SANTA CLARA, Calif.--National Semiconductor Corp. here today announced the acquisition seven-year-old Vivid Semiconductor Inc., a supplier of high-voltage ICs for flat-panel displays. National said the Chandler, Ariz.-based company will strengthen its ability to serve fast-growing flat-panel display applications, which have become a key market target for the Santa Clara chip maker.
The terms of the acquisition were not released by National. Privately-held Vivid has a team of 25 engineers involved in development of analog and mixed-signal ICs that can be fabricated with low-power consuming digital CMOS technology. The operation will remain in Chandler, according to National.
"This acquisition also will accelerate and expand our introduction of leading-edge silicon solutions for flat panel applications," said Patrick J. Brockett, executive vice president and general manager of National's Analog Group. "Vivid's products and intellectual property fit like a glove to complement our existing capabilities and programs in serving the flat panel display market."
Vivid has patented techniques for fabricating high-voltage chips that use low-voltage digital CMOS technology. According to National, these techniques increase the performance of display drivers that are built into liquid crystal displays (LCDs).
The technology can be used at National's 8-inch wafer fab in South Portland, Maine, to help drive up the use of that production facility. Last month, National announced it was licensing next-generation digital CMOS technology from silicon foundry giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (TSMC). National plans to ramp the South Portland fab to 25,000 eight-inch wafer starts per month by this time next year (see June 28 story).
National also said Vivid has developed a patented data bus architecture for LCD displays--called WhisperBus--which improves display performance and reduces electromagnetic interference effects.
What is catching National's attention is a flat-panel display market that's expected to grow to 38.5 million high-performance units in 2001, up from 28.4 million in 2000, according to a forecast by analysts at Display Search Inc. in Austin, Tex. Already, National is serving this market with its reduced swing differential signal (RSDS) technology. The company said RSDS provides substantial power, weight and cost savings for battery-powered and mobile applications. In addition to serving portable systems, National said it is aiming to increase the use of flat-panel displays in desktop computers.