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Atmel, Nvidia design kit enables next-gen mobile devices

Posted: 16 Feb 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Tegra 2 ARM-based processor? mXT1386 touchscreen chipset? Android-based mobile Internet devices? tablet market?

Like the processor front, the touch-screen chipset market is competitive. Citing strong demand in the market, Cypress Semiconductor Corp. recently implemented a "significant manufacturing capacity expansion" for its growing touch-screen controller line.

Cypress's Fab 4 in Bloomington, Minnesota, and Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the company's primary foundry partner, will triple the capacity for the S8 manufacturing process in 2011. Cypress also announced several design wins for its touch-screen chip line, mostly in the handset and other fronts.

"We do believe that first signs of wins using Cypress' TrueTouch (touch-screen line) for tablets will become more visible in late Q1/Q2. We note that Cypress' touch solutions are at a discount verses Atmel's at $6-8 in tablets and $3-4 in handsets," said Freedman of Gleacher & Co.

Last week, another competitor, Synaptics Inc., announced the first line of capacitive multitouch interface solutions for use with integrated displays, the ClearPad Series 3 and Series 4. With on-cell and in-cell integrated displays, Synaptics makes it possible to enable capacitive multitouch sensing in mobile devices.

The ClearPad Series 4's approach combines Synaptics' ClearPad multitouch technology with the display driver (DDI) into a single-chip solution that delivers the most advanced display noise management and capacitive sensing performance, the company claimed.

"We believe Synaptics remains a viable competitor in handsets, while on track to become a preferred vendor for notebook touch-screens and lower-volume non-handset opportunities (gaming, PMP, handhelds) that favor high-service solutions via modules," said Ian Ing, an analyst with Gleacher & Co., in a recent report.

But to date, Atmel has garnered what appears to be the most momentum in the market. The company's maXTouch line exceeded its target from little or nothing in 2008 to a whopping $140 million in sales in 2010 alone, Freedman of Gleacher & Co. said.

"MaXTouch is now expected to grow (twofold) in calendar 2011 toward $300 million," Freedman said. Atmel "continues to gain design wins on what we presume to be high-volume devices, including Nokia's c7, Motorola's Droid Pro and Defy, and HTC's Desire Z and Trophy 7 in the recent quarter. Recall Atmel already has wins with Droid X, Evo, Samsung Galaxy S and Samsung Galaxy Tab."

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