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TSMC's 7nm Production Likely to Be Underutilized in 2019 as Smartphone Chip Demand Weakens

DigiTimes, citing a Chinese-language Commercial Times report, cites TSMC's 7 nm foundry capacity as likely being underutilized in 2019. After TSMC announced it expected cutting-edge 7 nm designs to correspond to around 20% of the company's revenues in 2019, the company will likely have to review those projections, as lower demand from smartphone chip manufacturers will likely leave TSMC with less actual output than that which it can churn out.

Due to a cutback in orders placed by Apple, HiSilicon and Qualcomm, concerns regarding TSMC's ability to be the sole 7 nm chip fabrication tech for the industry can likely be laid to rest. That the smartphone market is reaching saturation is a well-known quantity - it's becoming harder and harder to cram new technologies that justify the yearly smartphone upgrade that most companies vie for - and one of the reasons for the launch of various brand-specific smartphone subscription services. The difference isn't scandalous - TSMC will still be making use of 80-90% of its total 7nm process capacity during the first half of 2019, the report quoted industry sources as saying.

VIA Partners with Lucid to Develop Industry-Leading VIA Edge AI 3D Developer Kit

VIA Technologies, Inc today announces that it is partnering with AI vision startup Lucid, to deliver AI-based depth sensing capabilities to more dual- and multi-camera devices in the security, retail, robotics and autonomous vehicle space. With Lucid's proprietary 3D Fusion Technology embedded into the VIA Edge AI 3D Developer Kit, security and retail cameras, robots, drones, and autonomous vehicles will now be able to easily capture accurate depth and 3D with dual- or multi-camera setups while reducing the costs, power, and space consumption of previous hardware depth solutions. As VIA builds out its long-term Edge AI solutions roadmap, Lucid is adding camera- and machine-learning based depth capabilities on top of every platform.

The AI-enhanced 3D/depth solution developed by Lucid, known as 3D Fusion Technology, is currently deployed in many devices such as 3D cameras, security cameras, robots, and mobile phones, including the RED Hydrogen One which is launching in November without any additional emission or laser-based hardware components. In the VIA Edge AI 3D Developer Kit, the AI depth solution runs on the Qualcomm APQ8096SG embedded processor, which features the Qualcomm AI Engine along with support for multiple cameras to help Lucid provide superior performance compared to other hardware depth solutions and deliver an industry-leading and unique pure machine learning-based software solution.

TSMC to Tape Out 100 7 nm Chip Designs by 2019

TSMC has become the de facto leader when it comes to manufacturing technology. The company is on the forefront of new process technologies, and provides solutions for some of the biggest players in the industry, like Apple, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and AMD, just to name a few. This process leadership means that TSMC is being courted by numerous fabless silicon designers so as to produce their silicon chips with the latest process technologies - part of the reason why TSMC has seen increasing revenues and profits forecasts.

By the end of 2018, TSMC will have taped out 50 7 nm designs, and plans to double that number in 2019. And these design wins don't stand solely on the shoulders of TSMC's first 7 nm technology (which should account for 20% of the company's revenue by 2019); the company will also tape-out chips built upon their 7 nm + EUV process, which will begin production in 2019.

Qualcomm Dramatically Extends Wi-Fi Experiences to the 5G Era with 60GHz 802.11ay

(Editor's Note: This new wireless technology and particular frequency of operation make it especially interesting for VR scenarios, since the high data throughput within an enclosed space seems to be one of the ideal applications for this technology.)

Qualcomm Technologies today announced a family of 60GHz Wi-Fi chipsets, the QCA64x8 and QCA64x1, delivering 10+ gigabit-per-second (Gbps) network speeds and wire-equivalent latency, while setting the industry low-power benchmark for extended device battery life. As a new connectivity era dawns, reliance on high-bandwidth mmWave spectrum will increase, bringing powerful new wireless experiences like ultra-high-definition video streaming, Virtual/Augmented Reality (VR/AR), mobile screen casting and fixed wireless mesh backhaul.

Synology Showcases New Mesh Router and Enterprise Data Backup Solution

Synology Inc., a leading maker of network-attached storage, video surveillance and networking products, unveiled the company's latest hardware and software innovations at their annual event Synology 2019 in New York. Synology debuted its first mesh Wi-Fi router, MR2200ac, along with the updated Synology Router Manager (SRM) 1.2. Another focus of the event was Synology's new enterprise-level data protection solution, Active Backup for Business.

Synology's first mesh router, MR2200ac, comes with a Qualcomm IPQ4019 quad-core CPU, tri-band Wi-Fi, and the latest version of its operating system SRM 1.2, which includes more granular configurations, such as user profile creation, detailed traffic management, advanced web filters, and whitelisting features aimed at providing tools for users to further understand, monitor and protect their network. The MR2200ac can work alone as a single router or be added to a RT2600ac or additional MR2200ac units to extend Wi-Fi coverage.

Razer Announces the Sila Gaming Grade Wi-Fi Router

Razer , the leading global lifestyle brand for gamers, today announced the Razer Sila, a high-performance WiFi router designed for home users requiring WiFi service optimized for high-performance gaming, streaming and downloading multimedia content. With the upsurge in mobile gaming, and with many homes unable to run a wired network to every room, fast and reliable WiFi is more important than ever. The Razer Sila router is designed to deliver lag-free gaming and smooth, interruption-free streaming over a fast wireless network, meeting the needs of today's mobile, console and laptop users.

The Razer Sila features a suite of technologies designed to give gamers the fastest, most reliable WiFi connection within their home or office with Razer FasTrack, Multi-Channel ZeroWait DFS and Mesh capability with a dedicated backhaul. Setup and management through a mobile app makes Sila installation and use simple and quick. The Razer FasTrack software featured in the Razer Sila is a proprietary QoS engine for smart traffic management. By using deep packet inspection and adaptive learning technology, Razer FasTrack allows users to prioritize traffic based on application and device types, from mobile phones and smart TVs through to laptops, PCs or consoles. With built-in detection for PlayStation, Xbox and Switch consoles, users can easily fine tune their networks for the smoothest gaming or streaming experiences. Razer FasTrack also features a one-touch gaming mode, to automatically reserve bandwidth for online gaming.

VIA Launches ALTA DS 3 Edge AI System Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820E

VIA Technologies, Inc., today announced the launch of the VIA ALTA DS 3 Edge AI system. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820E Embedded Platform, the system enables the rapid development and deployment of intelligent signage, kiosk, and access control devices that require real-time image and video capture, processing, and display capabilities.

The VIA ALTA DS 3 harnesses the cutting-edge compute, graphics, and AI processing capabilities of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820E Embedded Platform to facilitate the creation of vibrant new user experiences by allowing customers to combine their own AI applications with immersive multimedia signage display content in a compact, low-power system.

Qualcomm and New H3C Ship 802.11ax Enterprise Access Point

Today, at Mobile World Congress Shanghai, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, and Tsinghua Unigroup Subsidiary New H3C (New H3C), announced the availability of the H3C WA6628, an 802.11ax enterprise grade Access Point (AP), based on Qualcomm Technologies' IPQ8078 802.11ax chipset. This new solution is designed to offer one of the fastest throughput rates for an enterprise AP, by supporting 12 stream channels that serve data to up to 1000 client devices simultaneously. The WA6628 is targeted to begin shipping to customers in September 2018.

Qualcomm Technologies' IPQ8078 chipset is based on a powerful networking platform that supports up to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) wide-area networks and up to 6 Gbps peak physical (PHY) layer rates on Wi-Fi. The WA6628 makes full use of IPQ8078 capabilities, with a 10G Ethernet port and built-in Bluetooth. WA6628 can improve wireless network transmission rates by at least three times more than the mainstream 11ac Wave 2 AP.

TSMC is Ramping Up 7nm Production, 5nm Next Year

At their technology symposium in Taipei, TSMC CEO CC Wei has made remarks, dismissing speculation that their 7 nanometer yield rate was not as good as expected. Rather the company is ramping up production capacity for 7 nm quickly, up 9% from 10.5 million wafers in 2017, to 12 million wafers in 2018. They plan to tape out more than 50 chip designs in 2018, with the majority of the tape outs for AI, GPU and crypto applications, followed by 5G and application processors.

Most of their orders for the 7 nanometer node come from big players like AMD, Bitmain, NVIDIA and Qualcomm. Apple's A12 processor for upcoming iPhones is also a major driver for TSMC's 7 nanometer growth. These orders will be fulfilled in early 2019, so it'll be a bit longer before we have 7 nm processors for the masses.

Next-gen 5 nanometer production will kick off next year, followed by mass production in late 2019 or early 2020. The company will invest as much as USD 25 billion in their new production facilities for this process node.

ASUS Announces the ROG Phone: Changing the Game for Mobile

Since its inception in 2006, the Republic of Gamers has pursued a mandate to push boundaries to deliver a better gaming experience. We started with motherboards, spread to virtually every DIY desktop component, and have been building hardcore gaming laptops for more than a decade.

The smartphones in that early era barely qualified as such, but they started a revolution that transformed the computing landscape. We watched closely as these digital sidearms became increasingly capable gaming machines and all-around computers, and we saw how developers harnessed their growing power to take mobile gameplay and graphics to the next level. We also gained insight from esports professionals, regular players, and game developers on how mobile gaming devices could be improved.

Qualcomm Reveals Snapdragon XR1 Platform for AR and VR

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, debuted the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 Platform, the world's first dedicated Extended Reality (XR) platform during a launch event leading up to the Augmented World Expo (AWE). XR1 is a next-generation platform offering mainstream users high-quality XR experiences while enabling OEMs to develop mainstream devices. The XR1 platform also has special optimizations for Augmented Reality (AR) experiences with Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities offering better interactivity, power consumption and thermal efficiency. Qualcomm Technologies also announced that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) Meta, VIVE, Vuzix and Picoare already developing on the first dedicated XR1 platform.

"As technology evolves and consumer demand grows, we envision XR devices playing a wider variety of roles in consumers' and workers' daily lives," said Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, Mobile Business Unit, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "By integrating powerful visuals, high-fidelity audio, and rich interactive experiences, XR1 will help create a new era of high-quality, mainstream XR devices for consumers."

VIA Launches VIA Edge AI Developer Kit

VIA Technologies, Inc., today announced the launch of the VIA Edge AI Developer Kit, a highly-integrated package powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820E Embedded Platform that simplifies the design, testing, and deployment of intelligent Edge AI systems and devices.

The kit combines the VIA SOM-9X20 SOM Module and SOMDB2 Carrier Board with a 13MP camera module that is optimized for intelligent real-time video capture, processing, and edge analysis. Edge AI application development is enabled by an Android 8.0 BSP, which includes support for the Snapdragon Neural Processing Engine (NPE) and full acceleration of the Qualcomm Hexagon DSP, Qualcomm Adreno 530 GPU, or Qualcomm Kryo CPU to power AI applications. A Linux BSP based on Yocto 2.0.3 is set to be released in June this year.

Broadcom Gives Up on Acquiring Qualcomm

After being blocked via an executive order by President Trump, Broadcom has given up on their quest to acquire Qualcomm. The chipmaker will also be withdrawing the slate of independent director candidates that they were planning to nominate at Qualcomm's 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. Although highly disappointed with the outcome, Broadcom respects President Trump's decision. The company also wants to thank the stockholders for their unconditional support during the entire process. With this whole Qualcomm takeover business out of the way, Broadcom will concentrate on their redomiciliation process.

President Trump Blocks Broadcom-Qualcomm Deal Through an Executive Order

US President Donald Trump blocked the potentially-$117 billion Broadcom-Qualcomm merger through an executive order. The White House considered damning observations by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which had been studying potential national security implications of this merger. "There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that Broadcom Ltd. [by acquiring Qualcomm] might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States," wrote President Trump in the order.

Broadcom expressed shock and disbelief over the order. The company, in a statement, said that it "strongly disagrees that its proposed acquisition of Qualcomm raises any national security concerns." Qualcomm, meanwhile, battened down the hatches for any press comments. The American chipmaker had been wrestling an increasingly Broadcom-slanted board that was all but ready to sell the company to Broadcom at an undervalued price. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, the Trump administration has shot down ten similar deals since it came to power, in which foreign companies - overwhelmingly Chinese in national origin - had attempted buy out American high-technology firms. Californian Intel is still in the foray to swallow Broadcom, as CFIUS doesn't concern itself with American companies buying out foreign firms.

Intel Considers Buying Out Broadcom

In a sequence of events perfectly illustrated by the stock image below, Intel is reportedly mulling the acquisition of Broadcom, which is still making efforts to acquire Qualcomm; the Wall Street Journal reported late last week. Shares of Intel fell 1 percent on this report. A successful acquisition of Qualcomm by Broadcom would result in a seemingly-American silicon supergiant that could pose a threat to Intel's position in the industry, observes CNBC. Both Intel and Broadcom spokespersons refuse to comment the WSJ report, terming it as "deal chatter."

Broadcom recently swayed Qualcomm board its way ahead of a crucial vote for the acquisition, prompting a CFIUS investigation, by American regulators, which has the legal power to halt the acquisition if national security implications emerge. Taking advantage of this, and its relatively stable outlook despite the recent CPU vulnerability mess, Intel is looking to mop up a seemingly foreign Broadcom. Other industry giants such as Microsoft and Google have expressed extreme concern with the developments in this deal, particularly with Apple's "sway" over it.

Khronos Group Releases the Vulkan 1.1 Specification

The Khronos Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies creating advanced acceleration standards, announces the release of the Vulkan 1.1 and SPIR-V 1.3 specifications. Version 1.1 expands Vulkan's core functionality with developer-requested features, such as subgroup operations, while integrating a wide range of proven extensions from Vulkan 1.0. Khronos will also release full Vulkan 1.1 conformance tests into open source and AMD, Arm, Imagination, Intel Corporation, NVIDIA and Qualcomm have implemented conformant Vulkan 1.1 drivers. Find more information on the Vulkan 1.1 specification and associated tests and tools at Khronos's Vulkan Resource Page.

"With enhanced developer tools, rigorous conformance testing and the public Vulkan Ecosystem Forum, Khronos is delivering on its goal to develop a complete and vibrant Vulkan ecosystem," said Tom Olson, distinguished engineer at Arm, and Vulkan Working Group chair. "Vulkan 1.1 is a response to prioritized industry requests and shows our commitment to delivering a functional roadmap driven by developer needs."

US-Gov Looking into National Security Implications of Broadcom-Qualcomm Merger

The United States Government is closely examining national security implications of a potential Broadcom-Qualcomm merger. Broadcom is a Singapore-based company, while Qualcomm is American. An empowered national security panel called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which has the legal power to stop mergers between American and foreign companies, and acquisitions of American companies by foreign entities; is said to be examining specifics of Qualcomm's high-technology and intellectual property falling into the hands of Broadcom, as the two companies close in on a crucial Qualcomm board meet scheduled for March, in which Broadcom has exercised its shareholding to plant 6 favorable board members among the 11-member Qualcomm board, which all but guarantees a vote in favor of the merger - a classic hostile takeover.

"Not so fast," believes Senator John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the US Senate, who urged Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to have the CFIUS examine the Broadcom-Qualcomm deal. In its unprecedented pre-deal discussions within the otherwise opaque committee, a consensus emerged that Broadcom's decision to relocate its headquarters to the US was insufficient to circumvent a CFIUS review. "I urge CFIUS to promptly review Broadcom's proposed acquisition of control of Qualcomm's board, and to act prior to the March 6 Qualcomm meeting to address any national security concerns that may be identified," Senator Cornyn wrote to Secretary Mnuchin. It looks like Broadcom's decision to tamper with Qualcomm's board is set to spectacularly backfire.

Qualcomm Comes Around to Broadcom Acquisition, Wants the Price to be Right

The Broadcom-Qualcomm acquisition saga continues, but with an encouraging development for the potential buyer. Qualcomm is reportedly coming around to the idea of acquisition by Broadcom, if the price is right. Broadcom's last offer stood at a staggering $121 billion, or $79 per share (which once touched $82 per share). Qualcomm's board is of the opinion that the current offer "severely undervalues" the company, without further guidance on what would constitute a fair price.

"Broadcom reiterated in the February 23 meeting that its reduced $79.00 per share proposal is its best and final proposal. The Qualcomm Board is unanimous in its view that each of Broadcom's proposals, including its prior $82.00 per share proposal, materially undervalues Qualcomm, and the Board encourages Broadcom to enter into mutual due diligence and price negotiations," Qualcomm stated in a press-release.

Qualcomm to Build Snapdragon 5G SoCs on Samsung 7nm LPP EUV Process

Samsung Electronics, a world leader in advanced semiconductor technology, and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, today announced the intention to expand their decade-long foundry relationship into EUV (extreme ultra violet) lithography process technology, including the manufacture of future Qualcomm Snapdragon 5G mobile chipsets using Samsung's 7-nanometer (nm) LPP (Low Power Plus) EUV process technology.

Using 7LPP EUV process technology, Snapdragon 5G mobile chipsets will offer a smaller chip footprint, giving OEMs more usable space inside upcoming products to support larger batteries or slimmer designs. Process improvements, combined with a more advanced chip design, are expected to bring significant improvements in battery life.

Broadcom Makes Final $121 Billion Offer for Qualcomm

Taking an if-you-can't-beat-them-buy-them approach, Broadcom attempted to buy rival chipmaker Qualcomm last year for $105 billion. However, Qualcomm considered that Broadcom undervalued the company and shot down Broadcom's bid in a heartbeat. Fast forward to present day, Broadcom today announced that they've increased their bid to $121 billion. The company also stated that this was their "best and final" offer. In this new deal, Qualcomm stockholders would receive $82 per share which consists of $60 in cash and $22 in Broadcom shares. If the purchase is completed, it would go down as the biggest tech deal in history surpassing Dell's acquisition of EMC in 2015 for $67 billion. But more importantly, Broadcom would have the assets to compete against rivals in the likes of Intel and Samsung. Qualcomm confirmed that they've received Broadcom's offer and will review it with their Board of Directors.

European Commission Fines Qualcomm €997M for Abuse of Dominant Market Position

The European Commission has fined Qualcomm €997m for abusing its market dominance in LTE baseband chipsets. Qualcomm prevented rivals from competing in the market by making significant payments to a key customer on condition it would not buy from rivals. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules.

Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Qualcomm illegally shut out rivals from the market for LTE baseband chipsets for over five years, thereby cementing its market dominance. Qualcomm paid billions of US Dollars to a key customer, Apple, so that it would not buy from rivals. These payments were not just reductions in price - they were made on the condition that Apple would exclusively use Qualcomm's baseband chipsets in all its iPhones and iPads.

This meant that no rival could effectively challenge Qualcomm in this market, no matter how good their products were. Qualcomm's behaviour denied consumers and other companies more choice and innovation - and this in a sector with a huge demand and potential for innovative technologies. This is illegal under EU antitrust rules and why we have taken today's decision."

Razer Unveils Project Linda: Android Laptop/Phone Hybrid Concept

Razer, the leading lifestyle brand for gamers, today revealed "Project Linda," a 13.3-inch laptop design powered by the Android-based Razer Phone. The smartphone and laptop hybrid concept harkens a new era for mobile personal computing, blending the familiar Android environment with the ease-of-use of a laptop. As one of the few companies in the world to straddle user interfaces, laptops and smartphones, Project Linda is a groundbreaking concept that blurs the lines between the smartphone and the laptop.

Razer's Project Linda laptop seamlessly docks the Razer Phone inside its chassis where a touchpad would normally reside, and connects with the press of a button. The phone's Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile platform and 8 GB of RAM deliver responsive performance, instantly transforming Project Linda into an Android laptop. The Razer Phone 5.7-inch display can be used as a touchpad, or as a second screen for access to apps, tools, and more.

Lenovo Reveals Latest Miix 630 2-in-1 Detachable

This CES 2018, we're teaming up with Qualcomm and Microsoft to bring mobile computing to consumers in a whole new way. Meet the new Miix 630, Lenovo's latest Windows 10 S 2-in-1 detachable that gives you the power and productivity of a laptop with the always on, always connected mobility of a smartphone. This isn't just Wi-Fi. We're talking about true anytime, anywhere mobility - with integrated 4G LTE so you don't have to just rely on finding a Wi-Fi hotspot. Now you can have the instant-on, whisper-quiet operation of a smartphone in the form of a versatile 2-in-1 detachable with a full-sized keyboard and digital pen included.

DisplayLink Brings Docking to Qualcomm Powered Windows 2-in-1 Mobile Platforms

DisplayLink, the leading provider of USB graphics technology, today announced support for Qualcomm 2-in-1 mobile platforms running the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system. DisplayLink "Plug and Display" technology enables any USB port on the new 2-in-1 laptops to be used as a docking station connector for adding multiple displays, audio, Ethernet, and other USB peripherals.

Officially announced at Qualcomm's Technology Summit, these platforms provide a full Windows 10 experience along with Gigabit LTE and up to 24 hours of battery life. DisplayLink offers enterprise workers the best of two worlds, an "always connected" mobile device while on-the-go and the ability to dock for full PC productivity in an office or hot desk while connected to any DisplayLink docking station.

New Pico Neo VR Headset Features 6DoF Head and Controller Tracking

At a press conference held in their global headquarters in Beijing, Pico officially revealed the Pico Neo as the world's first mass-produced standalone VR device with six degrees of freedom (6DoF) for both head and controllers. In addition, the company also revealed its expanded B2B VR Enterprise Solutions Program and first details of the Pico Zense, an all-new sub-brand with its first set of Time of Flight (TOF) depth sensor solutions and camera modules.

PICO NEO: THE WORLD'S FIRST MASS-PRODUCED VR STANDALONE WITH 6DoF HEAD TRACKING AND 6DoF CONTROLLER TRACKING
The Pico Neo is Pico's latest generation of standalone VR headset. It features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile VR Platform, adopts all-in-one ID design, uses lighter and more breathable cloth material, and is equipped with 3K high definition display, high-speed 4GB RAM, 64GB UFS2.0 ROM, supporting 256 GB expanded storage.
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