The Importance of Trailing Edge Semiconductor Manufacturing

The Importance of Trailing Edge Semiconductor Manufacturing

A major issue regarding China's position as a leading maker of lower-level processors is that if they nationalize these fabs, they may be able to control who can buy these chips at some point.

Fremont, CA: Much has been stated in recent months about the shortage of chips developed on leading-edge manufacturing nodes such as 7nm, 5nm, and so on. While there are some limitations in chips made with these advanced manufacturing technologies, the semiconductor industry's other problem appears to be at the trailing edge. The leading edge gets the most attention as it is the most interesting.

Supercomputers on the cloud, powerful servers, PCs and laptops, and even the computers in our pockets are all powered by the leading edge. However, many computing devices are not only comprised of cutting-edge microprocessors. Legacy nodes are used to make up the vast bulk of other components. Many mainstream processors, particularly those designed for automobiles, medical monitoring devices, and various other goods, are frequently built with significantly larger nodes at what is known as the trailing edge.

The bulk of firms producing these chips, mostly made using 90nm and higher technologies, are based in China. These chips are generally considered a commodity, which is why most large fabs do not devote much attention to the trailing edge. Despite this, most current digital gadgets use at least a few chips from the trailing edge. So, while legacy chips aren't as flashy as cutting-edge processors, they're nevertheless crucial in producing computer devices of all shapes and sizes.

Because most of the leading semiconductor fabs have chosen to invest in cutting-edge advanced computing fabs, the requirement for processors on larger nodes is also limited. Intel, TSMC, and Samsung will be building new fabs in the United States that will focus on 10nm, 7nm, and 5nm processes.

Global Foundries in New York is an exception to this trend. They specialize in 24 nm, 28 nm, and up to 350 nm processes and can supply a wide range of chips for various businesses other than the computer industry.

Global Foundries is the only large American company capable of competing with China at this level. However, China controls the higher processes that create millions of low-power chips used in a wide range of devices. Even though the device requires more powerful chips to operate, these are used for low-level functions.

A major issue regarding China's position as a leading maker of lower-level processors is that if they nationalize these fabs, they may be able to control who can buy these chips at some point. However, TSMC, Intel, and Samsung are all working on new fabs for advanced processors in the 7nm, 5nm, and maybe 2nm nodes.

In the United States, Global Foundries can supply some of the other chip demands. Nevertheless, demand remains high, and all of their fabs in the U. S. and those in Singapore and Dresden, Germany, are at maximum capacity.

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