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Electronics news digest
10 October 2018, News

South Africa

• The minister of telecommunications and postal services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, and ICASA have agreed to settle the court matter involving the Invitation to Apply (ITA) which was issued on 15 July 2016 for the allocation of high-demand spectrum. In terms of the settlement agreement, ICASA will withdraw the ITA and the minister will also withdraw the legal challenge. The settlement is in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to “initiate the process for the allocation of high-demand radio spectrum to enable licensing.”

• The Department of Science and Technology (DST) has invited unemployed science, engineering and technology (SET) graduates and postgraduates to apply for internships for 2019/20 through the DST-NRF (National Research Foundation) Internship Programme. Positions are available in various fields across all nine provinces, and applications are open to SA citizens who hold an Advanced Diploma or Bachelor’s degree at NQF level 7, Honours or BTech degrees at NQF level 8 and MTech or Master’s degrees at NQF level 9. The NRF online submission system can be accessed at https://nrfsubmission.nrf.ac.za

Overseas

Companies

• Renesas Electronics agreed a deal to acquire IDT for $49,00 per share in an all-cash transaction representing an equity value of approximately $6,7 billion. The acquisition combines two recognised leaders in embedded processors and analog mixed-signal semiconductors, each with unique strengths in delivering products to improve performance and efficiency in high-computing electronic systems.

• Qualcomm has added more fuel to the fire in its feud against Apple by filing a lawsuit alleging that Apple engaged in “a multi-year campaign designed to steal Qualcomm’s confidential information and trade secrets,” and passing on the proprietary information to Intel, which is a rival to Qualcomm in the modem chipset market. The suit is scheduled to go to trial in April 2019.

Industry

• The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) announced worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $40,16 billion for the month of August 2018, an increase of 14,9% compared to the August 2017 total. Global sales in August 2018 were 1,7% higher than the July 2018 total of $39,49 billion. Regionally, sales increased compared to August 2017 in China (27,3%), the Americas (15,0%), Europe (9,5%), Japan (8,4%) and Asia Pacific/All Other (4,7%). Sales were up compared to the prior month in China (2,1%), the Americas (3,6%) and Asia Pacific/All Other (1,3%), and decreased slightly in Japan (-0,1%) and Europe (-1,4%).

• The market for microcontrollers (MCU) is expected to continue hitting record-high annual revenues through 2022 after worldwide sales dropped 6% in 2016 because of a slowdown in MCU unit shipments. After drawing down MCU inventories in 2016, systems manufacturers stepped up purchases in 2017 with unit shipments surging 22% and strong growth continuing in 2018. IC insights raised its projection for MCU shipments to 18% in 2018 with the unit volume reaching nearly 30,6 billion. MCU revenues are now forecast to rise 11% in 2018 to an all-time high of

$18,6 billion, followed by 9% growth in 2019 to about $20,4 billion.

Technology

• Sonitus Technologies has been awarded millions of Dollars in funding by the US Department of Defense (DOD) for a novel personal communication system that Air Force personnel have nicknamed the ‘molar mic.’ The two-way, personal communication system, ATAC, fits a miniaturised traditional headset into a device that clips to a user’s back teeth. Sonitus uses a patented audio interface and near-field magnetic induction (NFMI) technology, and its system has been tested in multiple scenarios, with and without personal protective equipment, all with extreme noise and without loss of communication.

• Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have demonstrated that a Wi-Fi signal can be used to count the number of people in a given space, leading to diverse applications from energy efficiency to search-and-rescue, and no doubt with the potential of selling data to advertisers too. To accomplish this, they put two Wi-Fi cards at opposite ends of a target area roughly 70 square metres. Using only the received power measurements of the link between the two cards, their approach can estimate the number of people walking in that area. So far, they have successfully tested with up to nine people in both indoor and outdoor settings.


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