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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.

EKWB Introduces D-RGB Version of Quantum Vector RTX RE Waterblocks

EK Water Blocks, the Slovenia-based premium computer liquid cooling gear manufacturer, today announces the product launch of EK-Quantum Vector RTX RE D-RGB water blocks, EK-Quantum Vector Upgrade Kits, and EK-D-RGB 6-Way Splitter Cable.

The RE water blocks use the signature EK single slot slim look and cover the entire PCB length. The block also features a unique aesthetic cover over the block Terminal which is designed to showcase the graphics card model via LEDs, visible from the side. The water block comes in 2 different models tailor-made for either reference NVIDIA RTX 2080 or NVIDIA RTX 2080 Ti. The water blocks are equipped with 5V D-RGB (addressable) LEDs which are compatible with the motherboard 3-pin 5V D-RGB (addressable) LED header.

AMD To Offer RX 5700 XT Anniversary Edition in Europe, Canada After All

It seems that AMD either had a) unrevealed plans to launch their online store on more countries and markets alongside the introduction of the Navi-powered RX 5700 XT, or b) a change of mind when it comes to permitted availability of their collectors', limited-edition graphics card for the rest of the world. Originally reported to only be launched in the United States and China, an AMD representative (under the handle dprairie_AMD over at Reddit) has seemingly confirmed that the company will be bringing its limited-edition graphics cards to more markets than previously expected - though it still isn't a global release. The statement from Reddit follows.
Reddit user @dprairie_AMD
Hi all,
Friendly reminder that just because someone writes it doesn't mean it is true.... We will be expanding AMD.com sales to more countries, so we expect the 50th anniversary edition will also be available in: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Sorry we are not offering global availability at this point. We hear you on the desire. The team is focused on expanding into more regions/countries while making sure we can fully support customers.
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