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On the costs of 0.13-micron process technology and 300-mm silicon wafer production

Biostar M7NCG: another ATX mobo on NVIDIA nForce2

Triplex GF4 Ti 4800SE Deluxe specifications

Innostream ships new i188 GSM900/1800 cellular handset

ALi M5603C: new video camera controller with USB 2.0 support

December sales of VIA and SiS reduced by over 20%

Gigabyte announces GA-8SQ800 Ultra on SiS655 chipset

LCD market prospects

The production of 17" iMac to be stopped in June

New 700MHz R16000 MIPS proceccors from SGI



On the costs of 0.13-micron process technology and 300-mm silicon wafer production

Jeremey Donovan, VP and chief analyst at Gartner Dataquest, presented the report about the problems of transition to 0.13-micron process technology and 300-mm wafer production. Though these two manufacturing upgrades are being introduced together, they are not fundamentally intertwined and should be separated for analysis.

The transition from 0.18m to 0.13m process technology, like all previous design dimension reductions, introduces design problems and mask cost problems. Design problems are pretty much borne by all vendors. The problem of mask costs, although also shared by all vendors, creates winners and losers.

A 15-mask set of 0.25m masks costs $150,000, 21 masks at 0.18m cost $250,000, and a set of 0.13m masks costs $600,000. The greater than 2x premium in 0.13m mask sets over 0.18m versions raises the volume threshold beyond which it is better to do an ASIC or ASSP than an FPGA.

Before FPGA vendors jump up and down too much, $600,000 is not all that far from $250,000 in the context of the $20 million or so the average startup raises to get to first silicon. Things get interesting and more favorable for FPGA vendors at 90nm, where mask sets will cost $1.5 million, and especially at 65nm, where the price will approach $4 million.

More significant than the design rule shift is the shift from 200mm to 300mm wafers. Because of rapid capital depreciation and competitive nature of the semiconductor industry, it only makes sense to build a fab if the facility can remain near 100 percent utilization. At a fairly optimistic $150 of revenue per square inch of silicon, a single 300mm wafer is worth around $20,000. Multiply that by 25,000 wafer starts per month and 12 months per year, and it is apparent that a company must sell $4.5 billion worth of semiconductors to justify owning a fab.

What does all this mean? First, the move from 0.18m to 0.13m process technology is less disruptive than some vendors claim. Second, the move to 300mm wafers will leave fewer companies owning their own fabs. More vendors will use foundries or ink deals with competitors to build jointly owned fabs. The few that can fill 300mm fabs will pull increasingly ahead of direct competitors that choose to use foundries. With few exceptions, though, the fabless do tend to compete with the fabless, so all is not lost.

Source: EE Times Asia

Biostar M7NCG: another ATX mobo on NVIDIA nForce2

Biostar Microtech announced another ATX motherboard on NVIDIA nForce2 — M7NCG. Unlike M7NCD on the discrete chipset variant, announced in December, M7NCG bases on NVIDIA nForce2 IGP (Crush 18G) + MCP-T with built-in GeForce4 MX graphics.


The board supports AMD Athlon XP/Duron with 200/266/333MHz FSB, has AGP 8x slot, 3 DIMM sockets (up to 3Gb DDR200/266/333/400 SDRAM; up to 2 modules of dual-channel 128-bit DDR SDRAM), 3 PCI slots, CNR slot, 6 USB 2.0 ports, 2 IEEE1394a ports, integrated 6-ch. audio (NVIDIA APU Dolby Digital Encoder + Realtek ALC650 6-ch. AC´97 codec), S/PDIF, LAN (MCP NVIDIA MAC + Realtek RTL8201BL PHY).

Source: The DigiTimes

Triplex GF4 Ti 4800SE Deluxe specifications

VR-Zone posted specs and the first photo of GeForce4 Ti 4800SE Deluxe from Taiwanese Triplex on the new NVIDIA GF4 Ti4800 (NV28) AGP 8x GPU.


Triplex GF4 Ti4800 Deluxe features 128Mb of 3.3ns BGA DDR SDRAM, 275/550MHz GPU/memory clock, VIVO, D-Sub, DVI, TV-out. The approximate price of Triplex GF4 Ti4800 Deluxe is about $330.

Innostream ships new i188 GSM900/1800 cellular handset

Korean Innostream started shipments of new Innostream i188 GSM900/1800 handset, featuring:
  • Dimensions — 79.8x43x20.5mm
  • Weight — 80 g
  • Active time — 3-5 hours
  • Standby — 90-120 hours
  • Battery capacity — 720 mAh
  • Screen 128x144x65 internal (up to 10 lines), 64x80x8-color external with backlighting
  • T9 support
  • Up to 60 ringtones, 40-ch. Polyphony
  • Up to 30s voice recorder
  • Up to 100 SMS storage

  • Calendar, calculator, phone book (up to 500 records)
  • Personalization
  • WAP support
  • No GPRS and MMS support
  • Glowing Blue, Cold Silver body color
  • 1.37 W/kg SAR
  • Approx. price (Taiwanese pricelists) NT$16900 (about $485)

Source: OC Workbench

ALi M5603C: new video camera controller with USB 2.0 support

ALi Corporation announced new M5603C controller for video cameras. It includes color-processing engine for CMOS image sensors, image codec, USB 2.0 controller, AC97 codec and UI controller.

ALi M5603C brief specifications:

  • USB2.0 compliant, 480/12MHz high/full-speed operation
  • Up to SXGA(1280x1024) CMOS image sensors support
  • Up to 30fps VGA/CIF real-time video support USB ID EEPROM interface support
  • 64-pin TQFP package, 2.5/3.3V operation
  • Video for Windows compatible and Windows TWAIN driver support in WindowsXP/2000/ME, etc.

The company aims M5603C at the new SOHO PCs and mobile appliances.

December sales of VIA and SiS reduced by over 20%

Due to order volumes reduction by the end of 2002, Taiwanese VIA Technologies and SiS informred about over 20% sales reduction in December comparing to the previous month.

VIA reported about NT$1.856 billion sales ($53.43 million) that´s 20.2% lower than in November. SiS suffered even lower stronger 29% reduction down to NT$1.282 billion (about $36.9 million) mostly because of the weak demand and aggressive sales of some older chipsets.

VIA and SiS revenues ($ million)
December November Reduction, % Entire 2002
VIA 53.43 66.93 20.2 725.36
SiS 36.9 51.96 29 453.68

Source: The DigiTimes

Gigabyte announces GA-8SQ800 Ultra on SiS655 chipset

Following ASUS and Aopen, which announced their SiS655-based P4SDX and AX45-4D Max, respectively, Gigabyte released GA-8SQ800 Ultra on the same chipset.



Gigabyte GA-8SQ800 Ultra ATX bases on SiS655 + SiS963, supports Socket 478 Pentium 4 with 400/533MHz FSB, has 4 DIMM sockets (up to 4Gb Dual Channel DDR266/333 and even DDR400!), AGP 8x slot, 5 PCI slots, ATA133 RAID, two Serial ATA ports, integrated audio, LAN and USB 2.0 ports.

Source: GZeasy

LCD market prospects

According to Commercial Times, Taiwanese LCD panel makers inspired by high demand in the fourth quarter of 2002, are sure the sales volumes will continue to grow in 2003. At the same time they expect the significant reduction of CRT monitor production. Below is the typical information for some Taiwanese companies:

LCD monitor shipments from Taiwan (thousand units)
2002 2003
LCD monitors CRT monitors LCD monitors CRT monitors
BenQ 2600 3600 4000 3000
Compal Electronics 1700 2400 2400 2000
Amtran Technology 1250 100 1800-2000 10 — 20
Lite-On Technology 1500 3800 4000 3800
Jean 1200 800 >2000 400 — 500
Sampo Technology 800 1770 1350-1400 1500
Total 9050 12470 15550-15800 10710-10820

Source: The DigiTimes

The production of 17" iMac to be stopped in June

According to Taiwanese makers, the production of popular Apple iMac with 17" LCD monitors will be stopped in June 2003.


Provisional data indicates that about 500 600 thousand iMacs have been sold since the announcement. Perhaps, another 300 400 thousand will be sold before June. The sales peak was in March last year, shipments making 10,000 iMacs a day.

Source: The DigiTimes

New 700MHz R16000 MIPS proceccors from SGI

SGI announced its new 700MHz R16000 MIPS processors. Similar to the previous R14000A, new 64-bit 4-way superscalar R16000 feature 32Kb two-way set-associative on-chip instruction cache, 4Mb L2 cache, support MIPS 4 instruction set.

No more details are available about the new CPU. I wonder what is the dissipated power of R16000. As you know, SGI claimed low energy consumption to be one of R1x000 critical aspects. As 0.13-micron R14000A dissipated just 17W at 600MHz, it enabled to install a 128-processor SGI Origin 3900 system in a single rack.


Initially, new R16000 chips will be shipped in SGI Fuel Visual Workstations workstations with VPro 3D graphics and IRIX OS.

According to SGI, the company, similar to Hewlett-Packard with its PA-RISC, plans to move to systems on 64-bit Intel CPUs: its Itanium 2-based SGI Origin systems will work under Linux. Though SGI won´t turn away from its own processors in the near future, at least last summer SGI announced the MIPS roadmap up to 2006.

Source: Ace´s Hardware

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