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ISuppli said double ordering appears to be common, especially among upstream suppliers. Many companies tracked by iSuppli report book-to-bill ratios dangerously in excess of 1:1, suggesting inflated demand, the firm said. But despite the difficulty of gauging whether double orders will be put into production—let alone become an inventory problem—the semiconductor industry remains bullish on the revenue outlook for both the current quarter and the full year, impling that double ordering will not damage the ongoing recovery by the chip market, iSuppli said.

BBY5502WH6327XTSA1_Datasheet PDF

ISuppli said double ordering appears to be common, especially among upstream suppliers. Many companies tracked by iSuppli report book-to-bill ratios dangerously in excess of 1:1, suggesting inflated demand, the firm said. But despite the difficulty of gauging whether double orders will be put into production—let alone become an inventory problem—the semiconductor industry remains bullish on the revenue outlook for both the current quarter and the full year, impling that double ordering will not damage the ongoing recovery by the chip market, iSuppli said.

VLC is expected to yield a swath of apps that, while possible to perform with Wi-Fi or IR, could more conveniently or more safely be performed via visible light. Interference from and with neighboring radios, for example, can limit Wi-Fi, whereas visible light presents few interference problems; adjacent beams can pass through each other, as long as their destinations are distinct. For safety reasons, use of RF comms is forbidden in some places, such as in hospitals and on aircraft. VLC is a logical alternative in those instances, since LED illumination will already be available and since VLC would not interfere with mission-critical system signals. Yet VLC also promises high data capacity.

Visible light communications will enable all kinds of new applications,” said Roberts. My favorite is the smart LED sign that might [ordinarily] say 'Eat at Joe's,' but if you pull out your mobile device and point it at that sign you can download more information”-such as the eatery's address, its menu and maybe a coupon. You have to use your imagination, but there are lots of new applications possible.”

BBY5502WH6327XTSA1_Datasheet PDF

Samsung is experimenting with including VLC with its LED-based backlit LCD flat-panel displays so that viewers can download everything from product information to Web site addresses. We believe that LCD backlight communications is one of best applications for VLC, because LCD backlights are changing to LEDs anyway,” said Scott Birnbaum, vice president of Samsung's LCD business.

Just as the IEEE was beginning its own standards efforts in 2008, the U.S. National Science Foundation saw the light and added VLC research under its Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) initiative.

The Smart Lighting ERC is a $18.5 million, 10-year program involving more than 30 university researchers from institutions including Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, N.Y.), Boston University and the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque). We are considering all of the things we can do with light, now that [society is] switching over to solid-state lighting,” said RPI professor Robert Karlicek, director of the smart-lighting research center. We want to know what we can do that was never possible before, and identify what devices need to be created and what kind of systems architectures need to be employed to be able to realize everything that an advanced lighting system can do.”

BBY5502WH6327XTSA1_Datasheet PDF

Karlicek envisions making the illumination side of the lighting system smart too, by leveraging VLC to add environmental value to the lighting system itself. We want to know what else can we do with LEDs to provide value to society as well as drive new opportunities,” he said. For instance, I can envision indoor lighting fixtures that communicate with each other-from light to light-with low-bit-rate signals to normalize colors and provide uniformity.”

Smart Lighting ERC researchers seek to control all aspects of LED lighting-including its color, intensity, energy use, polarization and modulation-to yield apps that might range from using solid-state lighting to provide data communications-VLC-to controlling circadian rhythms or providing the most healthful form of light for the given time of day. The ERC is also investigating the use of visible light in biosensing, medical diagnostics and therapeutics.

BBY5502WH6327XTSA1_Datasheet PDF

Smart Lighting ERC participant Boston University is focusing on the use of VLC for traditional data communications in unconventional places, such as on aircraft. VLC offers the ability to harness separate parallel data connections, either from different lines of sight or by virtue of multiplexing different frequencies of visible light over the same line of sight. Thus, everyone watching the same movie could share a common broadcast connection, or separate data streams could be fed to the devices of individuals watching different movies.

On the factory floor, the same capability could allow mobile robots to use VLC to navigate warehouses by checking their location using overhead lights and by communicating directly with each other to avoid collisions. Likewise, automobiles could keep tabs on their location by reading the coordinates being broadcast by traffic lights. Vehicle-to-vehicle VLC could help avoid collisions and prevent traffic jams.

The acquisition of Sound Design Technologies solidifies our position as a leading supplier of ultra-low-power digital signal processing (DSP) technology for hearing aids and audio processing applications,” said Robert Tong, vice president of On Semiconductor’s Medical Division, in a statement.

Following its spin-off from Motorola Inc., On Semi several years ago acquired Cherry Semiconductor Corp. for $253.2 million. Then, starting in 2006, On Semi accelerated its efforts to reshape the company from a commodity discrete supplier into a higher-value analog/mixed-signal vendor.

Several years ago, it raised eyebrows by buying LSI Corp.'s 8-inch fab in Gresham, Oregon for $106.5 million. In 2007, On Semi acquired AMI Semiconductor for $894.1 million. The move enabled On Semi to enter the ASIC, custom chip, foundry and other markets. At the time, On Semi also purchased Analog Devices Inc.'s voltage regulation and thermal monitoring products for $148 million

Then, in 2008, On Semi purchased Catalyst Semiconductor Inc., a supplier of EEPROMs and related nonvolatile memories, for $121.7 million. Continuing on its buying spree, On Semi recently completed the acquisition of EMI chip specialist PulseCore Holdings (Cayman) Inc. for $17 million.

Late last year, On Semiconductor acquired California Micro Devices for $108 million in cash under the terms of a definitive agreement signed by the two companies.

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