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Mon, 18 Dec 2023
A Chip Off the (Silicon) Block
# 09:13 in ./general

I'm reading the book Chip War by Chris Miller, about the history of the semiconductor industry. It looks at technology, logistics and at the increasingly fraught politics of the manufacture of advanced computer chips.

I know some of the history here, especially from a Silicon Valley and USA perspective, but there's plenty I'm learning (and I am only a quarter of the way through the book). A trivial example: I'd never thought of the origin or meaning of the term computer "chip". It turns out that it's from the way the integrated circuits were all created on a single piece of silicon and then each individual circuit was "chipped" off the whole to make the part.

A huge amount of very innovative work was done in the semiconductor and transistor field in the fifties and sixties and it continues to this day. The technology is, in some ways, almost indistinguishable from magic.

Indeed, the International Electron Devices meeting was recently held in San Francisco and was, as you would expect, full of cutting edge technological discussion about silicon chips. Fitting more transistors on a silicon wafer, using less power, and wasting less of it, was a major part of the show. The Economist magazine reports on the industry.

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