[ExI] Why Silicon Valley Cares About Silicon Again Chip shortage gets all eyes in tech back on semiconductors

Will Steinberg steinberg.will at gmail.com
Sun Aug 15 06:14:08 UTC 2021

Taiwan != China btw

On Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 12:09 AM John Grigg via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> "Chips are sexy again, after years of hiding behind the scenes. That's
> what NBC's Bay Area journalist Scott Budman says. And tech historian Michael
> S. Malone <https://us.macmillan.com/author/michaelsmalone/> agrees.
> "There's a reason it's called Silicon Valley," says Malone, author of *The
> Big Score: The Billion Dollar Story of Silicon Valley*, and about a dozen
> other books about Silicon Valley's people and companies.
> "Chips matter," he continued, "because everything flows from that. We get
> excited about new products and companies, but they all depend on chips
> getting built, and right now they aren't getting built. You can't get a
> Ford F150 [truck], the most popular vehicle in U.S., because they can't get
> the microprocessor for the engine computer."
> Malone and Budman were speaking as part of the Computer History Museum's
> <https://computerhistory.org/> CHM Live
> <https://computerhistory.org/chm-live/> series of virtual events.
> It was a chip crisis
> <https://www.nytimes.com/1982/02/28/business/japan-s-big-lead-in-memory-chips.html> in
> the 1980s that helped put Silicon Valley on the map in the first place,
> Malone pointed out.
> "The Japanese came rolling in with chips that were better than ours," he
> said. "I was at an event where a guy from H-P showed quality charts,
> Silicon Valley chips vs. Japanese chips, and [the Japanese chips] were so
> much better and cheaper than ours. That's when the battle with Japan put
> Silicon Valley on the map as a crucial part of the American economy"
> But then times changed, thanks to the increasing importance of software.
> "The Valley had a fundamental shift between hardware and software, between
> the electrical engineers and the code writers," Malone said. The customers
> changed as well; Silicon Valley companies had been selling to other
> manufacturing companies. The new companies targeted consumers, a far
> different market.
> "You sold on specs in the hardware era, you sell on manipulation in the
> software era," he said. In "the social networking era, the companies are
> thinking about how to enlist you in joining their cult. They use tricks
> from casinos and everywhere else. They convince us to design our own
> products. After all, what is Facebook but a set of tools to make us into
> workers?"
> "As long as the money is here, the Valley will regenerate itself."
> As the software and apps piled up, the chips disappeared, hidden away.
> "The last time we thought about chips was with the 'Intel Inside'
> <https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/history/virtual-vault/articles/end-user-marketing-intel-inside.html> marketing
> campaign," he said.
> But that has suddenly changed.
> Now, Malone said, "it's a dangerous time. Eighty percent of the world's
> chips are made in Taiwan, and China has found the choke point of the world
> economy—those fabs. There's a scramble to build fabs outside Taiwan, but
> that will take two to three years. So it's a very worrisome time right now."
> https://spectrum.ieee.org/silicon-valley-cares-about-chips-again
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