back to article The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The best time to build a semiconductor foundry is 5 years ago

Unless you've been hiding under a (non-silicate) rock, you know there's a massive global shortage of semiconductors. Automobile production lines have stalled. New computers are launched late. Gamers can't get their hands on the latest bits of kit. And we're told that this won't clear up until 2023. If we're lucky. For a …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Optimistic?

    Not me.

    Everyone in the industry with more than two communicating neurons could see this coming, but the people determining the finance are most certainly not in the industry.

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Optimistic?

      Look at my historical comments and you'll see that I called this pattern of thought out, that this industry has turned strangely conservative considering its innovative core.

      People complain about UI changes and install legacy GUI's to keep the old feel. Whinge about the latest software that also happens to have higher hardware requirements. Wonder if the added tech is even worth the complexity

      30+ years ago every modest technical advancement was met with industry excitement and general customer enthusiasm. For at least the past 12+ years all we've been getting is recycled tech in smaller but (generally) faster packaging - generally, a lot of the fundamentals of the operation of the tech hasn't moved in quite a number of years. Our processor cores were the same basic architecture just on a smaller die, the structure of our software development was so ingrained that we are still dealing with the structural security issues to this day.

      AMD, Apple M1, and Rust can be said to be opening signs of breaking free of the stagnation, but I wonder where it might go.

      But I'm just being crabby I guess :p

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Optimistic?

        People complain about UI changes and install legacy GUI's to keep the old feel.

        No, they do it to avoid the loss in productivity that comes from fscking around with an interface that works perfectly well.

        Take the Windows GUI as an example, and compare the layout of win95 with win10 - can you point to a single change that actually makes life easier?

        1. Admiral Grace Hopper

          Re: Optimistic?

          can you point to a single change that actually makes life easier?

          In the case of Win10, one change that made life easier was the removal of the last trace of Win8 from the sole of its shoe.

        2. Snake Silver badge

          Re: Perfectly well

          Almost everything, to current users, works "perfectly well". You are falling into the trap of stagnant thinking, *exactly* what I was talking about!

          Henry Ford hated the idea of the Model A, because the Model T worked "perfectly well". He also hated sliding-gear transmissions, because his planetary-based gearbox on the Model T also worked "perfectly well" (regardless of the complexity of the foot pedal operations).

          Punchcards worked "perfectly well". Then it was magnetic tape that worked "perfectly well". Then 640K of RAM was "all we would ever need" (it suited us 'perfectly well', remember that claim?).

          Regarding America's history, King George III and his supporters believed his reign worked "perfectly well", too.

          From the perspective of time, a LOT of what we use today works "perfectly well", because as human beings we do not have the insight to foretell the future to see if a change or advancement will be an advantage. And yet, our history proves that by never settling on "perfectly well", we have made constant advancements in social and technological developments.

          Settling for "perfectly well" is a DEATH KNELL for any personal, social or technological advancement.

          Windows 10? It depends upon the device that you are using. Since most people are using legacy hardware with their Win10 installs, they never get to experience touchscreen interfacing. On touchscreen, Win10 offers native support and is a *much* better experience than Win7.

          But, again, since most people aren't experiencing touch, they aren't experiencing the improvement, either (I, also, didn't think much of Win10 until I bought my first touchscreen device. Oh! I finally said to myself, NOW I [somewhat] understand what's going on!)

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Perfectly well

            Coke got jealous of Pepsi and tried to mimic them. Backpedaled pretty quickly, IIRC.

            Why are some of the most productive electronic devices still using keyboards and text consoles?

            Ever heard of the adage, "If it ain't broken, don't fix it"?

        3. RichardBarrell

          Re: Optimistic?

          Some.

          The thing where I can press the windows+arrow keys to do things like maximise a window or half-maximise a window onto the left or right side of the current screen is pretty nice. :)

          The start menu having built in substring text search over Start Menu shortcuts (ONLY!!!) was briefly really good. Unfortunately Microsoft subsequently ruined it by adding in web search too in the same place. :(

          The start menu recognising when you type in simple arithmetic expressions and showing you the answer is really good. Unfortunately it only sometimes works, while the other times it does a bing search instead. :/

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Optimistic?

          Hit windows key, start typing a program name, hit enter when it appears in the search bar.

          Other than that (and improved stability over Win95), not much for me.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Optimistic?

          can you point to a single change that actually makes life easier?

          Why, ALL of it. It made me move to MacOS, the artist formerly known as OSX.

          :)

  2. johnnorris10

    Is this fair?

    The article mentions the billions that will be spent by South Korean and Taiwainese companies and yet they are the only companies that have already been spending on both process and fabs.

    I think todays problems are from two sources. One is Intel and the missteps over process. It is behind in manufacturing because it went down the wrong path. And it would be strange to spend billions building fabs based on a process that does not work, so they haven't. They just spent billions on a process that did not work.

    Secondly though TSMC and Samsung (and Intel) have spent to be able to build the latest and greatest, most companies have not. And the latest CPU/GPUs require the latest and greatest and those CPU/GPU are in more demand than ever. So blame all of the other companies that dumped their fabs to avoid the capital costs, leaving fewer and fewer manufacturing companies.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Is this fair?

      I was at AMD & IBM twenty years ago. Saunders was under a LOT of pressure by the analysts to go fabless. His response was to the effect, "Real men have their own fabs." But the cost of those fabs was going up FAST. The join Sony-Toshiba-IBM effort that created the cell microprocessor was very much about that as well.

      It's very easy to sit back and say, "shareholders should not be so risk-averse" when it's not your but on the line. Show me the analysts twenty, fifteen, ten, and five years ago that were warning about this. Hint: it's all about the next quarterly report, baby!

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Is this fair?

        "Hint: it's all about the next quarterly report, baby!"

        and that's WHY the Asian manufacturers are stomping all over western vulture capitalist-driven traditional managment companies

        MBAs are pocketing fat bonuses and getting out of dodge for cutting back costs by shedding staff and infrastructure investments but the reality is that they're "making money" by selling off - not the family silverware - but the tools of the trade needed to actually work and make more tools of the trade, as well as failing to invest in the people with knowledge of how to do it

        Companies with slightly longer outlooks may seem less profitable, but they're able to weather the lean times and can afford to invest in upgrades when opportunists are simply asset stripping and running equipment into the ground

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: Is this fair?

          100% agree. MBA's have become the scourge of the world: they go to school to learn historical patterns of business from previously successful examples, but that does not take into any possible account progressive or innovative ideas, as they are actually frowned upon as too risky versus maintaining quarterly profits.

          The 2008 crash was from people walking away from their inverted mortgages, something the PTB never thought was possible.. simply because it never happened before and they could not believe that individuals could make the same win/lose/cut-your-losses decisions that Big Businesses make every time they close a division and cut 10,000 jobs.

          The problem is MBA's is that they are specially trained to Follow the Leader. Do this, what they did the last time, and you'll be OK. But you look at *today's* economy, the biggest winners are those who stepped out of the lineup and did something unusual. But MBA's are taught that this risk is a great one, maybe too great in a lot of instances to consider.

          But this is an innovative industry and sticking your foot/neck out is the way it was built in the first place.

          1. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: Is this fair?

            There's also the notion that getting a MBA is like getting a Divinity qualification -- if you don't conform and become a believer then you won't graduate.

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: Is this fair?

              The same goes for other professions too. For example, economist: Either believe in perpetual growth or don't become an economist. Definitely do not, ever, ever question the money-go-round of inflation and money creation (quantitive easing) and blindly state that because the numbers are higher the economy is doing well.

          2. John Sager

            Re: Is this fair?

            We used to call them Seagulls - fly in, shit on everyone & fly off again.

    2. BOFH in Training

      Re: Is this fair?

      I also read another source of problem for Intel.

      Intel was not keen on making chips for others, so the the experience they get is from only building their own chips basically.

      Whereas TSMC and Samsung manufacture for anyone with money and chip design.

      So if Intel was amortising the plant cost over X number of chips that they made, according to their requirements per year, and gaining experience from making those X number of chips, TSMC and Samsung were amortising the plant cost from pretty much any and all clients, regardless they want 100 chips or a billion, and ended up gaining alot more experience with manufacturing and amortising the plant cost faster.

      And that experience led them to gaining better capabilities in terms of the advanced nodes compared to Intel.

      That sounded like a plausible reason to me as well.

      1. Kristian Walsh

        Re: Is this fair?

        Good points. I'll add another disadvantage for Intel: its CPU designs and fabrication became co-dependent. If the chips (and packaging solutions!) that were to use the {X nm} process were delayed, then any fabrication investment to feed that product like was a major drain on profits. Some of the "7 nm" problems came from not wanting to commit resources to technologies early until the company was sure it would have CPU designs that could exploit that technology.

        Samsung or TSMC never had that problem. If a big customer couldn’t tape out on schedule, then they re-booked another customer instead, so investment was much easier to justify.

        The experience thing is important, but it goes both ways. In general, bringing a design to production on any kind of manufacturing process helps in developing the next one; you discover the things that expose the weaknesses in a process, and especially the things that you know you couldn’t get away with if tolerances tightened. Consider this outlandish situation: Intel contracts TSMC to manufacture its main CPU families at {next process shrink}. Meanwhile, Intel’s fabrication arm skips volume production at that node size completely, and invests in the next one, in order to leapfrog TSMC.

        (It’s outlandish largely because neither party would agree to it: too much IP is exposed to both parties during these projects, it’s only okay as long as TSMC never designs competing CPUs and none of TSMC’s CPU customers get into fabrication.)

  3. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
    Holmes

    True for some parts

    The high performance processors (CPU / GPU) are definitely affected due to a lack of investment, but there are far more devices made and sold than those.

    Those parts aren't sexy but a processor, memory and a GPU alone do not a computer make (well, not a very useful one anyway).

    There are the parts in the power supply (and with modern parts we have gone to local point of load converters due to the very high core currents required; as core voltages go down, the current goes up for the same power) which is difficult to distribute, to say the least.

    I remember designing a 1.8V 30A point of load converter almost 20 years ago and I had to use what is known as remote sense (you sense the voltage at the device you are powering) because even using very heavy copper and multiple layers, I still had voltage drops over a few inches of about a quarter of a volt.

    That was not the highest current regulator I designed; 100A at 1.2V still haunts my dreams.

    Then there are workhorse parts such as configuration memory, peripheral controllers and the like.

    In the wider market there are parts that are simply not suitable for a 7nm process (it is believed that the smallest feature size for NOR flash is 65nm to get decent yields for example although there is nothing stopping a 7nm line from producing them but it seems like a waste of a top end fab line). Parts such as ADCs, DACs, ethernet PHYs and the like sell many more parts than processors and GPUs combined and the fabs that make them are churning this stuff out day in and day out.

    So the shortage is for the latest and greatest parts on very tiny nodes (FPGAs included although I am not sure I want to pay upwards of $2K for a single part).

    There doesn't currently seem to be a shortage of all those essential but often forgotten parts.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: True for some parts

      Aren't most of the fabs making 65-130nm parts redundant CPU fabs from a couple of generations ago?

      Are these going to keep running indefinitely because you aren't going to be able to use redundant 5nm fabs in 5 years to make power electronics? Or is there somebody making brand new 65nm lines today ?

      1. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: True for some parts

        These fabs are smaller and have no need to go to a new process node until they update the equipment.

        Going to a smaller process node does not preclude making 65nm (or larger) parts; that is simply the smallest feature size supported.

        They are mostly owned by the vendors (TI, Analog devices, Spansion, Hitachi etc) who are still pumping out 68HC devices in some cases.

        TI is still making 741 opamps (originally released by Fairchild in 1963!).

        No doubt it is on a newer process node, but the specifications compared to a modern device are pretty rough but if you have a circuit that was proven with them (there are lots of those still around) then that is what you will need to buy.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: True for some parts

          I'm guessing the light source is different.

          You aren't going to keep your insane EUV light to make 65nm parts - so you are going to need some expensive rebuild

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: True for some parts

          "Going to a smaller process node does not preclude making 65nm (or larger) parts; that is simply the smallest feature size supported."

          That is not how it works at all.

          The processes, masks and materials (just about everything) are not the same at all between the larger planar and the more recent FinFET type processes.

          And the analogue components are exactly why some products remain on the older processes. BiCMOS cannot be made on the FinFET processes. Nor can flash memory, for that matter.

          It is not just a case of shrinking or enlarging stuff.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: True for some parts

      "There doesn't currently seem to be a shortage of all those essential but often forgotten parts."

      There is in the automotive sector, but that's for the pure and simple reason that manufacturers(*) cancelled orders then found themselves at the back of the order queue when they attempted to pick up the slack

      (*) With one notable exception: Toyota - creators of the lean manufacturing system that the rest of the world aped. Analysis in the wake of ther 2011 Earthquake and tsunami identified semiconductor supply as vulnerable to severe disruption (it took nearly a year for Japanese fabs to fully recover) and Toyota consequently undertook to carry enough stock of critical components to be able to ride out shortages - even though this meant thery needed to increase warehouse holding of electronic components to around 2-3 months buffer

      The point and objective of the Toyota "just in time" system isn't to carry MINIMUM stock, but to avoid carrying EXCESS inventory - something that accountants at most other manufacturers utterly missed in their drive to drive down costs by decreasing stock levels to absolute minimums across the board instead of minimum SAFE levels to ensure production stability

      (ie: what happened to automakers was 100% self-inflicted because MBA monkeys just looked at the picture on the cover page of a presentation and copied that instead of taking the time to understand the aims, objectives and philosophy of a successful system (there are entire libraries devoted to books about the "Toyota methodology")). Of course they can't now admit they screwed up because stockholders will crucify them....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Wise Words Worth Repeating

        "The point and objective of the Toyota "just in time" system isn't to carry MINIMUM stock, but to avoid carrying EXCESS inventory - something that accountants at most other manufacturers utterly missed in their drive to drive down costs by decreasing stock levels to absolute minimums across the board instead of minimum SAFE levels to ensure production stability"

        Applies outside electronics and automotive too. Trouble was first predicted years ago, and is comiing home to roost.

        Spreadsheet jockeys rule but are past their sell by date. Put the cost of not being able to make (and sell) stuff on the spreadsheet, as well as the alleged savings. Does the picture change?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Wise Words Worth Repeating

          It's a dilemma, really. How much slack is enough? Too little and you pay in lost sales when a hiccup hits. Too much and you pay in storage costs and get undercut, and the sweet spot keeps moving. About the only way to succeed is to be psychic.

  4. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Shortages enable to make prices higher. They aren't always unintended.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But there's a catch. In most cases, it's hard to tell if it's better to sell a few at a king's ransom or a crapload for peanuts in terms of the bottom line. Unless you're talking something like a Veblen good (which grows more valuable with rarity), what you want is usually a middle ground: a sweet spot where the right quantity at the right price gets you the most return.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        When I was in that part of the industry, you had your fab fillers--older stuff that paid the bills. And you had your latest, greatest CPUs (later on, GPUs as well). That high end stuff was where you made the money to invest in the next product.

        That's for a self-owned fab, of course. The build-to-order fabs cannot amortize across customers.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        if you are seen to be gouging, people notice and will treat you accordingly when things return to normal

        This is seen with petrol stations. You can make a lot of money in the short term if there's a shortage and you're the only place around with tanks, but the long term cost is likely to destroy your business as people shun the business afterwards

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Unless you take advantage of the gouging to buy out all the other petrol stations in the meantime, turning it into a Hobson's Choice which many people can't leave because their routes aren't served by mass transit.

  5. codejunky Silver badge

    So

    Planning sucks and the only viable way forward is market freedom. I am sure someone will be shocked but I dont know who.

    1. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: So

      The bad planning here was made by the market actors. This is a spectacular failure of market freedom.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: So

        @Filippo

        "The bad planning here was made by the market actors. This is a spectacular failure of market freedom."

        How do you work that out? After 4 major hits to this very specific resource there is a loss of supply, AND the market has already been addressing where supply goes.

        "This is a spectacular failure of market freedom."

        But as pointed out in the article the lack of supply is due to only a few big players where in the past there would have been a load of others (which also sucked profit from the big ones aka made things cheaper for you and me).

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    The central failure

    We're going to see another central failure in a short time : building all of your new fabs in the driest State of the Union.

    Arizona. Who the blazes thought it would be a good idea to build there ? Well, apart from the high-level suits who undoubtedly extracted a monstrously insignificant tax agreement and didn't give a flying one about the additional drain this is going to put on what's left of the Colorado river.

    Additionally, cooling costs are going to be through the roof.

    Way to go for ecology all around.

  7. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Big customer said "we don't need any chips"

    The auto industry figured they'd not sell any cars during Covid, so they said "we don't need any chips"

    So Intel/AMD/etc said "awright mate, we'll make other stuff"

    Now the auto industry complains of shortages.

    Hmmm... Sounds like an own goal to me.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Big customer said "we don't need any chips"

      "Now the auto industry complains of shortages."

      Except Toyota: Because they sat down and analysed what would happen if they cancelled orders along with worst case scenarios about how long it would take for new orders to start flowing into their warehouses

      Hence WHY Toyota's production lines worldwide are unaffected

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...and the best people to pay for it

    are the taxpayers. $450Bn from South Korea's government, $130Bn from the US government. Of the three listed in the article, only the TSMC investment is from a company.

  9. Charles 9 Silver badge

    Perhaps the adages of the titles can be generalized thus:

    "The best time to do anything is way too long before you even realize you actually need to do it."

    Or...

    "The only way to win in this world is to be lucky...or psychic..."

  10. John Savard Silver badge

    Basic Flaw

    It is true that a semiconductor firm that has invested in capacity will do well, if there is demand, and other firms are not there to meet the demand, because they did not.

    But if they risk investing so much as to exceed demand, they will lose money. It is we, as consumers, who benefit from capacity being plentiful.

    So the futures of automakers may depend on chipmakers investing a lot; but the chipmakers themselves benefit from not investing more than can bring profits.

    So the solution doesn't lie in urging chipmakers to behave in our best interests as opposed to their own or their stockholders'. They won't listen. No; those who want something, those who benefit from it, will have to be the ones who pay for it.

    So the solution lies in the direction of automakers making their own chips and things like that.

  11. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Pfft, just type in cheat code A-E-G-I-S to make things go faster...

    Or I-D-K-F-A

  12. nautica
    Stop

    Wasn't the United States THE world leader in semiconductors until it gave all its patents away?

    ...Seem to remember that there was a big brouhaha (in the high-tech industry, and elsewhere) about the Clinton administration's opening up the US Patent Office and basically giving away, to the world, any and all patents we had.

    You REMEMBER the high tech industries, don't you? Try REMEMBERING (it's going to be hard, 'cause they are VERY long gone) such semiconductor-manufacturer names as--

    Sylvania (THE inventor of TTL logic); National Semiconductor; AMI; Mostek; Burr-Brown; AT&T; GE; RCA (the inventor of CMOS); Signetics; Motorola; Monolithic Memories ( the inventor of the PAL--Programmable Array Logic); Zilog; Triquint; MOS Technology; Silicon General; Dallas Semi; Fairchild; General Instrument; Harris Semi; ITT Semi; Inmos; Lattice; Precision Monolithics; Rockwell Semi...and the list goes on and on and...

    It must be noted that it is far from coincidental that the demise of the US semiconductor industry corresponds precisely and exactly with the demise of all the businesses which depended on it--small AND large electronics design firms, as well as the tremendous sales force(s) involved: both semi-manufacturers' direct sales forces as well as the very much larger independent 'sales rep' industry.

    One cannot help but wonder if we'd have a world-wide semiconductor shortage if a majority of these firms were still in existence...to say nothing of all the positive side-effects, such as higher employment, much higher enrollment and matriculation of US students in science and engineering, higher GDP, higher tax-income for the affected jurisdictions, higher income taxes to federal and local governments due to higher employment of much-higher-paid employees...

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    "In War by Other Means,a recently published study of economic espionage and other unfair techniques foreign governments and companies are using to undermine U.S. competitiveness, President Clinton’s chief economist, Laura D’Andrea Tyson, is quoted as estimating that the U.S. lost $105 billion in potential sales from 1985-1989 due to patent theft by the Japanese...Coming on the heels of a Clinton Administration effort in the spring of 1996 — the same period John Huang, Charlie Trie and others were brokering large and illegal Chinese contributions to the Clinton reelection campaign— to give the Chinese government the entire U.S. patent data base (including the technical support necessary to exploit this wealth of information...)"

    "Hatch’s ‘Submarine’ Patent Deform Bill Threatens To Sink The Engine Of U.S. Competitiveness, National Security"

    "May 21, 1997 Center for Security Policy"

    https://centerforsecuritypolicy.org/hatchs-submarine-patent-deform-bill-threatens-to-sink-the-engine-of-u-s-competitiveness-national-security-2/

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Somebody else's problem applied by world business

    Just in time business or holding capitol as stock is for fools only works when someone/somewhere else is willing to maintain capitol as stock in warehouses, something that Business experts have been insisting is unnecessary

    When production stalled due to COVID then the supply train had to be rebuilt from scratch since those hidden companies who had made money buffering for those that refused to have used up their stocks.

    This is where the delay comes with everyone waiting for someone else to pay to get things moving again.

    Business has got used to the idea of pushing the responsibility for maintaining their supply upon outsiders and when the supply stalls then they cannot move forward without someone else doing it first.

    It might have been a good idea to require businesses to maintain their own buffers but in the rush to maximise profit this was seen as SEP and the result is that someone else (or in reality everyone else) has to pay as business still believe it is someone else's problem.

    As has been posted earlier in this thread the business "experts" that promoted this model seem just as reliable as those economists that failed to predict and prevent the subprime morgage scam.

    Conclusion people are stupid and those trusted to run business are not only stupid but also intentionally blind, how many times do we have to keep bailing big business out when it would be cheaper to cut the head off the monster and return control to someone who sees beyond todays profits

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Somebody else's problem applied by world business

      "...how many times do we have to keep bailing big business out when it would be cheaper to cut the head off the monster and return control to someone who sees beyond todays profits..."

      Is it? What if it's the ONLY supplier left? What do you tell the unfortunate cogs who have nowhere else to get their essentials because the last grocer in a 10-mile radius just shut down forever?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Somebody else's problem applied by world business

        Cutting the head i.e. remove those who misdirected the businesses because they have repeatedly shown themselves to be incompetents who stagger between one disaster to another and never learn.

        As to what to do if you live too far from resources? you can move, grow your own or accept that you are going to do a lot of travelling, this is not a new thing it has happened over and again and people did what they must to live.

        The problem here with just in time business models is that they are intentionally one step away from diaster, if all businesses are able to sell their products without any delay then you do not need to invest in storage and hence do not need to tie money up as unsold products nor need to borrow money because your company assets require people to buy contineously too.

        COVID made for a business pause and rather than take the opportunity to build up stocks they knew they were going to need and would have required investing in warehousing again they just sat there waiting for somoene else to sort the problem out. If their goverments had not bailed them out then they would have been screwed

        Clearly business has got used to the idea that they can continue without any fall back position for when inevitably business does not flow as expected.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Somebody else's problem applied by world business

          "The problem here with just in time business models is that they are intentionally one step away from diaster..."

          Because to do otherwise is also disastrous. Keeping back stocks sounds nice until you learn that others who don't bother are able to cut costs and undercut you, and suddenly you don't have business worth having a back stock. IOW, it's cutthroat; threading the needle is the only way to survive. Too fat and you get undercut, too lean and you lose out to those who did back stock, and there's no real way to predict which way the future will swing.

  14. Filippo Silver badge

    Great. It looks like we've moved past "privatise profits, socialise losses". Now we're socialising investments too. Why don't we just transfer taxes directly to corp shareholders and be done with it?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Because a lot of times foreign sovereignty gets in the way...

  15. tomspeeny

    Click bait article.

    There is no bad time to plant a tree. Or grow your own food. Young growing trees consume much more CO2 that 1000 year old redwoods.

    As far as chip foundries, I cannot imagine a more silly statement. These companies in the graveyard were ruined by management and lack of innovation. The greatest threat to our semiconductor industry is China. They want to invade and destroy Taiwan. They continue to steal free counties tech. They are the greatest extortionists to the third world ever seen.

    Apple. Wake up.

  16. FlamingDeath Silver badge

    Hey, even Mike Judge admitted he was no prophet, he was off by a couple of hundred years

    Who could of though that some dick head would come up with the idea of CPU’s crunching numbers, proof of work, can be minted into value. Frito wouldn’t care less, as unthinking as he is, much like the general population of today is, ie dumb and short sighted.

    Much like splitting the atom was a bad idea for future generations, block chain is another nightmare scenario

    The only place you get a block & chain usually, is a prison

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