While 2020 wasn’t the year we expected, semiconductor companies and tech organizations worldwide have made strides in the past few months despite the fallout from COVID-19. Chip sales rebounded, a trade pact brought ASEAN countries together to help revitalize trade, and superconductors gained traction for practical usage. Before closing out the year, make sure to catch up on the latest chip news and technology updates in the final quarter of 2020!
Worldwide semiconductor sales rise to 11 percent in Q3
The semiconductor industry reached global sales of $113.6 billion in the third quarter of 2020. This statistic is an 11 percent increase over the last quarter and 5.7 percent more than the third quarter of 2019. Sales remained strong and increased by more than 20 percent year-over-year.
According to John Neuffer, SIA president and CEO, “The global semiconductor industry posted solid sales in the third quarter of 2020, reflecting normal seasonal trends and increased demand for semiconductor-enabled products, but significant market uncertainty remains due to the pandemic and other macroeconomic factors.” Additionally, Neuffer reported annual chip sales in 2021 are projected to have a larger growth forecast.
Read more about semiconductor sales trends here.
ASiAN countries sign the world’s biggest trade pact
After eight years in the making, 15 southeast Asian countries signed the world’s largest trading bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), in the hopes of helping create a speedier recovery from the impact of the pandemic. The free trade agreement will play a role in supporting multi-nation efforts to revitalize the supply chain and enable trade facilitation.
While the U.S. and countries in the European Union aren’t included in the pact, the RCEP does build on existing free trade agreements. Learn more about RCEP here.
Scientists discover the first room-temperature superconductor
Scientists discovered the first room-temperature superconductor after more than a century of waiting. While semiconductors have high resistance, superconductors can carry electricity without resistance, allowing current to pass without any energy loss.
The superconductor material can withstand below temperatures of about 59°C, but it only appears at extremely high pressures. At these measures, the material is limited in practicality, so scientists are still researching a more complete composition. From MRI machines to magnetically levitated trains, superconductors at room temperature can reshape all kinds of electronics and transportation. It can also save large amounts of energy lost to resistance in the electrical grid.
For more on superconductor advancements, follow the story here.
New semiconductor coating can create sustainable fuel
In a new study, researchers developed a new semiconductor coating material that possesses the ability to produce the fuel of the future from sunlight.
Unsustainable fossil sources like oil and natural gas can produce hydrogen gas and methanol to supply electricity. On the other hand, a climate friendlier option requires applied voltage to create electrical energy from water and carbon dioxide. By using this technique and new innovative coating, scientists can reduce the voltage needed in the process – thus developing more energy-efficient fuels and better chip performance.
Read more about the new semiconductor coating here.
Apple unveils the first computers using in-house M1 chips
In November, Apple announced three new Mac computers powered by its own M1 chipset instead of Intel’s processors. By incorporating M1 into their entire lineup of desktops and laptops, the tech giant hopes to achieve the ultimate balance of performance and power consumption on their silicon ecosystem.
As Apple continues to innovate its smart devices, its chipmaking partner TMSC prepares to pave the way for further advancements. TMSC announced plans to build an advanced factory in Arizona as well as a 3nm fab in Taiwan. With new developments on the horizon, Apple’s mobile devices may be powered by even smaller nodes soon.
That’s all for this quarterly roundup! Make sure to subscribe to our blog to keep up with the latest developments in the semiconductor industry.