The Week In Review: Aug. 26

Hyped tech; wafer spinout; fab zoning; GF-Clinton connection; book-to-bill; Mentor’s results.

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By Mark LaPedus
The evolving relationship between humans and machines is the key theme of Gartner’s most “hyped” technologies in 2013. Gartner has chosen to feature the relationship between humans and machines due to the increased hype around smart machines, cognitive computing and the Internet of Things. Gartner also released its updated chart of hyped technologies.

SunEdison, formerly MEMC, plans to spin off its silicon wafer business. It also has approved an initial public offering (IPO) of its semiconductor business to create SunEdison Semiconductor. SunEdison plans to sell a minority ownership interest in the semiconductor business to the public. SunEdison makes silicon wafers, including products based on silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology.

Commenting on the spin-off, Jagadish Iyer, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, said: “Revenues for the semiconductor division have ranged from $215 million to $240 million per quarter over the past six quarters with operating margins a meager 1.5% in 2Q ’13 after losses over the previous quarters. While the semi business has had restructuring of its operations, including the move of its manufacturing operations to Asia, we believe unlocking from the parent company should help the semi segment to focus on share gains and improving profitability independently. Though the semi business of SunEdison has suffered from ASP erosion and execution issues, including delays in its manufacturing move, it still remains the foremost supplier of wafers to key chip companies such as Samsung, TSMC and Intel.”

The Malta Town Board in New York authorized several zoning changes for GlobalFoundries, paving the way for the second fab in the area.

GlobalFoundries and five partners announced their Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action, a collaborative effort that has the potential to strengthen the U.S. supply chain and build a manufacturing base. The effort, dubbed the National Supply Chain Network Initiative (NSNI), is designed to help small and midsized manufacturers get connected to large manufacturers. Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) creates and implements innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment posted a book-to-bill ratio of 1.00 in July, according to SEMI. This compares to 1.10 in June.

Mentor Graphics announced financial results for the company’s fiscal second quarter ended July 31, 2013. “Revenue, bookings and operating income were all-time records for a second quarter,” said Walden C. Rhines, chairman and CEO of Mentor Graphics.

In a conference call, Rhines added: “The requirement for new capabilities for 20-, 14- and 10-nm technology was the principal driving force affecting both the Calibre family and Veloce Emulation. As a result, bookings grew 70% overall compared to last year.”

Realtek Semiconductor has licensed Cadence’s Tensilica HiFi Audio/Voice DSP (digital signal processor) IP core.

In a blog, Applied Materials discusses the 40th anniversary of the first cell phone call. When the Motorola 8000 hit the scene, the “brick” used chips based on 1-micron technology.

Edwards Group, a developer and manufacturer of vacuum products, abatement systems and related value-added services, and Atlas Copco Group, a provider of industrial productivity solutions, announced that the companies have entered into a definitive merger agreement in a transaction valued at up to approximately $1.6 billion, including the assumption of debt.

Elon Musk recently revealed his ideas for “hyperloop,” a speculative new mode of high-speed transportation. The system would propel car-sized compartments through low-pressure tubes. Lux Research weighs in on the technology.

LCD panel makers have lowered their shipment and revenue targets for the remainder of 2013, according to NPD DisplaySearch.