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Electronics News Digest

19 September 2007 News Electronic News Digest

Overseas

Business

After a year-long internal investigation into accounting irregularities whereby the company misled auditors and manipulated results, Dell has announced that "certain adjustments appear to have been motivated by the objective of attaining financial targets". The mistakes could cost the company as much as $150 million, with net income for the restatement period from fiscal 2003 through 2006 and the first quarter of fiscal 2007 being reduced by between $50 million and $150 million, or 2 cents to 7 cents per share.

Agilent Technologies has reported that orders for the third fiscal quarter ended 31 July, 2007 were up 7% on a year ago at $1,31 billion. Revenues during the quarter were 11% above last year at $1,37 billion, while third quarter GAAP net income was $185 million, or $0,45 per diluted share.

Analog Devices reported a revenue increase from $663,7 million a year ago to $680,3 million in the last quarter. Net income however, dropped to $120,4 million, or 37 cents per share, from $144,7 million, or 39 cents per share, as costs and expenses rose.

Ixys has reported a sixth consecutive quarter of revenue growth, attaining net revenues of $75,9 million for the first fiscal quarter ended 30 June, 2007, which is 12% higher than the same period last year. Gross profit increased to $22,4 million, or 29,5% of net revenues, from $21,9 million, or 32,3% of net revenues, for the same quarter in the previous year.

Wind River is forecasting revenue of between $325 million and $330 million for its 2007 fiscal year, with net income per share for the year expected to be between $0,28 and $0,30. The company reported net income of $4,3 million for the second quarter, up from $3,1 million in the same period last year, while revenues rose quarter-on-quarter by 15% to $84,6 million.

Matsushita says that the problem with the mobile phone batteries supplied to Nokia could cost the company between $86 million and $172 million. This comes after Nokia recently offered to replace for free more than 46 million batteries used in its cellphones and made by Matsushita, due to a problem with them overheating.

According to a report by FinFacts, Analog Devices is planning to close a 6-inch wafer fab in Limerick, Ireland, which would lead to the loss of 150 jobs. The closure is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.

Following International Rectifiers' discovery of accounting irregularities, which has already resulted in the termination of its CFO, the company has said that chief executive and director, Alex Lidow, has gone on a 'leave of absence' with pay pending the resolution of the investigation.

Companies

Infineon has announced that, pending approval by the relevant authorities, it will acquire the mobility products business of LSI in order to further strengthen its activities in the field of communications. The price tag on the deal is approximately Euro 330 million plus a contingent performance-based payment of up to Euro 37 million.

Qimonda and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) have announced the signing of an agreement to expand their existing cooperation on the production of standard memory chips (DRAMs). Under the terms of the agreement, Qimonda will transfer its 80 nm DRAM trench technology to SMIC's 300 mm facility in Beijing and SMIC will manufacture DRAMs for computing applications in this technology exclusively for Qimonda. Furthermore, the agreement includes the option to transfer Qimonda's 75 nm technology to SMIC in the future.

The Taiwan Intellectual Property Office has ruled against LED maker Advanced Optoelectronic Technology in its patent invalidation action against Korean rival Seoul Semiconductor.

In an effort to expand its strategic services activity and offerings in Europe, Wind River has bought the outstanding shares in privately owned Romanian embedded software developer Comsys for $1,4 million. Comsys focuses on device software services in the communications, aerospace and defence sectors and employs 52 people.

Building on existing cooperation between Infineon and Siemens Power Transmission and Distribution, the companies have announced that they are planning a joint venture aiming at providing high-power thyristors for high-voltage DC power transmission lines. No financial details have been revealed.

Industry

With almost every major PC manufacturer integrating silicon chip fingerprint sensors in their products, the market appears set to thrive. The success of silicon chip fingerprint technology will likely contribute to its integration in other consumer products such as door locks, safes, cellphones and PDAs. A new report by Frost & Sullivan finds that the worldwide silicon chip fingerprint market earned revenues of $113,6 million in 2006, and estimates this to grow exponentially to $1,9 billion in 2013.

NAND flash makers Hynix, IM Flash and Toshiba are said to be quietly expanding their production and readying a new class of sub-45-nanometer devices. This comes in the wake of market leader Samsung's recent production disruptions. Adding extra interest to the heated battle in the marketplace, a number of emerging applications for NAND are on the horizon, such as Flash BIOS, solid-state storage and Flash-equipped television with digital video recorder functions.

Productronica 2007, in Munich from 13 to 16 November, will showcase production systems for manufacturing solar cells, modules and systems according to state-of-the-art technology as a new exhibition highlight with the successful 'MicroNano-World'. The solar energy market is expected to accelerate from 2009, when innovative new thin-film production technologies are set to ramp up, with Frost & Sullivan predicting the market to be worth $16,4 billion by 2012.

According to a report by market researcher In-Stat, Wi-Fi is likely to be overtaken in market volume by ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, despite Wi-Fi technology taking an early lead by being first to market. The report predicts that legacy wired interconnects will exist on the PC platform for several generations, but usage should transition to UWB within a very short period of time, and that in the long-term, Wi-Fi and UWB will continue to coexist in PCs as complementary technologies.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan reveals that the world oscilloscopes market earned revenues of $1,16 billion in 2005, and estimates this to reach $1,69 billion in 2012. Technological advances and the materials used in digital oscilloscopes have made them as affordable as analog and, since additional features and capabilities can be added to digital oscilloscopes at the same price, the demand for this type of test equipment has grown tremendously.

Technology

Using a revolutionary architecture, Tilera Corporation has released a processor said to deliver 10 times the performance and 30 times the performance-per-watt of the Intel dual-core Xeon, and 40 times the performance of the leading Texas Instruments DSP. The TILE64 processor contains 64 full-featured, programmable cores, each capable of running its own operating system, while Tilera says the technology can be used to scale to hundreds or even thousands of cores.

Sharp has demonstrated a prototype ultra-thin LCD TV which, at just 29 millimetres thick, the company says is the thinnest, lightest and lowest energy-consuming liquid crystal display in the world. The unit, which weighs 25 kilograms and is claimed to consume about half the power of current LCD panel TVs, also integrates a tuner and other TV features.

While multitouch screens - touch screens that enable users to interact with a system with more than one finger at a time - are increasingly popularised by devices like PDAs and Apple's iPhone, researchers at Microsoft and Mitsubishi are aiming to provide an even more functional alternative. The team is developing a new touch-screen system that lets people type text, click hyperlinks and navigate maps from both the front and back of a portable device, by superimposing a semitransparent image of the fingers touching the back of the device onto the front so that users can see what they are touching.

Ronald Besser, a professor of chemical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, has proposed a novel solution that could make fuel cells a viable option in powering laptop computers and other portable electronics. Besser estimates that the technology could store about 1000 watt hours per kilogram, compared to laptop batteries at about 150 watt hours per kilogram. Several practical hurdles still need to be scaled, such as the disposal of water which is a by-product, relatively high prices, and the fact that the technology uses flammable liquids, which could pose serious safety and security issues.

Researchers at the University of Maryland have simulated a technique that they say could cut power consumption for multimedia devices by about two-thirds while playing video content. The premise is that not every one of the 30 frames per second typically displayed is necessary for human beings to interpret the playback as being smooth. The technique works by intelligently ignoring up to six of the most difficult to process frames in each group of 30, in order to save processing power and ultimately lower overall power consumption.

By measuring a number of electrical properties of a battery, instead of only voltage - which is unreliable because voltage does not fall steadily as a battery is discharged - a new chip from Texas Instruments is said to be able to estimate to within 1%, how much talking or standby time a mobile phone's battery has remaining. Such a precise gauge could allow smartphone developers to squeeze more energy out of the battery, potentially increasing by half or more the amount of time that it lasts between charges.

IBM has announced two major scientific achievements in the field of nanotechnology that could one day lead to new kinds of devices and structures built from a few atoms or molecules. The first breakthrough may make it possible to build structures consisting of individual atoms that could reliably store magnetic information. Such a storage capability would enable nearly 30 000 feature length movies or the entire contents of YouTube - millions of videos estimated to be more than 1000 trillion bits of data - to fit in a device the size of an iPod. The second development is a single-molecule switch, which could lead to computing elements that are vastly smaller, faster and use less energy than today's computer chips and memory devices.

A joint development between Intel and the University of California has produced the world's first mode-locked silicon evanescent laser, a device capable of performing optical functions on CMOS chips. This is instead of translating from optical to electrical and then back from electrical to optical, as is standard procedure for telecommunications applications of lasers today. The silicon laser emitted 40 billion pulses of light per second (40 Gbps), and was built on a hybrid silicon/indium phosphide platform developed last year.





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