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No need for TSMC to take side between US and China: Q&A with Richard Thurston

hist78

Well-known member
This interview offers a different and interesting perspective from the former TSMC chief counsel Richard Thurston.

"The Chips and Science Act 2022 signed by US president Joe Biden on August 9 is seen as an important move to boost US competitiveness in the face of a "sputnik moment" with China. As we examine the content, with the conditions set in the law, we found the semiconductor companies will have to take sides if they decide to take the subsidy for building the fabs.

Richard L Thurston, an independent board member of Nantero, spent more than 15 years at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) as a former general counsel. He helped build up a sophisticated intellectual property and trade secret protection mechanism and participated in many key moments of TSMC's growth and success, shared his insights and expert opinions on the Chips and Science Act with DIGITIMES."


 

Daniel Nenni

Admin
Staff member
Interesting interview. I do believe SMIC based 7nm on the work of TMSC. Was it reverse engineered or was if misappropriated I do not know. If a China customer sends a 7nm design from TSMC to be manufactured at SMIC that is considered reverse engineering. In my mind it is IP misappropation.
 

blueone

Active member
Thurston is an attorney. His answers are mostly regurgitation of already known information or positioning. The only quantifiable show-stopper problem he discusses is that TSMC has access to or orders for more EUV tools than any other fabricator. Probably about as many or more than the rest of the industry combined. Unless ASML can substantially increase production beyond what they've already announced as their plan, or a viable competitor emerges (seems very unlikely), we know the course the industry will take.
 

benb

Active member
So the CHIPs act is basically another round of sanctions, with hand-outs to improve the optics and maybe win some votes in Ohio, Arizona and Texas. That's how it looks to me.

This is a deeper round of sanctions. Before any part, any component, anything, can ship to China you would need to show it can not be used in < 28nm process, or that the recipient isn't an entity that received ChIPs act money. And that will be federal law, enforceable by CBP, not something you can fiddle with. Since virtually all equipment shares parts, the effective result is Huawei-esque. A near complete ending of trade.

Semiconductor parts are already dual-use parts that can be used to enrich uranium, so they require export license through Commerce Department to export. I wonder if Samsung or TSMC can sign the act, as it is; do they risk immediate shutdown of their factories in China? Is it worth it?
 

benb

Active member
From the article above:

"The engineering talent issue is definitely a challenge. And what's happened in China is that China's universities have made a real strong effort to focus on creating a new generation, a deep pool of microelectronic talent, not just in semiconductors, but the whole range of microelectronic technologies, in which the US has certainly lost that competitive edge."

-My take: This is probably true, but then undermines his argument later with a "they love factories, we love innovation" oopsie.

"That's what attracts people because of the enablement of creativity and innovation. I think, that running a computer for a manufacturing line is not as rewarding. So, the science and research portions of Chips Plus, are really very important. I believe that they will also benefit students and engineers of Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea."

-One of the things Mr Thurston seems to assume is that Asians love to do the "not as rewarding...running a computer for a manufacturing line" while here in the US we seek the fullfillment "of the enablement of creativity and innovation". In reality, Asians love fullfillment too. I'm pretty sure. But those fullfilling jobs come with unsteady survival prospects and short lifespan, while a factory job repairing robots is hardly a drone job, and is steady work that builds very marketable skills, with or without a college degree.

I've actually done both, and have patents, and prefer factories to changing jobs every 5 years.
 

hist78

Well-known member
So the CHIPs act is basically another round of sanctions, with hand-outs to improve the optics and maybe win some votes in Ohio, Arizona and Texas. That's how it looks to me.

This is a deeper round of sanctions. Before any part, any component, anything, can ship to China you would need to show it can not be used in < 28nm process, or that the recipient isn't an entity that received ChIPs act money. And that will be federal law, enforceable by CBP, not something you can fiddle with. Since virtually all equipment shares parts, the effective result is Huawei-esque. A near complete ending of trade.

Semiconductor parts are already dual-use parts that can be used to enrich uranium, so they require export license through Commerce Department to export. I wonder if Samsung or TSMC can sign the act, as it is; do they risk immediate shutdown of their factories in China? Is it worth it?

I don't know Samsung's thinking but I'm sure TSMC will take the Chips Act's subsidies. First reason is based on Taiwan and United States' mutual interest to collaborate in military, economy, and technology. Second, the less semiconductor production in mainland China, the more business TSMC will potentially get from mainland China and non Chinese fabless companies.
 

Barnsley

Member
From the article above:

"The engineering talent issue is definitely a challenge. And what's happened in China is that China's universities have made a real strong effort to focus on creating a new generation, a deep pool of microelectronic talent, not just in semiconductors, but the whole range of microelectronic technologies, in which the US has certainly lost that competitive edge."

-My take: This is probably true, but then undermines his argument later with a "they love factories, we love innovation" oopsie.

"That's what attracts people because of the enablement of creativity and innovation. I think, that running a computer for a manufacturing line is not as rewarding. So, the science and research portions of Chips Plus, are really very important. I believe that they will also benefit students and engineers of Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea."

-One of the things Mr Thurston seems to assume is that Asians love to do the "not as rewarding...running a computer for a manufacturing line" while here in the US we seek the fullfillment "of the enablement of creativity and innovation". In reality, Asians love fullfillment too. I'm pretty sure. But those fullfilling jobs come with unsteady survival prospects and short lifespan, while a factory job repairing robots is hardly a drone job, and is steady work that builds very marketable skills, with or without a college degree.

I've actually done both, and have patents, and prefer factories to changing jobs every 5 years.
Didnt read the article , but does the guy not mention India at all?
The guy must be walking round with his eyes shut if he believes Indians are not in the industry in massive numbers, or do you think he doesnt count them as Asians?
 

hist78

Well-known member
Didnt read the article , but does the guy not mention India at all?
The guy must be walking round with his eyes shut if he believes Indians are not in the industry in massive numbers, or do you think he doesnt count them as Asians?

Please read the interview. It's not too long. Richard Thurston was answering what the reporter asked and I don't think they intended to make it a thorough global semiconductor industry review.
 

hist78

Well-known member
From the article above:

"The engineering talent issue is definitely a challenge. And what's happened in China is that China's universities have made a real strong effort to focus on creating a new generation, a deep pool of microelectronic talent, not just in semiconductors, but the whole range of microelectronic technologies, in which the US has certainly lost that competitive edge."

-My take: This is probably true, but then undermines his argument later with a "they love factories, we love innovation" oopsie.

"That's what attracts people because of the enablement of creativity and innovation. I think, that running a computer for a manufacturing line is not as rewarding. So, the science and research portions of Chips Plus, are really very important. I believe that they will also benefit students and engineers of Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea."

-One of the things Mr Thurston seems to assume is that Asians love to do the "not as rewarding...running a computer for a manufacturing line" while here in the US we seek the fullfillment "of the enablement of creativity and innovation". In reality, Asians love fullfillment too. I'm pretty sure. But those fullfilling jobs come with unsteady survival prospects and short lifespan, while a factory job repairing robots is hardly a drone job, and is steady work that builds very marketable skills, with or without a college degree.

I've actually done both, and have patents, and prefer factories to changing jobs every 5 years.

@benb

I read this interview again and can't find the tone you described (like "Asian love to ...).

Actually he pointed out that even TSMC has difficulty to recruit enough talents in Taiwan.

Also you mentioned:
"-My take: This is probably true, but then undermines his argument later with a "they love factories, we love innovation" oopsie."

But I can't find he ever said: ""they love factories, we love innovation"

Are we reading the same article?
 
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