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U.S. China chips

Chipmakers Face Another Year of Geopolitical Rifts

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake:
Geopolitical issues continue to pose serious challenges to the semiconductor industry and the fallout will continue in 2023. Pushed into a corner by stiff sanctions, China will be more motivated to wean itself off Western technology. This may cause an irreversible decoupling of the chip supply chain with significant implications.

China will fall short of its vaunted goal of self-sufficiency in technology production by 2025. Face with stiff economic sanctions, Beijing will accelerate plans to liberate itself from the Western-led semiconductor supply chain, according to veteran industry watcher Jean-Christophe Eloy.

Read More »Chipmakers Face Another Year of Geopolitical Rifts
Crystal Ball 2023

Phil Koopman’s 2023 AV Predictions

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
The auto industry is already steering hard toward Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). But in terms of safety, it’s wrong to think ADAS is easier than AV. Nor should anyone assume that AV and ADAS are following separate paths. Safety expert Phil Koopman calls Level 2 driver assistance is “a fiction.”

After spending a decade pushing for robotaxis, 2022 turned out to be a year of reckoning for the autonomous vehicle (AV) industry. The AV emperor, it turns out, was naked as the auto industry greatly underestimated how hard it is to implement autonomous driving.

Read More »Phil Koopman’s 2023 AV Predictions
triangulate vertically integrated

Onsemi Triangulates Its Silicon Carbide Strategy

By George Leopold

What’s at stake:
Silicon carbide remains a luxury technology: Nice to have but still pricey. New all-inclusive business models that allow chipmakers to produce SiC materials, devices and packages are seen as one way to scale the technology to reduce cost. Onsemi is among those with an early-mover advantage.

Early investors in the nascent market for silicon carbide (SiC) technology have a leg up on relative late-comers jumping on the power-electronics bandwagon being driven by electric vehicle and industrial applications. Among those advantages are the ability to address the emerging SiC market through a vertically integrated business model that enables across-the-board production of material substrates, or boules, wafers, devices and SiC packages.

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Mike Noonen

Mike Noonen: The Startup Launching Maestro

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake?
Mike Noonen is the man semiconductor startup founders and venture capitalists call upon to hustle their investments through production to IPO or acquisition. By joining AR/VR holographic chip developer Swave, Noonen is about to accelerate disruption of the virtual imaging market.

The Mike Noonen semiconductor startup academy would be a roaring success. That is, if Noonen, now CEO of Swave Photonics, had one.

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lithium-ion battery pack

The Lithium-Ion Battery Was a Long Time Coming

By George Leopold

What’s at Stake:
Early in the previous century, about 38 percent of vehicles on American roads were powered by electricity. Last year, just 3 percent of new U.S. cars sold were electric. Those statistics underscore the decidedly uneven development and market impact of the leading electric vehicle battery chemistry. As author Charles Murray notes, lithium-ion technology has nonetheless helped reignite the EV market after many fits and starts.

Veteran technology journalist Charles Murray chronicles the history of the lithium-ion battery and its central role in propelling EVs in Long Hard Road: The Lithium-Ion Battery and the Electric Car (Purdue University Press, September 2022).

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VW-Horizon Deal: Winners, Risks, and Legacy OEMs’ Future

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake?
China is primed to dominate the global EV market. Hence, news of the VW-Horizon Robotics agreement doesn’t necessarily represent a design win for the Chinese AI chip startup. At stake is the survival of Volkswagen, among the world’s largest legacy OEMs. Has VW considered the consequences of this deal ten years down the road?

When the news of Volkswagen’s 2.4-billion euro investment in China’s AI startup broke last week, Tu Le was one of our first calls.

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Nakul Duggal on stage at The Autonomous

Qualcomm’s Automotive Gambit: Doubling Down on Smartphones

What’s at stake:
Qualcomm senior vice president Nakul Duggal does not lose sleep over carmakers’ veiled threats about developing their own chips. Duggal says Qualcomm understands that different OEMs are at different levels of maturity. Chip suppliers jockeying to lead carmakers to next-generation EV/AV architectures must understand what customers want, and know every OEM’s development stage. That understanding will allow them to offer multi-generational and scalable SoCs tailored to customers’ requirements.

Read More »Qualcomm’s Automotive Gambit: Doubling Down on Smartphones
electrical and electronics engineering as a career

CHIPS Act: Opening a Pipeline for New Engineers

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake?
The CHIPS Act has become law, fueled by the political will to shore up America’s manufacturing and technological edge to counter China. The pandemic-induced global chip shortage helped generate bipartisan support for the new legislation as both government and industry came to the realization that decades of offshoring might have been a mistake. But ultimately, the CHIPS Act will be deemed successful only if it broadens the pipeline of U.S.-educated EEs who are trained and ready to step into jobs at the promised domestic facilities.

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Emmanuel Macron, President of France (in the center) listens to Jean-Marc Chery, STMicroelectronics CEO talks. Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market stands next to Macron.

CHIPS Act: Europe Moving Fast, With Intel Along for the Ride

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake?
As shown this week when STMicroelectronics and GlobalFoundries revealed their joint 300mm fab project in Crolles, France, Europe is moving full-speed ahead with its CHIPS Act. At stake is the future not just of European chip companies, but its entire high-tech industry. We caught up with Jean-Christophe Eloy, CEO of Yole Group, to get his assessment of the E.U.’s ambitious strategy.

Few would have predicted that 27 disparate European states could unite to forge a strategy for resurrecting the region’s semiconductor industry.

Read More »CHIPS Act: Europe Moving Fast, With Intel Along for the Ride