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Electronics News Digest
5 November 2003, News, Electronic News Digest

Southern Africa

The Pretoria High Court has ruled against Telkom in its bid to have the sale, distribution and use of least-cost routing (LCR) equipment prohibited. The decision, with costs, ruled in favour of MTN, Vodacom, Autopage Cellular, Nashua Mobile, Nedtel, Orion Telecom and other players in South Africa's cellular industry. Altech CEO Craig Venter said he was pleased with the High Court ruling. "This is a victory, not only for us, but also for the consumer," said Venter whose wholly-owned Altech subsidiary, Autopage Cellular, is a major provider of LCR in South Africa. In the 22 October landmark ruling, Judge I.W.B. de Villiers said, "There is no statutory provision which makes the act of such a connection unlawful."

Prism Holdings has announced that it is one of the first organisations in South Africa to develop an EMV software kernel or library that meets stringent global security standards for smartcard transactions. The company was recently granted EMV Type 2 Approval on its application kernel for the VeriFone SC5000 point-of-sale (POS) PINpad device. EMV Type 1 Approval evaluates the electro-mechanical compliancy for EMV-ready devices while EMV Type 2 Approval scrutinises the risk management and security rules that govern EMV smartcard transactions.

In his address to financial analysts recently, Paul Otellini, president and chief operating officer for Intel, made specific mention of South Africa as one of the global chipmaker's fastest growing markets. Q3 results for Intel's local operations have seen an almost 100% growth compared to the same period last year and outpaces Intel's total growth in the EMEA area by more than five-fold, he said. Says Steven Nossel, country manager for Intel South Africa, "There is little doubt that South Africa's IT industry is experiencing considerable upturn at the moment particularly in the small to medium business and consumer sectors." Nossel attributes the growth experienced by Intel South Africa to key factors such as the abolition of ad valorem tax on IT equipment, the continued strength of the rand and the steady drop in interest rates over the last year.

Grintek Aviation Systems officially handed over its latest project at Matsapha International Airport in Swaziland recently. The company has successfully installed a new ground lighting system for the airport as well as standby power generators - an order worth R7m. The company has been providing leading technology to Swaziland's Directorate of Civil Aviation for the past four years. It has also supplied Matsapha Airport with new navigational aid equipment, an instrument landing system (ILS) and voice communication control system (VCCS).

Landis+Gyr was presented with a certificate as a finalist in the SPII (Support Programme for Industry Innovation) Awards on 9 October, resulting from the design work and sales success of the Cashpower ANSI Form 2S meter. Selected as one of the finalists from among some 54 companies that were competing for the SPII awards for industrial innovation, Landis+Gyr was presented with a certificate by Alec Erwin, Minister of Trade and Industry, who specifically highlighted the contribution made to the local economy through the success of the ANSI Form 2S meter in export markets.

Danimex Communication supplied Africa's first Motorola Compact TETRA (terrestrial trunked radio) system for the 2003 COJA All Africa Games hosted in Abuja, Nigeria from 4 to 18 October 2003. The system provided instant, reliable communication for security personnel throughout the event and covered the host city, including the airport, National Stadium Complex and the Games Village where the athletes were accommodated. TETRA is an open-standard digital trunked radio service that provides integrated voice and data communications on a single terminal. Compact TETRA (developed by Motorola for smaller operations) was chosen due to its ability to provide reliable, integrated, wireless communication. Compact TETRA system can handle up to eight sites, with 10 000 users and 128 virtual channels.

Eaton Corporation, the international holding company of the Cutler-Hammer Group, has confirmed that it has renamed Cutler-Hammer to Eaton Electrical. According to Rob Hare, marketing director of CHI Control, the local distributor of Cutler-Hammer products, the renaming will not impact on the existing Cutler-Hammer brand. "There has been no change in the way we do business with Cutler-Hammer. The company simply has a new name. The products we buy from them are still of the same quality that we have been distributing for over 70 years," said Hare. Eaton Electrical is a global business with manufacturing and sales operations in North America, Latin America, Western Europe, the Middle East, and Asia-Pacific.

Bar code and mobile solutions specialist Harmonic Group has spun off a new black-owned company, Harmonic Mobile Solutions, to capitalise on the rapidly growing wireless and mobile communications market in South Africa.

Overseas

Business

Citing strong growth in the semiconductor arena, Texas Instruments posted sales of $2,533 bn in the third quarter, up 8% sequentially and up 13% from the year-ago quarter. Net income in the quarter was $447m. In the third quarter, the company incurred $56m in charges related to restructuring actions. It posted a profit of $121m, in the previous quarter, and a net of $188m, a year ago. Semiconductor revenues were $2,118 bn in the quarter, up 16% sequentially due to higher shipments of DSPs, high-performance analog and digital light processing products. In the Sensors & Controls segment, revenue decreased 7% sequentially and increased 2% from the year-ago quarter.

Hynix Semiconductor posted a net income of 134 bn (about $113m) on sales of 991 bn won (about $840m) in its third fiscal quarter of 2003. The company had total revenues of 991 bn won for the quarter, an increase of 27% sequentially from 778 bn won in the second fiscal quarter of 2003. Hynix said the sequential growth in sales was mainly attributable to the sales increase of major products that it produces on the strength of the semiconductor market recovery. Hynix generated 152 bn won of gross profit, which is an improvement compared to 69 bn won of deficit in the second quarter. Operating loss was reduced to 21 bn won in the third quarter compared to 258 bn won in the second quarter. The main contributions to the result are "gain on valuation of investments using the equity method of accounting" (124 bn won) generated from overseas manufacturing and sales subsidiaries and the reduction in 'loss on valuation of inventories' (53 bn won).

Royal Philips Electronics' semiconductor unit posted sales of 1,25 bn Euros for the third quarter of 2003, an increase of 9% from the previous quarter and up 22% from the like period a year ago. The chip unit also posted a loss of 191m Euros in the quarter, compared to a deficit of 53m Euros in the like period a year ago. In total, Philips took charges of 156,9m Euros for restructuring, consolidation, and plant closures in the quarter. The company is expecting a profit in the fourth quarter.

Fairchild reported third quarter sales of $328,4m, with a net loss of $5,4m. Included in the third quarter 2003 results are pre-tax charges of $6,0m associated with restructuring activities announced in July 2003. Fairchild reported a sequential increase in pro forma net income to $5,5m, compared with pro forma net income of $3,8m.

Companies

Fairchild Semiconductor has purchased the commercial unit of the RF components division of Raytheon. Fairchild thus gains an immediate entry into the advanced RF market for applications that include wireless LANs and handset power amplifiers. The deal also adds gallium arsenide millimeter wave ICs (GaAs MMIC) to Fairchild's portfolio. Fairchild has also acquired Raytheon's foundry partnership agreement for the supply of gallium arsenide wafers and an equity stake in WIN Semiconductor, as well as access to foundry and support services at Raytheon's Andover, Massachusetts facility.

EDA player Magma Design Automation has acquired Random Logic, the developer of the parasitic extraction software product QuickCap. The deal will combine QuickCap, a 3D field solver, with Magma's extraction technology for 2.5D, which examines capacitance between layers of metal in multimetal semiconductor processes.

To underline the strength of being part of the Acal group, electromechanical specialist Radiatron is being renamed Acal Radiatron, with several new franchises, a new website and a new brochure.

Industry

The number of cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) connections will overtake the number of cellphone subscribers in North America, Western Europe and Japan within the next eight years, according to a new report by M2M consultancy E-principles. The report examines the cellular M2M market worldwide and provides forecasts to 2008 for cellular module sales, mobile network revenue, service provider revenue and IT systems. According to Robin Duke-Woolley, director of E-principles, worldwide cellular M2M represents a $20 bn opportunity in mobile network revenue alone by 2008 and up to $74 bn in service provider revenue. In the North American, West European and Japanese markets, cellphone subscriber growth is now slowing as penetration levels reach 75-80% of their populations over the next few years. On the other hand, the cellular M2M market, which uses cellular networks to let machines talk to one another wherever they are, is just getting going, says the report.

The delays in commercial deployments of 3G networks and in delivery of 3G handsets does not suggest the failure of 3GSM (formerly called W-CDMA) as a technology or as a business, according to a recent study from Probe Group. However, it cautions that the success of 2.5G networks such as GPRS could act to further delay deployment of true 3G. Outside the Americas, Probe believes, 3G will ultimately become the dominant mobile network. According to Probe's data, the point at which 3G networks will have sufficient customers to make its presence felt by global markets will not come until some time in 2007.

The UK Department of Trade and Industry's R&D Scoreboard issued this month reveals that R&D by many UK electronics companies tends to be less when compared with their international competitors. The R&D Scoreboard ( www.innovation.gov.uk/projects/rd_scoreboard/introfr.html) is the only source of both input (investment) and output data for a substantial set of R&D-active companies from all regions of the globe. The 2003 R&D Scoreboard has been expanded to include the top 700 international companies (companies with R&D over £34m) and the top 700 UK companies.

As is the case with North America and Asia Pacific, increased broadband subscriber growth in Western Europe is resulting in an uptick in home networking activity, reports In-Stat/MDR. The growth of home broadband connections in Western Europe was quite promising last year, and this trend is expected to continue. The high-tech market research firm reports that, by the end of 2003, there will be 4,5 million home networks in Western Europe, compared to 2,8 million home networks at the end of 2002, accounting for an almost 60% annual growth rate. In-Stat/MDR expects that there will be over 15 million home networks in Western Europe by the end of 2007.

Netherlands-based TNO Physics & Electronics Laboratory has been undertaking research into the effects on humans of mobile phone base stations. It looked into systems using GSM and UMTS/3G protocols. According to the company, it appears from the research that people have unpleasant sensations when exposed to fields generated by UMTS/3G base stations. The symptoms displayed vary from nausea, tingling sensations to dizziness. These effects have not been detected for GSM base stations, it reports. Furthermore, according to their findings, it appears that people close to GSM or UMTS/3G base stations perform better in cognitive tests regarding memory, concentration, reaction time and hand-to-eye coordination.

RF Micro Devices has announced the shipment of its 300 millionth power amplifier module.

Technology

Via Technologies has introduced what it claims is the world's smallest and lowest power processor. Available at speeds of 533 MHz, 800 MHz, and 1 GHz, the VIA Eden-N processor features the tiny nanoBGA package that measures just 15 x 15 mm, making it the world's smallest native x86 processor.

A new technology for active cooling of microprocessor 'hot spots' is claimed to be able to effectively cool the next breed of powerful, hot microprocessors for next generation computers. Cooligy's active micro-channel cooling technology employs a heat collector fabricated from a thin layer of micro-machined silicon that fits on top of a microprocessor package. A very dense area of micro-channels etched into the silicon enables fluid to circulate through the heat collector via an innovative solid-state electro-kinetic pump and efficiently absorb and take away heat. Cooligy claims the system has been shown to effectively cool microprocessor hotspots of up to 1000 W/cm2.


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