With MOTOROLA INC. set to make TOHOKU SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. a wholly owned subsidiary by the end of 2000 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, pp. 20-21), business planners at the big American chipmaker are spending a considerable amount of time examining the wafer-fabrication facility's requirements both in the near term and further down the road. The main long-run consideration for the two Sendai, Miyagi prefecture front ends, which now turn out a variety of logic products, is that they will reach their installed capacities within two to three years, assuming a continuation of 1999's strong gains. That will require a decision fairly soon about whether to expand capacity. In the meantime, though, Motorola and current partner TOSHIBA CORP. plan within 2000 to equip TSC's 200-millimeter (8-inch) front end to handle 0.3-micron processing rather than the current 0.5-micron design rule. The switch is intended to keep ahead of the automotive industry's growing demand for flash-embedded microcontroller units. This factory can process 20,000 wafers a month. The other fab has a monthly throughput of 60,000 150-mm (6-inch) wafers.
It took 20 months to finalize the details, but IBIS TECHNOLOGY CORP., the leading supplier of silicon-on-insulator wafers based on the SIMOX (separation by implantation of oxygen) process, agreed to license its standard and Advantox SIMOX-SOI wafer- fabrication technology to MITSUBISHI MATERIALS SILICON CORP. Earlier, the Danvers, Massachusetts company had sold the big maker of conventional silicon wafers an Ibis 1000 oxygen implant system so that it could establish a wafer-fabrication factory in Japan. At that time, Ibis Technology also gave Mitsubishi Materials Silicon the right to market SIMOX-SOI wafers worldwide. The Japanese manufacturer will make an initial royalty payment and pay future royalties based on sales. Ibis Technology cites several advantages for integrated circuits made from SIMOX-SOI wafers, including faster microprocessing speeds, reduced power consumption and higher temperature operation.
KOPIN CORP. is manufacturing and shipping volume quantities of gallium arsenide HBT (heterojunction bipolar transistor) transistor wafers to MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. MELCO is using the Tauton, Massachusetts company's product to produce power amplifiers for its GSM (global system for mobile communications) digital wireless handsets, the cellular standard in wide use in Europe and in parts of Asia. Before Kopin launched production for MELCO, the two worked together for several years to develop a HBT process optimized for the Japanese manufacturer's GSM products.
A potentially vast new market has opened in Japan for LSI LOGIC CORP. now that DENSO CORP. is using the Milpitas, California chipmaker's single-chip CDMA (code- division multiple access) baseband processor in its IS-95B-compliant digital wireless handset for domestic customers. Its highly integrated part, LSI Logic says, enables CDMA handset manufacturers to add more features while using less power and less space than was possible with previous CDMA chipset solutions. For instance, handset suppliers can produce a phone with more than 150 hours of active standby time, over two hours of talk time and Internet browsing capabilities.
With much of the work on digital television occurring in Japan, that market is critical to TERALOGIC, INC., the developer of ICs and reference designs for digital TVs, set-top boxes and PC-TV convergence products. Consequently, the Mountain View, California firm, which currently sells two chipsets and a pair of development platforms through MARUBUN CORP., opened a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo to better support its OEM customers. These include MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., a recent investor in TeraLogic, SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. The in-country presence also will enable TeraLogic to strengthen relationships with its newest strategic partners, ACCESS CO., LTD. and KENWOOD CORP. Both of these companies have selected TeraLogic's Cougar platform to develop high-quality, low-cost digital TV software and hardware solutions for OEMs. Access will port its NetFront information appliance browser software to the Cougar platform, while Kenwood will integrate its TC 8PSK network interface module with this development tool.
At the same time that TERALOGIC, INC. established its Tokyo subsidiary, it announced two additional OEM customers. VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. will use the company's TL855 chip in 4:2:2 professional-quality high-definition TV decoders. Broadcasters and producers use encoders and decoders capable of 4:2:2 coding to transport, edit and monitor high-quality HDTV video over their networks. For its part, NEC CORP. will utilize the TL750 graphics processor to provide the graphical interface for its GigaStation. This is the first digital video recorder to use optical discs.
With business growing in Japan, MARVELL SEMICONDUCTOR, INC.'s subsidiary opened a larger technical and sales support facility in Tokyo. The Sunnyvale, California company provides mixed-signal DSP (digital signal processor) chips that increase the capacity of mass storage and data communications products.
Within the month, local developers of ASICs (application-specific ICs) will be able to obtain at no cost prototypes of their parts within 24 to 48 hours. That service, dubbed WebASIC, will be provided by QUICKLOGIC CORP., which is opening an office in Yokohama as well as a wafer-fabrication facility in Singapore. Created to accelerate time to market, the WebASIC system simply requires engineers to download a free copy of the Sunnyvale, California company's QuickWorks-Lite Development Tool from its Web site and then send their digital design data to QuickLogic over the Internet. The appropriate pASIC FPGA (field-programmable gate array) or ESP (embedded standard product) prototype is shipped to the customer via next-day delivery.
What developer LATTICE SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. says are the industry's first high- performance, in-system programmable analog ICs are available from the Hillsboro, Oregon company's subsidiary. The distinguishing characteristic of ispPAC devices is that via standard serial interfaces, they can be programmed, erased and reprogrammed while soldered to a printed circuit board. Lattice's marketing unit sample-priced the ispPAC10 at $11.45 each and the ispPAC20 at $10.95 per unit.
TENSILICA INC., a pioneer in the fast-growing business for application-specific processor cores and software development tools for high-volume, embedded systems, licensed its Xtensa processor technology to FUJITSU, LTD. The big electronics manufacturer will use the processor generator to develop embedded processors for unspecified future communications products. Last May, the Santa Clara, California start-up established a subsidiary in Yokohama, its first interna-tional operation. Tensilica's technology has attracted the interest of a number of investors, including MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 9).
What is said to be the first Windows CE-based handheld device with an integrated camera capable of capturing and displaying high-quality video is the result of a development project between NOGATECH, INC. and VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. This breakthrough was due in large part to the Santa Clara, California firm's USBvision chipset, which enables devices that have a USB interface, which includes JVC's Interlink handheld computer, to capture and play live video in full frame-rate motion while drawing relatively little power. Equally important, the small size of the Nogatech part allowed JVC to develop a miniature camera that attaches to its Windows CE device. The video-en-abled Interlink MP-C101 is available in Japan.
S3 INC., which can claim the world's largest installed base of graphics and video accelerators, has given TOMEN ELECTRONICS CORP. distribution rights to its mobile Savage graphics controller for laptop computers. Thanks to the Santa Clara, California firm's image-compression technology, this part is said to deliver to portables the same high- performance, 3D graphics available with desktops that use other members of the Savage family. Given this promise, Tomen Electronics is projecting sales of S3 products at a minimum of $28.6 million through March 2001 and perhaps as high as $38.1 million.
LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s Allentown, Pennsylvania-based microelectronics group has signed up its fourth distributor, ASAHI GLASS CO., LTD. Japan's top glass manufacturer, which already represents a number of other semiconductor makers, including NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP., believes that Lucent's lineup of chips for communications and information equipment and other end uses will produce sales of $28.6 million in the first year.
Among the semiconductors made by LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. are power products for a variety of applications. This line now includes a pair of DC/DC switching power supplies designed for performance-oriented processors and DSPs used in high- end servers, data networking equipment and wireless apparatus. Both the Onami Power Module Series, which is sampling for $65 per unit in quantities of 1,000, and the Zephyr Power Module Series, sampled-priced at $44 apiece in the same volume, are engineered to meet the space constraints of their positioning as well as the transient load requirements of today's processors and DSPs.
In a worldwide release, TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. introduced two families of power- management devices intended to better supply and manage DC power in portable and handheld products. The TPS6012x and the TPS6013x DC/DC converters are charge- pump power supplies with an adaptable voltage-conversion efficiency for the wide input voltage range of a two-cell battery pack. TI's new line of power controllers, the TPS5102 and the TPS5103, is designed for notebook PCs and other battery-powered applications where high efficiency is necessary to conserve battery life.
New as well from TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. is a low-cost $2.05 per unit in quantities of 10,000 32-bit stereo audio digital equalizer. Its subsidiary is marketing the TAS3001 for audio applications where tone, volume and dynamic range management are important functions, including speaker and microphone equalization.
For its part, BURR BROWN CORP.'s operation is marketing a pair of 24-bit, 96-kilohertz sampling, six-channel audio digital/analog converters. The PCM1600 and the PCM1601 are targeted at such applications as integrated audio-video receivers, DVD movie and audio players and other products where an excellent signal-to-noise performance and a high tolerance to clock jitter are required. The chips are priced at $16.10 each.
QC SOLUTIONS, INC. has its initial order from a Japanese IC manufacturer for the QCS- 7200RS Surface Charge Profiler, which will be used to monitor and map the resistivity of epitaxial wafers grown by this company as well as purchased from outside suppliers. This metrology system has the unique ability to measure epi resistivity nondestructively and on production wafers, thereby eliminating the need for the monitor wafers that had to be used until now. Moreover, the QCS-7200RS can map the entire wafer surface instead of just a few points. The tool also can be used with all sizes of epi wafers, including 300-mm (12- inch) ones. INNOTECH CORP. is North Billerica, Massachusetts-based QC Solutions' distributor.
Modified versions of the GENCOBOT 4 wafer-han-dling robot and GENCOBOT 4 with integral wafer prealigner will be manufactured in Japan under an agreement between GENMARK AUTOMATION, INC. and the Sunnyvale, California company's exclusive distributor, GUNZE SANGYO, INC. The Tokyo company will outsource production to its affiliate, EASTERN TECHNICS CORP. The GB4 robot provides fast, accurate and repeatable transport of wafers up to 300-mm in size in a compact package at an affordable price, while the GB4P incorporates design improvements for enhanced performance and reliability. Gunze Sangyo did not indicate the nature of the changes that would be made to the GB4 and the GB4P.
In another milestone for its Japanese business, CYMER, INC. installed its 200th excimer laser light source, which is required for deep ultraviolet photolithography, at a wafer fab in Japan. The San Diego, California manufacturer's 248-nanometer KrF lasers are used to produce devices with line geometries of 0.25 micron and under. Cymer estimates that it has more than 80 percent of the market in Japan for excimer lasers.
In a deal that is equally key for ULTRATECH STEPPER, INC.'s sales in Japan, the photolithography equipment supplier beat out other bidders in winning an order for its first 157-nm microstepper. The customer, an unnamed Japanese semiconductor consortium, will use the next-generation tool for R&D purposes specifically, resist and materials characterization. Ultratech's microstepper has a resolution capability of 0.10 micron, enabling it to handle shrinking device geometries while developers of lithography equipment overcome the technical challenges associated with electron-beam and extreme ultraviolet technologies. The San Jose, California company credits its win to its ability to engineer tools for special, advanced requirements and to its strong after-sales support capabilities in Japan. It expects to ship the microstepper in the second quarter of 2000.
EXTRACTION SYSTEMS INC., a Franklin, Massachusetts maker of airborne molecular contamination measurement and control products for ultraclean environments, has lined up HAKUTO CO., LTD. as the exclusive distributor of its VaporSorb II filtration systems to lithography equipment manufacturers and chip suppliers. The VaporSorb II's polymeric catalyst-based filters are designed to replace both traditional track and stepper/scanner charcoal and ion exchange-based filtration systems. Because of the technology used, the system eliminates normal filter changes, thereby improving tool uptime and reducing the cost of consumables.
The shrinkage of design rules and the use of new materials and structures in the semiconductor industry have created novel, smaller defects that cannot be captured using optical technology. KLA-TENCOR CORP. is offering a way around this yield-reducing problem: the eV300 automated scanning electron microscope review system. Designed for both in-line monitoring and engineering analysis applications at 0.18 micron and smaller geometries, the system can be configured to handle both 200-mm and 300-mm wafers. Among the several distinctive features of the eV300 is a new imaging capability called TruePerspective that allows the wafer to be tilted up to 45 degrees and to be rotated continuously.
One of the first products introduced by the subsidiary of AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES INC., which now is responsible for what were HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s test and measurement, semiconductor production equipment and medical instrumentation businesses (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22), is Model C400 of the renamed Agilent 93000 SOC (system on a chip) Series. This system designed to test advanced mixed-signal chips, such as those found in DVD players and digital TVs is engineered to address the requirements of the cost-driven part of the SOC market. The Model C400 is priced at $1.2 million, yet it provides the speed and the support for high digital pin counts of more expensive products in the series.
ROBOTIC VISION SYSTEMS, INC. has introduced two chip package inspection systems through exclusive distributor KAIJO CORP. The Hauppauge, New York supplier has especially high hopes for the modular LS-7700 3D laser inspection system. Priced at $390,500, it can scan everything from the largest quad flat pack device to the smallest chip- scale package with what RVSI says are the speed and the measurement accuracy of dedicated part-type systems. Between the two products, Kaijo hopes to sell 50 systems a year.
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