■ Semiconductors Global sales up 31% \n \nGlobal semiconductor sales rose 31 percent in February from a year earlier as corporate demand for computers recovered, the Semiconductor Industry Association said. Sales totaled US$15.58 billion in the month, compared with US$11.92 billion in February last year, the industry group said in a statement released on Business Wire. Sales posted a "modest" 0.2 percent increase from January, the group said. February is a "relatively weak" month for chip sales, it said. Sales declined 0.1 percent in the Americas and 1.8 percent in Japan in February from January. Sales rose 0.7 percent in Europe and 1.3 percent in the Asia-Pacific region. Sales climbed in all geographic regions from a year earlier. The group, which counts Taiwan Semiconductor Manufac-turing Co (台積電) and Intel Corp among its members, has previously predicted this year's sales growth of 19.4 percent. Worldwide sales of semiconductors rose 18.3 percent last year to US$166.4 billion, according to the group. \n \n■ Petroleum \nSaudis seek China sales \n \nSaudi Arabia is eager to increase oil sales to China and set up joint refining projects there and mining ventures in the kingdom, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Nuaimi told the official SPA news agency Friday. "The Kingdom supplies China at present with more than 300,000 barrels of oil per day but we are seeking to increase this amount given the rising demand in China," said Nuaimi, who arrived in China on Thursday for a three-day visit. He said that "an agreement was being finalized to build a refinery in China's Fujian Province to process Saudi crude, and to supply and market products inside and outside China." State-owned Saudi Aramco, as well as Chinese and international companies, would invest in the refining project, according to Nuaimi. \n \n■ Automobiles \nToyota official faces arrest \n \nA court has issued an arrest warrant for Toyota's top Japanese executive in Thailand over breach of contract allegations by a former auto dealer, a newspaper reported yesterday. Toyota Motors Thailand President Royichi Sasaki failed to fulfill agreed upon shipments of automobiles and car parts to its former dealer in Krabi, the Bangkok Post reported. A civil lawsuit by Sinprasert Saengsirattanakul -- owner of Toyota Krabi -- claims Toyota Motors Thailand wrongfully terminated dealership contracts leading to losses of 3 billion baht (US$76 million), the Post reported. The court ordered Toyota Motors to deliver cars and parts to Toyota Krabi within 30 days to fulfill its contractual obligations. The arrest warrant for Sasaki was issued because the company failed to deliver the goods, the report said. \n \n■ Entertainment \nNTDTV to broadcast to Asia \n \nNew Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV), a US-based Chinese-language broadcaster, launched on Friday a new direct-to-home satellite service to Asia and Europe. "What is very significant is that this is the first time an independent Chinese-language TV network is able to broadcast on an open signal to reach China and all of Asia," said Lee Zhong, President of New York-based NTDTV. The company said in a statement that it managed to expand its audience in Europe and Asia by using the Paris-based Eutelsat's Hotbird-6 and W5 satellites. "We are proud to contribute to pluralism in Chinese-language media, and to promote the free flow of information and ideas via satellite," Lee said.
SELF-SUFFICIENCY: Alibaba is one of a number of Chinese firms that has answered Beijing’s call to invest in the development of cutting-edge technologies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) yesterday unveiled a new server chip that is based on advanced 5-nanometer technology, marking a milestone in China’s pursuit of semiconductor self-sufficiency. The Chinese tech giant’s newest chip is based on micro-architecture provided by the SoftBank Group Corp-owned Arm Ltd, it said. Alibaba, which is holding its annual cloud summit in Hangzhou, China, said that the chip is to be used in its own data centers in the “near future” and would not, for the time being, be sold commercially. “Customizing our own server chips is consistent with our ongoing efforts toward boosting our computing capabilities with better
‘SHORT-TERM ECONOMIC PAIN’: A military takeover would only temporarily weigh on wafer production on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, IC Insights said Taiwan has more chip manufacturing capacity than any other economy in the world, US-based market information advisory firm IC Insights said in a research paper last week, cautioning that the nation’s strength could prompt China to attempt to take over Taiwan. Taiwan commanded 21.4 percent of global installed IC capacity, ahead of South Korea’s 20.4 percent, Japan’s 15.8 percent and China’s 15.3 percent, North America’s 12.6 percent and Europe’s 5.7 percent, IC Insights said. Taiwan is one of two countries that uses 10-nanometer technology or better to produce wafers, holding 62.8 percent of global capacity, with South Korea holding the remaining 37.2
AGGRESSIVE STEP: With the new processors, Apple is aiming at the high-end chips Intel has provided for the MacBook Pro and other top-end Macs for about 15 years Apple Inc on Monday took the most aggressive step yet to strip Intel Corp chips from its computers, announcing more powerful homegrown Mac processors alongside a total revamp of its MacBook Pro laptop computers. The company showcased the chips at an event called “Unleashed,” which also included its latest audio products. The new components, called the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, are 70 percent faster than its M1 predecessors, Apple said. It also unveiled a redesigned MacBook Pro, adding larger screens, MagSafe charging and better resolution. With the new processors and devices, Apple is aiming squarely at the high-end chips that Intel has
PRICE SPREAD: Oil trading under the Brent futures contract is giving the US a hefty edge in pricing, increasing the rush to secure cheap fuel as winter approaches Asian demand for US oil is rising as the energy crisis boosts prices for other crudes that are priced against the global Brent futures contract. China and other Asian buyers have been snapping up supertankers of US oil for delivery next month and seeking more for December, some traders have said. Most buyers are seeking US grades that had recently slumped to the lowest levels in more than a year, with an added incentive after Beijing awarded millions of tonnes of crude oil import quotas. A wide spread between Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil futures is accommodating higher US crude