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Plans by the world’s largest contract chipmakers for a record $100 billion capacity expansion will just mildly dent a growing worldwide shortage of semiconductors for gear such as high-speed notebook computers, 5G smartphones, and newer vehicles, tech experts believe.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said in an April 1 legal notice to the Taipei stock exchange that it would use the money over three years on “leading technology” for manufacturing and R&D to “answer demands from the market.” The notice specifically cites demand for chips used in 5G-enabled and high-performance devices.
That amount would set a dollar-value record for the company, which is better known as TSMC, said Brady Wang, an analyst in Taipei with the market intelligence firm Counterpoint Research.
TSMC’s investment will ease “anxiety” among clients worried about semiconductor supply-chain instability caused in part by Sino-U.S. trade tension, said Kent Chong, managing director of professional services firm PwC Legal in Taipei. Its clients include multiple American hardware developers including Apple.
“Overall, it would indeed increase capacity, without any question,” Chong said. American clients hope to source chips in the United States, he added. The company headquartered southwest of Taipei is already planning to open a $12 billion plant in the U.S. state of Arizona. “TSMC is obviously the forefront runner in bringing the whole supply chain to the U.S.,” Chong said.
TSMC said in its stock market filing it is “working closely with our customers to address their needs in a sustainable manner.”
Analysts caution, though, that the ever-growing demand for chips paired with the lag time in building new production plants will extend the shortage for years, despite TSMC’s investment.
“You can throw a lot of money at it, but it’s not going to solve the problem,” said Sean Su, an independent political and technology consultant in Taipei.
He pointed to the popularity of home-use devices during the pandemic and possible long-term reliance on this technology in a “hybrid” online-offline economy after COVID-19 subsides.
“Demand is off the ceiling,” Su said. “People want smartphones. People want this and that more than ever. People want tablets all of a sudden. Every single child in the house now needs a computer instead of sharing it.”
Remote study and telework, two trends that emerged during the 2020 coronavirus outbreak, particularly raised demand last year for contract chipmakers and chips that run high-speed notebook PCs. That trend is piggybacking on pre-pandemic demand for 5G smartphones and new devices that run on artificial intelligence.
Automakers joined the mix, too, last year as they placed orders for automated vehicles and electric cars. Because of the current chip shortage, they must wait until at least early 2022 as production capacity is now “fully loaded,” said Wen Liu, industry analyst with the Taipei-based Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute.
Feeling an additional pinch
World demand for chips should increase from $450 billion last year to about $600 billion in 2024, market research firm Gartner says. Industry revenue had already grown 5.4% from 2019 to 2020, according to fellow market research company IDC. TSMC and South Korean technology giant Samsung are the biggest chipmakers today and make the highest-grade chips.
Chinese semiconductor clients will feel an additional pinch because of curbs introduced by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, Su said. The Trump administration barred companies, including those based offshore, from working with a list of Chinese firms considered national security risks.
“They will be [affected in China] due to trade embargoes as is,” Su said. “Every year, companies fight over limited batches of top-end processors.”
China-based chip buyers include developers of three of the world’s five biggest smartphone brands by market share in late 2020.
Most of the world’s contracts chipmakers, such as the growing China-based Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., lag in the equipment and know-how to make chips that run fast on low power, tech analysts believe. TSMC’s investment will help it stay ahead of any up-and-coming peers, Wang said.
“This is actually because [TSMC] saw a new opportunity, which would mainly be in 5G or high-performance PCs or demands for other digitization needs as that’s the demand following COVID-19,” Wang said. TSMC itself probably does not expect the planned $100 billion outlay to ease today’s chip shortage, he said.
The company says in its stock exchange notice that “multiyear mega-trends…are expected to fuel strong demand for our semiconductor technologies in the next several years,” while the pandemic “accelerates digitalization in every aspect.” (VOA/KB)
As robots evolve to do more work around us, the UK-based humanoid robot manufacturer Engineered Arts has infused more human-like facial expressions into one of its robots, which may leave you with an eerie feeling.
In a video posted on YouTube, the robot called 'Ameca' displays various human expressions, like appearing to "wake up" from sleep, as its face shows confusion and frustration when it opens its eyes.
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Once awake, 'Ameca' starts looking at its hands and arms, opens its mouth and raises its eyebrows, just like a human does.
At the end of the video, Ameca smiles and holds a welcoming hand out towards the viewer.
According to Engineered Arts, the humanoid bot is currently unable to walk and it is working towards giving it the ability in the near future.
"Designed specifically as a platform for development into future robotics technologies, 'Ameca' is the perfect humanoid robot platform for human-robot interaction," says the company.
The 'Ameca' hardware is a development based on its own research into humanoid robotics and built on its advanced 'Mesmer' technology.
Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.Unsplash
Also read: NASA humanoid robot dances to technology
Engineered Arts is slated to put 'Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.
"Human-like Artificial Intelligence needs a human-like artificial body. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems can be tested and developed on Ameca alongside our powerful 'Tritium' robot operating system," the company posted on its website. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Humanoid Robot, Ameca, Technology)
Microsoft has disrupted the activities of a China-based hacking group, gaining control of the malicious websites the group used to attack organisations in the US and 28 other countries around the world.
The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) said in a statement that a federal court in Virginia granted its request to seize websites of the hacking group called 'Nickel', enabling the company to cut off Nickel's access to its victims and prevent the websites from being used to execute attacks.
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"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations," said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft.
Obtaining control of the malicious websites and redirecting traffic from those sites to Microsoft's secure servers will help the company protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel's activities.
Also Read : Fortnite : A Gold Mine for Hackers
"Our disruption will not prevent Nickel from continuing other hacking activities, but we do believe we have removed a key piece of the infrastructure the group has been relying on for this latest wave of attacks," Burt said late on Monday.
To date, in 24 lawsuits - five against nation-state actors -- Microsoft has taken down more than 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and nearly 600 sites used by nation-state actors.
"We have also successfully blocked the registration of 600,000 sites to get ahead of criminal actors that planned to use them maliciously in the future," the tech giant informed.
"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations."Unsplash
In some observed activity, Nickel malware used exploits targeting unpatched on-premises Exchange Server and SharePoint systems.
"However, we have not observed any new vulnerabilities in Microsoft products as part of these attacks. Microsoft has created unique signatures to detect and protect from known Nickel activity through our security products, like Microsoft 365 Defender," the company noted.
Nickel has targeted organisations in both the private and public sectors, including diplomatic organisations and ministries of foreign affairs in North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : hacking, China, Microsoft, website, victim, intelligence, attack, malicious, traffic, server, company, disruption, lawsuits, cybercriminals, vulnerability.)
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Chip manufacturer MediaTek on Monday announced that it is focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, substantial expansion in Research and Development capabilities.
MediaTek's plans to boost technology democratisation and enable access to disruptive connectivity with its range of mainstream to flagship 5G chips.
"We at MediaTek are focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, and substantial expansion in our R&D capabilities. For 2022, we are focused on further strengthening our presence in India, offering incredible experiences to customers, and supporting the country's technology initiatives with our expertise and collaboration with leading OEMs," Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India said in a statement.
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In the flagship segment, MediaTek recently announced the Dimensity 9000 chip, which is a milestone of innovation and a rise to the incredible, built-to-power flagship 5G smartphones in the world, the company claims.
MediaTek Dimensity 9000 features a single Cortex-X2 performance core clocked at 3.05GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.85GHz and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz.
It packs a 10-core Arm Mali-G710 that takes care of graphics processing, the report said.
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.Unsplash
Also read: Realme Unveils First 5G Smartphone
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.
The chipset can handle screens with up to a 180Hz refresh rate at Full HD+ resolutions. It is also the first chipset to have an 18-bit image signal processor, offering the ability to capture 4K HDR video using up to three cameras at the same time, or still photos using up to a massive 320MP sensor. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: 5G, smartphones, Mediatek)