The UMCi Singapore-based 300mm joint venture between UMC, Infineon
Technologies and the local EDBI government agency has announced several
contracts have been awarded for the next construction phase. These include
waste water treatment from Hyflux Hydrochem, cleanroom installation by M+W
Zander, gas supply from SOXAL (Singapore Oxygen Air Liquide), chemical
supply by Sumitomo Chemical Engineering and ultrapure water supply from
Vivendi Water Systems/USF. The contracts add up to a value of $68m. Total
planned capacity is 40,000 wafers per month with production scheduled to
begin in Q2 2003 on UMC's 130nm and 90nm copper/low k process technologies.
Virage Logic is to develop and license its NOVeA family of non-volatile
embedded memories on Tower Semiconductor's 0.18-micron technology, under a
multi-year licensing agreement. Tower expects the embedded memories to be
available by Q4 2002. The agreement grants Tower the right to license Virage
Logic's 0.13micron process technology for NOVeA in the future. NOVeA can be
produced using standard logic processes without special steps and photomasks
that increase costs and delivery time.
The World Semiconductor Trade Statistics organisation reports April IC sales
at $11.07bn, compared with $13.74bn for the same period last year.
Asia-Pacific managed to grow its sales 12.6% year-on-year to yield $3.97bn.
Europe was down 25.8% at $2.28bn, the Americas down 30.5% at $2.62bn and
Japan down 34.5% at $2.20bn.
Alcatel Optronics is to shed a quarter of its staff in plans announced this
week. The company's industrial redeployment plan affects all of its
In Nozay, and Lannion, France, the company will introduce part-time
employment, early retirement and prolonged leaves in an effort to reduce
headcount. Job cuts will also be made at its Plano, Texas site. In Canada,
the fibre Bragg grating (FBG) manufacturing operation in Gatineau (Quebec,
Canada) will be closed and the manufacturing activities transferred to
Alcatel Optronics UK, based in Livingston, Scotland. Canada's R&D activities
and commercial presence will remain.
Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS) in collaboration with
Motorola Labs has produced its first 1Mbit MRAM (magnetoresistive random
access memory) universal memory chip.
SPS' MRAM technology director, Saied Tehrani, comments:
Seiko Epson and Cambridge Display Technology have agreed to form a joint
venture company to offer technologies and services using ink-jet deposition
for manufacturing light emitting polymer (LEP) displays. The deal comes
after several years of joint development work involving the two companies.
The new venture plans to produce an ink jet printing machine with Epson's
print head. The inks will be produced from formulations specified by CDT for
these heads. The new company is to be called
Infineon Technologies is to buy Ericsson's core microelectronics business
(MIC) for EUR400m in a share based deal, after reports of discussions last
week (Bulletin 436, June 10, 2002). Approvals are pending, and closing is
expected during summer 2002. MIC is one of the world's largest manufacturers
for high end power amplifiers.
The Institute for System Level Integration (Livingston, Scotland) and
Lancaster University's Centre for Microsystems Engineering plan to jointly
develop an international group specialising in design-for-test and
reliability engineering. Both system-on-chip and microsystems (MEMS) are to
be considered. The group will concentrate on research programmes, teaching,
training activities and consultancy projects. Particular concerns will be
manufacturing costs and quality of highly integrated, miniaturised
IXYS has managed to get an injunction against it stayed in the US appeals
court. The injunction was granted to International Rectifier against IXYS
MOSFETs that were found to infringe patents. The dispute was begun in 2000
(Bulletin 342, July 10, 2000). Late last year International Rectifier was
found guilty of infringing IXYS power module patents in a separate action
dating from late 2000 (Bulletin 364, December 12, 2000).
The opto-device division of Hitachi's Semiconductor and Integrated Circuit
(SIC) group is to be transfered to Hitachi's OpNext subsidiary. The transfer
is anticipated to be effective October 1, 2002. The transaction will cover
the opto-device division of SIC as well as the opto-electrical device
development and manufacturing team and fabrication facilities from Hitachi
STMicroelectronics is to supply critical components for the Large Hadron
Collider (LHC) being constructed by CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland. The LHC
will smash extreme high energy particles to investigate fundamental particle
theories such as the
Clare Micronix, recently acquired by IXYS (Bulletin 437, June 17, 2002),
claims to have the industry's first standard product driver for cholesteric
liquid crystal display (Ch LCD) panels. The new display driver IC, the
MXED401, targets the emerging non-volatile reflective LCD market,
specifically bi-stable and multi-stable Ch LCDs. The device is manufactured
in a high voltage (30V) CMOS process. Samples are due to be available in
gold-bumped die form next month.
Scientists at Princeton University are proposing direct imprint of
nanostructures in silicon as an alternative to photolithography and etch
(Nature, June 20, 2002). The team calls its new technique laser assisted
direct imprint (LADI). An excimer laser pulse (308nm, 20ns) melts a thin
surface layer of the silicon and a quartz mould is embossed into the
resulting liquid. Structures with a 10nm resolution have been created. The
embossing time is less than 250ns.
French microsystems producer MEMSCAP has relocated its registered French
headquarters, and all Grenoble-area facilities, to its new production site
located in Bernin, outside of Grenoble. Last week, management and design
teams moved to the new offices, joining the production staff, who have been
on-site since December 2001. The company now operates in 13,520m2 of space.
The official inauguration of the site will be held at a later date.
Communications IC producer TriQuint Semiconductor has acquired assets from
IBM's wireless phone chipset business. TriQuint is taking over design,
development, marketing and sales of certain standard and custom IBM
semiconductor products used in wireless phones and other communications
applications. IBM will continue to manufacture the components for TriQuint.
The products being transferred to TriQuint include voltage-controlled
oscillators (VCOs), receivers and wideband CDMA chipsets, all based on
silicon germanium process technology. TriQuint will assume related product
assets and be granted assignments and licenses to associated intellectual
property. The transaction is expected to close by the end of June 2002.
TriQuint will make an initial payment of $22m to IBM, with subsequent
adjustments contingent upon business volumes.
Fujitsu and Toshiba have agreed to explore comprehensive collaboration on
system-on-chip (SoC) solutions at 100nm and finer. The companies will
establish several joint working groups to investigate collaboration in areas
such as standardisation of design and development platforms and silicon
technology; co-development of processor cores and other intellectual
property; and joint development of advanced large-scale integration (LSI)
for communications and other fields. The two companies may later seek to
expand the partnership, including the possibility of integrating operations.
The companies have previously worked together - for example on the fast
channel RAM (FCRAM) high-speed memory.
SEMI produced its May book-to-bill figures for the North American
semiconductor equipment industry. Bookings were $1.08bn and billings
$0.862bn, giving a ratio of 1.26. The bookings were up 50% up on May 2001
and billings down 41%. April's book-to-bill was 1.22.
VLSI Research confused matters for some by releasing its own
US high tech company Motorola announced job reductions of 7000 people
worldwide. The cut backs are due to hit all business segments and are
designed to lower costs for manufacturing, R&D, sales and admin. The charges
associated with the reorganisation are valued at $1.9bn. A total accounting
charge of $3.5bn for this and other measures, including write-offs, is to be
made. Total headcount by the end of the year is set to be 100,000 workers.