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National Semiconductor Introduces Laser Diode Drivers That Slash DVD/CD Recording Times in Optical Disk Drives

Sanyo Selects National’s New Laser Diode Driver for Its Latest Generation Optical Pickup Unit (OPU)

Nov 10, 2003

November 10, 2003—Making a dramatic entry into a fast-growing market, National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE:NSM) today introduced laser diode drivers (LDDs) that will allow desktop and notebook disk drive manufacturers to slash DVD/CD write and rewrite times by 50 percent.  National’s new drivers will enable consumers to burn full 4.7-gigabyte DVD discs in approximately 15 minutes.  These LDDs, part of National’s high-speed LMH™ family of amplifiers, were specifically designed for combination DVD/CD recorder optical storage devices used in desktop, notebook and consumer DVD video recorders.

National semiconductor’s LMH LDD products allow manufacturers of optical pickup units (OPUs) to provide OEMs and consumers with the fastest DVD/CD recorders on the market.  National’s strength in laser diode drivers leverages the company’s unique capabilities in high-speed analog amplifiers, low voltage differential signaling (LVDS) technologies, LLP™ chip-scale package technology and innovative VIP10 manufacturing processes.  Sanyo Corporation, one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers, designed the first generation of National’s laser diode drivers into its latest high-speed optical pickup unit.

“National’s laser diode driver helped us get to market on time by providing a high-performance solution that fulfilled our requirements,” said Nobuhiro Tatsuta, General Manager of Sanyo’s Optical Device Division.  “We are looking forward to continuing our partnership using National’s next-generation products.”

By integrating the LVDS interface into the driver, National addresses the high speed requirements of driving the signal from the controller chip to the OPU.  National’s VIP10 process technology provides a very fast switching rate of less than 0.5ns, enabling the fastest write and rewrite times for optical recording.  This combination of LVDS interface and fast switching rates gives National’s customers the highest-speed laser diode drivers available.

“With this new family of products, National is enabling the industry’s fastest optical disk drives. We have the technology roadmap in place to produce next-generation products that will achieve a 12x write and 8x rewrite capability,” said Erroll Dietz, product line director for National’s Amplifiers group.  “We are delighted to work with Sanyo and other companies to introduce this exciting technology to the marketplace.”

The market for DVD optical storage devices is growing rapidly.  “Consumers are downloading more and more files as they build their collection of photos, videos and music, essentially turning their computers into entertainment vehicles,” said Shane Rau, senior research analyst, PC and consumer semiconductors, for market research firm IDC.  “That’s why the DVD semiconductor market will continue to be important for analog application-specific standard products.” 

IDC expects the worldwide market for DVD recorder drives in notebook and desktop computers to grow at a phenomenal compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 71.5 percent, reaching 77 million units worldwide by 2007. The market for semiconductors used in DVD players and recorders will grow from $3.7 billion in 2002 to $8.8 billion in 2007 - a compounded growth rate of 19%.

Key Technical Specifications
National’s new LMH LDD chip operates on a single 5V supply with ultra-fast switching times of 0.5 ns rise/fall times. LVDS channels enable the fastest interface and lowest cost system solution. The device is dual-output capable of driving the 780 nm CD laser diode or the 650 nm DVD laser diode. An integrated high frequency modulator (HFM) oscillator offers selectable frequency and amplitude setting via external resistors, with a 200MHZ to 600 MHZ range. The amplitude is scalable to 100 mA peak-to-peak.  Four independent current channels are capable of 400mA maximum total output current.

The Global Market for Amplifier Products
Analog operational amplifiers are one of the key building blocks of practically all electronic systems. They convert and condition real-word analog information into signals that can be read and understood by digital systems. National Semiconductor is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of amplifiers and comparators, with a 12.9 percent market share according to research firm iSuppli.  The company is also the fastest-growing amplifier provider among the top five, with a 7.6 percent increase in market share between 2001 and 2002. 

VIP10 Process
National's laser diode drivers are based upon the VIP10 process.  Developed in National's wafer fabrication site in Arlington, Texas, VIP10 is a high speed, dielectrically isolated, complementary bipolar IC process that utilizes deep trench technology on a bonded wafer for complete dielectric isolation and optimal high-speed amplifier performance.  VIP10 is the process technology that allows National to design the most power-efficient, performance-oriented high- speed amplifiers on the market today.

For more information on National’s laser diode drivers, visit http://www.national.com/appinfo/amps/laserdiode.html.  For more information on National’s amplifier products, visit http://amplifiers.national.com

About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor is the premier analog company. Combining real-world analog and state-of-the-art digital technology, the company is focused on analog-based semiconductor products, which include stand-alone devices and subsystems in the areas of power management, imaging, display drivers, audio, amplifiers and data conversion. The company targets key markets such as wireless, displays, PCs, networks and a broad range of portable applications. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $1.67 billion for the 2003 fiscal year, which ended May 25, 2003. Additional company and product information is available on the World Wide Web at www.national.com