I’ve often told several friends, my wife, and son, that without semiconductors, we are absolutely nothing, or even, dead! Why, my son, Prateek, even repeated this very line, during his induction in college, which left everyone present, absolutely speechless! Now, Malcolm Penn, founder and CEO, Future Horizons, UK, has posted a brilliant piece on Facebook. I am repasting it here, with Malcolm’s permission. Read on!
Given below are the thoughts of Malcolm Penn, Future Horizons.
This is a message I have been preaching since the mid-1980s, initially at Dataquest, and then, as a key pillar for the founding of Future Horizons. First, in Europe, which was initially headed by such industry visionaries as Pasquale Pistorio, Juergen Knoor, Keis Kriegsman and Jacques Noels, supported by the European Commission with programmes like JESSI and MEDEA, then ignored by the next generation ‘easy option’ contemporaries fuelled by the fabless/fablite illusion/delusion, bravely revived by Commission VP Neelie Kroes in 2013, with her ambitious 10-100-20 plan for reviving semiconductor manufacturing in Europe, only to be whole-heartedy rejected and sidelined by the sadly misnamed “European Leaders Group”.
Japan, having led the world in the 1980s, under similar strong visionaries such as Makimoto-san (Hitachi) and Kawanishi-san (Toshiba), threw in the towel in the early 2000s, again taking the rose-tinted easy-option sacrificing longer term security for short term profits; likewise the USA quickly followed in their footsteps.
ICs are the catalyst!
ICs are the catalyst that drives the whole world economy, by enabling the end products and services, we could not now live without. Imagine, if Covid-19 had hit the world in the 1960s, even the 1980s?
Loose control of manufacturing, and you loose control of your manufacturing future, and a big chunk of your economy! If TSMC, the world’s leading IC manufacturer, were to go off line tomorrow, whether due to the act of God (remember Fukashima, it is, after all, sitting on top of an earthquake waiting to happen) or act of political aggression (just think China / Hong Kong or Russia / Crimea), or even a change in business decision priorities (who gets what shipments when), the whole world’s economy would collapse overnight!
It is hard to identify a single piece of meaningful electronics equipment that does not have a TSMC chip inside it. Once the WIP and inventory dries up (a matter of weeks maximum) it would take 4-5 months to restart supply, 2-3 years if the chips need redesigning for a different manufacturing line, no-one has a Plan B!