Tag: manufacturing

Chip maker predicts poor sales

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsThe Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) makes semiconductors for a number of companies including Qualcomm, Apple, Mediatek and others but it today said revenues for its fourth quarter wouldn’t be as buoyant as it first thought.

TSMC said its revenues would show the first fall in the quarter for four years.

In a statement it said that while its third financial quarter would do better than it expected because of a better exchange rate between the US dollar and the Taiwanese dollar, it expected a decline in its fourth quarter.

Although TSMC did not give a reason for the decline, there’s evidence that slack demand for smartphones and other electronics devices will be responsible for the decline.

The company said in the summer that inventories of chips in PCs, tablets and smartphones remained high.

Despite the fluctuations in the chip maker’s fortunes, TSMC still expects that it will show sales growth of close to 10 percent.

Enterprises consider internet of things strategic

internet of thingsA report from IDC said that a survey it conducted showed that 73 percent of organisations surveyed have either already inplemented internet of things strategies or will do so in the next year.

Different sectors are moving at different speeds, however. IDC said that the healthcare industry is ahead of the game, followed by transportation and manufacturing.

But government lags behind, the report said.

IDC surveyed 2,500 respondents from 15 countries and claims that has shown that the internet of things “is not just a concept but a real global accelerator of the third platform”.

But organisation are still chary about implementation, with security a major worry as well as putting up money and ongoing costs.

And in 2015, hardware vendors fell behind software vendors in implenting products and plans.

The retail industry, said IDC, is currently the underdog but that is set to change on the next 24 months.

The enterprises surveyed by IDC included organisations with over 500 employees and 50 percent of those who responded had at least heard of the phrase internet of things.

Robots could bring manufacturing back to the US and EU

humans-channel4-amc-sci-fi-tv-seriesThe falling cost of intelligent robots may help bring back car manufacturing to the EU and US

Donald Walker, Chief Executive of auto supplier Magna suggested that rising wages in China and the cost of importing heavy components like electric car batteries into Europe may lead established car makers to introduce more highly efficient automated manufacturing closer to home.

Speaking at the Frankfurt auto show Walker said that assembly plants were evolving and the cost of robots was going down.

By 2025 the total cost of manufacturing labor is projected to fall between 18 and 33 percent in countries which already deploy industrial robots, including South Korea, China, the U.S. Germany and Japan, a study on advanced manufacturing technologies by the Boston Consulting Group showed.

The emergence of hybrid and electric cars means auto makers have seen an increasing demand for large batteries, Walker explained.

“If you look at a battery, it is a big heavy thing to ship. The things that hold the battery, the bumpers, the wheels, those are big bulky parts,” Walker said.

“I think you will still see cars made where the market is. And based on that, the big bulky parts and a lot of the technology in there, will probably be made locally,” Walker said

Intel “needs regime change”

Intel bus - Wikimedia CommonsA financial analyst believes that Intel is fast turning into the Blackberry of the semiconductor industry and has called for “regime change” at the corporation. Has Intel missed the bus?

Mark Hibben, at Seeking Alpha, believes that Intel’s “mobile strategy is an abysmal failure and is reminiscent of Blackberry’s response to Apple’s iPhone”.

He also thinks that after he’s crunched through the earnings, the picture for Intel isn’t that bright, with operating income down by a quarter year on year, and revenue down 4.7 percent year on year.

“The EPS beat was an artifact of an abnormally low income tax provision for the quarter. Intel is no longer a growth story despite the representations of Intel management,” he said.

Intel was able to lower its provision for taxes to $277 million for the latest quarter, compared to $1.126 billion in the same quarter last year.

Hibben believes that the fall in operating income is down to its client computing group, with revenues down in both Intel’s first and second financial quarters.

Intel is still subsidising suppliers of tablet computers with its chips.

He concludes: “Intel has become a short opportunity. The ingredients are all there. A management out of touch with reality. A company that is shrinking rather than growing and doesn’t understand why. A base of investor/fans clinging to an image of Intel from its glory days. Intel has become the BlackBerry of semiconductors.”

TechEye believes Hibben is right…

China faces big DRAM challenges

Taiwan scene - pic Mike MageeWhile the Chinese government is determined to grow its domestic semiconductor business over the next five years, there are some severe obstacles in its path.

According to the Trendforce market research company, DRAM is the most likely entry point for semiconductor fabrication.

But there are some problems ahead. While China has massive financial muscle, a large domestic market and the will to succeed, established memory makers such as Samsung, Hynix and US company Micron own must of the intellectual property.

Trendforce analyst Ding Wenwu said that the likely way for China to play catch up is by making partnership agreements. There are existing semiconductor deals to emulate – such as a cooperative venture between Intel and Spreadtrum.

The other route is through buying companies – for example Silicon Solutions Incorporated was bought for $21 a share earlier this month by investment company Summerview Capital, outflanking Cypress Semiconductor.

An obvious route would be through association with established semiconductor companies based across the Taiwan Straits. Trendforce said that senior Chinese officials have already visited Taiwanese companies but also needs to convince the government on the island that it’s feasible to make partnership agreements without harming domestic interests.

Internet of things continues to buzz

Bee swarm - Wikimedia CommonsAlthough there is still a lack of standardisation for the Internet of Things (IoT), a bullish report suggests the market worldwide will grow by 19 percent this year.

The forecast, from IDC, is even more bullish about the future. For example, it estimates that the IoT market in manufacturing will be worth $98.8 billion by 2018.

Digital signage will be worth $27.5 billion in 2018, that’s up from revenues of $6 billion in 2013.

But IDC predicts strong growth in “connected vehicles”, with the market growing by 34.8 percent this year.

IDC is concentrating on 11 vertical industries including home, retail, healthcare, government, manufacturing and transportation.

Most manufacturers turn to the cloud

No cloudsAs many as 41 percent of manufacturers in the USA access IT resources using cloud computing.

That forms part of the result of a worldwide survey conducted by IDC which notes that despite IT spending on the decline, manufacturers are taking cloud computing very seriously indeed.

IDC said that the advantages of the cloud for manufacturers are important because of cost and speed. As many as 50 percent of the companies it surveyed in Europe are seriously readying cloud adoption – and 49 percent in Asia are taking the same ations.

The report said the majority of manufacturers across the globe are using public or private cloud for more than two applications.

IDC estimates that cloud computing will become the de facto standard for manufacturing over the next 10 years, with many relying on them to run their businesses.

It’s not clear which vendors are likely to benefit the most from this move to cloud computing – there is no standard but the major players have already positioned themselves to grab the increased business.

AMD confirms mid-range Kaveri chip delay

AMD has confirmed that its mid-range Kaveri chip will to be available in pre-built systems, but will not go on sale to the “great unwashed” any time soon.

AMD said that production of the AMD A8-7600 is on track and will be available first to AMD’s OEM customers in Q1 2014, to ensure the introduction of AMD based systems in Q2 2014. Additional parts of the AMD A8-7600 for PIB production will be available for sale in the component channel will not be around until the second half of the year.

The quad-core A8-7600 doesn’t have the clock speed of the flagship A10-7850K, coming it at 3.3GHz base and 3.8 Ghz, nor does it have the unlocked multiplier or GPU power. What it does have is that it can manage 80-90 percent of the A10-7850K’s performance for less than three-quarters of the price.

It also has a 65W power range which nearly makes it laptop-friendly and could lead to a mobile version.

AMD is not saying why the chip has been delayed. Word on the street is that there is a high-demand for pre-built Kaveri-powered systems from emerging markets and AMD could not make enough of them for the component channel.

AMD took the unusual step of positioning the A8-7600 as a launch part rather than focusing entirely on the high end of its nascent product family. Extreme Tech thinks that this is because Steamroller architecture doesn’t scale particularly well at high clock speeds.

Still the chip could take advantage of the sudden interest in Steam Machines or similar systems. 

Brazil sues Samsung for alleged factory worker abuses

Prosecutors in Brazil are suing Samsung over allegations of labour abuses at a Zona Franca de Manaus factory.

The Korean company is being investigated for allegedly having staff work long shifts for dozens of days in a row, according to the Korea Times.

The Zona Franca de Manaus factory employs 6,000 workers who build budget smartphones, mid-market TVs and other electronics for Samsung.

The Zona Franca de Manaus is a special economic area where a lot of factories, particularly electronics factories, operate. Once established in the free zone, companies are exempt from import and export tax, as well as making them liable to discounts from government and exemption from property tax for ten years.

Samsung has told Brazilian authorities that it will cooperate.

In a statement, the company said: “We will make our best efforts to address the allegations by Brazil’s Ministry of Labor and Employment. We have so far been consistent in providing competitive welfare systems and creating safe working environments.

“As Samsung is a global company, we strictly abide by all laws in the regions we operate”.

Last year, a China Labor Watch report accused Samsung of complicity in worker abuses at its factories, including underaged workers, forced overtime, gender discrimination, and verbal and physical abuse.

Raspberry pi hits manufacturing snag

The British makers of the Raspberry Pi have admitted a manufacturing flaw has delayed shipments of the sold-out, cheap as chips computer.

The first run of 11,000 Raspberry pi’s sold out soon after going on sale. The group behind the low-cost computer said it has known about the flaw in the first batch of devices for four days.

Writing in her bog, spokeswoman Liz Upton said that it is inevitable that you are “freewheeling along perfectly happily and then you get a puncture.”

The delay is the result of the factory using non-magnetic jacks instead of parts with integrated magnetics.

This causes problems because a lack of magnets means no network connection. The two pieces look so alike they need to be dismantled or have an x-ray taken to tell them apart.

Apparently the problem is minor, and the factory has almost finished replacing the jacks. It means that the first boards should still go out to customers as planned but subsequent shipments may be slightly delayed as the team now has to source more magnetic jacks.

The outfit said it was sorry and will keep everyone updated with how manufacture is moving. Upton said that it was a minor problem, but it’s still a bump in the road.