Strong demand for DRAMs led SK Hynix to post $2.2 billion in operating profit for the quarter ended March. While noting that memory chip prices are likely to remain high during the first half of 2017, Lee Jae-yun of Yuanta Securities said, "The question is whether the momentum will stay strong in the second half, and what the potential impact would be on Hynix should it succeed in acquiring Toshiba's unit down the line."
Zhao Weiguo, group chairman of Tsinghua Unigroup, said his company plans to give Qualcomm and MediaTek greater competition in mobile processors by 2020 and predicts Tsinghua will be among the top five suppliers of memory chips in 10 years.
As the silicon wafer supply chain tightens due to high demand for 3D NAND flash memory devices, wafer manufacturers are trying to get customers to agree to long-term contracts, industry sources say. Shin-Etsu Chemical is reportedly pushing Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and United Microelectronics to sign three-year supply contracts, after getting Intel and GlobalFoundries to commit to long-term contracts, those sources note.
Samsung Electronics brought out the Exynos i T200 application processor for use in internet of things devices. The chip is expected to go into full commercial implementation during the second quarter.
The Nvidia Inception program received more than 600 entries from artificial intelligence startups and has since cut the field down to 14, which recently made presentations to demonstrate their funding worthiness. The chip company will give $1.5 million in cash to the winners of the AI tech competition on May 10.
SK Hynix has come up with an 8-gigabit GDDR6 DRAM to go with graphics processors, said to be capable of moving data at 16 gigabits per second per pin. The chip, made with a 20-nanometer process, will go into volume production in early 2018, to be used in a high-end graphics card.
Engineers who formerly worked on Google's Tensor Processing Unit are joining Groq, a venture-funded startup in stealth mode that is said to be developing a processor for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications. Jonathan Ross, who invented the TPU for Google, is one of the startup's founders, and Groq has reportedly raised $10.3 million from private investors.
Taiwan's electronics industry wants in on the competition to provide advanced chips for automotive electronics. While analysts are skeptical about Taiwan's ambitions, Paul Chou of the Taiwan Telematics Industry Association says, "Taiwan won't be absent from the coming autonomous driving market."
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