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Ceremorphic Exits Stealth Mode; Unveils Technology Plans to Deliver a New Architecture Specifically Designed for Reliable Performance Computing

Armed with more than 100 patents and leveraging multi-decade expertise in creating industry-leading silicon systems, Ceremorphic Inc. today announced its plans to deliver a complete silicon system that provides the performance needed for next-generation applications such as AI model training, HPC, automotive processing, drug discovery, and metaverse processing. Designed in advanced silicon geometry (TSMC 5 nm node), this new architecture was built from the ground up to solve today's high-performance computing problems in reliability, security and energy consumption to serve all performance-demanding market segments.

Ceremorphic was founded in April 2020 by industry-veteran Dr. Venkat Mattela, the Founding CEO of Redpine Signals, which sold its wireless assets to Silicon Labs, Inc. in March 2020 for $308 million. Under his leadership, the team at Redpine Signals delivered breakthrough innovations and industry-first products that led to the development of an ultra-low-power wireless solution that outperformed products from industry giants in the wireless space by as much as 26 times on energy consumption. Ceremorphic leverages its own patented multi-thread processor technology ThreadArch combined with cutting-edge new technology developed by the silicon, algorithm and software engineers currently employed by Ceremorphic. This team is leveraging its deep expertise and patented technology to design an ultra-low-power training supercomputing chip.

Intel Reveals Plans for US$20 Billion Chip Fab in Ohio

Rather unusually, Intel announced its latest chip fab plans not via a press release, but via an exclusive article in TIME magazine. It seems like an unusual strategy, as these kinds of things are normally not announced in this kind of fashion, especially as TIME doesn't exactly have close ties with Intel, nor the semiconductor industry as a whole, but maybe this is Intel's new way of trying to change the image of the company. Either which way, Intel is apparently planning on building no less than two fabs on the 1,000 acre (~4 square kilometer) site in New Albany, Ohio, which should be the workplace of some 3,000 people once it stands ready in 2025.

The article quotes Pat Gelsinger saying "Our expectation is that this becomes the largest silicon manufacturing location on the planet," as Intel has the option to double the land for its new fab site and apparently has plans for as many as eight fabs at the location. Additional fabs obviously depends on demand and crucially if Intel manages to full off its contract foundry business, since without it, it seems unlikely that Intel is going to need the additional six fabs in the foreseeable future, especially as Intel is in the final stages of finishing its new fab in Ireland, while also planning to announce a location for yet another fab somewhere in Europe and let's not forget Arizona. The TIME article goes into a lot more details as to what the new fabs mean for Ohio, but doesn't go into much more detail about Intel's plans for its future fabs there.

Update: Official press release below.

Gartner: Worldwide Semiconductor Revenue Grew 25.1% in 2021, Exceeding $500 Billion For the First Time

Worldwide semiconductor revenue increased 25.1% in 2021 to total $583.5 billion, crossing the $500 billion threshold for the first time, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc.

"As the global economy bounced back in 2021, shortages appeared throughout the semiconductor supply chain, particularly in the automotive industry," said Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner. "The resulting combination of strong demand as well as logistics and raw material price increases drove semiconductors' average selling price higher (ASP), contributing to overall revenue growth in 2021.

India is Trying to Win Over Intel

Remember that US$10 billion incentive India approved earlier this month? Well, it looks like India is planning on using at least some of that incentive to win over Intel, as the Indian Minister for IT and Electronics, Ashwini Vaishnaw welcomed Intel to India in a tweet the other day. Some news outlets seem to have taken this tweet as an agreement has already been struck, but this doesn't seem very likely, as Intel hasn't provided any kind of comment on the topic.

That said, the Indian incentive will pay for up to 50 percent of the cost of building a new fab, which we know isn't pocket change, considering that a cutting edge fab can easily cost in excess of US$10 billion. However, it seems highly unlikely that Intel would build a chip fab in India, based on the requirements for such a fab, not only in terms of logistics, but also when it comes to power and water supplies and least not a suitable labour force. What might happen is that Intel sets up something like a chip packaging plant there in the future, much like what it's planning to potentially do in Italy and that the company is expanding in Malaysia.

Heterogeneous Integration Chip-let System Package Alliance Established to Expand Market Opportunities

The development of AI and 5G has boosted the demand for high-end semiconductor chips. In order to enhance critical capabilities of Taiwan's chip industry for this emerging market, the Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT), Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), Taiwan, has supported ITRI to establish the Heterogeneous Integration Chip-let System Package Alliance (Hi-CHIP). This alliance will help create a complete ecosystem covering package design, testing and verification, and pilot production, which will achieve the goal of supply chain localization and expand business opportunities.

According to DoIT, the global semiconductor industry is keen to develop heterogeneous chip integration processes, yet there is no effective solution to realize the high-mix low-volume manufacturing required. The Hi-CHIP alliance will provide a trial production platform to assist relevant industry players in accelerating time-to-market.

Server Shipments Forecast to Increase 4~5% YoY in 2022 Driven by North American Data Center Demand, Says TrendForce

The new normal ushered in by the pandemic will not only become the driving force of digital transformation but will also continue to drive the server market in 2022, according to TrendForce's investigations. It is worth noting that potential unmet demand in 2021 and the risk of future server component shortages will become medium and long-term variables that influence the market. Analyzing the shipment volume of completed servers, a growth rate of approximately 4-5% in completed server shipments is expected next year with primary shipment dynamics remaining concentrated in North American data centers with an annual growth rate of approximately 13-14%. From the supply chain perspective, the ODM Direct business model has gradually replaced the business model of the traditional server market, giving cloud service providers the ability to respond quickly to market changes. However, based on the unpredictability of the market, TrendForce assumes two forecasts for server growth trends. One, the supply situation of key components is effectively improved. Two, the supply situation of key components is exacerbated.

Russian Baikal-S Processor With 48 Arm-Based Cores Boots Up, Uses RISC-V Coprocessor for Safe Boot and Management

In recent years, government institutions have been funding the development of home-grown hardware that will power the government infrastructure. This trend was born out of a desire to design chips with no back doors implemented so that no foreign body could monitor the government's processes. Today, Russian company Baikal Electronics managed to boot up the Baikal-S processor with 48 cores based on Arm Instruction Set Architecture (ISA). The processor codenamed BE-S1000 manages to operate 48 cores at a 2.0 GHz base frequency, with a maximum boost of 2.5 GHz clock speed. All of that is achieved at the TDP of 120 Watts, making this design very efficient.

When it comes to some server configurations, the Baikal-S processor run in up to four sockets in a server board. It offers a home-grown RISC-V processor for safe boot and management, so the entire SoC is controlled by a custom design. Baikal Electronics provided some benchmark numbers, which you can see in the slides below. They cover SPEC2006 CPU Integer, Coremark, Whetstone, 7Zip, and HPLinkpack performance. Additionally, the company claims that Baikal-S is in line with Intel Xeon Gold 6148 Skylake design and AMD EPYC 7351 CPU based on Zen1 core. Compared to Huawei's Kunpeng 920, the Baikal-S design provides 0.86x performance.

3Q21 Revenue of Global Top 10 IC Design (Fabless) Companies Reach US$33.7 billion, Four Taiwanese Companies Make List, Says TrendForce

The semicondustor market in 3Q21 is red hot with total revenue of the global top 10 IC design (fabless) companies reaching US$33.7 billion or 45% growth YoY, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In addition to the Taiwanese companies MediaTek, Novatek, and Realtek already on the list, Himax comes in at number ten, bringing the total number of Taiwanese companies on the top 10 list to 4.

Qualcomm has been buoyed by continuing robust demand for 5G mobile phones form major mobile phone manufacturers with further revenue growth from its processor and radio frequency front end (RFFE) departments. Qualcomm's IoT department benefited from strong demand in the consumer electronics, edge networking, and industrial sectors, posting revenue growth of 66% YoY, highest among Qualcomm departments. In turn, this drove Qualcomm's total 3Q21 revenue to US$7.7 billion, 56% growth YoY, and ranking first in the world.

TSMC Wants Payment in Advance to Give Intel Access to 3 Nanometre Node

According to reports out of Taiwan, Intel's meeting with TSMC might not have ended up in favour of Intel, as TSMC has apparently asked Intel to pay up a deposit in advance to get access to its upcoming 3 nanometer node. This is unlikely to be what Intel had hoped for, but at the same time, the 3 nanometer node is likely to be popular among many of TSMC's customers, unless the cost becomes prohibitive.

Intel was apparently hoping to be able to get a dedicated production line, much in the way of what Apple has at TSMC, but it seems like this is going to cost and the question is if Intel is willing to pay or not. The reason for a dedicated production line could also come down to Intel wanting to make chips at TSMC using Intel specific tricks of the trade, that Intel doesn't want TSMC or its competitors to get too much insight into. Time will tell what will come out of this meeting between the two semiconductor giants, but it seems like Gelsinger has changed his mind about Taiwan, as he said that "Intel would continue to invest in Taiwan".

AMD to Tap Samsung's 4 nm Process for Chromebook Processors, Notes the Report from J.P. Morgan

Historically, AMD was working with two semiconductor manufacturing companies: TSMC and GlobalFoundries. According to the latest report coming from Gokul Hariharan, an analyst at J.P. Morgan, AMD could soon tap another semiconductor manufacturer to produce the company's growing list of processors. As the report indicates, AMD could start working with the South Korean giant Samsung and utilize the firm's 4LPP process that represents a second generation of the low-power 4 nm silicon node. This specific node is allegedly the choice for AMD APUs designed to fit inside Google's Chromebook devices, which require low-power designs to achieve excellent battery life.

AMD could realize this move in late 2022, as Samsung's 4LPP node goes into mass production at that point. It means that we could see the first Samsung-made AMD APUs in late 2022 or the beginning of 2023. And apparently, the two company's collaboration could be much more significant as AMD is evaluating Samsung's 3 nm nodes for other products spanning more segments in 2023/2024. There are no official, definitive agreements between the two, so we have to wait for more information and official responses from these parties. Anyways, if AMD decides to produce a part of its lineup at Samsung, the remaining TSMC capacity would ensure that the supply of every incoming chip remains sufficient.

TrendForce: Metaverse Applications Expected to Propel Global Virtual Reality Content Revenue to US$8.3 Billion for 2025

Factors such as the rising popularity of topics related to the metaverse and UGC (user-generated content), as well as the rapid increase in AR/VR device shipment, will likely result in the creation of a growing body of virtual reality content in the market, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. TrendForce expects annual global virtual reality content revenue to grow at a 40% CAGR from US$2.16 billion in 2021 to US$8.31 billion in 2025.

TrendForce further indicates that gaming/entertainment, videos, and social interactions comprise the primary categories of virtual reality content. Incidentally, as the construction of the virtual world and the development of virtual reality content are unlikely to be accomplished by only a handful of companies alone, companies in this space will therefore place an increasing emphasis on UGC instead. Leading companies will likely leverage the build-out of virtual reality platforms/environments and the provisioning of developmental tools/interfaces in order to not only lower the barrier to entry for content creation, but also raise user participation, thereby driving up the content market for virtual reality applications.

Samsung Mobile not Confident Chip Supply Issues will be Resolved in 2022

Unlike Intel and Qualcomm, Samsung seems to be far more pessimistic about the current chip supply issues, as the company isn't expecting the chip shortage to be resolved next year. Admittedly this information comes via a meeting of its mobile divisions top brass, but considering that the mobile division is using a significant amount of various chips for its products, it would seem that the information is reliable.

The two biggest shortages for Samsung's mobile division will continue to be application processors (also known as SoCs) and radio frequency (RF) components. Considering that these are key components of any modern smartphone, it's not hard to see why Samsung would be concerned. What we don't know is how much of an advantage Samsung's various business units have when they work with Samsung's foundries and we might have reached a point where the highest bidder wins the allocation.

2021 Annual Global Power Management IC Prices Jump 10%, Supply Remains Tight for 1H22, Says TrendForce

Due to material shortages caused by insufficient semiconductor supply, to date, power management IC (PMIC) prices remain on an upward trend, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Average selling price (ASP) for 1H22 is forecast to increase by nearly 10%, reaching a record six year high.

In terms of the global supply chain, in addition to the production capacity of major IDM manufacturers including TI, Infineon, ADI, STMicroelectronics, NXP, ON Semiconductor, Renesas, Microchip, ROHM (Maxim has been acquired by ADI and Dialog by Renesas), IC design houses such as Qualcomm and MediaTek (MTK) have obtained a certain level of production capacity from foundries. Of these, TI is in a leadership position and the aforementioned companies possess a combined market share of over 80%.

UMC is Feeling the Pressure from Chinese Foundries

The chip shortage discussion has been very focused on TSMC for some reason and although the company is without a doubt the world's leading foundry, the company is making its living from being a cutting edge foundry, whereas much of the components that there's a shortage of are made on far older nodes at many different foundries. Taiwanese UMC is one of the foundries that makes many of the automotive semiconductors, as well as key components when it comes to power regulation and is considered the world's third largest foundry.

Until 2018, UMC was competing head on with TSMC, although the company was always about a node behind TSMC, which led to a management team decision to slow down its node transition and instead to focus on speciality technologies. The company has done well in this niche, with a revenue of about US$6.2 billion in 2020. However, UMC is starting to feel the pressure from its competitors in China, as the PRC government is making a push for local production of local IC designs.

FTC Sues to Block $40 Billion Semiconductor NVIDIA and Arm Chip Merger

The Federal Trade Commission today sued to block U.S. chip supplier Nvidia Corp.'s $40 billion acquisition of U.K. chip design provider Arm Ltd. Semiconductor chips power the computers and technologies that are essential to our modern economy and society. The proposed vertical deal would give one of the largest chip companies control over the computing technology and designs that rival firms rely on to develop their own competing chips. The FTC's complaint alleges that the combined firm would have the means and incentive to stifle innovative next-generation technologies, including those used to run datacenters and driver-assistance systems in cars.

"The FTC is suing to block the largest semiconductor chip merger in history to prevent a chip conglomerate from stifling the innovation pipeline for next-generation technologies," said FTC Bureau of Competition Director Holly Vedova. "Tomorrow's technologies depend on preserving today's competitive, cutting-edge chip markets. This proposed deal would distort Arm's incentives in chip markets and allow the combined firm to unfairly undermine Nvidia's rivals. The FTC's lawsuit should send a strong signal that we will act aggressively to protect our critical infrastructure markets from illegal vertical mergers that have far-reaching and damaging effects on future innovations."

NAND Flash Revenue Rises by 15% QoQ for 3Q21 Thanks to Demand from Smartphone and Data Center Markets, Says TrendForce

The growth of the NAND Flash market in 3Q21 was primarily driven by strong demand from the data center and smartphone industries, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. More specifically, NAND Flash suppliers' hyperscaler and enterprise clients kept up their procurement activities that began in 2Q21 in order to deploy products based on new processor platforms. Major smartphone brands, on the other hand, likewise expanded their NAND Flash procurement activities during the quarter as they prepared to release their new flagship models. As such, clients in both server and smartphone industries made significant contributions to the revenue growth of the NAND Flash industry for 3Q21. At the same time, however, suppliers also warned that orders from PC OEMs began showing signs of decline. On the whole, the industry's quarterly total NAND Flash bit shipment increased by nearly 11% QoQ for 3Q21, and the overall NAND Flash ASP rose by nearly 4% QoQ for the same quarter. Thanks to rising prices and expanding shipments, the quarterly total NAND Flash revenue increased by 15% QoQ to a new record high of US$18.8 billion in 3Q21.

Global OSAT Revenue for 3Q21 Reaches US$8.89 Billion Thanks to Peak Season Demand, Says TrendForce

As the global vaccination rate rose, and border restrictions in Europe and North America eased, social activities also began to enter a period of recovery, with the consumer electronics market seemingly ready for the arrival of the traditional peak season in 2H21, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. At the same time, however, the global supply chain was affected by delays in maritime transport, skyrocketing shipping costs, and component shortages, in addition to already-prohibitive price hikes for certain components in 1H21. Given the parallel rise in both material and manufacturing costs, the market for end products has not undergone the expected cyclical upturn in 2H21. Even so, the overall demand for and shipment of smartphones, notebook computers, and monitors experienced QoQ increases in 3Q21, thereby driving up businesses for major OSAT (outsourced semiconductor assembly and test) companies. For 3Q21, the revenues of the top 10 OSAT companies reached US$8.89 billion, a 31.6% YoY increase.

Apple Announces Self Service Repair

Apple today announced Self Service Repair, which will allow customers who are comfortable with completing their own repairs access to Apple genuine parts and tools. Available first for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 lineups, and soon to be followed by Mac computers featuring M1 chips, Self Service Repair will be available early next year in the US and expand to additional countries throughout 2022. Customers join more than 5,000 Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs) and 2,800 Independent Repair Providers who have access to these parts, tools, and manuals.

The initial phase of the program will focus on the most commonly serviced modules, such as the iPhone display, battery, and camera. The ability for additional repairs will be available later next year.

Qualcomm Says PC Transition to Arm-based Processors is Certain, to Launch High-Performance SoCs in 2023

Qualcomm has been in the game of creating SoCs for the PC market with the company's Snapdragon lineup. These processors mainly were beefed-up versions of their mobile designs and were based on the Arm instruction set architecture (ISA). Microsoft has backed this effort by creation Windows-on-Arm (WoA) project that enables the Windows OS to operate on Arm processors. However, up until now, Qualcomm's designs were not very powerful as they represented a relatively moderate approach to the problem and almost made no sense of purchase compared to the standard laptops equipped with x86 processors from AMD and Intel. This is about to change.

According to the news from Investor Day yesterday, Qualcomm is preparing high-performance Arm SoCs for the PC market. The company has recently acquired Nuvia Inc., a startup focused on creating novel IPs based on Arm ISA. And this is what Qualcomm will use in building its next-generation PC processors. As the company plans, in August of 2022, it should start sampling OEM partners with these new chips, and we will be seeing them in consumers' hands in early 2023. If everything goes as planned, this should represent direct competition to AMD, Intel, and now Apple in the high-end SoC market. After PCs, the company plans to tackle datacenter, mobile, and automotive market.

TOP500 Update Shows No Exascale Yet, Japanese Fugaku Supercomputer Still at the Top

The 58th annual edition of the TOP500 saw little change in the Top10. The Microsoft Azure system called Voyager-EUS2 was the only machine to shake up the top spots, claiming No. 10. Based on an AMD EPYC processor with 48 cores and 2.45GHz working together with an NVIDIA A100 GPU and 80 GB of memory, Voyager-EUS2 also utilizes a Mellanox HDR Infiniband for data transfer.

While there were no other changes to the positions of the systems in the Top10, Perlmutter at NERSC improved its performance to 70.9 Pflop/s. Housed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Perlmutter's increased performance couldn't move it from its previously held No. 5 spot.

TrendForce: Annual Foundry Revenue Expected to Reach Historical High Again in 2022 with 13% YoY Increase with Chip Shortage Showing Sign of Easing

While the global electronics supply chain experienced a chip shortage, the corresponding shortage of foundry capacities also led various foundries to raise their quotes, resulting in an over 20% YoY increase in the total annual revenues of the top 10 foundries for both 2020 and 2021, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. The top 10 foundries' annual revenue for 2021 is now expected to surpass US$100 billion. As TSMC leads yet another round of price hikes across the industry, annual foundry revenue for 2022 will likely reach US$117.69 billion, a 13.3% YoY increase.

TrendForce indicates that the combined CAPEX of the top 10 foundries surpassed US$50 billion in 2021, a 43% YoY increase. As new fab constructions and equipment move-ins gradually conclude next year, their combined CAPEX for 2022 is expected to undergo a 15% YoY increase and fall within the US$50-60 billion range. In addition, now that TSMC has officially announced the establishment of a new fab in Japan, total foundry CAPEX will likely increase further next year. TrendForce expects the foundry industry's total 8-inch and 12-inch wafer capacities to increase by 6% YoY and 14% YoY next year, respectively.

Alibaba Goes Anti-x86: Open-Source RISC-V and 128-Core Arm Server Processors on the Horizon

With the x86 architecture, large hyperscale cloud providers have been experiencing all sorts of troubles, from high power consumption to the high pricing structure of these processors. Companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS) build their processors based on 3rd party instruction set architecture designs. Today, Alibaba, the Chinese giant, has announced the launch of two processors made in-house to serve everything from edge to central server processing. First in line is the RISC-V-based Xuantie series of processors, which can run anything from AliOS, FreeRTOS, RT-Thread, Linux, Android, etc., to other operating systems as well. These processors are open-source, capable of modest processing capabilities, and designed as IPs that anyone can use. You can check them out on T-Head GitHub repositories here.

The other thing that Alibaba announced is the development of a 128-core custom processor based on the Arm architecture. Called Yitian 710 server SoC, TSMC manufactures it on the company on 5 nm semiconductor node. So far, Alibaba didn't reveal any details about the SoC and what Arm cores are used. However, this signifies that the company seeks technology independence from outside sources and wants to take it all in-house. With custom RISC-V processors for lower-power tasks and custom Arm server CPUs, the whole infrastructure is covered. It is just a matter of time before Alibaba starts to replace x86 makers in full. However, given the significant number of chips that the company needs, it may not happen at any sooner date.

SkyHigh Memory expands its single-level cell (SLC) NAND Flash Memory family on 1xnm process technology, one of the industry's most advanced technology

SkyHigh Memory Limited., a global leader in embedded storage solutions, is introducing 3.0 V 1 Gb - 4 Gb densities 4 KB page and 2 KB page ML-3 products to its family of NAND Flash memories. The new 1 Gb - 4 Gb ML-3 SLC NAND Flash product family devices are designed on 1xnm, the industry's most advanced technology node for SLC NAND products. Available with different interfaces, SkyHigh Memory first-generation Serial (SPI) SLC NAND and third-generation Parallel SLC NAND complete the third generation ML-3 4 Gb - 16 Gb parallel SLC NAND product family already in production.

The new 1 Gb - 4 Gb devices will be offered to support high-reliability systems that store critical data and operate at extended temperatures, up to +105°C. Thanks to its internal ECC engine, the ML-3 product family can support chipsets with as low as a 1-bit ECC engine to accommodate legacy chipsets and modern chipsets with higher ECC engines.

Sony and TSMC Said to be Planning US$7 Billion Chip Fab in Japan

There doesn't seem to be a single month where rumours about new TSMC plants around the world are popping up and this time around it looks like there might be a joint venture with Sony in Japan. According to the Nikkei, the Japanese government is likely to be involved and might foot as much as half of the US$7 billion bill.

Another much more unknown player, Japanese auto parts maker Denso is also said to be a potential participant in the new fab. Denso is said to supply Toyota among others and with a shift towards more EVs, this might not be such a strange move. The new fab is expected to be located in Kumamoto Prefecture on land owned by Sony. It should be noted that Sony already manufactures image sensors here and the factory was hit badly by a large earthquake back in 2016, which led to a global shortage of certain image sensors.

TSMC Claims Some Companies are Sitting on Chip Inventories

It appears that some of the current chip shortages might be artificially induced by one or multiple companies in the chip supply chain, according to an article by TIME Magazine. The article is taking a look at the role TSMC is playing in the global chip production industry and TIME has interviewed TSMC chairman Mark Liu among others in the industry.

Mark Liu is quoted as saying "But I told them, "You are my customer's customer's customer. How could I [prioritize others] and not give you chips?"" when asked about the complaints by car makers, since they were among the first to suggest TSMC was one of the issues. Due to the various allegations against TSMC, Liu had a team collect data points to try and figure out what was going on and to see which customers were truly running low on stock and which customers that might be stockpiling for a rainy day.
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