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Applied Materials In-Line with Acquisition

Applied Materials Tuesday said it has acquired Menlo Park, Calif.-based Boxer Cross for an undisclosed amount of cash.

Founded in 1997, Boxer Cross is known for making in-line monitoring systems that help with electrical measurement data for controlling semiconductor processes. The company said is will now be a part of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Applied's Process Diagnostics and Control Group.

The new relationship is expected to help Applied -- the world's largest maker of semiconductor production equipment -- develop better ways of making chips at the 130nm and beyond technology nodes.

"In addition to strengthening our portfolio of metrology and inspection systems, Boxer Cross' products are expected to add significant value to our process technologies," Applied Materials vice president and general manager Dr. Gilad Almogy said in a statement. "As Applied Materials further develops integrated solutions and modules, the close coupling of metrology and process systems should substantially reduce cycle time in providing new, more efficient solutions for our customers."

Boxer Cross' products include the BX-10 Source/Drain and Ultra-Shallow Junction Measurement System and the BX-30 Advanced Interconnect Measurement System. Both products provide critical in-line electrical measurements on 200mm and 300mm product wafers to detect implant/anneal (BX-10) and dual damascene copper (BX-30) process variations.

Applied's machines play a major part in the chip making process, including deposition (layering film on wafers), etching (removing portions of chip material to allow precise construction of circuits), and ion implantation (altering electrical characteristics of certain areas in wafer coatings). Applied also makes metrology and inspection equipment. Intel , AMD and Motorola are their main customers.

The company has been going through a restructuring of late. Last month, Applied said it would eliminate about 2,000 positions or 14 percent of the company's global work force.

The company's problems have been mounting. In January, Applied warned investors that its orders for the quarter were far lower than expected. A week later said it did not expect customers to "significantly ramp spending" in the short term.