In the News


SRC and SIA Kick off SoC Design Challenge

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Think you can create a novel, low-power system-on-chip (SoC) design that demonstrates the value of greater systems integration in IC design? The Semiconductor Research Corp. (SRC) and the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) are challenging North American university (undergrad and graduate) students and faculty to do just that.

The challenge is being conducted in two phases, with cash prizes awarded to the top three contestants in each phase. In Phase I, contestants are invited to submit chip designs using novel architectures or subsystems that exploit the advantages of greater systems integration. Prizes of $7,000, $5,000, and $3,000 awarded to the top three Phase I contestants. During Phase II, the top five entries from Phase I will complete their layouts and submit their designs for fabrication on a 180-nm, mixed-signal CMOS process at MOSIS. The top three winners will receive $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000, respectively. All monetary prizes go to the winning team's Electrical Engineering departments to help further studies in this area.

Successful contestants will design circuits combining high-level blocks including processors, memory, I/O, and analog/DSP, using the provided technology and design kit to clearly demonstrate advantages in design of SoCs and address high-performance, low-voltage design challenges. Specific analog/DSP design areas include: data conversion for speed, resolution, and power consumption; amplifiers for speed, precision, and power consumption; and power management for overall efficiency and size. The sponsors are looking for creativity, unanticipated innovations, and the very best usage of the technology to implement an important, new or improved circuit or circuit subsystem.

Major partner companies providing funding for the fabrication phase of the challenge include: AMD, AMI, Analog Devices, Cadence, Freescale, IBM, Intel, National Semiconductor, and Texas Instruments.

The contest's entry deadline is January 20, 2005, so don't wait!

For more information, visit www.src. org/SoC_contest_wp/asp. —SCJ

Honeywell Acquires GEM

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, N.J. — Honeywell has acquired Mitsubishi Chemical America's 40% stake in GEM Microelectronics Materials, giving Honeywell sole ownership of the venture. With this acquisition, Honeywell expands its presence in the electronic chemicals business by adding three new product lines: performance cleans, selective etchants, and wafer thinning materials.

GEM is headquartered in Chandler, Ariz., and has manufacturing facilities there, as well as in Bryan and Mansfield, Texas. Honeywell plans to discontinue the use of the GEM name, and to market the products under its Honeywell Electronics Materials business, which makes a wide range of materials for the semiconductor industry. —Lee Mather

SIA Forecasts Record Chip Sales in 2004

SAN JOSE, CALIF. — SIA's forecast for 2004-2007 predicts that 2004 will bring record sales of $214 billion, followed by flat sales in 2005. Sales are expected to grow by 6.3% in 2006, and to reach $259 billion by 14.2% in 2007. Projections of a less favorable supply-and-demand balance for memory products will be the major factor in dampening industry expansion in 2005, according to the SIA. For the longer term, the forecast is calling for a compound annual growth rate of 11.8% through the forecast period.

"Semiconductor growth has been very strong this year," says Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO of NVIDIA Corp. "The SIA expects worldwide semiconductor sales to reach a record of $214 billion in 2004, surpassing the previous record of $204 billion in 2000, significantly exceeding last year's forecast. When all of the numbers are in, we expect that the year-on-year growth rate will be 28.5%."

More than 50% of the $214 billion of semiconductors sold in 2004 will go into products purchased by consumers rather than corporate IT departments. This proportion is expected to continue to grow in the years ahead as consumers worldwide are captivated by the richness and portability of digital media. "Advances in computing, digital media processing, and wireless technology are enabling our industry to create lifestyle-changing devices and gadgets that we could only imagine a few years ago. The changing nature of our customers will affect every aspect of our business, from product design to marketing to demand forecasting," explains Huang.

Worldwide sales of semiconductors grew to $18.8 billion in October, according to SIA. This is an increase of 1.5% from the $18.5 billion in September, and a 22% jump from the $15.4 billion in sales in October 2003. —SCJ