Google – the poster boy for American tech – is trying real hard to bring back the
silicon to the Silicon Valley. They have done some great things for open source with programs like Google Summer of Code. Can they do the same for hardware at the chip design level? Looks like they plan to do exactly that.
On the other end, Global Foundries wants to catch up. By suing or invoking patriotism or by any other means. They want all the grants and tax breaks they can get, and they want American chip companies to use American foundries (right now they don't really have any serious American competition). Lack of customers and scale, means that Global Foundries has been scaling down their ambitions as well. They were sued by one of their customers - IBM - because they stopped all development on their 7nm fabs.
Meanwhile in Taiwan, TSMC wants its customers to forget the old ways and adopt the new ways to justify its investments. They dont want to support archaic fabs - because maintaining capacity for old fabs while adding capacity for new fabs is a LOT of investment.
So while Global Foundries is working with Google to make it virtually free to build 180nm chips, is scaling back on their 7nm plans, TSMC is telling its customers to move to 28nm or better.
This sounds to me like a very interesting situation where the market is being divided into 2 -
- a cutting edge, fast moving fab which you would use if you want the latest advancements in the semiconductor world
- or a slow moving fab which is trying to build a world which is not too relied on the instability in the East
However this plays out, I think it's going to be chaotic for a while :)