Semiconductor technology

I have four stocks in this category; three I’m pretty happy with, one is a “meh”.

Intel is my current favorite, ticker symbol INTC. One of the pieces of advice I had gotten was “find the clear leader in an industry, buy that, and hold on”. Intel seems to me, to clearly be the leader in semiconductor fabrication technology. I bought it at $24 per share, and it is currently at $47.

I do like that Intel pays a dividend.

Another thing that I liked about Intel is that they had a partnership with Micron, on a type of memory they named “Optane”. I know that everything in computer technology is about the pipeline of storage into the registers of the CPU. If we could make the CPU have enough storage, and, we wouldn’t need external storage, and everything would be going at the full speed of the CPU.

But that isn’t physically possible, if only because once in a while, the power goes out. CPUs use Dynamic RAM (it is the registers the CPU manipulates, and on-board memory called L1 cache). Dynamic RAM is dynamically refreshed with electrical power. When the power drains out, so does the data. Some sort of storage is needed, that doesn’t lose it’s data when the power is off. Since the 1950’s, the “storage” has been external to the CPU, and is orders of magnitude slower than the CPU itself.

I think the Optane idea could (potentially) flip computing on it’s head: the memory becomes so fast, that the pipeline of storage into the registers (and back), can be made direct. Or put another way, the CPU could run at the speed of memory – which is the storage. What if the external storage was the same speed (not orders of magnitude slower) as the CPU? What if the RAM was the disk? What if every register retrieve and store were permanent?*

Now really, even Optane memory does not run at the 2.x or 3.5 GHz of a CPU. Most Dynamic RAM access is in the 1.2 GHz range. So most modern computers spend a lot of hardware design on fetching data from the comparatively slow RAM, keeping as much of it on the CPU chip as possible, and then dealing with cache misses, and branch prediction misses, and all sorts of work to keep things in sync when the whole scheme isn’t perfect.

But what if 1.2 GHz was fast enough? Could it be fast enough, if there was no difference between RAM and storage? If the RAM addresses were the storage addresses?

Optane memory is essentially the next wave of solid state disk; and has capacities of same. How does the game change, when your 2 Terabyte Optane storage means that really, you have 2 TB of RAM? In six years, it will be 16 TB of RAM; eight years = 32 TB, ten years = 64 (if not 128) TB of RAM.

I expect that ten years from now, the Optane memory will have CPU electronics on the Optane chips, and the computing will be done on the memory chips. It’s a lot of work to ship bits off chip to a CPU, have the CPU alter them, and then ship those bits back, across the backplane, to end up back on the storage chips. It’s time consuming, too.

This is what I mean by turning computing on it’s head.

Anyway, it’s probably obvious that I’m a fan, so I like both Intel and Micron Technology – ticker symbol MU. I bought MU at about the same price as it is today. However, six months ago, it was double what it is today. I should have sold 1/2 my position then, and made a note somewhere that what was left is now free money.

*Not “forever” permanent, but from the point of view that “if the power goes out, we don’t care, because the data has already been written to storage”.

Cancer immunotherapy / Biotechnology

I currently have two stocks in these categories; one is doing well, and the other, very poorly.

The poor one is Advaxis ticker symbol ADXS. I bought ADXS at $4.82, and today it is at $0.22. That’s right: I’ve lost 95%.


So, having lost so much, is there really much of a reason to liquidate at such a loss? The original idea was that Advaxis had, through research, found some evidence they could use the immune system to fight certain cancers. I don’t think the company is just going to give up. Immunotherapy is working for other cancers. But the problem is that the company could run out of cash before they have a product they can market. But if they keep plugging away, they might finally be able to publish that breakthrough. And then, they should be able to get a good price for their technology.

My other stock is CRISPR Therapeutics AG – ticker symbol CRSP. I bought CRISPR Therapeutics at $20 per share, and today it is at $31.

At one point, six months ago, it was at $70 per share. I should have sold 30% of my shares, and been on a free ride since then. 😉

But really, I still think the technology is good. So I’m not going to lament not-having-cashed-in. Long term, I think I’ll be happy that I still have all my shares.

One of the things though, with this blog, is that if I do get to point of cashing out the purchase price of a stock, I can record that here. In the past, I had cashed out the purchase price of a stock, but then later sold everything when it continued to drop (in the short term). I couldn’t tell, from the view of my holdings that my stock broker gives me, that I was already riding on free money. So I sold. And then the price jumped way up, more than 8x what I bought in for.

Stock market investing ideas

I figure that since this is a place I can record longer term ideas, and, that ideas I have regarding stock market investing don’t really have a good home, I can put them here.

Now really, I’m a fan of putting my notes about data near the data. So what I would really like, is inside my stock market portfolio management web page, that the vendor provide me with a small text field that I can update with a short note. But I don’t have that, so elsewhere, the information will have to reside.

On to the ideas:

  • 5G cellular towers
  • Neodymium miners (or processors)
  • Cancer immunotherapy / Biotechnology
  • Semiconductor technology
  • Surveillance technology

5G cellular

I think this technology has a huge growth potential. One of the trade-offs though, is that higher frequencies are required for higher bandwidth. Higher frequencies emit more power; but, electromagnetic power drops off with the cube of the distance (I think – it could be that the power drops off with the square of the distance). The upshot is that if the two antennas (sender and receiver) are going to be heard at the higher frequencies, they will need to be located closer together in physical space. So today, “good coverage” has one tower around three miles from the next tower (4G cellular).

With 5G cellular, the distance between towers will be 250 meters / 820 feet / .15 miles. The growth in towers (“base stations”) is going to go exponential (at least during the startup phase).

Perhaps it would be smarter to buy stock in the companies that make the transceivers (chips or whole power+chips+antenna). Problem is, I don’t know who these companies are.

But I like the idea of rent; that American Tower can make the initial investments, and the recoup their cost over the next nnn years. When I first heard of AMT, it was around $140 per share; today it’s at $168.

Ticketmaster is a bane to artists

Three of my friends and I wanted to go to a concert in March of 2019.  Several of the artists are favorites.  The least expensive seats were $31 per seat.

Ticketmaster wants a $30 surcharge, plus two other surcharges, for a total of $36 in surcharges.

For some strange reason, the four of us are not going to the concert.

But we customers don’t really have the power here; it’s the artists who need to boycott the locations that have onerous contracts with Ticketmaster.