European companies SUSS MicroTec and DELTA (Danish Electronics, Light & Acoustics) have launched MEMUNITY, a knowledge forum on micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) testing. Forum activity will include news, technical papers and conference dates. Members will be able to submit devices that will then be evaluated for their test suitability without obligation. If suitable, and so desired, equipment will be configured according to their specific testing needs.
Agere Systems claims to be the world’s first company to deliver a production-qualified, communications chip using low-k dielectric 0.13micron technology. The ultra-high performance, all-copper semiconductor technology has been used to produce a digital signal processor (DSP). Lucent Technologies is among the first companies to use the new chip for wireless base station production.
Intel and Taiwan’s VIA Technologies have reached a settlement agreement in a series of pending patent lawsuits related to chipsets and microprocessors. The agreement encompasses 11 pending cases in five countries involving 27 patents. Under the settlement, both companies will dismiss all pending legal claims in all jurisdictions. The companies also entered into a ten-year patent cross license agreement covering each company’s products. As part of the agreement Intel granted VIA a licence to sell microprocessors that are compatible with the x86 instruction set but not pin compatible or bus compatible with Intel microprocessors.
German company XTREME technologies has shipped its first prototype of an extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light source to UK microstepper manufacturer Exitech. The source will be used under a strategic research partnership for next-generation lithography. XTREME is a nanotechnology 50-50 joint venture between Lambda Physik and Jenoptik.
The EUV source uses a pulsed electrical high power discharge and the pinch effect to generate a 200,000C hot plasma to emit the light.
The worldwide wafer fab equipment market showed signs of improvement early in 2002, but those early hopes never materialised, says market research company Gartner. Worldwide wafer fab equipment revenue in 2002 came to $16.5bn, a 31.6% decline from 2001 revenue of $24.1bn.
STMicroelectronics reports that preliminary data show net revenues for Q1
2003 (ended March 29, 2003) are expected to be $1.618bn, just slightly below
the low end of its guidance range of $1.620bn. Gross margin should be around
35%, below the bottom of the previous guidance range of 36%.
ST says it experienced order push-outs in March relating to a number of its
end markets, with the notable exception of digital consumer. It expects the
majority of the affected products to be shipped in Q2 2003. Gross margin for
Q1 2003 was penalised by greater-than-expected pricing pressure and a
stronger Euro. Previous revenue guidance was given January 22, 2003. ST will
report its full Q1 2003 earnings on April 23, 2003.
Tokyo Electron (TEL) has reached its 40th year in business. The company was
established in 1963 in Tokyo as an affiliate of Tokyo Broadcasting Systems.
TEL began as an exporter of VTRs and car radios and an importer of
electronic equipment and parts. Forty years and multiple generations of
technologies later, TEL has become a leading supplier to semiconductor
production equipment and flat panel display (FPD) manufacturers. Its global
infrastructure spans 12 countries and more than 80 locations. The official
anniversary date is November 11, 2003, with various events planned in the
build-up to this.
Soitec has appointed Pascal Mauberger to the newly created position of chief
operating officer (COO).
Entegris has added manufacturing capabilities at its facility in Bad
Rapaneau, Germany, with installation of a new automated manufacturing line.
This capability enables Entegris to manufacture out of Germany both 150mm
and 200mm Ultrapak wafer carriers for the semiconductor industry. Ultrapak
is designed to protect and transport silicon wafers by eliminating wafer
rotation and by reducing contamination. The products are constructed from
ultrapure polypropylene materials to provide a clean shipping environment,
decreasing particle generation and outgassing and increasing product shelf
Dialog Semiconductor is planning to close its Swedish subsidiary. The decision is designed to control both costs and headcount. The company says that it has decided to focus on its core competence, which is the design and manufacture of ICs.
The Swedish facility has a staff of 40 people, the majority of whom are employed in auxiliary tasks such as development of evaluation boards and software. A company spokesman says that these activities can be covered at lower cost through staff at other company locations and through outsourcing.
Infineon Technologies has developed with others a self-service system for users of Vienna’s new multimedia main library. The inventory includes 240,000 books as well as 60,000 CDs and DVDs. The items have been equipped with radio chips for data transmission. Use of the new RFID (radio frequency identification) chips permits library users to check out books, CDs or DVDs themselves, without waiting in line at a service counter. The RFID chips from Infineon also provide security functions to prevent theft.
Seven read and write units are used to embed the RFID chips into the books and to store the information on the chips. Another six read and write units are available to the attendants to register the checked-out media. In addition, four self-service terminals, so-called EasyChecks, are available.
Motorola says it has demonstrated the world’s first 4Mbit memory based on silicon nanocrystals. The company sees the fully functional test chip as a major milestone in the search for successors to floating gate-based flash memories. Many believe Flash will not continue to scale to smaller geometries.
IMEC has extended its industrial affiliation programme (IIAP) on high-k
dielectrics for (sub)-65nm devices to provide solutions for the
implementation of metal gate stacks in planar-scaled CMOS. The current
standard gate stack uses polysilicon above the dielectric.
Renesas Technology has officially separated from its parents Hitachi and
Mitsubishi Electric and commenced operations as a system IC company. Dr
Koichi Nagasawa has been appointed chairman and CEO, and Satoru Ito was
appointed as president and chief operations officer.
IMEC has described two developments in semiconductor R&D with the extension of its industrial affiliation programme (IIAP) on high-k dielectrics for (sub)-65nm devices to provide solutions for the implementation of metal gate stacks in planar-scaled CMOS and development of a post-processing technique to create high-Q inductors.
QinetiQ has developed an optical hybrid technology that uses a hollow waveguide (HWG) to improve performance while reducing expenditure. The HWG has the potential to cut more than 50% off the cost of complete optical circuits, says Qinetiq.
Infineon Technologies and Chinas Semiconductor Manufacturing International have signed an agreement to expand co-operation on production of standard memory (DRAMs). Under the terms of the additional agreement, Infineon will transfer its 0.11micron DRAM trench technology and 300mm wafer know-how to SMIC. In return, SMIC will manufacture products in this technology exclusively for Infineon.
Infineon expects to increase its overall capacity by 15,000 wafer starts per month through SMIC’s 300mm plant, which is currently being built in Beijing. In December 2002, the two companies signed an agreement whereby SMIC would manufacture memory chips in its 200mm plant in Shanghai using Infineon’s 0.14micron DRAM trench technology exclusively for Infineon. Following ramp-up at Beijing, the additional 300mm wafer starts to the 20,000 in 200mm will result in a total capacity of 58,000 wafer starts in 200mm wafer equivalents. First products from the new 300mm plant are expected for summer 2004.
A new GBP4.2mn facility is to be built in Scotland dedicated to the commercialisation of research in packaging technology for complex optoelectronic chips. The new facility will be located in Livingston and will commence operating in the summer of this year.
Processes will be developed to align delicate circuitry to optical fibres and electronic connections. Solutions that can be transferred to other emerging technologies such as biochips for diagnosis and treatment of illness will also be sought.
Samsung Electronics has signed a licensing agreement for ASML’s technology to be deployed at Samsung’s semiconductor production facilities worldwide. The patented ASML technology is designed to significantly enhance the imaging performance for current and future technology generations. Samsung is licensing the technology through the life of the patents.
Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) says that it has dramatically improved the life performance of display devices based on light emitting polymer (LEP) technology, achieving more than 11,000 hours of operation for its blue polymer research devices.