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TSMC fab under construction in Phoenix, AZ

TSMC’s ‘Local’ Momentum Blunts Intel’s Foundry Moves

What’s at stake:
Intel Corp.’s path to becoming a major foundry is narrowing as TSMC responds with a change in its own manufacturing strategy. With new fabs under construction in the U.S. and others planned for Japan and potentially Europe, TSMC is poised to become the “local” chipmaker Western governments want to stabilize and rebalance the semiconductor supply chain. But is TSMC also in danger of destroying its successful recipe, and does Intel still stand a chance of achieving its objective?

The CEOs of two mega-players in the semiconductor industry, facing different challenges and pursuing different strategies to attain similar long-term objectives, collectively hold the fate of a critical part of the global IC market in their hands.

Read More »TSMC’s ‘Local’ Momentum Blunts Intel’s Foundry Moves
Ford Motor's Blue Cruise hands-free highway driving

Mind the Gap: ADAS Pitfalls in 2023

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
The automotive industry sees 2023 as the year of advanced driver assistance systems. Be careful what you wish for! Carmakers are adding more automation features under a Level 2 rubric. Meanwhile, their pitching ADAS features as safety measures that may result in L2 cars being less safe than originally promised.

As they pivot hard toward advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), carmakers no longer need boast about saving lives by developing self-driving cars. That’s the good news.

However, automakers hungry for ADAS revenue are treating automation features as checkbox items, loading them into new models without ensuring the efficacy of safeguards such as effective driving monitoring systems (DMS), minimum performance for automatic emergency braking (AEB) or sensible human-machine interfaces.

Read More »Mind the Gap: ADAS Pitfalls in 2023
Technology transition

Infineon Ramps For the Transition to Silicon Carbide

By George Leopold

What’s at stake:
The race is on to leverage the performance gains of silicon carbide for automotive and industrial applications. Infineon and others seek to ease the transition from silicon via modular approaches. The harder part will be scaling SiC production to reduce cost.

With the steady electrification of cars, the suppliers of key EV power electronics components are expecting higher-performance silicon carbide (SiC) to overtake traditional silicon devices by the end of the decade.

Read More »Infineon Ramps For the Transition to Silicon Carbide
bit coins

Cryptocurrencies in Africa: Wary Regulators Struggle to Control Eager Adopters

By Fred Ohwahwa

What’s at stake?
Many enterprises and private citizens in Africa were quick to embrace digital currencies but differences abound between governments and businesses on its legality and how it should be applied. The recent implosion of FXT in the US has only intensified the uncertainties around crypto currencies in the continent.

The crumbling of US crypto currency giant FXT reverberated worldwide and especially in emerging markets where the fallouts are still being evaluated.

In Africa, the IFX saga has increased the uncertainties surrounding digital currencies even as many enterprises and adopters continue to tout the benefits, often ignoring legal obstacles some governments are putting in their way.

Read More »Cryptocurrencies in Africa: Wary Regulators Struggle to Control Eager Adopters
IoT as China Go

Synaptics Plays ‘Go’ to Win IoT Market

By Ron Wilson

What’s at stake
Our increasing expectations of smart, connected devices are placing a huge technical strain on system vendors and their chip suppliers, almost none of which are structured to exploit the situation. Change must come.

We want small things to be smart. From earbuds to UHD TVs, from kitchen appliances to forklifts, we expect our devices not just to work, but to understand their surroundings, make good decisions, and cooperate with our other devices.

Read More »Synaptics Plays ‘Go’ to Win IoT Market
Silicon carbide boule substrate material

SiC Manufacturers Walk a Tightrope

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake?
Silicon carbide device designers and wafer suppliers are shifting to a vertically integrated business model — and spending lavishly on capex — betting that demand will remain strong for power electronics in high-growth markets. If those sectors falter, SiC suppliers will be left holding billions of dollars in unused capacity and raw materials.

The silicon carbide supply chain is engaged in a delicate balancing act.

To continue satisfying demand — already strong and expected to skyrocket — SiC manufacturers are investing or promising to invest billions of dollars in new fabs and processes for a market still in its infancy. But it’s potentially problematic that the growth projections for SiC products are largely based on hope.

Read More »SiC Manufacturers Walk a Tightrope
6-inch N-type SiC substrates by SICC in China

SiC in China: ‘Poster Child of the Decoupling Era’

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake?
Fueled by booming electric-vehicle demand and the long-term goal of semiconductor self-sufficiency, China is committed to developing power electronics based on silicon carbide (SiC). What is China’s plan for leapfrogging Western SiC suppliers?

Here are the questions: Who are China’s SiC players? How much money is China pouring into nascent technology and production facilities? Are Chinese vendors devising different business strategies to conquer the SiC market? Each of these riddles keep global power-electronics executives awake at night.

Read More »SiC in China: ‘Poster Child of the Decoupling Era’
China and EU

European Chip Startups Top China’s Shopping List

By Peter Clarke

What’s at stake?
China has made numerous efforts to acquire European technology over the last decade or more. While wafer fabs, even mature ones, are a priority and have recently drawn regulatory attention, there are also many startups and fabless chip companies attracting investors and potential buyers, often without scrutiny. Individual deals may appear as the unfettered workings of the technology market, but the aggregate effect can produce a dependence that Europe is only just starting to consider.

Judging by two recent events, Europe is waking up to the risk of China buying up more of its technology – even when those capabilities are somewhat mature. Will regulators react more quickly to investments in technology startups?

Read More »European Chip Startups Top China’s Shopping List