LSI Logic ready for lead-free

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MILPITAS, CALIF. – In a response to industry demand for lead-free products and, more specifically, to customer projections to implement lead-free processes, LSI Logic Corp. has introduced a set of lead-free ball grid arrays (BGAs) for use in communication and storage products. These lead-free packaging solutions comply with government directives and environmental initiatives in the United States, Europe and Japan.

LSI Logic's offerings include two-layer plastic ball grid arrays (PBGAs) and four-layer “enhanced” PBGAs, which are expected to go into high-volume production by 2002. These packages were internally qualified in January and employ a tin-silver-copper alloy. The PBGA and EPBGA packages are compliant to JEDEC Level III moisture sensitivity, and are said to be capable of withstanding 260°C SMT reflow.

Stan Mihelcic, manager of advanced packaging solutions at LSI Logic, said that better solder joint reliability is achievable with the lead-free alloy than with the traditional eutectic tin-lead solder. Lead-free solutions for other package families are in development; quad flat packs and small form factor packages are expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2001, with high-end flip chip packages in production by 2002.

While there are currently no industry standards regarding lead-free packaging, and it remains to be seen whether customers will be willing to pay the estimated price increase of 5 to 20 percent, this type of product offering will serve to further an already strong environmental movement.

National Semiconductor's second stock repurchase

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. – National Semiconductor Corp. has announced a second program of open market repurchases of up to 8 million shares of common stock. This program is in addition to a current authorization, announced last September, to purchase a similar 8 million shares. As of the end of the second quarter of fiscal year 2001, National had purchased 5.5 million shares under the first program. The timing of the purchase and the exact number of shares to be purchased will depend on market conditions.

“We are taking this action to offset dilution resulting from ongoing stock-based employee benefit plans, as part of our commitment to delivering superior shareholder value,” said Brian L. Halla, chairman, president and chief executive officer of National Semiconductor.

Infineon teams up with Sanyo Electric

MUNICH, GERMANY, AND TOKYO – Infineon Technologies AG and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. have announced an agreement to cooperate on the production of ultra high-frequency devices. Under the terms of the agreement, Infineon will supply high-end SIEGET RF transistor chips to Sanyo. Using these chips, Sanyo will start production of leadless environmentally considered chip scale packages (ECSP) for Infineon. At the same time, Infineon and Sanyo will market Infineon RF transistor chips in ESCP packages under their own brands.

The leadless ECSP package, with dimensions of 1.0 x 0.6 x 0.48 mm, when combined with SIEGET RF transistor chips, provides a solution that is said to be suitable for wireless applications. These devices are targeted for use in low noise amplifiers, driver amplifiers, buffer amplifiers and RF transistors for voltage controlled oscillators.

Interconnection specification released

SAN FRANCISCO – The RapidIO Trade Association, an open standards industry consortium, has recently announced the first public release of its interconnect specification to speed and improve communication among chips or boards within a system. The specification defines a switch fabric-based control plane interconnect that offers significantly greater bandwidth, more scalability and higher reliability then bus-based control plane interconnects, but which is compatible with existing architectures.

RapidIO is said to provide transmission rates hundreds of times faster than current interconnection architectures, interoperate with PCI bus and be software transparent. The specification defines a switch fabric architecture and is backed by industry vendors, such as Alcatel, Cisco Systems, EMC Corp., Ericsson, Lucent Technologies, Mercury Computer Systems, Motorola and Nortel Networks.

“Developed in collaboration with both silicon providers and leading equipment vendors worldwide, RapidIO technology addresses the needs of system designers, not a specific vendor. Making the specification accessible to all manufacturers as an open standard is important for the continued health of the industry,” said Sam Fuller, RapidIO steering committee chair.

The specification architecture has been divided into three hierarchical segments: the logical, transport and physical layers. Each layer can be modified or new layers can be added without disturbing other elements in the technology. This allows the specification to easily accommodate ongoing design revisions in response to market needs. One example is the addition of a serial communication physical layer, which is the focus of the newly formed Serial Working Group within the trade association.

Karl Suss acquires Image Technology

MUNICH – Karl Suss has recently acquired Image Technology Inc. (Palo Alto, Calif.), a supplier of precision photomasks for optical lithography. Photomasks are a key enabling technology in any semiconductor production; they are high-precision glass plates containing microscopic images of electronic circuits and are used as masters by semiconductor manufacturers to optically transfer these images onto silicon wafers. Image Technology specializes in large-area precision photomasks for advanced packaging, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and opto-electronic applications that take advantage of full field lithography used in mask aligners, the primary product of Karl Suss.

Image Technology was founded in 1963 and achieved total sales of $4.24 million and a double-digit pre-tax profit margin in fiscal year 2000. The acquisition will be financed using 343,256 shares out of the authorized capital of Suss Micro Tec AG, Karl Suss's holding company. Both Suss and Image Technology have agreed on a lock-up period of six months for 50 percent of the shares, and one year for the remaining 50 percent.

Karl Suss and Image Technology, along with Unaxis, Semitool, and the Fraunhofer Institute IZM, have founded the Semiconductor Equip ment Consortium for Advanced Packaging (SECAP), a consortium to support the industry's move to adapt new packaging technologies.


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