The US government doesn't feel the same love for China
What just happened? Between chip-related export controls and tensions over Taiwan, relations between the US and China are at a nadir, but that hasn't stopped many top tech executives, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, from singing the country's praises at the 2023 China Development Forum.
Editor's take: The industry has changed a lot in the eight years since we wrote our first analysis on the top five chip companies. We anticipated semis were no longer a growth industry and the only way for companies to keep growing was to win market share (hard) or buy other companies. This is especially true in semiconductors because most of these companies outsource their manufacturing to foundries like TSMC and GlobalFoundries.
#TBT You just bought a new CPU and it seems to run cool, so you try a bit of overclocking. The GHz climbs higher. Did you hit the silicon jackpot? You've got yourself a binned chip. But what's that exactly?
There is no simple answer, but we think there are a few factors that really stand out...
The big picture: By now, we are all familiar with the fact that TSMC is, by far, the most capable semiconductor manufacturer in the world, with all the entails for the industry and geopolitics. And as this reality sets in, many people have been asking us how did they get so good?
The final (commercial) frontier: A new space infrastructure startup called "ThinkOrbital" wants to boldly go where no manufacturing corporation has gone before — low-Earth orbit. It aims to construct a space station for manufacturing various commercial products. It says the platform can also recycle space junk.
Forward-looking: Taiwanese giant TSMC has officially confirmed it will build an additional fab for chip manufacturing in the US. The Arizona site will grow, the investment will skyrocket and the number of newly-created jobs will make politicians very, very happy.
The big picture: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) Arizona factory project has become more apparent over the last few weeks. The company intends to move some of the most advanced node processing to the United States, much of it for Apple's iPhones. The company will soon announce an upgrade to its plans.
A hot potato: Like a train leaving the station, it now seems inevitable that US companies are moving to reduce, or entirely eliminate, their reliance on China. It took a long time to get started, companies had been complaining about changing conditions in China for a decade. The 2018 trade war was the spark that really got them moving, and their progress has only been gaining momentum since then. This process will take years, maybe decades, but at this point is probably unstoppable.
In context: Samsung will use its most advanced manufacturing process to make chips for four well-known technology companies. The race to overtake TSMC as the world's largest chip foundry is on, while geopolitical conflicts are tearing the old economic balance apart.
The chip companies are never going to really love this business
The big picture: Earlier this year we were reviewing Analyst Day slides from leading semiconductor companies and a clear theme emerged. Large companies are all shifting in a similar direction, posing some potential challenges for their long-term positions. More and more customers are looking for special purpose chips, a coping mechanism for dealing with the slowdown in Moore's Law. And the big players are all looking to support those customers.