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Silicon Chips

发表于 12-13-2018 16:31:53 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
The Dec 1, 2018 issue of The Economist had the cover "Chip Wars; America, China and silicon supremacy." That issue had two articles on this topic. The first is in the Leaders section, which (section) serves as a preview of a more detailed article inside.

(1) Chip Wars. America cannot afford to ignore China's semiconductor ambitions. It cannot easily tame them [ambitions], either.


"THE TRADE disputes President Donald Trump relishes have an old-fashioned feel. Tariffs are the principal weapons. Old-economy markets, from cars to steel, are the main battlefields. Farmers and factories preoccupy the president. * * * Yet the trade conflict that matters most between America and China is a 21st-century fight over technology. It covers everything from artificial intelligence (AI) to network equipment. The fundamental battleground is in semiconductors.

"China's ambitions to create a cutting-edge [semiconductor] industry worried Mr Trump's predecessor. Barack Obama blocked Intel from selling some of its whizziest chips [Xeon] to China in 2015 [imposed/announced by US Department of Commerce, asserting Chinese military used supercomputers for nuclear tests; see (2)], and stymied the acquisition of a German chipmaker [Aixtron, whose business has NOTHING to do with chips: mastering a manufacturing process that can be used to make solar panel or LED] by a Chinese firm (Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund LP 福建芯片投资基金] in 2016 [CFIUS decided]. * * * Startled by the looming harm, and (he says) swayed by appeals from Ms Xi, Mr Trump swiftly backtracked [on export ban on selling American chips and software to ZTE],  Two things has changed. First, America realised that its edge in technology gives it power over China. It has imposed export controls that affects on Fujian Jinhua * * * Second, China's incentives to become self-reliant in semiconductors have rocketed.

"China's pretensions to being a superpower will look hollow as long as America can throttle its firms at will.

"But China's progress will be hard to stopped. Just as Silicon Valley's rise rested on the support of the American government [see (2)], so China blends state and corporate resources in pursuit of its gals. It has incentive programme to attract engineering talent from elsewhere, notably from Taiwan.

(a) There is no need to read the rest.
(b) whizzy (adj): "technologically innovative or advanced."
, which presents no etymology.

The www.merriam-webster.com says this word is derived from whiz (n; short for wizard; example: a math whiz).
(c) pretension (n): "(often pretensions)  a claim or assertion of a claim to something"

Even so ("often pretensions"), this is a phrase that uses the singular form: pretension to the throne.  (If the word means 假装 -- as in the example "he spoke simply, without pretension" offered by Oxford. it is a "mass noun" -- thus no "s" can be added.)


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 楼主| 发表于 12-13-2018 16:36:51 | 显示全部楼层
(2) The Chips Are Down. The semiconductor industry shows the power of globalisation. Superpower politics may unravel things.
https://www.economist.com/briefi ... er-of-globalisation


"Silicon valley * * * Most of the attention it now attracts is directed at companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple, which are better known for their software * * * But it was in the Valley in the 1950s and 1960s where inventions like the transistor and the integrated circuit were refined

"World Semiconductor Trade Statistics, a data provider, reckons that the market for chips was worth $412bn in 2017, a rise of 21.6% on the year before. If anything, these raw numbers understate the importance of chipmaking. The global e-commerce [ie, online sales] industry, for instance, is reckoned to have revenues of over $2trn a year. If data are the new oil, chips are the internal-combustion engines that turn them into something useful.

"The Semiconductor Industry Association, an American trade body, reckons that one of its members has more than 16,000 suppliers, of which more than 8,500 are outside the United States. The raw materials and the parts that are the components of a chip cross and recross the world before eventually ending up as the brains of [final products] * * * In the early days chipmakers handled every part of the process in-house. That began to change in 1961 when Fairchild Semiconductor [1957- ] began assembling and testing products in Hong Kong [in 1961: two books said], where skilled labour was cheap. That trend has accelerated * * * A typical journey from raw silicon to completed chip gives an indication of how elaborate supply chains can be. It may start in the Appalachian mountains, where deposits of silicon dioxide are of the highest quality. The sand may then be shipped to Japan to be turned into pure ingots of silicon. These are then sliced into standard-sized wafers, 300mm across, and sent to a chip factory, or 'fab' * * * Here the slices will be imprinted with a particular pattern using photolithography equipment made in the Netherlands.  That pattern will be determined by the overall design of the chip. This design might come from ARM, a company based in Britain. But it can be tweaked for specific applications by one of the company's many licensees. Once finished, it must be assembled into a package, in which the etched silicon is placed inside the familiar ceramic or plastic containers that are dotted across any circuit board, and then comes testing. That might take place in China, Vietnam or the Philippines.

"One of the earliest uses for the chips coming out of Silicon Valley, which owes its existence to the patronage of the Pentagon as much as it does to venture capitalists, was in guidance systems for nuclear missiles.

"China wants the revenues of its home-grown chip industry to grow from $65bn in 2016 to $305bn by 2030, and for most of its demand for chips to be supplied domestically (today only around a third is).

America "has reacted by trying to slow its rival's progress. In 2015, for instance, it banned the sale of high-end chips made by Intel, the world's second-biggest semiconductor firm [after Samsung], to Chinese labs that design supercomputers. * * * Until recently China boasted the world's fastest supercomputer. Named [神威·太湖之光 (2016) Sunway] 'TaihuLight,' and based at the National Supercomputing Centre in Wuxi, near Shanghai, its 40,960 ShenWei 神威 26010 chips are of an entirely Chinese design, says Jack Dongarra, a supercomputing specialist at the University of Tennessee. The main result of the Intel ban, he says, is 'that China has put even more money into high-performance computing research.'

"says Jiang XU 須 江, a[n associate] professor of electrical engineering at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology[:] Its strength still lies in assembly and packaging chips. Dozens of firms around the Yangzi delta near Shanghai, for instance, specialise in this sort of work. Their names may be unfamiliar—JCET [Jiangsu Changjiang Electronics Tech Co, Ltd 江苏长电科技股份有限公司 (2003- ; 江阴市)], Tianshui Huatian [Technology Co, Ltd 天水华天科技股份有限公司 (2003- ; 甘肃省天水市)] and TFME [Tongfu Microelectronics Co, Ltd 通富微电子股份有限公司 (1997- ; 江苏省南通市)]—but their revenues are counted in billions of dollars. * * * China is turning to design and manufacturing. * * * 'between 75% and 80% of semiconductors are not bleeding-edge products,' says Len Jelinek of IHS Markit, a research firm. Chips that go into LCD televisions, home routers and smart devices that make up the internet of things, which adds sensors and internet connections to everyday objects, 'can absolutely be manufactured by firms in China.' * * * HiSilicon 海思半导体有限公司  (owned by Huawei) and Tsinghua Unigroup, a state-owned firm, are rated among the world's top ten chip-design firms by revenue. HiSilicon's 'Kirin' series of smartphone chips is on a par with anything Western companies can design. * * * Mr Xu points out that Chinese firms still rely heavily on modifying designs from ARM. Its [either a typo that should be 'their,' or it refers to HiSilicon] chips already dominate the mobile-computing business and are poised to do the same with the array of smart devices that will make up the internet of things. The firm is also trying to break into the market for high-powered cloud-computing chips. Yet ARM is based in Britain, and was recently bought by SoftBank, a big Japanese firm. Both are close allies of America.  China has found it harder to make progress in cutting-edge [chip] manufacturing * * * The Kirin 980 was the first smartphone chip to be produced on the 7-nanometre node—the current state of the art for squeezing in computing power. Since no fab in China has the required technology, HiSilicon—like Apple and Qualcomm, its American competitors—had to have its chips made in Taiwan, by TSMC.

"Samsung is spending $14bn to build one near Pyeongtaek[, Gyeonggi Province 京畿道平澤市 (40-mil air distance due south of Seoul)], in South Korea.

"Another lever might be the firms that supply equipment to those fabs. One in particular—ASML, a Dutch firm—has, after over a decade of trying, finally commercialised 'extreme ultra-violet lithography,' a manufacturing process needed for the most advanced chips. That could offer Western policymakers a pinch-point [against China].

"One of its [Moore's law] side-effects used to be that, as components shrank, chips were able to operate faster. But that effect—called Dennard scaling—broke down in the mid-2000s, which meant that shrinking a chip's components offered fewer benefits than it used to. For that reason, says Linley Gwennap, a chip-industry analyst, being a pace or two behind the leaders in manufacturing matters a bit less than before.

"Qualcomm, for instance, derives two-thirds of its revenue from China; for Micron the figure is 57%. [The article does not say how much of those Chinese imports are for re-export.]

(a) The "briefing" (what The Economist labels the long article) spans three (3) print pages.
(b) A section heading (not shown in the quotations) is "Chips in the windscreen."
(i) The windscreen is British English for windshield.
(ii) If you search the above term without quotation, Google will direct you to, with photos, (chip in the windshield) -- a small break.
(c) "in the Appalachian mountains, where deposits of silicon dioxide are of the highest quality"

Vince Beiser, The Ultra-Pure, Super-Secret Sand That Makes Your Phone Possible. Wired, Aug 7, 2018
https://www.wired.com/story/book ... ultra-pure-silicon/
("Spruce Pine[, North Carolina,] is not a wealthy place * * * [in] The wooded mountains surrounding it * * * Spruce Pine, it turns out, is the source of the purest natural quartz—a species of pristine sand—ever found on Earth. This ultra‑elite deposit of silicon dioxide particles plays a key role in manufacturing the silicon used to make computer chips. * * * 'It's a billion‑dollar industry here,' [retired geologist Alex] Glover * * * Most of the world's sand grains are composed of quartz, which is a form of silicon dioxide, also known as silica. High‑purity silicon dioxide particles are the essential raw materials from which we make computer chips, fiber‑optic cables, and other high‑tech hardware * * * [here hundred of millions years ago] the pegmatites formed almost without impurities")
(i) Spruce Pine, North Carolina
(ii) pegmatite
(d) "Intel, the world's second-biggest semiconductor firm"

Samsung Topples Intel as Market Leader in 2017. EPSNews, Mar 29, 2018
https://epsnews.com/2018/03/29/s ... ket-leader-in-2017/
("Posting the highest year-over-year growth in 14 years, the global semiconductor industry grew 21.7 percent in 2017, reaching $429.1 billion, according to IHS Markit. Another milestone was Samsung toppling Intel as the market leader for the first time in 25 years.  Samsung reported 53.6 percent growth in 2017, thanks to rising prices and tight supply of memory ICs")

TSMC's 2017 revenue was $32.11 billion. It is odd that none of foundries appeared on the list (but presumably Samsung's revenue included foundry business.
(e) "That could offer Western policymakers a pinch-point"
(i) pinch point (n): "See also bottleneck"
https://dictionary.cambridge.org ... english/pinch-point
(ii) pinch (n): "1a: a critical juncture * * * 2a: an act of pinching : SQUEEZE"

Definition 1a is used in baseball pinch-hitter or -runner; per Online Etymology Dictionary), whereas definition 2a in pinch point (my guess), similar to the idiom "feel the pinch."

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