Patent Law 101

Xilinx Inc. announced the availability of the Integrated Software Environment (ISE) version 5.2i and ChipScope Pro 5.2i. The company says the new "ASIC-strength" design tools will help with timing closure and will reduce design costs and time spent in the design flow. The company also says ISE 5.2i will help customers begin designing with the company's next-generation MultiGigabit serial I/O transceivers and 90-nanometer FPGAs. All configurations of ISE 5.2i include various design options that can augment existing programmable design flows and fit specific methodologies.

Industry News - Devices & Fabs

Amkor Technology, Inc. announced the sale of its wafer fabrication services business to Anam Semiconductor, Inc. (ASI) for $62 million. The company says it has obtained releases from numerous customers of the wafer fabrication business regarding Amkor's contractual obligation to perform wafer fabrication services subsequent to the transfer of the business to ASI.

Infineon Technologies announced the VDSL5100 chip set, which is a QAM-based chip set for very high-bit rate DSL (VDSL) applications that have a total aggregate data rate of greater than 100 Mbps, including Ethernet over VDSL and ATM over VDSL. (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM)) combines two amplitude-modulated signals into a single channel to double the effective bandwidth.) The VDSL5100 provides asymmetric data-rates of 70 Mbps downstream/40 Mbps upstream and symmetric data-rates of 50/50 Mbps over single-pair copper wires, to allow service providers to offer a broader range of high-bandwidth content to subscribers, including movies, high-definition television and gaming. The VDSL5100 is designed to support universal line card designs, with software programmability, which means equipment manufacturers can use a single configuration to support regional Band Plan requirements and various transport protocols in switches and DSLAM line-cards, as well as customer premise equipment (CPE).

Also from Infineon - The company announced that its subsidiary, Infineon Technologies North America Corp., has agreed to acquire the assets of MorphICs Technology Inc. to strengthen its position in the 3G sector and enlarge its IP portfolio for multi-standard wireless design with programmable chips for digital baseband signal processing. The terms and conditions of the acquisition were not disclosed. MorphICs is a privately held fabless semiconductor company that develops configurable digital baseband circuits for terminal devices and basestations for 3G wireless communications.

LSI Logic Corp. announced availability of seven user-configurable RapidChip slices, which will be additions to the RapidChip design platform. The slices will provide standards-compliant serializer/deserializer (SerDes) technology, an ARM processor, and logic and memory integration capabilities. The slices are intended for the communications, storage and consumer markets. The company says that the new products will attempt to close the market gap between FPGAs and cell-based ASICs by offering density, performance, and power characteristics found in cell-based ASICs along with lower development costs associated with FPGAs.

Micron Technology, Inc. announced the availability of 1.3 megapixel (MI-1300) low-power CMOS progressive-scan active-pixel image sensors designed for digital still cameras, digital video cameras, and PC cameras. The company says the new sensors use the company's DRAM CMOS process technology to give charged coupled device (CCD) level image quality along with the benefits of CMOS sensor technology.

Motorola, Inc., Semiconductor Products Sector, announced it has expanded the line of integrated controller area network (CAN) microcontrollers (MCUs) that include on-chip flash memory. The 68HC908GZ8 and 68HC908GZ16 MCUs are additions to the 8-bit HC08 family and are intended for space-limited applications. The MCUs are available in 32- and 48-pin packages. The company says that CAN MCUs are used in industrial automation and motor control, and that upwards of 150 million network devices are connected with this protocol. A key CAN features is the ability to allow one component of a distributed network to talk to another, with minimal reliance on a central computer, which makes the technology useful in applications such as packaging machinery, agricultural equipment, and medical devices.

National Semiconductor introduced what the company says are "the industry's most powerful boost regulators in a tiny package." The two new products are part of National's new family of high-frequency SOT-23 regulators and combine current-mode control, sub-miniature packaging, and high switching frequency, and are based on the company's analog bipolar CMOS DMOS 150 process. The two converters, the LM2731 and LM2733, operate at a 1.6 MHz switching frequency and are housed in a SOT23, 5-pin package. Both the LM2731 and LM2733 are currently shipping.

TDK U.S.A. Corp., a subsidiary of TDK Corp., announced that it has entered into an agreement and plan of merger with Innoveta Technologies, Inc. and "certain other parties" named in the merger agreement. Subject to conditions specified in the agreement, TDK USA has agreed to acquire 100% ownership of Innoveta by means of a merger of TDK USA's wholly owned subsidiary with and into Innoveta. Upon completion of the merger, Innoveta will become a wholly owned subsidiary of TDK USA and will be renamed TDK Innoveta Inc.

Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) announced a new DSP-based digital media processor, and a corresponding suite of support software and development tools. The new processor is intended for digital still cameras in the 3-5 megapixel range, digital video cameras, and portable multimedia products, and will provide fast shot-to-shot image capture and single-channel MPEG-4 encoding at 30 frames-per-second (fps) for VGA resolution video. The TMS320DM270 (DM270) integrates the TMS320C54x DSP, the ARM7TDMI RISC processor, and video and imaging coprocessors. Software support will be available for all major video, imaging, audio, and voice compression standards.

Toshiba Corp. announced what the company says is the world's first prototype of a small form factor direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) for portable PCs, which Toshiba says is a clean energy source with the potential to end reliance on rechargeable batteries. The new fuel cell currently yields an average output of 12W and maximum output of 20W, and offers up to five hours of operation using a single cartridge of fuel. The fuel cell provides instant power supply and improves operating times with replaceable methanol cartridges.

Coming soon to a theater near you

ISQED Panels - The Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Tom Brokaw of the EDA world will be moderating three panels at the upcoming International Symposium on the Quality of Electronic Design, running from March 24th to 26th at the DoubleTree Inn in San Jose, CA. Tets Maniwa's panelists will discuss the brooding issue of "Hidden Quality, Crouching Customer - How much does the Quality of EDA Tools Impact Electronic Design?" Steve Ohr's group will tackle "Is Quality a Design Constraint for Sub-100-nanometer Designs?" Richard Goering's roundtable will touch on "IC & Package Co-Design Challenges." Industry observers say that wagers are running heavily in favor of "Lots, Yes, and Many" as the conclusions that will be reached by participants in the respective panels. Meanwhile, conference organizers report that ISQED keynoters will include Bob Payne from Philips Semiconductor, Susumu Kohyama from Toshiba, Ted Vucurevich from Cadence, Rajeev Madhavan from Magma, and Michael Reinhardt from RUBICAD. (

IEC NanoEngineering TecForum Webcasts - The International Engineering Consortium is webcasting the archived nanotechnology presentations from DesignCon 2003. There are six 45-minute talks available on-line, which focus on the current state of nanotechnology, its impact on university curricula, current and future applications of research in the area, and various implications for practicing engineers. The presentations were made in conjunction with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEDHA), with support from the National Science Foundation, and are definitely worth your time if you want to bring yourself up to speed on various aspects of the technology. (

Introduction to EDA - Everybody's favorite spokesperson for interoperability, Karen Bartleson, will be presenting a course entitled - "Introduction to EDA for Non-technical Professionals" at the Embassy Suites in Santa Clara, CA, on April 14th. The full-day course, sponsored by Semitracks, Inc., is based on a workshop Bartleson conducted last year at DAC 2002. It's intended for non-technical folks who would like to know more about the semiconductor and EDA industries. If you've ever been lucky enough to sit in on one of Bartleson's seminars, you know your time will be well spent if you can make it to the upcoming event in April. ( )

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