Intel Vies for Lead in an Increasingly Complex Chip Business

The competition for global computer chip dominance depends largely on who can create the smallest components with the most advanced capabilities. So far, Taiwan-based TSMC leads, and the nation accounts for more than 90 percent of global production of advanced chips. By comparison, the U.S. claims about a 12 percent share, prompting the government to cite reliance on foreign-made processors as a cause of inflation and a national security threat. California-based Intel is heeding the challenge, spending billions on initiatives for AI computing, a high-end microprocessor plant expansion in Arizona and new plant in Ohio. Continue reading Intel Vies for Lead in an Increasingly Complex Chip Business

Intel to Acquire Israel’s Tower Semiconductor for $5.4 Billion

Intel announced it will purchase Israeli chipmaker Tower Semiconductor in a deal valued at $5.4 billion. Tower — which specializes in analog semiconductor solutions for high-growth markets including mobile, automotive, medical devices and power management — will make Intel instantly more competitive in sectors dominated by Taiwan’s TSMC. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger cited “Tower’s specialty technology portfolio, geographic reach [and] deep customer relationships” among the assets that will help scale Intel to “a globally diverse end-to-end foundry” to help meet growing chip demands across the nearly $100 billion addressable foundry market. Continue reading Intel to Acquire Israel’s Tower Semiconductor for $5.4 Billion

European Chips Act Aims to Boost Production, EU Tech Role

The European Commission is ramping up to boost microchip production, unveiling the European Chips Act, which proposes to unleash roughly $49 billion in public and private funds for chipmaking. The plan, announced this week, is part of the EU’s effort to regain a degree of commercial independence, and underscores the importance of computer chips to national security, something the Biden administration has also emphasized. The EC proposal reserves for the Commission the right to prioritize specific products under certain circumstances, something the chip foundries of various nations have also been doing. Continue reading European Chips Act Aims to Boost Production, EU Tech Role

Nvidia Calls Off $40 Billion Acquisition of Arm from Softbank

Nvidia has scrapped plans to buy Arm from Softbank Group due to “significant regulatory challenges preventing the consummation of the transaction,” according to a joint statement that indicates Arm will proceed with plans for an IPO. In what is being positioned as a coincidence of timing, Arm says Simon Segars has resigned as CEO with Rene Haas, formerly president, stepping into the role. After being announced in September 2020, the $40 billion deal faced opposition from both the European Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, which in December sued to block the sale. Continue reading Nvidia Calls Off $40 Billion Acquisition of Arm from Softbank

Intel Has Record Quarter and Year Despite Supply Shortages

California-based Intel, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, reports Q4 2021 set a record and capped the company’s best year ever despite the dire worldwide shortage of processing chips. Q4 revenue was up 3 percent, to $20.5 billion, while the year totaled $79 billion, a 1 percent gain. However, Q4 net income declined 21 percent year-over-year, to $4.6 billion, and fell 5 percent (to $19.9 billion) for the 12-month period. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger called it “a great finish to a great year,” besting top-line quarterly guidance by over $1 billion to deliver “the best quarterly and full-year revenue in the company’s history.” Continue reading Intel Has Record Quarter and Year Despite Supply Shortages

Commerce Secretary Sounds Alarm on Global Chip Shortage

U.S. demand for semiconductors was as much as 17 percent higher in 2021 than it was in 2019, yet there hasn’t been a commensurate increase in the available supply, with median inventory falling to less than five days in 2021, from 40 days in 2019, according to a Commerce Department report. “If a COVID outbreak, a natural disaster, or political instability disrupts a foreign semiconductor facility for even just a few weeks, it has the potential to shut down a manufacturing facility in the U.S.” that makes anything from medical devices to automobiles to computers, the report concludes. Continue reading Commerce Secretary Sounds Alarm on Global Chip Shortage

Intel Announces Plans for New $20 Billion Chip Plant in Ohio

Intel is building a new $20 billion chip foundry in Ohio, where CEO Patrick Gelsinger says the company envisions investing more than $100 billion over the next decade to create a complex of up to eight plants. The move is part of a U.S. effort to increase domestic production of computer chips, alleviating supply chain shortages and reducing reliance on foreign suppliers. The new build, located near Columbus, is an economic boon for Ohio, creating 7,000 construction jobs and eventually employment for about 3,000 people in two flagship factories, and potentially many more jobs through the satellite suppliers nearby. Continue reading Intel Announces Plans for New $20 Billion Chip Plant in Ohio

Eagle Chip: 127-Qubit Milestone in IBM’s Quantum Roadmap

As the race to commercialize quantum computing heats up, IBM has unveiled its Eagle 127-qubit processor, positioning it as the first quantum chip that can’t be simulated by a classic supercomputer. Speaking at the IBM Quantum Summit, executives said the Eagle is the first IBM quantum processor to contain more than 100 qubits. It follows the 65-qubit Hummingbird processor debuted by IBM in 2020 and the 27-qubit Falcon of 2019. Eagle is the latest step on the scaling path to the “quantum advantage,” the point at which quantum systems can outperform their classical counterparts in a meaningful way. Continue reading Eagle Chip: 127-Qubit Milestone in IBM’s Quantum Roadmap

Toshiba Plans to Split into Three Firms After Investor Pressure

Toshiba Corporation announced it will be breaking up into three independent companies by spinning off its energy and infrastructure business as well as its device and storage operations. The downsized Toshiba will continue to hold a 40.6 percent stake in Tokyo-based memory manufacturer Kioxia. The plan follows allegations of mismanagement and a five-month independent review of Toshiba that was in progress when company CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani resigned. Released Friday, the report says the former CEO behaved unethically but not illegally. Toshiba says the break-up is the best path to shareholder value. Continue reading Toshiba Plans to Split into Three Firms After Investor Pressure

Global Chip Shortage Reshuffles Industry’s Balance of Power

The global shortage of computer chips has been widely documented, impeding sales of everything from cars to appliances, game consoles and medical devices, among other things. As a result, Taiwan’s giant TSMC has seen its revenue and influence increase, but scarcity has also bolstered the clout of less famous manufacturers, including Infineon, Microchip Technology, NXP, Onsemi, Semiconductors and STMicroelectronics, which supply a variety of chips for thousands of customers. Companies are using their newfound leverage to gain favorable terms, like long-term commitments or upfront payment as a means of helping to increase production. Continue reading Global Chip Shortage Reshuffles Industry’s Balance of Power

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.-China Cold War Hits Semiconductor, Telecom Industries

The tech Cold War between the U.S. and China is doing more than disrupting manufacturing: it’s costing a fortune, particularly for the telecommunications and semiconductor industries, in which President Trump has blocked leading companies from both countries from doing business with one another. Chinese companies can no longer do business in the U.S. and U.S. companies are blocked from exporting to Chinese companies. Lost business and the need to replace gear are likely to cost billions of dollars. Continue reading U.S.-China Cold War Hits Semiconductor, Telecom Industries

Apple Planning Mac Computers with Own ‘Kalamata’ Chips

Two years ago, Apple stated plans to sell Mac computers with its own chips, and now announced it will roll them out in 2021. The company is developing three Mac-specific chips using the 5-nanometer process it will debut this year. The chips, which are expected to be faster than those found in the iPhone and iPad, won’t be able to initially surpass Intel’s performance for Apple’s high-end MacBook Pros, iMacs and Mac Pro. For that reason, Apple will likely first debut a laptop. Apple has used Intel chips since 2005. Continue reading Apple Planning Mac Computers with Own ‘Kalamata’ Chips

AMD vs. Intel: The Computing Wars Ramp Up in Las Vegas

CES is not a computing show, but this year’s edition felt silicon-centric thanks to major announcements from Intel and AMD. Intel revealed more details about its next CPU, Tiger Lake, that boasts improved performance on graphics and AI. The company also offered a glimpse of its first discrete GPU. But the show arguably belonged to AMD, which continued its year-long renaissance with a keynote unveiling mobile CPUs, a new midrange GPU, and the world’s fastest workstation processor. Continue reading AMD vs. Intel: The Computing Wars Ramp Up in Las Vegas

Cerebras Builds Enormous Chip to Advance Deep Learning

Los Altos, CA-based startup Cerebras, dedicated to advancing deep learning, has created a computer chip almost nine inches (22 centimeters) on each side — huge by the standards of today’s chips, which are typically the size of postage stamps or smaller. The company plans to offer this chip to tech companies to help them improve artificial intelligence at a faster clip. The Cerebras Wafer-Scale Engine (WSE), which took three years to develop, has impressive stats: 1.2 trillion transistors, 46,225 square millimeters, 18 gigabytes of on-chip memory and 400,000 processing cores. Continue reading Cerebras Builds Enormous Chip to Advance Deep Learning