Zarlink Semiconductor Incorporated
13 November 2001
Unique microchip from Zarlink and Cochlear delivers new performance levels in
speech processors for the hearing impaired
:: ESPrit(TM) 3G is world's first behind-the-ear (BTE) speech processor with
built-in telecoil and plug-in FM receiver for telephone and TV use
San Diego, California and Sydney, Australia - Zarlink Semiconductor (NYSE/TSE:
ZL) and Cochlear Ltd. today announced that breakthrough features in Cochlear's
ESPrit(TM) 3G BTE speech processor are based on the jointly developed Babel
24, an advanced, ultra low-power analogue- digital microchip.
The ESPrit 3G works with an internal implant to bring sound to people with
profound or severe hearing impairment, and is the world's first BTE speech
processor with a built-in telecoil and plug-in FM receiver. The telecoil lets
the wearer use the telephone without external wires or connections. With the
plug-in FM receiver, the ESPrit 3G allows users to listen to the TV via a
wireless FM link.
Offering these features required the co-development of a high performance,
mixed signal, or analogue-digital, microchip capable of processing sounds at
extremely low power levels. Cochlear's ESPrit 3G draws very low current, thus
extending battery life.
'Collaborative R&D is an important element in Cochlear's ability to deliver
world-leading innovations that improve our global leadership position in the
hearing implant market,' said Chris Daly, Cochlear's R&D strategist. 'Working
with Zarlink, we are once again delivering world-first speech processor
'Our advances in ultra low-power microchip technology is influencing the
development of all our medical integrated circuits,' said Steve Swift, vice
president and general manager, Medical Products, Zarlink Semiconductor. 'We
also see the possibility of applying ultra low-power technology in a range of
other communications applications.'
:: Babel 24 chip most recent development in eight-year relationship
Zarlink Semiconductor and Cochlear Ltd. started collaborative work in 1993.
Joint R&D teams in Australia and at Zarlink facilities in Europe and the US
have developed the core integrated circuits for the entire range of ESPrit
speech processors. Cochlear and Zarlink engineers worked collaboratively on
the Babel 24, a complex mixed-signal chip. Key to the chip's ability to
process sound at very low power levels is a unique switched capacitor filter
bank that performs programmable spectral analysis.
The Babel 24 is designed in CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor)
technology and is made at Zarlink's wafer fabrication plant in Plymouth,
England. In addition, a Cochlear-designed microchip for the implant that
operates in conjunction with the ESPrit 3G, is manufactured at Zarlink's wafer
fabrication facility in Bromont, Quebec.
For more information on Cochlear's cutting-edge ESPrit technology and other
products, visit www.cochlear.com. For information on Zarlink's highly
specialised, ultra low-power chipsets used in medical applications, visit
:: About Zarlink Semiconductor
Zarlink employs its formidable analogue, digital and mixed-signal capabilities
to offer the most compelling products for wired, wireless and optical
connectivity markets and ultra low-power medical applications. For more
information, visit www.zarlink.com.
Certain statements in this press release constitute forward-looking statements
within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.
Such forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks,
uncertainties, and other factors which may cause the actual results,
performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any
future results, performance, or achievements expressed or implied by such
forward-looking statements. Such risks, uncertainties and assumptions include,
among others, the risks discussed in documents filed by the Company with the
Securities and Exchange Commission. Investors are encouraged to consider the
risks detailed in those filings.
Zarlink and the Zarlink Semiconductor logo are trademarks of Zarlink
Semiconductor Inc. ESPrit is a trademark of Cochlear Ltd.
:: Fact File
This Fact File is background information for the Zarlink news release dated
November 13, 2001 titled Unique Microchip from Zarlink and Cochlear Delivers
New Performance Levels in Speech Processors for the Hearing Impaired.
:: Zarlink Semiconductor - Medical Products business
Zarlink is the world's largest independent designer and supplier of ultra
low-power, high-reliability silicon chips used in cardiac pacemakers, and a
leading supplier of silicon chips used in hearing aids. (x)
About 35% of all hearing aids in the world contain Zarlink silicon chips. (x)
Zarlink has designed over 30 custom pacemaker chips. Their ultra low-power
consumption means batteries last up to 10 years.
The annual market for pacemakers and hearing aid chips is about US$150
million. Demographics are creating a growing market. (x)
Currently all of Zarlink's medical chips are custom-designed and manufactured
for some of the world's largest medical equipment companies. Zarlink is now
starting to develop chips that will be available on the open market, a
strategic move that will enlarge the company's customer base.
Hearing aids are 'going digital' using Digital Signal Processing (DSP)
techniques. Zarlink is developing unique DSP techniques that will provide
digital sound quality with components tuned to the wearer's specific hearing
Zarlink recently introduced a new ultra low-power silicon chip manufacturing
process that is ideal for applications where long battery life is critical,
such as cardiac pacemakers and hearing aids. Zarlink's Analog Non Volatile
0.35 micron CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) process is offered
at its silicon wafer manufacturing facility in Plymouth, England.
Zarlink's medical business accounted for 7% of the company's revenue in Fiscal
2001, ended March 30, 2001.
(x) Source: company research
For further information: Zarlink Semiconductor, Michael Salter, Media
Relations, +1-613 270-7115, firstname.lastname@example.org; Tiana Wiersma, HIPR,
Inc., +1-503 222-1257, email@example.com; Cochlear Ltd., Dyranda Hortle,
Global Group Manager, Marketing Communications, Tel: +61 2 9428 6227,