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HPE Build Supercomputer Factory in Czech Republic

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (NYSE: HPE) today announced its ongoing commitment in Europe by building its first factory in the region for next-generation high performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) systems to accelerate delivery to customers and strengthen the region's supplier ecosystem. The new site will manufacture HPE's industry-leading systems as custom-designed solutions to advance scientific research, mature AL/ML initiatives, and bolster innovation.

The dedicated HPC factory, which will become the fourth of HPE's global HPC sites, will be located in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic, next to HPE's existing European site for manufacturing its industry-standard servers and storage solutions. Operations will begin in summer 2022.

Apple's Self Service Repair Now Available

Apple today announced Self Service Repair is now available, providing repair manuals and genuine Apple parts and tools through the Apple Self Service Repair Store. Self Service Repair is available in the US and will expand to additional countries—beginning in Europe—later this year.

The new online store offers more than 200 individual parts and tools, enabling customers who are experienced with the complexities of repairing electronic devices to complete repairs on the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups and iPhone SE (3rd generation), such as the display, battery, and camera. Later this year the program will also include manuals, parts, and tools to perform repairs on Mac computers with Apple silicon.

European Union MEPs Agree on Making USB Type-C the Standard Charging Connector

This past week, the EU's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee agreed on adopting USB Type-C as the union's standard charging connector, with 43 votes in favour and two against. It's part of the Radio Equipment Directive and it means that USB-C is now very close to becoming the de facto connector for charging a wide range of consumer electronics. The charging standard will apply to what the committee calls small and medium-sized electronic gadgets and include mobile phones, tablets, digital cameras, headphones and headsets, handheld videogame consoles and portable speakers. Exemptions will apply for devices that are too small to incorporate a USB-C port, such a smart watches, health trackers and some sports equipment.

The directive still has to be approved by the EU parliament, which is expected to happen in May during the plenary session. There will be an initial transition period and the new requirements aren't expected to start to apply until early 2024. In addition to the new directive, the MEPs also want to see clear labelling on devices in terms of how much power they can deliver, since this can sometimes be hard to figure out as a consumer. They also want to see clear labelling on product packaging if a charger is supplied or not. Furthermore, the MEPs want the European Commission to present a strategy with regards to wireless chargers by the end of 2026, to make sure there's some kind of minimal interoperability between the various wireless charging standards. This is said to be to try and avoid market fragmentation, as well as to reduce e-waste and to try and prevent consumer "lock-in" to proprietary charging standards. The EU is said to end up with 11 to 13-thousand tons of e-waste from chargers alone on a yearly basis, so it's not hard to see why the union wants to see a unified charging standard for most electronics.

Intel Installs First EUV Tool in Irish Fab 34

Last week Intel finalised the installation of its first EUV tool in Fab 34, which is located in Leixlip, Ireland. That comes just two months after Intel started installing its first chipmaking equipment in the fab. The EUV tool is made by ASML, but was shipped to Intel in Hillsboro, Oregon, USA first, before being sent back to Europe. It's unclear why it was shipped to the US first, but it's possible that Intel tested the equipment there and made sure it was to its spec, before shipping it to its new fab.

This is the first of several machines from ASML that are expected to be installed in Fab 34 and Intel says it's "a key enabler of Intel 4 process technology". The ASML machine required four unspecified Boeing aircrafts to ship, as well as 35 trucks to bring it to Fab 34. The machine, or tool as Intel calls it, has been sent in parts since December last year and has only now been completely assembled. For more details, see the video after the break.

Intel to Finally Break Cover on European Chip Manufacturing Efforts Tomorrow

After months of rumors and speculations, it looks like we are finally going to receive official information from Intel regarding the exact country the company plans to do semiconductor R&D and manufacturing in within Europe. Today, the company published its media alert post, showing that we are finally going to receive exact information tomorrow. As we have previously reported, the current round of suggestions led to Intel building a fab inside Germany; however, it still remains to be confirmed. Once the information is out, we are going to report on it and finally see where team blue is headed next. You can find the announcement below.
As part of its IDM 2.0 strategy, Intel is committed to investing in research and development (R&D) capabilities and manufacturing capacity to meet the surging demand for advanced semiconductors and to build a more resilient, globally balanced supply chain.

Join a webcast with CEO Pat Gelsinger where he will share details of Intel's latest plans for in semiconductor R&D and manufacturing in Europe.

When: 6 a.m. PDT (2 p.m. CET), Tuesday, March 15
Where: Watch live on the Intel Newsroom.
Event Replay: A video replay will be available on the Intel Newsroom following the webcast.

TP-Link Said to be Sharing all Router Traffic with Third Party

These days, routers are quite complex devices that are doing much more than just routing data and are often the main security device on a home network. As such, we've seen a surge in third party services such as Asus' AIProtection that runs software from Trend Micro and Netgear Armor in cooperation with Bitdefender. Chinese TP-Link is likewise offering similar services, some in partnership with Trend Micro and some with Avira. It now appears that TP-Link's HomeCare service—that the company is offering in partnership with Avira—is sending data to Avira even when disabled in the UI, based on a thread over at Reddit.

The standard Avira features are meant to offer protection against malicious content, network intrusions and even against infected devices on the network that are said to be quarantined from other devices on the network. It also incorporates some basic parental control features, such as automatic content filtering and time controls. However, in this case, the issue isn't the functionality itself, but the fact that there apparently is no way to turn off the HomeCare feature, since even when seemingly disabled in the UI of the affected routers, it sends data to Avira. It seems to be a fairly large amount of data being sent as well, with the initial poster claiming over 80,000 requests in a 24 hour period. According to a review of a TP-Link product over on XDA-Developers from May last year, TP-Link said that they were working on a firmware update that would allow the Avira service to be turned off permanently.

Italy Creating €4 Billion Chipmaking Fund, Trying to Attract Intel

With Intel still not having announced where in Europe they'll set up shop next, but with Magdeburg, Germany being the hot ticket, Italy is now trying to figure out how they can win over some chip makers, least not Intel. The country is working on a €4 billion chip fund of its own to entice chip makers to set up shop in the nation. However, it seems like the fund is going to spread out over time, as it'll run until 2030, the same time frame as the EU's €15 billion chip fund is going to run. Italy will apparently divide the money in chunks of €500 million per year from 2023 to 2030.

Italy was apparently considering giving it all to Intel, according to Reuters, plus another €4 billion in other incentives, over a 10 year period. If that is still the case, isn't clear, especially as the nation is said to be in talks with STMicroelectronics, MEMC Electronic Materials, Tower Semi (now Intel) and others. Reuters claims that negotiations with Intel are very tough, as the company has a lot of demands. The Italian government is also said to be promoting "research and development of microprocessor technology and investments in new industrial applications of innovative technologies".

Intel's Next European Fab Rumours Point to Magdeburg, Germany

As we've known for a few months now, Intel is looking at setting up shop, or should that be fab, somewhere in Europe. The company already has fabs in Ireland, but now it looks like its second destination will be Magdeburg in Germany, at least if a story by MDR in Germany is to be trusted. The news outlet claims that the official announcement will take place sometime next week. It's not clear what kind of fab it'll be at this point in time, but hopefully we'll get more details once Intel makes an official announcement.

Magdeburg was apparently not the only location scouted by Intel in Germany, as Dresden was also in the running, the home of the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology among several other Fraunhofer Societies based in the city. Dresden also has twice the population of Magdeburg, which makes Intel's choice somewhat peculiar, as Magdeburg doesn't appear to have any particularly stand-out features that would make it the ideal choice of a semiconductor fab or even a packaging facility. It's possible that Intel chose the location based on the local supply chain, but that's just speculation at this point.

The EU Commission Proposes Chips Act to Confront Semiconductor Shortages and Strengthen Europe's Technological Leadership

Today, the Commission proposes a comprehensive set of measures to ensure the EU's security of supply, resilience and technological leadership in semiconductor technologies and applications. The European Chips Act will bolster Europe's competitiveness, resilience and help achieve both the digital and green transition. Recent global semiconductors shortages forced factory closures in a wide range of sectors from cars to healthcare devices. In the car sector, for example, production in some Member States decreased by one third in 2021. This made more evident the extreme global dependency of the semiconductor value chain on a very limited number of actors in a complex geopolitical context. But it also illustrated the importance of semiconductors for the entire European industry and society.

The EU Chips Act will build on Europe's strengths - world-leading research and technology organisations and networks as well as host of pioneering equipment manufacturers - and address outstanding weaknesses. It will bring about a thriving semiconductor sector from research to production and a resilient supply chain. It will mobilise more than €43 billion euros of public and private investments and set measures to prevent, prepare, anticipate and swiftly respond to any future supply chains disruption, together with Member States and our international partners. It will enable the EU to reach its ambition to double its current market share to 20% in 2030.

EuroHPC Joint Undertaking Launches Three New Research and Innovation Projects

The European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking (EuroHPC JU) has launched 3 new research and innovation projects. The projects aim to bring the EU and its partners in the EuroHPC JU closer to developing independent microprocessor and HPC technology and advance a sovereign European HPC ecosystem. The European Processor Initiative (EPI SGA2), The European PILOT and the European Pilot for Exascale (EUPEX) are interlinked projects and an important milestone towards a more autonomous European supply chain for digital technologies and specifically HPC.

With joint investments of €140 million from the European Union (EU) and the EuroHPC JU Participating States, the three projects will carry out research and innovation activities to contribute to the overarching goal of securing European autonomy and sovereignty in HPC components and technologies, especially in anticipation of the European exascale supercomputers.

The Expansion Of The Only Computer Memory Factory in Europe is Underway

The expansion of the only computer memory factory in Europe is underway. The factory in question produces Goodram branded memory and is located in Łaziska Górne. In the south of Poland, there is a unique technological company that stands out in Europe. The said company is Wilk Elektronik SA, which is the manufacturer of the well-known in Europe Goodram computer memory brand as well as the IRDM gaming line. Nine months after the symbolic groundbreaking, the scale of this private investment is already visible. The impressive 14-meter high structure of the building is not accidental. The extended part of the company is going to have a high storage warehouse and a new production hall. Thus, the company surface will be expanded from the current 3000 m² by 1140 m² in the warehousing and logistics section and 1200 m² in the production area.

GlobalWafers Siltronic Deal Falls Through at the Last Hurdle

In a surprising outcome, Taiwanese GlobalWafers purchase of German Siltronic has failed, due to the German Ministry for Economic Affairs having failed to approve the deal. The €4.35 billion deal had been approved by all other regulators globally, but the German Ministry for Economic Affairs claims that they didn't have enough time to go over the review process locally by the deadline that was set. It appears that they're blaming their counterparts in the PRC for having been too slow in their approval process, as the Germans wanted to go over the Chinese approval, before committing to their own approval.

The deal might not be dead in the water though, but it looks like GlobalWafers is going to have to make a new offer and start the entire process over again. Had the deal gone through, GlobalWafers would've become the world's second largest 300 mm silicon wafer producer, behind Japanese Shin-Etsu, overtaking Sumco, which is also based out of Japan. GlobalWafers already owns a majority stake in Siltronic, but the question now is if GlobalWafers will maintain that share, or look to invest elsewhere. One option on the table for GlobalWafers is apparently the US, but at the same time, the majority shareholder of Siltronic wants to sell, ideally to GlobalWafers. Although it's only speculation at this point, it has been suggested that the German government wanted to retain Siltronic as a local company, especially due to growing interest by the EU to expand foundry type businesses in Europe. GlobalWafers is said to make an announcement by the end of this week as to whether they will continue with the Siltronic purchase or not.

Tachyum Selected for Pan-European Project Enabling 1 AI Zettaflop in 2024

Tachyum today announced that it was selected by the Slovak Republic to participate in the latest submission for the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI), to develop Prodigy 2 for HPC/AI. Prodigy 2 for HPC/AI will enable 1 AI Zettaflop and more than 10 DP Exaflops computers to support superhuman brain-scale computing by 2024 for under €1B. As part of this selection, Tachyum could receive a 49 million Euro grant to accelerate a second-generation of its Tachyum Prodigy processor for HPC/AI in a 3-nanometer process.

The IPCEI program can make a very important contribution to sustainable economic growth, jobs, competitiveness and resilience for industry and the economy in the European Union. IPCEI will strengthen the EU's open strategic autonomy by enabling breakthrough innovation and infrastructure projects through cross-border cooperation and with positive spill-over effects on the internal market and society as a whole.

NVIDIA's Custom RTX 3090 Ti Graphics Cards Reach $4,000 Pricing in Europe

NVIDIA's RTX 3090 Ti is hot on the presses, and while actual product availability is anyone's guess, the card has already been made available for order (in extremely limited quantities, as one might expect). That said, the lack of a clear pricing messaging from NVIDIA seems to have left the door open for truly egregious pricing practices, which are likely added to at every step of the supply chain from the green team's AIB (add-in-board) partners and their custom RTX 3090 Ti graphics cards. Case in point: European, Swiss retailer Top Preise has started listing the latest NVIDIA halo card at a cool, not at all jaw-dropping average of €3,600 ($4,000). This is easily the highest-ever-pricing practiced on a consumer-level graphics card, so if anything, 2022 seems to have at least brought us that particular record-setting. Of course, pricing of a single retailer doesn't prove a pricing trend; but the fact that the cards are priced at untidy values does seem to indicate these aren't placeholder values.

This is much the case as has happened with NVIDIA's recent launch of the RTX 3080 12 GB - that card too didn't receive public MSRP guidance from NVIDIA, leaving its board partners - and retailers - to carve whatever pricing philosophy they deem adequate, considering the current state of the market, expected demand for NVIDIA's latest and greatest, and, of course, additional profits. Considering how the RTX 3080 12 GB has been found in store shelves for around $1,700 (remember the original MSRP for the RTX 3080 8 GB was set at $699), an upgrade to the RTX 3090 Ti would be a very expensive, $2,300 proposition for a relatively small performance improvement.

Shipments of Notebooks in 2022 Expected to Reach 238 Million Units, Says TrendForce

Due to the pandemic, laptops shipments reached a record high of 240 million units in 2021, according to TrendForce's investigations. However, the market has been abuzz recently and, as the global population of the fully vaccinated has exceeded 50%, relevant demand driven by the pandemic is expected to gradually weaken. Shipment volume will decrease by 3.3% year-on-year, revised down slightly to 238 million units. Chromebooks will account for approximately 12.3% of shipment volume, though it accounted for approximately 15.2% in 2021. The momentum of shipments has slowed down significantly which indicates that demand derived from the economic effect of remote working and teaching has subsided.

Intel Said to be Considering Italy for European Chip Packaging Plant

Although Intel has already announced that it won't be making any decision with regards to its investments in Europe this year, new rumours courtesy of Reuters are now suggesting that Intel is eyeing Italy for an investment of €4 to €8 billion for a new, advanced semiconductor chip packaging plant. This largely leaves Germany and France as the options for Intel's so called "megafab" that the company is planning to build in Europe over the next few years.

Intel has already said it would invest around US$7 billion for a similar chip packaging plan in Penang, Malaysia, a location where Intel already has a chip packaging facility. When contacted by Reuters, Intel said "We are encouraged by the many possibilities to support the EU's digital agenda and 2030 semiconductor ambitions. While current negotiations are ongoing and confidential, we plan to make an announcement as soon as possible." The Italian government is also said to have some concerns with regards to how many jobs the plant will actually create, as well as what the energy costs will be, which could throw a spanner in the works if Intel doesn't provide the right answers.

Intel Delays New Fab Location Announcements Until 2022

Intel was expected to announce the location of its next fabs before the end of the year, but the company has decided to delay the announcements until sometime in "early 2022". This is not just related to its European expansion, but also its US expansion and it's possible that this has something to do with the so-called CHIPS acts that both the EU and the US government are expected to announce.

It's also possible that Intel is still negotiating with multiple parties, to see where the company can get the best deal, as well as making sure that the right partners are willing to set up their supporting infrastructure within a reasonable distance from Intel's new fabs. As Intel is looking at investing upwards of US$100 billion per site over multiple years, it's not hard to see why they want to make sure they're making the right, long term decision. A few extra months might make a big difference a few years down the line, least not to make sure Intel can hire qualified staff to run its fabs, outside of everything else that goes into planning something like this.

Intel and TSMC Said to be Eyeing Germany for New Foundries

A fight over who can announce the most new chip related investments seem to have broken out between Intel and TSMC, which both companies said to be eyeing Germany for their new foundry expansions. This is despite both companies having said that Europe isn't a particularly interesting market for new foundries, but it appears that the upcoming European Chips Act has changed their minds, despite there being no official word on how much the EU will invest.

Intel has already pledged investments in Europe of up to €80 billion, for as many as eight new foundries. It's not clear if this includes its current investments in Ireland or now, where Intel has already invested over €6 billion over the past couple of years. TSMC on the other hand hasn't promised anything as yet, but the company is in early talks with the German government according to news out of Taiwan. Time will tell if anything comes from this, but Intel is said to be making an announcement soon, possibly before the holiday season on where it's planning on building its next Fab in Europe, with Italy and France also being on the table.

Honeywell Quantum Solutions and Cambridge Quantum Merge to Create Quantinuum - The Largest Quantum Computing Company

The two leading companies in the quantum computing industry have combined to create Quantinuum, thereby accelerating the development of quantum computing and innovation of quantum technologies in a platform agnostic manner to deliver real-world quantum-enabled solutions for some of the most intractable problems that classical computers have not been able to solve.

Cambridge Quantum, the pioneer in quantum software, operating systems, and cybersecurity, and Honeywell Quantum Solutions, which has built the highest-performing quantum hardware, based on trapped-ion technologies, today announced they have satisfied all of the conditions required to close the business combination and formed the new company, now called Quantinuum.

The EU is Aiming for 20 Percent of Leading Edge Chips to be Made in EU by 2030

According to Margrethe Vestager—the European Commissioner for Competition—the EU is hoping to be able to produce up to 20 percent of leading edge chips within the EU by 2030. Today that number is around 10 percent, down from some 40 percent back in the 1990's.

However, it seems like the EU has understood that it can not be self-reliant on semiconductor parts, no matter how many companies it can entice to build foundries within the EU. However, the EU is very much looking at getting more chip production happening inside the union, especially for the automotive industry. At the same time, the EU understands that it has to work with global suppliers of chips, especially what is being referred to as legacy technology in the interview with CNBC.

France is Trying to Ban Wish by Asking App Stores and Search Engines to Block its Apps and Website

Wish has become something of a phenomenon, in the sense that it has become Europe's go-to place for cheap gadgets, toys, clothing and more, most of which are delivered straight from the PRC to your front door. However, a lot of the products sold on Wish doesn't meet European safety regulations and now France's DGCCRF (direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes) or in English, the General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control, are going after Wish for selling substandard and even outright dangerous goods to French consumers.

There is clearly legit reasoning behind it all, as the DGCCRF ordered some 140 different products from Wish - of which most arrived directly from the PRC - and then proceeded to test them to see if they met European safety standards. Out of the 140 products, 45 percent were deemed outright dangerous, although when it came to electronic products, 90 percent were deemed dangerous and 95 percent were not certified for use in Europe. It's not clear how many of the products were electronic products though, which makes it a bit hard to judge how bad the situation really is.

Global OSAT Revenue for 3Q21 Reaches US$8.89 Billion Thanks to Peak Season Demand, Says TrendForce

As the global vaccination rate rose, and border restrictions in Europe and North America eased, social activities also began to enter a period of recovery, with the consumer electronics market seemingly ready for the arrival of the traditional peak season in 2H21, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. At the same time, however, the global supply chain was affected by delays in maritime transport, skyrocketing shipping costs, and component shortages, in addition to already-prohibitive price hikes for certain components in 1H21. Given the parallel rise in both material and manufacturing costs, the market for end products has not undergone the expected cyclical upturn in 2H21. Even so, the overall demand for and shipment of smartphones, notebook computers, and monitors experienced QoQ increases in 3Q21, thereby driving up businesses for major OSAT (outsourced semiconductor assembly and test) companies. For 3Q21, the revenues of the top 10 OSAT companies reached US$8.89 billion, a 31.6% YoY increase.

TOP500 Update Shows No Exascale Yet, Japanese Fugaku Supercomputer Still at the Top

The 58th annual edition of the TOP500 saw little change in the Top10. The Microsoft Azure system called Voyager-EUS2 was the only machine to shake up the top spots, claiming No. 10. Based on an AMD EPYC processor with 48 cores and 2.45GHz working together with an NVIDIA A100 GPU and 80 GB of memory, Voyager-EUS2 also utilizes a Mellanox HDR Infiniband for data transfer.

While there were no other changes to the positions of the systems in the Top10, Perlmutter at NERSC improved its performance to 70.9 Pflop/s. Housed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Perlmutter's increased performance couldn't move it from its previously held No. 5 spot.

SiPearl Partners With Intel to Deliver Exascale Supercomputer in Europe

SiPearl, the designer of the high computing power and low consumption microprocessor that will be the heart of European supercomputers, has entered into a partnership with Intel in order to offer a common offer dedicated to the first exascale supercomputers in Europe. This partnership will offer their European customers the possibility of combining Rhea, the high computing power and low consumption microprocessor developed by SiPearl, with Intel's Ponte Vecchio accelerator, thus creating a high performance computing node that will promote the deployment of the exascale supercomputing in Europe.

To enable this powerful combination, SiPearl plans to use and optimize for its Rhea microprocessor the open and unified programming interface, oneAPI, created by Intel. Using this single solution across the entire heterogeneous compute node, consisting of Rhea and Ponte Vecchio, will increase developer productivity and application performance.

EMEA PC Market Maintains Growth in 2021Q3, Despite Lower Consumer Spending and Continued Supply Issues, Says IDC

The Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) traditional PC market, (desktops, notebooks, and workstations) grew 12.7% YoY in 2021Q3, for a total of 24.4 million units, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). A strong commercial performance throughout the region is the main driver of this growth, offsetting a slowdown in consumer, which could not keep up with the unfavorable growth rates seen in 2020Q3.

The Western European PC market enjoyed solid growth (15.8% YoY). Desktops continued their upward trend and increased 21.8% YoY—outgrowing notebooks (+13.1%) for the first time in six quarters. Desktop growth can be attributed to strength on the commercial side, as employers look to equip and refresh their increasingly populated offices. Notebooks also saw solid commercial shipments but were stifled by component shortages, primarily in IC boards and panels.
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