The European Commission has an ambitious plan: to make more computer chips, and then to make the most advanced computer chips. With the continued shortage of chips, Europe hopes to reduce its dependence on Asia. The European Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “You can compare it to the moon landing.”
The global shortage of computer chips is making the Dutch chip machine manufacturer ASML more popular. So far, ASML is the world’s largest supplier of chip manufacturing machines. Customers not only received more orders for chip machines, but also requested software upgrades for their existing machines. But at present, only one-tenth of the chips come from the European Union.
The automotive industry, the manufacturers of the latest Playstation or the latest mobile devices; they all sighed with a shortage of chips. The combination of the disruption of the production chain due to corona and the huge increase in demand for electronic products has led to shortages for several months. According to experts, these can last at least a year.
Eindhoven electronics company AME is also affected. The company produces products such as smart thermostats and electric bicycle automatic transmissions. The shortage is hindering the development of the company. Director Gerrit van der Beek said: “The annual growth rate of Corona is about 20%. Now it has been reduced by at least 10%.”
The company is rationing on time. Van der Beck said: “We have a certain demand, and the supplier can only provide part of it. Our products sometimes include hundreds of parts. If one part is missing, I will not be able to produce the product.” His chips rely heavily on Supply in Asia.
“Don’t do the same thing as Taiwan”
Chips with powerful computing capabilities are produced by two parties: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung. Therefore, Brussels believes that this must change quickly. In the European Commission’s digital strategy, its goal is to double the EU’s market share to 20% by 2030.
European Affairs Commissioner Brittany: “We have experienced many industries relying on chips, such as the automotive industry. We really need to do more. According to Brittany, this is also possible. He cited chip machinery manufacturing. ASML and chip manufacturer NXP are examples of top companies that can contribute to this.
Nexperia originated from NXP (the latter in turn originated from Philips) and produces about 100 billion chips every year. Charles Smit of Nexperia said: “They are in your phone, iron, car. You can name it. His company has two factories in Europe and three factories in Asia. Chips are divided into several steps. Manufacturing: The first step is in Europe, and the chip is completed in Asia.
Smit believes that this key role of Asia is not a problem. “If Asia also depends on us, it’s good to rely on Asia. In this industry, you can’t live without each other, because everything is intertwined.”
He understood the ambitions of the European Commission, but warned that, for example, we should not try to be the same as Taiwan and chip giant TSMC (TSMC). “They are good at doing things here: making ultra-high-tech chips. We can’t just copy it here.”
Take a deep breath
But this is the ambition of the European Commission. With the support of billions of dollars in European countries, the so-called 2 nanometer technology must be used to build the production capacity of ultra-advanced chips, which are faster and more energy-efficient than today’s chips. They have not been manufactured anywhere. Critics believe that ambition is unrealistic. But Brittany thinks so. “Because it is ambitious, isn’t it possible in Europe? You have to have a vision. If you find the right partners and get their help, then this is feasible.”
The committee is in discussions with technology giants such as Intel, TSMC and ASML to achieve these goals. Brittany admitted that this will be a long process. Due to the huge demand for chips, Intel, Samsung and TSMC have announced billions of dollars in investments. But not in Europe yet.
TSMC said that there is no specific plan for the European plant, but “we will not rule it out.” Intel is investing heavily in its home country, the United States. However, according to Breton, it is not too late: “We have a lot of money to invest in our digital future. I don’t want to miss this opportunity.”