Tag: samsung

Chip market starts to boom

nand-chipsRevenue from worldwide sales of semiconductors will rise by nearly 10 percent this year, its strongest performance since 2010.

Figures released by IHS Technology show that global revenues will be worth $353.2 billion this year, a rise from $322.8 billion in 2013.

Dale Ford, chief analyst at IHS, said the growth is broad based – a nearly all semiconductor suppliers have benefited.

IHS segments the semiconductor market in 28 ways, and Ford said that 22 of those have grown this year, compared to 12 showing growth in 2013.

DRAM and flash memory were the movers and shakers in the market, and while revenues for those sectors have risen by around 20 percent, other segments are also showing healthy growth.

DRAM and light emitting diodes (LEDs) have shown growth, and microprocessor markets are also showing strong growth.

Mediatek and Avago are showing strong growth in the semi league table.

The top five players, as the following table shows, are Intel, Samsung, Qualcomm, Micron, SK Hynix and Texas Instruments.
leagueofchips

Samsung and Apple back together

Samsung HQ Silicon Valley - MM picThe dark satanic rumour mill has manufactured a hell on earth yarn which claims that Apple is now back in love with Samsung and the pair have produced a new monstrous off-spring called the A9 chip.

According to the Korean IT News  Samsung Electronics has begun production of ‘A9,’ the application processor for Apple’s next-generation smartphone. It applies the 14nm FinFET microprocess for system semiconductors, for the first time.

Samsung began production of Apple’s A9 in the Austin plant in the US using the 14nm FinFET technology. Samsung has production lines capable of FinFET process production in Austin, US and Giheung, Korea, but began to produce A9 only in Austin as it is in the initial stage.

The outfit said that it would start production of the 14nm FinFET chip at the end of this year, but did not disclose whether the company received an order from Apple for the production of A9 chips or whether the production line is actually running.

Samsung is happy with the yield of the 14nm FinFET process, and supplied samples as good as finished products early enough.

The Austin plant began official production first at Apple’s request, and industry insiders said it is a move to produce the chip in the US, not Korea. They guessed that the Austin plant was chosen because of the next-generation chip’s problems with performance security and supply.

The initiation of the A9 chip production enabled Samsung to recover the foundry quantities from Apple, which have been discontinued for some time, and get the upper hand in the 14nm FinFET technology competition with TSMC, killing two birds with one stone.

However, this is clearly a burying of the hatchet between the two companies. Apple and Samsung stopped AP production as they were embroiled in patent litigation back in 2012. It appears that Apple has been lured back to Samsung with its winsome 14nm FinFET ways.

Relationship counsellors are quick to warn that it is early days yet.  Apple has been seeing other people during the break. Taiwan’s TSMC began the risk production of the 16nm FinFET plus (16FF+) process, and began to produce chips in July earlier than originally anticipated Q3.

Apple is effectively two timing the rivals. Shuttling between Samsung and TSMC, if TSMC’s production line is stabilised in the future, there is no knowing how SEC will respond.

Samsung’s foundry business was hit hard when Apple orders stopped. Although the entire semiconductor business is booming, securities companies predict that the system LSI business, including the foundry business, will suffer a loss to the tune of KRW800 billion this year. SEC is expected to recover sales loss to a certain extent with the production of Apple A9.

 

Sales of smartphones soar

android-china-communistEmerging markets worldwide have accounted for the growth of smartphones in the third quarter of this year, growing by 20 percent.

Gartner said Samsung lost market share, but Chinese manufacturers are showing positive growth.

Altogether, sales of smartphones accounted for 301 million units shipping in the third quarter.

Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, said in the third quarter smartphones represented 66 percent of the total mobile phone market.  She thinks that by 2018 nine out of 10 phones will be smartphones.

Western Europe saw a decline in growth of 5.2 percent, but the USA saw high growth of 18.9 percent, fuelled by the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

In terms of market share, Samsung holds 24.4 percent of the market, Apple holds 12.7, Huawei holds 5.3 percent, Xiaomi has 5.2 percent of the market and Lenovo five percent.

As far as operating systems are concerned, Android ruled the roost in the third quarter (83.1%), Apple was next with 12.7 percent, Windows only held three percent and Blackberry 0.8 percent.

Cozza said: “The smartphone market is more than ever in flux as more players step up their game in this space.  With the ability to undercut cost and offer top specs, Chinese brands are well positioned to expand in the premium phone market too.”

5G planning starts

oldfoneWhile most people haven’t even moved to 4G phone networks yet, manufacturers are already talking about standards for the next faster generation of 5G phones.

Major vendors are engaging with the formal standards process, according to ABI Research.  Those include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, mobile operators and academic bodies.

Research director Philip Solis sad: “These companies are all waving their 5G flags, although 5G definitions and visions remain very vague.  But this is not merely marketing. These companies are most certainly putting a stake in the ground that will leverage their, work, competitive strengths, and, most crucially, patents.”

He said that Qualcomm in particular is keeping its head low, but other vendors such as Apple and Google are getting actively involved.

Solis said that efforts by vendors to use their patents will be fiercer than for 4G.

But despite the competitive edge, Solis said that companies are working together “so the standardisation process can hit the ground running”.

HP pushes notebook sales

HPStrong orders from both the enterprise and from the retail market meant growth in notebook sales during the month of November, largely due to HP’s position in the market.

That’s according to data from Digitimes Research which claims the top five multinational vendor and Taiwanese original design manufacturers (ODMs) showed shipments growing by 10 percent in the month, following a decline in shipments in October.

All the vendors are attempting to stem the growth of tablets and smartphones and the research outfit claimed HP ordered four million notebooks from its ODM partners in the month – with Quanta, Compal, and Investec benefiting from the push by the US giant.

The researchers claim that shipments of global tablets will be in stasis for 2014, when all the figures are added up.  And it also predicts sales will decline in 2015.

Digitimes Research estimates that combined shipments of notebooks and tablets will be over 350 million units in 2015 but the major vendors incuding Apple, Lenovo, Samsung, HP, Asustek, Dell and Acer will take steps to secure their positions in the marketplace.

Samsung mobile suits get the axe

Samsung HQ Silicon Valley - MM picThe head of Samsung’s beleaguered mobile division has hung on to his job – as we reported earlier this week.

But there will be blood on the carpet, according to sources who told Reuters that JK Shin’s three chief underlings will get their marching orders soon.

Samsung is the biggest smartphone manufacturing company in the world and leverages its vertical business, which includes memory modules, LCD screens and other components.

DJ Lee, who heads up Samsung’s mobile marketing worldwide, is one of those to feel the pain, according to the report.

Samsung is facing increased competition from Chinese manufacturers and continues to be under pressure at the high end from Apple with its iPhone products.

Reuters reports that the local press will cull around 25 percent of its executive in the mobile segment.

Financial analysts believe that Samsung will record poor revenues for 2014.

Samsung’s mobile head is still in his office not on spike

bush_game_of_thronesEmbattled Samsung co-chief executive J.K. Shin still has his job, despite rumours that the knives were out following the awful results at the company.

Shin heads Samsung’s underperforming mobile division and it had been expected that he would have to clean out his desk and be lead sobbing from the building with a photocopy box of his personal items.

Shin has been told will continue to head the electronics unit’s mobile division despite sagging smartphone sales. Semiconductor business chief Kwon Oh-hyun and consumer electronics head Yoon Boo-keun also kept their jobs.

What appears to have happened is that Jay Lee, likely successor and only son of group patriarch Lee Kun-hee, opted to keep his father’s key lieutenants in place to ensure stability. His own position is not exactly consolidated yet and he needs a few more people who owe him to keep his control on the company.

Chung Sun-sup, head of local research firm Chaebul.com pointed out that Samsung was undergoing major changes in the midst of the succession process. It would have been too unsettling to change leadership.

Chairman Lee Kun-hee has not even indicated that he has stepped back for good, and he appointed Shin, Yoon and Kwon. It might have been too much for Vice Chairman Jay Lee to change the people his father put in position.

Lee the younger needs more time to shore up his position in South Korea’s largest conglomerate with his father still in hospital after a heart attack in May.

Lee the Younger pointed out that Shin was “a major contributor in Samsung Electronics’ emergence as the top global player in the handsets business” and would be given an opportunity to turn the business around.

Apple asks Samsung for help to fix iPhone 6

ByRWIdiIUAAWry9Apple is turning to smartphone archrival Samsung in order to fix an  iBug with its new iPhone 6 phablet.

The super expensive machines keep crashing which is something that Apple does not like talking about much.

According to Business Korea Jobs’ Mob is going to buy more components from Samsung for its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, along with Apple Watch parts.

In return Samsung is going to help Apple fix a bug in the NAND flash in the higher storage 64GB which is triple-level cell flash and the SK Hynix, Toshiba and SanDisk TLC NAND the 128 GB models.

Samsung will supply fresh modules which avoid the performance issues that some users have encountered.

This isn’t the only bug Apple has had with its phablet, either. Some users have reported problems with the camera, namely the optical image stabilisation (OIS) going awry and causing blurry shots.  Apple’s answer seems to be to return to its old business partner and get some decent gear under the bonnet.

 

Apple iPad leads but others snap at heels

The late Steve Jobs with an iPadOut of the 74.53 million tablets expected to ship during the current calendar quarter, the Apple iPad will take the lead with 26.8 percent of the worldwide shipments.

That’s according to Digitimes Research, which said that out of those 74.5 million tablets, 20 million will be iPads, 27.8 million will be from other multinational vendors such as Samsung and Lenovo, and 26.7 million will be so-called “white box” or unbranded units.

Taiwan is the ghost in the tablet machine and accounts for two thirds of the global market for tablets with firms like Foxconn, Pegatron, Compal and Quanta churning them out.

While figures for tablets shipping in the fourth quarter seem healthy, and rose by sequential quarter by 17.6 percent, if you compare the figures year on year, there’s a decline of shipments by 10.1 percent.

The pundits have many theories as to why the tablet market is showing signs of stalling, but the favourite is that in Western markets most people already have one or more tablet and see little or no reason to either buy more tablets or to upgrade.

And increased sales of smartphones with larger screens – so called phablets – are nibbling away at the tablet market.

Samsung set to shake the management dice

Samsung rules the roostGiant Korean company Samsung looks set to shuffle its leadership following a year which has seen its mobile fortunes dip.

The Wall Street Journal, quoting people “familiar with the matter” is tipping the toppling of mobile head JK Shin – he’s the co-CEO of a company that has made in its time everything from motor cars to aircraft jet engines.

And if Shin loses his job, it could be to another co-CEO, BK Yoon, a man in charge of its TV and washing machine businesses.

The job could however go to its third co-CEO, Kwon Oh-hyun.  He’s a semiconductor man and also looks after Samsung’s display panels.

The reason why Samsung has this unusual triumvirate in place is because its chairman Lee Kun-hee had a heart attack this year and is out of play at the chaebol.

Samsung is under pressure from companies in China and in India that don’t have the large overhead it has in terms of manufacturing and headcount.

In the UK, heads have already rolled and the company is still looking to appoint a replacement after the last appointee only lasted a few months.

Lenovo maintains tablet push

Chess boardWhile both Apple and Samsung continue to dominate the branded tablet market workdwide, Chinese company Lenovo is beginning to make its presence known in the marketplace.

That’s according to preliminary shipment figures in the third quarter of this year supplied by ABI Research.

The market research company said that Apple and Samsung hog market share at 62 percent, but Lenovo is making its presence known in developing markets while other firms show growth of 124 percent compared to the same quarter in 2013.

ABI believes that while Apple has suffered declines in its market share, it could well regain the initiative in the current fourth quarter, largely due to the introduction of new iPad Air and iPad mini machines last October.

Jeff Orr, who runs the sector for ABI, said: “The pieces have been set for the end of year holiday 2014 tablet market chess match.  The advanced mature markets will once again be where the Apple versus Samsung duel occurs.  Don’t overlook the rest of the branded tablets vendors’ ability to deliver value based devices during this crucial shopping period.”

ABI produced the following data for the top three vendors worldwide:

tabby

Intel announces 3D NAND-Flash

IMFT Sign - Lehi

Rob Crooke, VP & GM of Intel’s Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) Solutions Group was last up in the company’s day long Investor Meeting today in Santa Clara.

Though last, he had the most newsworthy announcement about the company’s future memory intentions.

Intel announced it is back in the memory business – 3D NAND-Flash that is (mass production in-house is conditional though).

Crookes’ revelation ends any rumination on Intel-Micron Flash Technologies 3D Flash development – it also includes SK Hynix when the device goes into production 2Q 2015. Evidently those who have been nice have early sample devices according to sources.

The specifics:

  • 4G hole array 32 layers deep | (216 x 216)(Array) x 25(Layers) x 2(MLC) = 256 Gbits
  • 1TB in 2 mm package
  • SSDs: 10TB and up planned
  • Production 2H 2015 – IMFT (Lehi, Utah facility mentioned) & SK Hynix
  • Intel can also produce internally
  • Replacement of HDD with SSD in all PC and Mobile devices

Crooke allowed that the devices will not use Intel’s cutting edge 14nm technology but a slightly relaxed geometry  – Micron is on record at 16nm geometries for 3D NAND. The openly known fact that prevaricating about Flash Geometries may hold sway – a hefty dose of caveat emptor is recommended.

The announcement coincides with reports that Intel and Micron are involved in a project with EMC2-DSSD – an effort to produce the first NAND-Flash In-Memory Database appliance.  The proffered memory type may be a custom type expressly tailored for the application and may be produced in-house by Intel – more on this as roll-out time nears.

Samsung cannot stop Microsoft

microsoft-in-chinaA US judge has rejected Samsung bid to put Microsoft’s smartphone patent royalties case on hold while the South Korean company pursues arbitration in Hong Kong.

New York Judge Jed Rakoff said the lawsuit would proceed despite the arbitration.

Microsoft sued Samsung in August, claiming it broke a collaboration agreement by refusing to make royalty payments after the US company announced its intention to buy Nokia’s handset business in September 2013.

The lawsuit claimed Samsung owed $6.9 million in interest on more than $1 billion in patent royalties it delayed paying. Samsung said that the Nokia acquisition in April violated its 2011 deal with Microsoft.

Samsung has gone to arbitration at the Hong Kong office of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

Samsung  had agreed in 2011 to pay Microsoft royalties in exchange for a patent license covering phones that ran Google Android operating system.

Samsung also agreed to develop Windows phones and share confidential business information with Microsoft, according to the filing.

But once Microsoft acquired Nokia, it became a direct hardware competitor with Samsung, the filing said, and Samsung refused to share some sensitive information due to antitrust concerns.

Samsung squeezes its suppliers

samsung-hqIn a bid to cut prices and keep pace with its competitors it appears Korean giant Samsung is putting pressure on its suppliers to cut their prices.

Digitimes reports that Samsung wants some component suppliers for its display business to slash their prices, in some cases by as much as 30 percent during this quarter.

The display business not only services the creation of monitors and TVs made by Samsung, but also, and in this case more crucially, displays on smartphones.

Samsung has seen its market share on tablets and smartphones show something of a decline in 2014 and wants to reverse that trend.

The same report said that Samsung is also slashing prices on its OLED displays in a bid to attract more customers to the technology.  Expensive to develop, OLED needs volumes to sell in order to achieve payback for the R&D.

Lenovo and Dell are both likely customers for OLED displays – a significant design win for Samsung if the report proves to be true.

Motorola discovers US does not rule the world

courtroom_1_lgIt appears that Motorola’s US court case against several Asian suppliers for alleged price fixing is coming unstuck.

A US appeals court appeared sceptical of mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility’s attempt to sue  AU Optronics, Chunghwa Picture Tubes, HannStar Display, LG Display, Samsung, Samsung, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp and Toshiba.

A three judge panel of the 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals questioned whether the allegations had enough connection to the United States to be heard in US courts.

Motorola Mobility is now a unit of China’s Lenovo Group, but it sued the suppliers in Chicago federal court in 2009, saying some of its subsidiaries had overpaid for liquid crystal display screens because of a conspiracy in Asia. Some screens entered the US market, the lawsuit said.

Judge Richard Posner, a member of the appeals panel, pointed out that Motorola treated the foreign subsidiaries as separate for tax reasons, but for antitrust purposes, they are seen as part of Motorola.

Motorola Mobility lawyer Thomas Goldstein said the company should be able to sue under US law because a former Chicago-based parent negotiated its supply contracts.

Lenovo bought Motorola Mobility in October for $2.91 billion from Google which had bought it in 2012. Motorola Mobility says it paid the LCD makers more than $5 billion from 1996 to 2006.

The appeals court ruled against Motorola Mobility in March but agreed to hear the case again after the Obama administration said the ruling threatened its ability to prosecute global price fixing.

The US Justice Department, whose investigation of global LCD price-fixing led to more than $1.3 billion in criminal fines, asked the court to find that the conspiracy directly affected US commerce.

Belgium and Japan filed briefs criticising the reach of US antitrust law and urging the court to rule for the suppliers.