Apple could be key client
Sony has announced plans to invest 35 billion yen, or about $345 million, on scaling up production of image sensors for phones and tablets. Manufacturing of stacked CMOS sensors will increase at two factories in the southern Japanese island of Kyushu; meanwhile, the company is planning to complete work on a factory in northwestern Japan that it bought from Renesas. The hope is to boost wafer output 13 percent to 68,000 per month by August 2015, moving towards a longer-term target of 75,000, itself just a mid-term goal.
Deal should bring Synaptics back into Apple chain
Synaptics has bought out Renesas SP Drivers in a deal worth $475 million, Reuters writes. The latter is a joint venture between Renesas, Sharp, and Powerchip, and produces all of the display chips for the Apple iPhone, though it does have other clients for products like fingerprint sensors. It in fact controls 90 percent of the fingerprint sensor market, thanks to having bought out Validity last year.
Synaptics seen as leading candidate instaead
Negotations between Apple and Renesas Electronics for a potential buyout of Renesas SP Drivers have broken down, according to Reuters. As a result, Renesas is said to have shifted focus to another potential investor, Synaptics, a fellow smartphone chip supplier. Renesas SP Drivers is a joint venture with Sharp and Powerchip that develops display drivers and controllers.
Could improve image quality, battery life on future devices
Apple is in negotiations with Japan's Renesas Electronics to acquire a unit of the company, says Nikkei. In particular Apple is said to be after Renesas SP Drivers, a joint venture with Sharp and Powerchip that designs chips for smartphone displays. The takeover deal would involve buying up Renesas' 55 percent stake at an estimated price of 50 billion yen, or roughly $479 million.
TSMC, Largan, Foxconn, Texas Instruments among mentioned suppliers
Apple suppliers are now engaged in "intensive delivery" of a "large number" of parts for a low-cost iPhone, says the Commercial Times. TSMC is reportedly delivering 28nm processors, while Largan Precision is supplying an 8-megapixel camera. Foxconn is providing a battery module and most of the inner frame, while Taiflex Scientific is handling a flexible circuit. Other suppliers are said to include Chipbond, Kinsus, SPIL, Texas Instruments, and Renesas Electronics.
NVIDIA hopes to fast-track 4G quad-core devices
NVIDIA unveiled deals with GCT Semiconductor and Renesas that would mate Tegra 3 smartphones and tablets with LTE. The two cellular chip designers are both working on LTE modems that would be companions to NVIDIA's quad-core chip. Striking the deal would let companies make high-end mobile devices with both a Tegra 3 and 4G faster than they would if they had to shop around.
Three Japanese to merge chip-making business
Three large Japanese electronics makers are involved in talks on merging assets to build computer chips. Renesas, Fujitsu and Panasonic will at first spin off their separate chip design and development divisions to create a joint company, according to Japan's Nikkei newspaper (login required). The three are doing so in order to better compete in the industry for devices and vehicles.
Renesas to ship 16-megapixel sensor in March
Japan's Renesas, which makes camera chips and merged with NEC, has now said it will soon produce a sensor that will allow for cell phones with 16-megapixel cameras. The CE150 sensor will offer a significant improvement over currently available cameras in smartphones, such as the 12.1-megapixel one in the Nokia N8 and some 13-megapixel cameras from Japanese makers. The chip will also allow continuous shooting up to five times faster than the currently available camera phones as well.
Nokia sells wireless modem unit for $200 million
Renesas on Tuesday bought Nokia's wireless modem business for nearly $200 million. Under the deal, Renesas will control about 1,100 Nokia researcher and development staff in Finland, India, the UK and Denmark. The two companies will also form a long-term partnership to develop HSPA+/LTE modem technologies.
NTT DoCoMo, Panasonic, others to build platform
Japanese wireless provider NTT DoCoMo, along with Renesas, Fujitsu, NEC, Panasonic and Sharp on Monday announced an agreement to build a new application platform for cellphones. It would be compatible with Symbian and Linux-based mobile operating systems and promises to bring faster processing speeds and better 3D graphics. The platform will save Fujitsu, NEC, Panasonic and Sharp from having to develop basic app processing functions on their own.
Sony Doubling PS3 Builds
Sony is rapidly accelerating production of the PlayStation 3 in what may be a sign of confidence in its upcoming 120GB slim model. Tips from integrated circuit (IC) distributors sent to DigiTimes have Sony ordering enough of their parts on average to make 1 million of the game consoles just for this summer, or twice the rate that was seen in the spring. The rate is said to be high enough that demand is outstripping supply at Renesas, which makes the key chipsets for the PS3.
Renesas today unveiled a mobile media processor that it says should finally allow full HD video in and out on phone-sized devices. Part of the SH-MobileHD1 family, the SH7370 will have video processing hardware fast enough to not only decode 1080p, H.264-based video at a full 30 frames per second but to encode video at the same frame rate. The feature would let phones produce and play video in the same basic format as Blu-ray, including with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround and HDMI video output at full quality.
NEC and Renesas Merge
Semiconductor giants NEC and Renesas today said they would merge in a deal likely to change the electronics industry. The two plan to finish talks by July that would create a single company by next April. Such a deal would give them roughly $13 billion in combined yearly sales and would make it the single-largest Japanese company building processing technology.