Thursday, February 17, 2022

ManifoldOne Podcast Episode#4: Jon Y (Asianometry) on Semiconductor Tech and U.S.-China Competition


Jon Y produces Asianometry, which focuses on Asia technology, finance, and history: Podcast, YouTube channel, and Substack

Steve and Jon discuss the global semiconductor industry with an emphasis on U.S.-China technology competition. 

Topics discussed: 

Jon's background and his move to Taipei. 
Key components of the semiconductor ecosystem: fabs, lithography, chip design. 
US-China tech war: TSMC, ASML, Huawei 
Taiwan politics: Green and Blue parties, independence 
PRC invasion / blockade of Taiwan?

ManifoldOne (transcript)

Note Added: To clarify the Huawei discussion 

1. The US stopped TSMC from fabbing leading edge Kirin CPUs for Huawei (designed by Huawei's chip design subsidiary HiSilicon). These were used in their smartphones. For a year or two Huawei was arguably the leading smartphone maker in the world and looked entirely capable of competing against Samsung and Apple. US Nat Sec concerns had more to do with Huawei's 5G business. But 5G infrastructure doesn't use leading edge chips (the base stations are big and don't rely on battery power the way phones do). The connection between Huawei's smartphone business and its 5G infrastructure business is very indirect -- they are entirely different businesses. 

2. No sanctions were applied to ZTE which, unlike Huawei, is an actual state-owned entity and had previously been on the US entity list. ZTE also sells 5G infrastructure equipment. It is flourishing while Huawei is starting to run low on the non-leading edge chips (e.g., >20nm process) it buys for its base stations. 

It's hard to explain what the US was up to with Huawei -- I would say it's a good example of the kind of incoherent "emergent" policy that Hanania writes about in his new book.

If you believe all the Western propaganda about Huawei and Xinjiang produced over the last few years you might be an NPC or at least someone who doesn't properly calibrate their Bayesian updates. As such it isn't really worth my effort to engage with you. 

Regarding PRC invasion of Taiwan, missile technology, etc. see

Meeting China’s Military Challenge: Collective Responses of U.S. Allies and Partners (Jaunary 2022) 

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