Flagship Pixel Phones Now Powered by Google Tensor Chip

The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro smartphones are here, complete with a profound hardware upgrade, capably showcased in the camera system, which benefits from a processing boost thanks to Google’s new Tensor mobile chip. Basically, Google has completely redesigned its flagship phone, adding bold colors and improving the camera to a degree that should make it competitive with other high-performance phones. While it’s been noted that some of what are being billed as the camera’s Android 12 features exclusive to Pixel 6 have previously been offered on other phones, Google’s configuration appears to be unique. Continue reading Flagship Pixel Phones Now Powered by Google Tensor Chip

Apple Turbo-Charges MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, Max Chips

Apple unveiled the long-awaited upgrade to its MacBook Pro, which comes in 14- and 16-inch display configurations with mini-LED screens (what the company calls Liquid Retina XDR). The new laptops are powered by Apple’s homegrown M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, which the company calls “the first pro chips designed for the Mac.” Improvements such as stronger battery life, ports galore and eradication of the dreaded Touch Bar have been largely well-received by Mac bloggers. Apple says the 32 GPU cores on the M1 Max provide power that rivals the Nvidia RTX 3080 high-end gaming class laptop chip. The 14-inch model starts at $1,999 and the 16-inch at $2,499. Continue reading Apple Turbo-Charges MacBook Pro with M1 Pro, Max Chips

Surging Chip Demand Spurs TSMC Plants in U.S. and Japan

New chip factories are springing up worldwide to meet a historic shortage of semiconductors. The effort to increase output to meet chip demand in everything from computers to cars to smart TVs includes a new $12 billion plant located in Arizona for the world’s largest wholesale chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. TSMC’s Arizona plant is scheduled to begin producing advanced 5nm chips by 2024. And as part of its commitment to spend $100 billion over three years to increase production, TSMC just announced plans to build a new manufacturing facility in Japan. Continue reading Surging Chip Demand Spurs TSMC Plants in U.S. and Japan

U.S. and EU Conduct Their First Trade Tech Council Meeting

The European Union and United States agreed yesterday on strengthening cooperation regarding several major global concerns, including a “rebalancing” of supply chains for semiconductors, new approaches to regulating international tech companies, and practical models for contending with “non-market, trade-distortive policies and practices” (although China was not singled out in the group’s statement). During their first meeting in Pittsburgh yesterday, officials from the newly formed U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) promised to work together on the development of artificial intelligence and screening interests in sensitive dual-use technologies. Continue reading U.S. and EU Conduct Their First Trade Tech Council Meeting

Intel Announces Plans to Build Two Chip Factories in Europe

Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger announced plans to build two semiconductor factories in Europe valued up to $95 billion, as part of an effort to ease the current worldwide chip shortage. Gelsinger added that Intel could expand the investment over a decade to the equivalent of “as much as €80 billion.” At an auto event in Munich, Gelsinger said, “this new era of sustained demand for semiconductors needs bold, big thinking.” Meanwhile, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. also plans to spend $100 billion in the next three years to increase chip production and Samsung is making similar moves. Continue reading Intel Announces Plans to Build Two Chip Factories in Europe

Substrate Shortage Is Adding to Problem of Producing Chips

The chip shortage has highlighted the role of substrates that connect chips to circuit boards and the companies that make them. Substrate manufacturing offers low profit margins, so investment in this sector has also been low. Now, the lack of substrates has added to the problems of churning out enough chips to serve the global market. Substrates — panels of resin embedded with wiring onto which chips are affixed — connects the die at the heart of a chip to the motherboard, delivering power and data. Continue reading Substrate Shortage Is Adding to Problem of Producing Chips

ATSC Meets in Washington to Report on NextGen TV Rollout

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), after a year-long hiatus, resumed in-person meetings on August 26 in Washington D.C. The all-day event (also streamed for remote viewing) updated the progress made to deploy the ATSC 3.0 DTV standard (NextGen TV), which will also enable distance learning and automotive applications. ATSC president Madeleine Noland noted that sales of ATSC 3.0 televisions are “now exceeding previous expectations.” For the first time, ATSC 3.0 sets at lower price points are becoming available. Continue reading ATSC Meets in Washington to Report on NextGen TV Rollout

TSMC to Raise Its Chip Prices as Global Shortage Continues

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) — the world’s largest contract chipmaker — plans to raise prices on its most advanced chips by about 10 percent and less advanced chips by about 20 percent, to take effect late this year or in early 2022. The price hike is taking place during a global shortage of semiconductors that already impacts auto companies including General Motors and Toyota Motor, an array of consumer electronics, and major tech companies such as Apple, which uses TSMC chips in its smartphones. GM closed three North American factories and Toyota will slow production by 40 percent in September. Continue reading TSMC to Raise Its Chip Prices as Global Shortage Continues

Western Digital and Kioxia Merger Could Impact Chip Market

California-based data technology company Western Digital is purportedly in “advanced merger talks” with Japan’s computer memory firm Kioxia Holdings, according to sources who added that a deal could be inked as soon as mid-September. Western Digital’s shares rose 8 percent in reaction to the Wednesday news and continued to rise on Thursday. Sources said Western Digital would complete the deal with stock and that its chief executive David Goeckeler would run the combined company. According to Barron’s, the deal would be valued at about $20 billion. Continue reading Western Digital and Kioxia Merger Could Impact Chip Market

Cerebras Chip Tech to Advance Neural Networks, AI Models

Deep learning requires a complicated neural network composed of computers wired together into clusters at data centers, with cross-chip communication using a lot of energy and slowing down the process. Cerebras has a different approach. Instead of making chips by printing dozens of them onto a large silicon wafer and then cutting them out and wiring them to each other, it is making the largest computer chip in the world, the size of a dinner plate. Texas Instruments tried this approach in the 1960s but ran into problems. Continue reading Cerebras Chip Tech to Advance Neural Networks, AI Models

Samsung First to Design Commercial Semiconductor with AI

Samsung is using Synopsys’ DSO.ai tool to design some of its next-gen Exynos mobile processors for 5G and AI, which will be used in smartphones including its own and other devices. Synopsys chair and co-chief executive Aart de Geus said this is the first example of a “real commercial processor design with AI.” Google, IBM and Nvidia are among the other companies that have discussed designing chips with AI. Synopsys, which works with dozens of companies, also has years of expertise in creating advanced designs to train an AI algorithm. Continue reading Samsung First to Design Commercial Semiconductor with AI

Intel Chief Promotes Chipmaking Plan to U.S., Global Leaders

Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger and board members met with the Biden administration to promote his company’s plan to build more semiconductor factories with subsidies from the U.S. government. Currently, Asian-owned chip factories, which receive hefty incentives, dominate chip production. There’s also an “unprecedented” global shortage of chips, which is impacting the auto and consumer appliance industries. Gelsinger was hired this year to improve the fortunes of the beleaguered Intel. Continue reading Intel Chief Promotes Chipmaking Plan to U.S., Global Leaders

Foxconn Has Plans for Expansion, Buys Chipmaker Macronix

Foxconn Technology Group, best known for assembling Apple iPhones, will acquire Taiwan chipmaker Macronix International for approximately $90.8 million (T$2.52 billion) to boost its entry into the electric vehicle (EV) market. Foxconn earlier announced plans to assemble cars for EV startup Fisker and team up with Stellantis, manufacturer of Jeep and Chrysler, to develop in-car software. Macronix’s six-inch wafers are made of silicon carbide, regarded as preferable for tasks such as fast charging. Continue reading Foxconn Has Plans for Expansion, Buys Chipmaker Macronix

Samsung Profits, Revenues Climb with Semiconductor Sales

In Q2 2021, Samsung Electronics posted a 73 percent increase in net profit to about $8.37 billion (9.63 trillion won), and a revenue increase of 20 percent to 63.57 trillion won, both numbers surpassing analyst expectations. Although the South Korean company’s sales of smartphones was relatively weak, its semiconductors — used by Apple and Sony among others — were snapped up by Big Tech companies churning out PCs, servers and other devices requiring chipsets. Samsung’s chip division saw upticks in operating profit and revenue. Continue reading Samsung Profits, Revenues Climb with Semiconductor Sales

Apple Just Earned Its Biggest Profit in the Company’s History

The COVID-19 pandemic has reaped rewards for Big Tech companies that benefitted from the shift to remote working and learning. Apple earned $21.7 billion in profit for the quarter that ended in June, the most successful quarter in the company’s 45-year history, while Alphabet and Microsoft also enjoyed strong quarterly earnings. Apple’s revenue rose 36 percent from the same period a year earlier to $81.4 billion, exceeding Wall Street expectations. Apple is on track to earn $86 billion for the fiscal year, according to FactSet analysts. Continue reading Apple Just Earned Its Biggest Profit in the Company’s History