China’s Five-Year Plan to Build Domestic Chip Manufacturing

China has a five-year plan to dominate the semiconductor industry by building up the domestic industry while fending off U.S. blacklists. The details of the plan won’t be released for a long time, but clues have been dropped by government officials, think tanks and official publications. Over the next five years, China plans to make do with existing semiconductors while it focuses on third generation chipmaking, a nascent field that no one yet dominates, by creating local companies for relevant software and hardware. Continue reading China’s Five-Year Plan to Build Domestic Chip Manufacturing

Biden Orders an Evaluation of Semiconductor Supply Chains

In response to a worrying shortage in chips, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to conduct a 100-day review of the supply chains for semiconductors for various products, large-capacity batteries for electric vehicles, pharmaceuticals, and rare-earth elements crucial to technology and defense. Biden is also seeking $37 billion in funding to “supercharge” chip manufacturing and urged a separate one-year review of supply chains of six “broader sectors” including food production and technology. Continue reading Biden Orders an Evaluation of Semiconductor Supply Chains

France Establishes Repairability Index for Electronic Devices

France has pioneered a new “repairability index” for all electronic devices sold in that country. The criteria for the final score include how easy it is to take the device apart, availability of spare parts and technical documentation. The index will be implemented, with fines for non-compliance, beginning next year. This move is part of France’s stated goal to fight planned obsolescence, as manufacturers intentionally create products that need to be replaced frequently. Fighting such obsolescence reduces waste and France’s effort may serve as a model for other countries. Continue reading France Establishes Repairability Index for Electronic Devices

Pandemic Is Accelerating the Adoption of Augmented Reality

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving increased demand for augmented reality at some companies, including Mercedes-Benz and L’Oréal (whose brands include Lancôme, Kiehl’s and Maybelline New York), in the last year. L’Oréal chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet stated that, “we saw the appetite, it grew and it’s our responsibility now to continue to innovate.” That company has debuted a number of AR projects for employees and customers in the last few months. One uses ModiFace AR to connect consumers with beauty advisers. Continue reading Pandemic Is Accelerating the Adoption of Augmented Reality

Samsung Looking to Launch Chip Manufacturing Plant in U.S.

Samsung Electronics may build an up-to-$17 billion chip manufacturing plant in Arizona, Texas or New York, according to sources, and is reportedly scouting two locations in the Phoenix area, two locations in the Austin vicinity and an industrial campus in New York’s Genesee County. The decision to build in the U.S. hinges on the availability of federal government incentives to balance out cheaper costs and government incentives elsewhere. Samsung’s plant would employ up to 1,900 people and open by October 2022. Continue reading Samsung Looking to Launch Chip Manufacturing Plant in U.S.

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

Electronics Manufacturers Consider Building Plants in Mexico

As the U.S.-China trade war heats up, Taiwan-based electronics manufacturers including Foxconn and Pegatron are considering opening new factories in Mexico, South America’s second largest economy. Sources said Foxconn would manufacture Apple iPhones in Mexico but will make a final decision later this year. Apple would not comment. Pegatron is “in early discussions with lenders” for a Mexico facility to assemble semiconductors and other electronic components. This “near-shoring” would move supply chains away from China. Continue reading Electronics Manufacturers Consider Building Plants in Mexico

Intel Further Delays 7-Nano Chips and Considers Outsourcing

Although Intel posted stronger earnings in Q2, largely due to the remote working environment created by COVID-19, the company revealed a now 12-month delay in producing 7-nanometer chips that are the foundation of future CPUs. With the news, Intel’s shares dropped in after-hours trading. The company faces competition from rival AMD and is expected to lose about 3 percent in revenue when Apple switches to its own chips. Intel chief executive Bob Swan broached the idea of continuing to design chips but outsourcing their production. Continue reading Intel Further Delays 7-Nano Chips and Considers Outsourcing

Apple Plans to Unveil Its New Chips at Developer Conference

As early as June 22, at its annual developer conference WWDC, Apple may reveal its plan to replace Intel chipsets with its own internally developed ones, code-named Kalamata. Sources indicate that announcing Kalamata this time of year will give third-party developers time to shift gears before the new Macs debut in 2021. Apple’s new chips will be based on the same technology as those in iPhones and iPads, although Macs will continue to run the macOS operating system rather than iOS software of the mobile devices. Continue reading Apple Plans to Unveil Its New Chips at Developer Conference

German Firms Plan to Build Their Own Secure 5G Networks

Although Germany’s carriers plan to launch 5G networks, large companies including BASF, BMW, Bosch, Lufthansa and Volkswagen have applied to set up local private 5G networks. The German network regulator reported that, so far, 33 companies have bought licenses, which became available last November. Experts observe that private 5G networks are useful for industrial applications that require speedy, reliable connectivity with low latency for real-time critical jobs such as driverless vehicles and robots. Continue reading German Firms Plan to Build Their Own Secure 5G Networks

Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus, Apple closed its retail stores outside of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The move will shutter 450 stores in 21 countries until March 27. Apple chief executive Tim Cook noted that, “the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance.” Employees of the stores will continue to be paid. The company is also paying special attention to apps related to the coronavirus, to weed out misinformation and inappropriate content. Continue reading Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19

Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

Humans fear the very real possibility of robots replacing them in work environments, so manufacturers are doubling down on designing those robots to look friendly rather than threatening. As University of Central Florida professor Peter Hancock puts it, “it’s like Mary Poppins … a spoonful of sugar makes the robots go down.” Even if they don’t replace humans, robots already in the workplace are working in management, tracking workers’ every move, telling them to work faster, and even docking their pay. Continue reading Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

Apple Revenue Rises But China’s Virus Poses Uncertainties

With its latest iPhone, AirPods wireless earbuds and apps, Apple’s revenue rose 9 percent in the December quarter, to $91.82 billion. In response, the company’s shares rose 1.5 percent in after-hours trading. Apple’s flagship smartphone, which accounts for more than half of its revenue, rose 8 percent to $55.96 billion. China’s coronavirus outbreak poses uncertainty, since most of the tech giant’s products are manufactured there. Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple is limiting travel to China and reducing store operating hours in the country. Continue reading Apple Revenue Rises But China’s Virus Poses Uncertainties

Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

Continue reading Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Congress Passes Bill Intended to Boost Quantum Computing

Congress passed a bill that aims to speed up the development of quantum computing in the United States. The technology is anticipated to revolutionize cybersecurity among other areas. The House approved the bill in a 348-11 vote. President Trump is expected to sign it into law, since quantum computing has been a priority of his administration. China has been focused on the technology and plans to open a laboratory in 2020. With the new bill, U.S. legislators hope to push efforts to keep up with or surpass rivals. Continue reading Congress Passes Bill Intended to Boost Quantum Computing

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