Please, sir, we want some more! TSMC pumps extra $6.7bn into chip fabs to meet demand for new gadgetry

Does this mean things are looking up for the industry?

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's board of directors has approved a $6.74bn budget for expanding its factories.

The cash injection will go into building and installing more fabs, increasing capacity, and research and development in Q2. TSMC did not respond to The Register's requests for further details.

Last month, the world's biggest chip foundry said it would increase its capital expenditure to between $14bn and $15bn in 2020, significantly higher than the $10bn to $11bn of last year. The increase is largely the result of $2.5bn going into the company's production of 5nm-process chips, and $1.5bn into its 7nm chips, according to EXPeview (Chinese).

TSMC currently manufactures chips for AMD's Ryzen 3000 CPUs and Navi GPUs, such as the RX5700 and RX5700 XT. Apple, another big customer which uses a 7nm-process made chip for its iPhone 11, asked TSMC to increase production of its A13 processor last month to satisfy higher-than-anticipated demand.

Demand is expected to rise further in 2020 with the launch of the budget model iPhone SE2, which will use the same processor as the iPhone 11. The chips will also be used to make Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Sony's PlayStation 5 consoles, which are slated for release this year.

Demand for 5nm production is also expected to ramp up in the coming year. TSMC is rumoured to be the only foundry to make Apple's A14 chip, which will use the 5nm process, for its upcoming iPhone 12. Huawei is also expected to debut its 5nm Kirin 1000 chip.

Last year was a glum 12 months for chipmakers. The semiconductor industry's global revenues dropped 12 per cent year-on-year to $412bn, the biggest drop since the dot-com bust in 2001. Several of the big chip makers, including Intel, Micron and SK Hynix, scaled back their capex after chip prices dropped in Q4 of 2018.

This is because the semiconductor industry is cyclical, with booms following busts. But analysts now say the rut could be over, with "modest annual growth" projected for the year.

Digitimes reported last week that TSMC's supply chains have remained "tight", despite the coronavirus outbreak in China. It has seen no cutbacks in orders from its major fabless clients, such as Huawei's HiSilicon. ®

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Three key ransomware actors changed jobs on October 18 – the same day REvil went dark

Underground industry grows in complexity and sophistication, says Santander Group researcher

October 18, 2021, was a tricky day for the ransomware industry. First, the gang that ran the REvil ransomware had its servers compromised, and then three individuals with key roles changed jobs.

That version of history was told today by Juan Antonio Velasco – a cybersecurity analyst at Spanish financial services giant Santander Group. Speaking at Cybercrime Con 21, an event convened by threat-hunting and security software company Group-IB, Velasco’s talk tracked the recent career moves of four ransomware actors named Orange, MRT, Kajit and 999.

All have been active on various crime forums for some time. Orange served as the main administrator on a Russia-centric forum called Ramp. He or she reported details of the ransomware gang Babuk's activities after the group infamously infected The Metropolitan Police Department of Washington DC in April 2021.

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Meta won't migrate future acquisitions out of AWS

The Artist Formerly Known as Facebook and the cloud colossus become best cloudy buds – especially around PyTorch

Mark Zuckerberg's recently rebadged Meta and Amazon Web Services have announced they're going to be cloud BFFs, with the emphasis on the second F.

A joint announcement styles AWS as Meta's "Key, Long-Term Strategic Cloud Provider". Details of just what that means have not been offered, but a few specific initiatives were revealed.

One is the plan for Meta to "use the cloud to support acquisitions of companies that are already powered by AWS". That's notable, because when the firm (under its former nomenclature) acquired messaging service WhatsApp in 2014, it migrated the service from AWS to its own infrastructure. The new deal appears to mean Meta won't bother doing that again – perhaps because it's had a rotten time managing a MySQL migration?

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Nutanix, VMware end legal fight over CEO Rajiv Ramaswami

Now they can get back to arguing about computers and clouds

Nutanix and VMware have ended a legal fight sparked when the hyperconverged upstart lured Rajiv Ramaswami away from Virtzilla and into its CEO seat.

Ramaswami was VMware's cloud boss when he made the jump, but started talking to Nutanix about a new gig while still on the payroll and without telling Virtzilla. VMware alleged that was a conflict of interest due to the possibility that Ramaswami's knowledge of the company's strategies and plans were of obvious benefit to Nutanix.

The matter landed in California's Superior Court and the Court of Chancery for the State of Delaware.

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All your database are belong to us: AWS wants every data silo on its platform

Also: Custom SQL Server service, free SageMaker ML, and experts on hand to label data

RE:INVENT AWS has introduced a flurry of new database and ML services at its Re:invent conference, including a migration service targeting every database in an organization,

Swami Sivasubramanian, VP of ML (machine learning) gave the data keynote today. He claimed that Aurora, a service that is compatible with either MySQL or PostgreSQL, has “5 x the performance of MySQL and 3 x the performance of PostgreSQL,” and “is still the fastest-growing service in AWS history.”

Nevertheless he was concerned that “there are certain customers who are held back from migrating to databases in the cloud.” He introduced two new services aimed at getting an even greater proportion of an organization’s databases onto the AWS cloud.

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Apple files fresh appeal to stop court order demanding external payment systems in iOS apps

iGiant warned developers it could still charge fees for third-party financial transactions anyway

Apple has appealed a judge's decision forcing the company to allow developers to add external third-party payment systems in their iOS apps by December 9.

The iGiant is still embroiled in a legal battle with games maker Epic in an ongoing case at the Northern District Court of California. Although Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers found Apple wasn’t a monopoly, she agreed its in-app purchasing fee, which allows the company to take up to a 30 per cent cut in sales, was anticompetitive.

App developers, like Epic, believe these fees can be avoided if only they could offer customers alternative payment options. Rogers thus ordered an injunction giving Apple 90 days to allow developers to add links or buttons in their apps directing users to third-party purchasing systems. Apple tried to ask for an extension whilst it cobbled together an appeal, but Rogers denied the motion. Now, Apple has taken its request up with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Amazon accused of grossly underreporting COVID-19 cases to US labor agency

'Yes, we had nearly 20,000 cases last year but only 27 were directly work-related. Honestly.'

It's claimed Amazon reported only 27 COVID-19 cases among fulfillment center workers to federal government health officials, despite the company's admission that nearly 20,000 employees had been infected last year.

The Strategic Organizing Center (SOC), a coalition of four labor unions, has called for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to investigate Amazon’s failure to report work-related cases accurately.

“Allowing Amazon to continue to evade effective federal oversight on COVID safety risks sending the message that the company can continue to prioritize its profits over its workers' health,” according to a letter [PDF] written by the SOC and directed to the US department of labour.

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Qualcomm makes its own mobile gaming rig, hypes new Windows 11 chips

G3x Handheld Developer Kit born from hookup with Razer

Snapdragon Tech Summit Qualcomm needs just one word to take on the mighty in the gaming and PC markets: 5G.

Qualy has created a new handheld gaming console and introduced new Windows PC chips as it unloads 5G on every imaginable device.

The new handheld rig, called G3x Handheld Developer Kit, was created by Qualcomm with Razer. The device smartly won't challenge Nintendo Switch in the open market, but instead go to developers to go wild on their craziest mobile gaming ideas.

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Google sued for firing staff who claim they tried to follow 'Don't be evil' motto

Civil complaint dovetails with ongoing litigation over alleged union busting

Around 2001, Google adopted the motto "Don't be evil" to summarize its avowed values and to spell out the ethical behavior expected from employees.

That motto until late April or early May, 2018, featured prominently in the company's Code of Conduct. It read, "The Google Code of Conduct is one of the ways we put 'Don’t be evil' into practice. It’s built around the recognition that everything we do in connection with our work at Google will be, and should be, measured against the highest possible standards of ethical business conduct."

But a handful of Google employees who tried to put that motto into practice – by protesting company cooperation with US government agencies carrying out Trump administration immigration policies – were fired for their activities in 2019.

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Microsoft's Teams Essential tier seems designed to coax people on to Business Basic

Looks like good value, but sorely lacking in some important areas

Because not everyone is a Microsoft 365 customer, Microsoft has launched a Teams Essentials standalone product to try to nab those remaining holdouts.

With the likes of Zoom squarely in its sights, the product is aimed at small businesses and raises the capabilities of the freebie version of Teams, starting at $4 (£3+VAT) per person per month.

Jared Spataro, corporate veep for Microsoft 365, said "the world isn't going back to the 'old' way of working." And, of course, Microsoft still needs to add paying customers to its bottom line and fend off the increasing number of conference and collaboration rivals.

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Russia: It isn't just us – a bit of an old US rocket might get as close as 5.4km to the ISS

Meanwhile, Soyuz Cluedo continues: It was someone, with the drill, in the habitation module

Russian news agency TASS has reported that a chunk of a US Pegasus carrier rocket is due to whizz past the International Space Station (ISS) at a minimum distance of 5.4km this week.

In a report that entirely failed to mention the debris cloud created by a Russian Anti-Satellite Test a few weeks ago, space agency Roscosmos was quoted as saying: "No decision has been made on the need to carry out an avoidance manoeuvre.

"Specialists of the Flight Control Center and the Main Information and Analysis Center continue keeping the situation under control."

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Microsoft: What's that? A patch for make-me-admin vuln? Sorry – can't hear you. Have a new jumper instead

Redmond fiddles with Paint while Windows burns

Users wondering if Microsoft is going to do anything about the holes in its flagship operating system will be relieved to note it has found time to fiddle with Paint dialogs and unleash another Christmas jumper.

Despite yet another make-me-admin vulnerability turning up in products last week, Microsoft has fiddled with its inbox stalwarts, smearing the poor things with the Windows 11 UI brush.

This time it was Microsoft Paint that got the treatment. The application had already received user interface changes, and Microsoft showed off changes to the colour picker and image resize and skew dialog for Windows 11 Dev Channel users (those lucky enough to receive the update – our M1 Mac running Windows still enjoys some delightfully retro designs).

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