Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 359, August 1999

Issue Index aaaaa 1999 Archive Index aaaa Subscriber Area

American Companies in Japan


Memory supplier SILICON STORAGE TECHNOLOGY, INC. and SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. have converted their 1993 wafer foundry and technology licensing agreements into a multifaceted alliance. For starters, the Japanese partner will serve as an alternative source for the Sunnyvale, California company's flash memory products, selling them under the Sanyo Electric name. Initially, these span SST's MTP (many times programmable) and MPF (multipurpose flash) standard flash memory products, but future SST products are expected to be included as well. The two companies also will codevelop high-functionality application-specific flash memory products for cellular telephone and Internet appliance applications. In addition, SST will license its SuperFlash technology to Sanyo Electric on a royalty-paying basis for use in embedded flash products using 0.25-micron process technology. For its part, SST secures adequate capacity at Sanyo Electric's 0.25-micron foundry for next- generation products.

Big programmable logic device manufacturer XILINX, INC. wants to double its sales in Japan to $58.3 million over a fairly short time frame. To support achievement of this goal, the San Jose, California firm's subsidiary will hire more sales and design- support people. It also will devote more marketing resources to PLDs that can be reprogrammed remotely and to products that are low-cost and energy-efficient. Xilinx acquired the latter technology when it recently bought the PLD division of PHILIPS ELECTRONICS NV's semiconductor business.

Drawing on its expertise in ADSL (asymmetrical digital subscriber line) products as well as its digital signal processing and analog technologies, TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. introduced a coder/decoder for applications that do not require the speed of full- rate ADSL. Compliant with the G.lite ADSL specification, the TLFD500 delivers integrated high-performance converters and filters to improve the functioning of a G.lite modem while lowering its component count and cost. In the United States, the part has a suggested price of $9.50 in quantities of 100,000 units. TI's subsidiary also added to its full-rate ADSL codec line two highly integrated products for designers of ADSL client modems and central office line cards.

In a worldwide release, TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. put out a family of low-voltage differential signaling data transmission receivers that enable designers to use the higher speeds and lower power consumption of LVDS technology in cable-connected applications. These next-generation products also have better tolerance for electrically noisy environments. That characteristic means that LVDS can move beyond telecommunications applications to such uses as instrumentation and process control.

In Japan as well as elsewhere in the world, LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. is committed to being a leading supplier of a class of optical amplifier modules for high- speed optical transmission known as erbium-doped fiber amplifiers. This technology allows optical signals to be transmitted over very long distances without the need for signal regeneration. That feature is particularly important for dense wavelength- division multiplexing systems, which are one major response to the demand for increasing bandwidth. Lucent's latest entry in the EDFA field is the S1730 optical amplifier module, which it says is the industry's smallest such product.

In a major endorsement of FAROUDJA, INC.'s video-processing know-how, MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. selected the Sunnyvale, California company's FLI 9000 chipset for a variety of CRT- and LCD-based projectors. This part incorporates a complete suite of Faroudja Picture Plus video-processing technologies. Together, they transform conventional video signals into what Faroudja says are film-like images, with dramatic improvements in color and detail.

At the same time, FAROUDJA, INC. introduced through a Tokyo distributor its new DVP3000 digital video processor/scaler. This product is designed to optimize CRT projectors as well as such other projector technologies as LCD, DLP and plasma, all of which are developed primarily for the presentation of computer graphics and, thus, have poor video-processing capabilities. The DVP3000 processor, which works with NTSC video sources, costs about $20,000 in the United States.

What NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. has dubbed as the first information appliance on a chip is being marketed by its subsidiary. Otherwise known as the Geode SC1400, the part combines a 64-bit x86-compatible processor, a MPEG-2 video decoder, a CRT and TV video processor, a so-called Southbridge component and a Super I/O block. According to National Semi, these features plus the device's small form factor and low power consumption make the Geode SC1400 ideal as the core of a set-top box capable of combining both high-quality DVD video and Internet access. The part, which the manufacturer says goes beyond the system-on-a-chip technology in which it specializes, also is suitable for information appliances.

Marketing people from TELECRUZ TECHNOLOGY, INC.'s subsidiary are making the rounds of consumer electronics manufacturers to push a low-cost chip that brings Internet access and e-mail capability to TV sets. The system-on-a-chip TC701 can be installed directly in a TV set or in a set-top box. Last year, San Jose, California-based TeleCruz, a fabless company, consigned production of the TC701 to TOSHIBA CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 15).

Through its subsidiary, EXAR CORP. put on the market what it bills as the fastest and the first 12-bit, low-power analog image signal processor for CCD-based video camcorders, video cameras, digital still cameras and similar video products and imaging products. The XRD98L60 and the XRD98L61 can process 40 million signals per second, some 50 percent more than competing chips. Moreover, with a 12-bit architecture, these products deliver better image depth and quality. Both digitize images before they go into the DSP chip. The Fremont, California company priced both parts at $6.00 each in quantities of 1,000. Exar's marketing unit is targeting sales of 100,000 chips this fiscal year.

SEMTECH CORP. signed HAKUTO CO., LTD. to market its semiconductors. Two of the Newbury Park, California producer's products already are on the market. One is the TVSIC (transient voltage suppressor integrated circuit) chip, which protects against power surges. The part costs between 25 cents and $1.25, depending on the voltage, in lots of 1,000. The other SemTech product is the SC1185CSW, which regulates power to the processor, bus and clock and is compatible with such advanced processors as the Pentium III. It is priced at $2.70 in 1,000-unit volumes. Hakuto hopes to build SemTech's chips into a $4.2 million business in FY 2001.

NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.'s marketing unit announced the LM4865 audio power amplifier with DC volume control. Part of the company's popular Boomer audio amplifier family, the device enables loud, clear audio for cellular phones. .....For customers that need to improve the automated manufacturability of their systems but do not want to go to a fully surface-mount solution, INTERNATIONAL RECTIFIER CORP.'s subsidiary is marketing a series of IGBT (insulated gate bipolar transistor) products in what is called a TO-220 Full-Pak package. The devices, priced from $1.90 each, are designed for power supplies and various motor drive applications.

A second company has received a license from POLYMER FLIP CHIP CORP. to use its technique for forming solderless interconnect bumps to mount inverted chips. TOPPAN FORMS CO., LTD. will use the Billerica, Massachusetts firm's know-how to produce low-cost smart labels and cards starting in FY 2000. Japan's top supplier of business forms plans to develop new uses for the smart labels, such as for luggage tags or stock-control labels. NAVITAS CO., LTD. is using PFC's technology to design smart cards and wireless communications devices (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 31).

Technology codeveloped by SARNOFF CORP. of Princeton, New Jersey and security services company SECOM CO., LTD. allows the information on noncontact IC cards to be read by a machine as much as roughly 4.5 inches away. The state of the art in Japan now for noncontact IC cards is a distance of slightly more than an inch. Moreover, at $8.30 or so each, the cards are less expensive than other noncontact IC cards on the market. Secom will start using the cards for building security this fall, although it has not yet decided the pricing of the card reader.

The joint venture that Chaska, Minnesota-based FSI INTERNATIONAL, INC. (49 percent) and MI-TSUI & CO., LTD. and an affiliate formed in 1991 to produce wafer surface-conditioning equipment has inaugurated the $20.8 million e-FSI Okayama Technology Center in Okayama prefecture. The facility houses two clean rooms and FSI's latest microlithography and surface-cleaning equipment. Forty engineers currently are on staff, but E-FSI LTD. hopes to increase that number to 65 in the near term.

AUGUST TECHNOLOGY CORP., a manufacturer of automated inspection equipment for the semiconductor industry, named MARUBENI SOLUTIONS CORP. to represent it. Two of the Edina, Minnesota company's lines will be marketed initially. The NSX Series of automated wafer and die defect inspection equipment, which starts at $416,700, detects foreign matter on the wafer surface as well as surface damage as tiny as 0.5 micron. August Technology's CV Series of automated wafer cassette inspection systems verifies the dimensions of wafer-transport cassettes to prevent scratching and breakage. This equipment is priced from $141,700. Both of these lines have built-in yield-enhancement tools.

Cassette and wafer automation equipment supplier FORTREND CORP. has forged a broad alliance with HIRATA CORP., a Tokyo manufacturer of robots and materials- handling equipment, in order to capitalize on the growing acceptance in Japan of SMIF (standard mechanical interface) equipment. Under the accord, the Sunnyvale, California company has licensed Hirata to make and market its SMIF load/unload products. The new partners also will distribute each other's wafer-handling and peripheral equipment to chip manufacturers.

The Integra Test Division of TERADYNE, INC. has made the first sale in Japan of its INTEGRA J750 VLSI Test System. TOHOKU SEMICONDUCTOR CORP., a Sendai, Miyagi prefecture manufacturer of logic devices, including cutting-edge microprocessors and ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits), has purchased several of the Bedford, Massachusetts firm's systems for testing microcontrollers. All of the systems will be shipped by yearend to the equally owned venture between MOTOROLA INC. and TOSHIBA CORP. Tohoku Semiconductor spokespeople said that the J750 was chosen in part because of its ability to test a wide variety of products in a high-volume production environment. Other factors influencing the decision were the system's small size, cost-effectiveness and parallel test capabilities.

HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. announced two families of test systems for world markets. The HP93000 SOC Series is designed for production testing of highly integrated system-on-a-chip devices, including simultaneously their embedded memory, analog functions, communications interfaces and high-sped buses as well as their digital content. The line features models for both performance-driven and cost-sensitive SOC manufacturers. The HP 93000 SOC Series Performance Models use HP's pay-per- use technology, which allows the frequency to be upgraded for increased flexibility. SOC parts with data transfer rates as fast as 1 gigabit per second can be tested with this equipment. The cost-sensi-tive HP 93000 line offers several fixed configurations and data rates of 200 megabits per second and 400 Mbps. The P-Models are expected to ship late in 1999, with the C-Models following in the first quarter of 2000. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has penciled in sales of about 30 systems in the first year.

Japan also is expected to be a primary market for HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s other new test system, the HP 94000IP photo-image test system. This mixed-signal production test system, scheduled for fourth-quarter shipment, is targeted at the next generation of photo-imaging devices. These will use CMOS (complementary metal- oxide semiconductor) technology rather than today's CCD technology. CMOS image sensors are expected to cost only half as much as CCD-type imaging devices to produce, even though they have 20 percent to 30 percent more integrated processing on the same piece of silicon. The HP 94000IP, which integrates a new, compact light source, can handle image sensors with integrated processors that contain as much as 16 megapixels of image resolution and that have up to 40-MHz data rates.

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

Top aaaaa Issue Index aaaaa 1999 Archive Index aaaa Subscriber Areaaaaa Home