NEWS BRIEFS, August 2002

National Semiconductor to build IC Plant in China

National Semiconductor Corp. said it plans to lease 36 acres to build an IC assembly and test plant in China's Suzhou Industrial Park. It will begin building the plant in November and expects it to be operational in 2004. National will invest up to $200 million to build the plant, which will employ roughly 500 people.

Chartered Semiconductor Opens Shanghai Office

Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd. has announced the opening of a regional office in Shanghai, adding to its presence in the Asia/Pacific. This will complement Chartered’s home base in Singapore where it currently operates five fabrication facilities and has a sixth, a 300mm facility in the process of being developed, and its Japan and Taiwan locations.

China's SMIC ready with 0.18-micron Logic Process

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) in Shanghai, China, one of several of pure-play semiconductor foundries being built up in China, has said that it is ready to offer a 0.18-micron CMOS process technology suitable for logic circuits, which will be the first such offering in China. SMIC's internal R&D team has developed the process technology from technologies SMIC has licensed. With a small cell-sized embedded SRAM it is intended to be the start of a 0.18-micron family that will include EEPROM and mixed-signal, RF and SoC capabilities. The company said that SMIC has already implemented this 0.18 um logic technology into volume production, and has achieved competitive levels of defect density and process cycle time.

TI Aiming DSP Core at Digital Audio

Texas Instruments Inc. has targeted its TMS320C6x DSP at the consumer audio market with the introduction today of a baseband chip enabling digital AM/FM radio systems. The TMS320DRI200 combines TI's DSP technology with software technology from iBiquity Digital Corp. that enables radio manufacturers to incorporate digital reception technology into home and mobile radio receivers. The receivers are slated for a retail launch next year and in automobiles in 2004.

Marvell Claims First Two-Chip 802.11b Device

Marvell Semiconductor Inc. has introduced a two-chip 802.11b WLAN device with integrated DSP technology. The company claims that the chipsets offers twice the distance of competing products. The company heralded its chipset as solving critical issues hindering the widespread adoption of WLANs, such as problems with short range, poor battery management, weak interference immunity and insufficient security.

Marvell said its chipsets use DSP technology to lessen the impact of multipath, unwanted echoes in wireless transmissions, which severely reduce range and lower transmission speeds. The chipsets also offer as much as four times better multipath tolerance than current competing products, the company said. It also claims the chipset has the industry’s highest receive sensitivity and highest on-chip power amplifier output at 20dBm at the antenna connector.

Microchip Targets ZigBee with Austrian Link-Up

Microchip Technology Inc., a microcontroller specialist, has signed a licensing agreement for home networking technology with Adcon Telemetry, an Austrian wireless networking company. Under the terms of the agreement, Microchip has licensed a direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) transceiver, which uses the Vienna-based Company's IEEE 802.15.4/ZigBee-compliant transceiver technology. Microchip would use the technology in products designed specifically for the low-power wireless, consumer, appliance and home-automation markets.

The ZigBee standard defines a consumer priced and low-power wireless networking technology for use in the home and in businesses. It is being proposed as an alternative technology to Bluetooth for short-range wireless networking.

Report says Bluetooth Shows Solid Growth in 2002

Allied Business Intelligence (ABI) reports that Bluetooth chipset shipments are estimated to increase to 33.8 million in 2002, up from 11.2 million in 2001. ABI expects this to increase further in the long run, expecting the Bluetooth semiconductor market to grow to just over 1.1 billion chipsets by 2007, with associated revenues of $2.5 billion. Bluetooth is a wireless protocol with a range of only 10 meters, or 30 feet.

National Semiconductor Expands PLL Product Line

National Semiconductor has introduced two new frequency synthesizers to its PLLatinum line of phase locked loops (PLLs) for wireless infrastructure applications. This next-generation fixed radio PLLs are both pin- and software-compatible with the company's LMX2323 PLLs. Manufactured in National's advanced BiCMOS process, the LMX2346 and LMX2347 feature very low phase noise for increased radio sensitivity as well as a small chip scale package for enabling their use in  2, 2.5, 3G  mobile telephone infrastructure equipment such as base stations, WLANs and other wireless communications systems.

Employing a proprietary digital phase locked loop technique, those PLLs reportedly generate very stable, low noise control signals for UHF and VHF voltage controlled oscillators (VCOs). Both PLLs feature low phase noise of -91dBc/Hz at 900 MHz and -85dBc/Hz at 1960 MHz, which enables better radio sensitivity. In addition, phase noise performance is further improved through the use of a charge pump power supply voltage of up to 6V, a selectable oscillator input buffer for minimizing buffer noise current, and the support of reference frequencies of up to 104 MHz.

2-MHz Controllers for ADSL, Cable Modem and STB Applications

National Semiconductor has introduced two new high-performance, synchronous switching regulator controllers with extremely low output voltage capability to power the latest FPGA, microcontroller and DSP cores. The TSSOP-14 package, when combined with the 2 MHz clock and tiny, minimal external components, results in the world's highest power density offering in terms of watts per PCB area, claims the company.

Key features of National's new LM2727 and LM2737 switching regulator controllers include: a 0.6 V internal band gap, which allows output voltages from 85 percent of Vin down to 0.6 V, switching frequency from 50 kHz to 2 MHz so that users can tailor the system for best size and efficiency, and synchronous conversion for enabling up to 95 percent conversion efficiency in low duty cycle or low output voltage conditions

Operating from a 5- to 16-Volt input and regulating down to as low as 0.6-Volts, the 2 MHz switching controllers are designed to provide synchronous voltage conversion in set-top boxes, ADSL and cable modems, and hard disk drives as well as large LCD displays that required 2 to 25 Amps of current. In addition, the devices can be used to perform general-purpose step-down voltage conversion in line-powered systems.

Clocking Engines for 0.13µ CMOS from Barcelona Design

This Miro family of clocking engines supports clock generation, clock synchronization, and clock & data recovery circuit functions, and it generate globally optimal application specific instances for 0.13micron CMOS processes. The clocking engines are analogue intellectual property products used to generate application-specific clocking circuit, helping chip designers working on consumer, wired and wireless communications, and high-end computing applications. Multi-variant PLL design specifications up to 1.8GHz can be synthesized and optimized from Spec to GDSII in matter of hours.

Advanced Real Time Clock from Xicor

Xicor Ltd. In U.K. has introduced a new family of Real Time Clock (RTC) products that combine high density embedded EEPROM memory and advanced system management building block functions, simplifying design and saving on board space. The X1205 is the basic member of the family with enhanced clock/calendar functions, while the X1286 offers also combines 256K bit of embedded EEPROM memory. The top of the range X1288 has all of the above but also packs CPU supervisory functions. They operate from 1.8-5.5V, and include a switchover function for automatic switching from the mains to a battery backup in the event of power failure.