1-28 #VIP : TSMC has already struck a deal with Intel; Samsung Display has signed a deal to supply foldable displays select smartphone makers in China; Micron has announced volume shipment of 1α (1-alpha) node DRAM products; etc.

TSMC has already struck a deal with Intel under which the pure-play foundry will use 3nm process technology to manufacture the US vendor’s core CPU products, with volume production scheduled for 2H22, according to Digitimes. (Digitimes, Gizmo China, Sina, Digitimes, press)

Intel has invested an additional USD475M in its plant in Vietnam to improve technologies and boost production of its 5G products and core processors. The move takes Intel’s total investments in Vietnam to around USD1.5B. (CN Beta, Intel, Reuters)

Intel has codesigned and partnered with two ecosystem partners, including ASUS, to launch the Intel Iris Xe discrete desktop graphics cards (code-named “DG1”) in systems targeted to mainstream users and small- and medium-size businesses. (GizChina, Intel, GSM Arena, CN Beta)

MediaTek has announced it has reached a 5G carrier aggregation (CA) and voice over new radio (VoNR) milestone in collaboration with Swisscom, Ericsson and OPPO, advancing 5G networks across Europe. Both accomplishments were made on Swisscom’s commercial 5G network using Ericsson’s network infrastructures including its RAN, core network and IMS solutions. (Digitimes, press, China Times, CTEE)

MediaTek’s chairman Cai Lixing has announced that the company is planning to invest around USD3B in Research & Development in various fields. In 2020, the company spent about USD2.7B in research and development related activities. He  also predicts that the 5G smartphone shipments will exceed 500M units in 2021, which comes out to be around 2.5 times more than the numbers in 2020.  (Gizmo China, IT Home, UDN, China Times)

Qualcomm and Amazon have announced the companies’ efforts to pre-integrate the Alexa Custom Assistant with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Automotive Cockpit Platforms. This new system is designed to support automotive OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers to build customizable, in-vehicle intelligent assistants and is offered as an extension module to the Alexa Automotive Software Development Kit (SDK).  (Pocket-Lint, ZDNet, Seeking Alpha, Sohu, Wall Street CN)

Microsoft has announced that a team of Microsoft and University of Sydney researchers has developed forward-thinking hardware systems for quantum computers. This team has developed a cryogenic quantum control platform that uses specialized CMOS circuits to take digital inputs and generate many parallel qubit control signals. The chip that powers this control platform is called Gooseberry. (CN Beta, Neowin, Microsoft, MS Poweruser)

Samsung Display has revealed more details on the new generation of power-efficient OLED panels. The OLED is cutting the power draw by 16% while increasing brightness too.  (GSM Arena, Weibo)

Samsung Display has signed a deal to supply foldable displays select smartphone makers in China. The plan is to start shipping the displays in 3Q21 and to deliver 1M units before the end of 2021.  This will lead to several foldable phones being announced in 2H21.  (Android Authority, Ars Technica, ET News)

Tencent is granted the design patent of “Holographic Naked-eye 3D Device” (CN306292941S). The product design is an interactive display device with holographic projection and 3D technology. This glasses-free 3D device adopts a cube shape. The front part seems to be a projector that can be turned out to facilitate holographic 3D projection.  (CN Beta, Sina)

The NOR flash memory supplier Winbond is expected to supply chips to Apple for its second generation of AirPods Pro that will reportedly launch in 1H21. According to DigiTimes, Winbond is running at full capacity on its production lines. The company is also rumored to launch the AirPods Pro in 2 different size variants, while another rumor pointed at a Lite variant of the AirPods Pro as well. (Gizmo China, CN Beta, Digitimes, Phone Arena)

Micron has announced volume shipment of 1α (1-alpha) node DRAM products built using the world’s most advanced DRAM process technology and offering major improvements in bit density, power and performance. Micron plans to integrate the 1α node across its DRAM product portfolio this year to support all environments that use DRAM today. The 1-alpha node offers a 40% improvement in memory density. Mobile devices built with Micron’s low-power DRAM from this new node will benefit from a 15% improvement in power savings. (CN Beta, Guru3D)

China’s Ant Group is planning to sell U.S.-based biometric security firm EyeVerify. Ant, the fintech affiliate of Alibaba Group, is in talks with a number of potential buyers in the United States. The company has  planned to secure a sale in 1H21. (CN Beta, Financial Times, Reuters)

A flagship phone with a fast-charging system (wired + wireless + reverse charging) with a combination of up to 200W will be unveiled in the near future. Currently, vendors that value fast charging technology on the market include Xiaomi, vivo, etc. They have already launched phones with 120W of fast charging, and they are also developing faster charging technology. (Gizmo ChinaSina, Sohu)

Apple plans to release its first iPhones with Wi-Fi 6E support in 2021, according to Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Thomas O’Malley. Apple supplier Skyworks will be supplying various components for 2021 iPhone models, including Wi-Fi 6E power amplifiers. (CN Beta, Ubergizmo, Mac Rumors)

India’s Bharti Airtel has announced its “5G Ready” network. 5G is expected to deliver 10x speed, 10x latency and 100x concurrency when compared to existing technologies and massive connectivity between machines. It is running live over 1800 band on a commercial network in Hyderabad today.  Airtel has made it clear that this live test was on a limited commercial network and would not be available for general users for now.  (Android Authority, India, India Today)

The worldwide smartphone market continued to improve in 4Q20 returning to familiar ground with 4.3% year-over-year growth. According to IDC, smartphone vendors shipped a total of 385.9M devices during the quarter. While the full year 2020 declined 5.9% compared to 2019, the progress toward market recovery has been impressive and IDC believes the momentum heading into 2021 will remain strong. (Apple Insider, IDC)

In a sweeping move that may lead to legal challenges and further acrimony between India and China in the digital space, the government has permanantly banned 59 Chinese apps, and these are believed to include top ones such as ByteDance’s TikTok, Baidu, WeChat, Alibaba’s UC Browser, shopping app Club Factory, Mi Video Call (Xiaomi) and BIGO Live.  (GSM Arena, India Times, Global Times, Zee News, DW)

Apple is reportedly ramping up the production of iPhones, iPads, Macs and other products outside of China, in a sign that Apple is continuing to accelerate its production diversification despite hopes that U.S.-China tensions will ease under President Joe Biden. (Asia Nikkei, GizChina)

OPPO’s recent patent suggests the company is in the latter stages of working on a new smart tag. The patent titled “Bluetooth smart tag locator” is the new Bluetooth smart tag in the company’s growing peripheral and IoT portfolio. (Gizmo China, LetsGoDigital, Pocket-Lint)

China-based handset brands have triggered a new round of hardware specification competition seeking to expand their market shares globally, according to Digitimes. More brands will also adopt the multiple-lens form factor for their mid-tier or even entry-level smartphones. (Gizmo China, Digitimes, press)

The co-founder of OnePlus, Carl Pei, has announced his new company, “Nothing”. The company is based in London. The company’s mission is “to remove barriers between people and technology to create a seamless digital future”. (Digital Trends, Android Headlines, Nothing, iFanr, Sohu)

Apple CEO Tim Cook has indicated that the company now has an active installed base of 1.65B devices, compared with 1.5B devices a year ago. He has also said Apple now has an installed base of more than 1B iPhones, an increase over the 900M the company most recently disclosed in 2019. (Reuters, Apple Insider)

Motorola Edge s is official in China – 6.7” 1080×2520 FHD+ 2xHiD IPS 90Hz, Qualcomm Snapdragon 870 5G, rear quad 64MP-16MP ultrawide-2MP depth-3D ToF + front dual 16MP-8MP ultrawide, 6+128 / 8+128 / 8+256GB, Android 11.0, side fingerprint, 5000mAh 20W, CNY1,999 (EUR250) / CNY2,399 (EUR305) / CNY2,799 (EUR350).  GSM Arena, Lenovo, CN Beta)

ZTE Blade X1 5G is launched in US MVNO Visible – 6.5” 1080×2340 FHD+ HiD IPS, Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G, rear quad 48MP-8MP ultrawide-2MP macro-2MP depth + front 16MP, 6+128GB, Android 10.0, rear fingerprint, 4000mAh 18W, USD384. (GSM Arena, Gizmo China, XDA-Developers)

Samsung Galaxy A02 is official in Thailand – 6.517” 720×1600 HD+ v-notch IPS, MediaTek MT6739W, rear dual 13MP-2MP macro + front 5MP, 3+32GB, Android 10.0, no fingerprint, 5000mAh, microUSB, THB2,999 (USD100). (GSM Arena, Gizmo China)

The latest Canalys data shows that worldwide PC market growth accelerated in 4Q20, as shipments of desktops, notebooks and workstations increased by 25% from a year ago to reach a record 90.3M units. These latest numbers exclude tablets. On the back of this remarkable recovery after a supply-constrained 1Q20, total PC shipments in 2020 grew 11% to reach 297M units. Worldwide PC market growth in 2020 is singlehandedly driven by notebooks and mobile workstations. Shipments of these devices increased 25% from 2019 to reach 235.1M units. Conversely, desktop and desktop workstation shipments fell 22% from 2019 to reach 61.9M units in 2020. (GSM Arena, Askjebloggen, Canalys)

Strategy Analytics forecasts total global Bluetooth headset sales volume of over 300M units in 2020. As a category, True Wireless Stereo (TWS) Bluetooth headset sales witnessed growth of nearly 90% in 2020. Apple has maintained a commanding lead in the TWS segment in 2020, but its commanding share is shrinking as competition intensifies.  (Mac Rumors, Strategy Analytics)

Lego and Universal Music Group (UMG) are teaming up for Vidiyo that will let users create their own music videos and dance clips and share them with friends, all while applying their own effects and styles to the videos. (CN Beta, Engadget, The Verge, Music Business World, Lego)

Amazon-owned Ring is launching its cheapest smart doorbell, Ring Video Doorbell Wired, for just USD60. The camera packs a 1080p wide-angle camera, two-way audio and the same customizable motion zones as its siblings. (Neowin, Engadget, Ring)

OPPO has applied for car-related patents including “collision avoidance alert”, “vehicle control”, “vehicle positioning” and “distance measurement method”, indicating that it may also be entering the car sector. (My Drivers, Sohu, MyZaker, CNEVPost)

Baidu has received a permit from the state of California to test self-driving cars without a driver behind the wheel, according to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Baidu is the 6th company to receive a fully autonomous testing permit from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (the others being Cruise, Waymo, Nuro, Zoox, and AutoX). Currently, 60 companies have an active permit to test autonomous vehicles with a safety driver in California. (Gizmo China, The Verge, Reuters, Sina, IT Home)

Toyota Motor overtook Volkswagen (VW) AG in 2020 to become the world’s top-selling automaker, the first time the Japanese group has clinched the position in 5 years. Toyota’s group sales, which include those of its subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor and Hino Motors for the year are 9.53M units. That compares with VW’s 9.31M. (CN Beta, Bloomberg, Volkswagen)

AutoX has announced that their fully driverless robotaxi pilot program is open to the public in Shenzhen, China. Interested parties can sign up for a ride via this registration page. AutoX has said the “teleoperator can give high level instructions to help in situations when the car is stuck, such as giving a routing suggestion.  (CN Beta, Gizmo China, Robot Report, Forbes)

Tesla is open to licensing its software, including its Autopilot highly-automated driving technology and the neural network training it has built to improve its autonomous driving technology. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed those considerations, adding that the company has in fact already “had some preliminary discussions about licensing Autopilot to other OEMs”. (TechCrunch, CN Beta)

Starship Technologies — with USD17M of new capital in its coffers — has expanded its fleet five-fold since COVID-19 swept through the European and North American markets that it operates in. Starship now has 1,000 autonomous delivery bots in its fleet. The new investment brings Starship’s total funding to USD102M.  (CN Beta, TechCrunch, Medium)

SoftBank Group’s robotics unit has announced a joint venture with Japanese electronics maker Iris Ohyama, as the conglomerate looks to juice up its robotics business. The joint venture, Iris Robotics, offered an ambitious forecast of JPY100B (USD965M) in sales by 2025. (CN Beta, TechCrunch, NHK, Reuters)

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