The Chip Titan Whose Life’s Work Is at the Center of a Tech Cold War

In a wood-paneled office overlooking Taipei and the jungle-covered mountains that surround the Taiwanese capital, Morris Chang recently pulled out an old book stamped with technicolor patterns.

It was titled “Introduction to VLSI Systems,” a graduate-level textbook describing the intricacies of computer chip design. Mr. Chang, 92, held it up with reverence.

“I want to show you the date of this book, 1980,” he said. The timing was important, he added, as it was “the earliest piece” in a puzzle that came together for him — altering not only his career but also the course of the global electronics industry.

The insight that Mr. Chang gained from the textbook was deceptively simple: the idea that microchips, which act as the brains of computers, could be designed in one place but manufactured somewhere else. The notion went against the semiconductor industry’s standard practice at the time.

So at the age of 54, when many people begin thinking more about retirement, Mr. Chang instead put himself on a path to turn his insight into a reality. The engineer left his adopted country, the United States, and moved to Taiwan where he founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC. The company does not design chips, but it has become the world’s biggest manufacturer of cutting-edge microprocessors for customers including Apple and Nvidia.

Today, the company that partially exists because of a textbook is a $500 billion juggernaut that has put the most advanced chips in iPhones, cars, supercomputers and fighter jets. So critical are its airplane-hangar-size chip factories, called fabs, that the United States, Japan and Europe have courted TSMC to build them in their neck of the woods. Over the past decade, China has also invested hundreds of billions of dollars to recreate what TSMC has done.

Mr. Chang’s unlikely entrepreneurial journey helped Taiwan become an economic giant, restructured the way the electronics industry worked and ultimately charted a new geopolitical reality in which a linchpin of global economic growth lies in one of the world’s most volatile spots.

That has thrust Mr. Chang, and the company he created, into the spotlight. And at the twilight of his career, a man who has preferred to remain in the shadows reflected on what he has built and what it means to no longer be able to stay under the radar.

“It doesn’t make me feel particularly good,” said Mr. Chang, who retired in 2018 but still appears at TSMC events. “I would rather stay relatively unknown.”

Over a recent three-hour discussion in his office, Mr. Chang made it clear that he identifies as American — he obtained his U.S. citizenship in 1962 — at a time when the company he founded is at the center of a technological Cold War between the United States and China. Even as the rivalry for tech leadership intensifies, he does not give China much of a chance for semiconductor supremacy.

“We control all the choke points,” Mr. Chang said, referring collectively to the United States and its

Read More

How ‘Chip War’ Puts Nations In Technologies Arms Race


The extremely elaborate, significant-stakes organization of producing semiconductors has constantly been a battle of company giants. Now it’s also a race amongst governments. These important bits of technological know-how — also identified as built-in circuits or, a lot more frequently, just chips — may possibly be the tiniest however most exacting products ever produced. And simply because they’re so challenging and expensive to make, there’s a worldwide reliance on just a handful of organizations, a dependence that was introduced into stark aid by shortages during the pandemic. Accessibility to chips has also develop into a geopolitical weapon, with the US ratcheting up curbs on exports to China to consist of the rise of an economic rival. 

1. Why the war above chips? 

Chipmaking has grow to be an progressively precarious enterprise. New vegetation have a cost tag of a lot more than $20 billion, take years to build and require to be run flat-out for 24 hours a working day to convert a earnings. The scale needed has reduced the amount of firms with major-edge technological innovation to just three — Taiwan Semiconductor Producing Co. (TSMC), South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and Intel Corp. of the US. Chipmakers have been below escalating scrutiny above what they sell to China, the major market place for chips. Nationwide stability concerns, shifts in the world-wide provide chain and the pandemic-period shortages led governments from the US and Europe to China and Japan to subsidize investment in new manufacturing traces costing tens of billions of dollars. Far more recently, slowing economies have curbed international demand from customers, leading to a glut of unwelcome chips. 

2. Why are chips so significant? 

They’re what is essential to approach and fully grasp the mountains of data that have arrive to rival oil as the lifeblood of the financial system. Made from elements deposited on disks of silicon, chips can perform a wide range of features. Memory chips, which store knowledge, are somewhat easy and are traded like commodities. Logic chips, which operate systems and act as the brains of a system, are extra intricate and high-priced. As the technological know-how managing devices — from rockets to refrigerators — is receiving smarter and a lot more linked, semiconductors are at any time much more pervasive. That explosion has some analysts forecasting that the marketplace will double in benefit this 10 years. Paying on research and development for chips is dominated by US businesses, with far more than fifty percent the full. 

3. How did we go from chip shortages to a glut? 

Pandemic lockdowns and source chain disruption made lots of styles of chips scarce for about two years. With demand from customers for phones and individual personal computers cooling off put up-pandemic, the cycle has turned. Pc and smartphone makers have slashed orders for chips as shoppers tighten the purse strings, and there is oversupply in regions these kinds of as industrial equipment and cloud computing. The chipmakers are responding by reining

Read More

Mild-based personal computer could outpace traditional electrical chip patterns

A personal computer that takes advantage of gentle relatively than electricity to transmit and manipulate information could have out the exact jobs faster and employing less electrical power


9 December 2022

Yi Zhang with the optical computer

Yi Zhang with the optical pc

Yi Wang

A new kind of personal computer that takes advantage of light somewhat than energy could execute calculations quicker, applying a lot less electrical power and significantly less room.

Personal computer chips are manufactured up of hundreds of thousands or billions of logic gates. These very small parts have out the most standard of operations, this kind of as examining if 1 little bit of data matches an additional. It is by combining these gates in wide quantities that tasks like downloading a file, enjoying a video or running a personal computer match are managed.

Classic chips get the job done by ferrying electrons, but Yi Zhang at Aalto College, Finland, and his colleagues have managed to develop optical logic gates that accomplish the exact same functions with light.

Optical personal computers have been developed prior to, but they entail complicated hardware and are restricted to specified purposes. Zhang claims these new gates can be constructed from a single layer of molybdenum disulphide crystals just .65 nanometres thick applying present producing methods and they could be built to have out universal tasks in a smaller offer.

Mainly because photons transfer speedier than electrons do in a circuit, this could velocity up calculations, and due to the fact they also transfer without resistance, they could do the identical job using a lot less electricity.

The team’s tactic uses circularly polarised mild. This will involve a light wave that appears to spin around its axis of journey, turning both clockwise or anticlockwise. A standard little bit in a computer is produced up of a optimistic or unfavorable electrical demand – represented by or 1 – but in this new optical laptop, bits are represented by either clockwise-polarised mild or anticlockwise-polarised mild.

In the optical pc, the logic gates are made from crystalline materials that are delicate to the route of spin of these polarised light beams. Applying optical filters and other elements, these gates can be built up to recreate standard gates.

The team shown operating optical gates that recreate the common gates recognised as XNOR, NOR, AND, XOR, OR and NAND, which all carry out different functions on data. The researchers also showed that these functions can be carried out on information in parallel rather than in series, which could probably pave the way for big enhancements in the effectiveness and velocity of calculations.

“We hope that all-optical pcs can be manufactured in the potential,” says Zhang. “The biggest gain is the super quickly pace of optical chips around common chips. In addition, mild has the means of parallel processing and has much less power usage, although digital products take in extra strength because of to resistance.”

Zhang states long run function will look into how optical logic gates

Read More

How F1’s level enjoying area procedures have impacted computer chip decisions

The place after all those outfits with the most funds could basically produce a big extra fat cheque to commit their way to larger and much better developments, now that is no for a longer period the situation.

Principally, the arrival of a charge cap in F1 signifies that teams are strictly minimal in what they can expend. For leading company outfits, it is a battle to keep inside of the present $140 million paying out limit that has been imposed.

But, on prime of the financial ceiling, yet another critical improve has been the introduction of aerodynamic tests constraints.

Groups have been limited on how a great deal they can run wind tunnels, and how much CFD perform they can do, to attempt to make certain that all groups have comparable options.

Further than that, there is also a sliding scale handicap process in place, in which the a lot more effective you are in the entire world championship then the extra limited you are in what you can do in the windtunnel or with your personal computer simulations.

The combined impact of all these guidelines must provide chance to the more compact outfits who have been outspent in modern years, but they have also prompted the will need for a absolutely distinctive method from the best teams.

Now it is not a problem of throwing dollars at a dilemma to try out to remedy it it is about trying to get out the most significant bang for buck possible.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W13

Photograph by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Photographs

This effects is mainly visible to admirers in the way that teams are restricting their vehicle upgrades this 12 months. Absolutely everyone is staying more strategic in how and when they deliver developments, instead than bolting on every thing new they discover.

But digging further into places where by teams have designed some changes in a bid to drive up performance amid the constraints of the price tag cap and the aero testing limits, it has been fascinating to study how it has even activated a deep assessment amid teams about their laptop or computer chips.

A report posted nowadays has demonstrated that a improve to AMD laptop processors at Mercedes at the start out of 2020 has assisted it produce considering the fact that then an remarkable 20% efficiency advancement on the CFD that was employed to design and examination aerodynamic move on its F1 vehicle.

That resulted in the workforce currently being able to cut its CFD workload in fifty percent, and was a much greater attain than the regular one particular or two % improvements ordinarily viewed with every chip evolution.

It came as the final result of a shift to AMD’s next era EPYC processors, which is felt shipped a much better value/performance stability than the programs it had applied for the former 3-and-a-fifty percent many years.

The swap to the new processors was activated as the end result of each the looming expense

Read More

This Modded iMac G4 With an M1 Chip Is My Dream Personal computer

iMac G4

Photograph: NurPhoto/Getty (Getty Visuals)

Apple shook up its Mac lineup this week when it released the Mac Studio with its effective M1 Ultra and a companion check, the Studio Display. These are without doubt intriguing items, but their minimalist styles absence a specific panache that the moment existed in Apple gadgets.

So rather of plunking down numerous thousands of pounds on new tech, 1 modder selected instead to just take the body of a a lot cooler Apple device and improve it with present day components. DIYer connor55 resurrected an iMac G4 all-in-a single computer by replacing its growing old coronary heart with an M1 motherboard uncovered in the Mac mini.

The intention was to swap out the aged components with the new ones devoid of compromising the iMac G4’s distinctive style and design. In the close, it was a results. When the project was completed, the last product was a effective all-in-1 Pc with a funky classic aesthetic.

The original iMac G4, declared in January 2002, was driven by a PowerPC chip and could be outfitted with up to 256MB of SDRAM and up to 80GB of storage. It turned a beloved icon of retro-tech, and for great motive: it looks futuristic, the shape is delightfully uncomfortable, and the stainless steel arm was downright revolutionary.

This establish (with superior-res pictures) was posted to the MacRumors discussion board for those people who want the step-by-stage method. The quick edition is that connor55 hollowed out the iMac G4 and healthy a Mac mini motherboard into the base. This is probable due to the fact that a person part is lesser than the G4’s really hard generate by yourself. The motherboard features an M1 chip, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD–everything you will need to run modern-day purposes.

Extremely, the primary electrical power button and disc travel are purposeful, and the inventory 1024×768-pixel screen functions good (nevertheless Connor55 is considering an update in the potential). Superior still, the FireWire 400 and VGA ports were being swapped for contemporary ones–USB-C, HDMI, three USB-A ports, an SD card reader, an Ethernet jack, and a headphone jack–and Bluetooth and wifi can be utilised to hook up to the internet or wi-fi gadgets.

“The 3 antennas from the M1 Mac Mini have been chopped down to just the real antennas. I placed them all correct future to the vents at the major of the foundation,” Connor55 wrote on the forum. “The Wi-Fi signal is meh, so I have a vary extender right by it, and I can get around 100Mbps however. The Bluetooth only works suitable up coming to the dome, so [it’s] borderline ineffective.” He afterwards clarifies that the Bluetooth is “good sufficient to use a keyboard and a mouse.”

This isn’t the to start with time the iMac G4 has been on the donor list for a heart transplant. Late past year, colbyjohn94 posted a identical development to Twitter and the MacRumors message boards. If only

Read More

Intel Displays Off the Chip Tech That Will Energy Your Pc in 2025

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger holds an 18A silicon wafer

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger holds a wafer of prototype memory chips designed with the 18A production course of action because of construct chips arriving in 2025.

Intel Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Intel on Thursday confirmed a silicon wafer studded with chips built with a manufacturing system that is set to get there in 2025, a signal supposed to reassure shoppers that the firm’s decades of chip manufacturing complications are at the rear of it.

“We continue to be on or ahead of schedule in opposition to the timelines that we laid out,” Main Govt Pat Gelsinger explained of the firm’s program to improve producing procedures. He showed off a gleaming wafer of memory chips designed with the firm’s impending Intel 18A system, which overhauls the transistors at the coronary heart of chip circuitry and the way power is shipped to them.

Intel is striving to significantly accelerate producing progress to meet a 2025 objective of reclaiming the chip functionality lead it shed to Taiwan Semiconductor Production Co. (TSMC) and Samsung. If it succeeds, it’s going to imply Pc chips progress more rapidly soon after a half 10 years of lackluster efficiency improvements. And it could signify Intel gets to be far more related to your electronic lifetime by developing chips inside of your car, cellphone and gaming Pc graphics card.

At the coronary heart of the hard work is going as a result of 5 new production procedures in four many years: Intel 7 in 2021 with the Alder Lake chips now powering PCs, Intel 4 in 2022, Intel 3 in 2023, Intel 20A in early 2024 and Intel 18A in late 2024 — although the lag between producing availability and merchandise delivery means 18A chips won’t arrive until 2025. Showing the wafer is a “proof place” that Intel is on keep track of, Gelsinger said.

Gelsinger, a chip engineer who returned to Intel a yr in the past, delivers tech cred to the CEO job, but it will be difficult for the enterprise to claw its way back. After a chip producer falls guiding the major edge, as IBM and GlobalFoundries did in current many years, it is more durable to justify the colossal investments wanted to advance to the new technological innovation.

Embodying Intel’s issues is Apple’s choice to eject Intel Main processors from its Macs in favor of its individual M sequence chips developed by TSMC. At the identical time, AMD has been getting market place share, Nvidia has been profiting from gaming and AI, and Amazon has released its individual server processors.

Gelsinger spoke at Intel’s investor day, where by he and other executives sought to persuade generally skeptical analysts that the company’s huge paying out on new chipmaking devices will pay back off. That will arrive by premium products and solutions and exterior buyers arriving to use its new foundry production capability.

Intel 20A introduces two

Read More