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Whether it's comment on a recent story, a slightly irreverent look at the latest news or an expression of complete disbelief, New Electronics' editorial team brings you its views on the latest from the electronics industry, putting these developments into context.

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The return of the ‘A’ word?

Demand for semiconductors from companies in the UK and Ireland has grown by 30% over the past year, according to figures from the International Distribution of Electronics Association, or IDEA, with billings in Q3 of 2017 reaching £167million. And passives showed the same kind of increase in demand.

Could Brexit see design offshored – for good?

Manufacturing offshoring became almost fashionable a decade or so ago as companies looked to cut overheads. But many found that offshoring wasn’t as effective as they anticipated, particularly for those developing low volume, high cost products. Many of those companies who offshored have now brought their manufacturing back closer to home.

Government commits to R&D boost

The UK will see its biggest ever increase in research and development investment and a new fund to transform transport connections within city regions across the country according to the Prime Minister, Theresa May.

Brexit and UK Manufacturing?

Brexit negotiations continue to limp along with the European Parliament just casting their vote that there has been insufficient progress. And, things look a little bleak, with European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker stating that, “We cannot talk about the future without any real clarity.”

Broadcom’s bombshell

The news of a potential mega-merger between chipmaker Broadcom and its US rival Qualcomm continues the trend of consolidation within the electronics industry and its scale could reshape the industry that’s at the core of the mobile phone.

Could printed electronics help plants to talk to us?

The benefits, or otherwise, of talking to plants have been discussed with varying degrees of enthusiasm over the past couple of decades. One of the proponents of the approach is Prince Charles, who has said that not only does he talk to plants, he also ‘instructs them’.

M&A frenzy – in spades

Just when you thought the M&A frenzy of the last couple of years was over, away we go again. What are we to make of Broadcom’s audacious bid to acquire Qualcomm? Quite apart from the scale of the move – Broadcom has offered $130billion – there’s a few technology issues.

What’s in a name?

Another electronics company name which invokes a deal of history is set to disappear as Renesas says Intersil will be known as Renesas Electronics America from the beginning of 2018.

Creating the engineer of 2020

At a time when the education of engineers is being challenged by rapid changes not only in information technology but in the work environment - yesterday's publication of the Made Smarter report into industrial digitisation in the UK is a case in point - news from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, caught the eye.

How many ‘corner case errors’ do human drivers have?

Research conducted in the US has concluded that software for autonomous cars has ‘thousands of unique incorrect corner case behaviours’. The work, conducted by academics from Lehigh and Columbia universities, used a system called DeepXplore, which is said to enable automated white box testing of such systems.

A European laggard

The engineering industry in the UK is predominantly made up of male workers, but how does it stand up to other engineering workforces across Europe?

Hard Brexit

While the current focus of the Brexit discussions is the terms of a transition period, along with Government’s desire to proceed to trade talks, some recent news that slipped out quietly could have a far-reaching impact on UK science.

Report urged to look at the impact of AI

According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) the UK Government should urgently be looking into setting up a commission to assess the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on jobs and UK productivity.

A new chapter in ST’s history?

Reports in the French media suggest that STMicroelectronics is to spend more than $3billion on building two 300mm fabs. If so, it would represent a fairly impressive turn round in the company’s fortunes – and maybe the resolution of a boardroom struggle. So far, the company hasn’t announced the move.

Imagination joins the list of foreign owned companies

Imagination has become the latest so called jewel in the UK’s electronics crown to head into foreign ownership. While Imagination has sold itself to the Chinese backed Canyon Bridge partnership, it has also offloaded its MIPS operation to a US consortium called Tallwood for $65million.

Dyson announces plans to launch EV

Dyson has revealed that it has begun work on an electric vehicle, with a proposed launch date of 2020. According to Sir James Dyson, in an email announcement to Dyson’s staff, there are already 400 people working on the project, which has a budget of $2billion. and Sir James says he is ‘recruiting aggressively’.

Finding its voice

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the UK’s National Measurement Institute, providing the foundation for a whole host of technological advances – whether quantum communications, 5G, Advanced Materials or data. All require reliable measurement if they are to succeed.

Metrology for nanotechnology

Brian McLay, metrology business manager of precision measurement specialist, Starrett, examines how precision metrology will support the rise of nanotechnology.

Right place, right time for Newport's old wafer fab?

Way back in the mists of time, a semiconductor fabrication facility was built near Newport in South Wales. Construction of the fab – designed by fabled architect Richard Rogers – started in 1980 and was completed in 1982. The name on the sign said Inmos.

Are 'interesting times' finally a thing of the past for Toshiba?

It is an understatement to say that Toshiba has experienced ‘interesting times’ over the last few years. Focus turned to the Japanese industrial giant in 2015, when news emerged that it had been ‘tweaking’ its financial statements. In fact, the company had been overstating its profits by $2billion over a period of seven years.

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