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Electronics news digest
11 November 2009, News, Electronic News Digest

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Business

Xilinx announced second quarter fiscal 2010 sales of $415,0 million, up 10% sequentially and down 14% from the second quarter of the prior fiscal year. Second quarter net income was $64,0 million, or $0,23 per diluted share, including previously announced restructuring charges totalling $5,9 million, or approximately $0,02 per diluted share. Net income in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 was $38,0 million, or $0,14 per diluted share, and in the second quarter of last year was $81,1 million, or $0,29 per diluted share. The company was encouraged by the fact that sequential sales growth in the September quarter was driven by strength from all end markets and geographic regions.

STMicroelectronics reported financial results for the 2009 third quarter and nine months ended 26 September 2009. Net revenues for the third quarter were $2,28 billion, compared to $1,99 billion in the second quarter of 2009 and $2,70 billion in the third quarter of last year. Net loss for the third quarter of 2009 was $201 million, or $0,23 per share, compared to a net loss of $318 million and $289 million in the prior quarter and year-ago period, respectively. Indicating improving demand, inventory was reduced by $150 million in the third quarter, and by $541 million in the first nine months, of 2009.

Announcing financial results for the third quarter ended 3 October 2009, Lattice Semiconductor recorded revenue of $49,1 million, an increase of 5% from the $46,9 million reported in the prior quarter, and a decrease of 15% from the $57,6 million reported in the same quarter a year ago. Net loss for the third quarter was $4,1 million ($0,04 per share), compared to a prior quarter net loss of $2,7 million ($0,02 per share) and a net loss of $7,0 million ($0,06 per share) reported in the same quarter a year ago.

NXP Semiconductors announced third quarter sales of $1,03 billion, a nominal increase of 20,7% from the second quarter of 2009. While the company is still feeling the effects of the economic and financial crisis, the increase in sales on a sequential basis was visible across all business segments and regions. Adjusted EBITDA in the third quarter of 2009 amounted to a profit of $147 million, which is in line with the profit of $147 million in the third quarter of 2008, and up from a profit of $89 million in the second quarter of 2009. Net income for the third quarter of 2009 was a profit of $412 million compared to a loss of $2,54 billion in the third quarter of 2008 and a profit of $344 million in the second quarter of 2009.

Net sales for Freescale Semiconductor’s third quarter of 2009 were $893 million, compared to $824 million in the second quarter of 2009 and $1,41 billion in the third quarter last year. The reported loss from operations for the three months ended 2 October 2009, inclusive of $91 million of reorganisation costs, was $261 million, compared to a loss of $345 million in the second quarter and a loss of $3,37 billion in the third quarter of 2008. EBITDA was $119 million for the third quarter of 2009, compared to $38 million in the second quarter of 2009 and $322 million for the third quarter last year.

Norwegian microcontroller startup Energy Micro, which recently débuted the Gecko range of 32-bit microcontrollers, is hoping to raise $10 million in venture capital during the first half of next year. The company has commenced manufacturing with $6 million put up by its staff members and a similar amount contributed by two lead customers. By 2017, the company plans to capture 1% of the MCU market, expected to amount to approximately $300 million in annual revenue.

Wireless chip joint venture ST-Ericsson has reported financial results for the third quarter of 2009. The company achieved net sales of $728 million, up from the $666 million recorded in the previous quarter. Net loss was $112 million, almost half the $213 million reported in the previous quarter.

Altera announced third quarter sales of $286,6 million, up 3% from the second quarter of 2009 and down 20% from the third quarter of 2008; new products grew 7% sequentially. Third quarter net income was $56,7 million, $0,19 per diluted share, up from net income of $47,4 million, $0,16 per diluted share, in the second quarter of 2009 and down from $94,7 million, $0,31 per diluted share, in the third quarter of 2008. Third quarter 2009 results include a $4,8 million pre-tax charge relating to a previously announced restructuring.

Texas Instruments announced third-quarter revenue of $2,88 billion, net income of $538 million and earnings per share (EPS) of $0,42. This compares favourably to second-quarter revenue of $2,46 billion, net income of $260 million and EPS of $0,20. In the third quarter of 2008, revenue was $3,39 billion, net income was $563 million and EPS was $0,43.

Companies

Mentor Graphics and Valor Computerised Systems announced that the two companies have signed a definitive merger agreement for Mentor to acquire Valor. Under the terms of the agreement, Valor shareholders will receive a combination of Mentor Graphics common shares and cash for aggregate consideration of approximately $82 million, equating to approximately $4,60 per Valor share. Subject to satisfaction of regulatory requirements and approval of Valor shareholders, as well as certain closing conditions, the transaction is expected to close during the first calendar quarter of 2010, after which Valor will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mentor.

Xilinx and ARM announced that they are collaborating to enable ARM processor and interconnect technology on Xilinx FPGAs. Xilinx is adopting ARM Cortex processor IP, using ARM cell libraries and embedded memories for its future programmable platforms. In addition, ARM and Xilinx are working to define the next-generation ARM AMBA interconnect technology that is enhanced and optimised for FPGA architectures. The two companies are already working with a number of IP providers and EDA vendors to support an advanced version of the AMBA specification, which details a strategy for the interconnection and management of functional blocks that make up a system-on-chip (SoC).

LEM has acquired Danish company Danfysik ACP, a leader in the development and manufacturing of high-precision current transducers for the medical scanner, precision industrial motor control, and test and measurement markets. LEM has acquired the transducer activity which produced a turnover of CHF7,6 million in 2008 and employs 15 people.

Freescale Semiconductor and E Ink have agreed to jointly develop system-on-chip (SoC) solutions that integrate Freescale’s i.MX processor technology with E Ink’s Vizplex display controller. The partnership is designed to lower costs and expand the ecosystem of supporting electronics for the eBook market. The collaboration is also expected to spark innovation for emerging product categories such as eNewspapers, tablet PCs, laptop secondary displays, eNotebooks and eDictionaries. According to a 2009 DisplaySearch report, eBook unit shipments are expected to grow from one million units in 2008 to more than 75 million units in 2018 with a value of approximately $3,8 billion.

Industry

The first Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) products are already lining up, ahead of a specification ratified by the Bluetooth SIG. BLE is supported by two different technology implementations: dual mode and single mode ICs. By and large the two modes of IC will also be produced by two different groups of vendors, with each dependant on the investment and commitment of the other. According to a recent study from ABI Research, next year, single mode ICs will account for less than 3% of BLE chipset shipments. Just over 2,5 billion BLE chipsets are expected to ship in 2014 in a market that will grow at 78% CAGR between 2009 and 2014; but less than a third of those shipments will be for the single mode ICs. BLE will enable sensors and monitors to communicate with mobile handsets and other BLE-enabled devices using very low-power communications. While existing low-power short-range applications such as sports and fitness equipment will be the first devices to market, there is further potential for more serious BLE health monitoring applications.

Chip manufacturers Infineon Technologies, STMicroelectronics and NXP Semiconductors, and chip card maker Giesecke & Devrient are among the 11 companies from six EU countries participating in the European research project BioP@ss to develop a high-security chip card platform. BioP@ss’ goal is to do the technical spadework for the introduction of an electronic ID card in chip card format valid throughout the entire EU. In addition to its function as an ID card, it will be capable of providing a secure means of authentication for services offered by governments and public authorities, with BioP@ss-holders able to identify themselves electronically and carry out biometric authentication on the Internet. The 27 EU member states have about 500 million inhabitants, and an estimated 380 million ID cards are currently in circulation.

Technology

Scientists have developed a new device to speed up optical data. The ‘time telescope’, developed by a research team at Cornell University, comprises a silicon chip called a ‘time lens,’ lengths of optical fibre and a laser. The energy-efficient device can compress data switching at 10 Gbps to a stream running at 270 Gbps. It is made from silicon, which is starting to reveal heretofore unexpectedly advantageous optical properties, and should therefore be easily manufacturable using already existing techniques.

North Carolina State University engineers have created a new material that would allow a fingernail-size computer chip to store the equivalent of 20 high-definition DVDs or 250 million pages of text, far exceeding the storage capacities of today’s computer memory systems. Working at the nanometre level, the engineers added metal nickel to magnesium oxide, a ceramic. The resulting material contained clusters of nickel atoms no bigger than 10 square nanometres, a 90% size reduction compared to today’s techniques. The discovery also advances knowledge in the emerging field of spintronics, which is dedicated to harnessing energy produced by the spinning of electrons. Most energy used today is harnessed through the movement of current and is limited by the amount of heat that it produces, but the energy created by the spinning of electrons produces no heat. The NC State engineers were able to manipulate the nanomaterial so the electrons’ spin within the material could be controlled, which could prove valuable to harnessing the electrons’ energy.


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