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Faulty economic forecast.

$1 Trillion Chip Market By 2030? Think Again

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake:
Semiconductor suppliers are basing their capital expenditure plans on forecasts that often miss targets by tens of billions of dollars. Only months after rolling out massive fab construction plans to serve what they believe would be a $1 trillion market by 2030, chipmakers are resorting to capex cuts that will impact future supplies.

Looking to grab a share of a projected $1 trillion in sales by 2030, semiconductor vendors and foundries have gone on an extraordinary capital expenditure spree just as the sector appears headed for another downturn. Those countervailing market forces are raising questions about the wisdom of expansive fab construction plans.

Read More »$1 Trillion Chip Market By 2030? Think Again
Apple Watches

Apple’s MicroLED Gambit: Up, Up and Away or ‘Crash and Burn’?

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
A smartphone behemoth like Apple might seek to develop its own unique display technology, thereby allowing it to expand and control its own supply chain. Apple has grasped a first-mover advantage on an emerging display technology called microLED. Apple may even be committed to manufacturing and assembling its own displays — at least initially. That’s a big step. Is it a bold move or overreach?

Apple has much riding on its decade-old pursuit of microLEDs, a display technology in which microscopic LEDs form individual pixel elements. Along with resolution, micro-LEDs offer also offer power savings critical to mobile devices.

 If successful, Apple will have a one-of-a-kind display technology, a new supply chain and a fresh ecosystem stretching across the globe.

Read More »Apple’s MicroLED Gambit: Up, Up and Away or ‘Crash and Burn’?
Tower Semiconductor

What Happens If China Blocks Intel’s Tower Deal?

By Peter Clarke

For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the rider was lost.
For want of a rider, the message was lost.
For want of a message, the battle was lost.
For want of a battle, the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Intel has dreams of being the world’s second largest foundry by 2030. Those are big dreams indeed, with geopolitical overtones, but without taking the first step along that road – the acquisition of Tower Semiconductor Ltd. – it could all come to nothing.

And if China blocks Intel’s takeover of Tower, it could potentially upend the U.S. chip giant’s foundry aspirations. It could even compel Intel to abandon chipmaking and follow AMD down the path of being a fabless processor vendor.

Read More »What Happens If China Blocks Intel’s Tower Deal?

OEMs, Tier Ones, Chip Vendors Scramble for ADAS Edge

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
As vehicles grow more connected and automated, a wave of new chip companies are setting up shop within the automotive sector. But with greater emphasis on vehicles with driver-assist features, the demand for cutting-edge automotive SoC designs, as well as chip vendors’ relationships with the automotive supply chain, is rapidly changing.

The auto industry’s hard shift to ADAS has forced automotive chip suppliers to follow suit, altering their marketing pitches for computing-intensive central processors in vehicles. The annual derby over on “Tera-Operations Per Second (TOPS)” for vehicle CPUs/GPUs was no longer evident this year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). The focus has shifted to scalability in CPU/domain controllers.

Read More »OEMs, Tier Ones, Chip Vendors Scramble for ADAS Edge
Ag technology

Feeding a Hungry World With Precision Farming

By George Leopold

What’s at stake:
The amount of arable land on the earth is shrinking — and food insecurity is growing — as the number of humans the planet must support approaches 10 billion. Proponents of precision agriculture say the technology can reduce world hunger by producing more food, fiber and fuel using fewer resources.

The digitization of agriculture has advanced beyond GPS-guided tractors to the precise planting of seeds and application of fertilizers and herbicides — precision sufficient to pinpoint a single plant or weed in a thousand-acre field.

Read More »Feeding a Hungry World With Precision Farming
Road sign in snow on a country road

BMW Fiasco: Failed Testing, Verification, Validation of AI-Driven ADAS

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
If you think a faulty sensor triggered a BMW to automatically accelerate to 110mph on a U.K. country road, think again. The problem is systemic. The incident exposes the inability of many carmakers to understand the relationship among individual modules to ensure system-level safety.

By now, we hope a Sunday Times of London report, BMW cruise control ‘took over and tried to reach 110mph‘, has become required reading for every system engineer developing AI-embedded ADAS vehicles, and for consumers eager to embrace automated vehicle features. The story’s alarming subhead reads, “A motorist was sent hurtling over the limit when his car’s technology misread signs.”

Read More »BMW Fiasco: Failed Testing, Verification, Validation of AI-Driven ADAS
BMW Concept Car Dee's Head-Up Display

Optimzing HUD for My Buddy, the Car

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
Carmakers are pitching more automated features consumers as “driver assist.” With many active safety functions, cars aren’t actaully assisting drivers. Rather, they are making decisions and acting autonomously. How, then, can humans read a vehicle’s intentions? Are head-up displays the best human-machine interface?

The BMW Group’s keynote during last week’s CES 2023 included a talking car used to demonstrate how the vehicle can change its paint job—coated with E Ink—with up to 32 different colors matching a driver’s emotional state.

Read More »Optimzing HUD for My Buddy, the Car
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