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Things unsaid about the new Fujitsu-Panasonic Co.

Posted: 06 Aug 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:system LSI? fabless? Unifier?

Question No. 5: What will make the new system LSI company profitable?

In the latest press release, the new company painstakingly stressed that it will have "world-class management resources" and will consolidate "in a profitable manner." The new company will "expand its business globally" and "aim for an IPO within several years."

Good news is that the incoming CEO Yasuo Nishiguchi does not come from either Fujitsu or Panasonic. Formerly CEO of Kyocera Corp., he served most recently as an operating executive at the private equity firm, the prestigious but controversial Carlyle Group. Nishiguchi's responsibility at the Carlyle Group was the focus on Japanese buyout opportunities.

The new company forecasts annual sales to be about $1.46 billion, based on the combined results of Fujitsu Semiconductor and Panasonic's relevant businesses in the latest fiscal year.

The new company won't own any fabs of its own. The new company's fabless model, however, by no means guarantees its profitability. Nor will it assure broader design wins beyond the existing customers held by Fujitsu and Panasonic.

While many chip vendors throughout the world are committed to the growing electronics content inside vehicles, the new company's automotive chip business won't necessarily profit from any consolidations among Japanese chip companies.

After all, Panasonic is pursuing automotive chip business independent of the new Fujitsu-Panasonic company. Reportedly, Fujitsu originally wanted to bring Renesas into the new company, when the idea of the JV was first floated more than two years ago. Renesas, however, has decided to go with it alone, while the company plans to maintain its leadership position in the global automotive electronics market.

Question No. 6: What chip business, if any, will be left at Fujitsu Semiconductor and Panasonic?

For Fujitsu Semiconductor, what's left will be memory businessmainly focused on FRAM and FCRAM.

According to Fujitsu, FRAM (ferroelectric memory) has advantages of non-volatile memory like EEPROM, keeping write data without power supply for data retention, and high-speed write performance of SRAM. FRAM, which Fujitsu has been shipping since 1999, has two product families: serial interface (I2C, SPI) and parallel interface product.

Fujitsu's FCRAM (Fast Cycle RAM) is a random access memory featuring low-power consumption. It has a low-power DDR SDRAM interface or PSRAM (pseudo SRAM) interface in the product family. Because the FCRAM features both low-power consumption and high-speed data transfer capability, Fujitsu has long maintained that it's ideal for digital consumer electronics such as digital television and camcorder, that require high-speed processing of large-scale digital data, and optimal for mobile applications such as cellular phones.

Now that those system-level SoCs will be designed at the new Fujitsu-Panasonic company and the company's original MCU and analogue businesses were sold to Spansion, Fujitsu Semiconductor's main focus will be on the stand-alone memory business, said the company.

For Panasonic, the company's device business will be all about chips for automotive and industrial applications.

- Junko Yoshida
??EE Times

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