Category: Chips

Intel IDF is No More

Intel has decided to end its annual Intel Developer Forum, including IDF 17 expected in August this year.

Intel posted the following on its webpage;

“Intel has evolved its event portfolio and decided to retire the IDF program moving forward. Thank you for nearly 20 great years with the Intel Developer Forum! Intel has a number of resources available on intel.com, including a Resource and Design Center with documentation, software, and tools for designers, engineers, and developers. As always, our customers, partners, and developers should reach out to their Intel representative with questions.”

Intel announced earlier that it would not be sponsoring an IDF event in China this year. It was still expected in the US with a “new format”.  Prior to today’s announcement, Intel’s IDF page stated:

“We are making changes to the Intel Developer Forum. This fall the event in San Francisco will have a new format and we will not be hosting an event in China. More details to come soon.”

It added to “keep checking this page in the middle of March for updates”.  No update was made in the middle of March, in fact, “keep checking this page” disappeared with today’s announcement permanently cancelling IDF.

IDF was nearly 20 years old and had its origins in the early 1990s as a quarterly update as a service to its PC customers run by sales staff until 1995 when Intel Corporate decided to pick up the venue as an annual industry wide event.

Intel’s business has grown into separate and distinct segments whose management felt that IDF no longer served them as a direct means of communicating their message. The rise of AI, FPGAs, Optane, automotive, IoT, and wireless communications diminished the delivery of any direct message emanating from any one group.

Intel is now deciding how to find new ways of disseminating information to their respective audiences (media, developers and customers). How the company works through this process is still to be determined.

TechEye Take

The fact that Intel’s Data Center Group was not happy over the amount of support it provided to other disparate groups at Intel has been an open secret for a least the last couple of years. It is somewhat of a surprise that the separation did not occur sooner.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that much of what made up IDF is considered to be necessary for the industry financial and strategic technology analysts to understand the company’s Data Center Group’s direction in the Enterprise and Cloud Market segments. But that’s Diane Bryant’s problem now.

What is not clear is what Intel has planned to replace something that was working but not in all the right ways to satisfy certain marketing types in messaging their customers, their investors and the industry at large. Now the entire world+dog is left in the lurch of the wonder gap of what will happen next…,

Qualcomm swings handbag at Apple

Chipmaker Qualcomm has replied to the fruity, tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple’s allegation that it has been playing monopoly by swinging a handbag of its own.

It claimed that the iPhone maker breached agreements with the firm and encouraged regulatory attacks on its business in various jurisdictions around the world by making false statements.

Apple had filed the lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of overcharging for chips and refusing to pay some $1 billion in promised rebates. The lawsuit came days after the US government accused the chipmaker of resorting to anticompetitive tactics to maintain a monopoly over key semiconductors in mobile phones.

In a statement, Qualcomm said that Apple has launched a global attack on Qualcomm and is attempting to use its enormous market power to coerce unfair and unreasonable licence terms from Qualcomm.

Qualcomm filed counterclaims to Apple’s lawsuit with the US District Court for the Southern District of California.

The chipmaker said in the statement that Apple interfered in its agreements with licensees that manufacture iPhones and iPads.

Qualcomm also said Apple threatened it in an attempt to prevent it from making any public comparisons about the superior performance of the Qualcomm-powered iPhones, and misrepresented performance differences between iPhones using Qualcomm modems and those using competitor-supplied modems.

Apple has filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm in Beijing, alleging the chip supplier abused its clout in the chip industry and seeking $145.32 million in damages.

Samsung makes record earnings from chips

Never mind the fact that one of your flagship products caught fire and your Vice Chairman is in jail, Samsung is still winning.

Record earnings at Samsung Electronics chip division are set to propel the tech giant’s first-quarter profit to a three and a half year high, and the quarters ahead could be even better if its newest smartphone, Galaxy S8, is a success.

A boom in memory chips spurred by demand from smartphones and servers has helped Samsung tide over the costly failure last year of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and management turmoil.

Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee is on trial for bribery and other charges linked to a corruption scandal that led to the ouster and arrest of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Shares of Samsung, Asia’s biggest company by market capitalization and the world’s largest memory chip maker, are near record highs after gaining nearly 17 percent so far this year, on top of the 43 percent surge in 2016.

Wall Street has on average estimated Samsung’s January to March operating profit to have risen 41 percent from a year earlier to $8.44 billion.  This is the highest profit since the best ever profit clocked in the third quarter of 2013.

And as Samsung prepares to start selling its revamped Galaxy S8 from April 21, the average forecast from the same survey tips Samsung to report a record 11.9 trillion won profit in the second quarter.

Analysts expect tight supply conditions for memory chips to continue this year, particularly in NAND flash chips used for long-term data storage, keeping Samsung’s margins padded. That leaves the mobile division as the key earnings variable, they said.

Some analysts and Samsung’s head of smartphone business expect the phone’s first year sales to beat that of predecessor S7, setting a new record for the South Korean company.

 

Silver Lake and Broadcom want Toshiba’s flash

Private equity outfit Silver Lake and US chipmaker Broadcom have offered Toshiba Corp about $17.9 billion for its chip unit.

According to the Nikkei Business Daily, 10 bidders have thrown their hats in the ring to buy a stake the NAND flash memory maker.

These include Western Digital which runs a chip plant with Toshiba in Japan, Micron, and South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix and financial investors.

Toshiba wants to make at least $8.93 billion from the sale of part or all the business to cover write-downs at its Westinghouse nuclear unit. It says it expects investors to value its chip operations at about $17.9 billion. This means that the Silver Lake Broadcom offer is close to the asking price.

Toshiba is also asking potential bidders whether they intend to resell their stakes and wants to decide on the sale before a shareholders meeting in June, the Nikkei said, without saying where it obtained the information.

Toshiba shareholders on Thursday agreed to split off its prized chip unit, paving the way for the sale.

 

SK Hynix in talks to buy Tosh’s memory chip business

South Korean chipmaker SK Hynix is in talks with Japanese financial investors about forming a consortium and jointly bidding for Toshiba’s memory chip business.

According to the Korea Economic Daily which found it difficult to get anyone to talk on the record, SK Hynix, the world’s No. 2 memory chip maker behind Samsung plans to give a preliminary bid for the Toshiba chip business today.

The Japanese firm put up the business for sale because it needs the cash to deal with its $6.3 billion writedown caused by the fact that invested in a bankrupt nuclear unit Westinghouse. Tosh has applied to bankrupt Westinghouse and write off its assets.

Tosh’s memory business has been doing well and would make a good partner for SK Hynix if it can gather together enough readies to buy it.

Intel goes to Nervana to sort out its intelligence

Chipzilla has put its artificial intelligence efforts into a single business group led by former CEO of Nervana,  Naveen Rao.

For those who came in late, Intel bought Nervana in the firm belief that the next big thing will be AI powered IT innovation and machine learning.

Writing in his bog, Rao outlined how the Artificial Intelligence Products Group will work across multiple units. Part of the group’s remit will be to bring AI costs down and forge standards. Rao said the group will combine engineering, labs, software, and hardware from its portfolio.

Intel is building an AI lab and a centralised organisation, reporting directly to CEO Brian Krzanich, to make it all work.

This is classic organisational strategy, accelerating delivery by creating  a cross-product group directly reporting to the CEO.

TSMC mulls US chip plant

TSMC fab in Hsinchu - Wikimedia CommonsTSMC has said that it will decide next year on building a US chip plant to get the Trump government off its back.

TSMC chairman Morris Chang had said the company did not rule out the idea of building a US foundry, however it now is clear the company is waiting until next year to see what happens.

The company said that there would be a loss of some benefits if it moved to the States. If an earthquake happened for instance in Taiwan, it could send thousands of people there as support, while it is harder in the States.

Local media CNA news agency reported on Monday that TSMC would make a decision on the plant in the first half of 2018.

The report also said TSMC was considering a $16.41 billion investment for the plant.

But the company could also be distracted by another more pressing matter of investing in Toshiba’s chip business. An industry source familiar with the matter said TSMC was deeply interested in the Toshiba unit.

Nvidia to launch most powerful card yet

Nvidia is officially launching its most powerful gaming graphics card today.

Dubbed the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, the card was announced last week at the Game Developers Conference.

Nvidia has now spilt the beans on the card’s performance. Though its memory complement and a few blocks within the GPU are reduced versus Nvidia’s previous top-end card, the Titan X, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti makes up for its shortcomings with higher memory clocks.

These are based on new and improved Micron GDDR5X memory, faster core clocks and an improved cooler.

The 1080 Ti retails for $699, which is nearly half the price of the $1200 for the Titan X, and it is faster.

The GeForce GTX 1080 Ti performed on par with or slightly faster than the NVIDIA Titan X and roughly 30-35 per cent better than the standard GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition.

There is no competition with AMD’s current flagship GPU, the Radeon R9 Fury X; the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti was at times nearly twice as fast than the Fury X.

AMD talks up Naples

AMD has been telling the world+dog about its next generation Zen-based server platform, codenamed Naples.

Naples is an up to 32-core, 64-thread variant of Zen, targeted at enterprise and data centres.

AMD said that Naples processors will feature eight-channel DDR4 memory controllers (with up to 16 DIMMs attached per CPU), with support for up to 4TB of memory and 128 lanes of on-chip PCI Express connectivity.

All this will be in a dual processor/dual socket configuration, which gives Naples up to 64 physical cores (128 threads), access to 32 DIMM slots, and aggregate 16 memory channels. This is double the memory channels, higher memory and more cores than a similar Intel Xeon E5-2699A V4 based server.

AMD’s performance comparisons at its tech day event pit a 2P Naples server with 512GB of DDR4 RAM up against a 2P Intel Xeon E4-2699A V4 configuration with 384GB of RAM.

The Naples system had a higher memory capacity and that memory was clocked much higher too — 2400MHz versus 1866MHz. The Naples system has more cores, and with SMT on, can ultimately process more threads.

The AMD Naples system also has double the memory channels, further improving peak memory bandwidth. In its demos, AMD used a seismic analysis workload, which involved multiple iterations of 3D wave equations.

The only thing that AMD didn’t provide were the prices, but it did say that they should be in the shops in Q2 this year.

Mobile Dialog expects good revenue growth

 

The maker of chips for Apple and Samsung said it expected “good revenue growth” in 2017, indicating a bumper year for high end consumer devices.

Dialog Semiconductor depends for about three quarters of its revenues on smartphone makers, in January already reported a five percent rise in fourth quarter sales to $365 million.

Dialog on Thursday said it expected sales of $255-$285 million in the first quarter of 2017, up from the $241 million it made in the year-earlier quarter.

Hopes for strong chip deliveries to Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy have lifted the stock to a 17-month high, gaining 19 percent so far, this year and more than doubling from the 23.21 euro it hit in June.

Apple and Samsung are launching their new smartphones in the coming weeks. Expectations are high, especially for the 10 year edition of the iPhone, contains Dialog’s power management chip.