Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 362, November 1999

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American Companies in Japan


SEMICONDUCTORS

The strategic relationship that XICOR, INC., a supplier of nonvolatile, reprogrammable memories, forged in February 1997 with YAMAHA CORP. continues to evolve. Since 1998, Yamaha has served as a foundry for the Milpitas, California firm, supplying, for example, more than one-third of Xicor's wafers in the July-September 1999 period. Now, the two have agreed to codevelop proprietary products that integrate analog, digital and nonvolatile reprogrammable elements. These chips, to be sold under each company's name, will be manufactured at Yamaha's Kagoshima prefecture wafer fabrication facility. The first jointly developed parts will be targeted at the fast-growing market for battery power management in laptops and cellular phones. Xicor also has a foundry arrangement with SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 22).

In a transpacific release, INTEL CORP. rolled out 12 Pentium III processors for desktop PCs and notebooks that mark the company's transition to 0.18-micron process technology from 0.25-micron. Intel also pushed the speed of its desktop engines up to 733 MHz. That part, along with the new 667-MHz Pentium III, has a 133-MHz front-side bus. Processors that run at an even-number speed, like 700 MHz, still have a 100-MHz front-side bus. The three new mobile Pentium III chips — 400 MHz, 450 MHz and 500 MHz — all have a 100-MHz front-side bus and incorporate Intel's QuickStart technology, which helps conserve battery life by powering the processor up and down depending on the requirements of the application. In the United States, the 733-MHz Pentium III lists for about $775 in bulk.

Over the next two to three years, the subsidiary of INTEGRATED DEVICE TECHNOLOGY, INC. hopes to boost its annual sales to $188.7 million from today's $75.5 million. One potential source of this growth, the Santa Clara, California company believes, is its line of RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) processors optimized for embedded communications applications. IDT recently disclosed a new 64-bit platform. The first products based on the RISCore64600 architecture will operate at speeds in the 400-MHz to 500-MHz range and will perform more than 800 million instructions per second. This performance makes the part ideal for such next-generation embedded applications as high-speed switches and routers. IDT's subsidiary also is sampling a 32-bit RISC processor that draws less than 1 watt of power while operating at 150 MIPS. It is pitching this chip to makers of cellular phones for their third-generation devices.

Four USB chips from Mountain View, California-based NETCHIP TECHNOLOGY, INC. are on the market through distributor DIA SEMICON SYSTEMS, INC. One such product is the NET2888 TurboUSB, a processor-independent, high-speed USB interface controller chip that supports USB's data transfer rate of 12 megabits per second between a generic local bus and the USB. Priced at $6.50 each, this small-footprint part is targeted at such applications as scanners, digital cameras and cable modems.

Analysts generally agree that broadband network access from the home is likely to be delivered in Japan through digital subscriber line services, which use the existing network of copper wire telephone lines for high-speed data transmission, because, unlike the United States, that country does not have a widespread coaxial cable infrastructure that can be upgraded to handle broadband communications. Two manufacturers are shipping chipsets to makers of DSL equipment like modems and access multiplexers to facilitate this delivery method. The products of both CENTILLIUM COMMUNICATIONS, INC. of Fremont, California and GLOBESPAN, INC. of Red Bank, New Jersey support Annex C of the ADSL G.lite (ITU-T G.992.2) standard. Annex C addresses the unique characteristics of copper loop plants in Japan. These require different modem and central office technology than in the United States. In particular, Centillium's CopperLite central office and Optimizer customer premises equipment chipsets and the Titanium chipset from GlobeSpan allow asynchronous DSL and ISDN (integrated services digital network) services to share the same telephone wire bundles without interfering with each other. MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. as well as NEC CORP. have tied up with Centillium (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 8).

In the latest evolution of a relationship that dates back to the early 1990s, DSP COMMUNICATIONS, INC. is supplying chipsets and software for SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD.'s latest CDMA (code-division multiple access) wireless handsets. The Cupertino, California firm's new D5431 chipset and software protocol stack are claimed to dramatically lower the power consumption and to improve the operating performance of Sanyo Electric's small, lightweight handset. In fact, the D5431 enables up to 350 hours of standby time.

The longtime team of ZORAN CORP. and FUJIFILM MICRODEVICES CO., LTD. engineered the decoder chip for SHARP CORP.'s first portable DVD player, said to be the world's smallest such device. The low-power Vaddis III-LV IC was designed specifically to capture the portable DVD market by enabling features found in home players. It builds on the widely employed Vaddis III DVD decoder for home consumer electronics products. Sharp has used Santa Clara, California-based Zoran's Vaddis DVD decoders since it introduced its first DVD player in 1997.

INFORMATION STORAGE DEVICES, INC.'s ChipCorder and VoiceDSP (digital signal processing) ICs are being distributed by FUJITSU DEVICES, INC. instead of MARUBUN CORP. The San Jose, California company attributed the switch in part to Fujitsu Device's experience in key ISD markets, including communications, consumer, industrial and automotive applications. Its ChipCorder family provides strong sound quality, low power consumption and nonvolatility in a single chip, while the VoiceDSP line delivers an array of digital features and functionality to such products as digital telephone answering devices.

BURR-BROWN CORP.'s subsidiary has added several products to its line. The VSP3010 is a three-channel image signal processor for CCD or contact image sensor systems that operates at 12 MHz. The three inputs are multiplexed into a high-speed, 12-bit analog-to-digital converter. Priced at $14.45 per unit in quantities of 100, this part is designed for CCD and CIS scanners, fax and multifunction machines, and industrial and medical imaging systems. Burr-Brown is looking for sales of 100,000 VSP3010 chips a month. .....New as well is BURR-BROWN CORP.'s ADS1250. This A/D converter with a 25-kHz data rate is based on a delta-sigma architecture to ensure a wide dynamic range and full 20-bit resolution. It is designed for high-resolution measurement in such applications as cardiac diagnostics, smart transmitters and industrial process control. The Tucson, Arizona manufacturer's marketing unit is projecting sales of 10,000 units a month at $15.10 each in 100-unit lots. .....For compact, battery-powered and cost-sensitive applications, BURR-BROWN CORP.'s subsidiary is offering the OPA342 series of low-cost, low-power operational amplifiers in microsize packages. These parts, which cost from $1.30 to $3.50 in 100,000-unit volumes, provide the rail-to-rail behavior needed to maintain high performance — in other words, a wide dynamic range — while operating on low power-supply voltages.

Shipments also are underway of two new products from NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. The LM20, priced at 72 cents, is a temperature sensor that operates over a wide range, especially with a 5.5-volt power supply but also at just 2.4 volts. The LM431 is a three-terminal adjustable shunt regulator with guaranteed temperature stability over the entire temperature range of operation. It costs 16 cents. Both parts are available in a chip-size package, thanks to National Semiconductor's micro SMD packaging technology.

Former partners VARIAN SEMICONDUCTOR EQUIPMENT ASSOCIATES, INC. and TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. have entered into a patent licensing agreement. Under it, TEL, which ranks second in the semiconductor production equipment field, is able to use on a worldwide basis VSEA's technology for controlling the temperature of the thin films applied to wafers. The Japanese company will make an initial payment of $25 million and pay royalties on future equipment sales. Industry analysts speculate that TEL sought the license to avoid a patent infringement case. From 1978 until April 1997, VSEA and TEL were equal partners in a Yamanashi prefecture-based company that manufactured and marketed ion implanters and sputtering equipment. Moreover, from 1990 until mid-1994, the two companies had a 50-50 business in Santa Clara, California that assembled TEL's diffusion furnaces.

Details are sketchy, but the subsidiary of world semiconductor production equipment leader APPLIED MATERIALS, INC. has developed a rapid thermal processing system that supports the fabrication techniques for next-generation 0.13-micron devices. The Radience Centura platform boosts throughput for increased yields. It also provides a heating speed of 250 degrees per second and a cooling speed of 90 degrees per second combined with highly accurate temperature control. Shipments of the Radience Centura will start in July 2000.

By its count, more than half of the Direct Rambus DRAMs now shipped are tested on HEWLETT-PACK-ARD CO.'s HP 95000 HSM Series of test systems. Those systems currently have 16 sites in a single test head. Starting sometime in the first quarter of 2000, the HP 95000 line's test-head electronics will be mounted in a 32-site configuration that is totally compatible with the existing tester. Just as important, HP expects its volume customers to be able to cut their testing costs by 20 percent to 30 percent. The single-pass HP 95000 tests any high-performance memory device with a data rate of up to 1 gigabit per second. Pricing of the 32-site system in Japan will start at $1.4 million.

An exchange rate of ¥106=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaaa

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