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June 2024 Newsletter

Jun 30, 2024

JUNE 2024 Updates for Design Engineers 

Read the latest semiconductor and electronics news and updates. 

In this edition:

  1. Powering AI Technology: AMD Ryzen™ AI 300

  2. Fab 34: Intel x Apollo 

  3. SiC-Based Traction Inverters for EV Powertrains: NXP x ZF

  4. Holographic AI: Better UI? 

Powering AI Technology: AMD Ryzen AI 300

AMD's new Ryzen AI 300 Series processors, announced at Computex June 2024, are designed for high-performance AI computing on ultrathin laptops. Key features include up to 12 high-performance cores, 24 threads and 50% more on-chip L3 cache memory compared to the company’s Zen 4 processors. These processors deliver efficient local AI workload processing, enhancing productivity and creativity while maintaining battery efficiency.

The Ryzen AI 300 Series includes models like the Ryzen AI 9 HX 370 with 12 cores, 24 threads, and AMD Radeon 890M graphics, and the Ryzen AI 9 365 with 10 cores, 20 threads, and AMD Radeon 880M graphics. These processors are geared for multitasking, immersive gaming and content creation.

AMD's ecosystem partners, including Acer, ASUS, HP, Lenovo and MSI, are planning to release new AI PCs powered by the Ryzen AI 300 Series. Additionally, Microsoft and Zoom are working with the company to expand AI capabilities on these devices. These upcoming Ryzen AI 300 laptops, featuring Zen 5 CPUs, RDNA 3.5 GPUs and XDNA 2 NPU cores, will launch on July 15, 2024, offering 50 TOPS AI processing power, tripling their predecessors' AI performance and complying with Microsoft’s Copilot+ AI PC platform.

Alongside the AI 300 Series, AMD is launching the Ryzen 9000 Series desktop processors, built on Zen 5 architecture. These processors offer a 16% IPC performance improvement over Zen 4 and include models like the Ryzen 9 9950X with 16 cores, 32 threads and up to 5.7 GHz boost frequency. These CPUs are targeted at gamers and content creators, promising superior performance for demanding tasks.

The Ryzen 9000 Series will be available with the new X870E and X870 chipsets, supporting PCIe 5.0, DDR5, USB4, and WiFi 7. These chipsets ensure high-speed connectivity and future-proofing through 2027.

Contact McKinsey Electronics for the newest AI Series from AMD.

 Fab 34: Intel x Apollo

Intel Corporation and Apollo Global Management have entered into a definitive agreement where Apollo-managed funds will invest $11 billion to acquire a 49% equity interest in a joint venture related to Intel’s Fab 34 in Leixlip, Ireland. Fab 34, a leading-edge high-volume manufacturing (HVM) facility, focuses on producing wafers using Intel 4 and Intel 3 process technologies. Intel has invested $18.4 billion in Fab 34 to date.

This transaction, part of Intel’s second Semiconductor Co-Investment Program (SCIP), is an element of the Smart Capital strategy aimed at creating financial flexibility to accelerate Intel’s global manufacturing investments. Intel will retain a 51% controlling interest and full operational control of Fab 34, while the joint venture will manufacture wafers for Intel and its foundry customers. 

The agreement allows Intel to reallocate a portion of its investment to other business areas while continuing the build-out of Fab 34. The joint venture will produce wafers on a cost-plus-margin basis, with Intel committing to minimum volume purchases. The transaction, expected to close in Q2 2024, is structured to enhance Intel’s balance sheet with capital at a cost below its equity cost.

Intel's Smart Capital approach includes government incentives, flexible capacity build-outs, customer participation in capacity expansions and strategic use of external foundries. This agreement supports Intel’s strategy to regain process leadership and expand wafer fabrication and advanced packaging capacities globally. Intel expects limited net income attributable to the 49% non-controlling interest in the initial two years, increasing as the facility reaches full capacity.

Fab 34 began high-volume manufacturing of Intel Core Ultra processors on Intel 4 technology in September 2023, with the ramp of Granite Rapids on Intel 3 technology underway. This facility also marks the first use of extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) in high-volume manufacturing in Europe.

SiC-Based Traction Inverters for EV Powertrains: NXP x ZF

NXP Semiconductors N.V. has announced a collaboration with ZF Friedrichshafen AG to develop next-generation SiC-based traction inverter solutions for electric vehicles (EVs). This partnership aims to leverage NXP’s advanced GD316x high-voltage (HV) isolated gate drivers to accelerate the adoption of 800-V and SiC power devices, which are integral to improving EV performance, efficiency and range.

Traction inverters are essential components of an EV’s powertrain, converting DC voltage from the battery into a time-varying AC voltage that drives the vehicle’s motor. The shift to SiC-based designs for these inverters stems from the need for higher switching frequencies, lower conduction losses, improved thermal characteristics and increased robustness at high voltages, compared to traditional silicon-based IGBT and MOSFET power switches.

The GD316x family of advanced, functionally safe, isolated HV gate drivers from NXP incorporates several programmable control, diagnostic, monitoring and protection features tailored to drive the latest SiC power modules used in automotive traction inverters. These gate drivers enhance system performance by reducing Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) noise and switching energy losses, leading to greater efficiency. Additionally, the GD316x gate drivers provide fast short-circuit protection times of less than 1 µsec and feature powerful and programmable gate drive schemes, optimizing the performance of SiC power modules.

The collaboration between ZF and NXP represents a significant step towards advancing the electrification of the automotive industry. By integrating NXP’s GD316x high-voltage isolated gate drivers into ZF’s 800-V SiC-based traction inverter solutions, the partnership aims to extend EV range and reduce the number of charging stops needed. This not only enhances the driving experience but also lowers system-level costs for OEMs.

Dr. Carsten Götte, SVP Electrified Powertrain Technology at ZF, expressed optimism about the collaboration, stating, “We look forward to working with NXP to raise the bar for the capabilities and performance of our 800-V traction inverter solutions, which will help us achieve our goals of reducing emissions and promoting sustainability.” On his part, Robert Li, SVP and GM of Electrification at NXP, highlighted the importance of the collaboration: “Together with ZF, we are developing next-gen power electronics for future EVs. Our GD316x gate driver family implements several outstanding features to both protect and unleash the benefits of high-voltage SiC power switches, making them an ideal choice for ZF’s new SiC-based traction inverter solutions.”

The advanced integration and programmability of the GD316x gate drivers simplify system design and also allow for a smaller footprint, further enhancing the appeal and practicality of SiC-based traction inverters. With ZF’s inverters already on the road, this collaboration marks a pivotal development in the journey towards more sustainable and energy-efficient electric vehicles.

Holographic AI: Better UI?

Holographic UI elements, inspired by futuristic movie scenes, are digital displays that appear to float in the air, offering a novel way of interacting with technology. These interfaces use various components like laser sources, beam splitters, mirrors and recording media to project and manipulate virtual keyboards, displays and 3D objects. For instance, lasers project virtual keyboards onto surfaces, while sensors track hand movements for gesture-based interactions. Beam splitters create multiview displays, enabling 3D visualization without special glasses, and mirrors direct holographic images into a user’s field of view, crucial for augmented reality systems.

These holographic UIs have transformative potential across multiple fields. In gaming, they enhance immersion by integrating 3D elements that players can interact with. In the medical field, they allow surgeons to visualize anatomical structures during procedures, improving precision. Education benefits from interactive 3D models that help students grasp complex subjects, while retail experiences are elevated through 3D product visualizations. Communication also sees a boost, with virtual meetings featuring 3D avatars, making remote interactions more lifelike.

Technological advancements are essential to make holographic UIs mainstream. Lighter, more comfortable AR and MR headsets are needed, alongside improved gesture recognition and voice command systems to ensure intuitive user interactions. Enhanced 3D modeling and content creation tools will expand the library of holographic experiences, empowering designers to develop more immersive applications.

By leveraging these advanced technologies, developers can create more responsive, immersive, and visually appealing holographic UIs, transforming everyday technology into an interactive, magical experience. To read the full blog, click here.

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