This article is part of Technology news. You can register here to receive it weekdays.
Most people need toilet paper and computer chips every day, but we rarely think about them.
That changed during the coronavirus pandemic when the bathroom first rolled and then potato chips became scarce. Computer chips aren’t disposable, but they’re just as essential as the electronic brains for products like smartphones, cars, planes, and most modern gadgets. Shortages of chips have stalled production of new cars, making rental cars harder to find, and complicated business even for the dog wash industry.
I talked to Don Clark, who has been writing about computer chips for many years, about the importance of chips, why the US government is obsessed with making more chips in the US, and the new chip frenzy. is a way of revenge for nerds.
Shira: What are computer chips used for?
Don: Computer chips are like small brains or memory storage. This makes them important for pretty much anything in modern life. Visible places are electronic devices such as computers, smartphones, game consoles, and voice-activated speakers.
But the chip is also found in products used to monitor the milk yield of the dairy cow and to ensure the product in the truck is always at the right temperature. A modern car can have several thousand chips, including ignition, brake and entertainment systems. This year, production of cars worth $ 50,000 is stalled because of a lack of $ 1 computer chips.
Yep, how does that chip lead to one freezing in car manufacturing?
Last year, when the pandemic first hit, carmakers estimated that many people would not want to buy cars, and they cut orders for computer chips. As car sales increased, companies tried to order more chips. But the chip makers went on. They moved production to fill orders for products like phones and game consoles.
Is the chip shortage abnormal?
No, but the shortage is usually limited to a particular chip. What’s unusual this year is that there aren’t enough different types of computer chips, given the combination of some pandemic-related disruptions and the growing demand for more and more chips for everything.
To give an example, each new smartphone with a 5G internet connection has 100 small elements in which it is called a filter that connects to all different frequencies. That’s 100 computer chips for a single function.
When will the shortage improve?
Companies are trying to make more chips, but it’s difficult to react quickly. Chip companies are also trying to stop customers, including car companies, from ordering twice the amount of chips they actually need just to make sure they get a number. But shortages are likely to last until 2022 and may get worse before they get better. That’s partly because many of the scarce chips come from old factories that are difficult to upgrade.
Congress and President Biden seems very likely to return billions of dollars of taxpayers to make more computer chips in the United States. Why?
Shortages of products such as personal protective equipment made in China have led the public and policymakers to discuss the downsides of making essential products outside of the United States.
Many advanced computer chips are made in Taiwan and that makes the Pentagon especially worried about not being able to obtain essential computer chips if relations between Taiwan and China deteriorate. And the US government wants greater autonomy in the event of an emergency, like an earthquake, in Taiwan.
Another issue is global competitiveness. Countries including Ireland, Taiwan and Israel give incentives to chip factories. Intel, the US mainframe chip company, doesn’t really need American taxpayers. But they want to make sure the company doesn’t do much worse by making its chips in the United States.
Forgive me, but the computer chip industry is confusing. How do people in the industry feel that way? a hot topic?
Yes, this is a boring old technology, like steelmaking. That is changing, partly due to the attention span of chip shortages but that’s not the only reason.
I wrote an article on Friday about the amount of money invested in new computer chip companies – eight times the amount invested in 2016. Young people may have started software startups a while ago. Several years are now choosing to found chip companies. There’s a lot of interest and excitement about chips right now, and industry insiders feel it’s nice to be seen as really important.
Before we go …
Not a great look for internet service providers: An analysis by the New York attorney general shows that internet providers including AT&T and Comcast have sponsored an effort to bring in millions of fake comments against the rules of net neutrality, my colleague David McCabe wrote. And from February: Explanation of net neutrality and the long battle over it.
Also not great: Markup reports that pharmaceutical companies found potential patients on Facebook using drug ads to target people based on their preferences on topics like bourbon or oxygen or their engagement. into the depression and bipolar support group.
Yes, safety online is better for everyone! Google says it will start asking people to take an additional security measure, such as responding to notifications on smartphones, to sign in to Gmail and other accounts. It’s great that Google makes this the default; This is why adding verification to sign in to our digital accounts is the most important thing we can do to protect our security.
The story of red-tailed hawks named Billy and Lilly, and the children Alba and Eli, “is a re-creation and joy, with a little sadness and some dead rats.”
We want to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this newsletter and what you want us to explore. You can contact us at [email protected]
If you have not received this newsletter in your inbox, Please register here. You can also read columns On the technology before.