JINJIANG, China – As the dragnet closes in, engineers from Taiwan’s top chipmaker who held American secrets are doing everything they can to hide the bold corporate spying affair. Chip War is a gripping account of a decades-long struggle for control over what has become the most crucial asset the world has ever seen – microchip technology – as the US and China find themselves in increasing conflict. In July, the New York Times reported that SMIC, the Chinese government-owned chip giant, might have created the most advanced chips. There is now a full-fledged tech war between the US and China. In the Trump administration, it started, but now it is in the Biden administration.
As Chip War has revealed, China, which spends more money on chip imports than on any other commodity, is investing billions into chip-making initiatives to overtake the U.S. Like the U.S., China has relied on foreign manufacturers for foreign manufacturers much of its chips supplies. The automobile tracking device is manufactured by MICODUS, a China-based company in Shenzhen, and is used worldwide to keep the vehicle from being stolen. A more significant concern for China has been U.S. decisions to apply a domestic U.S. ban on the export of semiconductors to Huawei while simultaneously applying that same ban on any other third-party foreign chipmaker that relies on U.S. software or technology to develop its products.
The U.S. move is just the latest in several activities that the U.S. has taken aimed at impeding Chinese chip war development. The new legislation attempts to copy China’s methods without letting America get too far behind. The difficulties of developing a one-size-fits-all strategy for China would be daunting. Ninth, U.S. strategy needs to recognize that China remains highly concerned with a military conflict with the United States. Still, this posture will shift as the military balance changes over the coming decade. Moreover, China recently launched a massive drone ship – the world’s first semi-autonomous drone carrier.
Three Western companies have been dominating the world’s EDA market for decades. In one corner are the foundries, or chipmakers, such as TSMC; in the other corner are the IPR companies, such as ARM, that produce and market reusable design units, or circuits; and in a third corner are EDA tools. On one corner are the foundries or chip manufacturers like TSMC; on another are intellectual-property companies like ARM, which make and promote reusable design units or layouts; and on the third are the EDA tools. The semiconductor ecosystem today can even be seen as a triangle, says Mike Demler, an expert who has been in the chip design and EDA business for more than 40 years.
These days, electrical designers are using Electronic Design Automation (EDA) software to help them to design and develop increasingly complex chips. Because today’s chips are so complicated, each stage requires special tools in the form of software programs. This software is now forming the latest front of a trade chip war between China and the US over technology. The Semiconductor Industries Association in the U.S. estimates China to invest $150 billion in this sector from 2014 to 2030; the Chinese government-backed Big Fund for semiconductor development, together with associated local funds, has already invested $73 billion through 2021.