I wonder if...
China will kick up a stink?
The Dutch government is expected to finally publish long-awaited rules covering extended export restrictions on technology to China next week, with ASML as a maker of advanced chipmaking gear likely to be one of those affected. The Netherlands formally joined US efforts aimed at curbing Chinese access to advanced technology …
China isn't specifically named. It's likely to be drafted as a limit on countries that are defined by certain characteristics eg lack of IP protection. Of course China can complain about being characterised in a certain way, but has a track record of that kind of behaviour.
"The Netherlands formally joined US efforts aimed at curbing Chinese access to advanced technology and the tools to develop and manufacture cutting-edge semiconductors earlier this year following months of pressure from Washington"
Should possibly read as....
"The Netherlands formally accepted U.S. blackmail, aimed at curbing Chinese access to advanced technology and the tools to develop and manufacture cutting-edge semiconductors earlier this year following months of pressure from Washington".
You know, for a so called superpower, the yanks seem remarkably insecure.
The Dutch government are also likely to have faced pressure from the rest of the EU, as well as internally, possibly even from ASML themselves (who might want to restrict Chinese access to their machines for fear of them being reverse-engineered and copied, but prefer to have diplomatic cover)
That would be ironic. And highly improbable.
ASML has an order book worth around $40B. It has a monopoly on EUV lithography. Nobody else has the technology or expertise to build those devices.
It'll take tens of billions and at least a decade to replicate that existing capability. Now China might one day be able to do that. Which is unlikely but let's imagine they do.. By then, they'll be seriously fucked on a few key factors. Semiconductor fabrication (technology) will have moved on a lot in a decade or so. Many of the vital components in ASML's machines are sourced from manufacturers subject to US export controls. These won't be going to China even if ASML wanted to do that, Foundries like TSMC will have had 10+ years to recover the cost of their fab lines that rely on ASML's technology. Which means they can undercut whatever EUV based chips Chinese produces because they'll still need to recoup tens of billions in R&D, capital costs and so on.
Read Chris Martin's excellent Chip War.
If anyone is to dislodge ASML's stranglehold on hi-end semiconductors, they'll need to invent a new and radically different technology from EUV. Which will be (a) very expensive; (b) risky and (c) take decades. I suppose the Chinese government might be the only ones with the risk appetite and deep enough pockets to take a punt on that, hoping it'll pay off ~30 years dfrom now.
That theory only holds until you realise that China has smart people too. Yes, they have been trying shortcuts but that doesn't mean they don't have their own people working hard on ideas. A simple example is the whole Thorium reactor thing. Nobody but China invested the time and billions in making it work, and now they hold patents for the solutions, and have a complete University dedicated to the very topic.
Add to this the tendency of nations to come up with their own ideas when artifically restricted (how do you think Russians because such good and efficient coders?) and I think this is basically lighting the fuse for another future problem.
It's a shame that collaboration is not in anyone's DNA. God knows what could be achieved together.
I think you'll find there's more than a teensy bit of a technology gap between weaving or metal bashing and semiconductor lithography.
The UK industries you mentioned suffered from decaades of complacent/arrogant management and chronic underinvestment => easy pickings for clueful competition. These failings generally don't apply to semiconductors and semiconductor lithography where everyone realises investment and innovation are business critical.
Smuggling is a thing too. While most manufacturing equipment has some kind of remote authentication process or you just simply cannot operate it without the support provided by Western companies, you do not really need any of those when you can smuggle ready-made chips for crucial applications. The Taiwan - mainland China shipping route sees all kind of exotic smuggling activities, rarely anyone cares to check whether a box of random electronic parts is blacklisted for export or not.
In fact it's TSMC itself that likes importing stuff to it's Chinese fabs as the boss there is not really supportive of the US idea of a trade war and would rather keep good relations with the CCP. So it might just be TSMC - currently most advanced chip manufacturer - that could send some defective chips straight from the production line to a Chinese recycling center where it could turn out that those failed batches are not so defective at all. That of course is merely a conspiracy theory, but it illustrates how delusional the idea of a successful long-term embargo is.
You think they are dumb enough just to replicate yesterday’s technology ?
yes, that's what he thinks. That black people are too dumb to care for themselves and need the help of white people, and asian people are too dumb to invent anything remarkable that the white haven't invented before.
Of course not. But it's not as simple as you seem to think.
It isn't just "replicating yesterday’s technology". Replicating the technology is only one part of the challenge. If anything, that's the easy bit. Which isn't easy BTW. The really, really hard bits are replicating the processes and supply chain elements to improve the yields, coordinating supply chain collaboration and partnerships, etc That takes decades of experience and almost impossible to replicate IPR and partnership agreements. And those elements are continually evolving - rapdily.
ASML is NOT ITAR-free with their lithography systems containing lots of U.S.-invented/originated software and hardware so they MUST adhere to U.S. law even though it is a Netherlands company.
China is NO SLOUCH when it comes to electronics manufacturing technology and they WILL be coming out with their own etchers and extreme-UV lithography within less than three years so ASML is mostly toast in a few years anyways.
An EUV lithographic machine isn't a thing so much as a large chunk of a production line that sufficiently specialized that it comes with its own workforce to work and maintain it. Its difficult to copy in that sense and, anyway, ASML doesn't make all the subassemblies in it (Zeiss makes the optics, for example).
There are some excellent descriptions of the process -- how it was developed and why, how it works and so on -- out there. People obviously don't read or watch them, especially politicians and pundits, the sorts of people that think everything is cut and dried, you just need the blueprints to make a copy. From what I can tell from these descriptions its a process, one that works but may well not be the only solution to the problem. Since the first solution inevitably has all the mistakes and compromises if and when "China" develops an alternative its likely to be competitive enough to put a big bite in ASML's income. Up to this present trade war mindset the build/buy tradeoff was firmly in ASML's favor -- but now that balance has been disturbed and its only the "they're Chinese so they're obviously inferior to us" mindset that ensures that we'll stay ahead (....and its not even 'we'.....why do we automatically assume that anyone who's out there is automatically an 'ally'?)
ASML is currently selling (like hotcakes) their DUV machines in China, so no, they're not afraid they might get copied or pressing for rules for fears of it. (Chinese firms have tried and failed multiple times to copy even older stepper designs already. They're unlikely to get a copy of an asml high end dry or immersion DUV machine working).
The fun part is watching the arch-capitalists promoting outsourcing manufacturing to communists while the liberals are complaining about this lifting 100s of millions of people out of poverty in China and campaigning to stop the same thing happening in India or Africa