Partners in the JESSI Joint European Submicron Silicon programme last week declared themselves so satisfied with the results of the programme that they will be lobbying for its continuation after 1996. After four years, we can say that the CMOS-VLSI technology gap [between European and non-European suppliers] has been closed for JESSI member companies, said Pasquale Pistorio, president of Franco-Italian chip maker SGS-Thomson Microelectronics NV and member of the JESSI Board. The world market share of European chip suppliers has stopped declining at around 10% and could be on its way to an increase. I know that SGS-Thomson, at least, will be profitable this year and I have reason to believe others will be as well. A representative from Alcatel NV said We are very satisfied with JESSI, both with our vertical cooperation with SGS-Thomson and the horizontal cooperation with other members. We will do everything necessary to support this effort and to continue to pull the [European] microelectronic industry alongside the system industry. Guy Dumas, representing the European Commission and who chaired the JESSI panel at the Paris Componic ’93 show, said the Commission would decide on the fourth Research & Development Framework programme by the end of this year, which would provide funds for a continuance of JESSI beyond its scheduled end at the close of 1996. Some partners will continue after JESSI, although it is not yet determined in what form; that is under discussion, Dumas said. Pistorio added, It is certainly the idea of the partners to have an ‘after-1996’ in some form. It will be up to the public authorities to decide whether to participate. Representatives from the various JESSI programmes, including SGS-Thomson, Siemens AG, Compagnie des Machines Bull SA, Matra MHS SA, and clean-room manufacturer Meissner & Wurst GmbH, presented results of their work in 0.5-micron technology, clean-room technology, computer-aided design, embedded memories and advanced VLSI components. SGS-Thomson will be among a slim minority of manufacturers to deliver production quantity of 0.5-micron technology next year, Pistorio noted. An SGS-Thomson presentation on 0.5-micron noted that lots of design work is going on in universities around Europe. Alfred Honold, from German clean room manufacturer Meissner & Wurst, a member of JESSI’s Automated Clean Environment equipment & materials subprogramme, said the ACE programme has developed a mini-environment for chip manufacture. The prototype reduces costs because workers use tools to reach the chips inside a smaller clean-room space. The US Sematech semiconductor consortium is interested in the product, he said. The mini-environment prototype will be installed in the first quarter of 1994 in Germany, followed by a pilot at Matra by the end of 1994 or early 1995 and then one at GEC Plessey Semiconductors Ltd, he said. Among other results cited was an automatic mixed VLSI tester, which was developed by Schlumberger Ltd, the French CNET research establishment, SGS-Thomson and Siemens, and the delivery of 16-Mbit EPROM engineering samples. In separate comments on SGS-Thomson itself, Pistorio confirmed that the company’s net profit for this year is likely to be higher than the $100m estimated in September, to the tune of $150m to $160m while sales should reach some $2,100m. Total company sales growth this year should total 25% over last year. He predicted that company growth would slow in 1994, in line with a similar slowdown predicted in the industry, but that it will still be higher than rate of the market, which some forecast to be between 12% and 15%.