Connect with us


US Chip Export Restrictions to China May Hurt Global Supply Chain, Say Experts




By Reuters | Updated: 3 August 2022

Export restrictions being considered by Washington to halt China’s advances in semiconductor manufacturing could come at a substantial cost, experts say, potentially disrupting fragile global chip supply chains – and hurting US businesses.

Reuters reported on Monday that the United States is considering limiting shipments of American chipmaking equipment to memory chip producers in China that make advanced semiconductors used in everything from smartphones to data centres.

The curbs would stop chipmakers like South Korean giants Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix from shipping new technology tools to factories they operate in China, preventing them from upgrading plants that serve customers around the world.

Samsung and SK Hynix, which control more than half of the global NAND flash memory chip market, have invested heavily in China in recent decades to produce chips that are vital to customers including tech giants Apple, Amazon, Facebook owner Meta, and Google. As well as computers and phones, the chips are used in products like electric vehicles that require digital data storage.

“Samsung’s China production alone accounts for more than 15 percent of global NAND flash production … If there’s any production disruption, it will make chip prices surge,” said Lee Min-hee, analyst at BNK Securities.

The potential for fresh turmoil – the curbs have yet to be approved – comes just as a global chip supply shortage that has disrupted businesses from autos to consumer devices for more than a year is finally showing signs of easing. Supply chain adjustments and weakening consumer demand amid the slowing global economy have combined to repair damage.

But the shortage has yet to be fully resolved. Any signs of fresh disruption could rekindle supply uncertainty, triggering a price surge – as seen earlier this year when China imposed COVID-19 restrictions in Xian where Samsung manufactures chips.

Chipmaking equipment has to be installed and fully tested months before production is due to start. Any delay in shipping the gear to China would pose a real challenge to chipmakers as they seek to manufacture more advanced chips in China facilities.

“Many US companies, like Apple, use Samsung and SK Hynix memory chips. No matter what strategy (the South Korean firms) end up choosing, it will have global implications,” said BNK Securities analyst Lee.

Samsung and SK Hynix declined to comment. Apple, Amazon, Meta, and Google didn’t respond to emails seeking comment outside regular US business hours.

Ambitions, complications

In Samsung’s memory chip operation in Xian, central China, one of the largest foreign chip projects in the country, the company has invested a total of about $26 billion (roughly Rs. 2,05,310 crore) since it broke ground on the site in 2012, including chip production as well as testing and packaging.

The tech giant makes 128-layer NAND flash products in Xian, analysts said, chips that store data in devices such as smartphones and personal computers, as well as in data centres.

The facility accounts for 43 percent of Samsung’s global NAND flash memory production capacity and 15 percent of the overall global output capacity, according to TrendForce late last year.

The US crackdown, if approved, could also complicate SK Hynix’s ambition to expand its presence in the NAND market where it is ranked third as of first quarter behind Samsung and Japan’s Kioxia Holdings, which was spun out of Toshiba.

SK Hynix completed late last year the first phase of its $9 billion (roughly Rs. 71,070 crore) purchase of Intel’s NAND business, including its Dalian, China NAND manufacturing facility.

China strategies

The move being considered by the United States is one of several recent signs of deepening tensions between Beijing and Washington over the tech sector.

Congress last week approved legislation to subsidise semiconductor production in the United States. It bars any company that receives federal subsidies from investing in certain chip technology in China during the subsidy period.

The deepening tensions could leave Samsung and SK Hynix having to review strategies on China investments, analysts and industry sources said.

“Until now, companies tended to invest in countries like China, where costs were cheap,” said Kim Yang-jae, analyst at Daol Investment & Securities.

“That’s no longer going to be the only consideration. The biggest change these potential limits will bring will be where the next chip factories are built.”

They could also face potentially diminishing returns from their multi-billion dollar China plants, which could be stuck making older-technology, less lucrative chips.

SK Hynix has not been able to upgrade its DRAM memory chip production facilities in Wuxi, China with the latest extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) chipmaking machines made by Dutch firm ASML as US officials do not want advanced equipment used in the process to enter the country.

The EUV machines are used to make more advanced and smaller chips that are used in high-end devices such as smartphones.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


Foxconn-Vedanta to Open India’s First Semiconductor Facility in Dholera




Foxconn and Vedanta would invest Rs. 1,54,000 crore to set up the facility in Gujarat, which would create one lakh job opportunities
By Press Trust of India | Updated: 21 February 2023

A joint venture of Indian conglomerate Vedanta and electronics manufacturing giant Foxconn has finalised the Dholera Special Investment Region near Ahmedabad city of Gujarat for setting up their semiconductor and display manufacturing facility, a senior state government official said on Monday.

In the biggest ever corporate investment in the history of independent India, a joint venture of Vedanta and Foxconn in September last year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Gujarat government to invest Rs. 1,54,000 crore to set up the plant in the state. This will be the first manufacturing facility for semiconductors in India.

At that time, the joint venture company had not disclosed the exact location of the facility.

“After a detailed site analysis in consultation with Gujarat government authorities, the joint venture entity of Vedanta and Foxconn has selected Dholera SIR for setting up their semiconductor and display manufacturing facility. The project is in the advanced stage of evaluation by the government of India,” the official said.

The MoU was signed in September last year in Gandhinagar in the presence of Minister for Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, Ashwini Vaishnaw.

Both the companies would invest Rs. 1,54,000 crore to set up the facility in Gujarat, which would create one lakh job opportunities, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel had said on the occasion. Patel had also said his government will provide cooperation to set up the facility and to make it a success.

Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a poll rally in Bhavnagar in November ahead of the Assembly polls, had given clear indication that the mega semiconductor plant will come up at Dholera SIR, nearly 100 km from Ahmedabad.

This project is likely to get huge subsidies and incentives, like zero stamp duty on land purchase and subsidised water and electricity, under the ‘Gujarat Semiconductor Policy 2022-27’ announced by the state government in July last year.

Gujarat became the first state in the country to have such a dedicated policy for the semiconductor and display fabrication sector, a government official earlier said.

Under this policy, eligible projects will be given 75 percent subsidy on the purchase of the first 200 acres of land for setting up manufacturing units. The eligible projects will be provided good quality water at the rate of Rs. 12 per cubic metre for the first five years.

To encourage investors under the policy, the state government has also announced to reimburse 100 percent of stamp duty which investors would pay for the first time for taking land on lease, sale or on land transfer.

Continue Reading


Intel Fears Another EU Antitrust Fine Despite Winning Its Court Fight Last Year




Intel Fears Another EU Antitrust Fine Despite Winning Its Court Fight Last Year
By Reuters | Updated: 4 February 2023

Intel could face yet another EU antitrust fine despite winning its court fight last year against an EUR 1.06 billion (nearly Rs. 14,250 crore) penalty imposed 14 years ago for hindering a rival, the US chipmaker said in a regulatory filing.

Intel last year convinced Europe’s second-top court to scrap the fine handed out by the European Commission in 2009 for giving rebates to four computer makers to buy most of their chips from the company and not from rival Advanced Micro Devices.

“The General Court’s January 2022 decision did not annul the EC’s 2009 finding that Intel made payments to prevent sales of specific rival products, and in January 2023 the EC reopened its administrative procedure to determine a fine against Intel based on that alleged conduct,” the company said in a January 26 filing.

“Given the procedural posture and the nature of this proceeding, we are unable to make a reasonable estimate of the potential loss or range of losses, if any, that might arise from this matter,” it said.

Companies risk fines up to 10 percent of their global turnover for EU antitrust breaches.

Recently, Intel announced broad cuts to employee and executive pay after posting a lower-than-expected sales forecast driven by a loss of market share to rivals and a PC market downturn. The base pay of mid-level employees will be cut by 5 percent, whereas Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger will take a 25 percent salary cut. However, the company mentioned that there will be no salary cut on the company’s hourly workforce’s pay, said a person familiar with the matter who was not authorised to speak publicly.

Intel spokesperson Addy Burr said in a statement that the “changes are designed to impact our executive population more significantly and will help support the investments and overall workforce.”

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Continue Reading


TSMC Defies Broader Industry Downturn, Posts 78 Percent Rise in Q4 Net Profit: All Details




TSMC's dominance in making some of the world's most advanced chips has kept the firm's order book full, according to analysts.
By Reuters | Updated: 12 January 2023

Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC posted a 78 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit on Thursday, posting yet another quarterly record, as strong sales of advanced chips helped it defy a broader industry downturn that battered cheaper commodity chips.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chipmaker and a major Apple supplier, saw net profit for October-December hit a record TWD 295.9 billion (roughly Rs.79,285 crore) from TWD 166.2 billion (roughly Rs. 44,540 crore) a year earlier.

That compared with the TWD 289.44 billion (roughly Rs. 77,570 crore) average of 21 analyst estimates compiled by Refinitiv.

TSMC’s business has been boosted by a global chip shortage sparked by pandemic-fuelled sales of smartphones and laptops. While the shortage has eased, analysts said dominance in making some of the world’s most advanced chips has kept the firm’s order book full.

Revenue for the quarter climbed 26.7 percent to $19.93 billion (roughly Rs. 5,340 crore), versus TSMC’s prior estimated range of $19.9 billion to $20.7 billion (roughly Rs. 5,545 crore).

TSMC’s share price fell 27.1 percent in 2022, but is up 8.5 percent so far this year giving the firm a market value of $412.78 billion (roughly Rs. 33,66,055 crore). The stock rose 0.4 percent on Thursday versus a 0.1 percent fall for the benchmark index.

Overall, the chip sector has been grappling with weak demand for gadgets such as smartphones as inflation accelerates and interest rates rise, against a backdrop of geopolitical tension.

In October, TSMC cut its annual investment budget by at least 10 percent for 2022 and struck a more cautious note than usual on upcoming demand, flagging challenges from rising inflationary costs and predicting a chip downturn for 2023.

The firm said it spent $36.29 billion (roughly Rs. 2,95,940 crore) on capital expenditure in 2022, compared to a previous forecast of around $36 billon.

TSMC, Asia’s most-valuable listed firm, whose clients include chip majors such as Qualcomm, has repeatedly said business would continue to be boosted by a “mega-trend” in the industry, brought by demand for high-performance computing chips for 5G networks and data centres, as well as increased use of chips in gadgets and vehicles.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

Continue Reading


Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 Ti Specifications Accidentally Leaked Ahead of Launch: Report




The leaked specifications of Nvidia's RTX 4070 Ti GPU match those of the RTX 4080 with 12GB of memory, 7,680 CUDA cores, and a 2.61GHz boost clock.
By ANI | Updated: 2 January 2023

Nvidia has been tipped to release its “unlaunched” 12GB Nvidia RTX 4080 graphics card as the RTX 4070 Ti, and a new leak has given enthusiasts an idea of what to expect from the company’s graphics card. According to a report, the company briefly posted the specifications for its upcoming RTX 4070 Ti GPU on its website. The company removed the page, but a Twitter user was able to capture a screenshot before it was taken down.

According to a report by The Verge, before Nvidia pulled the page down, Twitter user @momomo_us was able to capture a screenshot, which was shared to the microblogging platform. So far, the leaked specifications match those of the 12GB RTX 4080, with 7,680 CUDA cores, a 2.61GHz boost clock, and 12GB of memory.

GeForce RTX 4070 Ti
Coming Month XX— 188号 (@momomo_us) December 30, 2022

Additionally, it claims that the GPU is capable of supporting 4K video at up to 240Hz and 8K at 60Hz with DSC and HDR, as per the report.

A chart included shows that the RTX 4070 Ti might outperform the RTX 3080 by almost 3.5 times when playing Cyberpunk 2077 in the game’s new Ray-Tracing: Overdrive mode.

In October, Nvidia faced criticism over its decision to launch the 12GB RTX 4080 GPU under the RTX 4080 moniker because of how much it differs from its much more powerful 16GB counterpart. It led Nvidia to cancel its launch altogether and plan a way to repackage the chip.

According to the report, pricing for the RTX 4070 Ti hasn’t yet been confirmed, but some rumours indicate that it will be cheaper than the $899 (roughly Rs. 74,200) 12GB RTX 4080. Nvidia is expected to launch the GPU at CES in January.

Continue Reading


Intel Splits Graphics Chip Unit Into Two, Consumer Graphics Division to Join Client Computing Group




Intel is doubling down on accelerated computing, a growing segment dominated by Nvidia as AI use surges.
By Reuters | Updated: 22 December 2022

Intel is splitting its graphic chips unit into two, the company said on Wednesday, as it realigns the business to better compete with Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices.

The consumer graphics unit will be combined with Intel’s client computing group, which makes chips for personal computers, while accelerated computing teams will join its data centre and artificial intelligence (AI) business, the company said.

The move comes as Intel doubles down on accelerated computing, a growing segment dominated by Nvidia as AI use surges.

“I don’t think it changes much (if anything) other than aligning the products with the respective sales organizations they fit with vs. having them as a discrete segment,” Wedbush Securities analyst Matthew Bryson said.

Raja Koduri, who led the graphic chips unit, will return to his role as chief architect and oversee the company’s long-term technology and chip design strategy.

Koduri, who has led graphics technology ventures at iPhone maker Apple and AMD, joined Intel in 2017.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Intel had backed away from its original target of opening a chip factory in the eastern German city of Magdeburg in the first half of 2023. Regional newspaper Volksstimme reported that the semiconductor giant wanted more public subsidies.

The plant is central to German and European Union plans to strengthen the continent’s resilience by doing more manufacturing locally after the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine highlighted the risks of long, globe-spanning supply chains.

But the newspaper said that surging energy and raw materials prices had upset the US company’s original calculations. Where Intel had originally budgeted for costs of EUR 17 billion (USD 18 billion, roughly Rs 1,48,000 crore), prices were now closer to EUR 20 billion (roughly Rs 1,76,000 crore), the paper said.

Continue Reading


China’s SMIC Ramps Up Production of Decade-Old 28nm Chips, US Lawmakers Raise Concerns




SMIC is doubling down on mature technology chips and has announced four new facilities as US export controls make it impossible to produce advanced chips.
By Reuters | Updated: 14 December 2022 11:01 IST

China’s largest chip maker SMIC is ramping up production of a decade-old chip technology, key to many industries’ supply chains, setting off alarm bells in the United States and prompting some lawmakers to try to stop them.

The United States and allied nations could further step up restrictions if China announces a $144 billion support package for its chip industry, as Reuters exclusively reported on Tuesday, said TechInsights’ chip economist Dan Hutcheson.

Starting with the Trump administration, the United States has been tightening the noose around China’s high-tech ambitions. It cut off the world’s largest telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies from the US market and technologies, as well as cut off air supply to China’s advanced chip making through a series of rules this year.

But why worry about older chip technology?

China, which in 2020 had 9 percent of the global chip market, has a track record of dominating key technologies by flooding the market with cheaper products and wiping out global competition, say China watchers.

They did it with solar panels and 5G telecom equipment, and could do it with older technology chips, said Matt Pottinger, former Deputy National Security Advisor of the United States during the Trump administration who has been studying chip policy at the Hoover Institution.

“It would give Beijing coercive leverage over every country and industry — military or civilian — that depend on 28-nanometer chips, and that’s a big, big chunk of the chip universe,” he said.

“28 nanometer” refers to a chip technology commercially used since 2011. It is still widely used in automotive, weapons and the explosive category of internet of things gadgets, said Hutcheson.

Hutcheson, who has been monitoring chip production capacity for four decades, said the concern is that Semiconductor Manufacturing International and other chipmakers in China could use government subsidies to sell chips at a low price. And a possible new round of financial support from Beijing would increase chip production even further.

“The Chinese could just flood the market with these technologies,” he said. “Normal companies can’t compete, because they can’t make money at those levels.”

US Lawmakers pushing against SMIC

Those concerns have pushed some lawmakers to use legislation for setting the defence budget hold back SMIC.

While the measure is weaker than what was initially proposed, this week US Senators are expected to pass the annual National Defense Authorization Act 2023 that includes a section barring the US government from using chips from SMIC and two other Chinese memory chip makers. It is not clear what impact the restriction, which kicks in five years after it becomes law, will have on SMIC.

Founded in 2000 with backing from Beijing, SMIC has long struggled to break into the ranks of the world’s leading chip manufacturers.

But it is a giant in older technology, including chips that regulate power flows in electronics. And its revenue was close to $2 billion in the third quarter this year, roughly double the same period last year on the back of the global chip shortage.

SMIC filing supply gasp

With U.S. export controls making it impossible to produce advanced chips, SMIC is doubling down on mature technology chips and has announced four new facilities, or fabs, since 2020. When those come online, it would more than triple the company’s output, estimates Samuel Wang, Gartner chip analyst. He said there is a huge ramp up in new chip fabs across China.

“All this will start to have an impact from early 2024 and will be full blown by 2027,” said Wang, adding the chip supply increase will put downward pressure on chip prices.

The importance of older chip technology hit the industry in the face in 2021 as a shortage of those chips prevented manufacturing of millions of cars and consumer electronics.

Mark Li, Bernstein Research’s chip analyst in Asia, said the company is becoming a formidable competitor to Taiwan’s UMC Microelectronics and US-headquartered GlobalFoundries.

“SMIC has been much more willing to add capacity than other fabs at the low-end, and especially in this shortage we’ve seen in the past two years,” he says. “It’s not an issue now…but who knows, maybe in a few years there will be another shortage and capacity will be a big problem.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

Continue Reading