Items tagged with semiconductors

Seemingly out of left field, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) revealed it is planning to crank out chips based on a 4-nanometer manufacturing process. Described as an "evolution" from its 5nm node, TSMC says it is currently in discussions with potential customers about leveraging the node, which fills the gap between 5nm and 3nm. There is not a whole lot of information available yet. That is because the folks at EE Times caught wind of the previously unannounced node ahead of an official unveling, and TSMC chairman Mark Liu subsequently confirmed to the outlet that 4nm is indeed in the works. However, he stopped well short of discussing the technology in detail. We assume a formal... Read more...
The rumblings turned out to be true—Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has confirmed plans to build and operate another chip manufacturing plant in the United States, and specifically in Arizona. TSMC said it the made the decision with the understanding that it would receive support from the US government and Arizona officials. "TSMC welcomes continued strong partnership with the U.S. administration and the State of Arizona on this project. This project will require significant capital and technology investments from TSMC. The strong investment climate in the United States, and its talented workforce make this and future investments in the U.S. attractive to TSMC," the chip... Read more...
In a potential move that could shake things up in the mobile space, Google might be taking a page from Apple by designing its own system-on-chip (SoC) hardware for future Pixel smartphones and lower end Chromebook devices. If that turns out to be the case, it would be disappointing news for Qualcomm, and good news for Samsung. Google has traditionally leaned on Qualcomm to power its smartphones. For example, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL wield a Snapdragon 855 processor, while the previous generation Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL both touted a Snapdragon 845 SoC. The same is true of the upcoming Pixel 4a and Pixel 4a XL—they are rumored to run on a Snapdragon 730 chip. By shifting design chores in-house,... Read more...
A chip design startup founded by a trio of former Apple semiconductor architects just raised $53 million in funding. The company is called NUVIA and it hopes to make a splash in the data center by "reimagining chip design to deliver industry-leading performance and energy efficiency." Should Intel and AMD be worried? That remains to be seen, and will depend on NUVIA's ability to execute its vision. The data center is where the big money in chip design is at, though, and it is currently dominated by Intel's Xeon processors. Meanwhile, AMD is making a spirited run with its latest generation EPYC processors, and NVIDIA has a stake as well, with its GPU accelerators. Competing with established heavyweights... Read more...
There is reason to be optimistic AMD will deliver its next-generation Zen 3 processors on schedule. AMD's manufacturing partner, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), says it has begun mass producing chips based on its 7-nanometer plus (7nm+) Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology. TSMC did not mention AMD by name, only that it is "delivering customer products to market in high volume." However, AMD has already confirmed its Zen 3 processors will be manufactured on a 7nm+ node, and said it August the design phase had been completed. At the time, AMD also stated the anticipated roll out of Zen 3 processors next year is "right on track." For TSMC, this 7nm+ node is its first... Read more...
Samsung today said it has developed the industry's first 12-layer 3D-TSV (Through Silicon Via) chip packaging technology, calling it "one of the most challenging packaging technologies for mass production of high performance chips." And that is precisely what it will be used for—it will enable Samsung to mass produce 24GB high bandwidth memory (HBM) sooner than later. What makes this chip packaging technology so challenging is the pinpoint accuracy it requires in order to vertically attach a dozen DRAM chips in a tiny three-dimensional configuration. These configurations consist of 60,000 TSV holes, each of which is just one-twentieth the width of a single strand of human hair. "The thickness... Read more...
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is countersuing rival semiconductor manufacturer GlobalFoundries, alleging several instances of patent infringement related to the company's 40-nanometer, 28-nanometer, 22-nanometer, 14-nanometer, and 12-nanometer process nodes. As part of the lawsuit, TSMC is seeking "substantial monetary damages." The lawsuit appears to be in retaliation to multiple lawsuits GlobalFoundries filed in the US and Germany back on August 26. In its complaints, GlobalFoundries accused TSMC of infringing on 16 of its patents related to its 28nm, 16nm, 12nm, 10nm, and its most recent 7nm production lines. GlobalFoundries asked for an injunction on certain products that... Read more...
TSMC generated $7.75 billion in revenue during the second quarter of 2019, which is down 1.4 percent year-over-year but up 9.2 percent from the previous quarter. In a subsequent conference call with investors, TSMC talked about powering through softening economic conditions, and what the future holds in regards to 5-nanometer (nm) and 3nm process nodes. Referred to by TSMC as N5 and N3, the company is currently busy churning out N7 (or 7nm) silicon, as featured in AMD's third-generation Ryzen processors. AMD has also moved to a 7nm node for its newest generation Navi GPUs and is doing rather well for itself, with a gigantic assist from TSMC on the manufacturing front. Looking ahead, TSMC anticipates... Read more...
In just a few weeks, AMD is expected to roll out its new Ryzen 3000 series of CPUs based on its Zen 2 architecture. These new parts are being built by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) on a 7-nanometer node. Looking ahead, however, TSMC is already talking about 6nm and even 5nm, the latter of which will bring improved logic density by 1.8X over 7nm, the company says. TSMC talked a little bit about its 5nm manufacturing process during a recent earnings call with investors. The company said its 5nm development is "well on track," having entered a phase called "risk production" in the first quarter. It expects a "tape out" in the first half of 2020. That is when designs by clients... Read more...
It’s been a 7-month-long search, but Intel finally has named its permanent CEO, and the company didn’t have to look very far. Intel has announced that interim CEO Robert (Bob) Swan will now serve permanently in that position. Swan previously served as Intel’s Chief Financial Officer, a role he took on in October 2016. Swan is a finance guy at heart, having served as CFO at giants like Electronic Data Systems, TRW, and eBay. However, Swan has spent the past seven months working closely with Intel’s senior leadership ranks as he plots a path forward for a company. Intel is looking to diversify into sectors like artificial intelligence, discrete graphics (GPUs) and autonomous... Read more...
Intel is planning a massive expansion to its D1X research and manufacturing site in Oregon as it sets the pieces in the place for a transition to 7-nanometer production. The project is expected to take at least 18 months and cost billions of dollars, and represents a long term outlook for a market that Intel estimates is worth hundreds of billions of dollars. "We are now competing to win in an estimated $300 billion total addressable market for silicon—making a more diverse array of products at ever-higher volumes for a broader set of customers. Intel is not just the CPU inside your personal computer," Intel stated last month when announcing plans to expand its D1X facility Intel said it... Read more...
AMD is going all-in on 7-nanometer manufacturing for both its CPUs and GPUs, and it doesn't look like the company will have to worry about low inventories. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reportedly seen a reduction in 7nm orders from Apple, HiSilicon, and Qualcomm, and subsequently will not be operating at full capacity on its 7nm assembly lines. Looking ahead, AMD has its Zen 2 processor and Navi GPU architectures around the bend, both of which are being built on a 7nm manufacturing process. It's important to note that AMD does not build the actual chips—it's a fabless outfit that designs the silicon, and then has companies like TSMC and GlobalFoundries produce the... Read more...
Intel insists it's on track to ship 10-nanometer processors in volume by the end of next year, but what could be even more exciting is what lies beyond the confines of CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology. In a newly published research paper in Nature, researchers from Intel, the University of California Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory describe a magneto-electric spin-orbit (MESO) logic device, invented by Intel. MESO could be the thing that replaces CMOS some day. According to Intel, MESO devices can potentially lower voltage requirements five-fold and reduce energy requirements by 10-30 times when combined with ultra-low sleep state power, compared... Read more...
At times it seems as though Apple is loathe to work with its manufacturing and component supply partners, most notably Samsung, a rival in the mobile space. So, it's not really surprising that Apple is entering into a massive $600 million partial acquisition and licensing deal with Dialog Semiconductor, a fabless semiconductor company that is mostly focused on developing integrated and mixed-signal products. "Our passion for innovation and entrepreneurial spirit ensures we remain at the core of mobile computing and the Internet of Things ('IoT')," Dialog Semiconductor explains on its website. The company also touts how its technologies "contribute to extending battery life in portable devices,... Read more...
While testifying before Congress over the Cambridge Analytical privacy scandal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly talked about the need to further develop artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to tackle several of the challenges the company currently faces. Apparently that includes designing its own chips, too. Facebook is looking to hire silicon design engineers to develop ASIC and FPGA hardware that will drive its next generation technologies. The job listing does not go into great detail about Facebook's semiconductor plans, though it does mention designing semi-custom and fully custom ASICs. By assembling its own chip design team, Facebook would ultimately make itself less reliant... Read more...
Qualcomm on Tuesday increased its bid to buy NXP Semiconductors, agreeing to pay $127.50 for each share of the Dutch chipmaker. The revised amount is 16 percent higher than what Qualcomm originally proposed last October, which at the time stood at $110 per share. Qualcomm's amended agreement is an aggressive move that is seen in part as a strategy to fend off an hostile takeover by Broadcom. "NXP is a highly strategic and attractive acquisition for Qualcomm that enhances the value of our leading 5G technologies. We also believe the revised agreement provides certainty for both Qualcomm and NXP stockholders," said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, Chairman of the Board of Qualcomm. Tom Horton, Qualcomm's presiding... Read more...
TSMC has broken ground on a new 5nm fab that will be used to produce the world's first 5-nanometer chips starting in 2020. TSMC builds chips for numerous manufacturers, including NVIDIA, Qualcomm and many others. The new Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 mobile chips coming this year are built on the TSMC 7nm technology. With TSMC promising the first chips using its new 5nm tech in 2020, that would likely mean we can expect the first 5nm chips from fabless semiconductor partners like Qualcomm and others, roughly in that same time frame. The groundbreaking ceremony was held in Taiwan and the facility will reportedly be the largest manufacturing site for TSMC when completed. TSMC also expects that the capital... Read more...
Broadcom is hoping to pull of the largest technology transaction of all time in its bid to acquire Qualcomm. The company made an ambitious cash and stock offer valued at around $130 billion, and it stands whether Qualcomm is able to consummate its deal to acquire NXP Semiconductors at $110 per share or not. Either way, Qualcomm now has a big decision to make. It may also try to negotiate an even higher price. The unsolicited proposal from Broadcom comes to $70 per outstanding share, broken down into $60 in cash and $10 per share. That represents a 28 percent over the closing price of Qualcomm's common stock yesterday, the last unaffected trading day prior to media speculation, and a premium of... Read more...
Samsung today announced that it is ready to start producing semiconductors based on its 8-nanometer FinFET Low Power Plus (LPP) manufacturing process. The company's newest process node provides up to 10 percent lower power consumption compared to its 10nm LPP process, and also takes up 10 percent less space due to a narrower metal pitch, Samsung stated in a press release. "With the qualification completed three months ahead of schedule, we have commenced 8LPP production," said Ryan Lee, Vice President of Foundry Marketing at Samsung Electronics. "Samsung Foundry continues to expand its process portfolio in order to provide distinct competitive advantages and excellent manufacturability based... Read more...
When it comes to electronics, semiconductors make the world go round. This has been true for many decades, though future generations will own devices with different physical makeups than those that are in use today. That includes a potential move away from silicon. In what could be a glimpse into the future, electrical engineers at Stanford have identified a pair of ultrathin semiconductor materials that are every bit as good (and perhaps better) than silicon. Those materials are called hafnium diselenide and zirconium diselenide. Like silicon, these materials can "rust" in a way that is conducive to electronics. In fact, the researchers say they rust in a manner that is even more desirable than... Read more...
We might be reaching a point where mid-range smartphones are good enough for most people. That may seem like a double-edged sword for Qualcomm, which just announced its new Snapdragon 450 processor for such devices, but there is still room at the high-end for things like virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), artificial intelligence, and other tasks that push the limits of today's mobile processors. Meanwhile, mid-range devices are about to get a performance boost.The Snapdragon 450 is the first mid-range processor to be built on a 14-nanometer FinFET process. Compared to its predecessor (Snapdragon 435), it brings with it a meatier octa-core ARM Cortex A53 CPU that... Read more...
The memory chip wars are heating up. Just four months ago, Western Digital kicked off pilot production of the industry's first 64-layer 512-gigabyte (Gb) 3D NAND flash memory. While it will take some time to reach mass production status, that's exactly where Samsung is now at with its 64-layer 256Gb Vertical NAND (V-NAND) chips, which were an industry-first back in January. Volume production of 64-layer 256Gb V-NAND flash memory means more availability for high-performance storage solutions in multiple categories, including server, consumer PC, and even mobile. Samsung says it has been working with on a wide range of solutions itself, including embedded UFS memory, branded solid state drives... Read more...
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