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After some spirited discussion it was concluded, uneasily, that at the end of the day the foundry owned the design rules, because the only real input to the rules came from the process. But the end design team owned — that is, was responsible for — the yield. The IP vendor in the middle would more than likely wash their hands of the whole issue. And that separation, it was suggested, was the crux of the problem.

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After some spirited discussion it was concluded, uneasily, that at the end of the day the foundry owned the design rules, because the only real input to the rules came from the process. But the end design team owned — that is, was responsible for — the yield. The IP vendor in the middle would more than likely wash their hands of the whole issue. And that separation, it was suggested, was the crux of the problem.

MANHASSET, N.Y. — Broadcom turned up the heat in the Wi-Fi speed wars Wednesday (March 24) by claiming that speed tweaks in its new Wi-Fi chip sets can increase overall wireless network performance even in environments in which equipment from multiple vendors is in operation.

A number of vendors have offered 802.11 chip sets geared for greater speed, but the benefits only applied to equipment from the same vendor.

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Broadcom said in a statement that its technology, while most effective with equipment that uses its chip sets, will improve overall wireless network performance.

While Broadcom didn't name its competitors, it repeated a swipe it previously took at speed tweaks provided by chip maker Atheros Communications, saying it commissioned tests that proved network degradation when products using other chip sets were in use.

The company claimed that its competitors took liberties with the 802.11 standard while it adhered to it more closely.

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MILPITAS, Calif.–Expanding its efforts in communications, LSI Logic Corp. announced an agreement to acquire Velio Communications Inc. in a cash transaction valued at approximately $20 million.

LSI Logic also announced the acquisition of the assets of CrossLayer Networks, a provider of Gigabit Ethernet switch ASSPs. CrossLayer's solution complements LSI Logic's existing 10/100 Ethernet Switching solutions targeted for desktop Gbit connectivity and networking.

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Palo Alto-based Velio Communications is a provider of high-speed interconnect and switch fabric application specific standard products (ASSPs).

Velio's interconnect expertise will enable LSI Logic to offer a more robust portfolio of solutions and quicker time-to-market for competitive products addressing the unique needs of worldwide communications customers,”said John D'Errico, LSI Logic executive vice president of Storage and Communications Components, in a statement.

National Semiconductor Corp. chairman, president and chief executive officer Brian Halla has talked enthusiastically of a sensor-networked world using harvested” power from piezoelectric or solar sources. President and CEO T.J. Rodgers has spent some of his own money investing in solar technology for Cypress Semiconductor Corp. They wouldn't be doing so if leakage could be solved.

System-on-chip designs, considered a driver for the next wave of electronics, are a world away from the methodologies and incremental efficiencies of the past. Aside from the well-worn issues of intellectual-property integration, verification and test, SoC design poses unique problems of economics.

Jordan Plofsky, senior vice president at PLD vendor Altera Corp., has argued that there are very few profitable markets available for SoC designs that cost $30 million to $50 million to develop. The target market has to be at least $1.5 billion for a project to be considered a success. Plofsky used a calculation that assumed the project R&D was 20 percent of revenue and that eventual market share of that $1.5 billion market would be roughly 10 percent. So the revenue from the project would total $150 million.

Even Tsugio Makimoto, corporate adviser to Sony Corp. and formulator of the eponymous Makimoto Wave describing semiconductor industry trends, hedges, saying, Will SoC be profitable? Yes in some cases, but not always.” Not the most encouraging assessment of a technology.

Cost is king in the consumer world, and this is perhaps the biggest challenge facing semiconductor companies. Every chip supplier has the right” cost solution, but often it's the right solution vis–vis competing solutions, not consumer perceptions. Consumers who revel at paying $30 for a DVD player at Wal-Mart won't be able to rationalize paying $150 for a solid-state tape recorder. A Sharp organizer is $12.88, but a Palm Vx is $79? What's with that?

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