Samsung disputes report Nvidia isn't happy with its HBM quality

PLUS: Indian TV channel adopts 24x7 AI anchors; Google building first Africa-Australia sub cable; Singtel's strategy reset; and more

Asia In Brief Samsung has disputed a report which claimed its high-bandwidth memory products are not performing to Nvidia's satisfaction.

Reuters last week reported that Samsung's chips did not meet Nvidia's power consumption and heat requirements.

Samsung told Business Korea that it is "smoothly conducting tests for HBM supply with various global partners" and that it is "continuously testing technology and performance in close cooperation with multiple companies."

The Reuters report included a Samsung statement to the effect that HBM is customized for each of its clients.

Samsung holds around 40 percent of the HBM market. If its products can't satisfy Nvidia's needs, the potential impact on the market for AI accelerators could be significant.

– Simon Sharwood

Indian TV channel hires AI anchors

Indian TV channel Doordarshan Kisan has hired a pair of AI anchors and will use them around the clock.

The government-run channel is devoted to India's farmers and broadcasts 24x7, offering a mix of live weather and other timely information, plus educational material aimed at helping viewers become more productive.

The AI anchors are named AI Krish and AI Bhoomi, and a government announcement described them as "a computer, which [is] exactly like a human, or rather, these can work like a human. They can read news 24 hours and 365 days without stopping or getting tired."

They can also speak 50 languages – more than the 22 recognized under India's constitution. – Simon Sharwood

Hong Kong pilots China's Digital Yuan

Hong Long last week commenced a digital yuan payments pilot – a program that made the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China the first ever place to use the currency outside the mainland.

Users in Hong Kong can set up digital yuan wallets by downloading an app as long as they have a phone number, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

The wallets can be used for cross-border payments but cannot be used for person-to-person transfers, explained HKMA. Wallet top-ups can be made using the local instant payment system, FPS.

While mainland China's official currency is the Chinese yuan renminbi (CNY), the official currency of Hong Kong remains the Hong Kong dollar (HKD).

Google to build first submarine cable linking Africa, Australia

Google last week announced Umoja – the first submarine cable linking Africa and Australia.

The ads and search giant hasn't revealed details of the cable's capacity, but has explained the cable will start as a terrestrial link between Kenya and South Africa, passing overland through Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe en route.

Once it reaches South Africa, the cable will pass through the local Google Cloud region before heading east from an unspecified landing point towards Australia.

Google's map of the cable (see the link above) is more cartoon than cartography. The Register fancies Umoja will land in the city of Perth.

Several submarine cables line Africa's shores and connect the continent to Asia and Europe. Umoja will likely connect to those at some point, giving Australian traffic a welcome route that bypasses the sometimes contested waters of South-East Asia.

However Umoja won't be an easy route: very few islands exist between Australia and Africa, meaning the cable will need many repeaters and could be unusually complex because of the need to transmit electricity over very long distances.

At least the Indian Ocean has less shipping than others, making damage to Umoja less likely. – Simon Sharwood

Baidu CEO Robin Li wants AI to evolve faster

The CEO of Chinse web giant Baidu, Robin Li, appears to be one of the only people in the universe who feels like AI is moving too slow.

The Chinese tech giant told The Reg that Li shared his thoughts on recent developments in AI while speaking at an event in Paris on May 22.

"Everyone is shocked at how fast the technology evolved over the past couple of years, but to me it's still not fast enough. It's too slow," lamented the founder and CEO.

Meanwhile, world leaders and industry met in Seoul to express exasperation at the speed at which AI has evolved in the past seven months and succeeded at creating vague non-committal guidelines to contain it. These included a pledge from AI developers to pull the plug on the tech, should it threaten to go awry.

Baidu was not among those in attendance.

Singtel signals 'strategic reset'

Singapore-based telecom conglomerate Singtel last Thursday announced [PDF] a "growth plan" it also referred to as a "strategic reset."

CEO Yuen Kuan Moon described the telco as having concluded a transformation effort and therefore ready to move into a growth phase.

"A key outcome of the strategic reset has been a major restructuring of the Group's businesses to focus on the three areas of connectivity, digital services and digital infrastructure," explained Singtel.

Consumer and enterprise units were merged for both Singtel Singapore and its Australian telco Optus. The parent company plans to simplify its product offerings in the business units, while "utilizing AI to improve customer experiences."

"A recent network sharing deal between Optus and TPG in regional Australia will improve services for customers as well as capital efficiency," predicted the telco.

Singtel plans to expand its NCS services operation and Nxera datacenter business, after divesting digital ads outfit Amobee infosec vendor Trustwave. Singtel plans for NCS to scale up its global delivery network and invest in AI and tech resiliency. Nxera will expand its operational datacenter capacity from 62MW to over 155MW in the region. Three next-gen datacenters are currently being developed in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand with a goal of providing over 200MW in the region in the next three years.

Singtel also said it monetized S$8 billion ($6 billion) from assets such as stakes in Indara, Airtel and Nxera through a capital recycling program.

Not mentioned in the strategy is Optus's legal battle over a September 2022 cyber attack.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority last week filed proceedings in the Federal Court, alleging Optus Mobile failed to protect customers' personally identifiable information.

China sets rules for smart cities, infosec

China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) last week issued a directive on local municipalities and governments to propel digitization towards the creation of smart cities.

The vision is for all cities in China to undergo a "comprehensive breakthrough" using AI and the integration of big data, with "a number of Chinese-style modern cities with global competitiveness" emerging by the year 2030.

Central to the initiative is the establishment of a unified digital infrastructure that includes intelligent urban operation hubs, standardized digital platforms, and advanced data management systems. Urban planning will be aided by the use of digital twin cities that undergo virtual simulations, and spatiotemporal big data – along with AI-driven analysis – will bolster intelligent decision-making.

Beijing has also decided to strengthen its government apps. Starting from July 1 of this year, mobile applications must be distributed via registered platforms and exclusive electronic certificates will be issued for identity verification on platforms like Weibo.

The regulations emphasize the use of open standards to avoid reliance on specific browsers or software. Datacenters and cloud services hosting government apps must be located within China and cloud platforms must undergo national security assessments.

The Cyber Administration of China (CAC) will also tighten the reins on contractors – high-level permissions will be barred from being outsourced and access to administrative systems and databases will also be tightened.

Other new regulations on apps are annual security assessments and stricter maintenance of logs.

APAC Dealbook

Recent alliances and deals spotted by The Register across the region last week include:

  • China's tech giant Alibaba has inked a partnership with luxury goods outfit LVMH Group.

    LVMH stated it had begun integrating Alibaba Cloud's generative AI capabilities, including the Qwen model, as well as it machine learning platform, PAI, "to develop customized services that cater to the distinct tastes of Chinese consumers."

  • According to media reports, Japan's Panasonic Holdings plans to exit its high-end projector business to focus resources on digital supply chain systems.

    The estimated sale price is ¥80 billion ($510 million).

  • Smart Axiata, a leading mobile network operator in Cambodia, launched a global standard security solution for safeguarding customer data in collaboration with telecom cyber security firm SecurityGen.

    The product includes the Next Generation Signaling Firewall (NGSF) and Intrusion Detection System (IDS).


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