September 15th, 2005
Evergreen Supports Fab Transition and Aging Fabs
Although main stream multibillion dollar fabs get most of the attention,
there are numerous chip companies that have profitable, small to medium sized wafer fabrication facilities. These fabs serve
the mixed signal, mature digital and digital chip aftermarkets.
Evergreen Enhancement is a start-up that caters to these fabs and
tier-two fab lines at tier one semiconductor companies. According to William Kerr, Evergreen Enhancement Founder and CEO,
"While taking care of legacy equipment is hardly as sexy as working with state-of-the-art 'bleeding edge' products, many high
tech manufacturers such as microchip and integrated circuit makers are dependent on older systems. They simply can't change
to the newest equipment overnight and expect to meet deliveries and remain competitive.
Mr. Kerr went on to say, "Unfortunately, many of the engineers responsible
for these embedded technology systems are long gone. And the original manufacturers usually only want to see an update replacement.
That's where Evergreen Enhancement comes in, with outsourced engineering for legacy equipment and systems."
Evergreen indicates it applies the latest technology to give old
fabs new features, such as Internet based diagnostics. Mr. Kerr explained "In effect, it's like old wine in new bottle - bringing
the best solution to users who simply cannot replace legacy systems without major disruptions, downtime, lost business and
Other policies that Evergreen emphasizes include risk reduction,
cost avoidance and system uptime. The company uses its expertise to predict equipment and fab line failures before they occur
– allowing fabs to keep manufacturing costs low.
September 14th, 2005
Cubic Wafer Prepares for Growth – New 3D Die and Wafer Stack Technology offers Cost and Size Reduction for Consumer Electronic Products
Cubic Wafer, in anticipation of growth form its 3D stacking technology,
has relocated its headquarters to Austin, Texas and naming Ed Healy, chief executive officer and Abhay Misra as vice president
of operations and engineering. According to Russ Johnsen, chairman of the board of Cubic Wafer. "The benefit of having a management
team in place with the skills Ed and Abhay bring is their ability to immediately capitalize on our technology by implementing
a strategic plan for achieving a revenue stream in the short term without losing sight of our long-term objectives. We are
confident Cubic Wafer is positioned to create an industry shift to transform and advance the integration possibilities of
the semiconductor industry."
Cubic Wafer indicates that its process technology for the vertical
integration of silicon die will offer solutions for consumer electronic products such as cameras, PCs printers, and wireless
The two new members of Cubic’s team plan to establish partnerships
with chip companies to enable dramatic reduction of chip production costs. Specifically targeted are high volume Asian foundries,
assembly and packaging companies.
Cubic Wafer’s process technology is used to fuse integrated
circuits at the die or wafer level. The company bills the technology as “The chip becomes the board.” This
technology can be used to bond together chips manufactured with different process technologies such as analog and digital
CMOS processes with over a million communication contacts per square centimeter. These contacts or bonds are reported to be
one-thousand time shorter than the IO connections found on today’s horizontal chips. The reduction of IO length portends
to lower power and higher speed chip solutions. The company also indicates that it solution combines the best advantages
of system-in-packaging and system-on-chip design methodologies to obtain a very cost-effective, smaller, faster, and lower
September 12th, 2005
Brazil to Establish Wafer Fab
and Design House Infrastructure
Through Companhia Brasileira de semiconductores (CBS), Brazil’s
semiconductor manufacturing venture, Brazil is expected to have a semiconductor wafer fabrication facility by 2007. The new
facility is expected to be located in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais on a 990 acre facility along with several other
technology companies. The fab, to be in the Minas Gerais Technological Park. is planned for the production of high voltage,
mixed signal CMOS, BiCMOS and Bipolar chips.
Through Brazil’s Eldorado project, Brazil is also expected
to become home for semiconductor design houses through its own pool of local talent and foreign chip companies that are expected
to locate in the area. According to Dr. Wolfgang Sauer, CEO of CBS, "Brazil is already a major maker and exporter of advanced
high-technology products such as aircraft, consumer electronics, and cell phones and is making the necessary infrastructure
and industrial investment to step onto the world stage in semiconductor manufacturing and design. The technological park in
Minas Gerais, and CBS in particular, are clear indicators of Brazil's direction and commitment. For strategic reasons many
companies want to have semiconductor manufacturing located in multiple economic and geographic zones. A Brazilian semiconductor
industry offers a real alternative to the concentration of semiconductor manufacturing in Asia."
September 9th, 2005
Impinj, Inc., a fabless semiconductor company with operations in
RFID chips and intellectual property, has said it has entered into volume production of its Monza Generation 2 RFID tag chip.
Along with the announcement the company also said that it fulfill orders exceeding 50 million Monza chips in the second half
Impinj already has manufactured the Monza chip for several customers,
which were listed as Avery Dennison (NYSE: AVY), Hana RFID, IER, KSW Microtec AG, Precisia, RF IDentics, RSI ID Technologies
and UPM Rafsec.
According to Dr. William Colleran, Impinj CEO, "We are extremely
pleased that customers appreciate the performance advantages that our Monza tag silicon delivers. With volume production now
underway and key supply chain partnerships in place, Impinj is well-positioned to support the accelerating Gen 2 adoption.
We expect inlays based on our Monza chips to be available in high volumes as early as September, followed shortly thereafter
by converted labels."
Along with the announcement has also comes news that Impinj has
entered into a manufacturing agreement with Alien Technology, also a RFID chip company. Dr. William Colleran also remarked
on that arrangement, "Alien has established itself as a market leader in RFID for EPC applications, and is especially effective
in using their FSA technology to address the tag assembly challenge faced by the RFID industry. Under this arrangement, both
Alien and Impinj leverage our complementary strengths -- Impinj's chip design prowess and Alien's assembly capability -- to
deliver very high performance RFID products at competitive cost. We are delighted to announce our relationship which we expect
will provide differentiated products that meet current and future market needs."
The Impinj RFID solution is called the GrandPrix Solution and is
based on AEON nonvolatile memory technology.
September 8th, 2005
Shellcase Ltd., a company that has a significant share in the camera phone image sensor packaging
market, has obtained $19.4 million in a funding round to further its chip-scale package business model. The company received
funding from GlenRock Israel, Infinity Venture Capital Fund, the Korea Global IT Fund, Platinum Neurone Ventures, and China
Singapore Venture Capital. Shellcase indicated that it has planned to use the funding to further its sales, marketing and
development activities in the wafer packaging solutions market.
Furthermore, the funding is expected to create an IP business model. According to Amir Gal-Or,
Managing Director of Infinity, "This investment has enabled a significant change in the Shellcase business model, from a model
of providing contract manufacturing to one of technology licensing and IP development. This model makes the most sense for
Israeli companies, and Shellcase's new focus has already borne fruit through its strategic manufacturing partnership in China."
Shalom Daskal, Shellcase CEO, also indicated that the funding would enable the company’s
further advance into the cellular phone chip packaging market, "Shellcase has a phenomenal technology, a loyal customer base,
and strong intellectual property. The investment will allow the company to bolster its already-strong position in the camera
phone market and to focus on developing the next generation of miniaturization technologies and IP for optical devices."
Shellchase’s image sensor package solutions are used in camera cellular phones from Sanyo,
Omnivision, Pixelplus and others. The company also offers package solutions for RF-MEMS devices.
September 7th, 2005
The National Science Foundation reported that researchers at Pennsylvania
State University have demonstrated a cleanroom-free method to produce nanoelectronic devices. The method called microdisplacement
printing is based on a technique called microcontact printing, which involves the use of a patterned rubber stamp like device
inked with a solution of molecules. According to the principle investigator, Paul Weiss, the microdisplacement technique offers
significant advantages over microcontact printing, "But the new microdisplacement technique gives us more control over the
precision with which the patterns are placed and retained, and also allows us to use a wider range of molecules." The funding
for the project was provided in part by the National Science Foundation.
September 7th, 2005
Sipex to Close Fab, Layoff
– Selects China’s Silan to Foundry Chips
Sipex Corporation with the announcement of a planned strategic relationship with China based
Hangzhou Silan Integrated Circuit Co., Ltd (Silan-IC) has said that it will close its Milpitas, California wafer fabrication
plant. The company reports that it plans to eventually have its chips manufactured at Silan’s chip facility located
in Shanghai. As part of that arrangement, Silan will acquire equipment from Sipex’s facility.
Ralph Schmitt, CEO of Sipex expressed mixed feelings about the developments,
"It is with both excitement and sadness that I make this extremely important announcement regarding the future of our Company.
Our Milpitas fab has made significant operational improvements over the last few years. However, our product needs and the
process capability of this fab are no longer aligned. Therefore, it is not economically feasible to keep the fab operational.
The sacrifices made by the people we expect to lay off due to this strategic manufacturing transition are greatly appreciated
by me and by our stockholders. We will need their continued support and cooperation in order to properly meet our customers'
needs during the transition period."
Sipex plans to immediately start the transfer of the company’s
Bipolar and BiCMOS processes to Silan-IC. The transfer is expected to take at most 1 year. Sipex also indicated that it would
license some of its products to Silan-IC to sell in the China market and would cooperate in future product development efforts.
Mr. Schmitt continued about the reality of China, "This relationship is the start of the new reality of our business as China
becomes a significant manufacturer and procurer of analog products. We need a new progressive model to be successful in the
fastest growing market in the world. Brian Hilton, chairman at Sipex, implied that the entrance into China would have a positive
effect on the company’s sales, "We wanted to have a true strategic relationship and not just a foundry partner. We selected
Silan-IC due to the many synergies in our businesses and products. They are the fastest growing IDM in China with significant
resources to augment what already exists at Sipex."
Over at Silan, Mr. Fan Wei-Hong, General Manager of Silan Integrated
Circuits Co., Ltd., summed up the agreement with a win-win attitude, "Sipex will help Silan-IC continue to build
its position in China. We have great synergies in power and optical products. We help Sipex solve an immediate manufacturing
issue while enabling us with new process technologies and products. This is truly a win-win situation. We have already discussed
further collaborative efforts that will make this a true long-term partnership." Silan presently already has two wafer fabrication
facilities, which produce both Bipolar and BiCMOS chip products in a 10,000 square meter clean room.
September 7th, 2005
Micrel’s Fab Now Capable of Sub 0.35 Micron Capability
– Sees Increased Demand
Micrel, Inc., (NASDAQ: MCRL) with the purchase of new equipment
has reported that it has the capability to process chips based on advanced 0.35 micron CMOS processes. Micrel indicated that
customer’s demand for chips built on the new process has been strong. According to Guy Gandenberger, vice president
of wafer fab and foundry operations, "We are excited about this new equipment, not just for its sub-micron 0.35 capability,
but also because of the increased demand we are seeing from customers for our sub-micron 0.5 production. Not only were we
able to secure this sophisticated piece of equipment at a significantly reduced cost, but we will also add much needed capacity
at the sub-micron 0.5 level, to insure that we continue to meet world class standards for customer service."