NEWS BRIEFS, November 2001

Temex Triple its Rubidium Clocks

Temex Neuchatel Time SA, part of Temex Group, has announced plans to triple the production of its rubidium clocks by the end of 2002. After the expansion, total production at the company’s Neuchatel, Switzerland, plant will total 10,000 clocks per year.

Philips To Develop Low-Power ASICs For Mobile Applications

Philips Semiconductors has announced that it will be designing and manufacturing low-power ASICs that will offer support for Flarion's Flash-OFDM mobile communications system. Destined for deployment in laptop computer, PDA, and smart phone applications, the devices are being designed to bring broadband mobile services to mass-market users at prices comparable to those of today's standard cable modem Internet connections, claims Philips.  Flarion's Flash-OFDM mobile communication system is an end-to-end IP product for distributing mobile data and voice communications based on technology originally developed by Bell Labs. Flash-OFDM has been designed to allow Internet content to be accessed from mobile devices without requiring any changes to the IP protocol, applications, devices, or content.  The new ASICs from Philips, which will process transmit and receive signals at speeds of up to 3 Mbit/sec, are scheduled to become available in early 2002, with Flash-OFDM mobile PC cards expected to make their debut in 4Q02.

Aura Communications Samples LibertyLink Transceiver Chip

Aura Communications is now sampling its LibertyLink transceiver chip, which has been designed to enable full-duplex, secure communications between multiple wireless devices at speeds up to 204 Kbit/sec.  The programmable SiC-based device, which operates in the 10.5 to 15 MHz frequency range, is destined for deployment in wireless headsets for mobile and cordless phone, telematic, game controller and desktop PC applications.  Achieving a gross data rate of 204.8 Kbit/sec, the chip employs GMSK modulation within a Time Division Duplex-based architecture.  Operating from a 2.2-V supply, LibertyLink consumes 7 mA in a full-duplex voice application or 4 mA in a 64 Kbit/sec data communication application (over a distance of one meter).  The company also reports that few external components are required to complete any system design.

STMicro, HP Intro Customizable Processor

Geneva-based STMicroelectronics has given first details of a new customizable microprocessor core resulting from its collaboration with Hewlett-Packard Co.  Its first very long instruction word (VLIW) microprocessor core, the ST210 executes up to four instructions per clock cycle, allowing the equivalent of 1GHz RISC performance while maintaining the low power benefits of a 250MHz clock frequency, said the company.  The ST210 is primarily aimed at consumer video/audio streaming applications such as MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and MP3.  According to the companies, much effort has gone into optimizing the core’s compilation tools so that enhancements to the micro-architecture, such as new dedicated instructions, number of functional execution units, sizes of data and instruction caches and so on, can be analyzed.  First system-on-chip designs for the new core are expected to be in the area of audio decoding and MPEG video encoding in applications such as DVD players and recordable DVD. A test chip, ST200-STB1, is now sampling.

Toshiba Rolls Out 64-Bit Embedded Microprocessor

Toshiba America Electronic Components has announced the development of a new 64-bit MIPS-based microprocessor (MPU) targeted at digital consumer products that require 64-bit processing power and specialized peripherals, including broadband audio/video, internet appliances, mobile applications and residential security gateways.  The TX4925 features NAND Flash memory support for storing user profiles s well as Micron's SyncFlash for faster accessing requirements and support of peripherals such as a PCMCIA interface, PCI controller and AC-Link controller. The chip's integrated static direct random access memory (SDRAM) controller can reportedly handle four channels of registered/non-registered DIMM SDRAM in configurations up to two gigabytes.  In addition, the external bus controller offers support for up to six channels of read only memory (ROM), Flash, SRAM and memory-mapped I/O devices.


The TX4925 offers a two-channel serial input/output (I/O) port and parallel I/O port, serial peripheral interface, high-speed serial concentration highway interface, three-channel timer/counter and 44-bit up counter real time clock, a AC97 and audio link interface and an AC-Link.  Two power-down modes as well as a reduced frequency function has been included to enable the CPU clock frequency to be reduced by a factor of four reducing overall power consumption. The 64-bit processor also integrates Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) slots to interface radio frequency modules in broadband wireless communications.  An improved 32-bit Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) controller is also on tap, which can deliver a sustained throughout of 120 Mbit/sec. The PCI controller will allow four master devices to be connected to the chip, such as MPEG-2/4 controllers or Ethernet controllers for digital video recorder functions.  Featuring a 1.5-V core and a 3.3-V I/O, the chip's 200-MHz microprocessor RISC core provides an optimized five-stage pipeline with a 64-bit data path based on MIPS architecture. The core also incorporates a memory management unit (MMU) with 48-double entry translation look aside buffer as well as four-way set-associative 16-kilobyte (KB) instruction and data caches.

Fairchild Rolls Out 8-bit Triple DAC

Fairchild Semiconductor International today announced a triple 8-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with a conversion rate of 180MHz.  The device, dubbed the FMS3818, is built using a 0.35-micron process and is Fairchild’s first DAC for +3.3V supplies.  Fairchild said the DAC’s high-resolution output is designed for systems featuring XGA, SXGA, and UXGA resolutions.  This would place it in the market for display applications such as video, computer graphics cards and workstations, the company said.  The triple DAC is the latest in a family of such devices and it offers the lower clock rates and higher voltages than the rest of the range.  Fairchild said the FMS3818 includes features like power-down control to conserve battery power in portable equipment, double-buffered digital inputs for low distortion, and an onboard band gap voltage reference. Fairchild said its performance is guaranteed from 0 degrees to 70 degrees Celsius.

IEEE 802.11 Acts To Speed Data Rates In The 2.4-GHz Spectrum

The Task Group G of the IEEE's 802.11 Committee has introduced a proposal for a new wireless networking standard (802.11g) that would allow data rates of up to 54 Mbit/sec in the 2.4-GHz frequency band.  In addition, the proposal includes backwards compatibility with current 11 Mbit/sec Wi-Fi products.  The mandatory modulation schemes for the proposed standard are Complementary Code Keying (CCK), which is already a part of the 802.11b standard, as well as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), which is already part of the 802.11a standard.  In addition, two optional modulations will be allowed: CCK-OFDM and CCK-PBCC.

Samsung Introduces Bluetooth Chip Antenna

Samsung Electro-Mechanics has developed a Bluetooth chip antenna for super slim devices.  The chip antenna embeds the function of a bar-type antenna into a chip, which then is incorporated into a device like any other integral component.  At 11mm x 3mm x 1.2mm, the miniature chip antenna uses technology that provides omni directional transmission/reception.  Additionally it is composed of 20 super slim layers with independently designed microprocessors on each layer.


Cisco Introduces a New Mobil IP

Cisco Systems, Inc. has announced availability of new Mobile IP functionality called Cisco Mobile Networks. Mobile IP, as specified by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), enables an IP device to roam across networks and geographies while remaining constantly connected to the network or the Internet as if it is attached to its home location all the time using the same IP address.  With the Mobile Networks functionality, a Cisco router along with its entire network of connected IP devices can now roam seamlessly across network boundaries and connection types.


Mobile Networks is independent of the physical layer and operates transparently over cellular, satellite and other types of communications networks.  A mobile LAN powered by Cisco Mobile Networks supports an "always on" connection to the Internet, enabling end users connected to the LAN to stay fully functional at all times during long periods of transit.  For example, an airplane with a router running Cisco Mobile IP with the Cisco Mobile Networks functionality can fly around the world with all passengers continuously connected to the Internet. The passengers connect their laptops, personal digital assistants, or cell phones to the router on the airplane using traditional LAN technologies such as Ethernet or 802.11b.  No special "mobility enabled" devices are required as the network is enabling the mobility.

UK Based Intersil Introduces a Digital Radio Chipset

A digital radio modem chip-set, the CommLink OC-3 has been designed to speed up the design of fixed broadband radio systems for wireless Internet and cellular base station communications equipment.  The modem chip-set solution includes the new ISL87060 chip-set and reference design.  The ISL87060 enables low-cost, rapid deployment of point-to-point digital radio systems for high-speed wireless transmission of voice, data and video and speeds from 4xTI/E1 to full OC-3/STM-1 data rates of 155 Mbps.  The solution also includes the ISL837030 reference design and the ISL83700 Modem Evaluation Kit.

Philips Intros 9-Bit Video Decoder Chip

Philips Semiconductors has introduced a 9-bit video decoder with 2x-oversampling, a dynamically adaptive 4-line comb filter, Macrovision detection and a Vertical Blanking Interval (VBI) data slicing capability.  The device is destined for deployment in next-generation set-top boxes, digital television sets, video projectors and personal video recorders.  Functioning as part of the company's Nexperia Digital Video platform, the SAA7115 decoder provides for the front-end digitization and processing of analog video inputs.  In addition, the chip is certified to be fully compliant with the Macrovision Copy Protection Detect Specification, Revision 1.00.

NEC Introduces Mobil-Specific RAM Devices

NEC has developed a mobile-specific RAM device that pumps up memory density in mobile applications.  With its optimized refresh array and power circuitry, the MSRAM has a standby dissipation of 100 mA and a power-down mode with standby dissipation of 10 mA.  A 16-Mbit MSRAM device based on a 0.22 mm process is now available.  Organized a 1-Mbit word x 16-bit, it is fully compatible in function and pin out with the ball size and ball layout of 48-pin flip ball grid array (FBGA) 16-bit I/O low power SRAM devices.

Indium Corp. Introduces Pb-Free Low-Temp Solder Paste

The NC-SMQ 81 Sn-Bi-Ag alloy solder paste is claimed to be the only commercially available robust No-Clean, Halide-free solder paste designed for thermally sensitive assembly processes using the eutectic Sn-Bi-Ag alloy.  In a typical reflow soldering profile (forced convection system), its maximum peak temperature is 170°C (in order to pass SIR) with a maximum temperature of 195°C.  The solder paste meets J-STD-004 and -005 criteria, as well as Bellcore, ANSI/IPC-SF-818/SP-819 and Mil-P-28809 specifications

Cobar Europe BV of Netherlands Offers New Solder Paste

Cobar's XM-5 series no-clean solder paste utilizes the company's new polymer system, which is claimed to give the paste unparalleled thermal stability, even under the demanding conditions and high temperatures associated with lead-free soldering.  The formulation is extremely clean, offering excellent wetting and soldering performance while leaving minimal residue, and resists collecting/condensing on reflow oven internal surfaces.  XM-5 wets evenly and coalesces uniformly on solder connections, minimizing tombstoning effects associated with today's ever-smaller passive electronic components.  The paste can be printed at high speeds under very low pressures with zero print defects.

Atmel and TROY Team Up to Bring Bluetooth Solutions to Market

Atmel® Corporation, an associate Bluetooth™ member, announced that it has partnered with TROY Wireless and Connectivity Division, an associate Bluetooth™ member, to build specific Bluetooth application software into its family of Bluetooth baseband controllers.  The combination of the Atmel baseband chip and the TROY software provides all the building blocks required to enable complete Bluetooth wireless communications on an Original Equipment Manufacturer's (OEM) device.  The two companies have already partnered to secure OEM design wins and will work together in the future on other major Bluetooth customer opportunities.

Motorola to Phase Out Two Chip Production Lines in Mesa, Arizona

In a continuation of its manufacturing renewal strategy to improve asset management, Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector will phase out two wafer fabrication lines at its Mesa, AZ facility over the next two and a half years.

The phase out plans for MOS-6 and the Bipolar Manufacturing Center (BMC) will affect about 1,200 employees, many of whom are expected to be transferred to jobs in Motorola's other metro Phoenix operations, as business conditions permit. However, some job losses are expected, and employees will be offered severance packages if other positions are not available.  BMC makes bipolar products for a broad range of businesses, including leading automotive customers, and is expected to phase out production over the next 18 months.  MOS-6, which is scheduled to phase out production over the next 30 months, makes complex radio frequency (RF) products for wireless communications and infrastructure customers.

Applied Materials Debuts Transistor Gate Technology

Applied Materials Inc. has released its DPN (decoupled plasma nitration) chamber, a process technology used to fabricate transistor gate dielectric structures in next-generation chips.  The chip equipment maker said the single-wafer DPN process incorporates a high concentration of nitrogen into the surface of an ultra-thin gate oxide to prevent boron penetration and reduce leakage current. This results in repeatable and reliable transistors for 130nm and below device designs, Applied said.

TEL To Launch Shanghai Company

Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL) has announced plans to create a new company in Shanghai, China, that will focus on customer support for the company’s chip equipment.  Tokyo’s TEL said it is establishing the office to capitalize on the Chinese semiconductor market, which is expected to be one of the next big areas of growth.  The new company will begin operations in April 2002.  The company will be named Tokyo Electron (Shanghai) Ltd. and will be based in the Shanghai Wai Gaoqiao Free Trade Zone, in Shanghai City.  The company will employ about 70 people.

Dongbu Offers 0.18-Micron Low-Voltage Process

Dongbu Electronics of Eumsung, Korea has announced that it has qualified its low-voltage 0.18-micron CMOS process, signaling to the industry that it can produce SOC chips for wireless, portable and other consumer applications.  Dongbu qualified its process at its fab in Eumsung Korea after demonstrating what it said were high yields after 1,000 hours of "burn-in," according to a press release.  Dongbu licenses its process technology from Toshiba Corp. of Tokyo.  Dongbu offers six layers of metal with its process technology, and the low-voltage option utilizes shallow trench isolation structures to increase chip density and develop lower leakage transistors. This process is designed to facilitate 1.5-Volt operation for systems.