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Commentary: A World Without Wires
 
... We don't just have to think about what the wireless world would look like anymore, it's obviously happening, and faster than many may realize. As I was totally absorbed in a conversation by telephone with Anadigics' President and CEO, Bami Bastani regarding Anadigics' acquisition of RF Solutions' Wireless Local...
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RF Solutions WLAN Group Acquired by Anadigics

April 3, 2003...Anadigics, Inc. of Warren, New Jersey has acquired the complete Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) power amplifier (PA) and module product lines from RF Solutions Inc. for an upfront cash consideration of $2.8 million, and a contingent payment of up to three million common shares, based on achievement targets. RF Solutions is a privately held fabless supplier of WLAN semiconductor products based in Atlanta, Georgia USA. The transaction strategically addresses IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11a, and IEEE 802.11g (draft) standards. "Our new WLAN PA team brings to Anadigics enormous value in terms of products, applications support, design talent, customer relationships and entrepreneurial spirit to help drive our growth in the exciting WLAN market," said Dr. Bami Bastani, President and CEO of Anadigics, who underscored that "Industry analysts expect the WLAN market to grow at more than a thirty-five percent compound annual growth rate over the next several years. This acquisition compliments our existing product lines, design capabilities, and best-of-breed InGaP HBT technology while strategically positioning ANADIGICS to capture significant share of the WLAN market." The acquisition included RF Solutions' WLAN PA development operation, 16 employees, and intellectual property comprised of PA and module product design, certain assets and the assumption of certain liabilities. Joining the senior management staff at Anadigics will be RF Solutions' Marcus Wise, who becomes Senior Director of WLAN Products. Marcus was responsible for sales and marketing at RF Solutions. An editorial perspective on this acquisition is in our McDonald Report, this issue, and details are included in Anadigics' company news release.

Genoa Slated to be Acquired by Finisar for $5.5 Million in Stock

April 3, 2003...Finisar Corporation or Sunnyvale, California USA has announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Genoa, Inc. which is headquartered in Fremont, California USA. Genoa, which was founded in 1998 and led by former CEO of Pacific Monolithics, Rick Gold, is noted for having developed a line of novel linear semiconductor optical amplifiers (LSOAs) as used for amplifying DWDM wavelengths for both metro and telecom applications. As a byproduct of that technology, Genoa has also developed a unique approach for making long wavelength VCSELs. "Genoa is an important strategic addition to Finisar," commented Jerry Rawls, Finisar's CEO. "Genoa's LSOAs are already being evaluated by a number of potential customers. Use of their technology to amplify light at the chip level, in conjunction with other optical components we recently acquired from New Focus, should enable us to offer a distinct cost and performance advantage compared to using erbium-doped fiber optic amplifiers (EDFAs). Efficient light amplification is an important requirement of DWDM metro networks. In addition, Genoa has developed a novel approach for making long wavelength VCSELs at 1310nm and 1550nm which should result in improved reliability and cost." Under the terms of the agreement, Genoa will merge with a wholly owned subsidiary of Finisar and Finisar will issue approximately seven million shares of its Common Stock. The closing price of Finisar's Common Stock on March 31, 2003 was $0.78 per share giving the transaction an aggregate value of approximately $5.5 million. In addition, Finisar will issue warrants to purchase an additional one million shares of Common Stock at an exercise price of $1.00 per share. The transaction is expected to be completed within the month. Details and an update of senior management changes at Finisar are included in the company news release.

Color Kinetics Issued Two Key HB-LED Patents

April 3, 2003...Color Kinetics Incorporated of Boston, Massachusetts USA is noted for its exceptional capability of integrating leading edge HB-LEDs into intelligent illumination systems. Since their incorporation in 1997 (making them one of the earliest HB-LED systems integrators) they literally "do it all" from basic design, through manufacturing and marketing. The company's IP portfolio is reinforced recently with the issuance of two key U.S. patents for digitally controlled light, bringing the company's total to 15 issued U.S. and international patents. The new patents encompass methods pertaining to the control of solid-state illumination products as well as lighting fixture design. "These latest achievements are a testament to both the engineering talent and system design expertise of the Color Kinetics team, and we're thrilled with the continued recognition of these inventions by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office," said George Mueller, chairman and CEO, Color Kinetics. U.S. Patent number 6,528,954 is a utility patent called "Smart Light Bulb" that covers retrofit LED-based lamps that have a user interface to control color-changing effects, including full-spectrum color-changing effects as well as color temperature change in white light. The lights may also be configured to control other external systems. U.S. Patent number D468,035 is a design patent called "Lighting Fixture" that covers a linear, architectural lighting system in various lengths with a housing for indoor and outdoor applications. Company news release. In further news from Color Kinetics and an indication of the breadth and depth of their HB-LED innovation, On March 18th, Color Kinetics announced that they and Ambient Devices, a leader in "glanceable information displays," entered into an agreement designed to address demand for an emerging wave of wireless ambient devices. Details of that emerging application area are in that supplementary joint company news release.

Osram Opto Assumes Worldwide Sales for Opto Semiconductor Products from Infineon Technologies AG

April 3, 2003...Osram Opto Semiconductors has assumed all worldwide sales activities for its opto-semiconductor products from Infineon Technologies AG, Osram Opto's former joint venture partner. Osram Opto is a wholly owned subsidiary of Osram GmbH, and the assumption is slated to strengthening Osram's customer focus and technical services. Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH was founded in 1999 as a joint venture between Osram GmbH and Infineon Technologies AG (formerly Siemens Semiconductor Division). In the summer of 2001, Osram GmbH acquired all Infineon shares in the sale of opto-semiconductors. Responding to the new sales structure, which Osram Opto says is in response to the ever-growing demands for high-quality applications, engineering and technical services, Osram Opto will be able to provide specialists from various divisions for high-level technical support for the full range of opto-semiconductor components, and will also provide direct contact with the customer service organization to expedite any logistical queries. "We are looking forward to more direct cooperation with our customers," said Ulrich Geiger, VP of Sales at Osram Opto Semiconductors GmbH. "With our new sales structure, we shall be expanding our core competence in opto-semiconductor system solutions." Details are included in the company news release.

Lumileds HB-LEDs Brighten the North Pole

April 3, 2003...When Santa Claus finds it hard to get home next December, due to all that cold and darkness, all he'll have to do is follow the circle of lights in the North Pole. Seriously... this novel applications story is lighting the Polar Circle, and its being done with Lumileds Lighting's Luxeon LEDs as the sole source of light in a creative project called "CircleLights." As the story goes... while traditional light sources cannot operate in the freezing temperatures associated with the frigid polar pathway in northern Sweden/Lapland, it turns out the latest LED technology from Lumileds, Luxeon, works flawlessly. The creation of German artist Thomas Huber, “CircleLights” is a light installation made from 33 specially designed, battery driven lamps, developed by the German company Richard Schahl GmbH & Co. using Luxeon to ensure long-lasting, energy efficient light. Creating a unique path of light in this area has never been possible due to the Arctic cold. Each light has been specifically designed to survive the arctic conditions, where temperatures can fall to -40°c in the winter months, and darkness exists for the majority of each day. It's an especially interesting applications story and underscores that compound semi-based HB-LEDs do what compound semi devices have always been able to accomplish. Excellent performance in extreme climate situations. The compounds have gone to space, they've drilled deep into the earth, and now they've gone to light up the North Pole. No wonder Santa Claus is so especially good to compound semi-related boys and girls. Now we're helping him in return. Next thing you know, Rudolph will be sporting a Luxeon red HB-LED on his nose! For those interested in details on this exciting project, visit Visit www.circlelights.de/ for images, updates and information on the artist. Company news release.

NTT's ATC Purchases a Thomas Swan MOCVD Reactor

April 2, 2003...Thomas Swan Scientific Equipment (TSSE) has announced that NTT Advanced Technology Corporation (NTT-AT) has recently purchased a high volume multiwafer "Close Coupled Showerhead" (CCS) MOCVD system from TSSE. NTT-AT was founded as a subsidiary of NTT the largest telecommunications service provider in Japan, and now covers almost the entire range of information and telecommunications technologies, including a variety of research services, sales of new products and system/network integration based on leading compound semiconductor devices. The new Thomas Swan CCS system will be used for the entrusted research and development of InP related material products by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) in Japan. The team using the new TSEE tool is headed by Dr. Gako Araki of NTT-AT and the reactor will be used in the production of GaAs/ InP devices for leading edge telecommunications technology. According to Thomas Swan, the company has now sold in excess of 140 CCS MOCVD systems with major markets for GaN and InP based manufacturers. Company news release.

Intense Photonics 980 Source Delivers 120mW Without Cooling

April 1, 2003...As recently unveiled at OFC, Intense Photonics of High Blantyre, Scotland, has introduced a 980 nm laser pump source that brings what the company says is "a radical new level of performance and economy" to optical networking systems. Packaged in a compact mini-DIL package, it delivers 120 mW of power at the component's fiber connection without a thermo-electric cooler (TEC). This state-of-the-art output for uncooled pump lasers provides the performance to reduce the number of laser devices in amplifier modules, and/or support longer links, geared to significantly reduce the costs of EDFA/EDWA amplifiers for C-band optical networking. Intense will add a 180 mW version of the laser to the range later in 2003. Company news release.

Essient Introduces XFP EAMs to Support +40km Transmission

April 1, 2003...Essient Photonics of Belshill, Scotland recently announced that its Electro Absorption Modulator (EAM) technology can enable support of 40 km transmission and beyond, within the constraints of the XFP specification. Essient's EAM technology also enables XFP Level 2 power of 2.5 W to be achieved, versus competing technologies that currently consume 4.5 W. Essient, a supplier of integrated III-V optoelectronic components, underscores that it uses a fraction of the board space required by other components to provide the same functionality and significantly extend transmission distance. Using its disruptive EAM technology, Essient 's mission is to provide the benefits promised by the XFP specification while circumventing the drawbacks faced by lesser technologies. "Without the critical combination of reduced size and low power, other technologies hit the wall before 40 kilometers," said Ken Jones, Essient's CEO. "For Essient, 40 kilometers is just the beginning. Our technological approach will open up longer transmission distances and reduced power levels in the future, providing greater cost efficiencies for datacom and telecom networks." Company news release.

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Commentary & Perspective...

A World Without Wires

April 3, 2003...We don't just have to think about what the wireless world would look like anymore, it's obviously happening, and faster than many may realize. As I was totally absorbed in a conversation by telephone with Anadigics' President and CEO, Bami Bastani regarding Anadigics' acquisition of RF Solutions' Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) operation (see headline news, this issue) I looked down and around my office setup at the maze of clumsy cords that litter the floor. Trip wires galore, and it seems its always been that way since getting my first PC years ago. Add fax, printer, four telephone connections, and the ideal "home office" setup doesn't look all that ideal anymore. The cellphones and laptops we now all take for granted were our first collective clue of how a world without wires would actually look and feel, even though we take wireless internal communication for granted every time we get in our cars and turn on the radio. Bami opened my weary eyes to the quiet dynamics that are going on behind the scenes in mobile communications, and helped me sort through the realistic relationship to our everyday activities within the compound semi industry.

The communications sector news scene is changing. Bami is quite good at helping journalists understand complicated industry dynamics, by the way, and his accurate pulsebeat on the industry is reminiscent of his predecessor, Ron Rosenzweig, who was one of my most patient pals who helped me through a steep learning curve though the years from the time Anadigics was but a twinkle in the eyes of Ron, Charlie Huang, and their original venture backers. Anadigics has always been a class act and a company you can depend on. Even in these down times, when so many companies in the communications sector are cutting back, Anadigics has retained its prestigious PR firm at RFCP in New Jersey, and famed webmasters at Magus Research in London. (Ref. Anadigics' website) You may not realize how important that caliber of professional support means, but to us online editor types, dealing through such top flight service providers makes our job not only easier while helping assure timely coverage and better accuracy, it also makes it more enjoyable. RFCP and Magus are staffed with pros that understand the compound semi industry and their backing has a great deal to do with helping clients, like Anadigics, truly stay a class act.

The acquisition by Anadigics of RF Solutions, a privately held company that has been working on the leading edge of WLAN power amplifiers (PAs) and modules from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia USA, provides Anadigics with obvious synergy, but it also says something important about where the wireless world... which revolves around the evolving IEEE 802.11 standards... is headed. The acquisition equates to synergy, in people and in mission. Here's how Bami explained the dynamics to me, and his explanation debunks some of the feelings that all of the communications sector was hit hard when The Bubble burst. Contrary to popular opinion, some companies have been doing pretty well. And the outlook is uplifting.

Six months ago, WLAN was essentially all silicon (Si), laced here and there with SiGe and a smattering of GaAs. Intersil dominated that market and enjoyed a very healthy growth rate and there was plenty of business. In the second slot was Agere, with their 802.11b 2.4 GHz offering at 10 megabits, with 90% of the market being dominated by silicon. Then along came Atheros, a young privately held company, bringing the 802.11a solution which offered GaAs (specifically InGaP HBTs) a bigger piece of the action. 5 GHz can be achieved with Si PAs, but it's tough. 5 GHz is a cakewalk for GaAs HBTs. Then there's the 802.11g offering. While "g" is at 2.4 GHz, the data rates are 54 Megabits, which is really tough for Si. So as the standards move towards increased consolidation, around the b/g or a/g/b combos, which are the areas where an aggressive power amp startup like RF Solutions had already established excellent "best of breed" visibility, the story gets interesting for the compounds.

Six months ago, Anadigics started their designs of g/a/ab, where RF Solutions was already making waves. Coupled with a good supply of epiwafers from both Emcore and Kopin, Anadigics' primary suppliers, the synergistic combination of RF Solutions (which is fabless) with Anadigics, which has a world class fab inhouse in Warren, and by having assembly, test, and a drop shipment facility in Taiwan and China (Tong Hsing in China and UCOMM in Taiwan), Anadigics is now in an excellent position to support all the leading standards for handsets, PDAs and wireless LANs. According to David Coller, Anadigics' VP of Operation, "Our strategic relationship with Tong Hsing and UCOMM in Taiwan has provided ANADIGICS with a platform for operational growth in the Asia Pacific Rim. David reports that the estimates suggest that, by 2005, 49.5 billion communications ICs will be required to support the massive wireless and broadband growth in China alone.

Bami noted that the leaders to track for the integration of GaAs PAs in WLANs are: #1 Intersil. #2 Agere. #3 Atheros. #4 Broadcom, and #5 Intel. Intel offers the best online example with their newly announced Centrino, which made quite a splash recently at the CTIA show in New Orleans. "Everyone of those guys can use our power amplifiers," said Bami. And the market projections are good. Average integration of something like a Centrino includes two power amps, 1 pHEMT RF switch, and integrated passives. When the parts leave the USA for Asia, the assemblers see about 4 chips going into an MCM package. Metrics for the WLAN market start with 24 million units of PAs in 2002, with a projection of 42 million in '03, 64 million in '04, 80 million in '05 and reaching 100 million in '06. Sounds like business is, indeed, picking up. Congrats on the acquisition, Anadigics, and to the RF Solutions people in Atlanta, welcome to your new home! You're going to love being part of the Anadigics Class Act.

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