America won the first cold war by outspending the Soviet Union in nuclear weapons. Many observers believe the US is engaged in a new cold war – with China. If true, it will be fought with technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence and semiconductors – but this time the US is being outspent.
However, America has a secret weapon. It was first deployed two years ago to shut down Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company, a mainland Chinese DRAM fab that was accused of IP theft from Idaho-based Micron Technology.
The same tactic was later used to curb the global expansion of Chinese telecoms champion Huawei Technologies, which Washington views as a national security threat. Huawei was blocked from buying semiconductors made with US manufacturing equipment, a ruling that effectively ended its relationship with Taiwan foundry TSMC.
Most recently, Washington targeted Shanghai-based foundry SMIC, requiring US chip equipment makers to apply for a license before shipping gear to the Chinese company.
The technology invented by America’s “chip warriors” in the second half of the 20th century has given the United States a secret weapon in the cold war of the 21st Century.
The Chip Warriors, a 5-part podcast series (approx. 30 mins per episode), is based on interviews conducted by Craig Addison for the SEMI* oral history project. It presents stories from industry pioneers – in their own voices. The interviews, recorded between 2004 and 2008, have been digitally remastered for the podcast. Voice-over narration is used to introduce each speaker and provide context.
In Episode One, The Secret Weapon, industry legends like William Shockley**, Jay Last, Morris Chang, Jack Kilby and Gordon Moore describe in their own words the challenges they faced in developing semiconductor technology.
In Episode Two, The First Chip War, those on the frontline in the semiconductor battle with Japan in the 1980s recall their experiences – and how America eventually prevailed.
In Episode Three, Losing Lithography, listeners will hear a first hand account of how the US invented, then lost, the most important part of the semiconductor manufacturing process. (premium content)
In Episode Four, The Dealmakers, find out why one of the earliest dedicated equipment companies, Cobilt, was broken up by its East Coast parent, hear the inside story behind the KLA-Tencor merger, and learn about two big deals that almost happened.
In Episode Five, War Stories, industry pioneers like Teradyne’s Nick DeWolf and Siltec’s Bob Lorenzini recall some of the highs and lows in building their companies – and how they lived to fight another day. (premium content)
Link to teaser video trailer:
Notes: *The interviews are used under license from SEMI, which is not affiliated with this podcast
** The interview clip for Shockley was recorded in 1969 by the Palo Alto Historical Association.
The podcasts are hosted on the Podbean platform and available from most major podcast apps, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts.The first two episodes are available for listening. The remaining episodes will be published in coming weeks.