April 28, 2021
Events currently happening around the world have proved the importance of semiconductors, but what is shocking is that there are almost no IC foundries in the UK. Should the UK consider developing its own semiconductors, including foundries?
Why is manufacturing semiconductors important?
The ability of a country to collect its own resources and produce its own goods is crucial to defending that country.
However, as technology advances, developments and goals that are generally considered unimportant or unimportant become important. For example, due to the ability of radios and vehicles to provide instant communication and the ability to carry large amounts of goods in a short period of time after the First World War, the importance of radios and vehicles has changed dramatically.
In the past few decades, the importance of transistors has greatly increased, from being able to replace devices in radio equipment to providing assistance to the most advanced systems in human history. However, what happened in the past year has proved the degree of modern society’s dependence on semiconductors, and that many countries are not fully prepared.
The efforts of countries to develop their own semiconductor supply chains stem from a series of problems. For example, relying on external countries to produce equipment can expose a country to security threats from embedded malware and backdoor programs. And trade restrictions will be another uncertain factor, which will seriously damage a country's ability to obtain semiconductors.
So how does the UK perform across the entire supply chain?
What semiconductors are currently produced in the UK?
For semiconductor products, although the UK does have multiple manufacturing bases, there is almost no production of high-end ICs used in computers or the Internet of Things. The UK has 10 to 18 semiconductor manufacturers, including Diodes Inc, Seagate, Plessey and Bourns.
However, among these companies, only PragmatIC is the only company that produces IC technology for processors and controllers, but their products are specifically for flexible electronic products and are still in the development stage.
In the UK, no foundry has the same capabilities as the rest of the world (such as TSMC, Intel and Renesas Electronics). These companies can provide the latest mobile platform technology, cellular chips and processors for supercomputers. Therefore, the UK is 100% dependent on external countries to produce such equipment, which raises the question of “Should the UK consider creating its own IC supply chain”?
Should the UK develop its own integrated circuits?
There is no doubt that the UK should produce its own integrated circuits. First, the introduction of high-tech equipment will help bring in more high-paying jobs. In addition, due to the required environmental conditions, the construction of high-tech facilities will also provide itself with highly skilled construction work.
Britain’s production of its own integrated circuits will also provide a certain degree of national security, serving itself and its allies (including the United States and the European Union).
Manufacturing or at least establishing a semiconductor foundry in the UK can provide a reliable source of defense technology to develop its technology without being disturbed by such world events.
Of course, building a semiconductor foundry with modern technological capabilities will bring some challenges. The cost of such facilities is usually in the billions of dollars, and the environmental problems they cause may prevent local councils from building them. However, it is in Britain’s interest to provide global semiconductor manufacturers with opportunities to establish foundries in the UK.