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Intel 10th Gen Desktop CPUs Launched Including 10 Core, 5.3GHz Core i9-10900K




After months of leaks and rumours, Intel has pulled back the curtain on its 10th generation “S-series” desktop chips, with the Core i9-10900K leading the pack. Leading the range is the new Core i9-10900K, which offers 10 cores, 20 threads, a 125W TDP, boosted speeds up to 5.3GHz, and, according to Intel, with a base speed of 3.7GHz, it’s “the world’s fastest gaming processor”, for around $500. The company is promoting improved clock speeds, which it says are important for lightly threaded workloads such as gaming, as well as more cores and threads across much of the lineup.

The highlight of the launch is the new top-end Core i9-10900K model which features 10 cores with Hyper-Threading. It has a base speed of 3.7Ghz and a maximum boost speed of 4.8GHz across all cores or 5.3GHz for one core. The highest speeds are achieved using Intel’s Turbo Boost Max 3.0, previously seen only in Core X-series models, and Thermal Velocity Boost, which depends on thermal and power variables. The TDP is rated at 125W and this model is fully overclockable. Intel’s recommended price is $488 (approximately Rs. 36,630 before taxes). A non-unlocked model, the 65W Core i9-10900, has base and boost speeds of 2.8GHz and 5.2GHz respectively.

And since Intel knows that it has an advantage with clock speed, it’s aiming to highlight that wherever possible. The updated Turbo Boost Max 3.0 feature, for example, will identify the two fastest cores on your chip and have them tackle the brunt of your workload. And there’s also “Thermal Velocity Boost,” a way for i9 processors to eke out a bit more speed when they’re under 70 celsius. That’s also how Intel is reaching that lofty 5.3GHz figure on a single core, but it’ll also deliver slightly higher boost speeds over all cores too.

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Performance-wise, Intel claims the i9-10900K is 10 per cent faster than the last-gen 9900K in PUBG and 63 per cent faster than the three-year-old i7-7700K (remember, the i9 chips didn’t exist back then). The new processor is also around 18 per cent faster at 4K video editing than the last-gen chip, and 35 per cent faster than the 7700K. So yeah, it’s faster — though as usual, it’s probably not worth upgrading if you’re on a 9th gen chip.

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Keeping with the speed theme, Intel is giving enthusiasts even more ways to overclock. There’s a redesigned Intel Extreme Tuning Utility, which gives you more control over voltage and frequency. It’ll also let you turn off hyperthreading on individual cores — which might seem counter-intuitive at first, but Intel explains it’s a useful way to reduce heat, every overclocker’s worst enemy.

The new processors also feature a thinner die along with a thicker copper IHS (integrated heat spreader), which should also help keep things cooler. That’s a smart move since all of Intel’s new chips still have higher TDPs (thermal design profiles) than AMD’s. The 10900K has a 125-watt TDP, for example, while AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X’s is just 105-watts. (It’s worth noting that TDP is quite a fluid term, though, so we won’t know what that 125-watt number will translate to in real-world use until we can test a chip for ourselves.)

You can expect to see the unlocked “K” CPUs in May, but we don’t have a timeline for the other chips. Based on the specs alone, the Intel 10th-gen desktop processors seem like a solid upgrade for anyone with a 3-year old PC. Still, AMD now has the advantage when it comes to core count and architecture efficiency. Maybe next year we’ll finally see Intel’s desktop CPUs on 10nm, but by then AMD will have an even more refined process. Given just how many waves AMD has been making over the last year, Intel will really have to do something special to stand out in 2021.


Alphabet, Microsoft, and Qualcomm Complain Against Nvidia Arm Acquisition; US FTC Opens Probe: Report




By Reuters | Updated: 13 February 2021

The US. Federal Trade Commission has opened an in-depth probe into Nvidia’s agreement to acquire Arm, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing a source.

The FTC has sent information demands to third parties, according to Bloomberg.

The FTC and Nvidia did not respond to requests for comment outside regular working hours.

Nvidia struck a deal with Japan’s SoftBank Group in September to buy UK-based chip designer Arm Holdings for as much as $40 billion (roughly Rs. 2,90,365 crores).

In addition to the FTC probe, Alphabet, Qualcomm and Microsoft have complained to US antitrust regulators about the deal, the report added, citing people familiar with the process.

Arm Holdings supplies intellectual property to Apple, Qualcomm and a host of others for chips that power nearly all of the world’s smartphones.

Earlier in January, Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority said it would start an investigation into Nvidia’s deal to buy Arm.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Samsung Planning $17 Billion Chip-Making Plant in US




By Reuters | Updated: 6 February 2021

Samsung Electronics is considering Austin, Texas, as one of the sites for a new $17 billion chip plant that the South Korean firm said could create 1,800 jobs, according to documents filed with Texas state officials.

The tech giant is seeking combined tax abatements of $805.5 million over 20 years from Travis County and the city of Austin, among other tax breaks, according to the documents.

Samsung said in its filings that if Austin is selected, the company would break ground on the site in the second quarter of this year and that the plant will become operational in the third quarter of 2023.

“This project is highly competitive, and the company is looking at alternative sites in the US including Arizona and New York, as well as abroad in Korea…,” Samsung said in the documents, adding that it is taking into account access to talent, chip ecosystem and speed to market in its evaluation of the sites.

Samsung’s American customers for its contract manufacturing chip business include Tesla, Qualcomm and Nvidia.

Samsung’s filing said it plans to make “advanced logic devices,” meaning it would aim to make the smallest, fastest kinds of computing chips for customers. The company has an existing chip plant in Austin that makes computing chips.

In a statement to Reuters, Samsung confirmed it is considering expanding its chip facilities, but no decision has been made yet.

The documents say the project would involve building out 7 million square feet (650,000 square meters) of new space on a 640-acre (259-hectare) site that the company already owns.

US Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, called on Samsung to put a factory in his home state of New York, pledging to work to secure federal incentives for the facility, which he said are key for US to compete with China in boosting local chip production.

While Intel Corp makes such chips for itself in the United States, most contract manufacturers who make them for outside clients, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) Co Ltd and Samsung, maintain most of their facilities in Taiwan and Korea, respectively.

TSMC, which counts Apple among its major customers, last year disclosed plans for a $12 billion chip plant in Arizona expected to come online in 2024.

The filings with Texas officials were earlier reported by the Austin American-Statesman newspaper.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Global Chip Sales Rose 6.5 Percent in 2020 After Year-End Rush: Report




By Reuters | Updated: 1 February 2021

Global semiconductor sales rose 6.5 percent overall in 2020, as a recovery during the last three months of the year helped offset a sharp dropoff in March and April, when pandemic stay-home orders rolled out around the world.

Global sales were $439 billion (roughly Rs. 32,08 lakh crores) in 2020, according to data from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), a trade group that represents most US chipmakers along with many international firms. The group said sales from US chipmakers were about $208 billion (roughly Rs. 15,20 lakh crores), or about 47 percent of the total.

Chip sales into the United States were $94.15 billion (roughly Rs. 6,87 thousand crores), up 19.8 percent from the previous year.

Falan Yinug, SIA’s director of industry statistics and economic policy, said much of the rise in US purchasing was driven by high-end memory chips used in applications such as data centers.

American tech companies such as, Microsoft and Alphabet’s Google all saw dramatic rises in the use of cloud computing over the course of 2020 as businesses adapted to working from home.

While US-based companies represented nearly half of semiconductor sales, they represented only about 12 percent of chip manufacturing capacity in 2020. That is down from 37 percent in 1990, as most US companies now source their chips from factories in Asia.

John Neuffer, president and chief executive of the industry group, said legislation passed last year to provide incentives to chip factories in the United States could help change that figure this year. The law could provide funding to US companies such as Intel or GlobalFoundries, as well as foreign firms such as Samsung Electronics or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company.

“Over the next 10 years, semiconductor manufacturing is going to grow 56 percent,” Neuffer said. “We want to make sure we’re getting a bigger piece of the manufacturing pie.”

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Samsung Electronics Rides Pandemic-Driven Chip Demand to Report Quarterly Profit Spikes




By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 28 January 2021

Samsung Electronics, the world’s biggest smartphone and memory chip maker reported fourth-quarter net profits up by more than a quarter year-on-year Thursday, with coronavirus-driven working from home boosting demand for devices powered by its chips.

But the figures were below market expectations according to Bloomberg News, and the company warned of persisting uncertainties over the pandemic, and lower profits in Q1 2021 due to falling prices.

Samsung Electronics is the flagship subsidiary of the giant Samsung group, by far the largest of the family-controlled empires known as chaebols that dominate business in South Korea, the world’s 12th-largest economy.

The conglomerate is crucial to the South’s economic health — its overall turnover is equivalent to a fifth of the national gross domestic product.

Samsung Electronics said profits rose 26.4 percent in October to December on a year earlier to KRW 6.61 trillion (roughly Rs. 43,300 crores), led by display and memory chip businesses.

“Although challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic continue, company-wide efforts to ensure a stable supply of products and services globally helped Samsung’s fourth-quarter results,” the firm said in an earnings report.

The coronavirus has wreaked havoc with the world economy, with lockdowns and travel bans imposed around the globe for many months.

But the pandemic – which has killed more than two million people worldwide – has also seen many tech companies boom, including Samsung.

“It’s true that Samsung’s sales increased year-on-year due to the spread of the so-called ‘new normal’, which led to a surge in demand for electronics,” said Jene Park, an analyst at market observer Counterpoint Research.

Operating profit rose 26.4 percent to KRW 9.05 trillion (roughly Rs. 59,300 crores), while sales were also up 2.8 percent at KRW 61.55 trillion (roughly Rs. 4,03,170 crores).

Even so, Samsung noted that profits fell from the previous quarter due to weaker memory prices and sluggish consumer product sales, as well as higher marketing costs and appreciation by the Korean won.

The trend was likely to continue, it said, with profitability in the memory business affected by won strength “and costs associated with new production lines, despite solid demand from mobile products and data centres”.

It expected a recovery in overall global demand in 2021, but warned that “uncertainties persist over the possibility of recurring COVID-19 waves”.

For the full year, net profit jumped 21.5 percent to KRW 26.41 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,73,000 crores), on sales of KRW 236.81 trillion (roughly Rs. 15,51,630 crores), up 2.8 percent.

Samsung Electronics shares were down 1.64 percent in early trade Thursday.

Jailed boss

The global chip-manufacturing industry is expected to see record revenue this year, with the stay-at-home economy persisting because of the pandemic, according to Taipei-based market tracker TrendForce.

Samsung has aggressively stepped up its investments in semiconductors in recent years.

As its latest investment, the tech giant is considering spending as much as $17 billion (roughly Rs. 1,24,260 crores) to build a chip plant in Arizona, Texas or New York, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

If confirmed, it would be the biggest investment by Samsung in the absence of its de facto leader Lee Jae-yong.

Lee was sentenced last week to two and a half years in jail in a retrial over a sprawling corruption scandal that brought down former president Park Geun-hye.

That ruling cast further uncertainty over Samsung after the burial of late chairman Lee Kun-hee, who turned Samsung Electronics into a global powerhouse, in October.

Experts say a leadership vacuum could hamper the firm’s decision-making on future large-scale investments, which have been key to its rise.

Kim Dae-jong, a business professor at Sejong University, said: “Samsung is a very important company for South Korea and the imprisonment of its leader is disadvantageous.”

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IBM Hit by Rare Sales Decline in Software Units, Posts Disappointing Quarterly Revenue




By Reuters | Updated: 23 January 2021

IBM missed Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue on Thursday, hurt by a rare sales decline in its software unit as clients shied away from longer-term deals due to pandemic-induced economic uncertainty.

The 109-year-old firm is preparing to split itself into two public companies and the namesake firm will focus on the so-called hybrid cloud, where companies use a combination of their own datacenters and leased resources to manage and process data.

Revenue from its cloud-computing business rose 10 percent to a record $7.5 billion (roughly Rs. 54,750 crores) in the fourth quarter, with IBM saying it is confident of returning to sales growth in 2021 and expected revenue to grow in mid-single digits after the separation.

That was not enough to convince investors, however, as the company’s shares dropped 6.7 percent to $122.98 (roughly Rs. 9,000) in extended trading after IBM’s fourth consecutive quarter of sales decline.

“Our performance reflects the fact that our clients continue to deal with the effects of the pandemic and broader uncertainty of the macro environment,” said Chief Executive Officer Arvind Krishna, who took helm last April.

“This puts additional pressure on larger software transactions this quarter and project delays in some services engagements.”

Sales from cloud and cognitive, which houses IBM’s software offerings and its biggest unit, declined 4.5 percent to $6.8 billion (roughly Rs. 49,640 crores) after two years of growth.

Still, Chief Financial Officer James Kavanaugh told Reuters an accelerated move to cloud by businesses, a sales rebound in the global business services unit and a weaker dollar make the company confident of returning to revenue growth this year.

Total revenue fell 6.5 percent to $20.37 billion (roughly Rs. 1,48,700 crores), missing analysts’ average estimate of $20.67 billion (roughly Rs. 1,50,800 crores), according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Excluding items, IBM earned $2.07 (roughly Rs. 150) per share, above estimates of $1.79 (roughly Rs. 130).

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Intel Floats Possibility of Licensing Chipmaking Deals but Would TSMC and Samsung Be Interested?




By Reuters | Updated: 22 January 2021

Intel executives have raised the possibility of licensing chipmaking technology from outside firms, a move that could see it exchanging manufacturing secrets with rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) or Samsung.

Intel is one of the few remaining semiconductor firms that both designs and manufactures its own chips, but the business model has come into question in recent years as the company lost its manufacturing lead to the Taiwanese and Korean companies.

One option urged by some investors would be to outsource manufacturing. The company said, however, on Thursday that while it plans to increase its use of outside factories, the majority of its 2023 products would be made internally.

But licensing technology could help Intel avoid major investments in rivals’ factories that outsourcing deals would likely entail.

“Broadly speaking, that may mean sharing technologies that we have that they could use or leveraging technologies that others have developed that we can use as well,” outgoing Chief Executive Bob Swan told an earnings call.

That said, questions remain over how much a licensing deal would cost and whether a rival firm would even be interested.

Intel did not name companies it might license from but TSMC and Samsung are its only competitors for high-end chips.

“It seems a little weird to me that TSMC would give away to the keys to the kindgom unless there’s a sizeable payment that went with it,” said Stacy Rasgon, an analyst with Bernstein.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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