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Maxim, Powerchip form 300mm foundry alliance

Posted: 03 Aug 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:300mm foundry? fab?

Analog chip maker Maxim Integrated Products Inc. has formed a 300mm foundry alliance with Taiwan's Powerchip Semiconductor Corp., according to an analyst.

Maxim is qualifying a 180nm BCD process within Powerchip's 300-mm fab, said Vernon Essi, an analyst with Needham & Co. LLC., in a report. At present, Powerchip is in ''pre-production mode,'' Essi said. Shipments of analog parts are due out by year's end, he said.

Maxim ''continues its capacity expansion plans on multiple fronts, most importantly with its upcoming 300mm ramp with Powerchip,'' he added.

The move is surprising. Powerchip is primarily a DRAM maker. The Taiwan DRAM also has an alliance with Japan's Elpida Memory Inc.

Maxim also does most of its manufacturing in-house, although it has a foundry relationship with Seiko Epson Corp. ''In fiscal years 2009, 2008, and 2007 the products manufactured by Epson represented 9 percent, 6 percent and 1 percent of our total wafer production, and we expect to continue to rely primarily on our own domestic facilities to meet our wafer production needs,'' according to a Maxim filing.

It also represents the latest analog player to jump on the 300mm bandwagon. Texas Instruments Inc. is ramping up a 300mm analog fab in Texas.

Maxim this week reported record sales of $566 million for the quarter ended June 26, up 11 percent compared with the previous quarter and up 43 percent compared with the year-ago quarter. The company posted a net income in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) of $58.5 million, or 19 cents per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $33.9 million in the prior quarter and a net income of $8 million in the year ago quarter.

Maxim's net income for the quarter was weighed down by pre-tax and tax-related expenses including a $33.2 million tax provision for international restructuring, the company said.

Consensus analyst expectations had called for Maxim to report sales of $561 million, according to Yahoo Finance.

''Maxim reported a beat and raise June Q4 highlighted by September Q1 revenue guidance that was 6 percent higher than consensus. Backlog grew 28 percent Q/Q and bookings were flat Q/Q with a book to bill above 1.0,'' Essi said.

''Though up Q/Q, lead times have stabilized since the end of June Q2. This was due to Maxim reducing its capacity constraintsthough not all the backlog will shipas well as channel inventory and customer requirements moderating but still below normal levels,'' he said.

''Maxim is experiencing momentum in the Industrial segment, beyond the inorganic benefits of Teridan in smart-metering as well as consumer strength in smart phones. Computing growth, however, is muted specifically in notebook,'' he added.

Maxim has been on a buying spree as well. In 2008, Maxim entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Mobilygen Inc., a developer of H.264 video compression chips.

In January of 2009, Maxim acquired Innova Card, a fabless semiconductor company specializing in the design and development of secure solutions for terminals, for an undisclosed sum.Also in 2009, Maxim acquired Zilog Inc.'s secure transaction product line. This features the Zatara 32-bit, ARM-based microcontroller family for use in payment terminals.

Last year, analog chip maker Maxim has sold some RFID intellectual-property (IP) to Intelleflex Corp. In return, Maxim received an equity position in Intelleflex, a developer of RFID products. In total, seven engineers from Maxim will be joining Intelleflex.

Moving into a new and emerging market, Maxim recently entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Teridian Semiconductor Corp. for approximately $315 million in cash.The acquisition positions Maxim in the smart meter chip market.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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