<p>Personally I don't tend to get too excited about documentation control systems (I like to think that I have a life), but I was pretty impressed by this one. I'm also going to take advantage of the free download to finally try to get a grip on the thousands of documents — and versions and revisions and transmogrifications thereof — that are currently running wild and free throughout my computer's file system. Call me old-fashioned” if you will, but anything that makes my life easier certainly deserves an official Cool Beans” from me. Until next time, have a good one!</p>

In fact, despite tying up with major contractors like Celestica, Flextronics International, and Sol-ectron, Japanese OEMs are still favoring Taiwan's original design manufacturers (ODMs) to make their high-volume commodity products, according to analysts.

When [recordable DVD players] get to the sub-$300 level, they will become a mass market item,” said Terry Leeder, vice president of sales and marketing at Cirrus Logic Inc., Austin, Texas.

Leeder said Cirrus Logic is working with customers that plan to release full-featured DVD+RW products significantly below $500” by spring.

BM14EB(1.3)-40DS-0.4V(52)_Datasheet PDF

LSI Logic Corp. is also chipping away at system cost by combining hard-disk-drive (HDD) and DVD-recordable functions in a single chip, decreasing BOM cost by as much as 25% to 30%, according to Neil Bullock, marketing manager for home media products at LSI, Milpitas, Calif.

Integration and price are haunting semiconductor suppliers to the consumer entertainment industry. Taiwanese suppliers Acer Laboratories and MediaTek are driving down prices of DVD players, putting pressure on more established players to focus on advanced capabilities, analysts said.

Chip companies that have typically been in the DVD-player market now have a vested interest in moving to DVD-recordable, where the Taiwanese companies can't compete because they don't have MPEG encoding technology,” said Michelle Abraham, an analyst at InStat/MDR, Scottsdale, Ariz.

BM14EB(1.3)-40DS-0.4V(52)_Datasheet PDF

These suppliers are shopping reference designs to Chinese DVD manufacturers to jump-start production of lower-cost, full-featured systems, she said.

At the same time, fragmentation of recording standards and Hollywood's resistance to recordable digital content threaten to inhibit adoption of the high-end features being offered to consumers, said Jay Srivatsa, a San Jose-based analyst at research firm iSuppli Corp.

BM14EB(1.3)-40DS-0.4V(52)_Datasheet PDF

Until the recording standards and content issues are resolved, consumers will stay on the sidelines,” Srivatsa said. It will be 2004 or 2005 before the volumes really justify the amount of effort chipmakers are putting in–but right now, they don't have a choice. They know they have to do something to stay competitive.”

Since entering the video processor market 18 months ago, Cirrus Logic has carved out a 5% share with more than 2 million units shipped, Leeder said. The company will try to make deeper inroads with a DVD+RW reference platform based on its recently introduced CS98200 DVD processor and CS92288 MPEG audio/video codec.

Month to month, quarter to quarter, we continue to see a lack of capital spending, which continues to hinder any kind of recovery in the electronics industry,” said a buyer at one major contract manufacturer.

Indeed, production fell in December to 36.4 from 39.5 in November, while inventory levels climbed to 36.4 after dropping to 28.3 in the prior month. While prices showed a four-month growth trend to 36 and export orders rose to 39.1 from 37.4 in November, new orders overall in December rose just half a point, to 40.5

The outlook was not entirely gloomy, however, with a mixed bag of reactions from the executives polled.

The economy has not recovered sufficiently to bring us back to levels seen two years ago; however, the outlook is brighter and improving daily,” said one procurement executive who works for a document management firm.

Pockets of strength also reside in the military/aerospace and industrial sectors, where contract manufacturers in particular cited an improving business climate.

Ascot, UK — Agere Systems has won a $150m contract from Samsung to supply wireless data chipsets and software for use in the South Korean group's latest generation GPRS phones.

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