AI computing pushes Taiwan's geopolitics-strapped tech sector into party mode.

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Taiwan has a complete set of components and equipment to make these devices, as well as a global recognition that its supply chain will respond to a wide range of consumer demand, from people in the tech sector. in accordance.

“You can see that AI is still on the rise, and AI PC manufacturers are trying to develop,” said James Hsieh, assistant vice president at AcBel Polytech. His firm supplies the power and has a 300-watt model that he believes will best handle the increased power for AI computations such as GPT commands.

“I have to put together some research for marketing, or we're out of date,” he said.

Taiwan's trade data already reflects the growing global popularity of AI-enhanced consumer electronics.

Exports in the first four months of the year rose 10.6 percent from the same period in 2023, the finance ministry in Taipei said. The highest gain in percentage terms was in the high-tech hardware sector.

The ministry had reported monthly losses in export value for most of last year due to a post-pandemic slump in demand for PCs and smartphones.

The island has shipped tech gear to the world for half a century, becoming the go-to place for parts and manufacturing of devices designed in California's Silicon Valley.

Taiwan's first-quarter GDP growth rose a “stronger-than-expected” 6.51 percent, year-on-year, “largely driven by net exports,” ING said in a research note on April 30.

The supply starts with processors including Pro AI, a power-saving type called neural processing units, or NPUs. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, with its cutting-edge technology, takes orders for processors that are often designed by American companies such as Intel.

“Semiconductor manufacturers such as TSMC are certainly the main suppliers of advanced chips used in AI PCs,” said Sanisha Huang, an analyst at Taipei-based market research firm TrendForce.

Developers of cooling systems, power supplies, connectors and chassis for mainframe computers said this week that they are studying how to adapt AI-enhanced PCs.

More power will be needed, AcBel's Hsieh explained – NPUs will have to be cooled, memory will have to be added, and the chassis may need a redesign to accommodate the changes inside.


William Lai sworn in as Taiwan's new leader amid vow to maintain status quo across the strait

William Lai sworn in as Taiwan's new leader amid vow to maintain status quo across the strait

Manufacturing of hardware components such as motherboards, graphics cards and memory modules is one of them. [Taiwan’s strengths]as well as has extensive capabilities in assembling and manufacturing electronic devices,” Huang said.

AI PC excitement dominated this month's annual Computex Taipei trade show. A sea of ​​heads turned at product demonstrations held by Taiwanese PC developers Acer, Asustek and MSI, which said their devices should reach mass markets between late June and the end of the year. will

Show demos feature PC keys that launch GPT programs in a single stroke and software that creates snapshot-like images based on user commands. Some machines have added augmented reality features or extended battery life of up to 18 hours.

A June 2 speech by Nvidia's Taiwan-born CEO Jensen Huang, followed by an autograph signing frenzy on Tuesday, lent further credibility to the technology and contributed to what many of the 1,500 exhibitors will see. said a larger than usual crowd. The show's organizer expected 50,000 attendees.

Nvidia, the designer of graphics processing units, will use its architecture to build “AI factories” for creative AI breakthroughs, Huang said.

Microsoft, which has released Copilot+ software for AI PCs, expects 50 million of these units to be purchased by May 2025. Against that target, Taiwanese suppliers will be “running the scales,” said Mario Morales, the group's vice president. Semiconductor research with US-based market analysis firm IDC.

Right now, with the AI ​​topic, I have a very high confidence level. [PC] The demand will increase for the next few years

Jerry Kao, Acer COO

Acer, ranked as the fifth-largest PC vendor worldwide by market share, expects its Swift 14 AI laptop to ship with Copilot+ this month or next, Chief Operating Officer Jerry Kao said. Will be launched together.

“There were questions about the future of the PC after Covid-19,” Kao said on the sidelines of Computex. “Right now, with the AI ​​topic, I have a very high level of confidence that it will be in high demand for the next few years.”

A staff of 70 at Guangxing Industrial is studying how to keep AI processors cool in supercomputers built for data centers, manager Gary Sue said. “AI needs a refrigerator,” he quipped at his Computex display — one of dozens run by small Taiwanese hardware firms that have been around for decades.

Angela Huang, an analyst at the Taipei-based Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute, said battery cells, which come primarily from Japanese manufacturers, are about the only component that Taiwan's supply chain finds difficult to source.

Taiwan's tech sector is still facing pressure from geopolitical changes that began with former US President Donald Trump. Trade war with China In 2018.

U.S. laws bar Taiwanese firms that sell sensitive high-tech gear such as advanced chips to U.S. consumers from doing so in mainland China, and manufacturers such as TSMC have diversified factories away from Taiwan to the mainland. It is against the concept of co-conflict. Make these parts difficult to reach foreign customers.

“We're very sensitive to any of these geopolitical issues,” said Albert Liu, CEO of Kneron, whose firm designs AI chips that save electricity. “It's even harder than AI.”

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