Today’s title for review is “CHIP WAR: The fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology” by Chris Miller. The book is vivaciously convincing. It’s about semiconductors and the coming US-China confrontation. Just like the semiconductor chips, Miller has packed a million history and information in this extraordinary book. The title is a remarkable, eye-popping work, a unique combination of economic and technological and strategic analysis … says PAUL KENNEDY, the bestselling author of “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.”
As India takes baby steps into chip manufacturing, the history of this technology turns out to be a useful guide. A chip which is also called a semiconductor or an integrated circuit is a piece of silicon with tiny transistors carved into it that switch the 1s and the 0s. It is the material on which the entire digital world rests. It is what gives Silicon Valley its fancy name, and it is fuelling the biggest US-China confrontation.
The book is about the evolution of the semiconductor business, and its role in the global economy and international politics. In the 1960s, Fairchild Semiconductor (and later Intel) co-founder Gordon Moore famously predicted that computing power on chips would grow exponentially, doubling every two years. Moore’s law has exceeded all expectations. Sixty years ago, a cutting-edge chip had four transistors. It has about 11.8 billion now. Each 3D transistor is smaller than a coronavirus.
Chips are the core of digital computing, which also makes them essential to the modern world, undergirding aeroplanes, weapons, appliances, drones and toys. The next generation of networking technology and AI (Artificial Intelligence) applications make them only more necessary. And so, the clutch of firms that design and produce chips are of immense strategic importance.
All personal computing relies on DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) chips, which are made by two companies in Korea and one in the US. Further five firms—(American, Dutch and Japanese)—control the lighting process by which patterns are carved into silicon wafers. Fabricating and miniaturising chips are the greatest engineering challenge of our time, claims the book, for which Taiwan’s TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) is indispensable at the moment.
As their uses proliferated, chips have become central to strategic interests. This evolution was not shaped just by corporations and consumers, but also by governments and militaries. While the Soviets had tried to keep up with the US advances in semiconductor technology, they were largely forced to rely on stealing and copying.
In the 1980s, the Japanese juggernaut of high-quality low-cost DRAM chips posed competition to the US. Chips powered personal electronics, microwaves, camcorders and walkmans. It became clear that this technology was the crude oil of the 1980s—a resource whose control mattered to military supremacy.
So, other Asian nations became contenders. As the US-Japan rivalry grew—South Korea and Taiwan too got into it, and so did China later. There have been missteps along the way. In the 90s, Japan failed to see the PC revolution coming, just as Intel later failed to spot the smartphone boom when it passed up on making chips for iPhones.
Today, despite the fact that the US dissipated its lead in semiconductor fabrication and lithography, it still remains the design hub and maintains its chokehold on the technology, even as China puts billions of dollars and its best engineers into it. America’s unipolar moment and globalisation rhetoric have receded, and the tech wars have heated up as Xi Jinping crafts a new digital authoritarianism. Donald Trump called Huawei, ‘Spyway’, and slapped an export ban on China, grinding to a halt, its most advanced DRAM firm, SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation).
The disruptions during the pandemic revealed just how critical, this chip supply chain is—if any of the steps in the interconnected production process is endangered, so is the world’s supply of computing power.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:
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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE
(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 8 prestigious libraries of the US that includes Harvard College Library; Harvard University Library; Library of Congress; University of Washington, Seattle; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Yale University, New Haven; University of Chicago; University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill University Libraries. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in libraries and archives of Canada, Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai; Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida; India. Shoolini University, Yogananda Knowledge Center, Himachal Pradesh and Azim Premzi University, Bangalore).
ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY
(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi; Available for reading in Indian National Bibliography, March 2016, in the literature section, in Central Reference Library, Ministry of Culture, India, Belvedere, Kolkata-700022)
AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES
(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be the undying characteristics of Lucknow. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014. It is included for reading in Askews and Holts Library Services, Lancashire, U.K; Herrick District Library, Holland and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, USA; Black Gold Cooperative Library Administration, Arroyo Grande, California).
REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD
(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)
TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN
(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his way through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available on Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
RHYTHM … in poems
(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day-to-day life. The book is available on Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)
AWADH ASSAM AND DALAI LAMA … The Kalachakra
(The story of the man who received His Holiness The Dalai Lama and his retinue in 1959 as a GOI representative when he fled Tibet in 1959. The book was recently launched on 21st November 2022 by His Holiness The Dalai Lama).
Short stories, Book reviews and Articles published in Bhavan’s Journal: 1. Reality and Perception, 15.10.19; 2. Sending the Wrong Message, 31.5.20; 3. Eagle versus Scholars June, 15 & 20 2020; 4. Indica, 15.8.20; 5. The Story of King Chitraketu, August 31 2020; 6. Breaking Through the Chakravyuh, September 30 2020. 7. The Questioning Spouse, October 31, 2020; 8. Happy Days, November 15, 2020; 9. The Karma Cycle of Paddy and Wheat, December 15, 2020; 10. Power Vs Influence, January 31, 2021; 11. Three Refugees, March 15, 2021; 12. Rise and Fall of Ajatashatru, March 31, 2021; 13. Reformed Ruler, May 15, 2021; 14. A Lasting Name, May 31, 2021; 15. Are Animals Better Teachers?, June 16, 2021; 16. Book Review: The Gram Swaraj, 1.7.21; 17. Right Age for Achievements, 15.7.21; 18. Big Things Have Small Beginnings, 15.8.21; 19. Where is Gangaridai?, 15.9.21; 20. Confront the Donkey Within You 30.9.21; 21. Know Your Strengths 15.10.21; 22. Poverty 15.11.21; 23. Top View 30.11.21; 24. The Bansuriwala 15.1.22; 25. Sale of Alaska 15.2.22; 26. The Dimasa Kingdom 28.2.22; 27. Buried Treasure 15.4.22; 28. The Kingdom of Pragjyotisha 30.4.22; 29. Who is more useful? 15.5.22; 30. The White Swan from Lake Mansarovar 30.6.22; 31. Bhool Bhulayya 15.9.22; 32. Good Karma 30.9.22; 33. Good name vs Bad Name 15.10.22
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