Via plans low-cost 1-GHz PC processor
SAN JOSE -- Via Technologies Inc. will shortly announced a new x86-based microprocessor line for the low-cost PC market, with plans to develop a 1-GHz chip by early-2002, said Eric Chang, director of product marketing for Taiwan-based chip company.
In an interview at the Platform Conference here this week, Chang said Via will roll out its code-named Samuel II processor in the first quarter of 2001. Samuel II is a 750- to 850-MHz chip geared for low-cost PCs, he said.
Later this year, Via will ship a 950-MHz processor. And in early-2002, it will roll out the C5X, a 1-GHz chip, he added.
"We want to expand our microprocessor business," Chang said. Analysts believe that Via's processor business only represents 5% of its total sales. The remaining portion comes from its bread-and-butter PC chip set products.
Here come faster Athlon chips...
SAN JOSE -- Continuing to put pressure on Intel Corp. in the x86-based processor market, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. will shortly unveil new and faster versions of its popular Athlon family of MPUs.
At present, AMD's fastest Athlon is a 1.2-GHz processor. "I expect to see a 1.3-GHz version from AMD in the next four weeks," said analyst Nathan Brookwood, who tracks the industry for InSight64, a market research firm in Saratoga, Calif. "I expect a 1.5-GHz version in the next quarter, and a 1.7-GHz in the early part of the fourth quarter."
...and faster Pentium 4 processors too
SAN JOSE -- AMD isn't the only company moving up the performance curve. In the near future, Intel Corp. is expected to roll out 1.6-, 1.7-, and 1.8-GHz versions of its Pentium 4 line of processors, Brookwood said.
"By the end of the third quarter of 2000, I would expect Intel to have a 2-GHz Pentium 4," he said. At present, Intel's fastest Pentium 4 runs at 1.5 GHz.
For now, K&S plans
'hiatus' from acquisitions
WILLOW GROVE, Pa. -- Don't look for Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc. to be making any more acquisitions in the near term--especially with cash like last year. To move further into the test arena, K&S purchased Cerprobe Corp. of Gilbert, Ariz., and Probe Technology Corp., of Santa Clara, Calif., for $225 million and $65 million in cash, respectively.
But now K&S chairman and chief executive officer C. Scott Kulicke wants to protect the company's cash balance as the industry works its way through a couple of soft quarters. He also believes the company's stock is undervalued and not suitable for additional acquisitions.
"I don't think any of us are real comfortable with the level of debut we are carry now," Kulicke told analysts during a conference call this week after K&S released revenues of $155.4 million and a net loss of $11.7 million. The net loss included charges related to the two acquisitions in the fourth quarter (see Jan. 25 story).
At the end of the fourth quarter, the world's largest supplier of chip-assembly tools had $81.7 million in cash vs. $211.5 million at the end of Q3. Debt grew to $239.9 million at the end of 2000 compared to 176.0 million at the end of September, the Willow Grove company reported on Thursday.
Kulicke said there was plenty of cash on hand to run the company on a day-to-day basis while maintaining a healthy cash flow, but his conservative nature made him feel less comfortable with the balance sheet. And the company has the job ahead to digest its two recent acquisitions as well as execute a new strategy in wafer probe and test systems.
"We don't have the balance sheet to do any more significant cash acquisitions," he told analysts. "We also have enough on our plate to swallow right now and a hiatus acquisition rate wouldn't be a bad thing."
K&S stock closed at $14.625 per share on Friday on the Nasdaq exchange, down $0.5625 from $15.1875.