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TSMC Begins 3 nm Fab Construction

TSMC has been very aggressive with its approach to silicon manufacturing, with more investments into its R&D that now match or beat the capex investments of Intel. That indicates a strong demand for new technologies and TSMC's strong will not drop out of the never-ending race for more performance and smaller node sizes.

According to the sources over at DigiTimes, TSMC has acquired as much as 30 hectares of land in the Southern Taiwan Science Park to begin the construction of its fabs that are supposed to start high-volume manufacturing 3 nm node in 2023. Construction of 3 nm manufacturing facilities are set to begin in 2020 when TSMC will lay the groundwork for the new fab. The 3 nm semiconductor node is expected to be TSMC's third attempt at EUV lithography, right after the 7 nm+, and 5 nm nodes which are also based on EUV technology.

Apacer Unveils its First XR-DIMM DRAM Module with RTCA DO-160G Certification

Apacer, the leading manufacturer of industrial-grade memory, announces the release of the XR-DIMM. This rugged memory module is the first on the market to meet the exacting standards of the US RTCA DO-160G test, an aviation equipment certification that marks the XR-DIMM as resistant to high levels of vibration and therefore ideal for defense and aeronautical applications.

Since 2018, Apacer has been manufacturing DDR4 XR-DIMM modules with rugged stability in mind. Though previous models have been compliant with MIL-STD-810G, this new module is the first to be proven compliant with the US RTCA DO-160G standard, making it the ideal choice for manufacturers who need reliable operation through extreme vibration and shock.

Japan-Korea Trade Spat and Toshiba Blackout Hike DRAM Prices by 20 Percent

Prices of DRAM shot up by 20 percent as Japan put in place export curbs that restrict high-technology exports to South Korea, and as Toshiba recovers from a power blackout that temporarily halted production. This could impact prices of end-user products such as PC memory modules, or consumer electronics, such as smartphones, in the coming weeks, as inventories either dry up, or are marked-up at various stages of the supply-chain. The memory industry is inter-dependent between fabrication and packaging units spread across South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.

Memory and flash industry observer DRAMeXchange reported that spot-pricing of 8-gigabit DDR4 DRAM chips, which is used as a benchmark for DRAM pricing as a whole, closed at USD $3.74 at the end of trading on Friday (19/07). It's up 14.6 percent week-over-week, and 23 percent up pricing as on 5th July. An industry observer who spoke with KBS World notes that the recent hikes are not directly infuenced by the trade-spat between Japan and Korea, but rather a power blackout experienced at a Toshiba DRAM manufacturing facility last month. The observer noted that if the trade-spat affects production at Samsung Electronics or SK Hynix, DRAM prices could "skyrocket."

Intel Unveils Project Athena Open Labs

Intel today revealed plans for Project Athena Open Labs in Taipei, Shanghai and Folsom, California, to support performance and low-power optimization of vendor components for laptops built to Project Athena design specifications and target experiences in 2020. Located in key ecosystem hubs and operated by teams of Intel engineers with system-on-chip (SOC) and platform power optimization expertise, the three Open Labs sites will begin operating in June 2019 to enable and optimize components.

"Across the industry, we each play an important role in delivering the advanced laptops of today and the future. Project Athena Open Labs are a critical step in enabling more extensive, day-to-day collaboration with the components ecosystem to continuously raise the bar for innovation across the platform," said Josh Newman, Intel vice president and general manager of PC Innovation Segments, Client Computing Group.

TSMC Cleared to Build New 3 nm Manufacturing Factory in Southern Taiwan

The world's largest contract semiconductor manufacturing company, TSMC, has been cleared to commence construction of a new 3 nm chip factory at the Southern Taiwan Science Park in Tainan. The new factory is expected to use 20 percent renewable energy and 50 percent recycled water.

The factory's environmental impact assessment was accepted by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) on Dec. 19, after concerns were raised about use of water and power sources. TSMC is expected to invest NT$600 million (US$19.45 million) in the project, with construction to begin in 2022. Production is planned to start in late 2022 or early 2023. At the same site, TSMC is also building a 5 nm chip factory, which is expected to be up and running in late 2019 or early 2020.

Bad Times for Motherboard and GPU Makers: Oversupply and High Prices in 1H19

The "sustained chill in the crypto mining sector" is, according to Taiwan-based sources cited at DigiTimes, one of the leading reasons motherboard and graphics cards makers will face a bleak scenario in the next few months. According to those sources, other factors such as the US-China trade war doesn't help a situation on which NVIDIA new RTX family hasn't helped due to the high price of those GPUs. ASUSTeK Computer and Gigabyte Technology have seen their inventory levels drive up, "causing their revenues for the peak season to fall under expectations".

These problems now join the ones Intel is facing with its shortage of processors, and according to DigiTimes, revenue prospects for the fourth quarter are further dimmed by lingering sluggish demand from the DIY market among other things. To counteract these problems those companies could actually be could be further adversely affected: "Nvidia and Intel likely to raise their chip prices to maintain profitability", a move that could lead to a bleak profitability period starting in 2019.

PRC State-Owned Company, Taiwan Company, and Three Individuals Charged With Economic Espionage

A federal grand jury indicted a state-owned enterprise of the People's Republic of China (PRC), a Taiwan company, and three individuals, charging them with crimes related to a conspiracy to steal, convey, and possess stolen trade secrets of an American semiconductor company for the benefit of a company controlled by the PRC government. All of the defendants are charged with a conspiracy to commit economic espionage, among other crimes. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Brian A. Benczkowski, United States Attorney Alex G. Tse of the Northern District of California, and FBI Special Agent in Charge for the San Francisco Field Office John F. Bennett made the announcement.

In addition, the United States filed a civil lawsuit seeking to enjoin the further transfer of the stolen trade secrets and to enjoin certain defendants from exporting to the United States any products manufactured by UMC or Jinhua that were created using the trade secrets at issue. The indictment was filed on September 27, 2018, and unsealed today. The civil lawsuit was filed today.

TSMC Ex-Employee Charged with Smuggling 16nm and 10nm IP to HLMC

A former employee of TSMC, Taiwan's premier silicon fabrication foundry, has been charged with stealing trade-secrets to his next employer across the straits. Mentioned as "Chou" by DigiTimes, the employee has been charged with IP theft and smuggling trade-secrets of vital 10 nanometer and 16 nanometer silicon fabrication technologies over to his next job at Shanghai Huali Microelectronics (HLMC).

Before Chou could flee TSMC to HLMC, he was arrested by Taiwan Police, and indicted for breach of trust. With the matter now in the hands of the applicable District Prosecutors' Office, it has become subjudice and TSMC isn't issuing comments. Development of 10 nanometer (and newer) silicon fabrication nodes is proving exceedingly costly and painstaking for foundry companies, and it hurts their future just that much worse when someone does away with billions of dollars worth R&D.

Finer Details of Intel Core i7-9700K and Core i9-9900K Emerge

Taiwanese tech site BenchLife.info scored finer details of Intel's upcoming premium LGA1151 processors through screenshots of leaked documents; revealing more about the Core i7-9700K 8-core/8-thread processor, and the top-dog 8-core/16-thread Core i9-9900K. The i7-9700K has the QDF number QQPK, and the i9-9900K "QQPP." The tables below also reveal their extended product code, CPUID, and iGPU device ID. There's also a confirmation that the TDP of both parts is rated at just 95 W. The next table provides a great insight to the clock speeds of the two chips.

Both chips idle at 800 MHz, and have an identical nominal clock speed of 3.60 GHz. The two differ with their Turbo Boost states. The i7-9700K has a maximum Turbo Boost state of 4.90 GHz, which it awards to 1-core. As a reminder, this chip is the first Core i7 SKU ever to lack HyperThreading support. 2-core boost frequency for this chip is 4.80 GHz. 4-core boost is up to 4.70 GHz. 4.60 GHz is the all-core boost (cores 5 thru 8). The i9-9900K gives both 1-core and 2-core the highest boost frequency of 5.00 GHz (that's up to 4 threads). The 4-core boost state is 4.80 GHz, and all-core (cores 5 thru 8) get 4.70 GHz. Intel is keeping its boost states rather high for this round of processors, as it tries to compete with the Ryzen 7 "Pinnacle Ridge" series.

TSMC Details Impact of Computer Virus Incident

TSMC today provided an update on the Company's computer virus outbreak on the evening of August 3, which affected a number of computer systems and fab tools in Taiwan. The degree of infection varied by fab. TSMC contained the problem and found a solution, and as of 14:00 Taiwan time, about 80% of the company's impacted tools have been recovered, and the Company expects full recovery on August 6.

TSMC expects this incident to cause shipment delays and additional costs. We estimate the impact to third quarter revenue to be about three percent, and impact to gross margin to be about one percentage point. The Company is confident shipments delayed in third quarter will be recovered in the fourth quarter 2018, and maintains its forecast of high single -digit revenue growth for 2018 in U.S. dollars given on July 19, 2018. Most of TSMC's customers have been notified of this event, and the Company is working closely with customers on their wafer delivery schedule.

Taiwan ODMs Pulling Back Production from Mainland in Wake of US Import Tariffs

You could see more "Made in Taiwan" and lesser "Made in China" on the shelves of your friendly neighborhood Microcenter, as major Taiwanese original device manufacturers (ODMs) are considering moving manufacturing back from Mainland China to Taiwan. ODMs are contract manufacturers of PC hardware, which take designs from [mostly western] electronics companies, and turn them into marketable product.

Among the first such ODMs is Quanta Computer, which manufactures some components in Shanghai, with server assembly either in Fremont, California; or just outside Cologne, Germany. The move is triggered by harsh import tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration on imports of electronics goods from China (PRC), running up to 25 percent, as part of the ongoing trade-war between the world's top-two economies. Tech stocks are rattled at the prospect of cheap hardware imports getting significantly pricier for American consumers.

Micron Technology Faces Ban in China After Losing IP Spat to UMC

Stocks of Micron Technology tanked on Tuesday as reports emerged of the company being banned in China, the world's largest semiconductor market. A Chinese court ruled in favor of Taiwanese semiconductor foundry UMC in its patent infringement lawsuit against Micron. The Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court issued a preliminary injunction stopping the sale of 26 Micron products, spanning across both its DRAM and NAND flash product lines, UMC said in a statement.

Micron, meanwhile, maintains that it hasn't read the injunction order yet, and that it won't comment until it does. Micron's position is doing precious little in stopping its hemorrhage at the markets, as its stock prices fell 8 percent at the time of this writing. The Micron-UMC spat is fascinating in a broader geopolitical context. Micron accuses UMC of serving as a conduit for funneling away its IP to midwife Chinese DRAM companies such as Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. It is the counter-suit to this by UMC, which was won today. China accounted to more than 50 percent of Micron's revenues in FY 2017, with most of the chips being mopped up by the consumer electronics and PC manufacturing industries.

NVIDIA Introduces HGX-2, Fusing HPC and AI Computing into Unified Architecture

NVIDIA HGX-2 , the first unified computing platform for both artificial intelligence and high performance computing. The HGX-2 cloud server platform, with multi-precision computing capabilities, provides unique flexibility to support the future of computing. It allows high-precision calculations using FP64 and FP32 for scientific computing and simulations, while also enabling FP16 and Int8 for AI training and inference. This unprecedented versatility meets the requirements of the growing number of applications that combine HPC with AI.

A number of leading computer makers today shared plans to bring to market systems based on the NVIDIA HGX-2 platform. "The world of computing has changed," said Jensen Huang, founder and chief executive officer of NVIDIA, speaking at the GPU Technology Conference Taiwan, which kicked off today. "CPU scaling has slowed at a time when computing demand is skyrocketing. NVIDIA's HGX-2 with Tensor Core GPUs gives the industry a powerful, versatile computing platform that fuses HPC and AI to solve the world's grand challenges."

NVIDIA Teases "Ultimate Gaming Experience" At GTC Taiwan

NVIDIA has posted a short (literally short) teaser, treating users to the promise of the "Ultimate Gaming Experience". This might mean something, such as the new, expected NVIDIA 11** series of graphics cards... Or it may mean something much less exciting, and have something to do with the 4K, HDR gaming experience that is supposed to be reaching gamers in a couple of weeks, at an expected cost of more kidneys than the average human has.

Officially, though, GTC 2018 Taiwan will revolve around artificial intelligence tech (what doesn't these days, really?) Translated, the teaser image reads something along the lines of "Utilizing GPU computing to explore the world's infinite possibilities - witness the power of artificial intelligence and the ultimate gaming experience in GTC Taiwan and Computex 2018." Remember, however, that marketing almost always has a way of blowing things out of proportion - don't hold your breath for a new graphics card series announcement.

TSMC Breaks Ground on 5nm 'Fab 18' in Taiwan

TSMC today held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Fab 18, Phase 1 facility at the Southern Taiwan Science Park. Led by Chairman Dr. Morris Chang, the event demonstrates TSMC's ongoing commitment to investing in Taiwan as well as to environmental sustainability, and marks another milestone in TSMC's 30-year history and its competitive advantage in technology leadership, manufacturing excellence, and customer trust. TSMC's Fab 18 will be its fourth 12-inch GigaFab in Taiwan and is scheduled for production of the advanced 5 nanometer process.

Following today's groundbreaking, the Company plans to complete construction of Phase 1 and begin equipment move-in in the first quarter of 2019, with volume production in early 2020. Phase 2 will start construction in third quarter 2018 and also enter volume production in 2020, while Phase 3 construction is scheduled for third quarter 2019 for volume production in 2021. Once all three phases enter production, the facility's estimated annual capacity will exceed one million 12-inch wafers, providing 4,000 high-quality jobs and becoming another bastion of TSMC's manufacturing excellence.

TSMC to Build World's First 3 nm Fab in Taiwan

TSMC has announced the location for their first 3 nm fab: it will be built in the Tainan Science Park, southern Taiwan. Rumors pegged the new 3 nm factory as possibly being built in the US, due to political reasons; however, TSMC opted to keep their production capabilities clustered in the Tainan Science Park, where they can better leverage their assets and supply chain for the production and support of the world's first 3 nm semiconductor factory. It certainly also helped the Taiwanese government's decision to pledge land, water, electricity and environmental protection support to facilitate TSMC's latest manufacturing plan. It's expected that at least part of the manufacturing machines will be provided by ASML, a Netherlands-based company which has enjoyed 25% revenue growth already just this year.

As part of the announcement, TSMC hasn't given any revised timelines for their 3 nm production, which likely means the company still expects to start 3 nm production by 2022. TSMC said its 7 nm yield is ahead of schedule, and that it expects a fast ramp in 2018 - which is interesting, considering the company has announced plans to insert several extreme ultraviolet (EUV) layers at 7 nm. TSMC has also said its 5 nm roadmap is on track for a launch in the first quarter of 2019.

Noctua's Alleged Manufacturing Discrepancies Put to the Test, Found Lacking

A recent maelstrom has hit Noctua in social forums due to a then unverified, reported issue with manufacturing differences between fans of the company that have been built on Taiwan or China factories. The issue, first brought about by Reddit user Kendalf, left open some questions on cooling and noise deltas between Taiwan and China-made Noctua fans, while admitting that the issue could be with a particular batch/testing conditions/other unidentified variables. But the Internet is fantastic, and what was posted as a legitimate question was quickly turned into a pitchfork-handling mob crying "Noctua never again" and "Down to Noctua" (which really are one of the most innovative companies in the cooling space...)

Micron DRAM Production Facility Closed Due to Contamination

If you didn't already know, semiconductor production plants are some of the most aseptic locations you can usually find deployed around the world (remember those pictures of engineers wearing full-body suits and face masks?) As is often the case with cutting edge technology, there is usually no place for variable conditions; precision-level manufacturing requires the most stable, predictable working and manufacturing conditions that can possibly be achieved. When something goes wrong, say, when the nitrogen gas dispensing system of a major semiconductor manufacturing facility acts up and releases uncalibrated amounts of gas, things can go very wrong, very quickly.

That is exactly what happened with Micron's Fab 2 in Taiwan. Fab 2 was a result of Micron's Inotera acquisition, and production from this fab accounts for around 5.5% of the global DRAM supply (125,000 wafers per month) Due to the nitrogen gas dispenser malfunction, both wafers and equipment were contaminated, which Trendforce says reduced Inotera's production capability by 60,000 wafers. Now, granted, Micron has already officially come out and say that this was all a "minor accident" which "had no impact" on business. However, one has to consider that Fab 2 mainly specializes in production of LPDDR4 memory, which is essentially used in mobile phone environments - Apple being the company's biggest consumer of DRAM chips. With iPhone 8 production supposedly in full swing, if I were Micron, I would certainly prefer to take a bite out of my DRAM supplies than admit production capacity reduction and shortages to such a partner. If Apple were to take its business elsewhere, Micron would be hard-pressed to find another customer of that caliber.

Foxconn Eyeing US for $10 billion Investment; Looking After Toshiba Deal

Taiwan-based Foxconn, one of Apple's main suppliers, is looking to expand its operations in the US to the tune of $10 billion. The company is still deciding which state will get the greatest solo investment, in the form of a $7 billion display factory (worth mentioning here is that Foxconn's display manufacturing has seen a recent buff by the acquisition of Sharp.) Reportedly, investments are being considered in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, and/or Texas. There was no given timeframe for the construction's start or finish, but a final decision should be made public in July. Foxconn's CEO Terry Gou also vowed to press on with a bid for Toshiba Corp.'s semiconductor business, although the Japanese company has already selected a preferred buyer in the form of a Japanese and US joint venture. Such a deal could cost $27 billion and introduce Foxconn (and, likely but indirectly, China) into the memory chip business.

ENERMAX Launches the OSTROG LITE ATX Chassis With PSU Shroud

ENERMAX, the Taiwan-based power supply and chassis company, today launched their newest addition to their PC chassis lineup. Dubbed the OSTROG LITE, it stands as a compact mid-tower chassis for entry-level gaming rigs, featuring a low-profile hairline surface front panel. As the name implies, the new product features a separate enclosure for your PSU, making sure to keep all those unsightly cables hidden and, as a bonus, improving the airflow.

Zotac Teases an Over-the-top GeForce GTX 960 Graphics Card

Zotac unveiled an over-the-top GeForce GTX 960 graphics card for the Greater China region, where mid-range cards are 'overpackaged' to attract price-conscious buyers looking for more pop for their coin. Part of its Gamer Force series, the new GTX 960 Gamer Force TOP-X graphics card combines a large triple-fan cooling solution, with a metal back-plate that holds another two 60 mm spinners. The PCB features a strong VRM, and support Zotac's in-house design OC+ external overclocking module. Under its cooler shroud, holding its three 90 mm spinners, is an aluminium split fin-stack heatsink. The result? The card is reportedly capable of core clocks of 1,500 MHz. The card will be exclusive to the Greater China region (PRC, HK, and probably Taiwan).

Top Three Graphics Card Vendors Net 12 Million in Shipments, in 2014

According to stats put out by Taiwan-based industry observer DigiTimes, the top three graphics card vendors by shipments were ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI (in that order), 2014. ASUS leads the pack with over 5 million graphics cards shipped in the year. Gigabyte comes in second, with over 3.6 million cards shipped. MSI is third, with between 2.8 and 3 million cards shipped in the year. The three sell both AMD Radeon and NVIDIA GeForce graphics cards. 2014 overall, has seen graphics card shipments drop by 10 percent, owing to a pop in the bubble created by crypto-coin miners in 2013. Other notables from the report include a rise in shipments from PRC-based vendors such as Colorful and Onda.

ASUS to Cut Motherboard Prices by 5-10%

ASUS is preparing to cut prices of its motherboards by 5-10%, according a Taiwan-based newspaper. The Economic Daily News (translated) reports that the company is preparing these 5-10% retail price-cuts across its lineup, in a bid to compete better with second-best (by volume) Gigabyte, trailed closely by ASRock, and MSI. The paper observes that the cuts could impact Gigabyte's sales in China, making it fall short of its 5.5-6 million units shipped goal, down to 5.4 million, in Q3 2014. Its annual target of 21.5 million could drop to 20 million. ASUS shipped 10.4 million motherboards in the first half (Q1 and Q2) of 2014, and aims to ship 22.1 million units by the year-end.

Update (17/09): ASUS stated that it currently does not plan to cut prices of its motherboards.

SK Hynix Established Flash R&D Center in Taiwan

SK Hynix Inc. announced it established a research and development (or 'R&D') center 'SK Hynix Flash Solutions Taiwan Ltd.'. The Company will strengthen global R&D competence and customer support by adding the R&D center in Taiwan.

The Taiwan R&D center will focus on intensifying its competence in development of high value added NAND Flash memory products. The center is located in Hsinchu, the hub of Taiwan IT industry, so it is expected to become a base of the technology support for Chinese and Taiwanese clients.

ID-Cooling Introduces their Processor Cooling Lineup for Europe

ID-Cooling is a new Brand in Europe founded by Shenzhen Wan Jing Hua Technology co., Ltd. Located in Shenzhen China. The Company has a long History in the OEM Business for Cooling Products. In the 10 Years of Company History create the Company behind the Brand ID-Cooling a lot technologies for Cooling.

ID-Cooling had their first International release on the Computex 2013 in Taiwan. The Fair was very successful for the Brand a lot of contacts was created and the Distribution Channel in Europe is Interested in ID-Cooling Products.
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