In a major push to give Europe pride of place in the global semiconductor design and fabrication ecosystem, 17 EU member states this week signed a joint declaration to commit to work together in developing next generation, trusted low-power embedded processors and advanced process technologies down to 2nm. It will allocate up to €145bn funding for this European initiative over the next 2-3 years.
Recognizing the foundational nature of embedded processors, security and leading-edge semiconductor technologies in everything from cars, medical equipment, mobile phones and networks to environmental monitoring, and smart devices and services, the European Commission said this is the reason it is crucial for key industries to be able to compete globally and have the capacity to design and produce the most powerful processors.
It’s kind of odd that Europe does not command a more prominent position in the semiconductor industry, since the one company that enables the constant progress in this sector isn’t American, Chinese, or Japanese – but Dutch. ASML is by far the world’s largest developer and producer of photolithography systems, which are the machines companies like Intel and TSMC use to fabricate integrated circuits.
Their machine are some of the most advanced machines in the world, and all the advanced, high-end chips from Intel, Apple, AMD, and so on, are built using machines from ASML. It seems odd, then, that Europe’s own semiconductor industry lags behind that of the rest of the world. This investment seems to aim to correct that, and that’s a good thing for all of us, no matter if you’re European, American, or from anywhere else – this can only increase competition.