Last month, the 3.5-billionth CoolMOS high-voltage MOSFET(see the figure) came off the production line at Infineon’s manufacturing facility in Villach, Austria. The continuous technical development of this chip’s architecture paved the way for this success, according to the company.
Back in 2002, Infineon was awarded the Innovation Award of the German Industry for its CoolMOS transistor technology. These power transistors raise energy efficiency in a number of different applications, such as PC power supplies, servers, solar-power inverters, lighting, and telecommunications power supplies. In addition, they have become key components in flat-screen TVs and games consoles.
With global energy consumption becoming such a hot-button issue, I took notice of an interesting statistic that appeared in Infineon’s announcement of its CoolMOS prodigious production run. Using CoolMOS chips in a server board cuts power consumption by about 30W. Projected on to around 60 million servers worldwide, such an energy saving would add up to 1.8GW, which is equivalent to the output of a nuclear power station.
But going back to the point I made earlier, one of the reasons for the prolonged success of this device is Infineon’s continuing product development to meet burgeoning applications. So, then, what is the next step for CoolMOS?
The answer appears to be the new 650V CoolMOS CFD2. The company claims it’s the first high-voltage transistor with a drain-source voltage of 650V and an integrated fast body diode. Softer commutation behavior and better EMI characteristics are two of the inherent design advantages of this new device.
Infineon expects this transistor’s greatest market potential to reside in solar-power inverters, server computers, LED lighting, and telecommunications equipment.
Sale Of Mobile-Phone Business
Production milestones aren’t the only announcements coming from Infineon. The company entered this year with the 1.4 billion ($US) sale of its mobile-phone business, Wireless Solutions, to Intel. Following the sale, about 3500 employees in will move from Infineon to a new company called Intel Mobile Communications (IMC). IMC will be headquartered in Neubiberg, near Munich, Germany.
“This transaction marks the completion of Infineon’s reorientation over the last years toward a higher stability,” says Peter Bauer, CEO of Infineon Technologies. “Infineon currently holds market-leading positions in each of its three remaining business segments—automotive, industrial, and security electronics—and enjoys excellent prospects in these markets in terms of growth and profitability.”
It’s interesting to note that a few years ago, the communications sector was one of Infineon’s big cash-earning areas. However, it was also recognized that the automotive market was a very steady and profitable customer for Infineon products, albeit not so expansive as communications. And, given Germany’s strong manufacturing basis, the industrial sector was also a reliable customer.
Consequently, that historic hindsight makes the Infineon transaction appear very sensible. It will be interesting to watch the reaction from the financial markets.