Chipsets have increasingly become an asset of national strategic importance in the 5G era, with announcements this week from South Korea (Samsung) and China providing further evidence. Samsung’s announcement is of enormous scale, with five new factories set to produce chipsets over the next 20 years, supported by almost $230 billion of investment. This will also involve drawing in a supplier ecosystem of at least 150 companies to sustain production. Meanwhile, China has appointed a new leader for its state-backed chipset investment fund – the so-called ‘Big Fund’ – which aims to develop a supply ecosystem to reduce dependence on imports of sensitive technologies, particularly those from the US.
Semiconductors are critical to innovation in a range of devices and applications. This includes anything from smartphones, XR devices, mobile network equipment, and cloud computing through to autonomous vehicles, not just for their production but to facilitate the computing power needed to run advanced machine learning and AI. Recognition of this is also clear in the US and Europe where, in the case of the latter, the European Chips Act targets a doubling of the continent’s share of global semiconductor production capacity to 20% by 2030.