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ARM Revokes Huawei's Chip IP Licence

As the trade war between the US and China continues to unfold, we are seeing major US companies ban or stop providing service to China's technology giant Huawei. Now, it looks like the trade war has crossed the ocean and reached the UK. This time, UK based ARM Holdings, the provider of mobile chip IP for nearly all smartphones and tablets, has revoked the license it has given Huawei.

According to the BBC, ARM Holdings employees were instructed to suspend all interactions with Huawei, and to send a note informing Huawei that "due to an unfortunate situation, they were not allowed to provide support, deliver technology (whether software, code, or other updates), engage in technical discussions, or otherwise discuss technical matters with Huawei, HiSilicon or any of the other named entities." The news came from an internal ARM document the BBC has obtained.

U.S. Tech Industry, Including Google, Microsoft, Intel, and Qualcomm, Ban Huawei

The United States tech industry has overnight dealt a potentially fatal blow to Chinese electronics giant Huawei, by boycotting the company. The companies are establishing compliance with a recent Executive Order passed by President Donald Trump designed to "stop the import, sale, and use of equipment and services by foreign companies based in countries that are potential adversaries to U.S. interests," particularly information technology security. Google has announced that it will no longer allow Huawei to license Android, and will stop updates and Google Play access to Huawei smartphones. Huawei can still equip its phones with open-source Android, but it cannot use Google's proprietary software, including Google Play Store, Chrome, and all the other Google apps. Intel decided to no longer supply processors and other hardware to Huawei, for use in its laptops and server products. Sales of AMD processors will stop, too. Qualcomm-Broadcom have decided to stop supply of mobile SoCs and network PHYs, respectively. Microsoft decided to stop licensing Huawei to use Windows and Office products.

The ban is a consequence of the U.S. Government placing Huawei on a list of banned entities, forcing all U.S. companies to abandon all trade with it, without prior approval from the Department of Commerce. Trade cuts both ways, and not only are U.S. firms banned from buying from Huawei, they're also banned from selling to it. Huawei "buys from" over 30 U.S. companies, (for example, Windows licenses from Microsoft). CNN reports that U.S. firms could lose up to $11 billion in revenues.

Intel to Move 3D XPoint Memory Manufacturing to China

With its IMFlash Technology joint-venture with Micron coming to an end, Intel is finding itself with manufacturing challenges for its memory businesses. The company holds IP to both 3D NAND flash and its own invention 3D XPoint memory, which it believes will succeed NAND flash in performance and endurance. The company is now mulling to move manufacturing of 3D XPoint to a foundry in China. Intel currently manufactures this exotic new memory at an IMFlash Technology facility in Utah. Intel's $1.3 billion stake-sale to Micron pushes it out of this facility.

Under the terms of the stake-sale, Micron allows Intel to continue to manufacture 3D XPoint at IMFlash for a year, after which it must manufacture it elsewhere. The transfer of stake is scheduled for October 31st, which means Intel's manufacturing in Utah will continue till October 2020. In the meantime, Intel is planning to move manufacturing to its Fab 68, located in Dalian, China. Intel is now manufacturing 1st and 2nd generation 3D Xpoint, while its 3rd generation is under development, and was earlier slated for initial manufacturing at Intel's Fab 11X in New Mexico, USA. It's not known if Intel has changed these plans. 3rd generation 3D XPoint hits mass-production in 2021.

Super Micro Moving Manufacturing Outside China to Allay Spyware Fears

Motherboard manufacturer Super Micro is moving manufacturing completely outside China to allay fears from customers on spyware implanted by China. Bloomberg in October 2018 put out a sensational article alleging that Super Micro, which specializes in server motherboards bought in bulk by data-centers and cloud companies, contain spyware by the Chinese government designed to spy on US enterprises. Super Micro was quick to refute the article as baseless, but by then the damage to its reputation was done. Faced with declining sales by as much as 10 percent despite rapid industrial CAGR growth, the company is now forced to relocate manufacturing outside China not just to allay these fears, but perhaps also to reduce its import tariff burden imposed by the US government on a spectrum of electronics goods manufactured in China.

China had a manufacturing strangehold on server motherboard manufacturing, amounting to 90 percent of server motherboards shipped in 2017. In 2018, however, with the the US-China trade-war underway, that figure dropped like a rock to just 50 percent, a dramatic fall for just one year. Server component manufacturers are relocating to other countries, such as Taiwan, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Super Micro is relocating to Taiwan, with a new factory set up in Taoyuan at a cost of $65 million.

U.S. Hikes Tariffs on Electronics Imports from China by 2.5 Times

President Donald Trump Sunday announced a fresh round of import tariffs affecting $200 billion worth electronics goods from China, starting next Friday. President Trump in a Tweet said that his administration would raise import tariffs to a staggering 25 percent from the existing 10 percent, a 2.5 times change, a move that could increase prices of consumer-electronics and computer hardware by at least 14 percent unless retailers are willing to take a hit on their margins. Tech stocks took a beating to this news as Dow Jones Industrial index fell 1.5 percent, and Nikkei shrunk 0.2 percent.

In the short term, as we mentioned, the new tariffs can increase end-user prices by at least 14 percent. In the medium-term, electronics companies could move their manufacturing out of China, transferring the costs of doing so to the consumer. In the long term, prices could remain high as the countries companies are relocating to may not have the labor or logistics cost advantages of China.

SK Hynix Completes Expanded Fab (C2F) in Wuxi, China

SK Hynix Inc. today announced that it held a ceremony celebrating the completion of an expanded fabrication plant (or 'C2F') in Wuxi, China, on April 18th. C2F is an expansion of the existing DRAM production line, C2, in Wuxi. The Company decided to expand its production line in 2016 in order to solve the shortage of production space due to technology migration. About 500 people attended the ceremony, including Li Xiaomin, Party Secretary of Wuxi, Guo Yuanqiang, Vice Governor of Jiangsu, Choi Youngsam, Consul-General in Shanghai, Lee Seok-hee, Chief Executive Officer of SK Hynix, and representatives of clients and business partners.

SK Hynix signed a contract with Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, China, in 2004 to establish a local factory and completed the production line (C2) in 2006 to start producing DRAM. C2 is the Company's first 300mm FAB and has played a major role in SK Hynix's growth to date. However, with technology scaling, the number of processes has increased and the equipment has become larger, which led to the shortage of the cleanroom space. SK Hynix, therefore, has invested a total of 950 billion KRW from June 2017 to April 2019 to secure additional production space.

China Deepens Ban on Certain Content in Gaming: Gambling, Blood, Bodies and Zombies

In a move that's certain to make forays into the Chinese gaming market (worth $30bn) for game developers and publishers, country regulators have launched a new wave requirements for game release approvals. Besides more and more information now being required to be submitted by developers for any game that they want to launch in China (which may include scripts, mechanisms to curb game addiction implemented into the code, and other).

While the Chinese gaming market is an extremely significant one, the previously existing (and now updated) regulations mandate that every single game be single-handedly inspected and curated before its approval into the Chinese domestic market. A freeze in the process of games approval that lasted for 8 months (from February 2018 through to December) has already created a backlog of thousands of games pending approval - not to mention all of those that have undoubtedly been submitted since. It's expected that fewer than 5,000 games will be greenlighted for launch this year, so a lot of companies will likely have to review their revenue forecast - depending on how heavily they banked on the Chinese market.

China-based SMIC to Start Manufacture of 14 nm-class Chips in 2H 2019

As R&D costs for new, smaller manufacturing nodes grow at unprecedented rates across the industry, a new player is set to enter the 14 nm process manufacture competition: China-based SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation). The company is looking to throw its hat on the lucrative 14 nm process, filling its offerings portfolio under the 28 nm it currently offers as its denser process.

The company expects its 95% yield rate to offer its customers a trusted platform that might help it increase revenue for further investment on its 10 nm and 7 nm EUV nodes, which the company is pursuing (despite other industry veterans, such as former AMD-manufacturing arm GLOBALFOUNDRIES having ceased development on). Manufacturing technology that's competitive with the western world's, and that's developed in-country, is paramount for China's intention of reducing its dependence of foreign technology, which is why this is such a big step for the company and the company's aspirations.

Radeon VII Priced 739€ in the EU, France and Spain Only Have Dozens of Cards

Hot on the heels of our earlier report of there being just 100 Radeon VII graphics cards in stock to sell in the UK, we're hearing from French tech publication Cowcotland of an even worse situation in the Old Continent. Apparently, there are only 20 cards allocated to France and Spain, each. The price Cowcotland reports for the card is 739€ (including VAT), although paucity of cards could allow retailers to price the card just about anything, if there is demand for them. AMD has not given retailers in Europe inventory replenishment dates. Factories in China are down for the Lunar New Year holiday there, and depending on demand, another production run could be underway only by mid-thru-Late February, with fresh stocks reaching Europe only a month after.

Softbank Dumps its Entire NVIDIA Stock Worth $3.6 Billion

Japan's Softbank is known for far-sighted strategic investments in the technology industry. It shook Silicon Valley this morning by announcing a sale of its entire NVIDIA shareholding, valued on December 31 at JPY 39.8 billion, or USD $3.6 billion. It's the worst possible time to be NVIDIA's CFO, with the company having shed over 50 percent in value in the wake of the crypto-currency fall, mediocre demand for RTX 20-series graphics cards, and "deteriorating economic conditions in China" for the company. NVIDIA recently trimmed its outlook for revenues from gaming hardware sales by $500 million, eroding more share value. Softbank's tech portfolio now includes ARM Holdings, Uber, WeWork, Slack, among dozens of other tech startups.

China-based DRAM Maker Fujian Jinhua Closing Shop in March Following US Trade Ban in October

Remember that story we brought you regarding the United States government, via its Department of Commerce, banning all exports from national companies to China-based Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuits Ltd? Well, fast-forward three months, and the Financial Times is reporting, citing two sources close to the matter, that the ban has been too much for the company to take, limiting its ability to import needed parts and tools for its DRAM production. This is tough news for a company that was investing towards finishing construction of a $5.7 billion factory in China's Fujian Province.

If the Financial Times is true, this is one potential player in the DRAM market that goes out the proverbial window. The original reasons given by the Department of Commerce for the export ban referred to the company being supported by "likely U.S.-origin technology", reportedly of Micron origin. Well, now it seems as if it isn't being supported at all.

Colorful Debuts the iGame GeForce RTX 2080 Ti KUDAN

Colorful Technology Company Limited, professional manufacturer of graphics cards, motherboards and high-performance storage solutions is proud to announce its most powerful graphics card to date with the latest entry bearing the title of KUDAN. The COLORFUL iGame GeForce RTX 2080 Ti KUDAN brings NVIDIA's Turing GPU architecture to the absolute extreme with all its feature including real-time raytracing. The new iGame GeForce RTX 2080 Ti KUDAN features the best that COLORFUL has to offer and has been engineered to near perfection to give gamers a great gaming experience.

The iGame GeForce RTX 2080 Ti KUDAN makes its worldwide debut during COLORFUL GAMES UNION 2018 held in Hunan, China. COLORFUL's new iGame GeForce RTX 2080 Ti KUDAN will be a limited release with only 1000 units being made.

AMD Radeon RX 570 and China-specific RX 580 2048SP Based on Exact Same Chip

It's no news that AMD's Radeon RX 570 graphics card is carved out of the same "Polaris 20" silicon as the RX 580, by disabling 4 out of 36 GCN compute units. AMD kicked a controversy recently, when it launched a China-specific Radeon RX 580-branded SKU with the core-configuration of the cheaper RX 570, confusing Chinese consumers. It turns out that this RX 580 2,048 SP SKU is based on the same exact ASIC variant of the "Polaris 20" silicon as the RX 570, with the only difference being device ID.

We watch a lot of GamersNexus content. Our GPU Database curator noticed something interesting in their recent teardown of a Dataland Radeon RX 580 (2,048 SP) graphics card directly imported from China. The unique ASIC sub-variant code etched on the GPU's aluminium reinforcement brace matches that of the RX 570. AMD internally refers to the RX 570 as "Polaris 20 XL," and its ASIC code etched is supposed to be "215-0910052." For the RX 580, the real one, aka "Polaris 20 XTX," the code etched is "215-0910038." Thanks to GamersNexus' high-resolution filming, our curator was able to spot the ASIC code for "Polaris 20 XL" on the Dataland card's GPU. This confirms that AMD merely took an RX 570 and gave it a different device ID to create the RX 580 2,048 SP, leaving consumers to wade through the confusion.

DRAM Price-Fix Uncovered in China, 'Massive Evidence' Against Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron

The Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation has been conducting an anti-monopoly investigation of the global Dynamic RAM market. According to an interview of Wu Zenghou (bureau's head) in the Financial Times, this process has found "massive evidence" against the three companies (Samsung, Hynix, and Micron) that are responsible for the vast majority of this segment. "The anti-monopoly investigation into these three companies has made important progress", points out the investigator. On April these three companies were hit with a price-fixing suit on the same matter in the US, and this investigation seems to confirm those reports.

There is even an older precedent, as Samsung and Hynix were fined both by the US Department of Justice in 2005 and by the European Commission in 2010 on price-fixing allegations. The charges now are similar, and if the companies are found guilty, they could face fines of over $2.5 billion. Some analysts suggest this investigation could be part of the trade war between China and the US, with the former trying to get some leverage pushing the Chinese semiconductor company Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit as a bigger player on this market. One that, by the way, is being investigated on allegations of misappropriated trade secrets from Micron. Samsung and SK Hynix have accused China DRAM makers of industrial espionage, too.

Chinese State News Agency Debuts AI-powered Anchor for 24/7 Automated News Coverage

So, this doesn't really concern hardware, but alas, all advances - and particularly AI-related ones - are powered by the little silicon chips that could. This time, and in a move that really does bode towards the future of news coverage, Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, unveiled the "world's first AI news anchor," which was created in collaboration with local search engine company Sogou. There are actually two independent versions of the same anchor - one for news coverage in English, and another for Mandarin.

The AI-infused anchors fuse the image and voice profiles of actual human anchors with artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which powers their speech, lip movements, and facial expressions, alongside reading, absorbing, and curating content that's then posted as video snippets generated by the AI. There is some work to be done until the result is actually indistinguishable from that of actual humans - but do we ever want AI renditions that are indistinguishable from humans? There are a number of problems that could arise from such an achievement, after all. But maybe that's a conversation for another day.

PRC State-Owned Company, Taiwan Company, and Three Individuals Charged With Economic Espionage

A federal grand jury indicted a state-owned enterprise of the People's Republic of China (PRC), a Taiwan company, and three individuals, charging them with crimes related to a conspiracy to steal, convey, and possess stolen trade secrets of an American semiconductor company for the benefit of a company controlled by the PRC government. All of the defendants are charged with a conspiracy to commit economic espionage, among other crimes. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Brian A. Benczkowski, United States Attorney Alex G. Tse of the Northern District of California, and FBI Special Agent in Charge for the San Francisco Field Office John F. Bennett made the announcement.

In addition, the United States filed a civil lawsuit seeking to enjoin the further transfer of the stolen trade secrets and to enjoin certain defendants from exporting to the United States any products manufactured by UMC or Jinhua that were created using the trade secrets at issue. The indictment was filed on September 27, 2018, and unsealed today. The civil lawsuit was filed today.

US Bans Exports to Chinese DRAM Maker Fujian Jinhua Citing National Security Interests

The United States government, via the Department of Commerce, has banned all exports from national companies to China-based Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuits Ltd. The ban, citing "significant risk of becoming involved in activities that are contrary to the national security interests of the United States", demands that a license is required for "all exports, re-exports, and transfers of commodities, software and technology (...) to Jinhua." It then adds that these license applications will be reviewed - always - with a presumption of denial.

AMD Launches a 2048SP Version of the RX 580 in China: An RX 570 in Disguise?

In a silent event that occurred earlier today, AMD's Chinese product page for the Radeon RX 580 graphics card now shows a new addition- the RX 580 2048SP. Contrary to every other RX 580 on the website, including OEM and system integrator solutions, this new SKU has 256 fewer stream processors (2304 vs 2048, respectively). As it turns out, this appears to be a China-only graphics solution that launched on October 15, 2018 and TechPowerUp can confirm this is a Polaris 20-based Radeon product as well.

Looking purely at the specifications, this appears to be an RX 570 with a higher boost frequency (up to 1284 MHz vs 1244 MHz), so this is a confusing strategy by AMD to call it an RX 580 instead. The tinfoil hat nearby suggests that this may well be taking advantage of consumers who go simply by the name scheme and do not look up what a stream processor is, and indeed this is similar to what AMD did last year with the downgraded Radeon RX 560 that started out to be a Chinese-region product and then found its way elsewhere as well. Retailers have started listing this as a product available for consumer purchase already, and a search for RX 580 brings up both these and the other versions together. Not cool, AMD, not cool.

Capital Expenditure on Silicon Chip Manufacturing to Rise to $67.5 billion in 2019

The race for smaller fabrication processes has become more and more expensive, and the expenses in R&D and factory retooling only look to increase. This - alongside the expected increase in demand from silicon-embedded products, which are almost all of them - means that additional funding will be poured into chip manufacturing capabilities. A report from SEMI indicates that the 14% increased investment in 2018 to $62.8 billion will increase a further 7.5% next year, reaching capital expenditure of $67.5 billion in 2019.

3D NAND fabrication plants lead the charge in investment, even if the market is facing some issues stemming from oversupply. The demand growth is being taken into account for these new expansion plans, however, with denser and denser chips being required for all manner of products. This is part of the reason why 43% of this years' spending has been allotted to new NAND factories, but the ratio for 2019 is a much lower 19% increase.

Graphics Card Manufacturing Being Moved From China in Bid to Escape Import Tariffs - Price to Increase 5-10%

The trade war between the US and China has been raging for a while now, and graphics cards are a minimal part of the goods affected. However, these are some of the most sought-after products in the hardware community, and thus deserving of special attention. Added tariffs, however, will either a) be absorbed by companies, or b) be passed on to customers at increased retail pricing. Since companies don't want to reduce their profit margin, and know consumers will buy less product at higher prices, steps are being taken by AIB (Add In Board) partners from both AMD and NVIDIA in moving graphics card manufacturing out of China.

Options being most seriously considered and acted upon stand as Taiwan and Mexico, where the lack of any additional tariff, added to relatively cheap labor, would allow manufacturers to keep operating costs relatively stable - and thus end user pricing. However, while this search for alternate manufacturing locations continues, the tariffs are already being pressed upon graphics cards makers, and it's expected that pricing of graphics cards will be facing increases of 5-10% in the coming months. As if we needed additional price increases in some old (and especially new) product lines...

Spire Announces the POWERCUBE 1418 Micro-ATX PC Case

The Netherlands. Introducing the PowerCube 1418 chassis, built for Micro ATX boards as well as the smaller Mini ITX boards. This new structure provisions for a powerful home, office or multimedia system. The elegant and neat enclosure make it fit in any setting from home, business to public sector. The chassis is made from strong 0.60mm SPCC steel with a cool ventilated top and bottom panel for fresh air intake and optimized component cooling.

With the accommodation for standard ATX power supplies you are able to power your desired computer performance. Connectivity made easy through the top placed frontal  USB 2.0/3.0 and HD/AC97 Audio ports. Instant upgrading with 1x 2.5, 2x 3.5 and 1x 5.25 inch drive bays and 4 extension slots. The PowerCube 1418 chassis unit is 39.3x26.5x29.5cm (L*W*H) in size and weighs 5.0 kg.

Taiwan ODMs Pulling Back Production from Mainland in Wake of US Import Tariffs

You could see more "Made in Taiwan" and lesser "Made in China" on the shelves of your friendly neighborhood Microcenter, as major Taiwanese original device manufacturers (ODMs) are considering moving manufacturing back from Mainland China to Taiwan. ODMs are contract manufacturers of PC hardware, which take designs from [mostly western] electronics companies, and turn them into marketable product.

Among the first such ODMs is Quanta Computer, which manufactures some components in Shanghai, with server assembly either in Fremont, California; or just outside Cologne, Germany. The move is triggered by harsh import tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration on imports of electronics goods from China (PRC), running up to 25 percent, as part of the ongoing trade-war between the world's top-two economies. Tech stocks are rattled at the prospect of cheap hardware imports getting significantly pricier for American consumers.

PC Hardware to Get Pricier Stateside as 25% Import Tariffs Take Effect Late-August

The ongoing US-China trade-war is going to jack up prices of PC hardware and other electronics products made in China (PRC). This will also affect prices of products made by American companies that are manufactured in China. A new tranche of goods and services prescribes a 25 percent import tariff on "electronic integrated circuits: processors and controllers," "electronic integrated circuits: memories," "electronic integrated circuits: amplifiers," "electronic integrated circuits: other," which about covers all PC hardware. This tariff takes effect on August 23, 2018.

A component costing $100 at a US port, could be inflated to $125 before Federal and State taxes are applied, not to mention costs of the rest of the supply-chain, leading up to your retailer and their margins. Not all PC hardware is made in China. Goods imported from Taiwan (ROC), South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia (the other known countries where PC hardware is manufactured), remains unchanged. China remains America's biggest source of electronics imports.
Many Thanks to Flyordie for the tip.

Maxsun Teases Next-gen NVIDIA GeForce Product at ChinaJoy

Maxsun may not be much of a household name in territories outside China, as the western market penetration isn't the most relevant within NVIDIA's partners. That said, the company does enjoy the status of NVIDIA AIB, so they're privy to details on next-gen products - especially when they are, allegedly, so close to a reveal and launch.

Maxsun showcased their take on NVIDIA's next generation (you can find the ending of that very word in the photo of the presentation slide) products with a 3D render of what could very well be their finalized next-gen graphics card's looks - and part of their premium, iCraft segment. The ubiquitous RGB is there, as always, pandering to the majority of users' lighting requirements. The graphics card presents a dual-slot, triple-fan solution, and there doesn't seem to be a DVI connector, nor an SLI termination, for that matter. The card also seems to have a single 8-pin power connector, and the GeForce branding is clear. Sadly, the render doesn't specify the model it pertains to - it would be great to finally have some closure on the 1100, 2000 series' debates.

Yangtze Memory Technologies to Debut New, Ultra-Fast 3D NAND Architecture and Deliver Keynote at Flash Memory Summit 2018

Yangtze Memory Technologies Co., Ltd (YMTC), a new player in the NAND industry, will be joining Flash Memory Summit this year for the first time, delivering a much-anticipated keynote address to reveal its ground-breaking technology - Xtacking. YMTC is the first Chinese company to take part in the high-entry-barrier NAND flash memory industry with its new architecture for unprecedented performance, higher bit density, and faster time-to-market.

Simon Yang, YMTC CEO, will deliver a keynote address, Unleashing 3D NAND's Potential with an Innovative Architecture, on August 7th, from 3:00 p.m. at the Mission Ballroom in the Santa Clara Convention Center, where he will illustrate how the company's new technology can increase NAND I/O speed up to DRAM DDR4 while delivering industry-leading bit density, marking a quantum leap for the NAND market.
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