Gathered below are the top seven stories for the week beginning Sunday January 25, 2004, as ranked by Silicon Strategies' readers, up to and including Wednesday January 28. The ranking is based on the number of reader "views" or "hits" on a particular article.
1) Flash-memory snafu cripples Mars rover Spirit, says NASA .... A flash-memory chip snafu was cited as the apparent cause for crippling the Spirit Mars Exploration Rover, according to the space.com web site on Sunday.
Earlier this month, President Bush unveiled a new vision for space exploration, including a human mission to Mars. Based on the flash-memory snafu with the Mars rover, Silicon Strategies believes that a manned mission to the Red Planet will be difficult and costly--if not impossible--leaving some to wonder if Bush's vision is a flash in the pan. Politicians will say anything during an election year.
2) Sony's PSX '90-nm' processor made with 130-nm process, claims analysis firm .... Semiconductor Insights (SI), a technology and patent analysis firm, said Thursday (January 29, 2004) that a key chip in Sony's PlayStation X entertainment system, the Emotion Engine + Graphics Synthesizer otherwise known as the EE+GS@90nm, is shipping implemented in a 130-nanometer manufacturing process technology and not a 90-nm process as claimed by Sony.
3) Boom-to-bust IC capital spending cycles to end .... Len Jelinek, a principal analyst at iSuppli Corp., has advanced a proposition that is, to say the least, controversial: we have seen the end of wild cycles of boom and bust in semiconductor capacity investment.
4) Novellus appoints Applied Materials veteran as president .... Novellus Systems Inc. has appointed former Applied Materials executive Sasson (Sass) Somekh (57) as president. Somekh is to join Richard Hill and Tom St. Dennis in Novellus' 'Office of the CEO'.
5) DRAM Bulletin: Hynix pulls off a memory market upset .... Hynix Semiconductor Inc. retook the number-three position in DRAM revenues from Infineon Technologies AG in the fourth quarter, according to iSuppli principal analyst Nam Hyung Kim.
Say what you will about Hynix, but the Korean company is not going away; much to the chagrin of its rivals. Could Hynix end up number two in DRAMs by year's end, with Micron number three? Anything is possible in the memory market, including another round of legal disputes.
6) Future Horizons sees two-year chip market boom .... Not only will 2004 be a boom year for the worldwide chip market, with 32 percent growth, but 2005 could be nearly as good, according to Malcolm Penn, founder and chief executive of the Future Horizons market research company.
Another bullish forecast, this time, from Future Horizons of the UK. Silicon Strategies sees another growth year for 2004, but let's not get too carried away; at least yet. With a seasonal slowdown in Q1, it's too early to say the market will grow by more than 30 percent in '04. My humble and unscientific predication: the chip market will grow by 22.7 percent in 2004 over 2003.
Other stories from the week of January 25:
Monday, January 26
Philips forms Polymer Vision to roll out flexible displays .... Philips Research has started producing prototypes of thin organic electronics based displays that can be formed into a roll for transportation and unrolled for viewing. And Polymer Vision NV, an internal start-up within Philips has been formed to prove the feasibility of such displays, but also to develop a process for volume production.
Silicon Strategies thinks the roll-up plastic display is definitely a technology to watch.
Tuesday, January 27
Analysis: Can ARM control the microcontroller market?.... Warren East chief executive of ARM Holdings plc explained his company's strategic and renewed thrust into the microcontrollers. ARM's intention is to start emerging applications off on the Triscend platform ARM is now set to acquire, and then migrate them to licensees' products either in the microcontroller or ASIC spaces.
Silicon Strategies' doesn't expect that the licensees are going to be keen on this treatment.
So the outcome depends on whether East can persuade the licensees that their interests remain aligned with an ARM that is trying to make the pie bigger for everyone. If they perceive that ARM is more interested in using Triscend to control and eat their lunch they might just start looking at other options.
Wednesday, January 28
Infineon and friends to push ALD for next-generation DRAMs .... Infineon Technologies AG, Genus Inc., and the UAlbany Center of Excellence in Nanoelectronics have signed a letter of intent to enter into a $12 million, three-year partnership to develop next-generation memory devices using atomic layer deposition (ALD) technology.
Getting ALD to work for DRAM capacitors is one thing, but to make it fly for high-k is another. Do Genus and Infineon have the right stuff? Time will tell.
Thursday, January 29
Intel to invest in tools for 90-nm EUV mask line .... Intel Corp. said it will invest in the tools needed to create EUV (extreme ultraviolet) masks on a regular basis, starting out with masks for 90-nm chips later this year.
Mask costs are soaring out of sight. EUV masks will bring new a meaning to the word "sticker shock."
Friday, January 30
Litho Forum voters stick with 193, 193i tools .... A vote among participants at the Litho Forum here Thursday (January 29, 2004) heavily favored the use of 193-nm wavelength optical lithography, in both its "dry" and "wet" forms, for use in manufacturing in 2007 and again in 2009.
Of course, what engineering delegates would like to happen, and what will happen can be two different things.