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Electronics & Microtechnology
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Dresden attracts multi-billion € investments for chips, cars, IoT
The region around Dresden in Germany ("Silicon Saxony") is increasingly establishing itself as a center for research and development around the Internet of Things. Over the next few years, international technology groups and research institutions will invest around 4.5 billion euros in the Dresden region. The money comes from Bosch, GlobalFoundries, Infineon, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft research network and the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The investments will be used to develop and manufacture state-of-the-art processors, sensors, 5G mobile communications technology, new software tools and IoT platforms.
The technology company Bosch is one of the major investors. MEMS sensor marketleader Bosch having announced planned investment of EUR 1 billion in a new 15,000 m² wafer fab in Dresden. In the new factory - located in the building of bankrupt memory chip manufacturer Qimonda - Bosch intends to supplement its established MEMS manufacturing facilities with the development and production of ASICs. This represents the single biggest investment in Bosch’s 130-year plus history. Globalfoundries has also announced planned investment of more than EUR 1.5 billion in Saxony, where it plans to produce next-generation FDX chips used in automotive and IoT applications.
However, it is not only semiconductor companies that are developing new high-tech activities in the Dresden area. With Volkswagen, a major customer of the semiconductor industry wants to become even more involved in this region in the future. Volkswagen will build the electric version of the Golf in Dresden, and also VW's first fully electric car-designed vehicle I. D. Buzz is to leave the production line in Zwickau near Dresden. Production start is scheduled for 2019. In addition, the automaker intends to significantly expand its R&D activities in the electronics / IT sector. The new priorities are electric drive, AI and connected car.
Germany plans to invest 100 billion euros into national gigabit internet network
Digitalization is ushering in an age of high-speed networks, open architectures and intelligent infrastructures. German federal minister for Transport and Digital services Alexander Dobrindt has announced a EUR 100 billion (US$106 billion) investment into a gigabit broadband network in Germany by 2025. The rollout would be funded by a government and private consortium known as Netzallianz Digitales Deutschland, which includes most major telecommunication firms in Germany.
Since its founding in 2014, 75.5 percent of all households gained access to internet speeds of at least 50 Megabits per second, an increase of 26% since the alliance was established. The Ministry for Transport and Digital services already invests around €4 billion a year to bring broadband to underserved regions. From 2018 onwards, the department will invest a further €3 billion a year, states Alexander Dobrindt. “In the future, we need more bandwidth, reliable real-time transmission, and intelligent networks that process data independently, prioritize it and transport it to the user as quickly as possible.
The network will use the most advanced technologies, such as fibre and the future 5G mobile communications standard”, he said. Furthermore, Germany's education department announced in October 2016 that it plans to invest €5 billion over the next five years to provide faster internet connections, WiFi and tablet computers to schools and colleges.
LG Electronics relocates Europe Headquarters from UK to Germany
Korean tech giant LG Electronics (LG) has recently completed the relocation of its European headquarters from London to near Frankfurt, Germany. The new office in in Eschborn, which covers 9,500 m², will have a staff of 300 employees, managing operations across the Western European region. The London office will remain a local LG branch for the UK and Ireland business.
The motive behind the move is to support LG's initiative to expand its automotive components business as well as shift focus from core consumer electronics especially in home products. As Wayne Park, head of LG’s European operations, stated: “We believe that Germany offers the best opportunities for LG going forward. The consumer electronics market is unpredictable and always changing but the commercial, energy and automotive components sectors continue to grow and expand. Germany is strong in all the areas in which we operate today and will be investing significantly more of our resources in the years ahead.”
Furthermore, Germany’s central location offered the best transportation links and infrastructure in the European region, allowing LG’s European personnel to be much closer to the countries they serve. In addition, the close proximity of Eschborn to Frankfurt provides easy opportunities for conferences and faster services for both its employees and customers. The Frankfurt Motor Show is held in Germany every year, and it also is home to luxury sedan brands BMW, Audi, and Volkswagen. LG Electronics and its sister firms, LG Innotek, LG Display and LG Chem, have been supplying auto components such as displays and camera modules to these carmakers. LG Electronics also recently participated in a joint project by Mercedes-Benz and Google to develop autonomous cars.
IBM Watson opens $200 million IoT headquarters in Munich
The increasingly internet-based networking of our personal living and working spaces represents one of, if not the major drivers, of change in the economy and society at large. According to some forecasts, more than 26 billion unit devices will be part of the Internet of Things by 2020, creating incremental revenue in excess of USD 300 billion for Internet of Things (IoT) products and services suppliers. Private and public sector “value at stake” in the “Internet of Everything” is estimated in the double digit trillion dollar range for the period up to 2022.
IBM’s artificial intelligence division Watson is demonstrating its ambition to become a leading tech player in the Internet of Things revolution, with the opening of a $200m IoT global headquarters in Munich. The company is calling it its biggest investment in Europe in more than two decades. John Kelly, senior vice president for cognitive solutions and research at IBM, explained at the opening press conference that Munich was chosen for its central European location and “the great industry that goes on here”. He said: “We don’t just see it as a home, we see it as a living lab. We’re not only building great things here but we’re using this facility itself in all its great wonder as an example of IoT – in sensing and managing what goes on here.”
IBM Watson IoT has also announced a number of high-profile partnerships, one of the biggest being with Visa. The deal hopes to create up to 20 billion new devices for Visa in the next five years by enabling the embedding of payment and commerce tech into any device connected to the internet, highlighting that consumers may soon be able to complete purchases with ‘a ring, an appliance or a car’. Further collaboration will include with Bosch and BMW to explore industrial IoT opportunities and explore ways to create personalized experiences.
Globalfoundries expands its chip manufacturing capacity in Germany
Germany is the beating heart of the European semiconductor industry. The country boasts an unparalleled density of world-leading device manufacturers and suppliers for materials, components, and equipment across the value chain. Despite strong competition from Europe and further afield, German semiconductor companies remain the European leaders in terms of revenue enjoying a turnover of EUR 12,3 billion in 2015, with a forecast turnover of EUR 12,8 billion by 2016. Across Europe, automotive and industrial semiconductors are the segments with the strongest annual growth rates, in which high domestic demand is a key driver.
Investment opportunities are many and varied – covering everything from design and manufacturing to applications. A recent investment comes from GLOBALFOUNDRIES, the world's second-largest contract chip manufacturer, which has announced plans to invest about € 1.5 billion in its Fab 1 facility in Dresden. The company plans to build up 22FDX 22nm FD-SOI capacity in Dresden, to address the growing demand for chips that power everything from graphics processors and networks to smartphones and devices connected to through the Internet of Things. The overall fab capacity is set to increase by 40% by 2020, manufacturing 1 million wafers per year.
Dresden will continue to be the center for Globalfoundries' FDX technology development, said the company, adding that engineers in Dresden are already developing Globalfoundries' next-generation 12FDX technology with customer product tape-outs expected to begin in the middle of 2018.