Electronic Design

Company Wire

Microsoft Corp. has opened a technology center in Austin, Texas, that will let online retailers and other dot-com companies design and test a variety of tools. The center will provide a demonstration platform for companies trying to decide between Microsoft-Intel offerings and competing strategies from Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and Linux. Dell is a partner in the technology center, which also will offer security assessments, transaction-cost analysis, testing facilities, and scalability trials.

Opera Software AS, PalmPalm Technology Inc., and Trolltech have announced a strategic alliance to address the wireless Linux market. Opera Software AS is involved in the Web-browser market. PalmPalm Technology is the creator of Tynux, an embedded version of Linux for the wireless market. Trolltech is the creator of QT/Embedded, a graphical interface compatible with QT.

Sandia National Laboratories has announced the creation of MEMX, a private company spun off to commercialize Sandia-developed microsystems technology. The company will initially focus on producing optical switches for the telecom industry using SUMMIT V, a five-level polysilicon surface micromachining MEMS technology.

Ford Motor Company has selected Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS) Inc. to develop a hydrogen-sensing system for Ford's fuel-cell vehicles. IOS, an R&D company in optical communications, monitoring, and signal processing, will use its fiber-optic technology to develop a sensing system that detects hydrogen leaks, cracks in tanks, and emissions of other alternative fuels and gases.

Palm Inc. and Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. are planning to sell wireless Internet services for the Mobile Productivity Center, the hands-free communications system they designed for automobiles. The joint company, MobileAria, will begin selling voice-activated services such as e-mail and news in the second quarter of 2001.

Designers who specify the high-speed differential version of Teradyne's Very High Density Metric (VHDM) connector family will soon have a second source for these components. A licensing agreement between Teradyne Inc. and Molex Inc. lets Molex manufacture, market, and sell the VHDM connectors, which are metric-grid pin-and-socket systems that employ integral stripline shielding to achieve 2.5-Gbit/s operation with high pin density. Molex expects to start producing these components next year.

NESS Corp., a Korean company specializing in energy storage systems and display devices, has formed a venture to promote development of its organic electroluminescent display (OELD). The new business, NESS Display Co. Ltd., has attracted approximately $4.2 million in support—a combination of venture capital and sponsorship by the Korean government. NESS hopes to build on the initial success of a display technology for portable applications.

Harman International Industries and Yazaki North America Inc. will partner to develop applications based on the Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST), an optical networking standard for in-vehicle multimedia systems. Harman has experience with infotainment systems and audio and video products. Yazaki provides expertise in developing vehicle power and data solutions. The MOST standard is currently being promoted by the MOST Corp., a consortium of over 60 companies that includes fourteen automotive manufacturers.

RF and microwave components supplier Mini-Circuits Inc. and communication IC producer Peregrine Semiconductor Corp. have struck a strategic deal to develop and market advanced RF devices based on Peregrine's patented UTSi technology. The initial focus is on RF mixers, which the two partners expect to develop by the end of the year.

As part of its worldwide investment strategy to support the growing semiconductor business around the world, IBM Corp. is planning to build a $300 million organic chip-packaging facility in Shanghai, China. The plant will produce circuit cards and advanced chip-carriers incorporating IBM's proprietary packaging technologies, known as surface laminar circuitry (SLC) and Hyper BGAs.

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