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No. 360, September 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


SEMICONDUCTORS

The year-old agreement between SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. to develop, produce and market custom integrated circuits for digital consumer electronics products has yielded its first commercially viable chips. The parts, targeted at the Japanese market, will enable affordable TV- sets reception of satellite-transmitted programming. They also can be used in set-top boxes that, attached to today's analog sets, allow viewers to receive direct-to-home digital broadcasts.

MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. have agreed to work with Sunnyvale, California-based SANDISK CORP., the world's largest supplier of flash data storage products, to develop, specify and promote a next- generation secure memory card. In particular, the trio aims to come up with a small, high-speed read/write memory card that can provide advanced copyright protection for music, movies and other artistic and commercial content. The new partners expect the SD (secure digital) Memory Card, which will comply with current and future SDMI (secure digital music initiative) portable device requirements, to unleash a wave of digital consumer electronics devices that deliver new capabilities to buyers while protecting copyrighted material and, at the same time, boost Internet and wireless electronic commerce. Sampling of the SD Memory Card will start in early 2000, with production shipments set for the spring. The initial product will have 32 MB of capacity, but a 64-MB card is scheduled for later in 2000, followed the next year by a 256-MB version. The three firms believe that devices using the SD Memory Card will appear on the market in the first half of 2000.

Industry analysts speculate that intense competition in the chemical mechanical polishing market was behind MITSUBISHI MATERIALS CORP.'s decision to end operations in August at CYBEQ NANO TECHNOLOGIES, its San Jose, California CMP equipment subsidiary. The company's intellectual property as well as key personnel have been transferred to a R&D-oriented CMP firm just formed by EBARA CORP. (65 percent) and Mitsubishi Materials (35 percent). MULTI PLANAR TECHNOLOGIES, also located in San Jose, expects to harness Ebara's expertise in single-head or integrated polisher/cleaner units and Mitsubishi Materials' multihead polishing technical strengths to produce breakthroughs leading to increased market shares in both segments of the CMP business. Service and warranty work for Cybeq Nano Technologies' existing customers is being handled by the new CMP Maintenance Division of MITSUBISHI MATERIALS U.S.A. CORP. in Irvine, California. Cybeq Nano Technologies was an offshoot of a company that Mitsubishi Materials bought in 1986. The surviving entities of that firm are wafer manufacturer MITSUBISHI SILICON AMERICA CORP. of Salem, Oregon (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 9) and CYBEQ SYSTEMS, a Sunnyvale, California maker of non-CMP wafer-processing systems.

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