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Ancillary Semiconductors Require in Excess of Six Months Lead Time

Based on a report by Susquehanna, the lead time for what can be called ancillary semiconductors, i.e. the kind that are paired up with processor, SoCs and GPUs, now have a lead time of over six months. This is based on data from the distribution channel and as such, it's unlikely to affect large companies that have long-term contracts with their suppliers. However, smaller companies, or semiconductor manufacturers that solely rely on the distribution channel for sales of the parts, are not in a good place right now. Obviously this doesn't affect everything equally and many parts are also in stock with the big distributors, but sometimes at inflated prices compared to a couple of years ago.

Susquehanna is pointing towards several reasons for the increase in lead times, although the big ones include the Russia's war on Ukraine, an earthquake in Japan (on the 16th of March) as well as the more recent lockdowns in several cities in the PRC which are key to the production of everything from semiconductors to finished consumer goods. At the latter half of 2020, the lead time was less than 14 weeks, but has since then increased to almost 27 weeks and it looks like it's likely to continue to increase for the time being. The worst hit components are said to be analogue chips, so things like signal amplifiers, power control oscillators and the like, which had the lead times increased by 18 over the space of a month. The report says that Broadcom has increased its shipping times by as much as 30 weeks and its backlog of orders just keeps growing. This is quite surprising, as earlier reports mentioned that the WiFi makers were reasonably unaffected by the increase in lead times, but Broadcom does make a wealth of other products too, so this could be unrelated. On a more positive note, it seems like the lead time for passive components has improved by a couple of days, with an average lead time of 25 weeks.

NVIDIA Could Use Intel's Foundry Service for Chip Manufacturing

Yesterday, NVIDIA announced its next-generation Hopper architecture designed for data center applications and workloads. There is always a question of availability, as the previous period showed everyone that the supply chain is overbooked and semiconductors are in very high demand. During the Q&A press session today, NVIDIA's CEO, Jensen Huang, tried to answer as many questions as possible. However, an exciting topic arose regarding the potential collaboration with Intel. As a part of Intel's IDM 2.0 strategy, the company plans to offer its chip manufacturing capabilities to the third-party companies willing to make efforts and port their designs to Intel's semiconductor nodes. NVIDIA, one of the largest TSMC customers, could be a new Intel customer. Below, we compiled a few quotes that highlight Jensen Huang's opinions, taking the quotes from Tom's Hardware.
NVIDIA CEO Jensen HuangOur strategy is to expand our supply base with diversity and redundancy at every single layer. At the chip layer, at the substrate layer, the system layer, at every single layer. We've diversified the number of nodes, we've diversified the number of foundries, and Intel is an excellent partner of ours[…]. They're interested in us using their foundries, and we're very interested in exploring it. [...] I am encouraged by the work that is done at Intel, I think this is a direction they have to go, and we're interested in looking at their process technology. Our relationship with Intel is quite long; we work with them across a whole lot of different areas, every single PC, every single laptop, every single PC, supercomputer, we collaborate. [...] We have been working closely with Intel, sharing with them our roadmap long before we share it with the public, for years. Intel has known our secrets for years. AMD has known our secrets for years. We are sophisticated and mature enough to realize that we have to collaborate.[...] We share roadmaps, of course, under confidentiality and a very selective channel of communications. The industry has just learned how to work in that way.

Top 10 Foundries Post Record 4Q21 Performance for 10th Consecutive Quarter at US$29.55B, Says TrendForce

The output value of the world's top 10 foundries in 4Q21 reached US$29.55 billion, or 8.3% growth QoQ, according to TrendForce's research. This is due to the interaction of two major factors. One is limited growth in overall production capacity. At present, the shortage of certain components for TVs and laptops has eased but there are other peripheral materials derived from mature process such as PMIC, Wi-Fi, and MCU that are still in short supply, precipitating continued fully loaded foundry capacity. Second is rising average selling price (ASP). In the fourth quarter, more expensive wafers were produced in succession led by TSMC and foundries continued to adjust their product mix to increase ASP. In terms of changes in this quarter's top 10 ranking, Nexchip overtook incumbent DB Hitek to clinch 10th place.

TrendForce believes that the output value of the world's top ten foundries will maintain a growth trend in 1Q22 but appreciation in ASP will still be the primary driver of said growth. However, since there are fewer first quarter working days in the Greater China Area due to the Lunar New Year holiday and this is the time when some foundries schedule an annual maintenance period, 1Q22 growth rate will be down slightly compared to 4Q21.

Total NAND Flash Revenue Drops 2.1% QoQ in 4Q21 Due to Slowing Demand and Falling Prices, Says TrendForce

In 4Q21, NAND Flash bit shipments grew by only 3.3% QoQ, a significant decrease from the nearly 10% in 3Q21, according to TrendForce's investigations. ASP fell by nearly 5% and the overall industry posted revenue of US$18.5 billion, a QoQ decrease of 2.1%. This was primarily due to a decline in the purchase demand of various products and a market shift to oversupply causing a drop in contract prices. In 4Q21, with the exception of enterprise SSD, the supply of which was limited by insufficient upstream components, the prices of other NAND Flash products such as eMMC, UFS, and client SSD, all fell.

TrendForce's summary of NAND Flash market sales performance in 2021 is as follows: although there have been signs of weakening since 2H21, thanks to remote services and cloud demand driven by the pandemic, revenue performance still grew significantly compared to 2020. Revenue reached US$68.6 billion, up 21.1% YoY, the second-biggest increase since 2018.

Intel "Bonanza Mine" Bitcoin ASIC Secures First Big Customer, a $3.3 Billion Crypto-Mining Startup

Just a few days ago, we reported that Intel is preparing to unveil the company's first application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) dedicated to mining cryptocurrency. To be more specific, Intel plans to show off its "Bonanza Mine" ASIC at the 2022 ISSCC Conference, describing the chip as "ultra low-voltage energy-efficient Bitcoin mining ASIC." We have yet to see how this competes with other industry-made ASICs like the ones from Bitmain. However, it seems like the startup company GRIID, valued at around $3.3 billion, thinks that the Bonanza Mine ASIC is the right choice and has entered a definitive supply agreement with Intel.

According to the S-4 filing, GRIID has "entered into a definitive supply contract with Intel to provide ASICs that we expect to fuel our growth. The initial order will supply units to be delivered in 2022 and GRIID will have access to a significant share of Intel's future production volumes." There are a few other mentions of Intel in the document, and you can see another exciting tidbit below.

Report: Intel to Become One of the Three Largest TSMC Clients in 2023

Intel and TSMC are positioning themselves as two competing foundries for a significant period. However, as the difficulties in semiconductor manufacturing rise, the collaboration of the two seems inevitable. Not because Intel is eyeing TSMC's clients, but because of the race to produce the most minor and best possible semiconductor node. We already know that Intel plans to use some of TSMC's nodes for its Ponte Vecchio accelerator that contains 47 tiles. However, we didn't realize just how big the contract between the two companies was. According to the latest report from DigiTimes, Intel is supposed to become one of the top three clients at TSMC.

As the report notes, the collaboration should extend to at least TSMC's 2 nm node, expected in 2025. After that, the state of semiconductors is unknown. Intel has a solid chance to be in the top three customers in 2023 and become one of the primary sources of profit for the Taiwanese giant. We are excited to see how this prediction plays out and hope to hear more from both in the future.

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.

Intel Aurora Supercomputer Will Touch 2 ExaFLOPs of Computational Power

Intel's Aurora supercomputer is a $500 million contract with the US Department of Energy to deliver an exascale supercomputer for Argonne National Laboratory. The project aims to build a machine capable of cranking over one ExaFLOP of computing at sustained workloads. The supercomputer aims to reach two ExaFLOPs of computing power once the installation system is completed and powered. The contract bound Intel to create accelerators that are powerful enough to achieve this magical number. However, they left Intel with room to do a little bit extra. With Ponte Vecchio GPU behind the project, it seems like the GPU is performing better than expected.

According to Intel's CEO, Pat Gelsinger, the system will reach over 2 ExaFLOPs at peak and a bit below in sustained workloads. As per preliminary calculations done by The Next Platform, the system's estimations point towards 2.43 ExaFLOPs peak and around 1.7 ExaFLOPs in sustained workloads at Double-precision floating-point format math, aka FP64. The system will utilize Intel Xeon Sapphire Rapids processors with HBM memory and the powerful Ponte Vecchio GPU with 47 tiles and over 100 billion transistors.

DRAM Prices Projected to Enter Period of Downswing in 2022 as Demand Lags Behind Supply, Says TrendForce

DRAM contract prices are likely to exit a bullish period that lasted three quarters and be on the downswing in 4Q21 at a QoQ decline of 3-8%, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. This decline can be attributed to not only the declining procurement activities of DRAM buyers going forward, but also the drop in DRAM spot prices ahead of contract prices. While the buying and selling sides attempt to gain the advantage in future transactions, the DRAM market's movement in 2022 will primarily be determined by suppliers' capacity expansion strategies in conjunction with potential growths in demand. The capacity expansion plans of the three largest DRAM suppliers (Samsung, SK hynix, and Micron) for 2022 are expected to remain conservative, resulting in a 17.9% growth in total DRAM bit supply next year. On the demand side, inventory levels at the moment are relatively high. Hence, DRAM bit demand is expected to grow by 16.3% next year and lag behind bit supply growth. TrendForce therefore forecasts a shift in the DRAM market next year from shortage to surplus.

NAND Flash Revenue for 2Q21 Rises by 10.8% QoQ Due to Strong Notebook Demand and Procurements for Data Centers, Says TrendForce

NAND Flash suppliers' Clients in the data center segment were gradually stepping up enterprise SSD procurement after finishing inventory adjustments, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Moreover, the adoption rate of 4/8 TB products in the enterprise SSD market increased substantially on account of the releases and adoption of the new server processor platforms from Intel and AMD. Although the recent wave of COVID-19 outbreaks that struck Southeast Asia weakened smartphone sales in 2Q21, the quarterly total NAND Flash bit shipments rose by nearly 9% QoQ, as PC OEMs still had plenty of component orders in 2Q21 due to the fairly robust notebook demand during the period. On the other hand, the shortage of controller ICs became more severe during the period, and the winter storm that battered Texas this February affected the operation of Samsung's foundry fab Line S2 in Austin. As demand for NAND Flash products rose, the overall ASP also rose by nearly 7% QoQ, and the quarterly total NAND Flash revenue rose by 10.8% QoQ to US$16.4 billion in 2Q21.

Intel Wins US Government Project to Develop Leading-Edge Foundry Ecosystem

The U.S. Department of Defense, through the NSTXL consortium-based S2MARTS OTA, has awarded Intel an agreement to provide commercial foundry services in the first phase of its multi-phase Rapid Assured Microelectronics Prototypes - Commercial (RAMP-C) program. The RAMP-C program was created to facilitate the use of a U.S.-based commercial semiconductor foundry ecosystem to fabricate the assured leading-edge custom and integrated circuits and commercial products required for critical Department of Defense systems. Intel Foundry Services, Intel's dedicated foundry business launched this year, will lead the work.

"One of the most profound lessons of the past year is the strategic importance of semiconductors, and the value to the United States of having a strong domestic semiconductor industry. Intel is the sole American company both designing and manufacturing logic semiconductors at the leading edge of technology. When we launched Intel Foundry Services earlier this year, we were excited to have the opportunity to make our capabilities available to a wider range of partners, including in the U.S. government, and it is great to see that potential being fulfilled through programs like RAMP-C." -Pat Gelsinger, Intel CEO.

Contract Prices of PC DRAM Expected to Decline by 0-5% in 4Q21 as Spot Prices of DRAM Modules Continue to Weaken, Says TrendForce

Now that most negotiations over contract prices of PC DRAM for 3Q21 have concluded, DRAM suppliers' low inventories and the arrival of the peak season for DRAM procurement have resulted in a 3-8% QoQ increase in PC DRAM contract prices for 3Q21, although this is a relatively muted growth compared to the 25% increase experienced in 2Q21, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. However, demand for PC DRAM in the spot market began to show signs of bearish movement in early July ahead of time, as DRAM suppliers continued to lower prices in order to adjust their DRAM inventories. Regarding the contract market, PC OEMs currently carry relatively high levels of DRAM inventory because they substantially stocked up on PC DRAM beforehand in anticipation of an upcoming shortage. Not only has PC OEMs' high DRAM inventory put downward pressure on possible price hikes for PC DRAM, but the gradual lifting of COVID-related restrictions in Europe and the US will also likely lower the overall demand for notebook computers, thereby pulling down the overall demand for PC DRAM. TrendForce therefore forecasts a 0-5% QoQ decline in PC DRAM contract prices for 4Q21.

Sudden Drop in Cryptocurrency Prices Hurts Graphics DRAM Market in 3Q21, Says TrendForce

The stay-at-home economy remains robust due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so the sales of gaming products such as game consoles and the demand for related components are being kept at a decent level, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. However, the values of cryptocurrencies have plummeted in the past two months because of active interventions from many governments, with the graphics DRAM market entering into a bearish turn in 3Q21 as a result. While graphics DRAM prices in the spot market will likely show the most severe fluctuations, contract prices of graphics DRAM are expected to increase by 10-15% QoQ in 3Q21 since DRAM suppliers still prioritize the production of server DRAM over other product categories, and the vast majority of graphics DRAM supply is still cornered by major purchasers.

It should be pointed out that, given the highly volatile nature of the graphics DRAM market, it is relatively normal for graphics DRAM prices to reverse course or undergo a more drastic fluctuation compared with other mainstream DRAM products. As such, should the cryptocurrency market remain bearish, and manufacturers of smartphones or PCs reduce their upcoming production volumes in light of the ongoing pandemic and component supply issues, graphics DRAM prices are unlikely to experience further increase in 4Q21. Instead, TrendForce expects prices in 4Q21 to largely hold flat compared to the third quarter.

TrendForce: Enterprise SSD Contract Prices Likely to Increase by 15% QoQ for 3Q21 Due to High SSD Demand and Short Supply of Upstream IC Components

The ramp-up of the Intel Ice Lake and AMD Milan processors is expected to not only propel growths in server shipment for two consecutive quarters from 2Q21 to 3Q21, but also drive up the share of high-density products in North American hyperscalers' enterprise SSD purchases, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In China, procurement activities by domestic hyperscalers Alibaba and ByteDance are expected to increase on a quarterly basis as well. With the labor force gradually returning to physical offices, enterprises are now placing an increasing number of IT equipment orders, including servers, compared to 1H21. Hence, global enterprise SSD procurement capacity is expected to increase by 7% QoQ in 3Q21. Ongoing shortages in foundry capacities, however, have led to the supply of SSD components lagging behind demand. At the same time, enterprise SSD suppliers are aggressively raising the share of large-density products in their offerings in an attempt to optimize their product lines' profitability. Taking account of these factors, TrendForce expects contract prices of enterprise SSDs to undergo a staggering 15% QoQ increase for 3Q21.

NAND Flash Contract Prices Likely to Increase by 5-10% QoQ in 3Q21 as Quotes Continue to Rise, Says TrendForce

The recent wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in India has weakened sales of retail storage products such as memory cards and USB drives, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. However, demand remains fairly strong in the main application segments due to the arrival of the traditional peak season and the growth in the procurement related to data centers. Hence, the sufficiency ratio of the entire market has declined further. NAND Flash suppliers have kept their inventories at a healthy level thanks to clients' stock-up activities during the past several quarters. Moreover, the ongoing shortage of NAND Flash controller ICs continues to affect the production of finished storage products. Taking account of these demand-side and supply-side factors, TrendForce forecasts that contract prices of NAND Flash products will rise marginally for 3Q21, with QoQ increases in the range of 5-10%.

Graphics DRAM Contract Prices Projected to Rise by 8-13% QoQ in 3Q21 Due to Tight Supply in Contract Market, Says TrendForce

TrendForce's latest investigations find considerable discrepancy between prices for graphics DRAM products in the contract market and in the spot market. Quotes for graphics DRAM products continue to rise in the contract market as the severe undersupply situation persists. Furthermore, the supply fulfillment rates for orders from some medium- and small-size clients have been hovering around 30%. This undersupply situation is expected to persist through 3Q21, during which graphics DRAM contract prices are expected to rise by 8-13% QoQ. Regarding the spot market, on the other hand, the value of ETH experienced continued uptrend from the start of 2021 until May, thereby driving up the demand for graphics cards, regardless of them belonging to the newer or older series. At the height of the graphics card boom, spot prices of graphics DRAM products were up to 200% higher than contract prices. Demand from miners for graphics cards are expected to be relatively muted before cryptocurrencies return to their previous bullish trends, and the gap between the spot and contract prices of graphics DRAM products will likely narrow in 3Q21 as a result.

Enterprise SSD Prices Projected to Increase by More Than 10% QoQ in 3Q21 Due to Growing Procurement Capacity, Says TrendForce

Enterprise SSD procurement has been rising on the back of growing server shipments since 2Q21, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In particular, the share of 8 TB products in shipments of SSDs to data centers has shown the most noticeable growth, which is expected to persist through 3Q21. However, certain SSD components and parts may be in shortage due to insufficient foundry capacity. TrendForce is therefore revising the QoQ hikes in contract prices of enterprise SSDs for 3Q21 to 10-15% from the previous projection of 5-10%.

TrendForce further indicates that the high demand for enterprise SSDs in 3Q21 is attributed to several factors. First, North American cloud service providers (hyperscalers) have pretty much completed their inventory adjustments and now continue to expand their storage capacity. Second, the flow of incoming orders to traditional server brands is getting stronger over the quarters as government agencies and SMBs increase their budgets for IT infrastructure. Third, Intel and AMD are ramping up production for server CPUs based on their respective new processor platforms. Following the adoption of new CPUs, the overall demand for enterprise SSDs has also shifted to higher-density products because clients want to upgrade their computing power and storage capacity. Specifically, demand is mainly trending toward 4/8 TB SSDs since raising NAND Flash density can lower the cost of SSD deployment.

Global NAND Flash Revenue for 1Q21 Rises by 5.1% QoQ Thanks to Better-Than-Expected Demand for Notebooks and Smartphones, Says TrendForce

Total NAND Flash revenue for 1Q21 increased by 5.1% QoQ to US$14.82 billion, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. In particular, bit shipments rose by 11% QoQ, while the overall ASP dropped by 5% QoQ; hence, bit shipment growth offset the decline in the overall ASP. Although NAND Flash demand from notebook computer and smartphone manufacturers remained high, clients from the data center segment exhibited relatively weak demand, since this segment had yet to leave the state of NAND Flash oversupply. Contract prices for this quarter therefore still mostly showed a considerable QoQ drop. On the other hand, OEMs/ODMs of end products began to increase procurement of NAND Flash products from the second half of January onward because they noticed that the shortage of NAND Flash controller ICs was affecting the production of medium- and low-density storage products. Besides avoiding a possible supply crunch in the future, OEMs/ODMs were placing additional orders because they were preparing for a push to expand market share. On account of these developments, the overall NAND Flash demand surpassed expectations in 1Q21.

DRAM Prices Projected to Rise by 18-23% QoQ in 2Q21 Owing to Peak Season Demand, Says TrendForce

TrendForce's investigations find that DRAM suppliers and major PC OEMs are currently participating in the critical period of negotiating with each other over contract prices for 2Q21. Although these negotiations have yet to be finalized, the ASP of mainstream DDR4 1G*8 2666 Mbps modules has already increased by nearly 25% QoQ as of now, according to data on ongoing transactions. This represents a higher price hike than TrendForce's prior forecast of "nearly 20%". On the other hand, prices are likewise rising across various DRAM product categories in 2Q21, including DDR3/4 specialty DRAM, mobile DRAM, graphics DRAM, and in particular server DRAM, which is highly related to PC DRAM and is therefore also undergoing a higher price hike than previously expected. TrendForce is therefore revising up its forecast of overall DRAM price hike for 2Q21 from 13-18% QoQ to 18-23% QoQ instead. However, the actual increase in prices of various DRAM product categories will depend on the production capacities allocated to the respective products by DRAM suppliers.

Hedge Fund Urges Intel to Outsource Chip Production: Reuters

Intel is familiar with chip manufacturing problems since the company started the development of a 10 nm silicon semiconductor node. The latest node is coming years late with many IPs getting held back thanks to the inability of the company to produce it. All of Intel's chip production was historically happening at Intel's facilities, however, given the fact that the demand for 14 nm products is exceeding production capability, the company was forced to turn to external foundries like TSMC to compensate for its lack of capacity. TSMC has a contract with Intel to produce silicon for things like chipsets, which is offloading a lot of capacity for the company. Today, thanks to the exclusive information obtained by Reuters, we have information that a certain New York hedge fund, Third Point LLC, is advising the company about the future of its manufacturing.

The hedge fund is reportedly accounting for about one billion USD worth of assets in Intel, thus making it a huge and one influencing shareholder. The Third Point Chief Executive Daniel Loeb wrote a letter to Intel Chairman Omar Ishrak to take immediate action to boost the company's state as a major provider of processors for PCs and data centers. The company has noted that Intel needs to outsource more of its chip production to satisfy the market needs, so it can stay competitive with the industry. The poor performance of Intel has reflected on the company shares, which have declined about 21% this year. This has awoken the shareholders and now we see that they are demanding more aggressiveness from the company and a plan to outsource more of the chip production to partner foundries like TSMC and Samsung. It remains to be seen how Intel responds and what changes are to take place.

Prices of NAND Flash Controller ICs Poised to Rise by 15-20% due to Tightening Production Capacity for Foundry Services, Says TrendForce

In the upstream semiconductor industry, the major foundries such as TSMC and UMC are reporting fully loaded capacities, while in the downstream, the available production capacity for OSAT is also lacking, according to TrendForce's latest investigations. Given this situation, suppliers of NAND Flash controller ICs such as Phison and Silicon Motion are now unable to meet upside demand from their clients. Not only have many controller IC suppliers temporarily stopped offering quotes for new orders, but they are also even considering raising prices soon because the negotiations between NAND Flash suppliers and module houses over 1Q21 contracts are now at the critical juncture. The potential increases in prices of controller ICs from outsourced suppliers (IC design houses) are currently estimated to be the range of 15-20%.

With regards to the demand side, demand has risen significantly for eMMC solutions with medium- and low-density specifications (i.e., 64 GB and lower), for which NAND Flash suppliers have mostly stopped updating the NAND Flash process technology, while maintaining support with the legacy 2D NAND or the 64L 3D NAND process. This is on account of strong sales for Chromebook devices and TVs. As older processes gradually account for a lowering portion of bit output proportions from NAND Flash suppliers, these companies are exhibiting a lowered willingness to directly supply such eMMC products to clients. As a result, clients now need to turn to memory module houses, which are able to source NAND Flash components and controllers, to procure eMMC products in substantial quantities.

NVIDIA, Samsung Strengthen Strategic Chip Fabrication Partnership in Deal

It seems NVIDIA and Samsung's partnership in bringing to life the green company's semiconductor designs isn't about to end anytime soon. Semiconductor analysts and insiders have said that NVIDIA and Samsung etched a new manufacturing deal on December 17th that still relates to the company's in-high-demand RTX-30 series graphics cards, which should see Samsung increase output - particularly at its Hwaseong plant - to sate the seemingly unquenchable demand from consumers and scalpers alike. The deal, which is roughly valued at "hundreds of billions won" will see Samsung double down on its 8 nm output for NVIDIA's latest gaming chips. This seems to put to rest speculation on an RTX 30-series redesign for TSMC's allegedly better 7 nm process - and according to the industry insiders, NVIDIA looked to Samsung specifically because of the need for "quick delivery of the chips".

This instills new life into Samsung's contract-based foundry business; according to market researcher TrendForce, Samsung's foundry business is expected to post a record $14.05 billion in sales this year, up 17.9% from 2019, as the company expands its client base not only through this and the previous NVIDIA deal, to Qualcomm Technologies Inc., Google, IBM, Cisco and China's Baidu. Samsung is accelerating its investment into EUV lithography in sub-7 nm processes so as to poach more customers and market share from industry behemoth and poster boy TSMC, spending 10 trillion won ($8.6 billion) to both improve technology and increase output on its foundries.

Raja Koduri to Present at Samsung Foundry Forum amid Intel's Outsourcing Efforts

Intel's chief architect and senior vice president of discrete graphics division, Mr. Raja Koduri, is said to be scheduled to present at Samsung Electronics Event day. With a presentation titled "1000X More Compute for AI by 2025", the event is called Samsung Foundry SAFE Forum. It is a global virtual conference designed to be available to everyone. So you might be wondering what is Mr. Koduri doing there. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know about Intel's struggles with node manufacturing. Specifically, the 10 nm node delays that show the company's efforts to deliver a node on time. The same is happening with the 7 nm node that also experienced significant delays.

Intel has a contract to develop an exascale supercomputer at Argonne National Laboratory, called Aurora. That supercomputer is using Intel's CPUs and the company's upcoming Xe GPUs. Since the company has problems with manufacturing and has to deliver the products (it is bound by several contracts) to its contractors and customers, it decided to look at external manufacturers for its products, specifically Xe graphics. Being that Mr. Koduri tweeted an image of him visiting Samsung Giheung Fab in Korea, and now presenting at the Samsung Foundry event, it is possible that Intel will tap Samsung's semiconductor manufacturing process for its Xe GPU efforts and that Samsung will be the contractor in charge.

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang Says NVIDIA-Branded CPUs Could be Coming

It was just yesterday that we have received the news of NVIDIA's latest move - acquiring Arm Ltd. from Softbank Group for $40 billion. However, it seems like there are more reasons for the deal than what meets the eye. In the briefing regarding the acquisition, NVIDIA's CEO was asked a question, by Timothy Prickett Morgan, from TheNextPlatform, about NVIDIA's plans for a possible implementation of Arm's Neoverse core in an NVIDIA-branded CPU design and start selling them to data centers. To that question, Mr. Huang gave a prolonged answer indirectly saying that the company can build the CPU if there is a market for it.

He explains that there is an entire network surrounding the Arm ecosystem and that there may be customers interested in contracting NVIDIA to build them semi-custom or completely custom chip based on Arm ISA on NVIDIA's own interest. Any of these options are available and Mr. Haung says that they are there for the best interest of the ecosystem to enrich it enhance it even further. This means that it is just a matter of time before we see NVIDIA-branded CPU make its way to data-center or some other areas of technology, so we have to wait and see for ourselves.

TSMC Doesn't See Intel as Long-Term Customer, Unlikely to Build Additional Capacity for It

TSMC has been the backbone of silicon designers for a long time. Whenever you question where you can use the latest technology and get some good supply capacity, TSMC got everyone covered. That case seems to be similar to Intel and its struggles. When Intel announced that its 7 nm semiconductor node is going to be delayed a full year, the company's customers and contractors surely became worried about the future releases of products and their delivery, like the case is with Aurora exascale supercomputer made for Argonne National Laboratory, which relies on Intel's 7 nm Ponte Vecchio graphics cards for most of the computation power.

To manage to deliver this, Intel is reportedly in talks with TSMC to prepare capacity for the GPUs and deliver them on time. However, according to industry sources of DigiTimes, TSMC is unlikely to build additional capacity for Intel, besides what it can deliver now. According to those sources, TSMC does not see Intel as a long-term customer and it is unknown what treatment will Intel get from TSMC. Surely, Intel will be able to make a deal with TSMC and secure enough of the present capacity for delivering next-generation processors.
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