If Toshiba's proposed $18 billion sale of its memory chip business is not completed by the end of March due to a lack of antitrust clearance by regulators, the conglomerate may pursue an initial public offering for the unit, the Financial Times reports. The company is under less financial pressure now after raising $5.4 billion from shares sold to overseas funds, and tax write-offs could cover Toshiba's liabilities from the bankrupt Westinghouse nuclear power plant business.
Semiconductor companies must do more to make the industry more attractive to engineering graduates, said Dan Durn, chief financial officer of Applied Materials. He said, "Today, kids dream about Google, Facebook and Apple; they don't dream about us, and we need to change that."
Samsung Electronics brought out an ultra-high-performance graphics DRAM for applications in artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles. The 16-gigabit GDDR6 DRAMs, capable of transferring data at 18 gigabits per second, are in volume production.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Chairman Morris Chang said chips for automotive electronics, high-performance computing and the internet of things will propel the foundry's 2018 revenues to be 10% to 15% higher than 2017. The TSMC founder, who plans to retire in June, also said the foundry will have 100% market share in orders for chips made with 7-nanometer features during this year.
Northwestern University researchers report using crumpled graphene balls to create a scaffold that could support lithium ions. This advance may lead to lighter batteries that would be less subject to failures.
Allegro MicroSystems Europe introduced the ARG82800 power management chip for automotive control units. The PMIC brings together a buck or buck/boost pre-regulator, four low-dropout regulators and four floating-gate drivers.
Videantis debuted its v-MP6000UDX visual processing architecture intellectual property, which can be used in a system-on-a-chip platform combining deep learning capabilities with computer vision, image processing and video coding. The sixth-generation IP is aimed at advanced driver-assistance systems and autonomous vehicles.
Texas Instruments President and CEO Rich Templeton plans to step down June 1, after 14 years in those posts; he will be succeeded by Brian Crutcher, the chip company's chief operating officer. Templeton will remain chairman of TI.
Malcolm Penn, CEO of Future Horizons, asserts that the development of artificial intelligence processors is a field where young startups can contend with the established leaders in the semiconductor industry. He says, "Because it's a new market with a huge potential demand for this new kind of processing power, it represents one of those rare opportunities when startups have a chance against entrenched industry giants."
Scotten Jones, president of IC Knowledge, says extreme-ultraviolet lithography equipment is capable of fabricating chips with 10-nanometer and 7nm features in volume production, yet photoresist issues could prove troublesome at the 5nm process node. ASML reports it shipped 10 EUV systems to customers during 2017 and expects to ship 20 to 22 systems in 2018.
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