Bram Nauta is a professor of IC design at the University of Twente.

Opinion

Why build a fab in Europe if the demand is in the US?

Reading time: 3 minutes

Instead of paying some company for a fab that will manufacture chips for US companies, Europe should build a chip ecosystem of its own.

As we all know, there’s a shortage of chips in the world. Building additional production capacity will take several years due to the long chain of industrial players involved. The fab needs a clean building, inside we need wafer steppers and other machines. Moreover, these machines must be built from parts that are in short supply. In addition, the world needs to keep innovating toward more advanced CMOS nodes and develop even more advanced machines. All this is a complex process that’s hard to accelerate.

In the meantime, we’ve started to realize that chips are used in just about every product except toilet paper. This warrants looking at them through a pair of geopolitical glasses. Unlike bolts and nuts, they’re hard to design and produce, and it takes a long horizon to get their production in order. Without access to chips, tech companies are at risk. The knowledge to design and fabricate these components has become a strategic asset.

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