Ep.K057: 護國神山台積電 掌世界半導體命脈 The world is dependent on Taiwan for semiconductors


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每日英語跟讀 Ep.K057: The world is dependent on Taiwan for semiconductors

As China pushes the world to avoid official dealings with Taiwan, leaders across the globe are realizing just how dependent they have become on the island democracy.


Taiwan is being courted for its capacity to make leading-edge computer chips. That is mostly down to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the world’s largest foundry and go-to producer of chips for Apple Inc smartphones, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing.


Taiwan’s role in the world economy largely existed below the radar until it came to recent prominence as the auto industry suffered shortfalls in chips used for everything from parking sensors to reducing emissions. With carmakers including Germany’s Volkswagen AG, Ford Motor Co of the US and Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp forced to halt production and idle plants, Taiwan’s importance has suddenly become too big to ignore.


That is not to say Taiwan is the only player in the semiconductor supply chain. The US still holds dominant positions, notably in chip design and electronic software tools; ASML Holding NV of the Netherlands has a monopoly on the machines needed to fabricate the best chips; Japan is a key supplier of equipment, chemicals and wafers.


However, as the emphasis shifts to ever smaller, more powerful chips that require less energy, TSMC is increasingly in a field of its own. It has also helped Taiwan form a comprehensive ecosystem around it: ASE Technology Holding is the world’s top chip assembler, while MediaTek has become the largest smartphone chipset vendor.


A big worry is that TSMC’s chip factories could become collateral damage if China were to make good on threats to invade Taiwan if it moves toward independence.


“Taiwan is the center of gravity of Chinese security policy,” said Mathieu Duchatel, director of the Asia program at the Institut Montaigne in Paris. Preserving the world’s most advanced fabs “is in the interests of everyone.”


Source article: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/lang/archives/2021/02/01/2003751534

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