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China To Feel Qualcomm’s Legal Lash

The Chinese are about to feel the lash of Qualcomm’s fearsome legal department. At the height of Qualcomm’s litigious spree towards the end of the last decade the company was spending $200 million a year on legal fees trying to assert its rights to exploit CDMA technology which it was obliged to license under FRAND terms. Nokia was the main ...

One Of The Seven Most Influential Scientists Since WWII.

Microprocessor inventor Dr Marcian E. (Ted) Hoff Jr. was dubbed by The Economist “one of the seven most influential scientists since World War II”. His originality surfaced early earning him a couple of patents before he’d completed his education. Working in college holidays at the General Railway Signal Company he designed a circuit that detected trains through the audio frequencies ...

The Will Of The People

Crikey. No one expected that. Cameron’s gamble of offering a Referendum to keep his party together before the 2014 election has come massively unstuck. One suspects that the Cameron/Osborne/Johnson tendency to see politics as a game without consequences, has led England into a potentially dangerous situation. The EU is also to blame. At heart it is a decent, liberal-minded, well-meaning ...

Volatility Within Flat Auto IC Market

Despite being seen as a leading semiconductor market driver, the automotive IC market grew only 0.2% last year, says IHS, though the fortunes of the major players were very mixed. The top ten players were: ($bn) NXP 4.2 Infineon 2.9 Renesas 2.7 ST 2.1 TI 1.9 Bosch 1.5 ON 1.1 Micron 0.66 Toshiba 0.65 Osram 0.65 Osram enters the top ...

Fable: The Fall-Out

A team of engineers was once assembled to start a chip company. Heading it were a CEO, an exec vp and three vps. Within three years of founding the company, two of the vps, both of equal status, fell out. The crunch came over the data sheet for what was to become the company’s turning-point product – the chip which ...

Alms For Oblivion

Silicon Valley-ites giving to the poor? It’s like a cat swimming. But an organisation called Y Combinator is giving 100 families in Oakland $1000-2000 a month each. Oakland is that place you end up in if you take take the wrong turn off the Embarcadero and end up going over the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Poor, scary, run-down. But actually ...

The Big Play

As Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One points out there’s no point starting a business where there’s loads of competition. You can’t make money. Taxi-hailing apps are a business which has attracted a large number of competitors, yet Uber has raised $15 billion in backing. Don’t Uber’s backers realise that any cab company can run a hailing app? My local ...

An Old Wheeze?

Problems at fabs making commodity chips have always attracted a question mark. Some years ago Samsung saw its share price go up and the DRAM price rise when it said it had suffered a power outage at a Korean DRAM fab. Later on, Korea’s electricity suppliers said there had been no power outages. So, in a cynical old world, you ...

The Season Of Goodwill – But Not For TV Industry

This is the season of Goodwill towards all men (and women!). But a suspicion of bitterness has crept in. Colour television has been banned for at least three years whilst the Pilkington Committee deliberates on it and on other broadcasting matters. So, 55 years ago, started the leader column in Electronics weekly’s edition of December 21st 1960 The leader continued: ...

A Tin Crown

A lot of people see this as a bit of a facer for the Yanks – China has built the world’s fastest computer using China-designed microprocessors. Its processor is a 260-core chip developed by the Jiangnan Computing Lab called the ShenWei SW26010 running army 1.45GHz delivering 3 Teraflops. The ShenWei processors were said to have been based on the DEC ...

Referendum

Well it’s Referendum Week. The level of debate has been deplorable. Lies, appeals to emotion, patriotic slogans and slander have been the currency of the discussion. Out of all our hundreds of publicly-funded politicians not one has been prepared to give an even-handed account of the pros and cons. All have been partisan and that is hardly helpful on a ...

The Mirage

The chip industry has been known to get ahead of itself and, back in 2007, a TSMC exec told a forum on 450mm wafer development that “the industry should begin seeing momentum perhaps by the end of this year.” The exec argued that: “When production capacity of the latest wafer size accounts for more than 50% of the total market, ...

What’s Happened To All The M&A?

Have you noticed how the semiconductor M&A thing has gone away? Last year there were around $120 billion worth of M&A deals done. This year, apart from a few failed Chinese bids and a NXP shedding a division or two, there hasn’t been much. “It’s not the same gold rush,” says Reinhard Ploss. Why is this? The industry is stagnant ...

Fable: The Persistent Idea

Thanks to SEPAM for suggesting this Fable. 25 years ago this year, three Japanese companies, inspired by an abandoned attempt by IBM, built a computer based on a technology which had been conceived 24 years before by a Brit who won the Nobel Prize for his idea. After three years, the three companies succeeded in building a working machine which ...

Yobs and Gents

Soccer violence is nothing new. Edward II banned the game in 1314 because of the off-pitch violence it generated. Why does soccer generate this violence when rugby doesn’t? Rugby fans don’t hate the opposing team’s fans, quite the reverse in fact. A year or two back while in the South of France during an England v France rugby match being ...

The Land Of The Not So Free

Net neutrality in the USA got a boost yesterday from a US appeal court ruling that the US FCC can treat Internet service providers as ‘common carriers’ and regulate them accordingly. It stops ISPs throttling some sites and accelerating others which pay them more. AT&T says it will try and take the fight to the US Supreme Court. Meanwhile the ...

Fab Four Hunt For 7nm

7nm is shaping up to be a four-way scrap for a node which is expected to be pivotal because 10nm could be short-lived. While 10nm is expected to deliver 20% performance increase over 14nm, 7nm is expected to produce a 35% improvement in performance over 14nm. So the hunt is on to get to 7nm quickly. The new kid on ...

Aircraft Built By Computers

Production control by computer in the aircraft industry was the title, 56 years ago, of an article in Electronics Weekly’s edition of December 21st 1950 by H.S Woodgate of The Fairey Aviation Company and International Computers and Tabulators Ltd (forerunner of ICL). The article opens: THE extremely high calculating speed of the modern electronic computer enables calculating techniques to be ...