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EL SEGUNDO, CA – Following a miserable 2007, the global DRAM module market is expected to rebound gradually in 2008 as a result of projected recovery in the overall memory industry, iSuppli Corp. predicts.
 
Global revenue from third-party shipments of DRAM modules, i.e., components that contain DRAM chips for use in PCs and other electronic products, is expected to rise to $8.9 billion in 2008, up 9.4% year-over-year. In contrast, third-party DRAM module revenue declined 33.5% last year compared to 2006.
 
Third-party refers to companies dedicated to the memory module business, and that do not sell DRAM itself, or the end-products memory is used in, such as PCs. The major business of third-party module suppliers includes aftermarket upgrade module sales, module sales to white-box PC makers, and contract module manufacturing for OEMs or suppliers.
 
“Last year was disastrous for the DRAM chip industry due to an acute oversupply and the resulting price plunge. This caused global DRAM chip revenue to decline by 7.3%. The poor conditions in DRAM chips led to even worse conditions in the DRAM module business. The third-party DRAM module makers bore the brunt of the downturn because they lost market share to their chip suppliers,” said John Lei, analyst, memory/storage IC systems for iSuppli.
 
“Looking at the Top-10 third-party DRAM module maker rankings for 2007, there were two groups of companies: those able to keep their heads above water, and those swamped by the market-downturn deluge,” Lei said.
 
Market winners included leading supplier Kingston Technology Corp., which managed to increase its DRAM module revenue by 1.1% last year. And while No. 2 Smart Modular Technologies suffered a 3.5% decline in revenue, the company still outperformed the overall industry, allowing it to expand its market share for the year to 7.9%, up from 5.5% in 2006.
 
Kingston and Smart did well because they maintain full spectrums of DRAM module business activities, ranging from aftermarket sales to well-diversified OEM businesses, according to iSuppli.
 
The biggest winner on a percentage basis was No. 6 ranked Apacer Technology, which expanded its sales by a remarkable 24.4% in 2007. The company benefited from a deal made by its parent company, Acer, to acquire Gateway, which expanded Apacer’s sales. Because of this, Apacer came close to reentering the Top 5 rankings for the first time since 2005.
 
On the other side of the equation, many of the second-tier, third-party DRAM module makers now are considering exiting the business.
 
“Many of the smaller players are struggling over the question of whether to quit the DRAM module market,” Lei said. “Although market conditions are set to improve soon due to the inevitable price rebound, it’s uncertain how long these companies can stay in the business given the top-tier suppliers’ aggressive moves to expand their market share.”
 
Despite these challenges, the third-party DRAM module business still offers attractive growth opportunities to those companies able stay afloat, says iSuppli.
 
“Third-party module makers that are able to control inventory and to develop effective strategies for competing in the market stand to return to profitability and to recapture the market share they lost to their chip suppliers in 2007,” Lei said. 
SAN JOSE – University of California-Berkeley professor Dr. Luke P. Lee will unveil the future of medical innovations through functional BioPOETIC (Biologically-inspired Photonics-Optofluidics-Electronics Technology-based IC) devices and packaging when he keynotes the MEMS Packaging Symposium this month.

The symposium is sponsored by the MicroElectronics Packaging and Test Engineering Council (Meptec), which announced the final program is in place. MEMS Market Evolution: From Technology Push to Market Pull takes place May 22, in San Jose.

Other presentations include sessions on consumer and automotive applications:

  • Karen Lightman, managing director, MEMS Industry Group, on findings and recommendations from METRIC 2008, the annual meeting for members of MEMS Industry Group.
  • Moshe Gat, R&D section manager, Wireless Semiconductor Division, Avago Technologies, Size Reduction and Integration of RF filters in Cellular Phones.
  • Ken Yang, Ph.D., advanced MEMS development manager, Analog Devices, Three-Axis Motion Sensor Development and Production for Consumer Electronics Market.
  • Aaron Partridge, chief science officer, SiTime, MEMS Timing – More Function in a Smaller Package.
  • Janusz Bryzek, LV Sensors, Inc. / Joseph R. Mallon, Jr., Exept/Stanford University, Green Killer Application:  Wireless Tire Pressure Monitoring.
  • Jonathan Rheaume, Research Specialist, UC Berkeley, Micro-Printed Solid State Electrochemical Sensor for Monitoring Lean Direct Injection Engines.
  • Venkataraman Chandrasekaran, senior design engineer, Sensata Technologies, Sensors at Sensata: Recent and Emerging Applications in Powertrain and Safety Systems.

Other sessions cover wafer-level packaging and 3D ICs  and MEMS and Biomedicine.

For information: meptec.org.

 

JASPER, IN – Kimball International today reported a fiscal third-quarter net loss from continuing operations of $900,000 on net sales of $332.1 million. For the quarter ended March 31, sales were up 7%, but earnings fell 120%.  Read more ...
TORONTO – SMTC Corp. reported March quarter revenue of $55.1 million and net income of $400,000 For its first quarter ended March 30, sales were down 20.3% and profits were off 86% versus last year. However, net income for the first quarter of 2007 included a $1.8 million tax recovery and related interest.  Read more ...
SMYRNA, GAUP Media Group, parent company of Circuits Assembly and Printed Circuit Design & Fab, will broadcast "Optimize System Performance with FPGA/PCB Co-Design," a 45-minute free Webinar, on June 3, at 2 PM EDT.
 
Bob Potock, director of FPGA marketing for Mentor Graphics, Systems Design Division, will discuss how new FPGA/PCB concurrent design processes and tools can significantly improve system performance and product costs, as well as designer productivity. Attendees will learn the elements of an effective FPGA on-board strategy, how to boost productivity and PCB quality, and be introduced to specific implementation options.
 
This event is the third in a series of Webinars addressing how to efficiently design today’s increasingly complex PCBs in the competitive electronics industry.
HAUPPAUGE, NY –API Nanotronics Corp. has named Steve Pudles chief executive officer. He succeeds Phillip DeZwirek, who remains chairman.
 
Pudles is the former CEO and president of Nu Visions Manufacturing, where he led the company from $10 million in revenue to more than $100 million in a six-year period. He has 25 years’ electronics industry experience.
 
API supplies electronic components and conducts nanotechnology R&D for the defense and communications sectors.
 
Pudles has worked for a number of EMS firms and was recently elected secretary and treasurer of the IPC board.
 
 
ENDICOTT, NY – The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded Endicott Interconnect Technologies a $148.6 million contract modification to its current program to supply finished assemblies for a high-reliability, high-performance computing application. 
 
Under the deal, EI produces card frame assemblies, including HyperBGA organic semiconductor packaging, multichip module assemblies, PCBs, functionally tested assemblies, and supplies engineering services.
 
The contract modification period is from May to December this year.

AYLESBURY, UKDage Precision Industries has been awarded the Frost & Sullivan Vertical Market Penetration Leadership Award for automated x-ray inspection. 

The award ceremony was held April 25 in Kuala Lumpur. Frost identified the top players in the automation and electronics/industrial process control industries.

In presenting the award, Arun Krumar C, research analyst for Automation and Electronics Practice, Frost & Sullivan, Asia Pacific, cited Dage’s value for the money and after-sales service for its growth in the Southeast Asian electronics market.
EL SEGUNDO, CA iSuppli Corp. will present a Webinar on China’s future in electronics design on May 7 at 9 pm EST.
 
Kevin Wang, senior manager of China Services at iSuppli, will look at the status of China’s economy, the size of local demand creation for semiconductor suppliers, the national markets dominated by Chinese OEMs, and the kinds of products Chinese companies will focus on in the future?
 
For information, visit isuppli.com/events/default.asp?EventCode=WB.
 
 
ST. LOUIS – Lockheed Martin’s Radar Systems awarded EMS provider LaBarge Inc. a $1.6 million contract to provide assemblies for the company’s new TPS-79 Multi-Mission Surveillance Radar system.
  Read more ...
EL SEGUNDO, CA – Shrugging off any hint of a slowdown, first-quarter global mobile handset shipments rose 17% over the same period last year, according to iSuppli Corp.
  Read more ...
BRUSSELS – A proposed International Electrotechnical Commission standard on electronics equipment safety has been voted down by a majority of voting countries.
 
The draft of IEC 62368, Audio/Video, Information and Communication Technology Equipment - Safety – Requirements, would have required plastic enclosures for household electronic products to withstand candle flame ignition. Critics claim the rule had no valid fire safety rationale, but enormous potential negative consequences, including the introduction of hundreds of millions of pounds of potentially toxic fire retardant chemicals into consumers' homes and bodies.
 
Eighteen of the 31 voting countries (58%) voted against the IEC draft standard, far more than the 25% needed to defeat the standard.

According to a contingent of scientists and experts who lobbied against IEC 62368, while the majority of the draft would strengthen existing standards for electronic product safety, the disputed Clause 7, which was promoted as an enhanced fire safety standard, in fact had limited potential to affect fire safety, as appliance fires represent only a small number of the total candle fires in the US each year. 
 
Appliance fires caused by candles in the US amount to 3% of total candle fires, result in no deaths, and cause $5 million worth of property damage a year, according to a 2007 report by the National Fire Protection Association.

But meeting the requirements outlined in Clause 7 would likely have forced producers to use hundreds of millions of pounds of potentially toxic fire retardant chemicals that can migrate from consumer products into dust, humans and animals, where they persist and bioaccumulate. 
 
The coalition, including Dr. Arlene Blum, a visiting chemistry scholar at the University of California at Berkeley, Friends of the Earth, Design Chain Associates, the Center for Environmental Health, the Initiative for Green Science Policy, and a other scientists, physicians and NGOs cited dozens of peer-reviewed scientific papers as evidence of environmental toxicity and negative health impacts. 

The fire-retardant chemical industry, they claim, does not provide adequate information about the chemical composition or toxicology of its products, nor does it acknowledge the extensive literature of scientific publications showing environmental and health/safety problems.

"Through deceptive and incomplete data, and sheer force of will, the fire-retardant industry has, over the past several years, very nearly succeeded in making this candle flame ignition requirement a fait accompli," said Mike Kirschner of Design Chain Associates. "The electronics industry's desire is to improve environmental performance of its products and this would have driven it in the other direction for no good reason."

Two other draft IEC standards propose candle standards for consumer electronic housing. Revisions of IEC 60065 (TV and audio equipment) and IEC 60950 (IT equipment) incorporate the same clause candle flame resistance requirements. Also, the National Association of State Fire Marshals has introduced the requirement in Canadian CSA and American UL standards, which have votes scheduled for May 19.  

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