back to article Chip manufacturers are going back to the future for automotive silicon

Cars are gaining momentum as computers on wheels, though chip manufacturers' auto focus isn't on making components using the latest and greatest fabrication nodes. Instead, companies that include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Globalfoundries are turning back the clock and investing billions in factories that use …

  1. vtcodger Silver badge

    Windows on Wheels

    "Semiconductors will be about 20 per cent of the bill-of-materials of a car by 2030"

    OMG. Can nothing be done to save humanity from this calamity?

    Oh well. I suppose it will cut miles driven by a lot. It'll probably be next to impossible to convince these digitized vehicles to go anywhere other than back to the dealer for "upgrades".

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: Windows on Wheels

      Lets alleviate the chip shortage by banning all infotainment systems which use touchscreens accessible by the driver and allow consumption of any form of social media while moving.

      The latter being the only things adverts of dismal little boxes on wheels ever mention these days.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Windows on Wheels

        The main problem I have with LCD screens in cars (apart from the fact that changing radio channel requires taking your eyes off the road) is that most manufacturers seem to place them high up in the centre of the console where their glare at dusk, and particularly at night on unlit roads really wrecks your night vision.

        My wife's Berlingo has a smallish screen, but it's high up. You can turn it off, but it turns itself back on at the slightest excuse, ranging from pushing the stalk button to see how you are doing for mpg (this shows on a display behind the steering wheel, not on the main screen) to changing the volume on the radio via the remote, to putting the car in reverse. I often have need to reverse park in an unlit car park at night. With the screen off, I can see well enough by the reversing light (I usually reverse using the mirrors rather than by craning my neck) that I don't risk knocking a tree over. Putting the car in reverse lights the screen, but that's defeatable by pushing a "back" button... until the parking sensors get nervous, whereupon the first "bleep" is accompanied by the screen lighting back up again and making it far more likely that I'll hit that tree.

        The screen on the Dacia is lower down (so less of a problem) and stays off when you turn it off - or rather, it goes into "dark" mode, where the screen is blank but not really off. Neither is really ideal; I was quite happy with the simple orange text display of the radio in my previous car :-)

        M.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Windows on Wheels

          "Putting the car in reverse lights the screen, but that's defeatable by pushing a "back" button... until the parking sensors get nervous, whereupon the first "bleep" is accompanied by the screen lighting back up again and making it far more likely that I'll hit that tree."

          Clearly you cheaped out and didn't pay the $$$ for the highly recommended reversing camera or the even more highly recommanded and even more expensive auto-parking option and this is your punishment.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows on Wheels

      Don't forget, a small part of why ICs will become a bigger share of the total BOM is electrification. Internal combustion engines have a lot more parts than electrically propelled cars.

      (Fewer moving parts can also equal higher reliability).

  2. Bartholomew Bronze badge
    Holmes

    I wonder is the move for safety ?

    There was one thing I was thinking about while reading the article and that is that doping never stops. At lower temperatures the (P-type and N-type) dopants migrate at a much much slower rate, but given a long enough period of time the silicon will eventually become homogeneous.

    For a dopant diffusion in silicon, if everything else is equal, it will take twice as long to migrate 50 nm as it would to migrate 25 nm.

    I have no idea how long it actually takes to migrate at 300K compared to 900K (typically ~12 hours) or 1100K (typically ~6 hours) for some N-type dopants. But I suspect that the timeline is low enough that as we go to smaller processes that the useful lifetime of products will shorten (For the chip fabs, to sell more product, the ideal would be about a decade beyond their shelf life plus any warranty period).

    1. Martin an gof Silver badge

      Re: I wonder is the move for safety ?

      So what you are suggesting is that cars of the future are more likely to be scrapped due to electronics failing and being impossible to repair, rather than mechanical components failing?

      M.

      1. Scene it all

        Re: I wonder is the move for safety ?

        And of course they would not want to put things on removable boards (like computers back in the old days) because that might make the cars *Repairable* and we can't have that.

      2. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: I wonder is the move for safety ?

        In the future, all cars are Citroens?

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: I wonder is the move for safety ?

          "In the future, all cars are Citroens?"

          Berninas more like. For the uninitiated, Berninae are expensive computer controlled sewing machines. No serious quilting enthusiast in New England is without at least one. Berninae spend a LOT of time in the shop.

      3. Bartholomew Bronze badge

        Re: I wonder is the move for safety ?

        What I'm saying is that the roll back to older bigger chunkier technology (with a longer dopant migration time - probably several decades) could be a pre-emptive measure to avoid future litigation for odd random random deaths.

  3. DJ
    Coat

    "Smithers, are we still pouring dollars into that chip plant on Taiwan?"

    "Why, yes, Mr. Burns, per your instruct..."

    "Good God, man, don't you know that plant and the rest of the island will under Chinese control before you can say 'bite me'?

    We might as well just sign a check to chairman She!"

    "Uh, I think you mean chairman Xi, sir."

    "I don't care what her name is, just find us another place to make our chips, pronto!"

    Just grabbing the Mackintosh on the way out the door...

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