• GoldenNorm



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    • There are two manufacturing models in the semiconductor industry. One model, the Independent Device Manufacturer (IDM), results in semiconductor factories that produce chips exclusively for the factory owner. Intel designs the products and creates the manufacturing process to produce those designs. Because modern semiconductor plants cost 10’s of billions of dollars, you have to sell a lot of your own product to make a profit. Every square mm on the silicon wafer, except for test structures, contains product that Intel plans to sell.

      The second model, for firms like TSMC, is called a foundry. The foundry creates the manufacturing process and publishes rules on how to use the process. Independent companies carry out the product design. The foundry makes money when you contract to use their services to build your design. The designers make money when you either buy the product from them or when you buy the product that incorporates them. There are other economies for the designer – you may not need as many chips from a manufacturing lot as are available from even a single run. The foundry will sell you “space” on the wafer that is shared with other designers whose product is being built using the same process. Result – lower cost chips at the expense of not being able to create proprietary manufacturing processes.

      What Intel is now proposing is that they will ramp up the second business model, using other new factories or converted old ones, where they will provide foundry services. What’s not clear is whether Intel’s foundries will be able to supply products using the most advanced technology – one competitive with TSMC. It’s also not clear that Intel has the management and technical staff to run both business in parallel, and in competition with each other.

      Further, just manufacturing the part in a semiconductor factory located in the USA does not solve the supply chain problem. After manufacturing you have test and assembly (packaging) almost all of which is done in Asia. It’s a specialized industry that requires its own integrated supply lines and capital investment. If you want to be independent, then you have to fund that industry.

      Finally, you don’t get to build either the chip factory or the test/package factories without the manufacturing tools. These tools are so specialized that it makes no sense to try to build duplicate companies to manufacture them just so your supply lines are protected.

      In the end, it’s a myth that any one country can sustain a fully independent semiconductor industry that produces competively priced products. The semiconductor industry is just too risky for most investers despite the prospect of enormous profits. Factory depreciation can be measured in dollars per second. Overcapacity in the industry, as in previous memory wars, can quickly lead to having to sell product at a loss – made worse if your labor costs are sustantially higher than your competitors. If you want a local industry badly enough you are going to have look for government investment. You are in a global competition for in-country production facilities.

      So, yes let’s build more fabs in the USA, because it does reduce risk. But don’t expect those continuing new fabs to be the supplier of the most advanced technologies for the first 5-7 years or more. It’s a very hard learning curve.

      Norm Goldsmith

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    • in reply to: Master your printer – not the other way around #2341912

      My biggest complaint is with software “updates” that are intended to detect ink cartridges supplied by firms other than the original manufacturer. I thought that the courts had ruled that practice illegal, but it is still occurring. I have not updated my Epson software since buying it 4 or 5 years ago for exactly that reason and it continues to work with the most recent versions of Windows 10. I found a script on the internet that will roll back updates to the Epson model I own just in case I need to. I know that Epson is doing that because my cartridge supplier had to recall cartridges in order to make changes needed to keep them working.

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    • in reply to: Fields in Excel #2325035


      I should have given an example. I created a line in PowerPoint (because it is easy) and then copied it as a picture (Windows-shift-s combo-keys) . I then pasted the picture into a footer with the result shown in the attachment.line-in-the-footer-example


    • in reply to: Fields in Excel #2325017


      I’m rather late to this party, but it occurs to me that you can create a page-wide line as a picture and then simply insert the picture into the header/footer either above or below the left/center/right entries. Excel allows multi-line headers & footers.


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    • in reply to: Upgrading to Acronis True Image 2021 #2318099


      I just double-clicked on a .tibx file residing on an external USB hard drive and had no trouble getting to and reading an individual file. Did a copy/paste to another drive to verify that I could restore a signle file. I have not tried doing this when booting from a recovery disk.

      Acronis 2020, Windows 10 Pro, Version 20H2, build 19042.630.


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    Viewing 5 replies - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)