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Following up on talk that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is prepping to manufacture Apple’s A6X processor and whispers of Tim Cook & Co. negotiating a deal with the foundry to make mobile chips for iOS devices on its 20 nanometer process technology, China Times now quotes Chairman and CEO Morris Chang’s words that TSMC is close to achieving a hundred percent market share on its 28nm process technology.

But why have TSCM’s wafer shipments all of a sudden tripled, allowing it to achieve a virtual monopoly on the 28nm silicon? That’s where the Apple link comes into full view…

According to the China Times story (via The Next Web):

Conveniently, another Chinese publication reported last October that TSMC is slated to start fabbing iPhone and iPad processors in volume beginning with 2014.

Taking it all in, watchers believe such a sharp rise in TSMC’s market share has a massive Apple order written all over it.

Even Chairman and CEO Morris Chang acknowledges TSMC’s lock on the 28nm process technology:

We have enjoyed throughout the year, in spite of a lot of attempts at competition, close to 100% foundry market share in 28nm technology [in 2012].

It is important to note that TSMC also builds chips for Nvidia, Qualcomm and others. And, TSMC has also won orders from other firms, including AMD whose 28nm Kabini and Temash APUs will be produced by TSMC.

The A-series system-of-chips that power iOS devices are designed by Apple (the company’s semiconductor team is now 1,000+ employees strong) and have been exclusively fabbed by Samsung foundries. Lately, Samsung’s components arm is rumored to have been gradually losing those orders as Apple is increasingly looking to distance itself amid fierce competition with the Galaxy maker.

Apple is reportedly accelerating those plans now and has already commissioned TSMC to run trial manufacturing of the A6X processor that debuted inside the iPad 4 in September 2012.

The high-resolution A6X floorplan courtesy of

The high-resolution A6X floorplan courtesy of Chipworks

TSMC reportedly turned down Apple’s $1 billion offer for exclusive access to its manufacturing capacity. That didn’t stop the pundits from speculating that the iPhone maker could be behind an upcoming semiconductor facility in Oregon, valued at $10 billion.

TSMC debunked the rumor, stressing it isn’t pouring money into the project on behalf of Apple. Project Azaela, as it’s code-named, is a 3.2-million-square-foot semiconductor factory that would employ at least 1,000 people.

Within the chip industry, the theory is that the fab would be a contract facility to build microprocessors for Apple’s mobile devices. DigiTimes Research has reasons to believe that an improved version of the existing A6X chip fabbed on TSMC’s 28nm process will make its way inside Apple’s refreshed iPad and iPad mini devices.

Samsung’s $14 billion plant in Austin, Texas mostly fabs Apple chips

Last, but not the least, DigiTimes Research speculates that, based on their knowledge, TSMC’s cutting-edge 16nm FinFET process technology will play a key role in a “breakthrough” Apple product.

TSMC’s 20nm process should be able to enter mass production between Q4 2013 and Q1 2014 and will be followed by a newer 16nm FinFET node in less than one year. And that, my friends, is your time frame when you should expect seeing TSMC-made Apple chips cropping up in iOS devices.

And why you should care about any of this chip politics?

Because a reduction to TSMC’s 28nm fab technique – and later to 20nm and the cutting-edge 16nm FinFET node – will enable significant power savings and substantial performance gains for the iPhone and iPad engine.

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Reuters: Apple Car Could Begin Production In 2024 With ‘Breakthrough Battery Technology’

Apple Car rumors have been floating around for years, and a new report from Reuters today shed more light on the highly-secretive project. According to the report, production of the electric Apple Car could start as early as 2024, and Apple is once again planning to build its own branded vehicle.

Apple Car battery technology

The Reuters report explains that central to Apple’s strategy is a new monocell battery design that “bulks up the individual cells in the battery and frees up space inside the battery pack by eliminating pouches and modules that hold battery materials.” This battery design would allow for more active material to be packed inside, potentially offering longer range, the report says.

Furthermore, Apple is examining lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry for its vehicle, Reuters reports. Tesla has also indicated it has plans to use this battery technology, as our sister site Electrek reported earlier this year. LFP batteries offer lower-energy density than other types but are less prone to overheating and don’t use cobalt.

Apple’s technology could also “radically” reduce the cost of batteries, the report adds.

Shifting strategies

Recent reports had indicated that Apple would likely focus on developing a self-driving system, then working with another auto manufacturer to implement the system. Today’s report, however, says that Apple is once again planning an Apple-branded car.

The report cites two people familiar with Apple’s plans and says that since a shakeup to the Project Titan team in 2023, things have “progressed enough” that Apple now plans to build a vehicle for consumers.

It remains unclear who would assemble an Apple-branded car, but sources have said they expect the company to rely on a manufacturing partner to build vehicles. And there is still a chance Apple will decide to reduce the scope of its efforts to an autonomous driving system that would be integrated with a car made by a traditional automaker, rather than the iPhone maker selling an Apple-branded car, one of the people added.

Apple Car might also feature LiDAR sensors for scanning different distances, similar to the most recent iPhone and iPad models. Apple is reportedly working with outside partners for “elements of the system,” including the LiDAR sensors. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has referred to LiDAR as a “fool’s errand.”

The Reuters report cites an anonymous person who worked on Project Titan. “If there is one company on the planet that has the resources to do that, it’s probably Apple. But at the same time, it’s not a cellphone,” the person reportedly said.

”It’s next level. Like the first time you saw the iPhone,” that person said of Apple’s battery technology for Apple Car.

The potential for delays

The Apple Car/Project Titan rumors have ebbed and flowed over the years, and the project appears to be continuously evolving in scope. Just recently, Bloomberg reported that Apple has shifted the leadership of its self-driving car project to John Giannandrea, its senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy.

Today’s report is some of the deepest details we’ve gotten on Apple Car recently. While production could begin in 2024, the report does caution that pandemic-related delays “could push the start of production into 2025 or beyond.”

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Munster: Apple To Kick Off 2013 With Itv (And Other Wild Predictions)

Like the left-over turkey that just won’t disappear from the fridge, talk of a full-blown, Apple-branded HD television set – the mythical iTV – lingers on in the minds of Wall Street seers. The product could carry a price of $1,500 and $2,000 and be introduced in time for Christmas 2013, one analyst forecast Tuesday. The shiny television product launch would highlight a long list of new products for Apple fans of all stripes.

Although Apple’s goal of offering à la carte TV programming  is viewed as “unlikely,” some of the features made popular on the iPhone and iPad could be headed to a big-screen TV set spanning between 42 and 55 inches, according to perhaps the most vocal iTV proponent out there, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray…

Munster, a longtime proponent of a television bearing the Apple logo, told investors that the device will be “the main interface for the living room across multiple devices.”

The analyst’s numerous – and more often than not failed – iTV and other predictions have even earned him a parody account on Twitter.

@reckless expect Apple to move 25M+ iTV units in Q2. Random polling of homeless people standing outside an electronics store window agrees.

— Gene Munster (@genemunster) November 20, 2012

According to Munster’s note relayed by AppleInsider, that rather general prediction was followed by his forecast of Siri and FaceTime being included in the TV. One can only imagine the conversations viewers could get into as the voice-activated search algorithm attempts to interpret some of the phrases shouted at TVs.

However, if consumers thought Apple might do for the television programming business what Apple has done for the music and cell phone industry, think again.

Acknowledging the difficulties Apple has had convincing networks, cable providers and other television content owners to jump on board, the analyst’s client note emphasizes what can be accomplished by updating only the hardware.

It won’t take endless licensing negotiations – which Apple has previously described as a dead-end – to tweak the television set itself.

The company already has experience designing displays with onboard hardware, such as the iMac. Siri and FaceTime are well-tested features. Additionally, by the end of 2013, the economy likely will have improved to the point where consumers may lay out $2,000 for an Apple TV.

Then again, Apple may be more confident that it can navigate the morass of television content licensing. Among the other  devices Munster expects Apple will offer next year is an updated Apple TV box with a TV app store.

Would CEO Tim Cook create a TV app store to sell only Disney and third-string videos?

An Apple television mockup by Motley Fool

An Apple television mockup by Motley Fool

At any rate, the current Apple TV set-top box is moving some surprising numbers so Apple is definitely one of the important players in the space.

Among the more credible potential services we may see out of Apple in 2013 is a Pandora rival.

Munster forecasts a number of other product upgrades which aren’t as iffy as an Apple TV or a Pandora clone. He believes the iPhone 5S – which some folks say enters trial production next month – will hit the market next September with a beefier processor, more memory and a sharper camera.

This iTV mockup is credit to designer Dan Draper

This iTV mockup is credit to designer Dan Draper

As for tablets, the iPad mini getting an upgraded Retina display is a no-brainer.

In the software realm, look for the next versions of  Mac OS X and iOS in June, Musnter ‘predicts’.

iOS 7 will most likely carry the design impression of designer Jonathan Ive. Also a good bet for Apple’s mobile software: Siri speaks deals-of-the-day and the much-maligned Apple Maps gets a touch-up.

Plus, the MacBook Air will get a Retina treatment in 2013, he writes.

New rule: Anyone who repeats anything Gene Munster says about Apple get blocked and/or banned from the Internet.

— Jon Seff (@jonseff) November 20, 2012

The only unknown: when this idea of an Apple TV set will ever die.

Apple has said a TV without content just isn’t enough.

While some consumers would buy an Apple TV just to have an Apple TV, to get the mass adoption seen with the iPhone or iPad will require more than just a well-designed and over-priced hunk of hardware.

What do you think?

What is Apple likely to do in 2013?

Why Did Silicon Valley Bank Collapse?

Why did Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) collapse, and what governance lessons does its sorry tale teach us?

The collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) in March 2023 was a devastating event that has sent shockwaves through the banking industry.

After Silicon Valley Bank failed so quickly, it has become clear that many banking institutions must strengthen their corporate governance practices.

Here, we explore what led to Silicon Valley Bank’s demise, why it happened, and how other boards at financial institutions can strengthen their corporate governance structures to avoid such a disaster.

Why did Silicon Valley Bank fail? 

The sudden collapse of Silicon Valley Bank came on the heels of a frantic 48-hour period during which customers rapidly withdrew their deposits.

However, the actual cause of SVB’s downfall can be traced to decisions made several years earlier. 

SVB, like many other financial institutions, invested heavily in US government bonds amidst an environment of near-zero interest rates.

What initially seemed like a secure investment quickly turned sour when the Federal Reserve ramped up its interest rate hikes to curb rising inflation. 

This increase in interest rates caused bond prices to plummet, eroding the value of SVB’s assets.

Concurrently, the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes drove up borrowing costs, forcing tech startups to redirect more of their capital to debt repayment.

These startups needed help to secure new venture capital funding, leading them to tap into their deposits held by SVB.

Ultimately, this confluence of factors spelt disaster for the once-thriving $212 billion tech lender.

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Build a better future with the Diploma in Corporate Governance.

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Book a call

Corporate governance structures in banks – how are they regulated?

Corporate governance structures in banks play a critical role in maintaining transparency, promoting ethical conduct, and ensuring the effective functioning of these institutions.

These structures typically comprise a board of directors, who oversee the company’s strategic decision-making and hold the senior management accountable for their actions.

Regulatory bodies across the globe, such as the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom, are responsible for enforcing and monitoring these governance structures.

The regulators establish rules and guidelines to fortify banks’ financial resilience and stability while safeguarding stakeholders’ interests.

Furthermore, banks must comply with stringent reporting and disclosure standards to foster trust among investors, depositors, and clients.

This ensures that corporate governance structures in banks remain efficient, effective, and up-to-date.

How to strengthen corporate governance in banks like Silicon Valley Bank

Strong corporate governance in the banking sector is crucial to maintaining financial stability and fostering public trust.

As a result, banks worldwide continuously seek to improve their governance practices.

One key focus area to enhance governance-related measures is promoting a strong risk culture.

This involves adopting a proactive risk management approach, including robust risk assessments, clear responsibilities, and comprehensive mitigation strategies.

It is now clear that Silicon Valley Bank needed robust risk management strategies in place. It didn’t.

The role of the board of directors in managing risks is vital. These individuals must possess the appropriate expertise and exercise decision-making independence to act in the best interest of stakeholders.

Implementing transparent disclosure mechanisms is another essential element to improve the integrity of the banking industry.

By effectively sharing information, banks can keep stakeholders well-informed and governments better equipped to supervise the sector.

Good risk management could have saved Silicon Valley Bank

Following the collapse of SVB (and the threats posed to other US banks), the importance of strong corporate governance in the banking sector has become increasingly evident.

Financial organisations worldwide have acknowledged the need for effective risk management measures.

By identifying, assessing, and addressing potential risks, banks protect themselves and contribute to the stability and overall health of the entire financial system.

One of the critical components of robust risk management in banking is implementing an enterprise risk management (ERM) framework.

This provides a comprehensive approach to managing risks across various business operations.

• Fostering a culture of risk awareness within the organisation.

How to strengthen governance in banking

The necessity for robust corporate governance in banking has never been more critical. 

Financial institutions are grappling with increasingly complex risk management challenges and the demand for transparent information to instil confidence in their stakeholders.

Disclosures and reporting requirements are essential in achieving this as they promote transparency and pave the way for informed decision-making for investors, regulators, and management.

Banking regulators often establish mandatory disclosure requirements, compelling financial institutions to disclose specific information. 

This includes information about their financial health, risk exposures, and corporate governance activities.

These disclosures help monitor and control the potential risks associated with banking activities. 

They also encourage accountability and ethical behaviour among the management and the board.

The board at Silicon Valley Bank wasn’t strong enough

Just one member of Silicon Valley Bank’s board of directors had a career in investment banking.

Federal authorities investigated the board after it failed to prevent the bank from going under.

Remember, the board of directors is responsible for shaping a bank’s strategic direction but is also entrusted with the critical task of providing essential oversight to the management.

A well-constituted board, comprising members with different skills, expertise, and backgrounds, offers various perspectives.

A strong board also adds tremendous value to the decision-making process.

Furthermore, the board is expected to guide the organisation in establishing and adhering to ethical standards.

This guidance demonstrates a solid commitment to long-term sustainability and fostering a culture of transparency and accountability.

Impact of corporate governance on financial stability 

The impact of corporate governance on financial stability cannot be overstated, as it plays a pivotal role in ensuring any organisation’s sustainable growth and development.

For example, the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank could have been prevented because there were several red flags surrounding the governance ecosystem at SVB.

Remember, effective corporate governance mechanisms provide a solid foundation for businesses to make responsible and strategic decisions that uphold the interests of shareholders, employees, and other stakeholders.

By facilitating a strong system of checks and balances, corporate governance enhances transparency, boosts investor confidence, and ultimately contributes to the overall stability of financial markets.

Study corporate governance

A great board director needs to have more than just a working knowledge of the industry they oversee. They need the practical insight and skillset to stay ahead in an ever-changing world.

Focusing on developing a global mindset and understanding finance and corporate governance processes can propel you into being an asset for any boardroom.

Get these skills and more as part of the Corporate Governance Institute’s Diploma in Corporate governance. Find out more today and download the course brochure below. 

Apple Ahead Of The Game As It Tackles Discrimination Based On India’s Caste System

A report today says that Apple is ahead of most large companies in tackling a form of discrimination which originates in India but has affected employee recruitment in Silicon Valley: the caste system.

Although the caste system is in part reflected in attitudes to skin color, discrimination on the basis of caste is not made explicitly illegal by current US law …

The caste system

While we’d normally open a piece like this with a succinct definition, that is virtually impossible in this case.

India’s caste system dates back to around 1500 BCE, and academics have had lengthy and unresolved arguments as to its exact origins and classifications. Indeed, in 1932 GS Ghurye – widely considered a founding figure in Indian sociology – said that caste was too complex to define.

We do not possess a real general definition of caste. It appears to me that any attempt at definition is bound to fail because of the complexity of the phenomenon.

However, there are at least connections between caste and skin tone.

Although in theory a dalits colour is not associated with caste, it can be said that due to the types of labour dalits are usually found working in, they are often identified as darker as or “dirtier” than those of different castes because they are more frequently exposed to the sun. In a country obsessed with light skin tone, it is often suggested that the caste system has affected the ways in which Indians view darker skin, with a stigma of dark skin attached to the lower castes.

Apple explicitly bans discrimination by caste

Today, India is said to be the top source of skilled foreign workers in the US tech sector, and a Reuters report says that Apple got ahead of its rivals by implementing a specific policy on caste.

America’s tech giants are taking a modern-day crash course in India’s ancient caste system, with Apple emerging as an early leader in policies to rid Silicon Valley of a rigid hierarchy that’s segregated Indians for generations.

Apple, the world’s biggest listed company, updated its general employee conduct policy about two years ago to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of caste, which it added alongside existing categories such as race, religion, gender, age and ancestry.

The inclusion of the new category, which hasn’t been previously reported, goes beyond U.S. discrimination laws, which do not explicitly ban casteism.

Apple reportedly introduced the policy after a claim of caste-based discrimination at Cisco.

California’s employment regulator sued Cisco Systems on behalf of a low-caste engineer who accused two higher-caste bosses of blocking his career.

Cisco denied that there was evidence of discrimination, but also argued that there was no case to answer as caste is not a legally protected class in California. Essentially the company was saying that it would have the legal right to discriminate on the basis of caste should it so desire; that case is still awaiting a court hearing.

While many tech companies are said to be unsure of how to address the issue, Apple tackled it head-on.

Apple’s main internal policy on workplace conduct, which was seen by Reuters, added reference to caste in the equal employment opportunity and anti-harassment sections after September 2023.

Apple confirmed that it “updated language a couple of years ago to reinforce that we prohibit discrimination or harassment based on caste.” It added that training provided to staff also explicitly mentions caste.

“Our teams assess our policies, training, processes and resources on an ongoing basis to ensure that they are comprehensive,” it said. “We have a diverse and global team, and are proud that our policies and actions reflect that.”

IBM does the same, but policies reviewed by Reuters showed that many tech giants don’t specifically prohibit caste-based discrimination outside of India (where it is illegal), including Amazon, Dell, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. All said that this would fall under their existing discrimination bans.

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Cisco Stops Flip Video Production

Cisco Stops Flip Video Production

RIP to Flip! This is so sad! I really liked this little video camera brand, but not it seems that Cisco has decided to close down shop and stop all production of all models. All those of you who’ve already got a camera from this line (yours truly included) will continue to receive support from the group until they’ve figured out what they’re going to do with the brand. This may well mean that they plan on selling the camera line to another group or indeed just chopping it down to the ground. But they’re so cute!

In a press release sent out to press today, Cisco has noted that they’ll be moving on five “key company priorities,” core routing, switching and services, collaboration, architectures, and yes, video. This appears to be part of a much more grand scheme and not just a ratatat on the single brand. Instead it seems that Cisco is moving toward supporting their enterprise and service provider customers in turn expand their offerings for consumers.

What does that mean for you? Not a whole lot unless you planned on purchasing a Flip camera in the near future – you’ll probably be able to pick up a cheap one now! And those of you who already have one, again, will continue to receive support as you keep on flipping. Check out the full press release below:

Apr 12, 2011 08:30 ET

Cisco Restructures Consumer Business

SAN JOSE, CA–(Marketwire – April 12, 2011) –  As part of the company’s comprehensive plan to align its operations, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) today announced that it will exit aspects of its consumer businesses and realign the remaining consumer business to support four of its five key company priorities — core routing, switching and services; collaboration; architectures; and video. As part of its plan, Cisco will:

• Close down its Flip business and support current FlipShare customers and partners with a transition plan.

• Refocus Cisco’s Home Networking business for greater profitability and connection to the company’s core networking infrastructure as the network expands into a video platform in the home. These industry-leading products will continue to be available through retail channels.

• Integrate Cisco umi into the company’s Business TelePresence product line and operate through an enterprise and service provider go-to-market model, consistent with existing business TelePresence efforts.

• Assess core video technology integration of Cisco’s Eos media solutions business or other market opportunities for this business.

“We are making key, targeted moves as we align operations in support of our network-centric platform strategy,” said John Chambers, Cisco chairman and CEO. “As we move forward, our consumer efforts will focus on how we help our enterprise and service provider customers optimize and expand their offerings for consumers, and help ensure the network’s ability to deliver on those offerings.” 

In connection with the changes to the consumer business, it is anticipated that Cisco will recognize restructuring charges to its GAAP financial results, with an aggregate pre-tax impact not expected to exceed $300 million during the third and fourth quarters of fiscal 2011. The charges will be disclosed in upcoming earnings conference calls and quarterly Form 10-Q filings. Additionally, the company expects this will result in a reduction of approximately 550 employees in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011. 

Forward-Looking Statements 

This press release may be deemed to contain forward-looking statements, which are subject to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including the company’s plan to align its operations in support of its network-centric platform strategy, Cisco’s consumer focus going forward, the maximum size of the anticipated restructuring charges, and expected employee reductions. Readers are cautioned that these forward-looking statements are only predictions and may differ materially from actual future events or results due to a variety of factors, including, among other things, how well we execute on our strategy and operating plans, business and economic conditions and growth trends in the networking industry, customer markets and various geographic regions, global economic conditions and uncertainties in the geopolitical environment and other risk factors set forth in Cisco’s most recent reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q. Any forward-looking statements in this release are based on limited information currently available to Cisco, which is subject to change, and Cisco will not necessarily update the information. 

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