The Coming Chip Wars

THE CHIP WARS OF THE 21ST CENTURY
STEVE BLANK

Steve Blank

A version of this article appeared in War on the Rocks.

Controlling advanced chip manufacturing in the 21st century may well prove to be like controlling the oil supply in the 20th. The country that controls this manufacturing can throttle the military and economic power of others.

The United States just did this to China by limiting Huawei’s ability to outsource its in-house chip designs for manufacture by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), a Taiwanese chip foundry. If negotiations fail, China may respond and escalate, via one of many agile strategic responses short of war, perhaps succeeding in coercing the foundry to stop making chips for American companies – turning the tables on the United States.

Short of war, there would be no obvious way to get those foundries back. Without them, the U.S. defense and consumer electronics industries will be set back at least five years — and…

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