News


Electronics News Digest

14 August 2002 News Electronic News Digest

Southern Africa

3M Telecommunications, a division of 3M South Africa, has announced a deal with the Malesela Group, a 100% black-owned company, based in Pretoria. The deal, effective 1 July 2002, gives Malesela the sole and exclusive rights to all 3M Telecommunications' products within South Africa. (See '3M announces telecommunications deal with Malesela.)

Siemens Information and Communications Group, in a joint venture with Telkom, has secured a R7m contract for the upgrade and rollout of Med Clinic's telephony systems. Siemens' Enterprise Solutions will install its Hicom 300H communication servers in 12 hospitals countrywide. The Hicom systems feature state-of-the art technology and offer mobility, Voice over IP, centralised database management, digital communication to the desktop, video conferencing, as well as a number of other features.

ELMOS Semiconductor AG acquired a majority shareholding in Pretoria-based design house, Microsystems On Silicon (MOS), for an undisclosed amount in May 2002. MOS specialises in the development of mixed-signal integrated circuits and high voltage applications on CMOS processes. Apart from ASICs, MOS also targets emerging niche markets and is currently launching a product family of controller ICs for passive infrared applications. The company says the cooperation with ELMOS will boost its design expertise and capacity, while it will gain access to sub-micron and high voltage, high current technologies. MOS adds that it also has a good working relationship with SA chip manufacturer, SAMES.

Keops Isis Industrial Information Systems (Keops Isis) recently combined its expertise in management information systems (MIS) and manufacturing execution systems (MES) with programmable logic controller (PLC) and supervisory control and data acquisition (scada) services to offer the industry what it calls 'a redefined man-machine interface solution'. Scada technology has evolved over the years to successful multipurpose utility management and control tools, and the capabilities are still increasing. Keops Isis says that 'state-of-the-art' has advanced so rapidly that many potential clients are not aware of the myriad of functions which scada has to offer. Keops Isis is well known for its strengths within the MIS and MES domain.

With the Johannesburg World Summit 2002 expecting to draw in excess of 40 000 visitors from around the world, demand on the Summit's IT resources will be high. This is according to HP who will be providing all the IT equipment needed for the event. HP IT project manager Kirsten Leemans says that the company is currently working with partners to develop and implement an integrated hardware, software management and storage solution to address the communications and data needs for the summit. Hardware will be allocated to address the three primary IT requirements, namely: accreditation, information and operations. 39 sites will be linked via multiple VLANs located in and around Johannesburg, including airports, hotels, the Sandton Convention Centre, NASREC, JOWSCO headquarters as well as the Wanderers Stadium and three media centres.

Arrow Altech Distribution has been appointed as a distributor for Sony Ericsson.

Parsec has been appointed as a distributor for FS Forth-Systeme.

Amphenol has moved to 30 Impala Road, Chislehurston, Sandton. Tel: 011 783 9517, fax: 011 783 9519.

Overseas

Business

Infineon's third quarter 2002 results showed improved revenues, EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) and reduced net loss sequentially and year-on-year in a continued difficult market environment. Infineon gained market share in all business groups. Revenues were Euro 1,4 bn - up 1% sequentially and 10% year-on-year - due to improved demand for security controllers in mobile communications and banking applications, broadband access solutions and steady demand for automotive and industrial power products, it said. Ongoing cost reductions and increased revenues reduced net loss to Euro 76m. This is a sequential improvement from a loss of Euro 108m in the previous quarter and from a loss of Euro 371m year-on-year. Infineon said it also significantly strengthened market position in communications through acquisition of Ericsson Microelectronics and a major DSP technology cooperation.

Texas Instruments reported that its second-quarter revenue increased 18% sequentially and 6% compared with the year-ago period. TI said that sequential revenue growth of $335m was driven by double-digit percentage gains in all of TI's business segments - Semiconductor, Sensors & Controls, and Educational & Productivity Solutions (E&PS). Semiconductor was the largest contributor, with a sequential revenue increase of $246m, or 16%. Compared with the year-ago quarter, TI revenue was up $125m, or 6%, based on 6% growth in Semiconductor and 16% growth in E&PS.

Altera has announced second quarter sales of $178,9m, up 4% from the first quarter of 2002. Sales of the company's new products grew 35% sequentially. Second quarter net income was $21,7m. This compares to first quarter net income of $19,0m. Gross profit margin for Q2 was 60,8% of sales and included a favourable gross profit contribution related to the sale of devices from inventory written off in 2001, said Altera. The company said the newly-introduced Stratix device family was performing 'superbly' and that it is on track for a record setting revenue ramp.

Fujitsu reported a $470m net loss for its first quarter ended 30 June, almost the same loss as for the like period a year ago. Sales for the quarter totalled $8,1 bn, a 10% decrease from the year-ago period. Fujitsu attributed the loss to the continuing depressed global communications market and to the growing strength of the yen that impacts export sales. Positively, the firm noted increased price stability in the logic IC and other semiconductor markets. The electronic devices and semiconductor group had sales of $1,18 bn, down 11% from the same quarter a year ago. Flash memory price declines were blamed for a $62m operating loss.

Actel reported its revenue for the second quarter of 2002 was slightly up 4% sequentially to $34,3m. Operating loss was lowered to $282 000, down from a loss of $853 000 in the first quarter.

Hitachi achieved consolidated net sales for the first quarter, ended 30 June, of $15,5 bn, 4% lower than the same period last year. But Hitachi said it managed to post operating income of $114m, reversing an operating loss of $91m in the previous year's first quarter, as its Corporate Innovation Initiative, produced results and structural reforms were implemented. In the Electronic Devices segment, rising demand drove sales of large-size TFT LCDs higher. Sales in small-size TFT LCDs for cellphones also increased. Semiconductor sales were down overall due to a sharp fall in sales for memories, which outweighed firm sales of multipurpose semiconductors and system LSIs, mainly microcomputers, it said. Consequently, sales for this segment amounted to $3,13 bn, 9% less than the first quarter of the preceding year, recording an operating income of $20m, a reversal from an operating loss of $157m in last year's Q1.

Companies

IBM is to buy PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Consulting for $3,5 bn in cash and stock, the biggest acquisition in IBM's history. The purchase is aimed at boosting slowing revenue in the computer giant's large services business, which now accounts for more revenue than its well-known computers and mainframes.

Hynix Semiconductor and ARC International have agreed to an alliance in the system-on-a-chip (SoC) and silicon foundry arena. Under the terms, Hynix is expanding its IP portfolio by offering ARC's 32-bit RISC/DSP ARCtangent microprocessor core architecture in a hard macro form. The deal will enable Hynix's foundry customers faster time-to-market for SoC designs, said Hynix.

Fairchild Semiconductor has formed the Integrated Circuits Group to accelerate growth and leverage market opportunities. The group will include the company's Interface & Logic Division and the Analog & Mixed Signal Division.

Intel has established the CAD 3D Working Group to define, develop and deploy a common format to represent 3D images on the Web. The working group, which is part of the Web3D Consortium, includes members from various segments of the 3-D graphics industry. The Web3D Consortium is best known for spearheading the development of the Virtual Reality Mark-up Language (VRML). Intel said that the CAD 3D Working Group membership includes among others: 3Dlabs, Adobe Systems, ATI, Boeing, Dassault, Microsoft, Mental Images, Naval Postgraduate School, NIST, and Parallel Graphics, and that it expects the working group to complete its initial standards development effort in about 18 months.

Nine leading communications companies have formed the High Speed Backplane Initiative (HSBI). The purpose of the group is to develop serial link technology capable of sending data at rates of 4,976 to 6,375 Gbps across a backplane environment up to a distance of 30 inches (76 mm) including two connectors. Future work of the HSBI group will address 10 Gbps and higher data rates over the backplane. Founding member companies are: Agilent, Cadence, Gennum, Intel, Marvell, Mindspeed, Texas Instruments, Tyco Electronics, and Velio Communications. In addition, 28 other companies are contributing to the specification.

A consortium of five companies is developing a new standard that will enable Flash memory cards to be used for secure shopping and banking. Ingentix, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), SanDisk and Toshiba have created the Mobile Commerce (MC) Extension Standard for Flash memory cards. The new MC Extension Standard will enable the implementation of security functions in addition to the standard memory features that are already supported by such cards. Adding these security capabilities will enable the Flash memory cards to be used in new applications, such as secure data transfer, content purchase and electronic payment, etc.

AMD, Infineon Technologies, and UMC have announced plans to collaborate on the development of common 65/45 nm manufacturing platform technologies for the high-volume production of semiconductor logic products on next-generation 300 mm wafers. Each of the three companies will supply engineering resources and expertise to jointly develop common platform technologies, which will then be tailored by each company to meet specific manufacturing and product requirements.

Industry

IC Insights has released its ranking of worldwide top 10 semiconductor suppliers for the first half of 2002. With three suppliers from the US, three from Europe, two from Japan, one from Korea, and one from Taiwan, the list is a balanced representation of geographic regions, it said. Intel maintained its number one position, however, significant movement took place in the remainder of the ranking. Changes in top 10 positions include: TSMC jumped six spots from 15th to 9th to enter the top ten ranking for the first time; Samsung secured 2nd place by jumping three positions; Infineon moved ahead three places into 6th place; and Hitachi dropped out of the top 10 ranking. Ranked in order: Intel, Samsung, Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, Toshiba, Infineon, NEC, Motorola, TSMC, Philips Semiconductors.

VLSI Research has lowered forecasts for chips and equipment. This is based on the fact that, 'though chip prices are beating Moore's Law, they are not beating it hard enough'. Thus, it says, the possibility of a price-led upturn in the second half is looking worse all the time for chip makers. VLSI also notes that profitability remains a problem for chip makers. In addition, it says, the 'American Financial Crisis' is also hampering the ability of chip makers to spend. In an altered forecast, the research firm expects the market will grow by 12,6% in 2002 over 2001. In total, it expects the IC market to grow from $118,5 bn in 2001, to $133,4 bn in 2002. In 2001, the worldwide IC market fell 33% over 2000.

UK-based market research firm Future Horizons has projected that the worldwide semiconductor market will grow by 3,6% in 2002 over 2001, but is optimistic that 2003 will be the year of recovery, with growth estimated at a 'blistering' 26,4% over 2002.

Despite hopes that worldwide PC shipments would increase for the first time in a year, total shipments were down 0,5% from a year ago to 31,1m in the second quarter of 2002, according to IDC. Although shipment growth improved more significantly in the prior two quarters, the June quarter marks the fifth consecutive decline. The 0,5% decline compares with forecast growth of 1,3% while, sequentially, shipments were down 7,8% from the first quarter vs. a forecast decline of 6,2%. In worldwide PC shipments the top five vendors for Q2 were: HP, Dell, IBM, Fujitsu Siemens, and NEC.

Mentor Graphics has filed a patent infringement suit against Cadence Design Systems over hardware emulation. Mentor's subsidiary, Ikos Systems, is alleging that Cadence and its Quickturn subsidiary infringe its US Patent relating to 'Programmable Multiplexing Input/Output Port'.

Forgent Networks, the enterprise video network software and services company that is claiming patent rights to JPEG data compression technology, has put out a statement clarifying its licensing program. The company's subsidiary Compression Labs was issued a patent which covers a 'coding system for reducing redundancy' more than a decade before the digital imaging technology known as JPEG reached mass-market popularity. Forgent said it has "the sole and exclusive right to use and license all the claims under the 672 patent that implement JPEG in all 'fields of use' except in the satellite broadcast business". According to Forgent some of these 'fields of use' include digital cameras, digital still image devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), cellular telephones that download images, browsers, scanners and other devices used to compress, store and manipulate digital images. In June, Forgent announced it had sealed a licensing deal with Sony for an undisclosed sum.

Based on current economic expectations, worldwide IT spending this year will reach $981 bn, an increase of 3,7% over 2001, says IDC. While spending on IT hardware will show a full year-on-year decrease of 4% this year, growth of spending on software and services will result in positive growth for the total IT market, according to the research firm.

With advances in storage networking and the introduction of new low-cost storage options, IDC believes the storage software market will more than double by 2006, reaching $13,6 bn compared with the slight 0,9% growth experienced from 2000-2001. The scale and complexity of today's storage systems has created a demand for innovative, integrated storage software products. IDC also believes the storage resource management area will be the fastest-growing sub-segment over the next five years, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 21,6%. Growth is attributed to the adoption of more sophisticated resource management tools designed with storage networking in mind as well as increased corporate emphasis on making better use of existing storage systems.

Anadigics has opened a wireless technical development centre in Aalborg, Denmark, that will focus on GSM, EDGE, and W-CDMA RF solutions support for European and Asian wireless handset designs.

Wireless Systems International, the UK-based designer and manufacturer of base-station amplifiers and power amplifier specialist, has gone into administration. Most of WSI's assets have been sold to US antenna and wireless infrastructure group Andrew Corporation.

Technology

A major Taiwanese manufacturer of handsets, Quanta, has successfully integrated positioning technology from Cambridge Positioning Systems (CPS) into a GSM handset. TTPCom were responsible for integrating CPS's Cursor E-OTD (Enhanced Observed Time Difference) algorithm software into its existing GSM/GPRS protocol stack software, which has been licensed by Quanta. This software upgrade has made it possible for Quanta to add E-OTD functionality easily to their handsets, and thereby achieve a fast time to market. This development is seen as pivotal in the rollout of location-enabled cellular phones to meet the FCC's E-911 mandate for high accuracy location in the US.

Kopin claims to have harnessed nanotechnology to produce LEDs, yielding blue LEDs that are as bright as commercial devices but that can be driven by a lower voltage. Intended for use as solid-state light sources, Kopin says the new CyberLite blue LED chips require less than 2,9 V (for 20 mA current) - significantly lower than 3,3 V for commercially available LEDs - and yet have 100 millicandela brightness. They can be combined with a yellow phosphor to create white LEDs.

Hop-On has announced that it has received approval from the FCC for the world's first CDMA disposable cellphone. Hop-On's phone is a single mode cellular handset that operates in the 800 MHz frequency band, is fully recyclable and will offer a rechargeable battery and the capability to add additional minutes.





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