Semiconductor articles

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When it comes to semiconductors, leading is not everything

Direct and collateral effects of the CHIPS act
Editor's take: Undeniably, we usually spend a lot of time talking about leading edge semiconductor manufacturing. This is a common mistake that everyone falls into when discussing semis, one which we are as guilty of as anyone. The world is rightly focused on the scarcity of companies capable of operating at the leading edge, but there is a lot more to semis.
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How did TSMC get so good?

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?
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CPU and GPU SRAM caches are not shrinking, which could increase chip cost or reduce performance

Why it matters: An interesting article posted at WikiChip discusses the severity of SRAM shrinkage problems in the semiconductor industry. Manufacturer TSMC is reporting that its SRAM transistor scaling has completely flatlined to the point where SRAM caches are staying the same size on multiple nodes, despite logic transistor densities continuing to shrink. This is not ideal, and it will force processor SRAM caches to take up more space on a microchip die. This in turn could increase manufacturing costs of the chips and prevent certain microchip architectures from becoming as small as they could potentially be.
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Disengaging from China manufacturing is hard, but it's happening slowly

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.
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Home Depot for DIY Chips: What's the going trend?

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.
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Opinion: The Android-ification of Cars

Cars are still less than 10% revenue for most chip companies
Why it matters: Over the past few years the semis industry has become somewhat obsessed with autos. Every major chip company now dedicates a fair amount of coverage to cars in all their investor presentations. Or at least it seems that way. In part that reflects a genuine growth in auto semis, and in part the tapering of growth in many other categories like mobile, PCs, etc.