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Global Semiconductor Sales Up 14.7% Year-to-Year in February, Says SIA

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) today announced global semiconductor industry sales were $39.6 billion for the month of February 2021, an increase of 14.7% over the February 2020 total of $34.5 billion, but 1.0% less than the January 2021 total of $40.0 billion. Monthly sales are compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organization and represent a three-month moving average. SIA represents 98% of the U.S. semiconductor industry by revenue and nearly two-thirds of non-U.S. chip firms.

"Global semiconductor sales during the first two months of the year have outpaced sales from early in 2020, when the pandemic began to spread in parts of the world," said John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO. "Sales into the China market saw the largest year-to-year growth, largely because sales there were down substantially early last year."

Apple is Reportedly Working with TSMC on a Special Micro OLED Panel Technology

OLED panes are expertise areas of display makers such as LG and Samsung, however, when it comes to Apple, they have to rely on external manufacturers to make a display. For years Apple has been contracting LG and Samsung to make the display for iPhones and Macs, but it looks like Apple is now collaborating with another firm to develop micro OLED technology. According to sources over at Nikkei Asia, Apple is collaborating with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to develop "ultra-advanced display technology at a secretive facility in Taiwan". Despite TSMC not being the traditional choice for panel manufacturing, there is a list of reasons why Apple chose its years-long partner to work with.

TSMC is known for manufacturing silicon chips, however, Apple envisions that the Taiwan maker will manufacture ultra-advanced micro OLED technology using wafers. Building the displays using wafers will result in much lower power consumption and far lower size. Why is this approach necessary you might wonder? Well, Apple is developing a new generation of AR glasses and there needs to be a solid display technology for them to exist. It is reported that the new micro OLED displays are under development and are about one inch in diameter. The source also adds that this is just one out of two projects being worked on inside of Apple's secretive labs located in the Taiwanese city of Taoyuan. What is the other project remains a mystery, however, with more time we could get information on that as well.

Worldwide Server Market Revenue Grew 2.2% Year Over Year in the Third Quarter of 2020, According to IDC

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Server Tracker, vendor revenue in the worldwide server market grew 2.2% year over year to $22.6 billion during the third quarter of 2020 (3Q20). Worldwide server shipments declined 0.2% year over year to nearly 3.1 million units in 3Q20. Volume server revenue was up 5.8% to $19.0 billion, while midrange server revenue declined 13.9% to $2.6 billion, and high-end servers declined by 12.6% to $937 million.

"Global demand for enterprise servers was a bit muted during the third quarter of 2020 although we did see areas of strong demand," said Paul Maguranis, senior research analyst, Infrastructure Platforms and Technologies at IDC. "From a regional perspective, server revenue within China grew 14.2% year over year. And worldwide revenues for servers running AMD CPUs were up 112.4% year over year while ARM-based servers grew revenues 430.5% year over year, albeit on a very small base of revenue."

ASUS Showcases GeForce RTX 3090 ROG STRIX GUNDAM Edition

ASUS has held its Republic of Gamers (ROG) day, and at the event, there was a special graphics card. Spotted there was a GeForce RTX 3090 GPU in the form of ASUS ROG STRIX GUNDAM edition. With an appeal based on a famous anime series GUNDAM, ASUS has decided to launch a new product line made up of a motherboard and a graphics card. The new ASUS GeForce RTX 3090 ROG STRIX GUNDAM Edition features the same specifications as the regular RTX 3090 edition, just with an increased clock speed of 1890 MHz, three 8-pin power connectors, and a maximum power limit of 480 Watts.

The card features a white triple slot body with three fans cooling the heatsink. When it comes to the availability of this card, it is said to be a limited edition only sold to the Asian market. The price tag will carry a premium over the regular ROG STRIX model, with a cost of 16,999 Yuans (~2530 USD). The standard ROG STRIX model comes at a 1799 USD price tag, meaning that you will pay 730 USD more for this limited edition product. The availability is supposedly going to be even worse than with current cards, meaning that only a few people will get their hands on these if the current situation is any reference.
More pictures follow.

COVID-19 Drives Rise in Global Fab Equipment Spending, SEMI Reports

Soaring pandemic-inspired demand for chips that power everything from communications and IT infrastructures to personal computing, gaming and healthcare electronics will drive an 8% increase in global fab equipment spending in 2020 and a 13% increase in 2021, SEMI announced today in its World Fab Forecast report. Rising demand for semiconductors for datacenter infrastructures and server storage along with the buildup of safety stock as U.S.-China trade tensions intensify are also contributing to this year's growth.

The bullish trend for overall fab equipment investments comes as the semiconductor industry recovers from a 9% decline in fab spending in 2019 and navigates a roller-coaster 2020 with actual and projected spending drops in the first and third quarters mixed with second- and fourth-quarter increases. See figure below:

US Aims to Bring Chip Manufacturing Industry Back to Its Soil

The US is one of the leading countries when it comes to chip design technologies and know-how; however, when it comes to actual manufacturing those designs, it's fallen from grace in recent years. Once the leader in both design and manufacturing, nowadays the US can only claim some 12% of the world's semiconductor production. The rest of it is mainly produced in Asia, where TSMC stands as the industry juggernaut, with other companies stretching across Taiwan, Japan, and most recently (and surging) China - the country has more than doubled its 300 mm manufacturing sites since 2017. This places some strain on the US' dependence from foreign shipments; and the country is looking to bridge that gap in its perceived national interests by investing heavily in silicon manufacturing to be brought back to the country. Recent slippages from Intel when it comes to keeping its manufacturing lead have apparently also instilled preoccupation amongst US policy makers.
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