The Youths Have Spoken: Wallets Are Uncool. Go Digital.

Derek Abella
Derek Abella
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The Youths Have Spoken: Wallets Are Uncool. Go Digital.

Derek Abella
Derek Abella

By Brian X. Chen and Yiwen Lu

To a growing number of youths, a wallet stuffed with cash and cards is as unfashionable as the millennial tuck, no-show socks and skinny jeans. Carrying only a smartphone is the way. Iykyk — that’s “if you know, you know,” for those who don’t know.

I, Brian Chen, a graying 39-year-old tech columnist, am not one of those in the know. It’s unfathomable to me to part with my wallet, which holds crucial items like my driver’s license. So in an effort to be hip again, I recruited my 23-year-old colleague Yiwen Lu to ask the young ones how they live like this, and then I took the jump myself.

In ditching my physical wallet, I am joining youths like Ruby Hegab, a 19-year-old student in Fremont, Calif. As soon as she got her first credit card last year, she said, she went all-in on using her iPhone to pay for groceries, parking meters and restaurant meals, and for carrying insurance cards.

“If a store doesn’t accept Tap to Pay, I won’t give them business,” Ms. Hegab said. But that rarely happens, because the overwhelming majority of merchants she visits, including big box retailers and mom-and-pop shops, now accept some form of mobile payment from services like Apple Pay and Venmo.

In a survey asking just over 2,500 Americans about digital payments, some 80 percent of Gen Z respondents said they were using mobile wallets, and among them, half were eager to use their phones for much more than paying for things, according to recent data from Pymnts Intelligence, a research firm that studies commerce.

Younger people are increasingly using their phones for purposes that older adults would use a traditional wallet for, like carrying documents such as a driver’s license, boarding passes and event tickets. Some of these digital items can be added into the Apple and Google wallet apps, while others, like insurance cards, can be downloaded through third-party apps.

The shift in behavior is a reflection of how far mobile wallets have come. About a decade ago, when I covered emerging mobile payment apps, most people shrugged at the technology because tapping a phone on a scanner was no more convenient than swiping a credit card. In recent years, amid a global pandemic that drove people toward contact-free payments, Apple and Google expanded their software to support digitized driver’s licenses and transit cards, a perfect storm that made mobile wallets more useful.

Braving it without a wallet for a week, I used only my phone to do my shopping; go to bars, out for dinner and to the movies; and even buy crab from a fisherman’s boat. The phone sufficed in almost all those situations, though paying for dinner was more complicated and using a digital driver’s license to buy wine at a grocery store was a nonstarter.

If you’re hoping to ditch your wallet or simply want to cut down on some bulk in your pocket, here’s what you need to know.

Payments

In many stores, Android and iPhone users can use Google Pay and Apple Pay by tapping their phones on readers next to the cash register. Many small businesses such as food trucks accept payments through third-party apps like Venmo, which let you scan a bar code to send money.

Yet there is inherent risk when you rely fully on a mobile wallet. Abi Hoyer, 21, in Punta Gorda, Fla., said she didn’t carry a wallet for safety reasons: In the event of a mugging, a thief would get only her phone. Still, thieves could potentially make payments and drain money from your account if they coerced you into sharing your passcode.

That’s why it’s important for iPhone users to activate a new safety feature in settings called Stolen Device Protection, which prevents passcode access to data such as passwords and stored credit cards when the device is in an unfamiliar location. And Android users should be aware of the steps to lock and purge data from the device in the event of theft.

In addition, not all businesses take mobile payments. Ms. Hoyer learned this the hard way at Walmart when she discovered she was unable to pay for her items and didn’t have her full credit card number to sign up for the store’s wallet, Walmart Pay. One workaround: Password manager apps like 1Password and Bitwarden can safely store sensitive data including credit card numbers in case you need to look them up.

Jillian Gillespie, 27, in Chicago, switched to Apple Pay after losing her wallet over a year ago, she said. This works out fine for fast-casual restaurants where you pay at the counter, but at sit-down restaurants where waiters drop off a bill and expect to run a credit card, she occasionally has to rely on friends to pay. In those cases, she typically uses Venmo to reimburse her friends.

“I don’t really carry my wallet around with me, which sometimes can bite me in the butt,” Ms. Gillespie said.

I ran into similar snags. Out of three restaurants, only one brought a reader for me to tap my phone to pay, while the others asked for a credit card, which required my wife to pay.

Insurance cards and other documents

Digital scans or photos of important documents like health insurance and car insurance cards are now broadly accepted as substitutes for the real thing. Some insurance providers, like State Farm, Aetna and Anthem, make their digital cards available through their apps, which can be added to your mobile wallet. Not all insurance cards work this way, though, and it can be a hassle to find those cards at a moment’s notice — you don’t want to be stuck sifting through photos or finding the right app to load your insurance card after a car crash, for instance.

I found that the simplest method to make insurance cards easy to look up is to attach images of all of them to one digital note stored on your phone. On iPhones, you open your photo of the insurance card, tap the button in the lower left corner and select the Notes app to save the image to a new note. Then rename the note “Insurance Cards.”

Similarly, Android users can use the Google Keep note-taking app. In Keep, at the bottom tap “add image.” Then pick the photo of your insurance card and label the note.

Other types of cards and documents, like my Clipper card for public transit, movie tickets and gift cards, were all simple enough to digitize: Tapping the Add to Apple Wallet button loaded them inside my Apple wallet app.

Identification

Digitized versions of driver’s licenses are still relatively new and being tested in various states, including California, Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland and Utah. This is where the mobile wallet falls short.

Here in California, for example, you sign up for the digital driver’s license through the California Department of Motor Vehicles app. The app generates a temporary bar code that can be scanned to verify your age and identity. Airports in some states now display signs stating that they will accept the digital ID from those who have signed up for the Transportation Security Agency’s PreCheck program — but many states have yet to participate in this experiment, which makes it impractical to leave your driver’s license at home.

The digital ID is also not yet an acceptable substitute for a physical driver’s license. The California D.M.V. says law enforcement officers cannot accept the mobile driver’s license if you are pulled over, and Arizona’s Motor Vehicle Division says people are still required to carry a physical ID.

In the event of an emergency, a person may also have trouble identifying you. Apple’s Medical ID and Google’s Personal Safety features can be set up to show people your name, age and emergency contacts by pressing a shortcut on the phone — but emergency medical workers would have to know how to use the feature.

So it’s best to continue carrying a physical ID. To do that without carrying a wallet, you could do what some younger people do and sandwich the ID between your phone and phone case. I found that to be an imperfect solution because the card elevates the phone closer to the edges of the case, which makes the screen more susceptible to damage when it’s dropped.

After a week, I settled on what I felt was the best solution: a magnetic wallet that attaches to the back of my phone and carries only two cards — my ID and one credit card.

That felt like cheating. But Ms. Hegab, the 19-year-old, admits that she uses a similar card holder for carrying only her driver’s license.

As soon as digital driver’s licenses work everywhere, she said, she’ll be getting rid of it.

The New York Times



Huawei Teases Launch of New Smartphone, High-End Model Anticipated

A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
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Huawei Teases Launch of New Smartphone, High-End Model Anticipated

A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)
A logo for Huawei is seen during the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Europe hosted by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) in Paris, France, March 20, 2024. (Reuters)

Chinese tech giant Huawei has started allowing customers to register their interest in an upcoming smartphone model it has yet to describe, stoking anticipation that the latest version of its high-end P series phones is on its way.

The company jumped back into the premium smartphone market last year with its Mate 60 series, a launch celebrated by state media as a triumph over US sanctions on the firm. The launch has also been blamed for a steep decline in Apple's iPhone sales in China.

Speculation has built up in recent months that Huawei will soon launch the P70, which is expected to, like the Mate 60, contain an advanced China-made chip.

Huawei's P series has advanced cameras and is known for its sleek design, while the Mate series, also high-end, emphasizes performance and business features.

A Thursday product launch for a smart car model and laptop did not mention phones, disappointing legions of fans who complained online. But on Friday, checks made by Reuters at three Huawei stores in Beijing found that interested buyers could register to receive information about a phone without making a deposit.

Registered customers will be notified about the phone's specs and colors in due course, sales staff said.

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Mate 60, notably launched during a trip by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to China, did not involve any prior advertising or disclosure of specifications, prompting some users and companies to tear down the phones as they sought to work out its capabilities.

"Huawei kills two birds with one stone," Will Wong, an analyst with research firm IDC, said of this tactic. He noted that the firm could maintain a lower profile amid US-Sino trade tensions while generating an air of mystery and excitement over the launches.

Archie Zhang, a smartphone analyst at Counterpoint Research, noted that the availability of stock has been a significant constraint for the Mate 60 and would likely be so for the P70 as well.

Huawei has had to slow production for Mate 60 phones due to production constraints and the need to prioritize manufacturing of artificial intelligence chips, sources have said.


Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
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Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File

Elon Musk revealed Friday that Tesla will pull back the curtain on a robotaxi this summer, news that comes as adoption of self-driving vehicles hits speed bumps over safety concerns.
The billionaire boss of the electric car maker did not provide details, saying only in his post on X that the "Tesla Robotaxi unveil" will come on August 8.
Tesla shares rose more than three percent in after-market trades following the post, after finishing the day down, AFP said.
Musk has long boasted of work Tesla is doing on its systems for electric cars to drive themselves.
Tesla models with FSD (Full Self-Driving) "will be superhuman to such a degree that it will seem strange in the future that humans drove cars, even while exhausted and drunk!" he said in a post on X in March.
Musk has also said that owners of Tesla vehicles with FSD will be able to have their cars serve as robotaxis, rather than remain idly parked.
Despite its potential, rollout of self-driving vehicles in the United States has been tentative and rocky so far as both regulators and the public voice safety concerns.
San Francisco has been a testing ground for the technology.
Robotaxis from Google's Waymo in the city have been targeted by vandals opposed to autonomous vehicles, while GM-owned Cruise indefinitely suspended its robotaxi service at the end of October after several accidents sparked a crackdown by California regulators.
Tesla's "autopilot" feature has also come under scrutiny, facing accusations the marketing of the feature oversold its actual capabilities.
Tesla's robotaxi reveal came on the heels of a Reuters report that the company had abandoned Musk's long-touted plan to manufacture an electric car model selling close to $25,000 to drive adoption in the mass market.
Musk fired off a post denying the report.
Tesla this week reported sharply lower first-quarter auto sales amid an underwhelming demand outlook for electric vehicles, while legacy players including Toyota rode improved US inventories to higher sales.
Musk's auto giant reported global deliveries fell 8.5 percent in the quarter, reflecting in part a weak sales market in China, where it faces heavy competition from local electric vehicle makers.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the quarterly results "an unmitigated disaster."


Bumpy Ride for Electric Cars in Europe

Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
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Bumpy Ride for Electric Cars in Europe

Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Sales of plug-in 'zero emission' vehicles have stalled in Europe. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File

Electric cars are a key part of Europe's green transition plans but the road ahead remains littered with obstacles with 10 years to go before a crucial milestone.
Despite the fact that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the European Union as of 2035, sales of plug-in "zero emission" vehicles have stalled in the region in recent months, AFP said.
The market share for electric cars has shrunk from 14.16 percent last year to 12 percent or less since the start of this year, a drop attributed mainly to Germany's decision to abruptly halt subsidies for electric car purchases on Europe's biggest market at the end of 2023.
Sigrid de Vries, director general of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), expressed "concern".
Fewer than 30 percent of Europeans say they plan to buy an electric vehicle (EV), according to the ACEA, and more than half refuse to pay more than 35,000 euros ($37,750) for a car, a price level offering few EVs.
The "2035 deadline... is really just around the corner, especially when you talk production cycles," de Vries told an EV conference last week in Lillestrom, Norway.
"We need to go from 15 percent (zero-emission cars) to 100 percent in about just around 10 years," she said.
At the end of 2023, EVs passed the "tipping point" of five percent -- considered the point of mass adoption -- in 31 countries around the world, according to the Bloomberg news agency.
But only two-thirds of the EU's 27 member states have surpassed this level.
Cars are Europeans' primary mode of transport, and account for 15 percent of Europe's CO2 emissions.
Making vehicles emissions-free is therefore essential if the EU wants to meet its climate commitments.
Norway, a non-EU member -- and also a major oil and gas producer -- is a leader in EV adoption.
Led by Tesla, electric vehicles accounted for 90 percent of new car registrations in Norway in the first quarter thanks to generous tax incentives.
The country aims to reach the 100 percent mark by 2025.
Carmakers like Volkswagen and Volvo have already ended sales of their combustion models in Norway.
See-sawing sales
Elsewhere, the industry's electrification is largely sluggish.
Britain has pushed back by five years its ban on the sale of new combustion cars, now expected in 2035, and many see this target as unrealistic to reach in Europe.
But Nissan, one of the first traditional carmakers to roll out a plug-in with its Leaf model, says sales that yo-yo are not a concern.
"It see-saws and it will always be like that," Guillaume Pelletreau, Nissan's vice president of electrification and connected services, told AFP.
"There was a really strong start to the wave of electrification in the past two years and now we are starting to normalize the process a bit," he said.
"We see nonetheless a clear upwards trend."
Volkswagen, Stellantis and Renault plan to introduce new, less expensive electric models in coming months, but they are also relying on their hybrid models to boost sales.
One of the main hurdles cited by industry experts is the difficulty to roll out the necessary EV infrastructure quickly and broadly.
More than half of the EU's charging stations are found in just two countries: Germany and the Netherlands, according to the ACEA.
In Spain for example, where people replace their cars only every 14 years on average, 65 percent of owners park them in the street, making charging a challenge, said Isabel Gorgoso, head of "new mobility" at energy group Cepsa.
"If you think about Norway 10 years ago, then you have Spain now," she said.
Other obstacles cited are the heaps of EU regulations for carmakers -- up to nine new ones per year -- and ever-changing national policies, which could be exacerbated further by rising support for Europe's populist movements, which are generally climate-skeptic.
"With high-stake European elections around the corner, what happens in the next few months could really determine the fate of Europe's vehicle industry," de Vries said.


US and Japan Announce Joint Partnership to Accelerate Nuclear Fusion

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
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US and Japan Announce Joint Partnership to Accelerate Nuclear Fusion

US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listen to translation during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, US, April 10, 2024. (Reuters)

The United States and Japan announced a joint partnership to accelerate development and commercialization of nuclear fusion, the US Department of Energy said on Wednesday.

The partnership was announced as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was in Washington for a summit with President Joe Biden.

US Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk and the Japan Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology Masahito Moriyama, met in Washington on Tuesday to discuss fusion.

The partnership is intended to focus on addressing scientific and technical challenges of delivering commercially viable fusion.

Scientists, governments, and companies have been trying for decades to harness fusion, the nuclear reaction that powers the sun, to provide carbon-free electricity. It can be replicated on Earth with heat and pressure using lasers or magnets to fuse two light atoms into a denser one, releasing large amounts of energy.

Unlike plants that run on fission, or splitting atoms, commercial fusion plants, if ever built, would produce little long-lasting radioactive waste.

The two countries will also agree to support sustainable aviation fuel in a statement from the summit, two sources with knowledge of the talks between the countries said.


Top Games Including ‘World of Warcraft’ to Return to China

This photo taken on January 26, 2024 shows people playing computer games at an internet cafe in Beijing. (AFP)
This photo taken on January 26, 2024 shows people playing computer games at an internet cafe in Beijing. (AFP)
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Top Games Including ‘World of Warcraft’ to Return to China

This photo taken on January 26, 2024 shows people playing computer games at an internet cafe in Beijing. (AFP)
This photo taken on January 26, 2024 shows people playing computer games at an internet cafe in Beijing. (AFP)

"World of Warcraft" is returning to China this summer, its developer and local partner said Wednesday, more than a year after dismayed fans saw the hugely popular video game and other titles pulled from the market in a contract dispute.

US-based game-maker Blizzard and China's NetEase said a new deal would see "World of Warcraft" (WoW) return alongside first-person shooter "Overwatch" and spin-offs such as WoW card game "Hearthstone".

"Beloved video game titles from Blizzard Entertainment that captivated millions of players in China will return to the market sequentially, beginning this summer, under a renewed publishing deal," the companies said in a statement.

WoW's Chinese servers went offline in January 2023, prompting a wave of mourning and anger from fans who poured years of their lives into building up their in-game points.

Chinese social media users on Wednesday cheered the return of Blizzard's titles to the market, with "Blizzard announces return" and "NetEase and Blizzard remarry" the top trending searches on the Weibo platform.

"Today, our long-lost old friend returns, our most beloved game returns," gaming blogger "Scarlet Bunny" wrote in a Weibo post.

"Come back to life, my beloved!" another fan wrote.

'Thrilled to align'

Massively popular worldwide, particularly in the 2000s, WoW is an online multiplayer role-playing game set in a fantasy Medieval world where good battles evil.

It is known for its immersive and addictive gameplay, and players can rack up hundreds of hours of game time.

Blizzard's games launched in China in 2008, through collaboration with internet giant NetEase -- under local law, foreign developers are required to partner with Chinese firms to enter the market.

But after 14 years and acquiring millions of players in China, the two firms announced in November 2022 that talks over renewing their operating contract had failed to lead to an agreement.

"After continuing discussions over the past year, both Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase are thrilled to align on a path forward to once again support players in mainland China and are proud to reaffirm their commitment to delivering exceptional gaming experiences," the companies said in their statement.

Some long-time WoW players remained bitter about the title's extended absence from China.

"The Chinese market is not Blizzard's living room where you come and leave as you want. Players are not playthings in Blizzard's hands that you take or abandon at will," one gamer wrote on Weibo, calling for a boycott.

Difficult years

The news will be a welcome boost for NetEase, which like many of the country's tech giants has had a rough few years after a government crackdown on the industry.

Since 2021, children under 18 years old have only been allowed to play online between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the school term.

Gamers are required to use their ID cards when registering to play online to ensure minors do not lie about their age.

Companies are also prohibited from offering gaming services to young people outside government-mandated hours.

An end to a freeze in gaming licenses had raised hopes that the focus on the industry had subsided.

But then in December a set of draft guidelines aimed at limiting in-game purchases and preventing obsessive gaming behavior sent shares in NetEase and its rivals tumbling.

Authorities backtracked a day later, announcing that the rules would be further revised, though it did not give details.

The draft rules were later removed from the regulator's website.


Report: Apple's India iPhone Output Hits $14 Bln

FILE PHOTO: Employee buses enter the Pegatron facility near Chennai, India, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Praveen Paramasivam/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Employee buses enter the Pegatron facility near Chennai, India, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Praveen Paramasivam/File Photo
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Report: Apple's India iPhone Output Hits $14 Bln

FILE PHOTO: Employee buses enter the Pegatron facility near Chennai, India, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Praveen Paramasivam/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Employee buses enter the Pegatron facility near Chennai, India, March 7, 2023. REUTERS/Praveen Paramasivam/File Photo

Apple Inc has assembled $14 billion worth of iPhones in India in fiscal 2024, Bloomberg News reported on Wednesday.
Apple now makes as much as 14% or about 1 in 7 of its marquee devices from India, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.
Foxconn assembled nearly 67% while Pegatron Corp made about 17% of the India-made iPhones, the Bloomberg report added. Wistron Corp's plant in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, which the Tata Group took over last year, made the remaining.
Apple did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Apple is increasingly looking to diversify its supply chain beyond China amid geopolitical tensions between Beijing and Washington, even as China remains the largest iPhone-making hub in the world.
Reuters reported on Monday that Pegatron is in advanced talks to hand over control of its only iPhone manufacturing facility, located near Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, to the Tata Group.
The Indian consumer goods conglomerate is also building another plant in Hosur in Tamil Nadu, with Pegatron likely to emerge as its joint venture partner.


Intel Reveals Details of New AI Chip to Fight Nvidia Dominance

The Intel logo is displayed on computer screens at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, US July 31, 2017. (Reuters)
The Intel logo is displayed on computer screens at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, US July 31, 2017. (Reuters)
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Intel Reveals Details of New AI Chip to Fight Nvidia Dominance

The Intel logo is displayed on computer screens at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, US July 31, 2017. (Reuters)
The Intel logo is displayed on computer screens at SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles, California, US July 31, 2017. (Reuters)

Intel detailed a new version of its artificial intelligence chip at its Vision event on Tuesday that takes aim at Nvidia's dominance in semiconductors that power AI.

Tech companies are hunting for an alternative source of the scarce chips that are needed for AI. Intel said that its new Gaudi 3 chip was capable of training a specific large language models 50% more quickly than Nvidia's prior generation H100 processor. It is also capable of computing generative AI responses, a process called inference, more quickly than the H100 chips for some of the models Intel tested.

"Our customers, first and foremost, are asking for choice in the industry," said Intel vice president, strategy and product management Jeni Barovian. "They are coming to us and they are expecting that Intel, as a computing leader, will follow the wave of (generative AI) and deliver solutions that meet their needs. And they are looking for an open approach."

Intel and Advanced Micro Devices have struggled to produce a compelling bundle of chips and the software necessary to build AI applications that can become a viable alternative to Nvidia. Nvidia controlled roughly 83% of the data center chip market in 2023, with a majority of the remaining 17% share held by Google's custom tensor processing units (TPUs) that it does not sell directly.

Intel used Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co's 5nm process to build the chips. Gaudi 3 includes two main processor chips fused together, and is more than twice as fast as its predecessor. The chip is designed to be strung together with thousands of others and when done so can generate an enormous amount of computer power.

The Gaudi 3 chip will be available to server builders such as Supermicro and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in the second quarter of this year.

The next generation of Gaudi chips will be code named Falcon Shores.


South Korea to Invest $7 Bln in AI in Bid to Retain Edge in Chips 

Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. (Reuters)
Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. (Reuters)
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South Korea to Invest $7 Bln in AI in Bid to Retain Edge in Chips 

Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. (Reuters)
Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words "Artificial Intelligence AI" in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. (Reuters)

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Tuesday his country will invest 9.4 trillion won ($6.94 billion) in artificial intelligence by 2027 as part of efforts to retain a leading global position in cutting-edge semiconductor chips.

The announcement, which also includes a separate 1.4 trillion won fund to foster AI semiconductor firms, comes as South Korea tries to keep abreast with countries like the United States, China and Japan that are also giving massive policy support to strengthen semiconductor supply chains on their own turf.

Semiconductors are a key foundation of South Korea's export-driven economy. In March, chip exports reached their highest in 21 months at $11.7 billion, or nearly a fifth of total exports shipped by Asia's fourth-largest economy.

"Current competition in semiconductors is an industrial war and an all-out war between nations," Yoon told a meeting of policymakers and chip industry executives on Tuesday.

By earmarking investments and a fund, South Korea plans to significantly expand research and development in AI chips such as artificial neural processing units (NPUs) and next-generation high-bandwidth memory chips, the government said in a statement.

South Korean authorities will also promote the development of next-generation artificial general intelligence (AGI) and safety technologies that go beyond existing models.

Yoon has set a target for South Korea to become one of the top three countries in AI technology including chips, and take a 10% or more share of the global system semiconductor market by 2030.

"Just as we have dominated the world with memory chips for the past 30 years, we will write a new semiconductor myth with AI chips in the next 30 years," Yoon said.

Yoon also noted that the impact of the recent earthquake in Taiwan, a global leader in semiconductors, on South Korean companies was limited as of now, but ordered thorough preparation in the event of uncertainties.


China Central Bank to Set Up $70 Bln Tech Re-lending Program

People sit around near a display showing a cartoon depiction of a Panda at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
People sit around near a display showing a cartoon depiction of a Panda at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
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China Central Bank to Set Up $70 Bln Tech Re-lending Program

People sit around near a display showing a cartoon depiction of a Panda at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
People sit around near a display showing a cartoon depiction of a Panda at a shopping mall in Beijing, China, Friday, April 5, 2024. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

China's central bank will set up a 500 billion yuan ($70 billion) re-lending program to support the country's science and technology sectors, according to a statement released on Sunday.

The program will offer loans via 21 banks to small and midsize technology companies at an interest rate of 1.75%, Reuters reported.

The one-year loans can be extended twice, for up to a year each time, the statement said.

China's policymakers look to boost liquidity and increase confidence in the world's second-biggest economy amid headwinds from a property crisis and frictions with major trading partners.


Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
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Elon Musk Says Tesla Will Unveil Robotaxi in August

Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File
Elon Musk says Tesla will unveil its robotaxis on August 8, 2024. Patrick T. Fallon / AFP/File

Elon Musk revealed Friday that Tesla will pull back the curtain on a robotaxi this summer, news that comes as adoption of self-driving vehicles hits speed bumps over safety concerns.
The billionaire boss of the electric car maker did not provide details, saying only in his post on X that the "Tesla Robotaxi unveil" will come on August 8.
Tesla shares rose more than three percent in after-market trades following the post, after finishing the day down, AFP said.
Musk has long boasted of work Tesla is doing on its systems for electric cars to drive themselves.
Tesla models with FSD (Full Self-Driving) "will be superhuman to such a degree that it will seem strange in the future that humans drove cars, even while exhausted and drunk!" he said in a post on X in March.
Musk has also said that owners of Tesla vehicles with FSD will be able to have their cars serve as robotaxis, rather than remain idly parked.
Despite its potential, rollout of self-driving vehicles in the United States has been tentative and rocky so far as both regulators and the public voice safety concerns.
San Francisco has been a testing ground for the technology.
Robotaxis from Google's Waymo in the city have been targeted by vandals opposed to autonomous vehicles, while GM-owned Cruise indefinitely suspended its robotaxi service at the end of October after several accidents sparked a crackdown by California regulators.
Tesla's "autopilot" feature has also come under scrutiny, facing accusations the marketing of the feature oversold its actual capabilities.
Tesla's robotaxi reveal came on the heels of a Reuters report that the company had abandoned Musk's long-touted plan to manufacture an electric car model selling close to $25,000 to drive adoption in the mass market.
Musk fired off a post denying the report.
Tesla this week reported sharply lower first-quarter auto sales amid an underwhelming demand outlook for electric vehicles, while legacy players including Toyota rode improved US inventories to higher sales.
Musk's auto giant reported global deliveries fell 8.5 percent in the quarter, reflecting in part a weak sales market in China, where it faces heavy competition from local electric vehicle makers.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the quarterly results "an unmitigated disaster."