Wednesday, April 24, 2024

TSMC previews A16 node, Chip on Wafer on Substrate, SiPh Engine

 At its 2024 North America Technology Symposium in Santa Clara, California, TSMC previewed a number of key developments, including:

  • TSMC A16 Technology: With its N3E technology now in production, and N2 on track for production in the second half of 2025, TSMC debuted A16, the next technology node on its roadmap. A16 will combine TSMC’s Super Power Rail architecture with its nanosheet transistors for planned production in 2026. It improves logic density and performance by dedicating front-side routing resources to signals, making A16 ideal for HPC products with complex signal routes and dense power delivery networks. Compared to TSMC’s N2P process, A16 will provide 8-10% speed improvement at the same Vdd (positive power supply voltage), 15-20% power reduction at the same speed, and up to 1.10X chip density improvement for data center products.
  • TSMC NanoFlex Innovation for Nanosheet Transistors: TSMC’s upcoming N2 technology will come with TSMC NanoFlex, the company’s next breakthrough in design-technology co-optimization. TSMC NanoFlex provides designers with flexibility in N2 standard cells, the basic building blocks of chip design, with short cells emphasizing small area and greater power efficiency, and tall cells maximizing performance. Customers are able to optimize the combination of short and tall cells within the same design block, tuning their designs to reach the optimal power, performance, and area tradeoffs for their application.
  • N4C Technology: Bringing TSMC’s advanced technology to a broader range of of applications, TSMC announced N4C, an extension of N4P technology with up to 8.5% die cost reduction and low adoption effort, scheduled for volume production in 2025. N4C offers area-efficient foundation IP and design rules that are fully compatible with the widely-adopted N4P, with better yield from die size reduction, providing a cost-effective option for value-tier products to migrate to the next advanced technology node from TSMC.
  • CoWoS, SoIC, and System-on-Wafer (TSMC-SoW ): TSMC’s Chip on Wafer on Substrate (CoWoS) has been a key enabler for the AI revolution by allowing customers to pack more processor cores and high-bandwidth memory (HBM) stacks side by side on one interposer. At the same time, our System on Integrated Chips (SoIC) has established itself as the leading solution for 3D chip stacking, and customers are increasingly pairing CoWoS with SoIC and other components for the ultimate system-in-package (SiP) integration. With System-on-Wafer, TSMC is providing a revolutionary new option to enable a large array of dies on a 300mm wafer, offering more compute power while occupying far less data center space and boosting performance per watt by orders of magnitude. TSMC’s first SoW offering, a logic-only wafer based on Integrated Fan-Out (InFO) technology, is already in production. A chip-on-wafer version leveraging CoWoS technology is scheduled to be ready in 2027, enabling integration of SoIC, HBM and other components to create a powerful wafer-level system with computing power comparable to a data center server rack, or even an entire server.
  • Silicon Photonics Integration: TSMC is developing Compact Universal Photonic Engine (COUPE) technology to support the explosive growth in data transmission that comes with the AI boom. COUPE uses SoIC-X chip stacking technology to stack an electrical die on top of a photonic die, offering the lowest impedance at the die-to-die interface and higher energy efficiency than conventional stacking methods. TSMC plans to qualify COUPE for small form factor pluggables in 2025, followed by integration into CoWoS packaging as co-packaged optics (CPO) in 2026, bringing optical connections directly into the package.
  • Automotive Advanced Packaging: After introducing the N3AE “Auto Early” process in 2023, TSMC continues to serve our automotive customers’ needs for greater computing power that meets the safety and quality demands of the highway by integrating advanced silicon with advanced packaging. TSMC is developing InFO-oS and CoWoS-R solutions for applications such as advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), vehicle control, and vehicle central computers, targeting AEC-Q100 Grade 2 qualification by fourth quarter of 2025.

Ansys collaborates on TSMC's COUPE silicon photonics platform

Ansys announced a collaboration with TSMC on multiphysics software for TSMC's Compact Universal Photonic Engines (COUPE). 

COUPE is a Silicon Photonics (SiPh) integration system and Co-Packaged Optics platform that mitigates coupling loss while significantly accelerating chip-to-chip and machine-to-machine communication.

TSMC COUPE, along with Ansys multiphysics solutions that are integrated with Synopsys' 3DIC Compiler unified exploration-to-signoff platform, enables the next generation of silicon photonics and co-packaged optics designs for applications in AI, datacenter, cloud, and HPC communications. The work spans multiple areas, including fiber-to-chip coupling, integrated electronic-photonic chip design, power integrity verification, high-frequency electromagnetic analysis, and critical thermal management.

TSMC COUPE integrates multiple electrical ICs with a photonic IC and fiber optic connections into a single package. These include Ansys Zemax for optical input/output simulation, Ansys Lumerical for photonic simulation, Ansys RedHawk-SC and Ansys Totem for multi-die power integrity signoff, Ansys RaptorX to model high-frequency electromagnetic analysis between dies, and Ansys RedHawk-SC Electrothermal for vital thermal management of the multi-die heterogenous system. Additionally, Lumerical allows custom Verilog-A models for electronic photonic circuit simulations, which work seamlessly with the TSMC Modeling Interface (TMI) and are co-designed with TSMC's Process Design Kit (PDK).

"By providing a good silicon photonics integration system we can address both critical issues of energy efficiency and computing performance to support the explosive growth in data transmission that comes with the AI boom," said Dan Kochpatcharin, head of the design infrastructure management division at TSMC. "We have aligned closely with our Open Innovation Platform® (OIP) partners like Ansys to provide our customers with a solution to the design challenges in this breakthrough technology, enabling their designs to achieve a new level of performance and energy efficiency."

"Ansys' multiphysics platform for TSMC's COUPE technology underscores our focus on delivering the most comprehensive multiphysics portfolio with the best solution for every need," said John Lee, vice president and general manager of the semiconductor, electronics, and optics business unit at Ansys. "Ansys is a leader in delivering a deep and broad portfolio of integrated multiphysics simulation solutions and platforms. Together, TSMC and Ansys are enabling the next wave of technological innovation."


IBM to acquire HashiCorp for multi-cloud automation - $6.4 billion

IBM agreed to acquire HashiCorp for $35 per share in cash, representing an enterprise value of $6.4 billion. 

 HashiCorp, which is based in San Francisco, provides multi-cloud infrastructure automation software. Its key products include Terraform for infrastructure as code, Vault for secrets management, Consul for service networking, and Nomad for workload orchestration. These tools allow enterprise customers to provision, secure, connect, and run infrastructure seamlessly in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.

The company has experienced rapid growth, with over 450 million product downloads in 2022 alone. HashiCorp serves enterprise customers across various industries, including technology, financial services, healthcare, government, and more. Its open-source roots and cloud-agnostic approach have made its tools popular among developers and operations teams.

After raising over $1 billion in funding from investors like Mayfield, GGV Capital, IVP, and Bessemer Venture Partners, HashiCorp went public in 2021. The company continues to innovate and expand its product offerings to meet the evolving needs of modern cloud infrastructure management.

IBM said the rise of cloud-native workloads and associated applications is driving a radical expansion in the number of cloud workloads enterprises are managing. In addition, generative AI deployment continues to grow alongside traditional workloads. As a result, developers are working with increasingly heterogeneous, dynamic, and complex infrastructure strategies. This represents a massive challenge for technology professionals.

HashiCorp's capabilities enable enterprises to use automation to deliver lifecycle management for infrastructure and security, providing a system of record for the critical workflows needed for hybrid and multi-cloud environments. HashiCorp's Terraform is the industry standard for infrastructure provisioning in these environments. HashiCorp's offerings help clients take a cloud-agnostic, and highly interoperable approach to multi-cloud management, and complement IBM's commitment to industry collaboration (including deep and expanding partnerships with hyperscale cloud service providers), developer communities, and open-source hybrid cloud and AI innovation. HashiCorp's offerings, combined with IBM and Red Hat, will give clients a platform to automate the deployment and orchestration of workloads across evolving infrastructure including hyperscale cloud service providers, private clouds and on-prem environments.

"Our strategy at its core is about enabling companies to innovate in the cloud, while providing a consistent approach to managing cloud at scale. The need for effective management and automation is critical with the rise of multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, which is being accelerated by today's AI revolution," said Armon Dadgar, HashiCorp co-founder and chief technology officer. "I'm incredibly excited by today's news and to be joining IBM to accelerate HashiCorp's mission and expand access to 

"Enterprise clients are wrestling with an unprecedented expansion in infrastructure and applications across public and private clouds, as well as on-prem environments. The global excitement surrounding generative AI has exacerbated these challenges and CIOs and developers are up against dramatic complexity in their tech strategies," said Arvind Krishna, IBM chairman and chief executive officer. "HashiCorp has a proven track record of enabling clients to manage the complexity of today's infrastructure and application sprawl. Combining IBM's portfolio and expertise with HashiCorp's capabilities and talent will create a comprehensive hybrid cloud platform designed for the AI era."

Upon close, HashiCorp is expected to drive significant synergies for IBM, including across multiple strategic growth areas like Red Hat, watsonx, data security, IT automation and Consulting. For example, the powerful combination of Red Hat's Ansible Automation Platform's configuration management and Terraform's automation will simplify provisioning and configuration of applications across hybrid cloud environments. The two companies also anticipate an acceleration of HashiCorp's growth initiatives by leveraging IBM's world-class go-to-market strategy, scale, and reach, operating in more than 175 countries across the globe.

AT&T posts flat Q1 revenue of $30 billion, lower CAPEX

AT&T reported Q1 revenue of $30.0 billion versus $30.1 billion in the year-ago quarter, down 0.4%. Net income was $3.8 billion versus $4.5 billion in the year-ago quarter.

The company attributed the dip to declines in Mobility equipment revenues, driven mainly by lower sales volumes, and lower Business Wireline revenues. This was mostly offset by increased service revenues, driven by Mobility, Consumer Wireline, and Mexico. Revenue trends also include increases from favorable impacts of foreign exchange rates in Mexico.

Capital expenditures were $3.8 billion in the quarter versus $4.3 billion in the year-ago quarter. Capital investment, which includes $0.8 billion of cash payments for vendor financing, totaled $4.6 billion versus $6.4 billion in the year-ago quarter.

First-Quarter Highlights

  • 349,000 postpaid phone net adds with an expected industry-leading postpaid phone churn of 0.72%
  • Mobility service revenues of $16.0 billion, up 3.3% year over year
  • 252,000 AT&T Fiber net adds; 17th consecutive quarter of 200,000+ net adds
  • Consumer broadband revenues of $2.7 billion, up 7.7% year over year
  • 27.1 million consumer and business locations passed with fiber

"Our results this quarter reflect continued strong growth in our Mobility and Consumer Wireline connectivity businesses, which represent about 80% of our total revenues," said John Stankey, AT&T CEO. "Customers are choosing AT&T and staying with us. We achieved a record-low first-quarter postpaid phone churn, grew consumer broadband subscribers for the third consecutive quarter, and expanded margins in Mobility and Consumer Wireline. We're also delivering on our commitment to grow and improve the quality and cadence of free cash flow, which increased by more than $2 billion year over year. This consistent, solid performance driven by our investment-led strategy gives us confidence to re-affirm our full-year consolidated financial guidance."


Vantage Data Centers plans 52MW Ireland campus

Vantage Data Centers announced its entrance into the Irish market with the development of a multi-phase data center campus (DUB1). The company will invest more than €1 billion over multiple phases to support the construction and delivery of the campus in one of the largest data center markets in Europe. The first two phases consist of 52MW of IT capacity, with the first phase expected to be operational in late 2024. Upon completion, DUB1 will mark Vantage’s 14th EMEA campus in a growing regional portfolio that spans seven countries.

The company’s flagship Ireland campus will be located approximately nine miles (15 kilometers) from the Dublin City Center in Profile Park, Grange Castle, an area known for its data centers. Sited on 22 acres (nine hectares), the 405,000 square foot (38,000 square meter) campus will consist of one 32MW facility and one 20MW facility and has available land and power to add a third facility in the future. The highly efficient campus is being built in alignment with Vantage’s sustainable blueprint to deliver an industry-leading annualized Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) of 1.2 using virtually no water for cooling.

Vantage Data Centers is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and drives emission reductions through the use of renewable energy and sustainable fuel alternatives across its value chain. 

The DUB1 campus will include an on-site 100MVA multi-fuel generation plant capable of running a combination of fuels, primarily hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), a renewable fuel, and gas fed by Gas Networks Ireland. Given the temporary power constraints in Dublin, this on-site generation plant will support current capacity constraints by alleviating pressure on energy demand from the grid while achieving optimal efficiency and power output. The generation plant is also capable of funneling power back to the grid, further supporting power availability in the Dublin area. In addition, Vantage plans to deploy HVO in place of conventional diesel fuel throughout its fleet of back-up generators and is working to obtain corporate power purchase agreements (CPPAs) for green energy, such as biomethane from local providers. Currently, the company is leveraging HVO for 99% of its fuel requirements during the construction phase. 


Nokia ships Buy America-Compliant by Sanmina

Nokia's first Buy America-compliant products have rolled off the Sanmina manufacturing line. 

The first Nokia products to come off the Sanmina manufacturing line are its Optical Line Terminal (OLT) cards. Nokia will self-certify each product according to NTIA specifications to ensure that listed vendors comply with the final guidelines. The Nokia OLTs can be ordered as individual products or as part of Nokia’s Network-in-a-Box program.      

Sandy Motley, President of Fixed Networks at Nokia, said: “As leaders in broadband, we're excited to announce a significant milestone: our Buy America-compliant products are now rolling off the production line, giving BEAD applicants and infrastructure providers access to technology that will be critical to bridging the digital divide. By aligning with Buy American guidelines, we're actively contributing to the U.S. government's mission of expanding nationwide broadband access.”    

Nokia turns to Sanmina to build fiber broadband products in USA

Nokia announced a partnership with Sanmina to manufacture fiber-optic broadband network electronics products and optical modules in the U.S. for use in the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. 

Nokia’s plans for U.S manufacturing will include:

  • Optical Line Termination card for a modular Access Node
  • A small form factor OLT
  • OLT optical modules
  • An “outdoor-hardened” Optical Network Terminal (ONT)

Sanmina will expand its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, adding about 200 jobs.

The investment comes in the wake of the Biden administration’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Build America Buy America Act, which were enacted as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

Pekka Lundmark, President and CEO of Nokia, said: “At Nokia, we create technology that helps the world act together. We are committed to connecting people and communities. However, many Americans still lack adequate connectivity, leaving them at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing work, education and healthcare. Programs like BEAD can change this. By bringing the manufacturing of our fiber-optic broadband access products to the U.S., BEAD participants will be able to work with us to bridge the digital divide. We look forward to bringing more Americans online.”

STL offers 'Build America, Buy America' compliant fiber optics

STL confirmed that their fiber optic cable products manufactured in the US are compliant with the 'Build America, Buy America' (BABA) provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Along with this announcement, STL also unveiled its Rapid series of products, which will add to its "In America, For America" portfolio of fiber optic cables. Rapid series of optical fiber cables range from high-capacity ribbonized cables to ruggedized designs for different applications like duct, direct buried, aerial and last-mile connectivity.

STL is showing its dedication to helping rural America and local businesses by investing $56 million in local manufacturing. This investment is aimed at meeting the demand for broadband projects, both government-funded and private, including those in the BEAD Program. Their North American headquarters in South Carolina, known as the "Palmetto Plant," opened in September 2023 and has since created 125 full-time jobs. 

Paul Atkinson, CEO - Optical Networking, STL, said, "With multiple BEAD projects on the horizon, the next five years will be landmark years for broadband and rural connectivity in the US, and we are very excited to support this program. Driven by our purpose of 'Transforming Billions of Lives by Connecting the World', our teams here are engaging with service providers to enable fast and seamless fiber rollouts in every corner of the United States. STL remains committed to continuous product innovation and providing superior quality, craft-friendly optical products for faster network roll-out that meet or exceed industry standards."

Ribbon reports Q1 sales of $180m, major contract with VZ

Ribbon Communications reported Q1 2024 revenue of $180 million, compared to $186 million for the first quarter of 2023. First quarter 2024 GAAP Loss from Operations improved $22 million year over year, and Non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA improved $14 million to $12 million. GAAP and Non-GAAP Gross Margin improved over 700 basis points year over year.

"I am very pleased with the improvement in our profitability year over year, exceeding the high end of our guidance. Sales in the EMEA region were strong across Service Provider and Critical Infrastructure markets, growing 24% year over year," stated Bruce McClelland, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ribbon Communications.

"Sales in our IP Optical Networks segment increased year over year for the seventh consecutive quarter, up 9% over the previous year. Lower product costs and strong regional mix contributed to the gross margin being above 40% for the segment once again," Mr. McClelland added. "While Cloud & Edge sales were down in the first quarter, we believe we have reached a low point in U.S. Tier One Service Provider spending. We expect the new multi-year Verizon Network Modernization program announced today, recovery in broader Service Provider spending, and continued growth in Enterprise, including new U.S. Federal projects, to return our Cloud & Edge segment to growth."

For the second quarter of 2024, the company projects revenue of $200 million to $210 million. Non-GAAP gross margin is projected in a range of 53.5% to 54.5%. Adjusted EBITDA is projected in a range of $20 million to $25 million.

Separately, Ribbon reported a major network modernization contract with Verizon to retire legacy TDM switching platforms and replace their function with modern cloud-based technologies.  Verizon is leveraging Ribbon's portfolio of Voice Products including the vC20 Call Controller, G5 Line Access Gateway, G6 Universal Media Gateway, virtual and Cloud-native Session Border Controllers, and other products which allows for the consolidation and replacement of equipment with energy efficient, software-centric platforms while maintaining full feature functionality. 

 "Our continuous goal at Verizon is to provide the most advanced technologies for our customers while simultaneously improving our cost of operations and advance our sustainability efforts in power consumption," said Eric Lia, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Verizon. "These network upgrades will allow us to rapidly decommission legacy central office equipment while improving overall quality and reliability of service, and reducing our environmental footprint."