Semiconductor market news from DPE- February 28 to March 6

1. Apple, Microsoft and Other Tech Companies Stop Sales in Russia

As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues, a number of tech companies have said they'll stop sales of products and services in the country.

Apple and Microsoft both said they'll stop selling products in Russia. Game maker EA said it would stop the sale of games and other digital items while the conflict continues. Other online services, such as Airbnb, are suspending their operations in Russia.

Here's a look at some companies that have stopped sales or other services in Russia:

Apple: The tech giant stopped selling its products in Russia and is halting online transactions, including limiting Apple Pay in the country. Additionally, it has disabled some Apple Maps features in Ukraine to protect civilians.

Microsoft: The maker of Windows has suspended sales of its products and services in Russia while pledging to beef up its cybersecurity in Ukraine.

Samsung: Samsung is suspending shipments to Russia as of Friday. "Due to the current geopolitical developments, shipments to Russia have been suspended," a Samsung spokesperson said. "We continue to actively monitor this complex situation to determine our next steps."

Sony: The company's movie studio has stopped upcoming theatrical releases in Russia. But so far the PlayStation 5, Sony's popular gaming console, remains on sale. This comes despite increasing pressure for the company to cease sales of its gaming system in the country.

Intel: The tech company has suspended all shipments to customers in Russia and Belarus, including chips.

BMW, Ford, GM, Honda: Several automakers have scaled back their operations in Russia. BMW will stop local production in Kaliningrad and halt exports to Russia. Ford is suspending its operations in Russia "effective immediately, until further notice." GM is suspending business in Russia. Honda has suspended exports there.

Nvidia: A spokesman for the chipmaker said Nvidia "isn't selling into Russia" but declined to comment further. The halt reportedly covers all Nvidia products.

2. Intel, TSMC, and Samsung start chip stacking consortium

TSMC is joining with Intel and Samsung to define new industry standards for the next frontier in semiconductors: advanced chip-packaging technologies.

The world’s three largest chipmaking heavyweights revealed on Thursday (March 3) they will form a new consortium along with Qualcomm, Arm, Meta, Microsoft, and several other industry players, per a Nikkei report. The aim is to set standards for packaging and stacking, the final steps in the chipmaking process.

The development reflects the growing importance of chip packaging as chipmakers strive to gain the upper hand in the competitive industry. There are limits to the number of transistors that can be fit on a chip, so firms are now trying to optimize their products’ performance by packing and stacking chips in various combinations instead.

These chip combinations, or "chiplets," require a new packaging standard, which the consortium plans to name the "Universal Chiplet Interconnect Express (UCIe)." This will aid collaboration across the packaging and stacking ecosystem.

3. Globalwafers: Some Japanese factories were attacked by cyberattacks, which had little impact on overall operations

Recently, the Japanese subsidiary of Globalwafers, a major semiconductor silicon wafer manufacturer, was reported to have suffered network attacks according to Taiwanese media “Economic Daily”, Globalwafers confirmed, emphasizing that it has been inspecting the systems and terminal equipment of the production line. Once it’s safe, it will reopen which has little impact on the overall operation of the company.

Japan is an important production center of global wafers, but there are several factories scattered. The company said that the current situation is that the company’s internal IT personnel and external professionals have been processed simultaneously, and many processes in silicon wafer production can be performed offline. so it has little impact on the company’s overall production. In addition, Globalwafers also mentioned that the company’s systems have automatic backup functions, So all information can be recovered smoothly after checking that each system and terminal device are safe, the system will be restarted.

Globalwafers is the third-largest semiconductor fab in the world. It has a complete wafer production line. It produces high value-added epitaxial wafers, polishing, etc. Niche products such as wafers, etched wafers, ultra-thin wafers, deep diffusion wafers, etc. Product applications have spanned the fields of power management components, automotive power components, information and communication components, and MEMS devices.

4. Samsung reportedly hacked by foreign entity, confidential data leaked

Samsung Electronics has allegedly been hacked by a foreign hacking group, which breached its confidential source code and other classified data, industry sources said.

Data extortion entity Lapsus$ has claimed that it hacked the system of the South Korean tech giant and leaked up to 190 gigabytes of its data and source code online, according to the sources.

It also said that it uploaded the leaked data for download via torrent, reports Yonhap news agency. Samsung officials said they are now assessing the situation.

Meanwhile, Samsung has suspended shipments of all of its products to Russia.

"Due to the current geopolitical developments, shipments to Russia have been suspended," reads a statement from an unnamed Samsung representative, via Samsung's generic PR email address.

"Our thoughts are with everyone who has been impacted and our priority is to ensure the safety of all our employees and their families," the company said.

"We plan to actively support humanitarian efforts around the region, including aid for refugees. To this end, we are donating $6 million, including $1 million in consumer electronics products, as well as voluntary donations from our employees," it added.

5. Italy Earmarks $4.4 Billion to Boost Semiconductor Industry

On March 2, according to Bloomberg, Italy will invest over 4 billion euros ($4.4 billion) to develop the domestic semiconductor industry, as it seeks to support companies transitioning to greener technologies.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government approved a new fund which will allocate 150 million euros in 2022 and 500 million euros each of the following years until 2030 as part of a new decree-law which goes into effect Wednesday.

The money will finance research and technology in the chip sector to promote strategic independence and could in particular benefit automotive companies looking to upgrade technology to produce more energy-efficient vehicles.

The European Union last month announced a new Chips Act that aims to avert supply chain disruptions by reducing dependence on foreign sources. The bloc will for the first time allow its massive state aid funding program to be used for “first-of-a-kind” production sites in Europe, as part of a goal of producing 20% of the world’s semiconductors by 2030.

6. Semiconductor industry Capex to surge 24% to record high in 2022

On March 1, local time, according to a report released by research firm IC insights, following a 36% surge in 2021, Capital spending in the semiconductor industry is expected to surge 24% in 2022 to an all-time high of $190.4 billion, up to 86% from 2019 three years ago.

In addition, if capital expenditure grows by more than 10 percent in 2022, this means that the semiconductor industry will see three consecutive years of double-digit spending growth for the first time since 1993-1995.

The electronics industry was in many cases unprepared for the current rebound in demand because many supply chains were tight or disrupted during the novel coronavirus epidemic, the report said. The strong demand drives the utilization rate of most manufacturing facilities to be much higher than 90%, and even the utilization rate of many semiconductor foundries is 100%.

Based on such strong utilization and persistently high demand expectations, total capital expenditure in the semiconductor industry is expected to reach $344.3 billion in 2021 and 2022.

IC insights surveyed 13 sample companies around the world and predicted that their capital expenditure would increase by more than 40 percent this year. Total spending by the 13 companies rose 62 percent to $60.6 billion last year from 2020, and is expected to rise 52 percent to $91.8 billion this year, the report said.

It is worth noting that the three major memory suppliers (Samsung, SK Hynix and Meguiar) are not on the list, while the top three pure wafer manufacturers (TSMC, United Power and Grid Core) are on the list. The diversity of the list shows that four of the top five analog IC suppliers (Texas Instruments, Analog Devices, Infineon and St) plan to significantly increase capital expenditure in 2022.

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