AC #600 Integrated Circuit Engineering Collection Series 16

September 4, 1976   Description:

    A series of 1976 reviews of  Don Hoefler's Microelectronics News

    ICE Collection - Project File 10085 - review of :

MICROELECTRONICS NEWSLETTER
September 4, 1976

INTEGRATED TECHNOLOGY
Integrated Technology Corporation is a name registered initially as a parent corporation of Integrated Circuit Engineering. Integrated Technology Corporation was sold to Bowmar Instruments Corporation and the name subsequently has been sold to a new Arizona corporation headed by Gary Orman.

Bud Frye will probably have to find a new name for his company. Bud Frye is quite competent in LED production but probably is a little light on the experience necessary to make the old LSI Systems activity operate. This plant, originally constructed by Qualidyne, was subsequently sold to Standard Microsystems and then to LSI Systems. For a brief period of time was owned by ICE. The plant, equipment, and so on is too old to be economically productive and a considerable amount of money will be required to upgrade the facility to make it competitive. The best the facility ever did was approximately $.5 million a month in profits when the electronic watch chips were in short supply and yields were satisfactory at that price level.

TRANSITRON
Transitron is typical of companies who started out well but did not keep up with the technology and markets. I can't help but wonder what would have happened to Transitron had they been located in Silicon Valley where a certain amount of "keep-up" can be accomplished through exchange of personnel and informal local communication channels. Transitron's final effort was an ambitious and expensive bipolar microprocessor development.

ANALOG DEVICES
In contrast to Transitron, Analog Devices has done quite well in Massachusetts and has set up a plant in Ireland. By specializing in linear technology and some A/D conversion, Analog has managed to hold a growing position in the market. The Analog Device plant in Santa Clara has provided them with additional communications to the processing and design skills available in Silicon Valley. Analog Devices still has a technology indecision between I2L and CMOS, but the Ireland plant is CMOS.

COMMODORE - NITRON/PURCHASE OF MOS TECHNOLOGY
Commodore thus far has always paid its bills to its vendors, Nitron and MOS Technology. With Commodore's agreement to acquire MOS Technology, Inc., it may be expected that the Nitron business will drop to zero. Commodore's purchase of MOS Technology is so lucrative that it should help their cash and/or mortgage position by $2 million or $3 million substantially easing their cash position.

MOTOROLA
Al Stein is apparently stirring things up at Motorola and it's too early to say whether net results are good or bad. Certainly, Motorola needed to be stirred up on process technology and it's probable that this part is good. It's entirely possible that Stein will do Motorola a lot of good in processing and ultimately get fired for his efforts because his management methods are pretty much contrary to the traditions established by Galvin, Bill Weisz, and John Mitchell and John Welty.

TIMEX
Timex seemingly has had many internal upheavals and is finally settling down management-wise to determine which direction it should go in electronic watches.

NATIONAL
National's watch problems with respect to both chip yields and assembly yields should be solvable. Yield in watch assembly is usually not quite the disastrous problem that the chip yield presents, since some repair and replace is available at the module level. Of course, if this repair and replace is excessive, the cost is prohibitively high and thus the profits are lost.

WESTERN DIGITAL/MARSHALL COX
Emerson has taken a good deal of time and has difficulty with Digital Equipment Corporation agreeing on a compromise general manager. Marshall probably will get the nearly impossible job of straightening out Western Digital.

NATIONAL VS FAIRCHILD IN WATCHES
Fairchild continues to do well in developing its watch business and is something ahead in terms of chip yield, styling, and higher price merchandising than National.

BOOKINGS AND GENERAL BUSINESS CONDITIONS
Financial analysts and much of the stock market have used the bookings as a measure of semiconductor company's performance. Because of the inaccuracies of the system and the definition of bookings, it is still a little dangerous. It's possible that since all analysts use bookings, the stock price will go up or down reflecting the bookings but profit performance will not necessarily follow; i.e., in some cases the higher bookings can be secured by a lower or even unprofitable price in new products. A company which has high bookings may have gotten there by booking at too low a price. Booking at too low a price is especially dangerous now since people are approaching their production capacities. For example, Bob Noyce indicated that he was very glad that Intel did not book their 4K business in competition with TI since they were able to come in at very substantially higher prices at a later time. Overall, business conditions are good, but the details of the market will elude most planners, since in specific products availability ranges from surplus to shortage.

DREXLER TECHNOLOGY
With the current takeover of masking by projection mask aligners, with this followed in about five years with e-beam technique, it appears that the photoplate business is going to level off or probably decrease. Agfa-Gevaert is edging Kodak out of the $15M/year emulsion photoplate market with better quality and higher resolution needed for bipolar LSI.

ITT NORM MILLER
Norm is one of the very experienced semiconductor managers in the industry with background at Motorola, Fairchild and Signetics. Because of Norm's technical background, we can expect that ITT will be able to move both their MOS and injection logic capability from Europe to the U.S. and as a result could become a formidable factor in the U.S. market. ITT has done well in the bipolar interface business and on selected huge custom logic orders from companies such as Burroughs.

© 1976 Copyright Integrated Circuit Engineering Corporation


Hoefler's Microelectronics News, September 4, 1976


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