Monday, July 15, 2024

U.S. advances plan for national semiconductor research facilities

The Department of Commerce and Natcast, operator of the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), have initiated the selection process for the first three R&D facilities funded by the CHIPS and Science Act. These facilities are integral to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which aims to bolster the U.S. semiconductor ecosystem through advanced R&D and job creation.

The Three Facilities:

1. NSTC Prototyping and NAPMP Advanced Packaging Piloting Facility: This state-of-the-art center will combine next-generation manufacturing and packaging technologies, providing 300mm research, prototyping, and packaging capabilities. It will co-locate NSTC R&D and NAPMP packaging capabilities to facilitate collaborative semiconductor and advanced packaging research.

2. NSTC Administrative and Design Facility: A multi-functional center housing key NSTC operations, including administrative functions, consortium member meetings, and programmatic activities like the Workforce Center of Excellence and the NSTC Design Enablement Gateway. It will focus on advanced semiconductor research in chip design, electronic design automation, chip and system architecture, and hardware security.

3. NSTC EUV Center: This facility will provide access to EUV lithography technology, essential for cutting-edge semiconductor research and commercialization. It will also offer space for Natcast researchers, staff, and member assignees to collaborate on advanced projects.

The selection process for these facilities started today, with the Department and Natcast planning to release additional information on affiliated technical centers soon. Expected operational dates are 2025 for the NSTC Administrative and Design Facility, 2026 for the NSTC EUV Center, and 2028 for the NSTC Prototyping and NAPMP Advanced Packaging Piloting Facility.

These facilities will drive innovation, create differentiation, ensure financial sustainability, and foster thriving ecosystems. They will bridge the gap between research and industry, securing the U.S.’s leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and research for decades to come.

For more details, visit Natcast’s website and view their informational video.

BT: Record traffic as 11.5 Million UK homes stream Euro 2024

BT reported that more than 11.5 million homes across the UK streamed at least one home nations match during Euro 2024 using its broadband network. The tournament concluded dramatically on Sunday night, with Luis de la Fuente’s Spain narrowly defeating England to win a record fourth European Championship.

Euro 2024 has emerged as one of the biggest standalone sporting events in recent history. Scottish and English fans consumed over 11,000 TB of broadband data over the past four weeks while streaming their teams’ matches. Download traffic from the BBC and ITV surged to more than 30 times the average weekly volume.

The surge in football fans’ demand propelled both the BBC and ITV into the top three content providers on BT Group’s broadband network, surpassing popular platforms like Netflix, Facebook, and YouTube during home nations matches.

The nation rallied to support the Three Lions, with the action-packed final witnessing a 142% increase in streaming compared to England’s semi-final against the Netherlands. The highest peak in broadband traffic occurred when Cole Palmer equalized for England just after 9:30 PM.

CyrusOne secures $687.1 million in mortgage-back financing

CyrusOne secured a $687.1 million Single Asset Single Borrower (SASB) CMBS loan for its DFW1 data center. This marks the company’s first CMBS issuance and contributes to the nearly $12 billion CyrusOne has raised this year. The DFW1 data center, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is a key component of CyrusOne’s extensive portfolio of state-of-the-art digital infrastructure solutions.

Eric Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer at CyrusOne, remarked, “Today’s announcement is another example of our ability to access large amounts of capital and tap different markets through institutional demand. This transaction comes on the heels of our $1.175 billion ABS issuance and CyrusOne securing $9.7 billion in new debt capital to fund data center growth.”

Morgan Stanley served as Lead Manager and Bookrunner, and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC and KKR Capital Markets served as Co-Lead Managers and Joint Bookrunners. Global Infrastructure Partners also worked closely with the company in connection with this transaction.

Japan’s AIST Selects HPE to Build Next-Generation Supercomputer ABCI 3.0

Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has selected HPE to build its next-generation supercomputer, ABCI (AI Bridging Cloud Infrastructure) 3.0. This supercomputer will be offered as a cloud service to public and private organizations, supporting large foundational models for generative AI to accelerate research, development, innovation, and social implementation.

AIST’s new ABCI 3.0 will be constructed using HPE Cray XD systems featuring NVIDIA H200 Tensor Core GPUs, interconnected by NVIDIA Quantum-2 InfiniBand networking. The supercomputer is expected to achieve a theoretical maximum of approximately 6.2 exaflops of half-precision (16-bit) performance.

Slated to be the fastest AI supercomputer in Japan, ABCI 3.0 will help meet the high demand for the country’s growing number of AI workloads. Since 2018, AIST has made its cloud supercomputing services accessible to research institutions, universities, and commercial companies of all sizes, from startups to major electronics manufacturers. AIST’s ABCI systems have supported a range of scientific research, including the development of AI techniques for genome sequencing prediction, materials informatics, and Japanese large language models (LLMs).

AFL / Fujikura opens manufacturing facility in central Poland

AFL, a subsidiary of Fujikura Ltd. and a leader in optical fiber network infrastructure, has opened a new sustainable manufacturing facility in MDC² Park, Gliwice, Poland. This expansion aims to enhance AFL’s service to European customers with high-speed connectivity and comprehensive fiber network solutions.

The facility, set on a 13.4-hectare site with 13,000m² of space, features eco-friendly design elements such as solar panels, electric vehicle charging points, a green wall, beehives, and a rainwater retention system. Its strategic location near the A4 and A1 motorways ensures efficient transit times for staff and customers. 

Naoki Okada, Director, President and CEO of Fujikura: “Together, Fujikura and AFL proudly take up challenges to deliver innovative, superior network solutions at the forefront of sustainability. The Poland Manufacturing Facility’s integrated eco-practices represent a significant step forward in our joint mission to reduce AFL and Fujikura’s ecological impact while setting new standards in corporate responsibility. This new venture follows AFL’s formal ESG Committee launch and partnership with the EPA ENERGY STAR program, further empowering the company to reach its greenhouse gas goals in line with the Science Based Targets initiative. I am confident the facility will serve to connect our valued EMEA customers and partners with exceptional, eco-conscious products and services, providing agile, consistent experiences that earn trust and contribute to society.”

Telecom Egypt deploys Nokia to launch 5G

Nokia has announced a new partnership with Telecom Egypt to introduce 5G technology to Egypt, marking the first deployment of its kind in the country. The 5G rollout will cover key cities, including Alexandria, Aswan, Cairo, Giza, and Luxor. The deployment is scheduled to begin later this year.

Under the agreement, Nokia will deploy its 5G radio access network (RAN) equipment from its AirScale portfolio, which includes baseband units and the latest generation of Massive MIMO radios. These solutions feature Nokia’s energy-efficient ReefShark System-on-Chip technology. Nokia will also provide professional services for deployment, integration, and network optimization.

The introduction of 5G technology will significantly increase capacity for seamless connectivity in some of Egypt’s most densely populated areas, supporting a wide range of applications and services. 

Earlier this year, Telecom Egypt secured the country’s first 5G license, valid for 15 years.

Key Points:

Partnership: Nokia partners with Telecom Egypt to launch 5G technology in Egypt.

Deployment: 5G rollout planned for cities including Alexandria, Aswan, Cairo, Giza, and Luxor, using Nokia’s AirScale portfolio.

Vantage Data Centers names Friedberg as Chief Tech & Innovation Officer

Vantage Data Centers, a global provider of hyperscale data center campuses, has named Emily Friedberg as its inaugural Chief Technology & Innovation Officer (CTIO). Friedberg, with nearly 25 years of experience, will oversee development and engineering, technology and systems, cybersecurity, and sustainability.

Before joining Vantage, Friedberg was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) at SkySafe, a drone software as a service company, and held an executive role at Fastly, a global edge cloud platform provider. She also played a key role in raising $8 million in Series A funding for Lagrange Systems (now WebScale) and launching its channel program.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Ericsson's Q2 overall sales decline but North America shows growth

 Ericsson has released its Q2 2024 financial results, reporting a 7% year-over-year decline in sales, though the market area North America grew by 14%. The company’s total reported sales for the quarter stood at SEK 59.8 billion, down from SEK 64.4 billion in the same period last year.

Despite the decline in sales, Ericsson saw an improvement in adjusted gross income, which increased to SEK 26.3 billion from SEK 24.7 billion, driven by a strong gross margin expansion. The reported gross income was SEK 25.8 billion, up from SEK 24.1 billion. The adjusted gross margin improved significantly to 43.9% from 38.3%, supported by higher IPR licensing revenue and cost actions, with the Networks adjusted gross margin at 46.1%. The reported gross margin was 43.1%, compared to 37.4% in the previous year.

However, Ericsson reported a net loss of SEK 11.0 billion, including a SEK 11.4 billion impairment impact. The earnings per share (EPS) diluted was SEK -3.34, compared to SEK -0.21 last year. The company did see a positive turn in its free cash flow before M&A, which was SEK 7.6 billion, benefiting from a significant improvement in working capital.

Key Points:

Sales Decline: Overall sales declined by 7% year-over-year to SEK 59.8 billion.

North American Growth: Sales in North America grew by 14%.

Gross Margin Expansion: Adjusted gross margin improved to 43.9%, with Networks adjusted gross margin at 46.1%.

Net Loss: Net loss of SEK 11.0 billion, with an EPS diluted of SEK -3.34.

Positive Cash Flow: Free cash flow before M&A was SEK 7.6 billion, showing strong improvement in working capital.

Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, said: “In Q2, we maintained our leading market position, returned to growth in North America, and delivered strong gross margin expansion and free cash flow. We remained focused on matters in our control, to optimize our business amid a challenging market environment, with industry investment levels unsustainably low.  

Vonage remains foundational to build out a global platform for network APIs. This is critical for the digitalization of enterprises and society, and will drive future growth in the telecoms industry. We recorded an impairment charge in Q2, as market growth in the current business has slowed, and we must now refocus on improving performance.  

Our results highlight our competitiveness, and we will continue to take proactive steps to position the business for longer-term success. We expect market conditions to remain challenging this year, as the pace of India investments slow, however our sales will benefit during the second half from contract deliveries in North America.”

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Digital Realty acquires data center campus in Slough, UK for $200M

Digital Realty has acquired a highly connected colocation data center in the Slough Trading Estate for US$200 million. This acquisition marks the company’s entry into the west London submarket, complementing its existing colocation capabilities in the City and Docklands.

The newly acquired campus features two individual data centers with a combined capacity of 15 megawatts (MW), offering excellent connectivity and room for future expansion. The Slough data center campus is an established hub, housing over 150 customers, including a diverse range of connectivity providers, technology companies, and financial services firms, utilizing more than 2,000 cross connects.

Digital Realty will integrate the Slough campus into its existing Metro Connect solution, providing seamless connectivity between its six campuses across Greater London. Customers will also benefit from ServiceFabric™, Digital Realty’s open interconnection and orchestration platform, offering access to a global, secure, and dynamic data exchange network. This expansion further solidifies Digital Realty’s commitment to supporting digital transformation in the UK and Europe.

Key Points:

Strategic Acquisition: Digital Realty acquires a colocation data center in Slough for $200 million, marking its entry into the west London submarket.

Capacity and Connectivity: The campus includes two data centers with a combined 15 MW capacity and over 2,000 cross connects, serving 150+ customers.

Enhanced Services: Integration into Metro Connect and access to ServiceFabric™ for seamless global connectivity and data exchange.

Sustainability Commitment: The Slough campus will be powered entirely by renewable energy, supporting Digital Realty’s goal of carbon neutrality for its European portfolio by 2030.

Friday, July 12, 2024

SoftBank Group acquires UK-based AI chip maker Graphcore

SoftBank Group has acquired Graphcore, a UK-based start-up developing an Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) platform designed for handling extremely large machine intelligence workloads.

Graphcore’s latest Bow IPU leverages Wafer-on-Wafer (WoW) 3D stacking technology. Each Bow IPU delivers up to 350 teraFLOPS of AI compute, an impressive 40% leap forward in performance and up to 16% more power efficiency compared to the previous generation IPU. TSMC has worked closely with Graphcore as a leading customer for its breakthrough SoIC-WoW (Wafer-on-Wafer) solution, as their pioneering designs in cutting-edge parallel processing architectures make them an ideal match for our technology.

Graphcore is now a wholly owned subsidiary of SoftBank and will continue to operate under the Graphcore name. The company’s headquarters remain in Bristol, with offices in Cambridge, London, Gdansk, and Hsinchu. “This is a tremendous endorsement of our team and their ability to build truly transformative AI technologies at scale, as well as a great outcome for our company,” said Graphcore co-founder and CEO Nigel Toon. “Demand for AI compute is vast and continues to grow. There remains much to do to improve efficiency, resilience, and computational power to unlock the full potential of AI. In SoftBank, we have a partner that can enable the Graphcore team to redefine the landscape for AI technology.”

“Society is embracing the opportunities offered by foundation models, generative AI applications, and new approaches to scientific discovery,” said Vikas J. Parekh, Managing Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. “Next generation semiconductors and compute systems are essential in the AGI journey, and we’re pleased to collaborate with Graphcore in this mission.”

Key Points:

Acquisition: SoftBank Group acquires Graphcore, making it a wholly owned subsidiary.

Technology: Graphcore’s Bow IPU delivers up to 350 teraFLOPS of AI compute with advanced Wafer-on-Wafer 3D stacking technology.

Future Plans: Graphcore will continue operating under its name, aiming to advance AI technology with SoftBank’s support.

AT&T discloses massive breach of data via 3rd party cloud

AT&T disclosed a massive cyber breach involving the illegal download of customer data from a workspace on a third-party cloud platform. The incident is believed to be the largest of its type in the U.S. to date.  The third-party cloud provider was not named.

AT&T said an investigation has revealed that the compromised data includes records of calls and texts for nearly all of AT&T’s cellular customers, as well as those of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) using AT&T’s network. Additionally, landline customers who interacted with these cellular numbers between May 1, 2022, and October 31, 2022, are affected. The breach also impacted records from January 2, 2023, for a small number of customers. These records detail the telephone numbers contacted by AT&T or MVNO cellular numbers, and some also include cell site identification numbers associated with the interactions.

AT&T said its has since secured the access point to prevent further illegal access and is collaborating with law enforcement, which has already apprehended at least one individual connected to the incident.

AT&T further states that the breach did not involve the content of calls or texts, personal information such as Social Security numbers or dates of birth, or detailed usage information like timestamps of calls or texts. While customer names are not included in the compromised data, there is a potential risk of identifying individuals using publicly available tools to match telephone numbers with names.  The company is providing an online method for customers to access their own call records to see what information was stolen in the breach.

Key Points:

Breach Scope: Compromised data includes call and text records for nearly all AT&T cellular and MVNO customers from May 2022 to October 2022, and a few records from January 2023.

Data Integrity: No personal information such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, or call/text content was included in the breach.

Security Measures: AT&T has secured the access point, is working with law enforcement, and one suspect has been apprehended.

SpaceX suffers launch anomaly with a batch of Starlinks

SpaceX experienced an anomaly during a Falcon 9 launch of Starlink satellites from California. The second stage engine did not complete its second burn, resulting in the Starlink satellites being deployed into a lower-than-intended orbit.

SpaceX is attempting to raise the orbit of the satellites using their ion thrusters but has indicated that the chances of success are not great. This could potentially lead to the loss of 20 satellites, including 13 equipped with Direct-to-Cell capabilities.s

Despite the anomaly, the Falcon 9 booster landed successfully on a drone ship in the Pacific.

Nokia selected by Denmark's Norlys to enhance mobile core network

Nokia has announced its selection by Norlys, the owner of Telia Denmark and Denmark’s largest integrated energy and telecommunications operator, to provide its mobile core network and managed services. This new agreement, combined with a previous RAN contract signed in 2021, is set to significantly enhance the performance and reliability of Norlys’ mobile network.

This collaboration reflects Nokia’s dedication to driving innovation and supporting the digital transformation of its customers and partners. With Nokia’s solutions, Norlys will be able to offer a comprehensive service solution to its customers, fostering new growth opportunities within Denmark. The deal includes the deployment of Nokia’s 4G/5G packet core, IMS, and SDM solutions to support voice and data services for Norlys subscribers.

Nokia’s core network applications will operate on Red Hat OpenShift, a leading hybrid cloud application platform powered by Kubernetes, integrated into the Nokia Cloud Platform. Additionally, Nokia will secure Norlys’ network using its NetGuard solutions, including Endpoint Detection and Response, Privileged Access Management, and Certificate Management. The agreement also encompasses holistic managed security, performance, and assurance services, leveraging Nokia’s 7220 IXR platforms with SR Linux NOS for data center connectivity, and Nokia MantaRay NM for automated network management and optimization.

Key Points:

Core Network and Services: Nokia to provide 4G/5G packet core, IMS, and SDM solutions.

Security and Management: Deployment of NetGuard security solutions and managed services.

Technology Integration: Use of Red Hat OpenShift and Nokia Cloud Platform for cloud-native infrastructure.

Network Optimization: Implementation of Nokia MantaRay NM for automated network management and optimization.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Zayo announces major infrastructure upgrades

Zayo has announced a series of critical infrastructure upgrades, featuring significant expansions in network connectivity. These enhancements include the introduction of new 400G-enabled wavelength routes, expanded on-demand network capabilities, and IP core upgrades.

Diversifying 400G Connections

Since April 2024, Zayo has completed five unique and carrier-diverse 400G wavelength routes. These routes provide unmatched diversity and connect to Zayo’s extensive backbone, enabling resilient North to South and Coast to Coast connectivity with 400G capacity.

New 400G routes:

  • Los Angeles to San Jose: High-capacity, low-latency connectivity, extending to Salt Lake City, Portland, Dallas, and Phoenix.
  • Chicago to St. Louis: Adds a diverse entrance into Chicago, connecting to the Memphis to New Orleans route.
  • Reno to Barstow: Low-latency path beneficial for carriers, government agencies, and enterprises.
  • Columbus to Pittsburgh: Offers faster, direct access with additional routing diversity.
  • Quebec City to Montreal: Connects key data centers, extending reach into the U.S. Zayo is the sole major provider offering 400G connectivity between these locations.

Zayo has also expanded 400G capacity on routes linking Richmond, Cleveland, and Chicago, with nearly 90% of its North American fiber network now 400G-enabled, aiming for full enablement by the end of 2024.

Enabling Easy-to-Turn-Up Wavelength Capacity

To meet the growing demand for high-bandwidth applications like AI, Zayo has expanded its on-demand capacity services. The company’s industry-first Waves on Demand service offers wavelength turn-up in 24 hours and is now available on 10 high-demand routes, including new routes from Atlanta to Miami and Seattle to San Jose.

Strengthening Strategic Connections with IP Core Upgrades

Zayo has added 11 new North American IP points-of-presence (PoPs) in key data centers across multiple states and provinces. Additionally, four existing 400G IP PoP locations have been upgraded, enhancing connectivity in strategic markets such as San Jose, Seattle, Phoenix, and New York.

With these enhancements, Zayo now operates 375 global IP PoPs, 250 of which are in North America. These upgrades ensure scalable and reliable capacity, reduced latency, and improved performance to support advanced applications.


NTT DATA lands major contract for FBI’s Mission Critical Services

NTT DATA, a leading provider of digital business and IT services, has been chosen as a prime contractor by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The company will deliver IT services through the FBI’s Information Technology Supplies and Support Services 2nd Generation (ITSSS-2) Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA). This significant contract underscores NTT DATA's role in supporting critical IT infrastructure for federal agencies.

The ITSSS-2 BPA comes with an $8 billion ceiling and an eight-year performance period from June 21, 2024, to June 21, 2032. It will serve as the primary contract vehicle for the FBI to secure essential IT services and will be available for use by all components of the Department of Justice (DOJ). NTT DATA’s Federal Division will leverage existing and emerging technologies to provide business, delivery, platform, infrastructure, and IT solutions, ensuring the FBI's and DOJ’s mission-critical needs are met efficiently and effectively.

“We understand the importance of maintaining high levels of IT support services for the DOJ’s agencies including the FBI,” said Kevin Durkin, President, Federal Government Services, NTT DATA. “We are honored to expand our strong relationship with the FBI and the DOJ to significantly improve their IT performance, reliability and security, and enable their mission-critical activities to operate efficiently and effectively.”


Dell'Oro: Mobile core network market continues decline

The Mobile Core Network (MCN) market 5-year cumulative revenue forecast is expected to decline 10 percent (2024-2028), according to a new report from Dell'Oro Group. The reduction in the forecast is caused by severe economic headwinds, primarily the high inflation rates, and the slow adoption of 5G Standalone (5G SA) networks by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs).

"It bears repeating, this is the fifth consecutive time we have reduced the growth rate of the MCN market as the build-out of 5G SA networks continue to wane compared to 5G Non-standalone networks," said Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell'Oro Group. "This is the first 5-year forecast out of the last five where the 5-year CAGR (2023-2028) has fallen into negative territory. The count of 5G SA networks commercially deployed by MNOs remains the same as it was at the end of 2023, about 50 5G SA networks.

"For the same reasons outlined for the MCN market, we reduced the 5-year cumulative revenue forecast for the Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) market, a sub-segment of the MCN market, by 18 percent. In the case of MEC, the adoption rate is slowed much more dramatically than the overall MCN market. The industry is addressing these concerns with several initiatives such as open gateway application programmable interfaces (APIs) to attract the application development community to develop applications for the mobile industry that can easily be leveraged across all MNOs. Release 18 is introducing capabilities for new use cases, and Reduced Capability (RedCap) RAN software to bring more 5G IoT devices to market. However, these will take time to bring solutions to market and more importantly at scale to have an impact on the overall market growth," Bolan added.

Additional highlights from the Mobile Core Network & Multi-Access Edge Computing 5-Year July 2024 Forecast Report:

  • The CAGR is negative for all product segments—Packet Core, Policy, Signaling, Subscriber Data Management, and IMS Core.
  • The CAGR for the market segments is positive for 5G MCN and MEC, and negative for 4G MCN and IMS Core.
  • The CAGR by regions is positive for Asia Pacific excl. China, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Worldwide excluding China. The regions with negative CAGRs are North America, CALA, China, and Worldwide excluding North America.