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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."

Container Ship Meets with an Accident, Clogging the Suez Canal

A super-heavy merchant ship has met with an accident, causing it to turn sideways, and effectively clogging the Suez Canal. The 400 m (1,312 ft) long ship turned sideways, causing it to run aground, into the canal's embankments. Why is this important? Notwithstanding the fact that the incident has caused the biggest backlog of ships at the Suez Canal, a vital trade-route linking Asia and Europe; the Panama-registered ship is operated by Taiwan's largest shipping company, Evergreen. The company, which also owns EVA Air, Taiwan's second largest airline, is believed to handle a bulk of the nation's electronics exports. This particular vessel, bearing the call-sign "Ever Given," was bound for the Dutch port of Rotterdam from China. A mariner aboard its trailing vessel, the Maersk Denver, captured this image of the beached ship. The disruption has caused several days worth shipping backlog, and could affect both ends of the supply-chain.

AMD to Supply Only a Few Thousand Radeon RX 6700 XT GPUs for Europe at Launch

The global supply chain of graphics cards is currently not very well equipped to handle the massive demand that exists for the latest generation of GPUs. Just like we have seen with the launch of NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3000 series Ampere, and AMD Radeon RX 6000 series Big Navi SKUs, the latest generation graphics cards are experiencing massive demand. And manufacturers of these GPUs are not very well equipped to handle it all, so there is a huge scarce for GPUs in the global market. With AMD's recent announcement of the Radeon RX 6700 XT graphics card, things are not looking any better, and the availability of this GPU could be very tight at launch.

According to information obtained by Igor's Lab, AMD could supply only a few thousand Radeon RX 6700 XT GPUs for Europe as a whole. To be precise, Igor's Lab notes that "If you condense the information of various board partners and distributors to a trend, then there are, depending on the manufacturer and model, only a few pieces (for Germany) to a few thousand for the EU as a whole." This could be a very bad indication of AMD's supply of these new GPUs globally, not just for Europe. The company is currently relying on the overbooked TSMC, which can only produce a limited amount of chips at the time, and we don't know how much capacity AMD allocated for the new chip.

Antec Presents New Dark Cube ITX Chassis with Optional Glass or Mesh Front Panel

Antec Inc., a leading provider of high-performance computer components and accessories for the gaming, PC upgrade and Do-It-Yourself market, is presenting a new ITX case which offers PC enthusiasts the best watercooling options in a small format case. The Dark Cube will soon reach store shelves and online retail outlets in Europe with a competitive MSRP of 209 Euros.

The Dark Cube is a masterpiece of the revolutionary ITX case from Antec. This untraditional case provides powerful support for the latest gaming gear. Despite the small size, the Dark Cube still supports motherboards up to M-ATX. The Dark Cube supports high-end hardware and provides dual front panel options: Users can choose either the tempered glass panel or mesh front panel - whether the emphasis is on maximum airflow performance or on showcasing the gaming components.

SiPearl to Manufacture its 72-Core Rhea HPC SoC at TSMC Facilities

SiPearl has this week announced their collaboration with Open-Silicon Research, the India-based entity of OpenFive, to produce the next-generation SoC designed for HPC purposes. SiPearl is a part of the European Processor Initiative (EPI) team and is responsible for designing the SoC itself that is supposed to be a base for the European exascale supercomputer. In the partnership with Open-Silicon Research, SiPearl expects to get a service that will integrate all the IP blocks and help with the tape out of the chip once it is done. There is a deadline set for the year 2023, however, both companies expect the chip to get shipped by Q4 of 2022.

When it comes to details of the SoC, it is called Rhea and it will be a 72-core Arm ISA based processor with Neoverse Zeus cores interconnected by a mesh. There are going to be 68 mesh network L3 cache slices in between all of the cores. All of that will be manufactured using TSMC's 6 nm extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) technology for silicon manufacturing. The Rhea SoC design will utilize 2.5D packaging with many IP blocks stitched together and HBM2E memory present on the die. It is unknown exactly what configuration of HBM2E is going to be present. The system will also see support for DDR5 memory and thus enable two-level system memory by combining HBM and DDR. We are excited to see how the final product looks like and now we wait for more updates on the project.

Explosive Growth in Automotive DRAM Demand Projected to Surpass 30% CAGR in Next Three Years, Says TrendForce

Driven by such factors as the continued development of autonomous driving technologies and the build-out of 5G infrastructure, the demand for automotive memories will undergo a rapid growth going forward, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Take Tesla, which is the automotive industry leader in the application of autonomous vehicle technologies, as an example. Tesla has adopted GDDR5 DRAM products from the Model S and X onward because it has also adopted Nvidia's solutions for CPU and GPU. The GDDR5 series had the highest bandwidth at the time to complement these processors. The DRAM content has therefore reached at least 8 GB for vehicles across all model series under Tesla. The Model 3 is further equipped with 14 GB of DRAM, and the next-generation of Tesla vehicles will have 20 GB. If content per box is used as a reference for comparison, then Tesla far surpasses manufacturers of PCs and smartphones in DRAM consumption. TrendForce forecasts that the average DRAM content of cars will continue to grow in the next three years, with a CAGR of more than 30% for the period.

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-Series GPU Availability to Reportedly Worsen in Q1

The availability of NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 3000 series "Ampere" graphics cards has been a problem ever since it launched. High demand paired with insufficient supply has caused quite some disturbance in the supply chain and has caused the MSRP of the GPUs to increase. Firstly, we were promised that the situation would resolve around May when NVIDIA is expecting to match the supply with the demand. However, according to the recent report, that might not be the case. Alternate, a European retailer operating in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany, has spoken to NVIDIA about the supply of the GeForce RTX 3000 series Ampere graphics cards.

According to the retailer, the situation with the card is such that the availability is scarce. When it comes to the GeForce RTX 3090, there are very few deliveries, but only a few open orders. The RTX 3080 sees very few cards coming with many open orders. The RTX 3070 has few cards incoming, but few open orders. And last but not least, the RTX 3060 Ti has very few cards coming, and a moderately high amount of open orders. If you are aiming to buy a card, your best chances would be with RTX 3090 and RTX 3070, as they do not have such high demand. On the other hand, RTX 3080 and RTX 3060 Ti cards are almost impossible to source as they all have a big waiting list. Alternate says that they work on a "first in first out" principle of delivering cards to consumers, so if you are not on the list you are likely going to wait for even longer.

NVIDIA No Longer Lists GeForce RTX 3000 Series Founders Edition Cards in Europe

According to the findings of Igor's Lab and Andreas Schilling from HardwareLuxx, we have information that NVIDIA is no longer listing its GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards in the Europe shop. NVIDIA website has a special section where the company lists all the available cards, and it represented a way to get the newest 3000 series Ampere graphics cards at MSRP. However, that seems to no longer be the case. NVIDIA has removed all the Ampere Founders Edition graphics cards from the European stores with Poland representing an exception with RTX 3090 listed. The company continues to list these cards at the US store version, however, the links are all redirecting to BestBuy, in the same manner as before. It is not clear why NVIDIA is no longer listing Founders Edition cards in Europe, and we are waiting for more information to report on. Below you can check out the Poland store, UK store, and US store, in order.

Update 13:10 UTC: NVIDIA did not remove these cards manually, but it was a technical error. Cards are now listed again on the storefronts.

NVIDIA to Re-introduce GeForce RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 SUPER GPUs

We are just a few weeks away from the launch of NVIDIA's latest GeForce RTX 3060 graphics cards based on the new Ampere architecture, and there is already some news regarding the lineup position and its possible distortion. According to multiple sources over at Overclocking.com, NVIDIA is set to re-introduce its previous generation GeForce RTX 2060 and RTX 2060 SUPER graphics cards to the market. Once again. The source claims that NVIDIA is already pushing the stock over to its board partners and system integrators to use the last-generation product. So far, it is not clear why the company is doing this and we can only speculate on it.

The source also claims that the pricing structure of the old cards will be 300 EUR for RTX 2060 and 400 EUR for RTX 2060 SUPER in Europe. The latter pricing models directly competes with the supposed 399 EUR price tag of the upcoming GeForce RTX 3060 Ti model, which is based on the newer Ampere uArch instead of the last-gen Turing cards. The possibility for such a move is a possible scarce of GA106/GA104 silicon needed for the new cards, and the company could be aiming to try and satisfy the market with left-over stock from the previous generation cards.

EU Signs Declaration for 2 nm Node and Custom Processor Development

European Union has today processed a declaration that was signed by 17 member states about the development of a 2 nm semiconductor node and an advanced low-power processor. The declaration signed today proposes that the EU puts away 145 billion Euros for the development of the technologies needed to manufacture a 2 nm semiconductor manufacturing process, along with the development of a custom, low-power embedded processor designed for industrial applications. The 17 member countries include Belgium, France, Germany, Croatia, Estonia, Italy, Greece, Malta, Spain, The Netherlands, Portugal, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Finland, and Cyprus. All of the countries listed are going to join the development of these technologies and will have the funds to do it over the next 2-3 years.
EU Declaration
To ensure Europe's technology sovereignty and competitiveness, as well as our capacity to address key environmental and societal challenges and new emerging mass markets, we need to strengthen Europe's capacity to develop the next generation of processors and semiconductors. This includes chips and embedded systems that offer the best performance for specific applications across a wide range of sectors as well as leading-edge manufacturing progressively advancing towards 2 nm nodes for processor technology. Using connectivity, where Europe enjoys global lead, as a major use case driver for developing such capacity enables Europe to set the right level of ambition. This will require a collective effort to pool investment and to coordinate actions, by both public and private stakeholders.

Intel to Keep Its Number One Semiconductor Supplier Ranking in 2020: IC Insights

IC Insights' November Update to the 2020 McClean Report, released later this month, includes a discussion of the forecasted top-25 semiconductor suppliers in 2020. This research bulletin covers the expected top-15 2020 semiconductor suppliers (Figure 1).

The November Update also includes a detailed five-year forecast through 2024 of the IC market by product type (including dollar volume, unit shipments, and average selling price) and a forecast of the major semiconductor industry capital spenders for 2020. A five-year outlook for total semiconductor industry capital spending is also provided.

TOP500 Expands Exaflops Capacity Amidst Low Turnover

The 56th edition of the TOP500 saw the Japanese Fugaku supercomputer solidify its number one status in a list that reflects a flattening performance growth curve. Although two new systems managed to make it into the top 10, the full list recorded the smallest number of new entries since the project began in 1993.

The entry level to the list moved up to 1.32 petaflops on the High Performance Linpack (HPL) benchmark, a small increase from 1.23 petaflops recorded in the June 2020 rankings. In a similar vein, the aggregate performance of all 500 systems grew from 2.22 exaflops in June to just 2.43 exaflops on the latest list. Likewise, average concurrency per system barely increased at all, growing from 145,363 cores six months ago to 145,465 cores in the current list.

NVIDIA and Atos Team Up to Build World's Fastest AI Supercomputer

NVIDIA today announced that the Italian inter-university consortium CINECA—one of the world's most important supercomputing centers—will use the company's accelerated computing platform to build the world's fastest AI supercomputer.

The new "Leonardo" system, built with Atos, is expected to deliver 10 exaflops of FP16 AI performance to enable advanced AI and HPC converged application use cases. Featuring nearly 14,000 NVIDIA Ampere architecture-based GPUs and NVIDIA Mellanox HDR 200 Gb/s InfiniBand networking, Leonardo will propel Italy as the global leader in AI and high performance computing research and innovation.

Activision-Blizzard to Close its Office in France

Activision-Blizzard is one of the largest companies involved in the making of video games and they are accountable for many popular game franchises known to every gamer. Today, according to a report from Bloomberg, we have found out that Activision-Blizzard holding company will close the doors of its office located in Versailles, France. This move puts an end to company operations in that country. The company has informed its employees on Tuesday regarding the office closure, and thus has laid-off about 400 people the office accounted for. Generally speaking, there were no developer roles involved here.

The France office specialized in marketing, localization, and customer support, so no game developers were fired. At the beginning of this year, 1/4 of all France office employees were laid-off already and got their severance packages, while the rest of the employees affected by this move are expecting relocation somewhere else in Europe. A company spokesman corresponding with Bloomberg has said that "Over the past year we have been exploring how we might best integrate our capabilities across the business, enabling us to better leverage talent, expertise and scale as we adapt to the needs of a fast-paced, highly-competitive, digitally focused industry". This is quite a vague answer the spokesman gave; however, it is the only information we have.

Kingston Technology Top DRAM Module Supplier in 2019

Kingston Technology Europe Co LLP, an affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc., a world leader in memory products and technology solutions, today announced it has been ranked the top third-party DRAM module supplier in the world, according to the latest rankings by revenue from analyst firm TrendForce (formerly DRAMeXchange). Kingston retains its number 1 position with an estimated 80.33% market share on $12.9B (USD) revenue, according to TrendForce. The rankings for 2019 mark the 17th consecutive year that TrendForce has placed Kingston in the top spot.

TrendForce states DRAM prices were lower in 2019 due to an ample supply combined with weaker demand from both the server and client sides, thus resulting in less revenue for many module makers. Kingston was one of the few manufacturers to go against this trend and see market share grow, according to the analysts. Kingston has maintained its competitive advantage by working closely with its partners and customers to remain flexible while adapting to their ever-changing needs as well as market conditions. The following chart with results provided by TrendForce shows the top 10 DRAM module suppliers:

Microsoft Underwater Data Center Initiative Project Natick Declared a Success After Two Years

Microsoft has announced it considers the result of its underwater data center initiative, named Project Natick, a success. This announcement comes after Microsoft recovered its data center capsule from the seafloor alongside the Orkney Islands after a two-year-long deployment. The self-contained server pod (made up of 12 racks and 864 servers) was filled with nitrogen, and achieved a much lower failure rate - component-wise - compared to traditional onshore data centers. In fact, its failure rate was one-eight that of traditional servers. The absence of oxygen and lower humidity levels (no need to keep air comfortable and breathable for human technicians) may have been deciding factors in this failure rate.

There are some obvious advantages from such an offshore server deployment. For one, all that cold water really helps in cooling down the components inside - there's no need for added expense in cooling solutions. There is also no need for land acquisition or infrastructure development that's typically associated with onshore server sites. The fact that Project Natick was fully powered by renewable energy sources, courtesy of the Orkneys' grid - supplied 100 percent by wind, solar, and experimental green technologies under development at the European Marine Energy Centre. considering its success, it can certainly be expected that Microsoft - and other companies - double down on this type of server deployment.

NVIDIA to Acquire Arm for $40 Billion, Creating World's Premier Computing Company for the Age of AI

NVIDIA and SoftBank Group Corp. (SBG) today announced a definitive agreement under which NVIDIA will acquire Arm Limited from SBG and the SoftBank Vision Fund (together, "SoftBank") in a transaction valued at $40 billion. The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive to NVIDIA's non-GAAP gross margin and non-GAAP earnings per share.

The combination brings together NVIDIA's leading AI computing platform with Arm's vast ecosystem to create the premier computing company for the age of artificial intelligence, accelerating innovation while expanding into large, high-growth markets. SoftBank will remain committed to Arm's long-term success through its ownership stake in NVIDIA, expected to be under 10 percent.

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:

Netgear Updates Orbi Pro Lineup with Wi-Fi 6 AX6000 Tri-Band Model

NETGEAR, Inc., the leading provider of networking products that power businesses both large and small, today announces the addition of WiFi 6 to the Orbi Pro portfolio. The Orbi Pro WiFi 6 (SXK80) Tri-band Mesh System is an industry leading tri-band WiFi 6 (802.11ax) multi-node mesh system designed to grow with small businesses and home offices as the need to expand their area of network coverage increases. It is comprised of a single router and a single satellite, and can expand to support up to 6 satellites (wireless nodes).

The Orbi Pro WiFi 6 Tri-band Mesh System provides the latest generation of WiFi technology to deliver increased capacity, advanced security and enhanced speed for employees, customers and guests of small businesses and small office environments. In an era where business is widely being conducted remotely while other members of the household are also dependent on connectivity, this new addition to the Orbi Pro family can also address the demand for separate and secure WiFi networks when working from home. Featuring the latest WiFi data security standard, WPA3, along with 4 SSIDs and VLAN support, the Orbi Pro WiFi 6 Mesh System provides a secure network while also isolating connections for separate activities, making it the ideal solution for today's work from home paradigm.

Samsung Rumored to Make Investment in GlobalFoundries

Today we are in for an interesting rumor. According to industry sources of Coreteks, Samsung is rumored to be preparing investment in GlobalFoundries manufacturing facilities. In the latest ave of Asian foundries getting away from China and getting close to EU and US soils, Samsung is the latest one to join the list. First, let's explain the situation. The Trump administration has been pushing TSMC to drop all orders from Huawei, and TSMC did it. That way, Huawei Technologies has lost a major chip supplier which enabled the company a competitive edge. Now, the company must turn to Chinese manufacturers and it can't use any US-made product.

Given that GlobalFoundries is a company headquartered in the US (Santa Clara, California), the company is an American corporation, which has fabs in the US, as well as in Europe. It is truly a global foundry system. Samsung, a Korean semiconductor manufacturer, has been rumored to invest in GlobalFoundries Dresden fab, located in Germany. The company will help GlobalFoundries expand its power supply capacity from 63 MegaWatts to 100 MegaWatts. The proposed expansion of GlobalFoundries Dresden fab would be funded exclusively by Samsung. So why is Samsung doing this? The answer to this question is pretty simple - to get closer to western markets. Even if GlobalFoundries has foundries all over the world, it is a US company at its core. So Samsung hopes that from this investment, it can get closer to US soil and gain some new customers in the future. After all, Samsung plans to become the world's biggest semiconductor manufacturer by 2030, the position currently held by its rival TSMC. Below you can check out the expansion plan illustrated by Coreteks:

SiPearl Signs Agreement with Arm for the Development of its First-Generation of Microprocessors

SiPearl, the company that is designing the high-performance, low-power microprocessor for the European exascale supercomputer, has signed a major technological licensing agreement with Arm, the global semiconductor IP provider. The agreement will enable SiPearl to benefit from the high-performance, secure, and scalable next-generation Arm Neoverse platform, codenamed ''Zeusʺ, as well as leverage the robust software and hardware Arm ecosystem.

Taking advantage of the Arm "Zeus" platform, including Arm's POP IP, on advanced FinFET technologyenables SiPearl to accelerate its design and ensure outstanding reliability for a very high-end offering,in terms of both computing power and energy efficiency, and be ready to launch its first generation of microprocessors in 2022.
European Procesor Initiative

The COVID-19 Pandemic, or Why Chaos Isn't a Pit... It's a Ladder

I had to take that sentence from Game of Thrones' Little Finger (if you recognized it, kudos to you), since I believe it to be mostly true, given we have the right mindset about that which surrounds us. While the pandemic will always be a mainly bleak point in humanity's history, and everyday there are reports of people being their worst selves through these difficult times, there is also always opportunity for growth affixed to any great crisis. It falls upon us, our institutions, and on companies, to see really what we can learn from situations such as these.

For one, we've seen, beyond any possible ideological beliefs we may have, that the Internet is a utility, not a commodity. Its capability to bridge the gaps in geography - and in social connection - is just too important in our globalized society to be considered anything other than a fundamental right. Discussions on this point have been ongoing for a while, and debates surrounding things like the net neutrality have already given birth to rivers of both actual and digital ink. However, it is this writer's opinion that the discussion is moot, and nothing more than a speedbump until we achieve the final, inescapable truth that the Internet is a crucial part of the world's infrastructure, and not only that - of what it means to be human in our modern world.

ASRock Revenue Soars Due to the Ryzen Effect

ASRock, a Taiwanese manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, had an amazing 2019 when it comes to the revenue. Surging around 31% on a Year-over-Year (YoY) basis and delivering revenue of 443.16 million US Dollars, ASRock is expecting to deliver even better results in 2020. When it comes to the underlying reasons for this notable increase, ASRock attributes it to the recent success of AMD's Ryzen family of processors and strong demand for the platform surrounding it. Adopting the AMD Ryzen processors in Mini-PCs, motherboards and server boards, ASRocks see strong demand for these products that should carry over in 2020.

Another reason for strong profits and even better chapters ahead is the developments in the US and European markets. Having previously been focused on the Asian market and marketing its products to that part, ASRock changed the strategy and started advertising its brand more to other regions like the US and Europe. This new strategy is progressing well and is expected to continue in the coming years. Additionally, it is worth noting that ASRock's graphics card sales started to turn profitable in 2019, and now that part of ASRock is attributing to profits as well.

Europe Readies its First Prototype of Custom HPC Processor

European Processor Initiative (EPI) is a Europe's project to kickstart a homegrown development of custom processors tailored towards different usage models that the European Union might need. The first task of EPI is to create a custom processor for high-performance computing applications like machine learning, and the chip prototypes are already on their way. The EPI chairman of the board Jean-Marc Denis recently spoke to the Next Platform and confirmed some information regarding the processor design goals and the timeframe of launch.

Supposed to be manufactured on TSMC's 6 nm EUV (TSMC N6 EUV) technology, the EPI processor will tape-out at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, and it is going to be heterogeneous. That means that on its 2.5D die, many different IPs will be present. The processor will use a custom ARM CPU, based on a "Zeus" iteration of Neoverese server core, meant for general-purpose computation tasks like running the OS. When it comes to the special-purpose chips, EPI will incorporate a chip named Titan - a RISC-V based processor that uses vector and tensor processing units to compute AI tasks. The Titan will use every new standard for AI processing, including FP32, FP64, INT8, and bfloat16. The system will use HBM memory allocated to the Titan processor, have DDR5 links for the CPU, and feature PCIe 5.0 for the inner connection.

60% of European PC Enthusiasts Prefer AMD CPUs, According to EHA Study

An independent study conducted by the European Hardware Association (EHA) has revealed that AMD now ranks higher than Intel in the CPU space. While we have seen this as recently as last week, where we reported on top sellers across some Amazon webstores in Europe, with AMD scoring most of the top sellers in both Germany and the UK, this is the first time a comprehensive study has put some verifiable, science-generated numbers for us to see.

According to the EHA, 60% of the European PC enthusiasts (in a sample of 10,000 respondents) showed a strong sentiment towards AMD as their favored manufacturer of CPUs, and would choose any sort of system with an AMD CPU over an Intel one (including APU, AMD + Radeon graphics cards and AMD + NVIDIA graphics cards). This is a far cry from the same time around last year, where AMD only held 40% of a similar sample's preferred buying intention, and up from the 50% shown in the same study, carried out in 2H2019. The same survey also shows a slightly increased preference for AMD's graphics cards, with the 1H2019 showing 19% preference compared to 23% in this latest study.
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