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Electronics news digest
29 April 2009, News

South Africa

The recent announcement of a formal agreement for the construction of the West Africa cable system (WACS) by all South Africa’s major telecommunications operators, sets the scene for total international bandwidth capacity coming into Africa to grow more than a hundredfold by the end of 2011. A study conducted by World Wide Worx has shown that international bandwidth available to sub-Saharan Africa was a mere 80 Gigabits per second at the end of 2008. This was split between the Telkom-controlled SAT3/SAFE cable and the West African Atlantis-2 cable. But, according to the report, capacity will rise to around 10 Terabits per second by the end of 2011, or 120 times the 2008 capacity. This growth will be the cumulative result of the existing SAT3 cable being upgraded, three major new cables becoming operational this year, another two in 2010, and the WACS cable in 2011. These figures exclude capacity available to North African countries that have access to a network of cables criss-crossing the Mediterranean.

The South African human machine interface (HMI) market is relatively immature and is projected to enjoy steady but moderate growth over the long term. This will be driven primarily by the continued demand for improved automation systems and more efficient HMIs. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that the South African HMI market earned revenues of $13,3 million in 2007 and estimates this to reach $24,8 million in 2014. The market will witness a more positive outlook from 2009, following the power shortages experienced in South Africa in 2007-2008, which created some level of uncertainty for capital investment.

Xpitec has moved its offices to Building 7, 1st floor, Central Park, 13 Esdoring Street, Highveld Techno Park, Centurion. The company’s new telephone number is +27 (0)12 665 1122 and its new fax number is +27 (0)12 665 0517.

Overseas

Companies

u-blox has acquired Geotate (a joint venture between Road Group Holding and NXP), a developer of GPS geotagging solutions based on software GPS technology and related web services. u-blox hopes to use the acquisition as a springboard to expand its position in consumer markets with unique GPS geotagging solutions for digital camera manufacturers and other portable device manufacturers. Total purchase price was 5,5 million Euros in cash, of which 2 million Euros are for a royalty-free patent licence arrangement with NXP and of 3,5 million Euros are for the outstanding shares of Geotate. u-blox will integrate the Geotate business into its existing activities.

Semiconductor Insights has selected two of Micron’s DRAM and NAND innovations as the winners in its Eighth Annual Insight Awards programme. Micron’s 32 Gb 34 nm NAND Flash won the Most Innovative Process Technology award and its 1 Gb 50 nm DDR2 won the Most Innovative DRAM Technology award.

Tektronix Communications has announced its acquisition of Arantech, a provider of customer experience management (CEM) solutions for wireless communications providers. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Tektronix belives that the acquisition will strengthen its Network Intelligence solution set by broadening the suite of applications offered to wireless operators around the world. Arantech will continue to operate as an Arantech branded, standalone line of business within the Tektronix portfolio. Its solutions will remain equipment-vendor independent and will continue to work with any vendor’s installed probes, including those from Tektronix. In addition, Arantech will retain its own dedicated sales and services organisation, R&D, marketing and product development.

Exfo has been named recipient of the Growth Strategy Leadership Award by Frost & Sullivan for the fifth consecutive time. The award is presented to the company whose growth strategy generates the largest market-share gains in the global fibre-optic test equipment (FOTE) market during the previous research period. According to Frost & Sullivan, Exfo captured first place overall in the FOTE market with a market share of 18,0% in 2008, compared to third place with a market share of 12,7% in 2006. Reflecting its overall leadership position, Exfo held the No. 1 spot for several key FOTE market segments including handheld OTDRs (42,0% market share), handheld power meters (26,0%), handheld optical light sources (20,9%), optical loss test sets (40,0%) and PMD analysers (46,0%).

Microchip has acquired R&E International, a privately-held developer of both standard and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) focusing on security and life-safety applications. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, and the deal is expected to be immediately accretive to Microchip’s non-GAAP earnings.

Spansion has settled its patent litigation lawsuits with Samsung Electronics. As part of the settlement, Samsung will pay Spansion $70 million and the companies have exchanged rights in their patent portfolios in the form of licences and covenants subject to a confidential settlement agreement. Due to Spansion's recent Chapter 11 filing, the agreement is subject to approval by the bankruptcy court.

Industry

Worldwide sales of semiconductors were $14,2 billion in February, a decline of 30,4% compared to February 2008 sales of $20,3 billion, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has reported. Sales declined by 7,6% from January when they were $15,3 billion. According to the report, although it would be premature to conclude that the sales decline has hit bottom, there are some indications that the rate of decline has moderated from the final quarter of 2008. The world’s two largest foundry manufacturers have recently reported slight improvements in factory utilisation rates, albeit at levels well below those of a year ago.

The EDA Consortium (EDAC) announced that the electronic design automation (EDA) industry revenue for Q4 2008 declined 17,7% to $1318,7 million, compared to $1602,7 million in Q4 2007. The four-quarter moving average declined 9,4%. Companies that were tracked employed 27 311 professionals in Q4 2008, down 0,9% from the 27 562 employed in Q4 2007, and down 3,1% from the 28 176 employed in Q3 2008.

Technology

PCC Communications of Canada has conducted successful field tests of radio technology demonstrating non line-of-sight broadcast of high definition (HD) video at distances of 10 km, 20 km and 30 km to a standard laptop computer. While not specifically assessed for mobility, the system showed that it was capable of broadcasting HD video to a vehicle travelling at 100 kmph and 18 km removed from the broadcast point.

Fastrax is partnering with MtekVision to deliver the first commercially available platform for Fastrax Software GPS. Fastrax Software GPS is integrated with Mtekn's Maple-3X media processors, which have dual ARM9 350 MHz processors and APEX, MtekVision's parallel SIMD processor-based DSP. Fastrax Software GPS can be fully tailored to meet the requirements of each specific application and device. While traditional GPS solutions require the integration of a hardware component, which can be burdened with features not all customers need and adding to the cost, a software-based solution offers fast time-to-market, dynamic performance and easily adjustable features.

The most energetic laser system in the world – the National Ignition Facility – has been built at the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The system comprises 192 lasers which together can deliver 1,8 megajoules within a few nanoseconds, to a sphere of ‘fuel’ 2 millimetres in diameter. The fuel in this case is two isotopes of hydrogen, called deuterium and tritium, and the result, hopefully, will be nuclear fusion, capable of producing 10 times the energy delivered by the lasers. Although successful fusion is expected to be several years and numerous experimental steps away, the facility could well be the first site where it is done in a controlled way; that is, in a lab rather than a nuclear bomb.


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