11-27 #KickNuts: TSMC has reportedly completed the plant structure for a new 3nm semiconductor chip production facility; Hon Hai plans to invest USD270M to enlarge its product line in Vietnam; etc.

TSMC has reportedly completed the plant structure for a new 3nm semiconductor chip production facility. TSMC hopes to begin commercial production of 3nm chips at this plant in 2H22. The company had originally planned to start the 3nm trial production by the end of 2020. However, because of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has postponed those plans to 2021. (Android Headlines, Digitimes, Digitimes, LTN, GizChina, Gizmo China)

SK Telecom (SKT) has unveiled its self-developed artificial intelligence (AI) chip named ‘SAPEON X220’. Its deep learning computation speed is 6.7 kilo-frames per second, which is 1.5 times faster than that of graphics processing units (GPUs) for inference that are being widely used by AI-service companies. At the same time, it uses 20% less power than GPU by consuming 60 watts of energy and is about half the price of a GPU. (Laoyaoba, Sohu, Business Korea, The Elec)

According to IC Insights, 7 top-15 semiconductor suppliers forecast to show ≥22% growth in 2020 with Nvidia expected to post a huge 50% increase. In total, the top-15 semiconductor companies’ sales are forecast to jump by 13% in 2020 compared to 2019, slightly more than twice the expected total worldwide semiconductor industry increase of 6%. (IC Insights, press, Laoyaoba)

Huawei is reportedly in the final stage of testing the so-called liquid lens, which is supposed to largely improve image stabilization and focus times. In fact, the focus time will be reduced to a couple of milliseconds matching the focus time of the human eye. (GSM Arena, Antutu)

SK Hynix will not only equip its new M16 storage factory directly with EUV exposure systems, but also the existing M14 location at the same time. Production is to be tested there before series production begins. At the latest in the new production stage 1a, as it is called in the DRAM segment after the processes 1x, 1y and 1z, the first layers are exposed with EUV. (My Drivers, My Zaker, Aroged)

SanDisk, a Japanese corporation of Western Digital, will have changed its organization from the current corporation to a limited liability company on 1 Jan 2021. SanDisk has decided to change its name to Western Digital. This will change the new trade name to Western Digital GK. It is purely a company name change of Japan entity and Western Digital will not cease SanDisk brand but continue to offer SanDisk brand products. There will be no change to the product brand. (CN Beta, My Drivers, Eteknix, WD)

Tesla plans to start manufacturing electric vehicle (EV) chargers in China in 2021, which is seeking to expand sales in the world’s biggest car market. Tesla, which now sells its Model 3 electric cars in China and plans to deliver its Model Y sport utility vehicles in 2021, plans to invest CNY42M (USD6.4M) in a new factory to make the chargers, also known as charging piles, near its car plant in Shanghai. (CN Beta, Reuters, Electrek)

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission affirmed its decision to designate ZTE as a national security threat. The action shows that the FCC remains determined to drive ZTE and Huawei from the U.S. market, where small rural carriers rely on their cheap network equipment. (Android Headlines, FCC, Bloomberg, Reuters)

China Mobile has announced the completion of the first batch of 5G joint laboratory certifications with Huawei, UNISOC and MediaTek, including 5G NSA mode radio frequency, protocol, RRM, NS-IoT, MTBF; 5G SA mode radio frequency, protocol, RRM , NS-IoT and other 9 modules. (Laoyaoba, EE Focus, Forbes China, IT Home)

TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reported stronger than expected demand for Apple’s major device lines, including high-end iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max models. (Apple Insider, TF Securities, CN Beta, CN Beta)

According to Fomalhaut Techno Solutions, the cost of Apple’s high-end iPhone 12 Pro is USD406, of which South Korean and U.S. components account for 26.8% and 21.9% by value, respectively. Compared with the iPhone 11, which featured an LCD display and went on sale 2019 fall, the South Korean share jumped 9.1 percentage points, while the figure for U.S. parts dropped 3.9 points. (Asia Nikkei, article, UDN, GSM Arena, CN Beta, My Drivers)

Hon Hai plans to invest USD270M to enlarge its product line in Vietnam. Hon Hai will establish a new company named FuKang Technology Company limited in Vietnam. Hon Hai’s production business in Vietnam covers computer assembly, electronic components, TV screens and automotive components. (CN Beta, Sohu, Market Screener, China Tech News)

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has been hindering the import of smartphones since Aug 2020. Some of the blocked imported goods are the latest Apple iPhone 12, as well as smart wearables by OPPO and Xiaomi. The BIS typically processes imports within 15 days, but reports are the paperwork is now taking up to 2 months to complete. (GSM Arena, Reuters, CN Beta)

Lava International is in advanced talks with one of the top Indian telcos to make co-branded smartphones, which will be subsidized by the operator, pulling the cost sharply down for the 4G device. It has already started making Nokia branded smartphones and is in talks with Motorola for similar tie-ups. Motorola is rumored in talks with Dixon Technologies and Lava for a contract of manufacturing USD1B worth of smartphones in India. (Gizmo China, India Times, 91Mobile)

OPPO has officially confirmed that currently there are more than 370M active monthly users worldwide for its ColorOS mobile operating system, which is based on Android. The system has been translated into more than 72 languages and is being promoted and used in over 140 countries worldwide. (Gizmo China, GizChina, IT Home)

Samsung is said to start manufacturing the Galaxy S21 series in Dec 2020 itself and the initial production batch will only include 6M units. Samsung has postponed the launch of Galaxy Z Flip2 (tentative branding), the successor to the popular Galaxy Z Flip. This is said to help the company to prevent cannibalizing the sales of the Galaxy S21 series. (Gizmo China, The Elec)

Following a stronger than expected 3Q20, the global smartphone market is expected to return to growth during the holiday quarter in 2020. According to IDC, smartphone shipments are forecast to grow 2.4% year over year in 4Q20, followed by 4.4% year-over-year growth in 2021. The market rebound will be fueled by an impressively quick supply chain recovery as well as significant incentives from both OEMs and channels on new 5G products. IDC expects the global market to grow each year through 2024 with a 5-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 1.3%. IDC expects 5G smartphone shipments to reach close to 10% of global volume in 2020 and grow to 29% in 2024. (IDC, Neowin, CN Beta)

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei has ‘urged’ its Honor sub-brand to become a competitor after split. Huawei is selling the Honor brand to a Chinese consortium led by Digital China and the Shenzhen government for USD15B. Once the deal is completed, Honor will be able to resume sourcing components that are currently restricted by U.S. sanctions. (Android Central, Reuters, Laoyaoba, Reuters)

Xiaomi reveals Redmi Note 9 series: Note 9 4G – 6.53” 1080×2340 FHD+ u-notch IPS LCD, Qualcomm Snapdragon 662, rear tri 48MP-8MP ultrawide-2MP depth + front 8MP, 4+128 / 6+128 / 8+128GB, Android 10.0, side fingerprint, 6000mAh 18W, 2.5W reverse charging, CNY999 / CNY1099 / CNY1299. Note 9 5G – 6.53” 1080×2340 FHD+ HiD IPS LCD, MediaTek Dimensity 800U 5G, rear tri 48MP-8MP ultrawide-2MP macro + front 13MP, 6+128 / 8+128 / 8+256GB, Android 10.0, side fingerprint, 5000mAh 18W, CNY1299 / CNY1499 / CNY1699. Note 9 Pro 5G – 6.67” 1080×2400 FHD+ HiD IPS LCD 120Hz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 750 5G (7225), rear quad 108MP-8MP ultrawide-2MP macro-2MP depth + front 16MP, 6+128 / 8+256GB, Android 10.0, side fingerprint, 4820mAh 33W, CNY1599 / CNY1999. (GSM Arena, CN Beta, CN Beta)

vivo Y1s is launched in India – 6.22” 720×1520 HD+ v-notch IPS LCD, MediaTek Helio P35, rear 13MP + front 5MP, 2+32GB, Android 10.0, 4030mAh, INR7,990 (USD108). (vivo, NDTV, Gizmo China)

Foxconn is allegedly moving some iPad and MacBook assembly to Vietnam from China at the request of Apple, as the U.S. firm diversifies production to minimize the impact of a Sino-U.S. trade war. Foxconn is building assembly lines for Apple’s iPad tablet and MacBook laptop at its plant in Vietnam’s northeastern Bac Giang province, to come online in 1H21. Foxconn (formally Hon Hai Precision Industry) has announced a USD270M investment to set up a new subsidiary called FuKang Technology, which was aimed at supporting the Vietnam expansion. (TechCrunch, The Information, Reuters, CN Beta)

Redmi Watch is announced – 1.4” 320×329 2.5D colour display, supports heart rate monitoring and sleep tracking, supports 7 modes of sports, up to 12 days of battery life, up to 50m waterproof, CNY299 (USD45). (GSM Arena, CN Beta)

Sony’s new patent “Pressure sensing to identify fitness and comfort of virtual reality headset” shows two models, one with headband, the other looks like VR-glasses. Various sensors are built into the VR headset, which send signals to determine whether the headset is being worn correctly. Pressure sensors, motion sensors or stretch sensors can be used for this. A camera can be used to visualize the user and use image recognition to determine if the headset is on correctly. Different types of cameras can be used, including a thermal imaging camera.  (CN Beta, Pocket-Lint, LetsGoDigital, Technave, GSM Arena)

Huawei emphasizes the company will not build vehicles, but to focus on ICT technology to help auto companies build good cars and become an incremental component provider for intelligent connected cars. Huawei has decided to reorganize the consumer BG IRB into an IRB for smart devices and smart car parts. It adjust the investment decision and portfolio management of the smart car parts business from the ICT IRB to the smart terminal and smart car parts IRB. Richard Yu is appointed as the Director of IRB for Smart Devices and Smart Auto Parts. (Laoyaoba, CSIA, 36Kr, The Paper)

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