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Samsung set to expand chips supply chain after $6.4 bn US grants

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Seoul, April 16 (IANS) Samsung is set to accelerate the expansion of its global semiconductor supply chain in the era of artificial intelligence (AI), following a subsidy of $6.4 billion from the US government and its extended investment plan.

Under the Biden Administration’s announcement, the South Korean chipmaker will receive up to $6.4 billion in grants under the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, aimed at bolstering US semiconductor production to 20 per cent of the world’s leading-edge chips by the end of the decade.

The funding will support Samsung Electronics’ chip production facilities in Taylor and Austin, Texas, alongside other research centres and packaging facilities, reports Yonhap news agency

This positions Samsung Electronics as the third-largest beneficiary of the US CHIPS Act programme, following Intel with up to $8.5 billion in grants and $11 billion in loans, and Taiwan’s TSMC with up to $6.6 billion in grants and about $5 billion in loans.

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At the same time, Samsung will increase its investment in its semiconductor plants in Texas to more than $40 billion from $17 billion.

The additional investment will include the construction of one more semiconductor production facility in addition to the existing plant in Taylor, as well as advanced packaging and research and development (R&D) facilities.

Experts pointed out Samsung’s production capabilities as a world-leading semiconductor producer and commitment to the US investment have led to the third-biggest subsidy deal with Washington.

“Samsung Electronics seems to have been evaluated better than its competitors by the US government in terms of its future investment plans, scale and company value,” Kim Yang-paeng, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Industrial Economics and Trade, said.

“The US grants will help the company reduce the amount of its own money used to invest directly in overseas expansion. It’s good for Samsung Electronics,” he added.

It will also be possible for the South Korean chipmaker to expand participation in the advanced semiconductor supply chain through local production in the United States, where global big tech companies are located.

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–IANS

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Agnibaan rocket is India's first with a semi-cryogenic engine: Rajeev Chandrasekhar

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) The IIT Madras’ startup Agnikul’s maiden rocket mission is India’s first flight with a semi-cryogenic engine, said Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar on Thursday.

The rocket Agnibaan SOrTeD (SubOrbital Technological Demonstrator) is indigenously designed and manufactured. It was launched from India’s first privately developed launchpad called ‘Dhanush’ established by Agnikul at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 7:15 a.m. on Thursday. The launchpad is located inside ISRO’s rocket port in Sriharikota.

“Congratulations AgnikulCosmos, IITMadras. Agnikul successfully completed its first launch from Agnikul’s own and India’s only private launchpad within SDSC-SHAR (Satish Dhawan Space Centre- Sriharikota Range),” the minister said in a post on social media platform X.

“Besides being the world’s first flight with a single piece 3D printed rocket engine, this controlled flight is also India’s first flight with a semi-cryogenic engine,” he added.

Chandrasekhar also lauded the rocket for its “completely in-house design”.

Agnibaan is a two-stage rocket with a capacity to carry up to 300 kg to a height of 700 km, powered by liquid oxygen/kerosene.

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Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu called the launch “rocket science”.

“Great achievement by the AgniKul team – congratulations on the successful completion of your first flight. This is truly “rocket science” and I am in awe of the tireless effort it must have taken,” Vembu said on X.

Stating that the “nation needs these capabilities” he shared “best wishes for building a big business from this technological foundation”.

The private rocket maker’s maiden test flight aims to demonstrate the in-house and homegrown technologies, gather crucial flight data, and ensure the optimal functioning of systems for its orbital launch vehicle the ‘Agnibaan’ by the end of the financial year of 2025.

“What Agnikul has achieved today, is nothing short of a historical milestone, since India launched its maiden rocket in 1963 from Thumba launch station,” said Lt Gen A.K. Bhatt (Retd), Director General, Indian Space Association (ISpA), in a statement.

He called it a “huge boost and a proud moment for India’s thriving private space industry”.

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Congratulating the team on their success, he said it’s “just a glimpse into what the future holds for us”.

Together with the “recently introduced guidelines for the implementation of the Indian Space Policy 2023 by IN-SPACe and the new FDI regulations, this will undoubtedly bolster global confidence in India’s private space industry and its growing capabilities,” said Gen Bhatt.

–IANS

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Rocket reusability key for humanity to become a spacefaring civilisation: Musk

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Rocket reusability must be the key feature space companies must develop to help humanity become a spacefaring civilisation, said SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday.

Citing a New York Times article that argued that rival space companies say that Musk’s “SpaceX is using tactics intended to squash them,” Dan Piemont, Founder and President at ABL Spacesystems, an American aerospace and launch service provider, said he disagreed.

Musk replied: “Thank you for the thoughtful rebuttal.”

He further said: “I do hope that rocket companies focus on reusability,” noting that SpaceX’s rocket “Falcon is approximately 80 per cent reusable”, and “Starship will eventually take reusability to approximately 100 per cent.”

“That is the fundamental breakthrough needed for humanity to become a spacefaring civilisation.”

Musk noted that “there are many tough issues to solve” with the 400-foot-tall Starship rocket along with the Heavy booster.

The biggest is “making a reusable orbital return heat shield, which has never been done before,” said Musk.

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The huge Starship vehicle is intended to land astronauts on the Moon during the crewed Artemis 3 mission in 2026.

It has so far had three test flights, and the fourth will take place likely in “about 2 weeks.”

However, its reusability remains a concern, as the “shuttle’s heat shield required over six months of refurbishment by a large team,” Musk said.

He added that it “will take a few kicks to solve and requires building an entirely new supply chain for low-cost, high-volume, and yet high-reliability heat shield tiles, but it can be done.”

–IANS

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India’s smart TV shipments fell 14 pc in Q1 due to slowdown in demand: Report

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) India’s smart TV shipments dropped by 14 per cent (year-on-year) in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024 due to a slowdown in demand and an inventory build-up at major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), a new report said on Thursday.

According to Counterpoint Research, the drop was also attributed to an increase in the cost of inputs like raw materials, which led to a reduction in offers and promotions, excess inventory build-up at major OEMs, and reduced demand for smaller-screen smart TVs.

However, Samsung became the leading player for the first time after overtaking Xiaomi.

“Samsung became the leading player for the first time. It was followed by LG and Xiaomi. India’s smart TV market is slowly moving towards consolidation, with the share of the top five players increasing to 57 per cent in Q1 2024 from 41 per cent in Q1 2023,” said Research Analyst Akash Jatwala.

In addition, the shipments of Chinese brands dropped by 30 per cent (year-on-year) due to brands such as OnePlus, Haier, and realme.

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Smart TV shipments for the 55-inch and above screen size grew 23 per cent (year-on-year) in Q1, making it the only segment to show growth, the report noted.

As per the analysts, the market is likely to remain muted this year and witness a decline of 10 per cent (year-on-year) due to consumer demand remaining stagnant, with the preference for small-screen TVs declining further.

The preference for premium products and large-screen TVs will continue to increase, they mentioned.

–IANS

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IIT Madras' startup Agnikul launches world's 1st rocket with fully 3D-printed engine

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Chennai, May 30 (IANS) Agnikul Cosmos, a start-up incubated at the IIT Madras, on Thursday launched the world’s first rocket with a single-piece three-dimensional (3D) printed engine.

The rocket Agnibaan SOrTeD (SubOrbital Technological Demonstrator) is also India’s first semi-cryogenic engine-powered rocket launch that was completely designed and manufactured indigenously.

It was also launched from India’s first privately developed launchpad called ‘Dhanush’ established by Agnikul at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 7.15 a.m. today. The launch pad is located inside ISRO’s rocket port in Sriharikota.

The test flight aims to demonstrate the in-house and homegrown technologies, gather crucial flight data, and ensure the optimal functioning of systems for Agnikul’s orbital launch vehicle, the ‘Agnibaan’.

“The Department of Space and ISRO congratulates Agnikul Cosmos on the successful launch of ‘Agnibaan – SOrTeD’. The success involving many firsts including 3D printed semi-cryogenic engines, flight control systems, etc., demonstrate the prowess of indigenous design and innovation,” said S. Somanath, Chairman, ISRO, in a statement.

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“It motivates ISRO to support the Space startups and non-governmental entities for innovation and Atmanirbharata to create a vibrant space ecosystem in the country,” he added.

Agnibaan is a two-stage rocket with a capacity to carry up to 300 kg to a height of 700 km. The rocket engines are powered by liquid oxygen/kerosene.

It can access both low and high-inclination orbits and is completely mobile – designed for accessing more than 10 launch ports, as per the company.

“We are proud to present India’s first Semi-cryo rocket engine, which is also the world’s most integrated single shot 3D printed piece. It signals the ability to rapidly assemble rockets that is unparalleled,” said Satyanarayanan R Chakravarthy, Founding Advisor, Agnikul Cosmos and also the Head of the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) at IIT Madras.

The private rocket maker is likely to launch an orbital mission by the end of the financial year of 2025 and is working with customers on flights starting regularly from CY 2025, the company said.

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–IANS

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MediaTek unveils 2 new Dimensity 7300 chips for high-end gaming

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New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) Chip maker MediaTek on Thursday announced Dimensity 7300 and the Dimensity 7300X, a pair of 4nm chips for high-tech mobile gaming.

The Dimensity 7300 chipsets enable multitasking, superior photography accelerated gaming and AI-enhanced computing, while Dimensity 7300X is designed with flip-style foldable devices in mind, providing support for dual displays, the company said in a statement.

“The MediaTek Dimensity 7300 chips will be important for integrating the latest AI enhancements and connectivity features so consumers can seamlessly stream and game,” said Dr Yenchi Lee, Deputy General Manager of MediaTek’s Wireless Communications Business.

Both chipsets have an octa-core CPU consisting of 4 times Arm Cortex-A78 cores operating at up to 2.5GHz paired with 4X Arm Cortex-A55 cores.

In comparison to competitor alternatives, the Dimensity 7300 series offers 20 per cent faster FPS and 20 per cent improved energy efficiency.

The Dimensity 7300 chipsets also offer upgraded photography with the MediaTek Imagiq 950, featuring a premium-grade 12-bit HDR-ISP with support for a 200MP main camera.

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“Enhanced with new hardware engines providing precise noise reduction (MCNR), face detection (HWFD), and video HDR, the Dimensity 7300 lets users capture stunning images and videos in any lighting,” said the company.

–IANS

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