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DAVID FINCH: This is your EETimes Weekly Briefing. Today is Friday, May 3rd, and among our top stories this week:
DAVID FINCH: 又到了EETimes全球联播时间，今天是5月3号，星期五。本周新闻热点包括：
A one-on-one interview with Hassane El-Khoury, CEO of Cypress Semiconductors.
与赛普拉斯半导体CEO Hassane El-Khoury一对一访谈；
We’ll review the intelligence we picked up at the recent 5G Brooklyn Summit on the question: “If 5G is enough, do we need 6G?”
And we’ll explain why Taiwanese companies who moved manufacturing in China decades ago are now coming back to Taiwan. Junko Yoshida, EE Times chief international correspondent, tells us the reason might not be what you’re thinking. This exodus is less about Trump but more about Xi Jinping.
Later on, we’re joined by Judith Chen, Chief Editor responsible for EE Times & EDN in Taiwan and Asia. Judith outlines how and why a startup movement appears to be blossoming in Taiwan.
稍后，负责EE Times & EDN台湾和亚洲媒体的主编Judith Cheng将加入我们，她将为我们解释台湾的创新运动为何及如何蓬勃发展起来。
Articles Discussed in This Episode:
All that to come, but first, here’s Dylan McGrath, EE Times executive editor, who recently sat down with Cypress Semiconductors’ CEO. Dylan asked Hussane not only about his ascent to CEO, but also about his childhood in Lebanon. Dylan shares his takeaway. Here's that story.
所有这一切都将一一呈献，但首先有请EE Times执行主编Dylan McGrath。他最近与赛普拉斯半导体CEO进行了面对面的访谈，不但问及Hussane晋升为CEO的事，而且也问起了他在黎巴嫩长大的孩童往事。请听Dylan讲述这一故事。
DYLAN McGRATH: This week, I had the opportunity to have a fantastic interview with Hassane El-Khoury, the CEO of Cypress Semiconductor, and this is the first in the series of CEO profile interviews that I plan to do over the next several months.
I wanted to start with Hassane because I am fascinated with the situation that he came into when he took over as the CEO of cyber semiconductor a little more than two years ago. Hassane, at the time aged 36, was taking over for TJ Rogers, a Silicon Valley legend who founded Cypress and had been running it basically almost as long as Hassane had been alive.
One of the things that struck me was that, to Hassane, he wasn’t taking over for this legendary persona, this man he’d read and heard about. He was basically taking over the company from his mentor, one of his mentors, a man who had taught him a great deal about running a company and running a division and being in electronics. And having not grown up in the Silicon Valley, he wasn’t burdened by the stigma of the legendary TJ Rogers that we read about and hear about. He just knew the man that he was taking over for, and in that respect, it was not as daunting a task as one might think, and that’s not to say that he didn’t consider it a challenge. But he’s a very confident guy. He felt like he could do the job and knew what needed to be done, and so far, during his tenure, it would appear that he was right about that. Cypress has done very well under Hassane.
And the second really fascinating part of the interview was when I asked him about what drew him to engineering in the first place. He said he fell in love with electronics at age 10. By age 10, he had gotten a toy car, remote control car, and as far as he was concerned, that was absolutely magic. All he wanted to do was take it apart and see what was inside. And when I asked him if he was able to put it back together again, he said that was never his intention. He never tried to do that. He took it apart, examined what was inside and then he used the components to actually create a remote-controlled flashlight.
He grew up in war-torn Lebanon, and his goal was to create a remote-controlled flashlight so that it could be turned on for his father when he came up the stairs getting home from work.
I'm very proud of the profile as it turned out. I hope that you’ll be able to read the full profile on EETimes.com and to keep tuning in for more CEO profiles in the months and weeks ahead.
—— Dylan McGrath, EETimes.
DAVID FINCH: Martin Rowe, senior technical editor of EDN and EETimes, recently attended the 5G Brooklyn Summit. This event is sponsored by Nokia and organized by NYU Wireless, an academic research center focused on 5G mm wave wireless research.
The 5G Brooklyn Summit attracts leaders in academia and industry, and Martin listened in on the chatter among attendees and speakers about 5G, and maybe the need for 6G.
MARTIN ROWE: With 5G now heading to deployment and the promises of 1 gigabit per second data rates, 1 millisecond latency and so on, is that enough?
While it will, 5G, lead to what was being called the "tactile internet," meaning it will be able to control machines, perhaps do remote medicine, we're already hearing, "Won't be enough. It's just a start."
Professor Gehard Fettweis of the Technical University of Dresden recently visited Disney Studios, and they said, "one gigabit per second: not nearly enough" for what they want to do with augmented reality and virtual reality. They need 1 terabit per second data rates. That's a thousand times more.
Research that could lead to 6G has begun. To get there, we're going to need terahertz signals. Terabit per second.
Professor Ted Rappaport of the NYU Wireless has his students starting to research at frequencies of 140 gigahertz, and they've actually built a channel sounder to start trying to characterize what happens with signals at those frequencies.
Now as it turns out, once you get about above a hundred gigahertz, their measurements have shown signal loss in air actually flattens out as you go up in frequency above 100 gigahertz. That's contrary to what everything that engineers have learned: As you keep going up in frequency, the channel losses continue to increase. Not so. We actually get something for nothing, at least in terms of channel loss.
While 140 gigahertz could end up being incorporated into later versions of 5G, it does start us down the road towards 6G.
Rappaport also explained that at such terabit rates, you now start to approach the data process ability of the human brain. Perhaps 5%, but again, it's a start. If you take that and combine it with artificial intelligence and machine learning, we could, over time, have machines designing machines. Hopefully, that won't result in engineers losing their job.
All of this sounds good, but there is a price to pay, even if it's not channel loss. And that is power consumption.
According to Fettweis, ADCs are a real problem. Converting analog signals to digital at 1 terabit per second would result in an ADC that would consume a hundred watts. That's not going to work in a cell phone. We're going to have to do a lot of work to bring power consumption down. Fettweis says such techniques such as zero crossing modulation could produce ten times to 15 times higher efficiency than we get today. That, combined of course with optics to send data between chips, and even using wireless as back planes in data centers. All of that could result in a 10x to 15x improvement in power consumption. What we really need is more like 100x, but it's a start.
All this computing power would result in consuming all of the electricity produced in the world today, and obviously that won't work.
6G is a long way off, maybe 15 years, but we will see it.
See you in 2035.
DAVID FINCH: While she was in Taipei, Junko scored her second annual exclusive interview with Taiwan’s Minister of Science and Technology. She sees two big trends emerging in the region. The first, a homecoming wave of Taiwanese companies, and the second, Taipei’s effort to bring engineering talent back from abroad.
Junko’s analysis dissects her conversations with Minister Chen and several industry executives in Taiwan.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: Sometimes, the big picture of mainland China is clearer seen through Taiwan’s smaller lens. A case in point emerged during my recent visit to Taipei.
Taiwanese tech companies who moved production to China decades ago are returning. In the past four months alone, 40 companies announced their homecoming. They’ve pledged to invest $6.47 billion US dollars in Taiwan. The movement hardly amounts to an exodus, but it’s a huge deal for an embattled island.
I’m fascinated with this story for two reasons. First, this story offers unprecedented insight into the mainland. Second, the homecoming movement coincides with massive efforts by the Taiwanese government to bring back to Taiwan the homegrown talent now living overseas.
It’s commonly believed that the US-China trade conflict, featuring punitive US tariffs on China-made goods, has triggered a bailout of Taiwanese companies from the mainland. But look closely. Local executives tell us that the tariff issue provides a handy cover story for companies already poised to leave.
Of course, 25% tariffs hurt. But more painful is the deteriorating business environment in China.
My Taiwanese sources cite China’s rising labor costs, the burden of rapidly increasing social welfare outlays, and environmental taxes. All these factors are making the mainland less appealing for Taiwanese companies. They also worry about China’s political and social climate, which has turned more secretive in and opaque recent months.
Recently enacted policies making Xi Jinping president for life are making foreign companies understandably nervous. Moreover, this phenomenon of Taiwanese companies returning home is happening at the same time when the Taiwan government is campaigning to recruit talent: professors, PhDs and even startups born outside Taiwan.
During our interview, Liang-gee Chen, Taiwan’s Minister of Science and Technology, explained that the talent search is important, because Taiwan needs a new model.
In a remarkable effort, 30 years ago, Taiwan turned itself into the world’s headquarters of the chip foundry business. This happened because Taiwan lured its best and brightest back home-- including Morris Chang-- from the United States. But that was in the ’80s.
The rise of TSMC and UMC is old news. “We need a new model,” Minister Chen told us. "The new model requires bright young minds, new technology, new business ideas, and a lot of startups," he explained.
Taiwan’s technology leaders believe they have the juice to pull this off. Unlike its formidable neighbor, Taiwan is a small, nimble economy, but with four advantages.
First, Taiwan sits next-door to a giant market in China. Second is a comprehensive supply chain. Third, Taiwan’s hardware engineering resources have deep roots in information and communication technology. Finally, Taiwan’s democratic environment fosters freedom in research, idea creation and business practices.
I did have one concern, though. Taiwan is a hardware haven, with strengths in chip production, hardware design, PC modules and mobile handsets. But software? Not so much.
Can startups thrive in Taiwan? That was my question. Minister Chen, of course, says "absolutely."
In the fourth industrial revolution where intelligent infrastructure is needed, sensing is the key. Sensors are hardware. Here’s how Minister Chen foresees Taiwan’s startup renaissance.
MINISTER CHEN: Because we are talking about the intelligent era, intelligent application, the first stage is sensing the data from the environment. Sensing becomes the harder issue. And the sensing data collected needs to work with software. So it's for an intelligent product, most of them is the hardware and software integration. So hardware is important.
But it needs to come out with software. I think this is very good that Taiwan can try to move our hardware value to become the hardware software integration value.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: This is Junko Yoshida reporting from Taipei.
DAVID FINCH: After interviews with local executives and bureaucrats, Junko sat down with Judith Chen in EETimes Taiwan news bureau. She asked Judith if Taiwan’s startup movement is real, and if so, why it matters.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: Judith, you and I have been visiting universities, as well as Ministry, to figure out what's going on in Taiwan as far as the startup scene is concerned. It seems to me that the Taiwan government is suddenly pushing the startup movement these days. Did the entrepreneurship historically exist in Taiwan?
JUDITH CHENG: Well, in fact, Taiwan government always encourages people to start their business. In the 1960s and 70s, the government sent people to abroad to learn at the advanced technology from Western. And in the 1980s, UMC and TSMC were born, and the new business model firmly established. Then hundreds of IC design house emerged. So the startup culture in Taiwan isn't a sudden movement. So I think what you are seeing here is the reset of startup in Taiwan.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: What do you mean by "reset"? What was reset necessary?
JUDITH CHENG: In the 1980s and 90s, the earlier startups in Taiwan are all small and medium companies. And their technology and products are more like "me too" business. They made little money through locals pricing. But I think the game has changed.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: Why do you say the game has changed? Could you explain why and how this game has changed?
JUDITH CHENG: Because the competition now is global, not in local markets, and the PC and the mobile industry are slowing down, and Taiwan needed to look for new economic drivers.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: So the Ministry of Science and Technologies-- I think you guys call it MOST, M-O-S-T-- selected recently 10 innovative startups. What do you see as common threads among those 10 companies?
JUDITH CHENG: According to the Ministry, they use four criteria. They are technology quality, potential on the global market, industrial influence and the startup team's potential of growth. And this year, the 10 coolest startups cover AI, biotech, health care and the wearable device, Cloud service, energy management system. In my opinion, almost all of them are the kind of crossover companies. It means their technologies and solutions are combined with knowledge from different areas. And their team includes the talents with different expertise.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: So Judith, how much help are these startups getting from the Taiwan government?
JUDITH CHENG: Well, in addition to a traditional approach of providing the tax and loan preferences, the government's new way to support the startups is building a high-tech startup-friendly ecosystem. To encourage it, a program founded by MOST aims to connect the global sources.
Since the program started last year, plenty of public and private international partners come here. I mean Taipei. They include French and the Canadian initiatives, international accelerators, and we have more than a hundred startup teams.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: Wow! That's a lot!
JUDITH CHENG: Yeah.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: A hundred, huh?
JUDITH CHENG: And Taiwan hopes to attract global and local talent.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: So what are the prognosis, Judith? How successful do you think these startups will become? What are we still missing?
JUDITH CHENG: I think an advantage of Taiwan is having a complete supply chain. And the agile, fastest-response, diligent nature of Taiwan is. I think these advantages will help. But it's not easy, or it could take a long time, to see a unicorn here. The size of the domestic market is too small in Taiwan to raise a big enterprise. And the startups’ vision and experience in the global market are not enough.
A lot of "me too" culture is out of date. I think most of the young generation or engineering community in Taiwan are used to staying in their comfort zone. They are not aboard for trying adventure.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: How come, Judith? Why do you think that they wouldn't want to change?
JUDITH CHENG: Well, the traditional concept from the generation of my parents, they always hope for their children to work for a big company, to get regular salaries. They think to have your own business is too risky.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: I see.
JUDITH CHENG: But actually, I feel the energy from those startups.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: You do?
JUDITH CHENG: Because right now we have a supportive environment for startups, and to build your own business is not so difficult as 20 years ago.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: And also, probably, it's fashionable, right?
JUDITH CHENG: Yes, it's becoming too. So I hope we can see some of them shining in the market in the near future.
JUNKO YOSHIDA: Very good. Thanks, Judith.
JUDITH CHENG: Thank you.
DAVID FINCH: That was Judith Chen talking with Junko Yoshida, reporting from Taipei.
And this has been your weekly briefing from EETimes. You can read all these stories and more at EETimes.com. Thanks for listening.