Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Intel opens Fab 9 for advanced packaging of chiplets

Intel celebrated the opening of Fab 9 in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. 

Fab 9 is set to play a pivotal role in driving Intel's ongoing advancements in advanced packaging technologies. With the semiconductor industry transitioning into the heterogeneous era that embraces multiple "chiplets" within a single package, cutting-edge packaging technologies like Foveros and EMIB (embedded multi-die interconnect bridge) offer a swifter and more cost-effective path toward achieving the milestone of 1 trillion transistors on a single chip, extending Moore's Law beyond 2030.

Intel's Foveros 3D advanced packaging technology enables the stacking of compute tiles vertically rather than horizontally. This innovation empowers both Intel and its foundry customers to mix and match compute tiles, optimizing cost and power efficiency in the process.

This achievement also marks a significant step in Intel's planned $3.5 billion investment in its New Mexico facilities.

“Today, we celebrate the opening of Intel’s first high-volume semiconductor operations and the only U.S. factory producing the world’s most advanced packaging solutions at scale. This cutting-edge technology sets Intel apart and gives our customers real advantages in performance, form factor and flexibility in design applications, all within a resilient supply chain. Congratulations to the New Mexico team, the entire Intel family, our suppliers, and contractor partners who collaborate and relentlessly push the boundaries of packaging innovation, stated Keyvan Esfarjani, Intel executive vice president and chief global operations officer.

Keysight introduces Chiplet PHY Designer

 Keysight Technologies introduced Chiplet PHY Designer, a new tool for high-speed digital design and simulation. This tool focuses on die-to-die (D2D) interconnect simulation, which is crucial for verifying the performance of heterogeneous and 3D integrated circuit (IC) designs, commonly known as chiplets. It's the industry's first electronic design automation (EDA) tool that offers detailed modeling and simulation capabilities, enabling chiplet designers to verify that their designs meet the specifications of the Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe) standard.

UCIe is becoming the leading chiplet interconnect specification in the semiconductor industry. It's an open standard that defines interconnects between chiplets within advanced 2.5D or 3D packages. UCIe is gaining support from top semiconductor equipment and EDA tool vendors, foundries, and chiplet designers. Designers adopting this interconnect standard and ensuring their chiplets meet its specifications contribute to building a broad ecosystem for chiplet interoperability and commerce.

Keysight EDA's R&D team has extensive experience in modeling and simulating high-speed digital interfaces aligned with industry standards. For example, ADS Memory Designer covers various memory interfaces like GDDR7, DDR5, LPDDR5, and HBM3 with its IBIS-AMI modeler. Additionally, its JEDEC compliance test solution handles over 100 test IDs using the same algorithm as the Keysight Infinium oscilloscope family.

Key features of the Chiplet PHY Designer physical-layer simulator include:

  • Supports UCIe physical layer standard – automated parsing of signals following the standard naming conventions, automated connections between multiple dies through package interconnects, standard driven simulation setup such as speed grade, and intuitive measurement setup through specialized probe component.
  • Measurement of voltage transfer function (VTF) – precisely computes a VTF to ensure UCIe specification compliance and analyzes system bit error rate (BER) down to 1e-27 or 1e-32 levels. Measures eye diagram height, eye width, skew, mask margin, and BER contour.
  • Analysis of forwarded clocking to accurately capture the asynchronous clocking behavior.

PowerHouse plans 800 MW campus in Spotsylvania, VA

PowerHouse Data Centers, a developer and owner of next-generation data centers backed by a joint venture between American Real Estate Partners (AREP) and Harrison Street, acquired 145 acres in Spotsylvania, Virginia to serve as the site of the PowerHouse 95 data center campus. 

Powerhouse 95, which will serve the data-intensive needs of hyperscale users in northern Virginia, is located along the I-95 corridor in proximity to existing electrical infrastructure. PowerHouse 95 will have three 300 MW substations, with the first currently under development and expected to provide 150 MWs by October 2025. Upon completion, the first substation will provide enough power to construct up to eight or more high-density data centers. Harrison Street and AREP will have the flexibility to develop between four to eight powered shells and two additional substations, maximizing optionality for hyperscale tenants.

“PowerHouse 95 is located at the epicenter of one of the fastest growing data center markets in northern Virginia,” said Michael Hochanadel, Managing Director and Head of Digital at Harrison Street. “This is yet another impressive venture between Harrison Street and PowerHouse and demonstrates our collective ability to identify high-quality solutions for the hyperscale community. Our ongoing partnership with AREP continues to accelerate the development of highly sought after data centers that address increasing demand driven by high-powered computing, AI, and other advancements. We look forward to further expanding the Powerhouse platform in both northern Virginia and across key regions in the U.S to deliver the best and fastest solutions to customers.     ”                      

This purchase marks one of two recent transactions for the JV, following the announced closing on the PowerHouse Reno site.  In addition to closing on PH 95 and PH Reno, PowerHouse has four developments underway in northern Virginia totaling over 700 MW.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure releases Generative AI service

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) introduced a Generative AI service for enterprise use that incorporates large language models from Cohere and Meta Llama 2, making it easier for businesses to leverage the latest generative AI advancements. The updated OCI Generative AI service offers support for over 100 languages, improved GPU cluster management, and flexible fine-tuning options. It can be used both in the Oracle Cloud and on-premises through OCI Dedicated Region.

The initial beta release supports OCI OpenSearch. Upcoming releases will support a wider range of data search and aggregation tools and provide access to Oracle Database 23c with AI Vector Search and MySQL HeatWave with Vector Store. Oracle will also deliver prebuilt agent-actions across its suite of SaaS applications, including Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications Suite, Oracle NetSuite, and industry applications such as Oracle Health.

“With today’s news, Oracle is bringing generative AI to customer workloads and their data—not asking customers to move their data to a separate vector database,” said Ritu Jyoti, group vice president, Worldwide Artificial Intelligence and Automation Research Practice and Global AI Research Lead, IDC. “With a common architecture for generative AI that is being integrated across the Oracle ecosystem from its Autonomous Database to Fusion SaaS applications, Oracle is bringing generative AI to where exabytes of customer data already reside, both in cloud data centers and on-premises environments. This greatly simplifies the process for organizations to deploy generative AI with their existing business operations.”

Lightstorm to acquire JGA-South and SEA-US cable assets

Lightstorm, a prominent pan-Asia cloud network infrastructure operator owned by Miami-based I Squared Capital announced plans to acquire three subsea cable systems: the JGA-North cable and substantial segments of the JGA-South and SEA-US cable systems.

The three acquired cables, spanning approximately 21,000 kilometers in total length and boasting an allocated capacity of around 64 Tbps, establish critical connections between key markets such as the United States, Guam, Japan, and Australia. This acquisition will further bolster Lightstorm's submarine capabilities, complementing its existing terrestrial Data Center Interconnect (DCI) business in the Asian region.

The cable systems are being acquired from bankruptcy court-appointed receivers in both Delaware and Singapore. Lightstorm expects the deal to close in the latter half of this year. Financial terms were not disclosed. While the sales proceesings are underway, David Zimmer, the head of Lightstorm's international subsea connectivity business, will assume the role of interim CEO to oversee day-to-day operations during this transition phase.

"We are thrilled to integrate these high-value subsea cables into our platform,” said Amajit Gupta, CEO and MD of Lightstorm Group. “This acquisition will fortify our position as a leading cloud network infrastructure provider and expand our geographic presence and service offerings by linking through expanded subsea assets such as this cable system. We are excited to build upon RTI Cable’s extraordinary achievements and wish Russ well in his future endeavors.”

“I Squared Capital portfolio companies already operate a formidable global network, and their acquisition of leading subsea cables positions the Lightstorm Group for unprecedented future growth” added RTI Cable’s founder and former CEO Russ Matulich. “It is a privilege to have worked alongside many of the industry’s best to achieve something more important than ourselves, and I look forward to celebrating their future achievements.”

Japan-Guam-Australia North Cable ready-for-service

The Japan-Guam-Australia North Cable System (JGA North), which spans approximately 2,700 kilometers from Japan to Guam, is ready for service. The cable has an initial design capacity of 24 Tbps minimum, increasing to 30 Tbps in the coming year.

JGA North seamlessly interconnects with Japan-Guam-Australia South (JGA South) in Guam.

Construction on track for Japan-Guam-Australia South Cable System 

RTI Connectivity Pte. Ltd. (RTI)  reported that construction of the Japan-Guam-Australia South Cable System (JGA South) is on schedule and will be commercially available by the end of the year.

JGA South has an initial design capacity of 36 terabits per second (Tbps), enabling carrier-neutral data centres in Sydney to connect to RTI’s combined cable landing station / neutral data centre in Piti, Guam. From Guam, JGA South connects seamlessly to key cities with neutral data centres including Los Angeles, California, USA, Tokyo, Japan, and Hong Kong, SAR, over the Southeast Asia-United States Cable System (SEA-US), JGA North and the Hong Kong Guam Cable System (HK-G), respectively.

JGA South will also connect to the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, making it the first new cable ever to land on the east coast of Australia, outside of Sydney.

SEA-US Cable Secures FCC License

Hawaiian Telcom confirmed that the Federal Communication Commission has approved the landing license for the new Southeast Asia – U.S. (SEA-US) fiber cable system. The company noted that the SEA-US undersea fiber cable has been successfully connected at the shore-end in Hermosa Beach, California where construction of the cable landing station is expected to be completed later this month. The ship laying the submarine fiber is en route to Honolulu, scheduled to arrive in February.

The $250 million SEA-US cable system is designed to bypass congested, earthquake-prone regions (Luzon Straight) and optimize stable connectivity. It will deliver an initial 20 terabit per second (Tb/s) capacity.

SEA-US consortium members include Globe Telecom (Manila, Philippines), GTA (Tamuning, Guam), GTI (Los Angeles, California), RTI (San Francisco, California), Telin (Jakarta, Indonesia), and Telkom USA (Los Angeles, California).

Orange Business and Tēnaka work to restore coral reef in Malaysia

Orange Business and Tēnaka, a social business that works to restore and protect marine ecosystems worldwide, have partnered to scale the coral reef restoration in a Marine Protected Area of the Coral Triangle in Malaysia.

Orange Business has orchestrated a groundbreaking marine research project leveraging a Yucca lab research station equipped with underwater monitoring devices and solar-powered floating buoys. This station, connected to the 4G network via an Orange Business SIM card, transfers images to Microsoft Azure with the assurance of security measures by Orange Cyberdefense. In the cloud, an advanced AI algorithm by Orange Business autonomously identifies and quantifies diverse marine species in the reefs.

This project benefits from partnerships, with Netskope's For Good program providing security support and design, and Microsoft contributing Azure credits through its Startups Founders Hub program, enhancing the project's potential and reach.

“Regenerating the ocean is the best solution we have to mitigate the climate and biodiversity crisis. By leveraging technology, Orange Business brings critical expertise for us to scale our operations and reach a global impact,” explained Anne-Sophie Roux, Founder of Tēnaka.

“We wanted to be part of the solution for an environmental challenge. Our employees worldwide support Tēnaka for its inspiring initiative in preserving and rehabilitating coral ecosystems – and one where our technology and digital services can really make a difference to create a positive impact,” commented Kristof Symons, CEO International, Orange Business.

Telefónica offloads mobile data to the Helium in Mexico

Telefónica is partnering with Nova Labs, a pioneer in decentralized wireless communications, to launch Helium Mobile Hotspots in Mexico. The hotspots, initially in  Mexico City and Oaxaca, will extend Telefónica’s coverage and enable offloading of mobile data to the Helium Mobile Network and improve overall mobile coverage service for customers.

Telefónica and Nova Labs have built a solution based on the OpenWifi standard developed by the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). This solution enables select Movistar customers in Mexico to access the Helium Mobile Network using their Movistar SIM cards for authentication.

Helium Mobile Hotspots are connected to a proprietary management system developed by Telefónica, which controls its customers’ automatic access to the Helium Mobile Network for mobile data sessions. Telefónica maintains full control of the customer experience and monitors hotspot status before allowing access and downloading data over the Helium Mobile Network. This innovative solution combines the core cellular network with Helium Mobile Network coverage and is designed to be deployed globally and leveraged by any operator.

Telefónica says the use of Helium Mobile Hotspots reduces telecommunications infrastructure costs significantly, with lower capex and opex costs and minimal environmental impact. In addition, it enables a community of individuals and small business owners to deploy Helium Mobile Hotspots and enable Telefónica to accelerate coverage growth while continuing to provide a quality service to its customers.

Helium Mobile Hotspots are compact, discrete, easy to install and can be deployed in small spaces, increasing mobile coverage and allowing mobile data to be offloaded from the core network to the Helium Mobile Network. This people-powered solution increases mobile data coverage and is based on a transparent and immutable economic system managed by the Helium Network’s blockchain-based technology.

AT&T posts Q4 sales of $32 billion, up 2.2% yoy

AT&T reported F2023 fourth quarter revenues of $32.0 billion, up 2.2% year over year. This increase primarily reflects higher Mobility, and to a lesser extent, Mexico and Consumer Wireline revenues, partly offset by continued declines in Business Wireline revenues.

Capital expenditures were $4.6 billion in the quarter. Capital investment*, which includes $1.0 billion of cash payments for vendor financing, totaled $5.6 billion.

Fourth quarter operating income was $5.3 billion, with adjusted operating income* of $5.8 billion; Full-year operating income of $23.5 billion, with adjusted operating income of $24.7 billion, up 5.0% year over year.

“We accomplished exactly what we said we would in 2023, delivering sustainable growth and consistent business performance, resulting in full-year free cash flow of $16.8 billion, ahead of our raised guidance. As we advance our lead in converged connectivity, we will continue to scale our best-in-class 5G and fiber networks to meet customers’ growing demand for seamless, ubiquitous broadband, and drive durable growth for shareholders,” said John Stankey, AT&T CEO.

Some highlights

  • Full-year Mobility service revenues up 4.4%, above guidance; company’s best-ever full-year Mobility operating income.
  • Full-year consumer broadband revenues up 8.1%, above guidance; driven by full-year AT&T Fiber revenue growth of 26.6%.
  • 526,000 postpaid phone net adds in the fourth quarter; more than 1.7 million for the full-year 2023 with historically low churn levels and continued strong ARPU growth.
  • Postpaid churn was 1.01%, consistent with the year-ago quarter.
  • Postpaid phone-only ARPU was $56.23, up 1.4% versus the year-ago quarter, due to a mix shift to higher-priced unlimited plans and pricing actions.
  • 273,000 AT&T Fiber net adds in the fourth quarter; 1.1 million net adds for full-year 2023, 16 straight quarters with more than 200,000 net adds; sixth straight year with 1 million or more AT&T Fiber net adds.

  • Business Wireline revenues were $5.1 billion, down 10.3% year over year due to lower demand for legacy voice and data services and product simplification, partly offset by growth in connectivity services.
  • AT&T's Total debt was $137.3 billion at the end of the fourth quarter, and net debt was $128.9 billion.