05-21: Infineon is denying a report that it has suspended deliveries to Huawei; U.S. Commerce Department has given Huawei a temporary license to maintain its current products; etc.


MediaTek has laid out the groundwork for its push into the Internet of Things (IoT). It has announced a new platform and new partnerships that bank on the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver new experiences for consumers. MediaTek has a three-pronged view of AI-based IoT products. These are: voice-enabled devices (speakers, smart locks, white goods); display and screen devices (smart thermostats, exercise equipment); and AI vision devices (robots, drones, security systems). (Android Authority, MediaTek, MediaTek)

The top-15 worldwide semiconductor (IC and O S D—optoelectronic, sensor, and discrete) sales ranking for 1Q19 is released by IC Insights.  It includes 6 suppliers headquartered in the U.S., 3 in Europe, 2 each in South Korea and Japan, and 1 each in Taiwan and China. Intel replaced Samsung as the number one quarterly semiconductor supplier in 4Q18 after losing the lead spot to Samsung in 2Q17. (Chain News, IC Insights, press)

Rockchip has announced a major upgrade of its AI platform and officially released 3 development kits for AI developers worldwide: AI development kit RKNN-Toolkit, AI SDK software development kit Rock-X SDK, and AI computing stick RK1808 AI Compute Stick. The development kit and software toolkit are primarily adapted to the Rockchip RK3399Pro / RK1808 chip platform with a hardware NPU accelerator. (CN Beta, China Daily, SENN)

Quadric.io, a startup founded by some of the folks behind the once-secretive bitcoin mining operation “21E6,” has raised USD15M in a Series A round that will fund the development of a supercomputer designed for autonomous systems. (TechCrunch, PR Newswire)

A new microchip contains a network of artificial neurons that works with light and can imitate the behavior of the human brain’s neurons and synapses. University of Münster, University of Oxford, and University of Exeter demonstrated that the optical neurosynaptic network is able to learn information and use it as a basis for computing and recognizing patterns, similar to the way a human brain works. (CN Beta, Photonics)

Marvell has announced that it had entered into agreement to buy Avera Semiconductor from GlobalFoundries with USD740M. The acquisition will bring additional chip design capabilities to Marvell and will enable it to develop a wider range of products. GlobalFoundries spun off its ASIC Solutions division (which it got from IBM) into Avera Semiconductor in Nov 2018. (CN Beta, AnandTech, PR Newswire)

German chipmaker Infineon is continuing most shipments to Huawei, denying a report that it has suspended deliveries to Huawei. Infineon, which makes power-management chips used in cars, smartphones and wind turbines, said most of its products were not covered by the U.S. export control restrictions announced by the Trump administration. (CN Beta, Reuters)


Toshiba is buying back shares of its memory division sold to Apple, Dell, Kingston and Seagate, having survived a financial crisis that threatened the entire company. The key is USD11.8B in loans secured from Japanese banks as Toshiba Memory works toward going publicly listed. (Apple Insider, WSJ, CN Beta)


U.S. Commerce Department has given Huawei a temporary license to maintain its current products. Huawei’s limited license is only in effect through 19 Aug 2019. Huawei will be able to maintain business relationships with Google, Intel, Qualcomm, and others to release software updates to existing hardware. The Commerce Department said it will evaluate whether to extend the exemptions beyond 90 days. (Android Authority, Reuters, CN Beta)

Huawei has allegedly informed its global suppliers 6 months ago that it wanted to build up a stock of crucial components that would last for up to 1 year, in preparation for trade war uncertainties. Huawei is also making moves to secure new sources that would not be affected by a US embargo. Another option in the works is to ramp up efforts at becoming more self-reliant. Huawei has stockpiled 6 months’ to more than 1 year’s worth of supply, while holding at least 3 months’ worth of less crucial ones. (Gizmo China, Asia Nikkei, My Drivers)

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said a 90-day temporary license the US granted is not that meaningful for the company, as it is well prepared and has kept its core technologies intact. He has indicated that the company is able to continue providing products and services, and the US sanctions will not hurt their core business. He has also said that Huawei’s 5G would not be affected and predicted that no other parties would be able to catch up with the company in 5G technology in the next 2-3 years. (The Verge, Global Times, Reuters)

Tim Watkins, vice president of Huawei’s Western Europe operations, has revealed that Huawei is preparing to release its own mobile operating system. Seven years ago, the Chinese smartphone maker Huawei opened a small research center in Finland, tapping the home country of its rival Nokia for engineers who knew how to build a phone operating system. (GizChina, My Drivers, Financial Times, CN Beta)

LG Electronics has launched its aggressive Zero Carbon 2030 initiative, committing to achieving net-zero carbon emissions from its global operations within 12 years. LG will look to reduce carbon emissions from its global operations by 50% compared to a 2017 baseline by implementing various carbon reduction and renewable energy initiatives. (CN Beta, Neowin, LG)

Augmented / Virtual Reality

Google has revealed Glass Enterprise Edition 2, uses the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 platform, equipped with 3GB RAM. The optical display module offers a resolution of 640×360. The camera is 8MP with 80º FoV. Onboard are three beam-forming microphones, a multi-touch gesture touchpad, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 support, accelerometers, a magnetometer, and a USB Type-C. It is priced at USD999. (Apple Insider, Google, My Drivers)

San Francisco-based venture capital firm The Venture Reality Fund has released the new 2019 VR Landscape with over 500 companies. The VR Fund notes that over USD500M has been invested in the VR and AR ecosystems since the beginning of 2019 – although a big part of that was Magic Leap’s USD280M from NTT Docomo. (VentureBeat, Tom.com, VR Focus)


According to Canalys, China reached 10.6M units by growing nearly 500% year-on-year in 1Q19. Driven by festive promotions, smart speaker sell-in shipments in China bucked the global seasonality trend by growing 23% sequentially. This made China the largest smart speaker market, overtaking the US where 5.0M smart speaker units were shipped during the quarter. The global smart speaker market has reached 20.7M units, returning to triple digit growth of 131%. China alone takes up 51% of global smart speaker shipments, with US dropping to 24% in Q1 2019 from 44% of 4Q18. (Canalys, press)


Stanford University has welcomed a new addition to their campus: Doggo, a four-legged robot that hopes to find a home in research labs around the world. The design is open source, meaning anyone can print off the plans and assemble a Doggo of their very own. (CN Beta, Stanford, TechCrunch, The Verge)

Artificial Intelligence

Google is determined to use its new AI-based tool to make lung cancer prediction more accurate and more accessible. With this new AI model, Google can generate an overall lung cancer malignancy prediction and identify subtle malignant tissue, or lung nodules, which are often difficult to see. The AI also factors in previous scans, which can help reveal the growth rate of suspicious tissue. To test the model, Google asked its AI to examine 45,856 chest CT screens. It compared the results against six board-certified radiologists. (Engadget, Google, IT Home)

Facebook AI Research lab (FAIR) is now reportedly experimenting with robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). Facebook has published three papers which detail on how it would be using robotics. The first paper involves building a six-legged robot which would then teach itself how to walk through a system of trial and error. The second paper is about making use of “curiosity” to help robots learn faster and the third is the use of the sense of touch which would help a robot achieve simple tasks. (CN Beta, The Verge, Business Insider, First Post, Bloomberg, Facebook)

According to IDC, Asia/Pacific spending on artificial intelligence (AI) systems is forecast to reach nearly USD5.5B in 2019, an increase of almost 80% in spent versus 2018. As industries invest aggressively in projects that utilize AI software capabilities, IDC expects spending on AI systems will increase to USD15.06B in 2022 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50% over the 2018-2022 forecast period. (TechCrunch, IDC, press)


Cargo, the startup that brings the convenience store into ride-hailing vehicles, is making its first international expansion through an exclusive partnership with Uber in Brazil. Uber drivers in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro can sign up for Cargo and potentially earn additional income by selling products to passengers during their ride. (TechCrunch, Forbes)

General Motors (GM) is giving its cars’ electronics a major overhaul, with a new “digital vehicle platform” designed to support more tech. The new electronics platform debuts in the 2020 Cadillac CT5, and should roll out to most other GM vehicles by 2023. (Digital Trends, Forbes, Sohu)

Maven, the car-sharing service owned by General Motors (GM), is ending operations in several major North American cities. GM will wind down service in eight of the 17 cities in which it operates, including Boston, Chicago, and New York City. Maven will continue to operate in Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and Toronto. (CN Beta, WSJ, The Verge)

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