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Xilinx chief sees slow recovery

Posted: 18 Jul 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:xilinx? FPGA? wafer? consumer electronic? DVD?

The electronics industry should be able to avoid a double-dip recession and instead see very slow growth through the second half of this year, said the chief executive of Xilinx Inc. Meanwhile, the FPGA maker is making progress in its transition to 300mm wafers on which about 30 percent of its products are now made, said Willem P. Roelandts.

Speaking on Monday (July 15) just three days before Xilinx reports results of its June quarter, Roelandts would not provide any specific guidance on the current financials for the company, which is often seen as a bellwether of semiconductor demand. However, he did say he remains optimistic about a gradual recovery.

"Consumer electronics is strong and we see slow growth in enterprise networking, but telecom will be very weak for another year, maybe more. Cable modems and home networking are both doing well, albeit off a very small base," and DVD and recordable DVD products are especially strong, he said.

Xilinx saw its revenue slide to its lowest point in the current downturn in September 2001. Since then, the company has seen gradual recovery in revenue growth and predicted 8 percent growth in sales for the June quarter, results of which will be announced Thursday (July 18).

Despite improvements in its financials, Xilinx currently maintains a hiring freeze. The company has so far avoided layoffs during the current downturn, opting instead for salary cuts, which have now been restored. Xilinx also cut costs by shutting its doors for one week every quarter.

Meanwhile the company continues to make strides in its plan to make half its products on 300mm wafers by March 2003. While initially the larger wafers have been more expensive than their 200mm counterparts, costs are going down as yields improve.

"At this point we are roughly cost-neutral," Roelandts said, comparing the costs of products made on 300mm wafers to those on 200mm wafers. "We are pretty much at the break-even point, and I expect to see a cost advantage in the next couple quarters," he said.

Xilinx's FPGAs are a process driver for United Microelectronics Corp., which makes Xilinx's Virtex-E and Spartan-IIE on UMC's 300mm Fab 12a in southern Taiwan. Xilinx expects its other major foundry, IBM, to produce its Virtex-II Pro parts on its 300mm fab in East Fishkill, New York, by the end of the year with first runs expected to begin as early as August.

Currently, wafers running on a 0.18-micron process have about the same yields on UMC's 300mm and 200mm fabs, but yields are not as good on 300-mm wafers using the 0.15-micron process, Roelandts said.

? Rick Merritt

EE Times

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