM INC., the pioneer of (code-division multiple access) digital wireless technology. The chipset meets the minimum requirements set by cdmaOne services providers DDI CORP. and NIPPON IDOU TSUSHIN CORP. for standby time (150 hours) and talk time (120 minutes). It also improves power efficiency and call clarity.

The industry's first LCD/CRT 2D graphics controller with embedded DRAM will be available in production quantities in the third quarter for digital consumer electronic appliances. The MQ-200, developed by MEDIAQ INC. of Santa Clara, California, is designed for embedded systems and Windows CE devices with demanding graphics display requirements and stringent power-consumption specifications. It supports a number of processors, including HITACHI, LTD.'s SH-4, the VR41xx family from NEC CORP. and the TOSHIBA CORP. Tx39xx line. In the United States at least, MediaQ priced the MQ-200 at $28 in 1,00-unit volumes.

IMP, INC. have made available a Japanese-language version of its IMP525 electroluminescent lamp driver IC data sheet. By midyear, the San Jose, California company expects to have its complete EL lamp driver data book translated into Japanese. The IMP525 features power-saving circuitry and operation down to 0.9 volts, which extends the useful operating life of battery-powered portable systems. IMP, which manufactures analog ICs for data communications interface and power- management applications in computer, communications and control systems, is represented in Japan by MACNICA, INC.

In a major boost for its power-saving, low-noise Reduced Swing Differential Signal digital interface technology for XGA TFT LCD panels, NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. licensed this know-how to SHARP CORP., one of the biggest makers of flat panel displays. Both companies will make chipset components for XGA TFT LCD panels incorporating RSDS technology, with the typical chipset consisting of National's universal interface XGA panel timing controller and Sharp's XGA column driver. National notes that the bus interface between the panel timing controller and column drivers traditionally has been a big source of electromagnetic interference and power dissipation within FPDs due to the use of TTL (transistor-transistor logic) signaling on this bus. With the RSDS bus interface, however, these problems are reduced. That opens the way to larger and higher-resolution TFT LCD panels.

In the meantime, NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. released worldwide a triple monolithic driver chip designed for high-resolution color CRTs. The Santa Clara, California company says that the high-voltage LM2402 driver is especially well-suited for displays with UXGA (1600 x 1200) resolution. The part is priced at $6.00 each in 1,00-unit quantities.

The world leader in power transistors, INTERNATIONAL RECTIFIER CORP., has given NIHON INTER ELECTRONICS CORP. rights to market its power MOSFETs (metal- oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors) and IGBTs (insulated gate bipolar transistors). Power transistors are found in communications equipment, computers and other office equipment, automated production equipment motor vehicles and appliances. The Kanagawa prefecture-based company, Japan's biggest maker of discrete devices, is forecasting sales of IR's products at $3.3 million to $4.2 million in the first year and triple those figures after three years. Interestingly, International Rectifier started Nihon Inter Electronics in the late 1950s in partnership with KYOSAN ELECTRIC MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. but later sold out.

Like its parent, the subsidiary of VARIAN ASSOCIATES, INC., perhaps best known as the world leader in ion implanters (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 18), was reorganized into three separate, product-specific companies. The semiconductor production equipment business, headquartered locally in Yokohama, now is VARIAN SEMICONDUCTOR EQUIPMENT ASSOCIATES, INC. The Palo Alto, California manufacturer's health-care systems operations go under the VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC. name, while its analytical instruments business is known as VARIAN, INC. The Japanese units of the latter two companies are based in Tokyo.

Since 1984, the Semiconductor Equipment Operations unit of EATON CORP. has made, sold and serviced ion implantation equipment in Japan through a company equally owned with SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. Now, Beverly, Massachusetts-SEO has given SHI marketing and support responsibility for its full line of thermal processing equipment. These products are Eaton's Summit and Reliance rapid thermal processors and its Compact II fast ramp vertical furnace.

With much of the world's supply of memory modules coming from Japanese manufacturers, memory module test equipment supplier TANISYS TECHNOLOGY, INC. has decided that it needs to be represented in Japan. The Austin, Texas company has handed the job of selling, servicing and supporting its DarkHorse Systems line to KANEMATSU SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. That firm already has installed DarkHorse equipment, which spans four major products, at its customer support facility in Yokohama.

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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