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TrendForce says smartphone production to be reduced 5% in 2Q21
by Paul Hill
The analyst firm TrendForce has warned that smartphone production will drop by 5% in the second quarter because of a winter storm that hit Samsung’s Austin factory in mid-February where phone components are manufactured. Some of the highly important smartphone components affected include the Qualcomm 5G RFIC, Samsung’s LSI OLED DDIC and its LSI CIS Logic IC.
According to TrendForce’s investigation into the matter, Samsung was able to somewhat prepare for the interruption because it had been forewarned about the coming weather, however, smartphone production around the world will be slowed down partly due to how long it’ll take Samsung to resume full operations.
The Qualcomm RFIC is usually shipped to clients for use in 5G handsets but the delays mean that 5G smartphone production in 2Q21 could drop by a huge 30%. In turn, it said that phone manufacturers are likely to increase the production of 4G handsets to make up for the shortfall in 5G devices. To help matters, Samsung will be prioritising the production of its RF products to get them out to manufacturers sooner.
The analyst said it’s sticking to its previous forecast that 1.36 billion smartphones would be produced this year but did say that it now expects 5G penetration to reach 36.5% rather than 38% as previously anticipated. The analyst also said this week that SSD production would be impacted due to the factory slowing down.
TrendForce warns of SSD price hikes later this year
by Paul Hill
The analyst firm TrendForce has put out a warning that the price of solid-state drives (SSD) is going to increase this year because of a pre-existing shortage of NAND Flash controllers and the power outage that recently hit Samsung’s Austin semiconductor plant. It said manufacturers are now preparing to raise the prices of SSDs by around 3-8% in Q2.
In the second quarter, TrendForce was predicting that client SSDs would retain the same price as of Q1 but it now expects the price to rise by 3-8%. Things are a little better in the enterprise SSD category, originally it said the price would fall 0-5% in Q2, but now it has prices rising from 0-5%, which is not as steep as client SSDs.
Last month, Samsung’s Austin plant was hit by a severe winter storm that suspended production from mid-February to March 2. TrendForce said that it doesn’t expect the factory to become fully operational until the end of March which will impact Samsung’s ability to produce SSDs.
With the coronavirus still affecting all parts of the world, demand for notebooks - so that work can be performed from home - is still high. Those looking to purchase a notebook equipped with an SSD could see devices getting more expensive as the year goes on.
By Ather Fawaz
"Mars, here we come!!" exclaims Elon Musk despite explosive ending to Starship's test flight
by Ather Fawaz
Image via Trevor Mahlmann (YouTube) The Starship initiative by SpaceX is meant to make spaceflights to Mars a reality. After a scrubbed launch yesterday courtesy of an auto-abort procedure in the Starship's Raptor engines, once again, SpaceX geared up for a re-run of the test a few hours back. This time, Starship SN8 successfully took flight from its test site in Boca Chica, Texas. A trimmed version of the complete event is embedded below from Trevor Mahlmann's YouTube channel.
Compared to the scrubbed launch, things went better on this one, but not entirely. The gargantuan 160-feet tall rocket, propelled by three Raptor engines, took flight, and intended to rise to a height of 41,000 ft (12,500 m). SpaceX founder Elon Musk called the ascent a success, but it's not clear whether the rocket reached its intended altitude. Nevertheless, after reaching its highest point, the rocket began its journey back to its earthly test site.
Image via Trevor Mahlmann (YouTube) The SN8 prototype performed a spectacular mid-air flipping maneuver to set itself on course to land vertically back to the earth—a feat we've all grown accustomed to seeing with SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. The SN8 executed the landing flip successfully, and SpaceX tweeted a closer look at the event as it happened. Impressively, SpaceX claimed that by doing so, the SN8 became the largest spacecraft to perform a landing maneuver of this sort.
But as the rocket prepared to touch down and its boosters tried to slow down its descent to cushion the landing, the rocket's fuel header tank pressure got low. This caused the "touchdown velocity to be high & RUD," during the landing burn, Musk tweeted. Unfortunately, this meant that upon touchdown, the Starship SN8 prototype exploded into flames.
Image via SpaceX Livestream Notwithstanding the fiery, unfortunate event right at the final few moments, SpaceX and Musk hailed the test as a success. For the company, "SN8 did great! Even reaching apogee would’ve been great, so controlling all way to putting the crater in the right spot was epic!!" Musk tweeted, "We got all the data we needed. Congrats SpaceX team hell yeah!!", he continued; before following up with another tweet exclaiming "Mars, here we come!!"
Elon Musk asks Twitter if it wants to see a gigafactory built in Texas
by Paul Hill
Elon Musk has issued a poll on Twitter asking followers if they want to see a new gigafactory built in Texas. While he didn’t expand much in the post, it has gained over 139,000 votes in the first four hours with almost a full day left to go. At the time of writing, “Hell yeah” responses are beating “Nope” responses 79.3% to 20.7%.
Now that the Chinese-based Gigafactory 3 has been built and Gigafactory 4 construction is underway in Germany, Musk is trying to find the next location for a new gigafactory. The firm also has Gigafactory 1 and Gigafactory 2 based in Storey County, Nevada, U.S., and Buffalo, New York, U.S. respectively.
At an earnings call last week, Elon Musk outlined the vital need to ramp up battery capacity to produce high-capacity models such as the Cybertruck. Commenting on the matter he said:
Throughout Monday and Tuesday, Tesla had been enjoying a rise in share price with prices going from $650 to $960 before tapering off slightly towards the end of trading on Tuesday. It’s unclear what effect Musk’s tweet will have the price going into Wednesday but in pre-market trading, the price was down 1.7% on yesterday’s close price.
Apple announces new green campus in Austin, Texas
by Paul Hill
Apple has announced that it’s expanding operations in Austin, Texas, with the start of construction on a new campus. The new facility will cost $1 billion and cover 3-million-square-feet. The new campus will initially house 5,000 employees from 2022, with the capacity being upgraded to accommodate 15,000 employees later on. When the work is complete, the 15,000 employees will join the already existing 7,000 employees bringing the total to 22,000.
Apple also mentioned the fact that the new Mac Pro, which is due in December, is currently being manufactured in Austin, just a short distance away from the planned campus. The Mac Pro facility currently employs over 500 people who work in a range of including electrical engineering and electronic assembly.
Commenting on the Mac Pro assembly and the planned campus, Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said:
In a bid to improve its green credentials, Apple announced that the new campus would be home to native trees. The company is partnering with Austin-based Bartlett Tree Experts to help preserve and increase the native tree stocks. The firm said the trees that have been planned represent a “significant” increase over the number that was on the site before construction started.
According to the latest plans, 60 percent of the campus will be a green space. Included in the 60 percent figure is a 50-acre nature and wildlife preserve which will be open to the public. Lastly, Apple mentioned that the Austin campus will run on 100% renewable energy, some of which will be sourced from on-site solar panels.