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Tsinghua rebuffed again

Poor old Tsinghua has had another investment bid rejected – this time by the Taiwan assembly house SPIL (Siliconware Precision Industries). Tsinghua had offered to buy 25% of SPIL for $600 million. The sale to Tsinghua would have thwarted a bid by fellow Taiwanese assembly company ASE to take over SPIL. The Taiwan Fair Trade Commission is currently considering two ...

The ST Hornet’s Nest

There was an interesting question at the ST results meeting earlier this week: “There was recently a Bloomberg report regarding the contract of the CEO,” asked an analyst, “if – I think your contract is expiring somewhere in May – and there were rumors – STM a new CEO. Any comments there or did I miss here something?” The last ...

Fable: The Company Which Took Too Long

24 years ago a company set up to make a roll-up OLED screen. Two private equity firms, Hilman and Kelso, in vested $133 million. Intel and others put in VC money. Philips and Uniax bought licences. Twelve years after founding, in 2004, it had an IPO on the NASDAQ which valued the company at $230 million. But, three years later, ...

Rewards

How many people ever get to say: “Revenue for the quarter was $50.6 billion, which was within our guidance range.” The CEOs of a handful of oil companies, the CEOs of Wal-Mart, Samsung, Toyota and, until recently, VW and Warren Buffett – and that’s about it. But these particular words reflectd disappointment – Q1 2015 sales had been $58 billion. ...

TSMC Dwarfs Foundry Rivals

Apple drove the entire foundry sales increase at TSMC in 2015, says IC Insights. Without Apple, TSMC’s 2015 foundry sales would have dropped by 2% as compared to a 6% increase. The top 13 IC foundries (pure-play and IDM) by foundry sales in 2015 were as follows: TSMC, by far, was the leader in foundry with $26.4 billion in sales ...

Top 10 Emerging Technologies 2016

Thanks to the MIT Technology Review for this one – the 10 emerging technologies which had the most significant breakthroughs last year or which are on the verge of them: Immune Engineering Precise Gene Editing In Plants Conversational Interfaces Re-Usable Rockets Robots that teach eachother DNA App Store SolarCity’s Gigafactory Slack Tesla Autopilot Power from the Air

Here’s Trouble

Here’s trouble: a hovering, tracking drone with a 13MP forward-looking camera and a 3MP downward-looking camera. Beijing start-up Zero Zero Robotics has raised $25 million to mass-manufacture a drone called The Hover Camera. It can hover or follow someone, or something, around. Zero Zero’s founders are two Stanford PhD graduates who raised an initial $1.7 million in angel funding within ...

Pocket Radios Will Soon be As Common As Wrist-Watches

Your correspondent A. R. Hobden, who alleges that “there is now a large section of the population unable to receive medium -wave transmissions which the local stations are intending using during daylight hours,” need not worry, for pocket medium-wave receivers will soon be as common as wrist watches.” So, 55 years ago started a letter in Electronics Weekly’s edition of ...

Productivity Gains Run Out Of Steam

There’s a kind of a worry going around that productivity has declined and the intriguing thing about it is that no one knows why. UK productivity, the value of the output produced per hour worked – rose at 2.2% a year for decades before the recession. Since the recession the growth rate has been 0.5%. It’s not just the UK, ...

AMD Licenses x86 To China

AMD has licensed x86 technology to China. Under a deal with Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co (THATIC), AMD will set up a joint venture company to make x86-based processors for servers made and sold in China. In return, AMD gets a licensing fee of $293 million plus royalties of which it has already had $52 million. Intel will not ...

Are Drones Going To Be A Big Deal?

Could drones really be a big deal? Well Intel and Qualcomm certainly seem to think so and a report from Business mIntelligenceg forecasts  19% CAGR for the drone market between 2015 and 2020 with some hefty numbers. They’re talking about a $9 billion market this year. In the US, BI believes that the law will  allow low-altitude flights of small ...

The Pilgrimage

When, in 1993, Shuji Nakamura invented the blue LED, for which he won the 2014 Nobel Prize for physics, his first thought was to show it to the greatest name in the Japanese semiconductor industry who had pioneered LEDs in the country, Jun’ichi Nichizawa. Nichizawa had tried to develop a blue LED ten years before without success. The great man ...

The Driverless Delusion

There seem to be two probable birthplaces on this planet for the driverless car – Munich and California. So confronted by the cream of the mighty German car industry in Munich this week I thought it appropriate to ask a thorny Q. Who, I asked, would pay for two pre-requisites for driverless cars: mapping the roads to 10 cm and ...

Fable: Monopolies

Today we are amazed that Apple takes 92% of the mobile phone industry’s profits but this scale of domination of an industry is not unprecedented. Back in the 1920s there was an industry, the lighting industry, which employed half a million people in the USA. The component on which this industry was built was the light bulb. In 1927, 95% ...

China Lacks Basic Requirement For IC Industry

China is looking for self-sufficiency in ICs but lacks a fundamental pre-requisite for growing a chip industry. “China is not encouraging freedom of thought and that’s something you need if you want innovation,” Wally Rhines, CEO of Mentor Graphics, told this week’s GSA European Executive Forum in Munich. China has a $23 billion government fund being managed by private equity ...

Immensely Optimistic Thinking

The best crack on the opening day of the GSA Executive Forum yesterday was Aart de Geus’ reference to ‘Immensely Optimistic Thinking’ a.k.a. the IoT. de Geus, founder and Co-CEO of Synopsys, pointed out that the typical IoT products used tiny amounts of silicon and said “it is difficult to see how it will fill the fabs.” Jalal Bagherli, CEO ...

Consolidation? What Consolidation?

The conventional view is that the semiconductor industry is consolidating, but Wally Rhines CEO of Mentor Graphics, told the GSA Forum in Munich this morning that it is not consolidating despite the M&A frenzy of 2015. “Traditionally we’re a de-consolidating industry”, Rhines told the Forum. Rhines pointed out that in 1972 the company with the most market share had the ...

Top 10 Countries For PCT Applications

Thanks to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) for this one – the top ten companies for PCT (Patent Cooperation Treaty) patents: USA 57,385 Japan 44,235 China 29,846. Germany 18,072 Korea 14,626 France 8476 UK 5313 Holland 4357 Switzerland 4280 Sweden 3850

Cellphone Apps Processors and Signal Conversion ICs to lead 2016 market

The fastest growing IC product of 2016 will be Cellphone Application MPUs and Signal Converstion (DACs, ADCs) devices, says IC Insights which will each grow at 10% this year. The market for 32-bit MCUs is forecast to increase 8% with “intelligent” cars the catalyst for much of this growth. Driver information systems and many of the increasing number of semi-autonomous ...

ST Speculation

The other speculation du jour is the succession at ST. Although ST has not officially confirmed that the ST board is looking for a replacement for Carl Bozotti, the speculation that it is looking is all over the web. The French, of course, will want a Frenchman, and the Italians, of course, will want an Italian. The French lobby has ...