• South Africa is looking to take on a leading role in the international space weather monitoring community. Space weather events are capable of seriously disrupting modern technologies such as satellites, GPS, power grids, and navigation and communication systems. Based in Hermanus in the Western Cape, the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) facility is the only such centre on the continent, and has been designated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as one of two regional centres around the world that will monitor space weather for the global aviation sector, providing crucial safety-related services such as solar storm forecasts and warnings.
• A wholly owned subsidiary of NXP Semiconductors has signed an agreement to acquire Marvell’s wireless connectivity portfolio in an all-cash, asset transaction valued at $1,76 billion. The acquisition encompasses Marvell’s Wi-Fi connectivity business unit, Bluetooth technology portfolio and related assets. The acquisition, which includes approximately 550 people worldwide, will enable NXP to deliver complete, scalable processing and connectivity solutions to its customers across its focus end markets. The transaction is expected to close by the first quarter of 2020.
• Infineon Technologies has struck a deal to buy Cypress Semiconductor for $23,85 per share in cash, corresponding to an enterprise value of 9 billion Euros. Cypress has a differentiated portfolio of microcontrollers as well as software and connectivity components that Infineon sees as being highly complementary to its power semiconductors, sensors and security solutions, better positioning the company for high-growth markets. Based on pro forma revenues of 10 billion Euros in 2018, the transaction will make Infineon the eighth biggest chip manufacturer in the world, and the number one supplier to the automotive market.
• According to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and based on numbers compiled by the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS) organisation, worldwide sales of semiconductors were $32,1 billion in April 2019, a decrease of 14,6% from the April 2018 total of $37,6 billion and 0,4% less than the March 2019 total of $32,3 billion. On a year-to-year basis, sales were down across all regional markets: Europe (-8,0%), Asia Pacific/All Other (-10,7%), China (-10,9%), Japan (-10,9%), and the Americas (-29,5%). WSTS also forecast that the industry’s worldwide sales will be $412,1 billion in 2019, which would be a 12,1% decrease from the 2018 total.
• Intel has regained its place as the number one quarterly semiconductor supplier in the fourth quarter of 2018, after losing the lead spot to Samsung in the second quarter of 2017. While Samsung held the full-year number one ranking in 2017 and 2018, IC Insights has forecast that Intel will easily recapture the number one ranking for the full year of 2019, a position it previously held from 1993 through 2016. With the collapse of the DRAM and NAND Flash markets over the past year, a complete switch has occurred, with Samsung having 23% more total semiconductor sales than Intel in 1Q18 but Intel having 23% more semiconductor sales than Samsung just one year later in 1Q19.
• Based on the premise that Dhrystone and Coremark (which have been the de facto standard microcontroller benchmark suites for the last 30 years) no longer reflect the needs of modern embedded systems, the new EmBench industry group is touting its offering as an alternative to established EEMBC benchmarks. Free-to-use and open-source, EmBench ( www.embench.org) is open for all to join, and will aim to deliver a single performance score based on a suite of about 20 real-world applications.
• In what could well be seen as a consequence of the ongoing US-China trade war, the SEMI industry association reported that worldwide semiconductor manufacturing equipment billings for the first quarter of 2019 dropped 8% from the previous quarter and 19% from the same quarter in 2018 to $13,8 billion. The association expects global semiconductor fabrication equipment spending to rebound in 2020, growing 20% to $58,4 billion after dropping 19% to $48,4 billion in 2019.