Most Read – Automotive MCUs, Bitcoin Waste, Semiconductor Crashes

What topics are covered this week? There’s Virgin Orbit completing its third mission, Infineon’s 28nm Aurix automotive microcontrollers, a crackdown on Bitcoin mining in China, the (illusory) hopes of building a national chip industry, and predictions of a coming crash for the semiconductor industry…

5. Virgin Orbit’s successful horizontal launch applauds Spaceport Cornwall
Virgin Orbit successfully completed its third mission late last week, launching several satellites into orbit under the wing of a modified Boeing 747 in California. The significance for the UK, beyond the good news for Glasgow-based Spire Global, which had one of the payload’s seven satellites (its ADLER-1), is that it potentially brings the UK satellite launch. Spaceport Cornwall hopes Virgin Orbit will launch a payload from the UK in the same way. This means that among those who hailed the success of the launch was the British Space Agency.

4. Infineon Automotive MCUs Include Functional Safety AI
The first samples of Infineon’s Aurix TC4x 28nm automotive microcontroller line are available. “The family provides an upward migration path for the Aurix TC3x family,” according to the company. “It includes the next-generation TriCore 1.8 and the new parallel processing unit, a SIMD vector DSP that meets the requirements of various AI topologies – this can include real-time control and radar post-processing.” Facilities for secure over-the-air software updating are included, as well as diagnostics and analysis during vehicle use. Interfaces for 5 Gbit Ethernet, PCI Express, CAN-XL and 10BASE T1S Ethernet are included among the devices.

3. China Crypto Crackdown Frees Up 76% of Energy Used for Computing
In September 2019 Bitcoin miners in China accounted for 76% of all computing power used in the country, now it’s 0%. During the same period, the use of computing power by crypto miners in the United States increased from 4.1% to 35%. Kazakhstan, over the same period, rose, according to the Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, from 1.4% to 18.1%.

2. The illusion of creating a national chip industry [Mannerisms]
It seems that every major country or region wants a chip industry, but few can afford it. TSMC’s $40 billion capital budget for 2022 surprised everyone, but it’s only slightly more than Samsung’s $37.8 billion budget, while Intel’s, backed by Uncle Sam, won’t be too far behind. These are not the kind of numbers that many countries can present. The EU generally thinks it can attract industrial investment by paying 10% of the cost of a project. So when Intel asked for 90%, the EC seemed to hesitate.

1. Crash coming this year or next
If the crash doesn’t happen this year, it will happen next year, Future Horizons CEO Malcolm Penn (pictured) warned at IFS2022. “Enjoy the Super-Cycle,” Penn urged, “if it lasts through 2022, it will collapse in 2023. Capex expansion bragging rights are now out of control (especially Intel, more Samsung, SK-Hynix and TSMC, all talking phone numbers.” Penn estimates that last year’s expansion of 26% for a market worth $553 billion forecasts 10% for this year, the market reaching 609 billion dollars, he warns, that it could turn out to be negative.

Amanda J. Marsh