Friday, July 6, 2018

Speed matters: July 2018 update

OpenSignal just published an article/post entitled "Explaining the huge gap between fastest and slowest 4G upload speeds in the US."  As readers of this blog will know, I've posted frequently over the years (check these out) on the importance of speed (a.k.a. bandwidth) on the Internet.
The OpenSignal article noted that average 4G upload speed in the U.S. during the period from March 1 to May 29, 2018 ranged from 2.5 Mbps to 7.5 Mbps.  (click on the graphic for a full size version)
This made me curious about the upload and download speeds from my office here in the Incheon Global Campus.  So I did a speed test (click on the graphic for a full size version of the screen capture).
Draw your own conclusions, but I would submit to you once again that "speed matters"!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Korea's dependence on semiconductor exports

The Korea Joongang Daily has published a timely report on semiconductor exports that warns about the dangers of a nation being overly dependent on one product.  Semiconductor exports are expected to exceed $100 billion this year, while total exports are estimated to reach $605 billion. The newspaper article notes that "In a report released on June 22, the Hyundai Research Institute, a private think tank, said Korean exports, while on the rise, has a number of weaknesses including a heavy dependence on one product.
The report pointed out that the proportion of semiconductors to total exports in Korean has risen from 12.6 percent in 2016 to 17.1 percent in 2017 and over 20 percent this year."

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Korea's changing patterns of social media use

As reported by the Korea Joongang Daily, Koreans have decreased their use of Facebook over the past several years, while increasing use of Instagram. (click on the graphic for a full size version)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

North Korea is not Crazy: The U.S.-North Korea Singapore Summit

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has just published two very different videos that provide essential context for understanding the recent summit meeting of President Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong Un.  The first is an interview with University of Chicago history professor Bruce Cumings.   Like me, he first encountered Korea as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer.

North Korea is not crazy from on Vimeo.

The second video was produced for the White House and shown at the summit meeting in Singapore.

"Destiny Pictures" — Singapore Summit video from on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

"Bit growth": Why Samsung and SK Hynix will invest $42 billion in semiconductors

As reported by The Korea Times, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix will invest approximately $42 billion USD to enhance their semiconductor manufacturing facilities, mostly in Korea.  Semiconductors are perhaps THE core technology of the digital network era, and were targeted in the 1981 Long Term Plan to Foster the Electronics Sector in the form of the 4MB DRAM project.  Once Korea competitively entered the global semiconductor market, it never looked back.  Today, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are dominant players in the global market for both DRAM and NAND memory chips, as shown in this 2016 report by McKinsey.  As noted in that report, "Memory bit capacity is determined by two factors: capacity for memory wafers worldwide and the number of bits per wafer."   The industry has adopted the term "bit growth" to describe this phenomenon. 
For me personally, this brings back memories of a graduate seminar taught by Professor Edwin B. Parker at Stanford University in the late 1970s, where he explained Moore's Law in simple terms.   As Ed told us, the cost of storing one bit of information keeps decreasing as the capacity of semiconductors increases.   Today I understand more fully that "bit growth" means exponential increases in the human ability to store, compute and communicate digital information.  This phenomenon is at the heart of the digital revolution and is well understood by Korea's industry, government and academic leaders.  There is risk involved because semiconductors are now a commodity and subject to huge cyclical swings.  However, it appears that Korean leaders may once again be making a prudent investment in the digital future.