Technology

Shortage of computer chips: the state summoned to intervene

The global shortage affects many industries, from electronics to automobiles. (Photo: 123RF)

A new coalition of tech companies has called on the U.S. government to invest $ 50 billion in research and manufacturing of chips, the global shortage of which affects many industries, from electronics to automobiles.

The American economy, infrastructure and national defense need a secure supply of semiconductors, argue Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, the major telecom players (AT&T, Verizon) and those in the design and production of chips, like Intel or Qualcomm.

Factories temporarily closed at the start of the pandemic. Since they reopened, they have struggled to meet the increased demand for computers, smartphones and tablets.

Washington is pressuring Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturers to allocate part of their supply to American automakers, which have had to largely slow down production.

Above all, President Joe Biden presented at the end of March an investment plan of more than 2 trillion dollars, which will be negotiated in Congress, and provides for the strengthening of chip manufacturing capacities in the country.

But the coalition asks elected officials to finance a law (CHIPS for America Act, or “chips for America”), passed earlier this year without the necessary funds having been paid.

“Semiconductors are crucial to the technologies of today and tomorrow, including aerospace, automotive, the cloud (remote computing, note), medical devices, telecoms, and others” , note the signatories in a letter addressed to Democratic presidents of the House and Senate, as well as to Republican leaders.

They find that governments in other countries are subsidizing the chip industry. “As a result, it is 20% to 40% more expensive to build and operate a plant in the United States compared to overseas. The American manufacture of semiconductors therefore represents only 12% of world production against 37% in 1990 ”.

According to them, the administration must, in the short term, let the industry correct the imbalance between supply and demand that is causing the shortage. “But in the long term, strong funding for the CHIPS Act would help America build the additional capacity needed to have more resilient supply chains and ensure that critical technologies are there when we need them.”

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