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The New Chip Shortage is Passive Components

If you thought that the chip shortage was bad, then the building shortage of passive components, such as capacitors, resistors, inductors and so on, is going to have you in tears. Due to lockdowns in Malaysia and Indonesia, where most of the well known Japanese aluminium capacitors are made, the factories of Chemi-Con, Nichicon and Rubycon have been shut down for most of July and August. The three companies together control some 50 percent of the capacitor market and it's expected that the current situation in Malaysia will lead to a reduction in capacitor shipments by 30 to 60 percent.

At the same time, the increased demand for everything from computer parts to renewable energy technology has ramped up demand for these components. Some of that business has been picked up by Taiwanese and Chinese manufacturers, but whereas in the past you could get your order in some four to six weeks, the lead times are now three to six months and that's if you're lucky. DigiTimes is reporting that several Taiwanese component makers have seen a YoY revenue growth of 20 percent or more for the first half of this year.

HalfDive, World's First Bed-Mounted-Display VR Headset

VR and AR headsets might not have been quite the success they were expected to be, mainly due to cost, but now, a Japanese company has developed what has to be one of the weirdest VR headsets to date, one that's meant to be used in bed.

The HalfDive VR headset, or BMD (Bed-Mounted-Display) from Diver-X is trying to implement a range of new features that have never been seen before in a VR headset, such as "wind feedback. This is simply done by a pair of fans built into the headset that outside of adding a touch of wind in your face effect, can apparently also be used for cooling down the user.

Other more normal features include a 3D audio system that consists of four speakers placed around the head, a force feedback system based on what might best be described as friction bands, vibration feedback via an "audio exciter" and foot controllers in addition to regular hand controllers.

Worldwide Enterprise WLAN Market Continued Strong Growth in Second Quarter 2021, According to IDC

Growth rates remained strong in the enterprise segment of the wireless local area networking (WLAN) market in the second quarter of 2021 (2Q21) as the market increased 22.4% on a year-over-year basis to $1.7 billion, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wireless LAN Tracker. In the consumer segment of the WLAN market, revenues declined 5.7% in the quarter to $2.3 billion, giving the combined enterprise and consumer WLAN markets year-over-year growth of 4.6% in 2Q21.

The growth in the enterprise-class segment of the market builds on a strong first quarter of 2021 when revenues increased 24.6% year over year. For the first half of 2021, the market increased 23.5% compared to first two quarters of 2020. Compared to the second quarter of 2019, 2Q21 revenues increased 10.8%, indicating that demand in the enterprise WLAN is strong.

Revenue of Top 10 OSAT Companies for 2Q21 Reaches US$7.88 Billion Due to Strong Demand and Increased Package/Test Prices, Says TrendForce

Despite the intensifying COVID-19 pandemic that swept Taiwan in 2Q21, the domestic OSAT (outsourced semiconductor assembly and test) industry remained largely intact, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Global sales of large-sized TVs were brisk thanks to major sporting events such as the Tokyo Olympics and UEFA Euro 2020. Likewise, the proliferation of WFH and distance learning applications propelled the demand for IT products, while the automotive semiconductor and data center markets also showed upward trajectories. Taking into account the above factors, OSAT companies raised their quotes in response, resulting in a 26.4% YoY increase in the top 10 OSAT companies' revenue to US$7.88 billion for 2Q21.

TrendForce indicates that, in light of the ongoing global chip shortage and the growing production capacities of foundries/IDMs in the upstream semiconductor supply chain, OSAT companies gradually increased their CAPEX and expanded their fabs and equipment in order to meet the persistently growing client demand. However, the OSAT industry still faces an uncertain future in 2H21 due to the Delta variant's global surge and the health crisis taking place in Southeast Asia, home to a significant number of OSAT facilities.

Tokyo Olympics 8K Broadcast Was Powered by Intel Xeon Platinum 8380H Servers

Intel has recently unveiled that their technology powered the 8K 60 FPS Tokyo Olympics broadcast which was available to select customers in Japan. The games were recorded in 8K at 60 FPS with 4:2:2 Chroma subsampling and 10-bit HDR which resulted in a bitrate of 48 Gbps. This uncompressed stream was then encoded on servers each featuring quad 28 core Xeon 8380H processors and 384 GB of ram into two HEVC distribution streams at 250 Mbps and 50-100 Mbps bitrates. These streams were then distributed to users over the internet where the 8K stream could be decoded and displayed on an 8K TV over HDMI 2.1. Intel used a workstation PC with an 18-core Xeon W-2295 and 64 GB of ram to decode and play the video stream on the TV. This 8K service was only made available to select NHK subscribers in Japan while most international broadcasts offered a maximum resolution of 4K.

Annual Notebook Shipment Likely to Break Records in 2021 at 236 Million Units, with Chromebook Demand Slowing Down in 2H21, Says TrendForce

While the stay-at-home economy generated high demand for notebook computers from distance learning and WFH applications last year, global notebook shipment for 2020 underwent a nearly 26% YoY increase, which represented a significant departure from the cyclical 3% YoY increase/decrease that had historically taken place each year, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. The uptrend in notebook demand is expected to persist in 2021, during which notebook shipment will likely reach 236 million units, a 15% YoY increase. In particular, thanks to the surging demand for education notebooks, Chromebooks will become the primary growth driver in the notebook market. Regarding the shipment performance of various brands, Samsung and Apple will register the highest growths, with the former having Chromebooks account for nearly 50% of its total notebook shipment this year and the latter continuing to release MacBooks equipped with the M1 chip.

MSI and Toho Co. Develop Godzilla co-branded RTX 3070 LHR SUPRIM x Godzilla

MSI partnered with Toho Co., trademark owners of Godzilla, to develop limited edition variants of the GeForce RTX 3070 LHR SUPRIM SE graphics card. The card swaps out silver for Godzilla's distinctive metallic cherry red color, and features a large Godzilla die-cast print along the backplate. The Godzilla logo (in Japanese) dominates both the backplate, as well as an embossed version sits on the central fan. The card uses the lite hashrate (LHR) variant of the RTX 3070 GPU, paired with MSI's top-of-the-line SUPRIM cooling solution. The MSI RTX 3070 SUPRIM x Godzilla will launch exclusively in the Japanese market, it could be resold as a collector's item.

Three Major Arm Licensees Endorse the NVIDIA Takeover

NVIDIA's $40 billion takeover of Arm Holdings plc from SoftBank, got a shot in the arm, as three major licensees of the IP came out in support of the bid. These include Broadcom, MediaTek, and Marvell Technology Group. This development is key for NVIDIA to fight the perception built up by a rival faction, that the democratized nature of the Arm IP would get lost if a chipmaker like NVIDIA owns it. This rival faction is primarily led by Qualcomm.

It's interesting to note the individual backers of the NVIDIA takeover. There is nothing but love between Broadcom and Qualcomm, especially after the former's failed bid to acquire the latter. MediaTek is a major smartphone and IoT SoC maker, dominating the low-cost and mainstream smartphone segments. Marvell is big in datacenter and storage IP. Each of the three are results of huge IP consolidation over the past decade.

Antec Releases New NeoECO Platinum PSU Series

Antec Inc., leading provider of high-performance computer components and accessories for the gaming, PC upgrade and Do-It-Yourself market, broadens their offer of power supplies with the new line NeoEco Platinum series. The 80 PLUS PLATINUM rating and the Continuous Power with 650 W, 750 W and 850 W make this modular PSU line an efficient and affordable choice.

The PSU line is now commercially available from USD $134.99 for 650 W, USD $144.99 for 750 W and USD $164.99 for 850 W.

The power supplies achieve up to 94 per cent efficiency, so users can reduce their electricity bill significantly. The series features a server-class LLC design with a synchronous rectification based on a DC-DC topology. Japanese capacitors ensure the tightest DC stability and regulation, for reliability that the system can count on. Four PCI Express port connectors enable for multi-GPU support.

LED Market Revenue for 2021 Projected to Reach US$16.53 Billion Mainly Due to Automotive/Mini LED Applications, Says TrendForce

Owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, not only did LED revenue experience a downward trajectory, but this decline also reached a magnitude rarely seen in recent years, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. However, as vaccinations begin taking place in 1H21, the LED market's long-stifled demand is expected to rebound from rock bottom. Hence, global LED market revenue will likely undergo a corresponding recovery this year as well, with a forecasted US$16.53 billion, an 8.1% increase YoY, in 2021. Most of this increase can be attributed to four major categories, including automotive LED, Mini/Micro LED, video wall LED, and UV/IR LED.

2020 Global Semiconductor Equipment Sales Surge 19% to Industry Record $71.2 Billion, SEMI Reports

Worldwide sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment surged 19% from $59.8 billion in 2019 to a new all-time high of $71.2 billion in 2020, SEMI, the industry association representing the global electronics product design and manufacturing supply chain, reported today. The data is now available in the Worldwide Semiconductor Equipment Market Statistics (WWSEMS) Report.

For the first time, China claimed the largest market for new semiconductor equipment with sales growth of 39% to $18.72 billion. Sales in Taiwan, the second-largest equipment market, remained flat in 2020 with sales of $17.15 billion after showing strong growth in 2019. Korea registered 61% growth to $16.08 billion to maintain the third position. Annual spending also increased 21% in Japan and 16% in Europe as both regions are recovering from the contraction in 2019. Receipts in North America decreased 20% in 2020 following three years of consecutive growth.

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."

Fujitsu Completes Development of World's Fastest Supercomputer

Fugaku is Japan's supercomputer that has been developed as a core system for the innovative High-Performance Computing Infrastructure (HPCI) promoted by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). In 2014, RIKEN and Fujitsu began joint development of Fugaku and completed delivery of all racks in May 2020. Since then, they have developed and optimized the user environment in preparation for the commencement of shared use.

In the meantime, Fugaku has claimed the world's top spot for two consecutive terms in June and November 2020 in four categories on the major high-performance computer rankings: the TOP500, HPCG, HPL-AI, as well as the Graph 500, and has been used on a trial basis under the "Program for Promoting Research on the Supercomputer Fugaku", "research projects aimed to combat COVID-19", etc. since April 2020. In these trials, two projects, "Study on Large-Scale Numerical Fluid Simulation" and "Largest Ever Meteorological Calculation" have already been selected as the ACM Gordon Bell Prize finalists. In addition, research on "Prediction and Countermeasures for Infection by Virus Contaminated Droplet in Indoor Environment" has led to changes in people's lifestyles, and Fugaku is already making steady progress toward becoming a key technological platform for science and for building Society 5.0.

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

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

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

Japanese Audio Company final Announces VR3000 Gaming Earphones

final, the Japanese high-end audio specialist, has announced their first step into the world of gaming with the new VR3000 gaming earphones - set to be released on 10/12/20. With the appreciation in high performance gaming equipment on the rise - the final VR3000 brings a fresh approach to delivering the highest audio quality, revolutionizing the gaming experience.

final has been involved in the audio industry for over 50 years, always innovating with cutting edge technology and design. The VR3000 is final's first pair of earphones created specifically for the purpose of gaming. The final VR3000 is an in-ear monitor, designed to be small and extremely lightweight - delivering headphone-like special sound with pinpoint accuracy and clarity. The in-ear design also allows for better mobility and device compatibility when compared to larger, more power-hungry headphones and headsets. Equipped with an in-line microphone and 3 button controller, the final VR3000 has a simple plug-and-play design allowing for in-game voice chat for a complete gaming experience.

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.

Ainex Releases Ingenious GPU Power Cable Hider Adapter

Japanese company Ainex has recently announced an ingenious solution to hide GPU PCI-Express power cables by reversing the orientation of the power cable. The adapters feature a compact size so can be used in parallel for power-intensive devices, the adapters are available in upper and lower latch versions to accommodate all cards. Ainex is offering 4 models for 6 and 8 pin connectors ranging from 600 - 700 yen (~6-7 USD) with shipping starting on November 25. The adapters are unlikely to see an official international release however you can likely import the item or find similar products online.

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.

Kioxia Corporation to Expand 3D Flash Memory Production Capacity

Kioxia Corporation, the world leader in memory solutions, today announced it will begin construction of a state-of-the-art fabrication facility (Fab7) at Yokkaichi Plant in Mie Prefecture, Japan to expand production of its proprietary 3D Flash memory BiCS FLASH. The construction of Kioxia Corporation's Fab7 facility is expected to commence in the spring of 2021.

Due to technological innovation, the amount of data being generated, stored and used around the world has increased exponentially. Furthermore, the flash memory market expects further growth driven by cloud services, 5G, IoT, AI and automated driving. As a result, the production of cutting-edge products in Kioxia Corporation's Fab7 facility will continue to meet the increasing demand for memory around the world.

The Fab7 facility will be built on the north side of Yokkaichi Plant, where land development is underway. In order to secure optimal production of advanced flash memory products, the construction of Fab7 will be divided into two phases, with the first phase of construction scheduled to be completed by the spring of 2022. Kioxia plans to fund the capital investments for the construction of Fab7 from its operating cash flow.

China Forecast to Represent 22% of the Foundry Market in 2020, says IC Insights

IC Insights recently released its September Update to the 2020 McClean Report that presented the second of a two-part analysis on the global IC foundry industry and included a look at the pure-play foundry market by region.

China was responsible for essentially all of the total pure-play foundry market increase in 2018. In 2019, the U.S./China trade war slowed China's economic growth but its foundry marketshare still increased by two percentage points to 21%. Moreover, despite the Covid-19 shutdown of China's economy earlier this year, China's share of the pure-play foundry market is forecast to be 22% in 2020, 17 percentage points greater than it registered in 2010 (Figure 1).

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:

Toshiba Officially Exits the Laptop Business

Toshiba, a Japanese technology company, has announced last week that is exiting the laptop business in full. In 2018, Toshiba has sold 80.1% of its shares in Dynabook Inc. to Sharp Corp., Japanese company as well, just focused on electronics manufacturing. In the press release issued on August 4th, last week, Toshiba has transferred the remaining 19.9% of shares in Dynabook to Sharp and thereby has officially left the laptop business. "As a result of this transfer, Dynabook has become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sharp.", says the Toshiba press release. This is one end of an era, as Toshiba has been manufacturing laptops from 1985, until this day in a way. This is one last goodbye to Toshiba, your laptop legacy will be remembered. If you were/are an owner of a Toshiba laptop, tell us about your experiences in the comments down below.
Toshiba Laptop

MSI Japan Announces Bravo 15 Gaming Laptop

MSI Japan has recently announced the MSI Bravo-15-A4DDR-056JP a 15-inch AMD Ryzen 7, Radeon RX gaming laptop. The Bravo 15 features a powerful 8-core 16-thread Ryzen 7 4800H paired with a Radeon RX 5500M 4 GB GDDR6, which helps drive the full HD 144Hz AMD FreeSync display. The laptop also comes equipped with 16 GB of dual-channel DDR4 memory and a 512 GB NVMe SSD. The laptop boasts Wi-Fi 6 networking and features x2 USB 3.2 Gen-1 Type-C, x2 USB 3.2 Gen-1 Type-A, x1 HDMI, x1 Gigabit LAN, x1 headphone output and x1 audio combo jack.

The laptop includes a Japanese style backlit keyboard, stereo speakers, 720p webcam, and packs in a 51 WHr 3 cell battery. The Bravo 15 measures 359 mm x 254 mm x 21.7 mm while coming in at just 1.9 kg. The laptop will be available to purchase in Japanese markets starting August 20th for a suggested price of 160,000 yen (~1500 USD), it is currently unknown if MSI plans to bring this laptop to other markets.

Konami Joins the Desktop PC Market with 3 New Models

Japanese company Konami Amusements is entering the desktop PC market with three new Arespear models the C300, C700, C700+. The three models feature similar bodies all measuring 575 mm x 501 mm x 230 mm with front honeycomb-style panels. All models also feature M.2 NVMe SSDs and dedicated ASUS sound cards. The Arespear C300 comes equipped with an Intel Core i5-9400F, 8 GB DDR4 2666 MHz memory, GeForce GTX 1650, and 512 GB SSD.

The two high-end models the Arespear C700 and C700+ both feature CPU water-coolers and are both equipped with Intel Core i7-9700 processors, 16 GB DDR4 2666 MHz memory, GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER, 512 GB SSD, and 1 TB HDD. The C700+ includes a transparent side panel with RGB lighting. All models come with USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, PS/2, and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity. These new computers aren't cheap ranging from 184,800 yen (~1,760 USD) for the entry-level Arespear C300, all the way up to 338,800 yen (~3,230 USD) Arespear C700+. The Arespear computers will start shipping in September with international availability and pricing unknown.

Nagao Manufacturing Releases N-FRAME-EATX Open Frame E-ATX Case

Japanese PC and Industrial company Nagao Manufacturing Co have recently revealed their large N-FRAME-EATX open frame case which is designed to facilitate part testing and supports large form factor motherboards up to E-ATX. The case comes with a flexible radiator mount supporting 120/140/240/280/360 mm radiators and can be adjusted in 7 stages of 0/30/60/90/120/150/180°.

The case can accommodate dual ATX power supplies however it requires the relocation of the main power switch and reduces available drive mounts down to 4. The case can house multiple PCIe cards with 8 expansion slots and supports vertical GPU mounting. The black painted iron case measures 370 mm width, 190 mm depth, 450 mm height, and comes in at 3.5 kg. Pricing and international availability were not announced.
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