A Global Computer Chip Shortage Shows Danger of U.S. Production Trends
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- A small and shrinking number of the world’s computer chips are made in the U.S.
President Joe Biden’s executive order calling for a review of supply chains for critical products put a spotlight on the decades-long decline in U.S. semiconductor manufacturing capacity. Semiconductors are the logic and memory chips used in computers, phones, vehicles and appliances. The U.S. share of global semiconductor fabrication is only 12%, down from 37% in 1990, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.
It might not seem important that 88% of the semiconductor chips used by U.S. industries, including the automotive and defense industries, are fabricated outside the U.S. However, three issues make where they are made critical to the U.S. as the global leader in electronics: lower capability, high global demand and limited investment.
The increasing reliance by U.S. chip companies on international partners to fabricate the chips they design reflects the United States’ diminished capability. U.S. semiconductor companies have 47% of the global chip sales market, but only 12% are manufactured in the U.S. Meeting expectations for ever faster and smarter electronics requires chip design innovation, which, in turn, is dependent on the most advanced fabrication technologies available.
Advances in semiconductor fabrication are based on the number of transistors, the smallest of a chip’s electronic components, per square millimeter. The most advanced semiconductor fabrication technologies and facilities, known as fabs, are labeled as 5 nanometers, or millionths of a millimeter. The number refers to the process rather than any particular chip feature. Generally, the smaller the nanometer rating, the more transistors per square millimeter, though it’s a complicated picture with many variables. The highest transistor densities are about 100 million per square millimeter.
March 12, 2021 at 2:53 AM #410104Hobbit709Participant
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All for the sake of increased profit for themselves at the expense of the people.
I don't waste my time teaching pigs to sing.
March 12, 2021 at 4:54 AM #410126
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