A new venture announced today by Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU) is developing highly integrated systems on silicon chips to improve the performance and reduce the cost and size of next-generation Internet appliances such as personal digital assistants and cell phones.
The new venture, SyChip Inc., will offer complex Chip-Scale Modules (CSM's) that integrate memory, logic, analog, digital and passive functions on a
single chip of silicon - a task that is very difficult using traditional technologies.
SyChip's initial focus will be to incorporate proprietary radio-frequency (RF) passive component and chip-on-chip interconnect
technologies in high-performance modules for wireless Internet appliances. Portable Internet appliances such as cell phones, personal digital
assistants, and laptop computers are dramatically expanding the market for top-quality, high-frequency wireless modules.
"RF modules operating at 2.4 gigahertz, a common frequency for these applications, are difficult to build because of their complexity and the
variations in performance of their conventional passive components, such as resistors, capacitors and filters," said Dennis Peasenell, President and CEO of SyChip. "Our powerful array of Bell Labs technology is expected to help product designers to significantly reduce their time to market, while also reducing the size and cost of their products. We know our best path to success is to make our customers successful."
Studies by Prismark Partners LLC show that opportunities for applying SyChip's technology will expand significantly over the next few years,
driven by the ubiquitous use of wireless terminals and devices, and the need to connect them with each other and with the Internet and other networks.
Prismark estimates that the market opportunity for the type of wireless RF modules that SyChip will offer will grow from $3 billion in 2000 to $11 billion in 2004.
"The fast-growing wireless Internet appliance field needs what SyChip is offering -- Chip Scale Modules built in a proprietary silicon
substrate with Chip-on-Chip technology," said Tom Uhlman, president of Lucent's New Ventures Group. "SyChip's major opportunity is to offer its customers miniaturized, economical, high-performance wireless modules with a very high level of system integration, thus allowing a faster time to market."
SyChip, the sixteenth venture announced by Lucent, is being launched with technical expertise and intellectual property in two broad areas:
* Proprietary, low-loss, high-resistivity silicon materials and fabrication techniques that allow 50 to 100 passive components to be
integrated into silicon chips on wafers up to 6 inches in diameter. Circuits fabricated via SyChip's technology achieve electrical performance
factors up to 16 times better than those that are currently achievable. This performance is critical in wireless modules designed to operate at frequencies of 1 gigahertz and above, where close tolerances of devices reduce power consumption and improve RF performance.
* Chip-on-Chip (COC)/flip-chip technology, which allows hundreds of chip interconnections to be created as solder bumps made from a lead-free,
high-conductivity solder paste. With SyChip's proprietary technology, two chips can be stacked vertically, greatly reducing system space requirements, improving signal access time, and reducing power consumption.
Both of these technologies were developed at Bell Labs under the direction of King Tai, a Bell Labs Fellow, who now is the Chief Technical Officer
SyChip also will offer Chip Scale Modules for use in wireless Internet appliances that comply with standards for systems such as Global
Positioning Systems (GPS), 3G/GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), and the emerging BlueTooth wireless LAN standard.
"Using technologies developed by Bell Labs researchers, SyChip could build Chip Scale Modules that incorporate multiple radios on a single chip," said Moses Asom, Chief Operating Officer of SyChip.
"For example, customers could have GPS and multi-band GSM radio capabilities in cell phones, laptops or PDAs, so that they could contact the Internet or a data base to receive the location of the nearest hospital, gas station, or
restaurant. Many kinds of information could be delivered to them anywhere, at any time."
SyChip also announced that it has received a multimillion dollar investment from APack Technologies Inc. of Taiwan, a major supplier of micro-system integration services that specializes in solder bump and flip-chip
processes. "We are pleased to invest in SyChip because its leading-edge technologies will help us achieve our strategic objectives of providing
tailor-made interconnection and packaging foundry services that optimize product price performance," said Richard Chuang, CEO of