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Monday 26 July 2021
Subverting and transforming the mobility market
COVID-19 has prompted many people to rethink life and work, and many industries to accelerate their development. Vehicle electrification has been picking up space, and the car industry and smart mobility have entered a new era promising better, faster and more efficient development.
LATEST STORIES
Tuesday 20 July 2021
TSMC dossier (9): New frontier of customer relation
Many years ago, a friend of mine in the industry told me a joke about customer relationships in the foundry sector. He said that UMC took good care of customers and would actively matchmake customers for partnership opportunities. SMIC took pride in being a national icon and gave the best service to its fellow Chinese firms. It was not the case for TSMC though. Its customers came from near and far for its leading-edge technology. If the yield rate for a customer's chips was not up to standard, TSMC was not to blame. There must be something wrong with the customer's design or spec because TSMC never made a mistake.
Thursday 15 July 2021
Bluetooth LBS apps getting popularity for COVID tracking, says Digitimes Research
The popularity of Bluetooth LBS (location based service) apps is rising as the related applications can be used for direction-tracking or as electronic fences to trace and analyze the footprints of confirmed COVIC-19 cases, helping curb the spread of the coronavirus, Digitimes Research has found.
Thursday 15 July 2021
Development of on-device AI chips for smart speakers gaining momentum
The development of on-device AI chips for smart speaker applications is gaining momentum as brand vendors are incorporating those chips into their speaker products to improve related real-time voice services and sound quality and enhance the protection of user privacy by reducing the reliance on cloud applications, Digitimes Research has found.
Thursday 15 July 2021
TSMC dossier (6): Possible ways to defeat the world's top foundry house
I tried to work out some scenarios where TSMC could be defeated, the first being throwing in it into a state of panic. The semiconductor fabrication industry is highly connected with the surrounding infrastructure. A foundry service provider needs first-rate engineers and production environment. When I visited TSMC founder Morris Chang 13 or 14 years ago, he told me there was no land north of Hsinchu to build a 12-inch wafer fab. Aside from locations in central and southern Taiwan and properties owned by state-operated companies, the Taiwan government finally managed to find a piece of land near Baoshan in Hsinchu for TSMC to establish a next-generation production base. The goal was to enable TSMC to still tap the mature talent and stable water and electricity supply in Hsinchu. It is known that TSMC is given supply priority when there is water or power shortage in Hsinchu.
Wednesday 14 July 2021
TSMC dossier (5): The winning formula
TSMC's capital expenditure exceeded US$10 billion for the first time in 2016. If TSMC further increases its capex and it drives investments into peripheral businesses and attracts funds from foreign corporations, the contribution these investments will make to Taiwan's GDP growth is worth investigating.
Tuesday 13 July 2021
TSMC dossier (4): Technology contention among world-class leaders
Intel claims that TSMC's 7nm process is the equivalent of Intel's 10nm process. This may be true in terms of tech specs but Intel hasn't really outraced still TSMC. Samsung, on several occasions, announced they led TSMC in launching more advanced process technologies, but it failed to secure key customers. For the foundry sector, announcing more advanced process nodes ahead of competitors doesn't necessarily mean success. Production yield rates, partnerships with suppliers and co-development with customers nmnplay more important roles.
Monday 12 July 2021
TSMC dossier (3): Tech leadership and aggressive investment
For the past few years, TSMC has consistently allocated around 8% of its revenue toward R&D. At the first glance, 8% may not seem like a large sum. However, TSMC generates a foundry service revenue that is three to four times what Samsung makes and six to eight times what UMC makes. Even if Samsung and UMC invested the same percentage of their revenue into R&D, there'd still be a big difference between their R&D expenditure and TSMC's. On top of that, TSMC is already way ahead in process technology. It will be difficult for those lagging behind to overtake TSMC even if they do it at all costs. Besides, TSMC vows not to meddle with customers' business and uphold the principle of neutrality above all else - a principle that is the key to its success.
Friday 9 July 2021
TSMC dossier (2): The 3 phases of transformation
Since its founding in 1987, TSMC has undergone three phases of development. The first phase saw it stress its position as a pure-play foundry. Like most other companies in Taiwan, it was seeking to gain a foothold in the semiconductor manufacturing sector. Its focus was on making chips and its message to customers was that they could completely trust TSMC. By not meddling with customers' business and upholding the core value of neutrality, TSMC concentrated on creating values for customers. During this phase, TSMC was a small potato who wished it might rival Intel someday.
Thursday 8 July 2021
SAIC has no intention to build cars with Huawei
As a top player in the car supply chain, Huawei has established partnerships with many Chinese carmakers. However, one of the biggest carmakers in China, SAIC Motor, has said it has no intention to work with Huawei on building "soulless" automobiles.
Thursday 8 July 2021
TSMC dossier (1): 3 pillars to foundry's competitiveness - process technology, customer relationship and industry ecosystem
Mainstream media including Wall Street Journal and the CEO of TSMC's rival GlobalFoundries have all pointed out that having TSMC manufacture a majority of semiconductor chips is the biggest risk to the global supply chain. The claim has merit. TSMC dominates around 55% of the foundry market and generates more than 80% of the foundry industry's revenue. A TSMC production halt will seriously disrupt the global handset, server and even automotive sectors. It doesn't matter what competitors say but it matters how one builds up strength that others cannot question and challenge. Former Intel CEO Andy Grove once said, "The more successful you are, the more people want a chunk of your business and then another chunk and then another until there is nothing."
Tuesday 6 July 2021
Notebook chip and component shortage to improve in 4Q21
The ongoing shortage of notebook-use chips, panels and other components is expected to improve substantially in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to Digitimes Research.
Tuesday 6 July 2021
US cable operators rely on MVNO to expand coverage
US cable operators Comcast, Charter, AT&T and Verizon have seen huge growth in users as remote learning and working are still dominant. Meanwhile, small and medium DSL Internet providers who do not offer high-speed Internet connectivity are struggling, seeking bankruptcy protecion or suffering huge declines in revenue. These DSL providers are now being subsidized by the US government to upgrade to fiber network. This year, the US telecom market will continue to robust growth, as the US government plans to funnel US$3 billion out of the Biden administration's US$1.9 trillion COVID relief bill into paying for low- and middle-income families' Internet bills.
Tuesday 6 July 2021
AR to improve production efficiency
Smart manufacturing and remote collaboration have been in hot demand since the pandemic hit the manufacturing industry. Augmented reality (AR), for one, can be integrated into both remote and on-site operations and can help improve efficiency. However, site regulations and evaluations of benefit must not be overlooked. Manufacturers should go through trial phases before investing in advanced AR wearables, 5G private network, AR software, etc.
Friday 2 July 2021
Taiwan-based makers' production in ASEAN and South Asia to extend beyond notebooks, handsets to EV
According to DIGITIMES' study on the data of publicly listed companies in the automotive and electronics industries, 95 out of the 100 largest firms are based in Japan, China, Taiwan and South Korea. It can be foreseen that the process of ASEAN countries and South Asia transitioning to becoming the next production hub will be driven by Northeast Asian countries. Taiwan-based manufacturers with an OEM business focus that highlight the value of being "harmless" will be the best strategic partners to these countries on the way to starting their own high-tech industry development.
Tuesday 29 June 2021
South Korea's handset industry is leading indicator of supply chain shift
In an effort to reduce costs and meet emerging markets' demand, Samsung has chosen to place two thirds of its global production capacity at 360 million phones near Hanoi, Vietnam and one third in Noida, India. At the same time, a group of American brands led by Apple have asked their Taiwan-based OEMs to set up production facilities in India. Taiwan's three largest manufacturers Wistron, Pegatron and Foxconn all have production lines up and running in India. Before this, Taiwan-based notebook computer manufacturers had already moved their production to major ASEAN countries. It is a definite trend that manufacturers are relocating part of their production out of China into ASEAN countries and South Asia amid the changes in the US-China trade relations and the paradigm shift toward regional production.