I work in the industry and have worked in a fab. Here is some insight.
We are taught that fabs are not treated as factories but as hazardous chemical storage plants. On top of that, we work with high pressure and high power systems.
Fires have accounted for the most damage to fabs over the years; however, this situation is different.
The site is not a fab, it is a ASML manufacturing plant. This plant does not produce chips. It produces parts for the ASML machines. It makes the tables the wafer moves on and the frame the mask moves on.
Downstream effects of this fire will reduce the uptime of the machines and the delivery of promised machines to our customers.
To plug ASML. Speaking as a new grad. If you are in hardware, physics, nanoscience, simulations. ASML is the best company to work at if you want to learn. I get exposure to maybe the most complex engineering system is the world. The scale, complexity, details, and just hardcore technology is mind-blowing. I am plugging ASML because it is not widely know and I would love if fellow engineers had the opportunity to work here. I absolutely love the work I do.
FWIW (i wrote that comment, also btw woa I'm super flattered to be quoted like that!): note that it's based on my, by now, pretty dated inside knowledge (~6y). They might've improved since (though judging by the sibling comments, maybe not).
I find it funny how the other commenter talked about how ASML could be disrupted by a competitor with better software practices. Completely laughable in todays chip shortage world.
I have had to learn this lesson the hard way when I assumed that Disney+ was going to flop when a lot of the senior engineering talent supposedly quit during the ramp up. What I didn't realize was that technology isn't as important as other things when you have a moat. Disney+ ended up relatively successful despite their technological hiccups. Same reality with ASML.
Definitely two types of software here. Everything about that post is spot on.
Internal software is messy. Testing is also messy. Lots of things need to be automated. End of the day, it’s a bunch of hardware people.
The exciting stuff are the physics simulations. Modeling how lens aberrations affect the light that passes through and how to correct for that.
Software wasn’t mentioned in the comment though. It might be an awesome place to work at within those other disciplines which were mentioned.
This is the sort of thing that shys me away from every working at a hardware company doing software.
yep. accurate comment. How do you like 40M LOC with 50% code duplication?
That sounds like a train wreck waiting to happen. I’m amazed that hasn’t put an egg on their face. Are their customers complaining about issues?
And how can the risk managers know so much about potential regressions? Are they a panel of former engineers?!
So many questions
keep in mind that machines like those are so complex that you don't simply buy them and install them.
It's more like getting custom-made artisanal goods: each machine has a "father/mother" from its 'conception' til delivery who treats it as their (work) baby. Then a special plane will fly the machine and a team of dedicated engineers will spend weeks in your fab doing install / validation. The process is long and complex.
Downtime are really painful and expensive so the philosophy is "better copy paste the code rather than change what's working". downtime are not very frequent but people are just the least expensive / worrying thing there. It's not like you can easily start a competitor...
It almost sounds like there should be states funding creation of a competitor simply to prevent the "fire impacts entire global industry" kind of news we're seeing today.
ASML has 16 locations around the globe so while it will have some impact, it could be a lot worse.
Not every location does the same thing though. ASML has bought other companies that were key suppliers to them. Like Berliner Glas Group in 2020 which is located in Berlin and is where the accident happened. No other location of ASML will be able to compensate for production losses there.
a competitor won't be enough, the whole supply chain is made by companies which are single point of failure (the reason why europe can't afford to say "ASML only sell your machines to EU fabs" is that one of the key ASML supplies is US.. and without them no machines...).
Well China is trying are they not? We will probably have to wait another 5-15 years to see the results...
The customers do complain, but they only care about wafer yield and throughput. They will accept any dirty software hack or manual procedure to circumvent issues _now_.
I am currently beginning a PhD in physics (mathematical modeling, simulation on HPC) in Switzerland, and I am afraid that after my PhD, I won't find a job that really pleases me. These last years, I came under the impression that you currently can only find ML driven software engineering jobs (I am exagerating of course), and having done quite a bit of ML and software engineering, I now know that I don't want my future job be like this.
A company like ASML gives me hope. Do you know by chance if there are similar companies (complex engineering, with physics, maths, chemistry, computer science, ...) that are located in Switzerland ?
> Do you know by chance if there are similar companies (complex engineering, with physics, maths, chemistry, computer science, ...) that are located in Switzerland?
I've only worked with their products and not a whole lot with the people but Sensirion  is very close to Zürich and is ranked one of the best employers in Switzerland while seemingly being at the intersection of the things it seems you're interested in.
Switzerland is also full of manufacturing equipment suppliers (e.g. Schaublin and GF Machining Solutions, the entire "Watch Valley") and manufacturing is full of intersections between physics/maths/chemistry/software engineering.
Plus there's the pharmaceutical companies.
For a small country, I think Switzerland is about the best place for you to be.
>Do you know by chance if there are similar companies (complex engineering, with physics, maths, chemistry, computer science, ...) that are located in Switzerland ?
AFAIK, Switzerland is full of such companies. Especially since CERN and many top universities and research institutes are there.
Well, I am already beginning my PhD at a top university. I would be more interested to hear about what kind of jobs are in the industry in Switzerland.
Sorry, I don't remember exactly which companies by name, otherwise I would have spelled them out for you, since I did this research 10 years ago when I was considering moving to study in Switzerland, so, I hope I cause you no offense, but I feel researching the job market is what you should have also done your due diligence on, before starting your PhD/studies ("I wanna study X, but where can I work later and use X?")
No problems. You are right, it is always good to research the job market before beginning the studies. I was just asking out of curiosity, because the job descriptions at ASML really peaked my interested.
If you don't mind moving to Germany, check out Carl Zeiss (SMT).
We supply the optics to ASML and also make our own semi equipment directly sold to fabs. Lots of growth and interesting challenges at the cutting edge of physics.
A lot of FLUKA radiation simulations at CERN if you like that !
The environment is nice, but the area personally didn't work out for me.
Synopsys still has an office in Switzerland, to the best of my knowledge, and this sounds like it might be along the line of work you're interested in.
This comment makes me wonder how much ML is used at ASML or if there is an growing trend ...
Can’t tell you the exact details but you should be able to find details from the patents, papers, and tech talks from ASML.
I recommend you check out the ASML / Brion campus in Silicon Valley.
> Downstream effects of this fire will reduce the uptime of the machines and the delivery of promised machines to our customers.
Given that it is the factory acquired from Berlin Glas in 2020, surely its capacity would only "just" be coming online at ASML and they have pre-existing capacity elsewhere ?
It sounds like Berlin Glas was already supplying these components to ASML and ASML just decided to buy them out.
They may have sold that production with the assumption it'll come on, which will now be delayed.
Can't talk about that :)
As a person whose first job after graduation was at ASML, and left after 6 months, if you like software I don't think it's the best company to work at.
After working at ASML would you get enough knowledge to start competing company? Or is the job so protected with NDAs that basically you wouldn't be able to translate or use the gained knowledge anywhere else?
I am thinking, for example, when you realise the working conditions are not great or you are paid not enough, do you have any leverage? If ASML has no competition, then do you have any negotiating power?
> After working at ASML would you get enough knowledge to start competing company? Or is the job so protected with NDAs that basically you wouldn't be able to translate or use the gained knowledge anywhere else?
Bit of a strange question ?
Competing with ASML in any sort of serious form would need more than just stealing some IP, it would need $$$ measured in the many billions.
ASML does have competitors, Canon and Nikon being the obvious two. But ASML has better technology than them, which is why continues to dominate the market.
ASML's model is not dissimilar to Apple's. Throw money at R&D like nobody's business, make some quality company acquisitions along the way, reap the rewards.
ASML basically have a 100% market share in EUV, 95% market share in ArF tools, 20% in Dry tools.
My limited understanding of the market is that basically ASML will be untouchable until at least the 2030's.
To start a competing company, you'll need billions, and an idea of a market niche.
There are about two companies like ASML in the whole world, and there are maybe a dozen consumers of their machines, companies like TSMC or Samsung. ASML is in an effective monopoly position.
It's much like asking if you can open a competing company to build nuclear submarines. Technically you likely can.
And the accumulated knowledge of decades of lithography from hundreds, if not thousands of people.
That said, it's not impossible; SpaceX came out of left field and within a decade became one of the most prominent space rocket companies, they managed to find rocket scientists and engineers.
* came out of left field ... with the support of NASA contracts and knowledge sharing.
Which isn't in any way to take away from the pioneering things that SpaceX engineers have done (and the way they've done them!). But is to say they definitely had help in getting over the "high-capital-investment industry" starting bump.
There's non-competes but they're easily circumvented. I know of multiple people who started a sole proprietorship (ie contracting) and took a competing company (for some distant value of "competing") as their customer. Dutch labour law prevents most non-competes in practice.
I once freelanced at a startup that was building a machine that could compete with ASML's 30 year old machines. Those are still being used, resold and refurbished so one of those refurbishing companies (made up of ex ASMLers ofc) thought they could build new ones from scratch.
It worked (after a series of bankruptcies, restarts and acquisitions I might add - it was a rocky ride but not for technical reasons). That doesn't mean they will ever be able to catch up to ASML, or even intend to, but it's clearly possible for ex ASML people plus some young new engineers to build a lithography product. I bet with a few extra years patience you can do without the ex ASML people altogether.
This means that if eg China wants to have their own chip industry, and the US keeps preventing ASML from selling their best machines to China like they currently do, all the Chinese government has to do is encourage a few dozen lithography startups to happen, aimed initially at the low-end of the market. Add some protectionism (eg import tariffs on any chips that could be made by Chinese machines), wait a few decades, and done. I'm pretty sure it'll happen.
Not a chance. The machines are so complex that nobody knows the whole thing. People dedicate their lives to one small component.
What I value is the opportunity to be see technology and scale of this caliber.
Some people tried it and got sued for patent infringement (ASML vs XTAL). ASML patents all EUV-related technology, so you'd have to come up with a brand new way of generating EUV plasma at high energies at constant rate. Even ASML had to buy an American company Cymer to get a working prototype. Then, because EUV radiation doesn't pass through air or standard lenses, you'd have to come up with another optic column system. If you want to go 5nm and below, you need anamorphic lenses/mirrors with almost atomic precision . ASML gets these columns and lenses/mirrors from Zeiss, but probably has patents on their practical application.
The sheer size of the supply chain you need to create to make a working machine is massive. It's one of the reasons why ASML got ahead of the Japanese companies that tried to do everything in-house.
It took 17+ years and €6 billion in R&D to get EUV working  (as such EUV litography became feasible in the 90s), so ASML's leading position on the market is justified. They have to recoup all the costs, so they will make sure to keep the market leadership through all legal means.
My guess is that if someone would come up with a more efficient EUV plasma generation or better optic systems, ASML would acquire the company and take over the technology.
Regarding the negotiating power, some companies like GlobalFoundries couldn't afford ASML's EUV machines, so they parked their EUV plans . It's only big players like TSMC, Samsung and Intel that can afford this tech and all these companies know their worth and prices. ASML needs money to pay for the R&D and can't afford to lose it's biggest customers that are also buying their non-bleeding edge technologies (DUV litography).
I don't know the business side of things, but it's definitely going to be interesting to see what happens with competition in the EUV litography in the upcoming 10+ years.
EUV litography and silicon-based chips have their physical limits, so there might be other ways to continue improvements.
My opinions is that this whole comment discussion about creating a competitor is in the wrong direction. It is impossible to recreate and outperform what ASML has.
A better focus would be to tackle problems in the <2nm processes. If someone found a method to stop electron tunneling at smaller nodes, this will net much more revenue and create more value for society.
When I was a grad at a similar tech company, I avoided alluding to it on HN for fear of appearing to be representing the company (after training mentioning this). Are ASML more forgiving?
I've seen some interesting positions from ASML but like many Dutch companies they seem to be office/lab centric. Do you know of any software teams within ASML that are remote friendly?
Most semiconductor/electronics companies are not at all remote friendly, in the way you'd imagine, since, like you said, their core business is lab centered and focused on selling products you have to physically interact with, unlike the pure SW industry.
Some are however, remote friendly in the way that they do offer WFH options, but that means you live around the office/HQ for legal and security reasons and can WFH every now and then, with the agreemant that you have to show up at the office when required, not you get employed form anywhere in the world you happen to reside in and keep working from your living room, that's a no-go from the start for any established company in the semi field.
Also, most of them believe in a culture where shoulder-to-shoulder collaboration is key to development success and innovation, and having worked in the industry I have to agree. When the industry was forced remote kicking and screaming in 2020 "thanks" to Covid, morale and junior onboarding suffered a lot since the whole processes and culture was built on decades of shoulder-to-shoulder work where the only way to learn was, besides the necessary years in academia, to hang around seasoned graybeards and get your hands dirty with them vs self study with Googling the answers on stack overflow, so this process couldn't (management also didn't want to) suddenly uproot it and convert it to fully remote.
Basically, a material scientist, optics engineer or physicist would be at the core of the main money making products (lithography machines) and therefore be way more valued than SW devs which tend to be treated more as cost center in this industry (in general but can't speak for ASML), so if you like being at the core of the product and be treated like a rockstar, then I'd stay in the SW industry and avoid the semi industry all together (I worked 7 years as a dev in semi, before leaving it for good for the SW industry, but the graybeards I worked with in analog design with deep domain knowledge in RF were making bank and were pampered like rockstars, whereas SW and FW devs were treated like replaceable cogs that could be easily offshored without any losses).
Morale also suffered because of the push to implement Scaled Agile (SAFe) in the software teams.
Yea, Agile in semi/HW industry is pure cancer. Innovations in this industry come as you let your engineers take their time to try out a million things that don't work in order to eventually, after months or even years, get to that one thing that does work, not by shoving them in the Agile meat grinder of daily standups, sprints, TPS reports, velocity charts, grooming meetings, etc.
Agile in HW only "works" when your company is a sweatshop, operating on low margins, bind by churning out commodity stuff in volume to demanding customers (i.e. Apple) on a strict cadence with the fear that if you don't deliver on time and under budget, then they go somewhere else, so you hire some Agile consultants to act as whip-crakcers and henchmen of management to make sure your devs are busy bees and ship, ship, ship.
I assume this is not the case with ASML (and maybe also with the likes of Nvidia, etc.) as they're the tip of the spear and so far ahead of the competition that they can take their time and charge however much they want and their customers have no other choice but to wait and pay up as there's nobody else to go to for competitive alternatives in the bleeding edge space.
agile with lowercase ‘a’ was defined for software development (https://agilemanifesto.org/), so you cannot blame it for not applying fully to hardware development.
The manifesto is extremely flexible, though (it doesn’t mention standup or fixed-length sprints, for example), so I think it can work for hardware, too, but you likely have to make the sprints longer and be more flexible in lengthening or shortening them to match reality, maybe do more documentation, etc.
The dogma of Agile with a capital “A”, on the other hand, IMO, doesn’t work for anything, be it software or hardware.
Parent said Scaled Agile Framework, which is rather alike waterfall- top down management- with agile ceremonies.
Sounds fascinating! What kinds of simulations?
I am not an expert in this area. Most of it is physics simulations.
An example I know of is that we use feed forward control to make sure layers are aligned and printed with nanometer precision. Simulations are needed in this instance to model effects like thermal expansion, pressure waves, and much more.
There is also more work in metrology (measurement) with stuff like scanning electron microscopes, lasers, flow, etc.
You can find more about this by looking at the companies ASML has acquired or ASML's job postings.
Berlin news (rbb) say that
Many things are still unclear including:
- how big the damage is
- how long it takes to operate again
- how it was possible to happen/how it happend
I also thought that it would be the article about FOOF, but actually the GP linked to a different one about chlorine triflouride. Worth a read!
It's to be noted that since the article Ignition! has been reprinted, and is indeed an awesome book.
Sometimes, yes. Interestingly these ridiculously reactive materials aren't the ones that tend to contaminate the environment most; they don't last long enough outside a carefully controlled lab. It's, surprisingly, the almost nontoxic materials like perchloroethylene that tend to cause big headaches, because they're unreactive enough to survive in the environment for many years.
Elemental fluorine is nasty toxic, but it doesn’t really pollute the environment because it’s too busy oxidizing the first thing it finds and forming a never gonna let you go bond.
Kind of the reverse of mercury; elemental mercury is relatively non-toxic, but it seems like almost all mercury compounds are nasty.
Chronic exposure to small amounts or acute exposure to large amounts of mercury vapor is toxic; it's just that most compounds are worse.
Yup. Cinnabar is the exception, being less toxic than both metallic mercury and most other metal sulfids.
Beats breathing fluorine!
Give a man fluoride toothpaste and he'll have good breath for a month. Give him fluorine gas and he'll have good breath for the rest of his life.
Isn't it happy to form hydrogen fluoride when it meets something with hydrogen in it?
If that was a never-gonna-let-you-go bond, HF would be a much less nasty substance.
There are certainly plenty of nasty fluorine compounds, but they too are quite reactive and quickly bind to something.
On a tangent from that link: “Fluorine is a naturally-occurring, pale yellow-green gas with a sharp odor.” What lunatic went sniffing fluorine gas and how did he have any sense of smell after doing so?
I hear it's a strong enough odor, and it's good enough at escaping containment, that fluorine chemists can't avoid smelling it from time to time, and there are levels where it is detectable but not especially dangerous. It occurs naturally in trace amounts in fluorite exposed to radioactivity, so crushing some fluorite and smelling it may be a way to get acquainted without risking your life. (It doesn't occur naturally in very many places.)
There are some fluorine compounds that are far less reactive than things like HF, but still toxic; perfluorooctanoic acid is the most notorious one. Naturally these are the ones that are most used to synthesize fluorine compounds.
Fluorine never gonna give you up...
Article mentioned fires. I remembered that ClF3 fires can't be extinguished. They need to burn out.
I worked at a facility with experimental lithography machines. One of the
nasties looked like water, but would pass through your skin and melt your bones. Fun.
Hydrofluoric acid, though I don't think it melts your bones in a dramatic/fast way. It seems to be partially so dangerous because it doesn't "burn" right away, and as you say, is absorbed quickly in skin. So you might not rinse it off quickly.
"Piranha solution" (sulfuric acid, water, and hydrogen peroxide) is closer to what tv/movies portray hydrofluoric acid being like. That is, being able to disappear a body in it.
I'm not sure what concentration IGNS was using it in as I'm mercifully a computer person, but I had a friend who worked in their labs and took me through them one time :D
That's wild. Something right out of the zone. Any idea what is it?
HF was one of the nastier ones, but the one I’m thinking of sounded nastier. I’ll look for it in old training materials in the AM.
The one of the widely used light sources for EUV lithography uses a laser to zap molten tin to get the tin plasma to ionize and emit EUV light. It's fairly exotic and really inefficient but is needed for the smaller node sizes.
It doesn't really sound like this was a fab though. Just a factory that builds tools for fabs. So who knows, but chances are that this factory doesn't operate with the worst stuff.
Chlorine trifluoride also sets fire to glass on contact. And asbestos. And tungsten. And titanium. And finally, people.
How do you store it?
Found this on the wiki, quoting the rocket scientist John Drury Clark:
> It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals—steel, copper, aluminum, etc.—because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride that protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminum keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere. If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes.
This is a quote from Ignition! - a very very very good book about liquid rocket fuels. PDF is available online after a quick google. A must read for anyone on HN - imagine what it’s like to be a rocket fuel hacker.
"imagine what it’s like to be a rocket fuel hacker."
I think there is a reason, there are not that many around. If you would apply the default computer safety mindset to rocket fuels ...
Absolutely. There is a reason that berms between buildings is one of the strong signals of a solid fuel rocket facility when one is analysing satellite imagery.
The mound of earth is there to redirect any potential explosion upwards hopefully protecting the rest of your facility if one building goes boom.
At a broader level, this accident again shows how vulnerable the semiconductor supply chain is, and it's not just because of geopolitics. I like the analogy by Willy Shih at HBS - "semiconductor supply chain is like a transcontinental relay race with hidden hurdles".
This might delay new fabs all over the world that needs EUV equipment. That is bad for people living in 2024 but in 2022 it will change nothing for us pesky consumers. So future people i'm sorry :( the silicon shortage didnt end faster.
Tech giants seem to have fire problems in Germany lately
What's the deal with moving to Berlin anyway?
Infrastructure is pretty bad (try getting good internet or mobile reception, even as a business), as are labor and tax laws and the motivation of most employees is pretty low as a result (high security, limited mobility - need tenure to retain the security, low impact of actions - both under and over performing), additionally, everything is a bureaucratic nightmare, better get out the fax machine.
Relative to a first world country, it's true, the internet is bad. But at least in Berlin, if you want (as a company) to get good internet, it's possible, there are providers such as colt that have metropolitan fiber and will literally dig trenches to connect you.
On the labour and tax laws side, work life balance is a thing, presenteeism is not. Being comfortable living your actual life is important to people, and while the average person won't get exceptionally wealthy (software developers are well paid, but not exactly millionaires) they will at least enjoy their lives, along with a large portion of the rest of the population.
I can't speak for other people, but career progression is still a thing, aspirations to be better at what you do is possible without a carrot and stick.
Things are bureaucratic, i agree, but there is also some pragmatism to it you don't notice until you're in it.
Taxes are low for businesses in Germany if you take the numerous possibilities to deduct things from your taxes into account (effectively lower than in the US). It's just taxes and levies for workers that are high. Tech workers cost way less than in the US. High security for workers also means that your workers won't pull stupid stunts to keep working in your place. Unions can actually worked with and have the companies success in mind.
ASML didn't move to Berlin, they acquired a former supplier, Berliner Glass, which was founded there in 1952.
Labour and tax laws can be an advantage (some people are more productive when not under stress, which is much more of a factor if you can get fired for whatever reason).
They could, but I think the German laws are way too complicated and limiting to serve their actual purpose.
For instance many tax breaks will only work if some very tight conditions are met, like spending a certain amount on something or if your home has an extra room to count for wfh. Labor laws and bureaucracy make it incredibly complicated for freelancers, so there may be many who remain miserable in their corporate jobs.
That issue with tax breaks is the same basically everywhere in the world. In the US, you would typically have to talk to a professional to understand if you are eligible for so and so tax break, it's very easy to get it wrong yourself.
As far as labor laws, there are few developped countries in the world where they are more permissive for freelancers. In almost every single one of them, there exist even worse roadblocks.
That's not to say the process couldn't be improved, but the competition isn't so much better as one would think.
People aren't motivated by existential dread, at least not in creative jobs. The time of the fax has passed except for specific industries like healthcare and shipping, with the latter being notorious for using fax worldwide.
Employees at startups are easily 50% international. Someone willing to move to a different country has already shown more initiative and willingness to take risks and forgo the comfort of safety than the vast majority of people will ever do.
I‘m not quite sure, which other incidents you are referring too, as the only recent one I can remember was on OHB a few days ago.
Tesla has a fire incident last year (claimed by leftists)
OVH had a fire incident last summer, but Strasbourg is actually France, who knew!
Like water, food, and electricity, electronics have become an integral part of life. Every single country that can afford to bootstrap their own semiconductor manufacturing infrastructure should be scrambling to do so.
This infrastructure doesn't have to be cutting edge. Even 90s-era tech should be enough to cover a country's basic needs in case of a global collapse or shortage.
It's insane for humanity to continue putting their eggs in one or two baskets.
I think you're leaving a few things off the list. Gasoline, steel, machine shops, chemical plants... by the time you added everything that could lead to crisis if it ran out or stopped working you'd be a proponent of the Juche Idea. ;)
Most countries I know of already consider power and basic manufacturing (chemical, construction) to be crucial, and do their best to secure their production or procurement.
My argument is that semiconductor manufacturing must also be added to that list. A natural disaster or a war between two countries shouldn't lead to wide-spread famine or throw humanity back into the dark ages.
Would it be the dark ages, though? I don't think it would be so terrible if we were all thrown back to PDP 11's or something, and there's no way it could ever be anywhere near that drastic. Hardware advances are nice, but the main innovations in computers have been infrastructural and social (the internet, email, open source, etc).
Don't forget about engine control computers, which are necessary for much of today's ICE efficiency gains.
Or, as the volkswagen scandal showed us, necessary for most of today's ICE's to pretend to be more efficient than they are by cheating emissions tests :).
Earlier today I was thinking about this positively. None of my ideas are original, but some anti-corporatism thought struck a chord today. Why do we rely on dictatorships and unstable countries for critical infrastructure? Why do we rely on slave labor overseas for such basics as textiles when we could make it here? It isn't "markets" that are wrong altogether, but there is something destabilizing and unethical about shipping a neighbor's job away to a slave to save a penny for the stockholder.
Supply chains and globalization should be very much rethought in this century.
> Why do we rely on slave labor overseas for such basics as textiles when we could make it here?
Calling it slave labour is a great sound bite but glosses over the wide variety in working conditions "overseas", and the fact that trade has vastly improved conditions in many such "overseas" countries.
I have broadly the opposite view about supply chains and globalisation; the inter-reliance of countries and the trade in labour/goods/services leads to diplomacy, negotiation, communication, better understanding and ultimately a safer, better world. History has demonstrated this consistently if you take a long view.
The direction of "make everything in your own country, rely on no other country for anything" is the opposite to all of the above: less need for diplomacy, less leverage in negotiation, less communication, less understanding. That's a sad direction for the world to move in.
Yes, good counterpoint. And to the other poster, yes, the EU was apparently designed with this point explicitly in mind. However, the EU countries are on the same order of magnitude of wealth.
Is there any point at which we say "it is wrong to remove wealth from my country, put a fraction of it into working conditions unthinkable in my country, and let the owners of the means of production pocket the rest"? Shouldn't we mandate US-like living conditions and safety regulations if we are going to ethically export labor?
> Shouldn't we mandate US-like living conditions and safety regulations if we are going to ethically export labor?
To make that mandate at the beginning is simply to decide not to export labour, since the trade can't happen if you apply those conditions from the outset. That's worse for everybody: your t-shirt costs more, and the worker in Cambodia or Bangladesh goes back to subsistence farming.
The present system of international trade has delivered a marked improvement in living conditions for labour-exporting countries. It's always worthwhile to talk about how to make further improvement happen faster, but mandates aren't the solution — to pretend economic realities don't exist doesn't make them go away.
pragmatic concerns aside, the US standards you hold so dear would not even be possible without being subsidized by the labor and suffering of those you criticize. Calling them ethical is quite the stretch
It's worth noting this was one of the foundations of the European free market and then the European union: make the European countries so integrated that a war becomes unthinkable.
While I don't subscribe to the neoliberal idea of globalization being great for the global poor, I think it is quite telling that very few countries managed to get rich purely through internal means. Barring a few minor exceptions, countries either became rich through exploitation of other countries (Western Europe, colonial nations and Japan), or by using global markets to drive growth through exports (SK, Taiwan, PRC and a few others).
The majority of the jobs you call slavery are indeed in horrible conditions, but still better paying than substistence farming, thus being one of the ways people can break the circle of poverty.
Exploitation needs to be weighed and reigned in, but rather than taking industry back home, it would be better to just make sure that workers in poor countries are also paid fair wages.
To be honest, at least with SK, they in a way self-exploited themselves during the dictatorship eras.
Exporting materials (steel), industrial capacity (famously, container ships), labor (Saudi Arabian oilfield workers and nurses in Germany among others), and mercenaries (Vietnam War).
Wages from which were taken by the government and invested (via national monopolies such as Samsung and Hyundai) into more infrastructure growth. Which slowly led to the Korea of today. Add in a dash of democratization and you get the softpower exporting, shipbuilding, chip fabbing regional power today.
It’s an interesting case study into I guess so-called “benevolent dictatorships” that managed to democratize itself (very very violently by the way), and then kept its nationalistic spirit going to weather through an IMF Credit Crisis to become what it is today.
We should have free trade with people who play by the same rules.
You can choose to buy from companies who only operate domestically
Why don't you? Why is it unethical to save a penny for a stockholder yet it isn't unethical for you to save a penny by buying foreign produced goods? Sure, there are many specific brands unavailable domestically, but you can find some variation of everything you need locally.
Even if there are exceptions to that, I would bet you rarely choose to purchase domestic goods because they're too expensive. Supply chains operate at the maximum possible efficiency to save you as much money as possible. If you're willing to spend more to uphold your ideals, then do it. You already have the option.
I work in manufacturing and even if any nation wanted to completely domesticate consumer goods, we’re still at the mercy of either raw materials being imported or industrial machines not being made domestically. At least, not the ones that produce the quality goods that we so demand.
Tim Cook famously said that Apple can’t move manufacturing to the US because the US does not have the industrial engineers needed to make and run those factories.
Ever see American Made on Netflix? Chinese industrial capacity, processes and standards are on some different level of refinement.
I never said the products you buy domestically will be of the same quality or caliber as those afforded to you by an efficient global supply chain - just that it is an option if you feel strongly about this. You'll have to make some sacrifices here and there but hey, if you're not willing to sacrifice a little for your beliefs then you must not hold them too strongly.
It’s not possible for a single average consumer to support domestic industry on their narrow shoulders. It typically takes some sort of collective action, often in the form of government trade policy.
The collective is nothing but many individuals. While I'm not accusing you specifically of this, I feel as if these sort of responses are often used as a way to shirk the responsibility of taking any action for the causes one claims to support.
It's a fair point to make, but doesn't mean that OP shouldn't be doing their part by buying domestically if they really hate that some products get manufactured in another country. If everyone who complained about this issue decides to only buy domestically the domestic market would be much stronger.
To some extent I get it, but that ignores the very real and obvious psychological issue of "going it alone" and feeling as if you are not impacting anything while paying the price. See: The United States and others trying to push a climate-change agenda while India and China say "fuck you" and keep dumping into rivers and ramping up coal production. If we "do our part" all we do is lose out while others destroy our economy and planet.
At the "buy all American", I disagree with your point that I could possibly source everything in my house from the United States even if I had a million dollars - and if I could, though it would make me feel better, it doesn't change the macro fact.
Sure, it’s called critical infrastructure and semiconductor should be added to this list.
Most countries have 90s-era fabs . That is not rocket science. But EUV is. And all new processors depend on it.
The hard part is what to do with 90s-era tech when times are good? Nobody’s buying that old stuff (hobbyists aside). So then you just run these plants at a loss? I’d hate to be an engineer at one of those places. Seems like very soul-crushing work.
There are plenty of products and industries that don't require chips built with the latest tech on the market. You might not put those chips in the newest computers or phones, but that doesn't mean they can't power other products. Plenty of scientific and industrial products and processes are suited well by "old" tech. Same thing with many consumer products. My car and blender don't need CPUs manufactured on 3nm nodes.
Perhaps students could use or even operate them. Undergraduate level electrical engineers would love to have access to a fab, even one a couple decades behind cutting edge.
Stanford had that. In the 1980s, Stanford built a state of the art fab on campus. And, through 2014, they had a 1980s state of the art fab.
What happened in 2014 ?
The Center for Integrated Systems pivoted to something called SystemX.
> So then you just run these plants at a loss?
If there is no demand then yes, absolutely. It's normal for countries (inc. the US) to run and subsidize their infrastructure at a loss if it is critical to their national security.
This is what is often famously referred to as the military-industrial complex.
The US military has a large pool of mechanics and technicians they constantly train who then go on to private sector. Building things, and building things right, take a level of physical dexterity and mechanical intelligence that must be honed.
Ever see a machinist run a hand over a milled surface, call it out of tolerance by 0.005” and then the calipers confirm? You can’t learn that from a book that shit is straight just 25 years of looking and touching surfaces that smooth. Drilling straight holes into metal frames that bend and give is an art.
You can’t let that die. So the military funds shops everywhere to build widgets for the war machine to keep people employed and those skills alive in the event that when we do need tens of thousands of them at once, there are seasoned veterans ready to lead the way. And in the mean time, they make $150k a year running a small machine shop in Michigan subcontracting for Northrup or Lockheed or something.
Exactly, same with health care.
In America, we have a gigantic public works program known as the US Military, with guaranteed work, free college, public health insurance and a pension if you stay in long enough.
Why not do it for just about every critical part of life? Why only do it for the "being ready to kill adversaries" subset?
Doesn’t every (US) government job provide most of that, except maybe free college?
If you work for the IRS or the USPS, don’t you get guaranteed work, public health insurance and a pension after some number of decades of service?
I'm talking about expanding what jobs are federally funded and guaranteed. In the context of this thread and supply chain security, I'm talking about a federally subsidized chipmaking industry for national security purposes.
More broadly I think about all teachers and first responders.
Well, that tech is still being used heavily for a lot of chips. Companies like NXP still have fabs of 90s tech running smoothly. Only the high-end chips need new tech.
Also, equipment from that era is still in high demand on the second hand market (especially now...).
But isn’t a new fab company going to have to compete with NXP in those markets? That seems very difficult for a brand new company to do, given no technological advantage.
One option is government subsidies, like what's done for farms and military hardware. Just keep buying it up, even if it rots or rusts. The goal is to make sure those industries remain healthy and don't slip back in expertise.
Most governments can’t afford to do that.
I'm pretty sure the majority of countries can. We're talking 90s-era infrastructure that costs less than a single modern passenger airplane to build and run.
Governments can subsidize their use in local industries or even build the infrastructure themselves doing what many governments already do with power, telecommunications, and transport.
The vast majority of countries, I reckon, don’t have enough domestic stability or human resources to maintain any sort of thing like that. Let alone the capital. It takes a small army to run a industrial-production level facility, a few of which need advanced degrees and experience.
The G7 and G20 aren’t an exclusive club for nothing. There are real things behind GDP.
Every government can afford that: simply tariff the imports that threaten to displace this capability.
If that makes goods too expensive for the population (it won't) they couldn't afford them anyways. They were simply paying for the goods by mortgaging their future.
Embedded chips are in everything and they are often older tech. (Maybe not that old, but far from the latest.)
Thats you though not millions of people who may enjoy that kind of work.
I have the exact opposite opinion.
Mandatory trade relationsips and closely interconnected supply chains are an important factor in preventing larger wars.
That's Cold War thinking: "if goods cross borders, soldiers won't".
The reality slowly dawning on us is that if goods cross borders, soliders don't have to.
Considering Russia is in the process of invading Ukraine, I for one as a Finn maintain my cold war thinking, thank you very much. The winter war of 1940 was 82 years ago. How many generations of humans is that, three? My dad's dad's dad literally lied in the snow, hungry and high on german combat drugs so as to not fall asleep nor care of the freezing cold, waiting for a hundred russians to march in on his position, and he survived with grenade shrapnel in his leg.
The cold war maybe felt cold on the other side of the globe. Was very much hot here. My country is barely older than peace is.
Or at the very least, have the entire supply chain set up within democracies. With redundancy.
Ahh yes then we can continue exporting “democracy” as defined by the CIA
Then you have to start to define what a democracy is, or at least what kind of democracy you are happy with. The current approach (of companies having specific requirements for their supply chain regarding labour practices etc) seems better than that.
The UN already provides election monitoring services so we have a well defined set of criteria under which we consider elections to be free and fair.
OK, so we decide that a democracy == "has free and fair elections by the UN criteria". That seems perfectly reasonable on the face of it.
So let's say that we have a democracy by that definition, for example Myanmar — a big garment exporter — in 2020 or so. The 2020 elections were described by international organisations as "free and fair".
Should the result of the coup d'état that happened shortly after those elections be that not only do the garment workers lose their right to vote in future free and fair elections, but they also lose their jobs when the factories are closed due to foreign countries introducing their "don't trade with non-democracies" policy? Do we think that would improve or worsen the situation?
What's worse, inciting widespread discontent with a government that has illegally seized power potentially leading to a violent overthrow of said government or continuing to deal with that government in perpetuity while they abuse their people? In other words, how do you quantify and measure human suffering? Is it better or worse for there to be more acute suffering for less time or somewhat less suffering for a much longer period of time?
It's not an easy choice when human lives hang in the balance. My view is that allowing authoritarians to entrench themselves for years, generations, possibly centuries is by far worse. We know that democracy is a fragile state of affairs. It rarely occurs without a violent overthrow of the elite and often doesn't last very long. Despotism, on the other hand, is common and long lasting because it is unabashed about cowing people through violence, torture, murder, blackmail, and all the other evils you can imagine. If we want to keep our freedom we must continually resist all attempts to take it.
Inciting discontent with the despots is of course positive, but taking resources away from the common people is not — even if you focus solely on encouraging overthrow, it's counterproductive.
Even sanctions generally apply only to specific individuals and groups, rather than entire economies. Unfortunately, risk-averse financial institituions generally treat them in practice as applying to entire economies, since it can be virtually impossible otherwise to ensure you are not dealing with a sanctioned individual/group.
That last part is key, authoritarian countries operate in the same way a criminal or mafia organization does. Any significant trade will have money siphoned out of it through corruption or just outright theft. It doesn't matter who you deal with in the country, the regime will take a cut somehow.
> It's insane for humanity to continue putting their eggs in one or two baskets.
Kinda funny when you consider we literally put all our eggs in exactly two baskets, both on males and females.
As a single source supplier for the global semiconductor supply chain this is concerning.
Is impacting the semi supply chain the hot, new weapon of the US-China tech cold war?
Hurting ASML serves neither side - and that's true for most third parties who want nothing to do with that stupidity.
But since it is stupidity and given the track record of the countries involved, I wouldn't completely rule out that someone might pull a stunt like this.
China has been pouring high order of millions into domestic lithography. Eventually the market will shift. We're still a bit far away.
Edit: funny that people here think that this is statement is somehow something that could be considered a contentious topic.
semiengineering has a startup section with investments for people that are more interested in facts than emotions:
Well EUV alone cost many billions of dollars to develop. It's also not clear that China is particularly good at leading high tech innovation. If you just look at the dollars and cents, they should be inventing new technology at a similar rate as the US. Doesn't seem like they're pulling their weight.
"If you just look at the dollars and cents, they should be inventing new technology at a similar rate as the US"
That's very debatable.
Maybe you are taking all the improvements China has made in construction, manufacturing and nuclear industry, and assigning them an 'innovation value' of zero.
Maybe you are assigning non-zero innovation to exploiters of gig economy like Deliveroo.
> That's very debatable. Maybe you are taking all the improvements China has made in construction, manufacturing and nuclear industry, and assigning them an 'innovation value' of zero.
> Maybe you are assigning non-zero innovation to exploiters of gig economy like Deliveroo.
In that case, Chinese innovation and efficiency in manufacturing alone rivals most other kinds in the world - it's truly a marvel for a country to be able to pay it's factory worker a higher wage than the average wage of several EU countries while actually doing the manufacturing at an integer fraction of the cost. That takes a massive amount of innovation that no country in the world is able to match. The value of this invention is arguably larger than the sum total of all innovation of the USA since the year 2000 in the amount of wealth it has generated.
Sure. I didn't say China has done nothing impressive (although it's emissions intensity of manufacturing and other environmental and labor rights records are horrible, which takes a some of the shine off its manufacturing for me, but that blame is equally on western governments and corporations who conspired to circumvent the environmental and labor standards demanded by their populations by farming them out to totalitarian dictatorships but that's a different story). But it's bite does not match its bark when it comes to developing and inventing new ideas and technology.
I'm sorry, I can't take you seriously. Nowhere in the world can match the efficiency of Chinese manufacturing. They can do more with less in a way no other country in the world can, which is the simple truth. Even countries with worse labour standards, even countries with worse environmental regulations (and there are dozens and dozens).
This is simply a product of developing and inventing new ideas and technology, and using them to produce trillions and trillions of dollars of wealth. If it was simply about poor labor rights and environmental regulations they wouldn't be where there are today, as there is a large number of countries with much more permissive environments.
Twenty years ago people said that it was all just because their wages are low. Now their wages are higher than several EU countries and almost all of South America, and they still are doing more with less. There is no other explanation, this is simply because they have expertise, ideas, and innovations that others countries don't or can't put into practice. The bite is absolutely matching the bark.
If there really isn't much innovation and expertise there, everyone else would be doing it. The prize here is in the trillions of dollars.
You can't take me seriously about what? That Chinese manufacturing has very poor emissions intensity and other environmental problems, or other labor and environmental regulations? It has not been able to match other parts of the world in manufacturing when it comes to those metrics.
> This is simply a product of developing and inventing new ideas and technology,
"simply" (also using vast quantities of coal, poor working conditions and other air and water pollution regulations).
> and using them to produce trillions and trillions of dollars of wealth. If it was simply about poor labor rights and environmental regulations they wouldn't be where there are today,
I didn't say it was simple, you are the one who keeps trying to say it is simple. But they definitely achieve competitive advantages that way.
> as there is a large number of countries with much more permissive environments.
> Twenty years ago people said that it was all just because their wages are low.
Lots of people say lots of incorrect stuff all the time, not just 20 years ago. This isn't really an argument. Environmental concerns have been high on the radar for a long time.
> Now their wages are higher than several EU countries and almost all of South America, and they still are doing more with less. There is no other explanation, this is simply because they have expertise, ideas, and innovations that others countries don't or can't put into practice.
Their manufacturing industry overall is clearly extremely good in general. Not in all specifics (particularly high-tech sectors) like automotive, aerospace, silicon, etc etc, but as a whole of course they are major leaders in many types of manufacturing.
> The bite is absolutely matching the bark.
Absolutely not in terms of innovation and development of new technology and ideas across all areas.
"But it's bite does not match its bark when it comes to developing and inventing new ideas and technology."
You just had a huge thread of repeating this over an over, and you have never stated why you believe this, what have you counted or measured to arrive at that conclusion? Patents? GDP growth, scientific papers? Is it 'just a feeling'?
I just had a huge thread of others repeating over and over that I was wrong, without actually addressing what I wrote. That's why the thread got so huge.
It's like an argument about vaccines between housewives - firstly neither side actually understands the areas being discussed - that evident from how discussion of nuclear technology shaped up.
Secondly the statement is poorly defined - you have different ideas about what counts as 'innovation'.
Third, it is quantitive, but none of the arguments/statements given by either side have any quantities attached.
I don't have a dog in the fight, but if your centered your argument around patents, or GDP growth, or research funding and papers, you would have a more productive discussion.
> I don't have a dog in the fight, but if your centered your argument around patents, or GDP growth, or research funding and papers, you would have a more productive discussion.
No it wouldn't. You clearly haven't understood the discussion or issues if you believe that. I think that's why you're finding it so confusing.
They don’t have to lead though, just fast follow.
Many companies were hit by digital trade secret theft that was sent to China, so they are more than capable of bypassing the billions of R&D by getting access to the designs and going from there with government backing.
Many companies sent their blueprints to China and asked them to find a cheaper way to build it, and so they did. The exclusivity guarantees must have been lost in translation.
Many ? Like who ? A secret stolen that way with company permission to stole and not just to a temporary permission to use the blueprint IMHO never happened and if happened has been a micro tiny fraction of stolen secrets ie by acquisitions, price dumping , expats coming back after having worked years in key jobs and then going in china to do a job where they can use what they learned without the restrictions of westerns laws
I didn't mean clandestinely, I meant that western companies choose to have their product produced in China, and are surprised when the product is sold without their label attached to it. I guess it is the media pirate in me quibbling over the definition of "stole", yes, as far as intellectual property goes, the Chinese have 'stolen' the goods, but I can only speculate that the vast majority of the time they did not have to sneak into an office in the middle of the night, instead the IP was handed to them with a "please don't make copies outside of this commission, or I'll tell the US government you stole." Without enforcement, there's no such thing as private property. Western companies should have kept their secrets secret.
That's true. And things will shift somewhat in that China will be less dependent on other countries for silicon for their economic and military security (most of which don't require cutting edge process). It's not going to happen by spending "millions" though, that will happen by continuing to aggressively follow.
China is very good at copying others’ homework though, thus the plethora of BEVs coming to the world market soon.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chinese semi industry highly focussed on silicon carbide for automotive power electronics, with EUV being a skunkworks project taking place in Europe.
It takes time to catch up. There's no reason they won't be able to though given enough time and money though.
There are reasons they might not, and that is that the rest of the world also has time and money. China is not infinite.
Catching up is definitely a lot easier and yes it does take time, but it's not a given. They've been trying to catch up with jet engines for almost as long as the west or Russia have been working on them, certainly would have out-spent the Russians by a wide margin on the effort. So far unable to match western or even Russian designs. Although maybe in just the past few months they might have finally got something which is at least good enough, just spending a lot of money for a long time doesn't guarantee results.
The Chinese have been seriously trying to catch up in turbofan engines only since 1986. They are now far enough ahead as to be very comparable to the Russians.
They are nowhere even near to having spent as much as the Russians in resources. You forget that the economy of the USSR was a massive powerhouse, that allocated absolutely massive incestments in military technology.
The Chinese, on the other hand, acrually aren't incesting as much money on these technologies as one would think. The only company (SOE) that has any stake in jet engines is Shenyang, and despite also making whole aircraft, drones and so on, they have 15 000 employees for the whole operation.
Comparatively, Pratt and Whitney, which does only engines and nothing else, and is one of four companies capable of making modern turbofan engines, has more than twice the employees as Shenyang, which designs and manufactures multiple different aircraft. Boeing has ten times as many employees as Shenyang.
As far as outinvesting the Russians, we can compare again the number of employees. The most advanced Russian engines are produced by UEC Saturn, which only makes engines, and by itself has 21 000 employees.
That's again more than Shenyang, which doesn't only make engines.
So no, it's patently false that the Chinese are deploying more resources with less results.
No they have been seriously trying before then, it's just that they had failed and were somewhat covered by USSR. Even if we take that date, 40 years and countless actual engines to study and they're not even there yet!
> They are nowhere even near to having spent as much as the Russians in resources. You forget that the economy of the USSR was a massive powerhouse, that allocated absolutely massive incestments in military technology.
China is far bigger than USSR ever was, and has been for a while, it also has massive military investments and has always had far more people it could China is absolutely massive in terms of population it can bring to task. So I doubt this. USSR had a pretty large GDP by the end of it yes, but just looking at that is the same mistake as just looking at China's GDP now -- it was not always that large.
> The Chinese, on the other hand, acrually aren't incesting as much money on these technologies as one would think. [etc]
Well I don't think anybody actually knows what exactly they are investing other than they've clearly wanted competitive engines for 60-70 years. But either way this matches what I say about the noise coming from China not really matching the results coming from them, in terms of innovation and developing new technology.
Nope, before the Sino-Soviet split and shortly thereafter there was zero serious effort to build jet engines. They were producing Soviet designs under license and working on that until the mid 80s.
China never, ever, ever had anywhere near the engineering resources of the Soviet Union. To suggest as much is insanity. They arrived to that level somewhere before 2010.
China already has competitive engines. They can and do simply buy Russian engines. Domestic engine development is a nice-to-have, and not a huge priority. This is obviously reflected in the low budgets and the low number of employees in these programs. This is public information.
> Nope, before the Sino-Soviet split and shortly thereafter there was zero serious effort to build jet engines.
Nope, the WP-1A was built in 1958. Just because they were incapable of designing their own competitive jet engine does not mean they were not attempting to.
> China never, ever, ever had anywhere near the engineering resources of the Soviet Union. To suggest as much is insanity. They arrived to that level somewhere before 2010.
You mean somewhere after? Totally disagree. Clearly there were not good or well run resources like the soviets, but they had the money and the manpower earlier than that. If you're just looking at GDP overlap that is misleading because it does not account for more people in China, or the relative advantage it gets from much stronger computing power and ability to copy more advanced designs. Also you're taking the GDP from the height of the USSR, which is not representative of its economic power for those same 70 years it was designing engines.
> China already has competitive engines. They can and do simply buy Russian engines.
Not the most advanced ones.
> Domestic engine development is a nice-to-have, and not a huge priority. This is obviously reflected in the low budgets and the low number of employees in these programs. This is public information.
That shows how much you know. It is a huge priority for them and it has been for a long time.
In 1958 the Chinese built the WP-5/PF-1 the WP-1A, which was a license built version of the Soviet VK-1 and descendants.
The first Chinese-designed jet engine was the WP-14, and the project started in the mid 80s.
China did not have enough engineers to rival the USSR until after the fall.
> That shows how much you know. It is a huge priority for them and it has been for a long time.
It really hasn't. Defence in general is not a big priority of the Chinese state. Even within defence, producing new airframes is a much bigger than domestic engines.
> Not the most advanced ones.
Incorrect. The most advanced Russian engine in mass production is the AL-31F series, which is sold to China. Further developments intended for production, the AL-41F, are not in mass production.
> In 1958 the Chinese built the WP-5/PF-1 the WP-1A, which was a license built version of the Soviet VK-1 and descendants.
The WP-5 was the VK-1 clone which was the first jet built in China in 1956.
The WP-1A was a Chinese design in built in 1958.
After that they claim not to have developed any, but that's because they were all failures until Kunlun which they don't want to boast about so they make that one sound like the very first effort. It was not.
> China did not have enough engineers to rival the USSR until after the fall.
Maybe. It doesn't take 30 years to train an engineer though. How many engineers did they have?
> It really hasn't.
It really has. They've been trying to reverse engineer and clone Russian engines for a long time. Why would they be doing that if they were satisfied just buying Russian?
> Defence in general is not a big priority of the Chinese state. Even within defence, producing new airframes is a much bigger than domestic engines.
That's what they claim of course because they don't like to draw attention to their failures.
> Incorrect. The most advanced Russian engine in mass production is the AL-31F series, which is sold to China. Further developments intended for production, the AL-41F, are not in mass production.
So not the most advanced ones.
This smear could not be further from the truth.
China has singlehandedly (to the extent that a billion people can be considered a "single hand") dropped the cost of solar energy from five times as expensive as fossil fuels to half as expensive as fossil fuels in only ten years, an innovation that will probably stop global warming and usher in an unprecedented age of energy abundance starting about eight years from now. And it's not just solar; Chinese-designed nuclear reactors are also starting to be exported around the world. JLCPCB has automated custom circuit-board assembly to the point where you can get prototypes in your hands for US$10, two orders of magnitude cheaper than previously. When covid hit China, before PCR tests and antibody tests, they haled people caught with fever into walk-in fever clinics where they got chest-only CT scans, and by July they had developed a vaccine and were vaccinating people who had to travel abroad, five months before any vaccines were approved in most other countries, including the US, Germany, the UK, and Russia. And obviously every electronic device you own is mostly made in China unless it's an antique.
Can you imagine an Englishman in World War II saying, "It's also not clear that the US is particularly good at leading high tech innovation. If you just look at the pounds and shillings, they should be inventing new technology at a similar rate as the UK. Doesn't seem like they're pulling their weight."?
Sorry to see you downvoted, it is extremely irksome to me that China is so often characterized as "copying others homework" -- if we could do what China does, why do we go to China every time we need something done?
It is not westerners exploiting cheap labor, tho it may have started that way. It is really the scale of their talent pool, the number of engineers that graduate every year is nearly 10x what the US gets around to, and they idea that they just sit around waiting for an American company to design something for them is farcical.
> Sorry to see you downvoted, it is extremely irksome to me that China is so often characterized as "copying others homework"
A product I designed and make was ripped off in China. I’m pretty sure it isn’t all handwringing and negative emotions.
> if we could do what China does, why do we go to China every time we need something done?
Ricardian comparative advantage, which doesn't require the party you go to to be better at the thing you are going to them to do than you are, only that you are enough better at something else that doing the thing you are outsourcing would require giving up more of the other thing.
It's about opportunity cost, not absolute proficiency.
While I've taken an intro to economics class, I've also taken Chinese bullet trains across the country, something I sadly cannot say for America. There are few metrics where they are somehow behind us in proficiency.
> I've also taken Chinese bullet trains across the country, something I sadly cannot say for America
But exercising centralized control while eliminating internal dissent through propaganda or ignoring it because dissenters are effectively disenfranchised, as much as it's a thing many people in the US would love to do, isn't one of the things we outsource to China (neither, viewing the same claim through a different lens, is physical Infrastructure in the US.) So, to the extent that that story reflects something they genuinely have absolute advantage in, it's not really relevant to the “why do we go to them for the things we go to them” for. Heck, a lot of the things we have gone to them for, like low-cost manufacturing of a variety of goods, are moving out from China to other places as they develop just as they moved out of more developed places to China, because with more development comes higher proficiency in areas that less developed states can't substitute for at all, so comparative advantage leads to them getting more of the things they can do, even if they aren't great at them on an absolute scale.
I have a very different opinion on China's totalitarianism (which I am very unimpressed by); I only meant to argue that China possesses expertise that we do not, yes, because of our own Ricardian motivations, but that leaves us in a position where we cannot build our own bridges, trains, nor even computer chips even if we wanted to. You can say we are no longer burdened with manufacturing our own goods, and have moved onto more productive, intellectual pastures, but I'm not so sure. It seems like we spent our capital building up off-shore talent and have enjoyed the largess of lower cost of living, leaving a lot of infrastructure unmaintained. I could go on with my cynicism, but it's not especially productive ;)
The bullet train story isn't all light and luster and progress, even though the system is really good for photo-ops and interesting for railway fans (which I do not deny to be one).
The West tends to take interests of people whose real property (including homes) blocks the right of way into account. While it does encourage NIMBYs from blocking everything, I find it better than the "here be the state railway, now pack your things and begone" approach.
Also, dissenters and politically unreliable people are forbidden from using such trains in China .
Not a great example. The Japanese will tell you that train technology was copied and/or stolen from them.
China has done a lot to reduce cost and increase efficiency of solar cells, not alone though. And I didn't say they make no innovations, clearly they do.
In a now-deleted comment, "selimthegrim" posted, "Yes, let's talk more about their vaccine with 50% efficacy pre-Delta. Do you see other countries clamoring for it?" "saberience" followed up with, "The Chinese vaccine is totally shit though in terms of efficacy compared to other vaccines, and in fact, where I live the Chinese vaccines aren't accepted any longer if you need to travel etc."
Do you mean Sinovac CoronaVac, CanSino Convidecia, Minhai, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences vaccine, Medigen, Zifivax, or one of the three Sinopharm vaccines? Because actually China developed nine vaccines, not one.
One of them is in fact the one other countries clamor for most: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CoronaVac says, "A real-world study of tens of millions of Chileans who received CoronaVac found it 66% effective against symptomatic COVID-19, 88% against hospitalization, 90% against ICU admissions, and 86% against deaths. ... As of July 2021, CoronaVac was the most widely used COVID-19 vaccine in the world, with 943 million doses delivered. As of 14 October 2021, CoronaVac is the COVID-19 vaccine with most doses administered worldwide." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CoronaVac#Authorizations shows that it's approved almost everywhere in the world except the Five Eyes countries, Russia, and the EU.
But I was talking about CanSino Convidecia, the single-dose vaccine they wanted to give me here in the hospital until they heard I was probably going to need to travel to the US. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convidecia says, "In February 2021, global data from Phase III trials and 101 COVID cases showed that the vaccine had a 65.7% efficacy in preventing moderate symptoms of COVID-19, and 91% efficacy in preventing severe disease. ... According to the Chinese state media, the team registered an experimental COVID-19 vaccine for Phase I trial in China on 17 March 2020 to test its safety. The trial was conducted on 108 healthy adults aged 18 to 60 in two medical facilities in Wuhan, Hubei province. ... In April, Ad5-nCoV became the first COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the world to begin Phase II trials. ... On 25 June 2020, China approved the vaccine for limited use by the military."
Convidecia isn't approved in nearly as many countries as CoronaVac and the Sinopharm BIBP vaccine, but the particular achievement I wanted to point out here was being able to get vaccines (three different vaccines) deployed to people who needed them in the field, six months after the pandemic was discovered and six months before any other country in the world. And, contrary to your claims, it turned out to be a lot more than 50% effective.
So, in this case as well as in many others, "It's also not clear that China is particularly good at leading high tech innovation. If you just look at the dollars and cents, they should be inventing new technology at a similar rate as the US. Doesn't seem like they're pulling their weight," is the opposite extreme from the truth, to an astounding degree.
That’s slightly misleading. Most Chinese are vaccinated with CoronaVac whose protection is far behind against the Omnicron variant compared with SpikeVax or Corminaty that is being administered in NA and EU. That’s the reason why the chinese vaccine isn’t acknowledged in the EU as a full vaccination with all travel implications.
I appreciate the added context! Not just most Chinese --- as I said, CoronaVac is the most popular vaccine worldwide. Doesn't its lack of authorization in the EU, and its authorization in most of the rest of the world, predate the emergence of Ό?
True, most people in EU outright refuse to get any other vaccination than Corminaty if they have choice, even SpikeVax had some acceptance trouble because other vaccinations are perceived as inferior in public opinion. Chinese or russian vaccs would have no chance of acceptance by the public here.
The Chinese vaccine is totally shit though in terms of efficacy compared to other vaccines, and in fact, where I live the Chinese vaccines aren't accepted any longer if you need to travel etc.
Strangely enough, I had thoroughly rebutted your first claim and the implications of the second in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29792057 before you wrote your comment. I have now updated the comment to quote yours as well and to include additional evidence.
You have not rebutted any of his claims in your lengthy post which i replied to.
You broke the site guidelines egregiously with this comment. We ban accounts that do that.
"Please don't post insinuations about astroturfing, shilling, brigading, foreign agents and the like. It degrades discussion and is usually mistaken. If you're worried about abuse, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll look at the data."
Do you have any suggestions for how I could rebut this kind of chauvinistic propaganda without attracting comments like chx's?
Just to clarify, I'm not suggesting that throwawaylinux or chx is a paid government agent; I'm well aware that people frequently repeat chauvinistic propaganda like that simply because they believe them, because unthinking stereotypes come naturally to the humans. But I'd like to make that situation better rather than worse.
Edit: I wrote an entire reply and then realized you were asking about the thread before that comment, not about how to respond to it. So I should try to answer the question you actually asked.
The one thing I'm aware of that you can do, to help dampen the nationalistic emotions and flames that spring up around this topic, is to scrupulously make your comments as factual and as neutral as possible. If you let your frustrations leak into your posts in any way, readers who disagree will take that as license to respond with 10x of their own.
This isn't easy to do, but it does help. It's not, unfortunately, a sufficient condition to avoid getting flamey responses on this topic. I wish it were, because it's a big problem and getting worse. (I even made a specific list of moderation comments about this because the issue comes up so often: https://news.ycombinator.com/chinamod. There's no other issue I've felt compelled to do that about so far.)
Bad as the situation is, though, I would not underestimate the persuasive power of a commenter who's able to keep their cool and stay flamebait free in everything they post on a divisive topic. It's a judo move in the end because the ones who respond with flames effectively single themselves out as not having good arguments. But the judo move only works if you preserve the asymmetry—i.e. if both parties are flaming, then they're discrediting themselves equally and it's a wash. If only one party is, then the other one wins by default. It doesn't feel that way in the moment (I feel the tug to respond-in-kind as much as anyone!) but when you go back and look at those threads later once the ashes are cold, it's quite clear.
Edit 2: There's one other thing you can do to dampen flaminess and increase the persuasive power of your own comments, although it's not always easy either. That is to find some point of relational contact with the person(s) you're arguing with. The most straightforward way to do this is to find something to agree with in what they're saying; or, failing that, to find some way of supporting the positive intention behind what they're saying.
The reason this works is that when people are arguing, they're inevitably arguing on two different channels simultaneously: (1) disagreement about the topic—that's the obvious one; but also (2) what each person thinks of the other. When the disagreement in channel #1 is so stark that neither party can find anything to agree with or respect in what the other person is saying, it inflames channel #2 and starts to feel like a struggle to defend one's self against attack. In other words, it starts to feel like a fight to the death (this is absurd on the internet, but this stuff all relates to hard-wiring from long ago). Survival instincts start to get engaged. When people feel like their survival is at stake, they'll resort to literally anything. In internet forum threads, that means lots of the worst kind of flamewar, including "are you being paid to do this" and much worse.
However. In a way similar to the 'judo move' I mentioned above, you can turn this to your advantage—and not only to your advantage, but everyone's advantage, by finding ways to reduce the pressure on channel #2. That's what I mean by "finding some point of relational contact". If you can do this, you're basically sending the message "I don't want to kill you" on the side channel, or—less melodramatically—"I'm not trying to vanquish you, I just want to find the truth together". When people negotiate that successfully on the side channel, the discussion on channel #1 (the actual topic) magically becomes more meaningful and interesting. But of course it has to be done with subtlety—not in the manipulative sense, but just in a way that genuinely respects the other person and allows them to feel heard and save face.
This is stuff we have a lot of ways to take care of automatically in person, without even realizing we're doing it, but because things like tone of voice and body language aren't available online, it's easy to fall into the worst interpersonal situations very quickly. Part of the challenge of developing a good forum culture (which is what we want to do here) is developing a new set of techniques that can map what we do instinctively in physical space into virtual space, in a way that leads to more complex and more interesting conversation. I don't think this is easy at all, so I don't think it's so terrible that it's taking us decades to get there. I do think it's a good idea though.
--- original comment: ---
Honestly I think the only thing it really made sense to do with that one was to remember and practice this site guideline: "Don't feed egregious comments by replying; flag them instead." (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html) ...which is our euphemism for "please don't feed the trolls", which strikes me as probably the wisest thing the internet ever said.
The reason I say that is that there literally wasn't any information in the comment to rebut—just a smear ("are you paid to do this") and a bunch of name-calling and innuendo. If you try to rebut it, you're forced to go to a non-factual, name-calling level just because there was nothing else there.
Of course it's frustrating, not least because it takes time for enough flags to build up and/or moderator attention to get attracted, but in the end the system takes care of these things fairly easily. You can always email email@example.com in egregious cases to speed that process up.
(Separately, in case anyone feels I've been too harsh here: I don't mean to pick on chx - it's easy to make these mistakes when emotions are high. But important to learn not to.)
Thank you very much. There's a lot to think about here.
I think that to a significant extent it's not actually absurd for such political debates "to feel like a fight to the death". Death is the currency of politics; the reason for the anti-China propaganda in the US and the anti-US propaganda in China is specifically in order to facilitate organized killing, because organized killing is how states stand or fall; it's what distinguishes the state from other forms of organization.
Even in arguably less consequential cases, like what happened to my friend Aaron or to Julian Assange, successful political factionalism can provide the factions who have control of the state with the opportunity to kill their individual enemies. (I can't count how many people I saw repeat the argument that Assange should give himself up to stand trial for rape, a trial everyone can now see was never in the cards.) At a scale in between, we have the drug war, which enabled Nixon, Biden, and their allies to imprison tens of millions of hippies and black people (who were inclined to vote against them) and strip them of voting rights. This directly killed many of them, forced others into violent prison gangs, and reduced their ability to organize politically to resist further damaging policies. And of course political debates over the death penalty and healthcare directly determine who gets to live and who has to die.
Even when there's no state, there's factional violence, so politics still determine who lives and dies.
So I don't think the humans are necessarily wrong when they feel that their lives are at stake in discussions about these divisive topics. No individual forum thread will, probably, determine their survival (though the HN thread where Aaron begged for help and mostly got told to suck it up might count as one) but the aggregate shifts in public opinion that emerge from the discourse will, ultimately, kill many of them.
In a broader sense, though, nobody's survival is at stake, because everybody who posting on this thread, every human alive today, is going to die. Their survival is a lost cause; their death is only a matter of time, and none of them has very much time left, a few decades at most. So the survival instinct, strong though it is, is the most futile of all human instincts.
(not the OP) Do you want to point to anything that is only half true? I similarly choose to defend China against lazy characterizations that they can only steal what westerners design for them, and it's not because I want the communist party to succeed, I don't. Why are you so sure what you've read about China reflects the situation better? I have visited factories in Shenzhen and Shanghai, I am impressed by what they have accomplished, and I believe the people in this thread do themselves a disservice by having such a tainted picture of their fellow human beings.
No, I'm not "paid to do this", and none of what I said is half-true or embellished. What is wrong with you?
China was not solely responsible for solar panel cost/efficiency improvements of the past 10 years, so that's embellished.
And yes they make vaccines and nuclear reactors like many countries do or have done. And I'll just repeat that I didn't say they produce or invent zero new things.
For all their rhetoric, there is not matching output of new technologies in my opinion. Almost everywhere I look yes they often play catch up and are close behind in copying or are doing the manufacturing cheaply, but the idea or the innovation and research came from elsewhere. Smartphones, electric cars (or even conventional cars and internal combustion engines -- innovation and quality come from Japan, Germany, SK, etc), jet engines and airliners, CPUs and GPUs, reusable rockets, operating systems, software languages, pharmaceuticals, AI, crypto, for a few random things I can think of off hand. China obviously must do some innovation, it's just nowhere near the size of their economy or boasting, from my experience.
Who else has reduced the cost of solar panel manufacturing over the past 10 years? As far as I can tell it's entirely, 100%, Chinese companies. But maybe you know something I don't.
I don't know enough about smartphones, electric cars, conventional cars, reciprocating engines, jet engines, airliners, reusable rockets, or AI to comment on what the big innovations in the last few years are, where they came from, and which ones are being adopted in China. Can you go into more detail?
The most interesting innovations I've seen in CPUs in recent years are from Padauk (China) and RISC-V (everywhere, especially Berkeley, but also including China). NVIDIA seems to be leading in GPUs; like Lam Research, it's an American company with a Chinese-American founder. But now the critical innovation bottleneck seems to be not designing a working CPU design but successfully manufacturing it, and the supreme giant in the field is TSMC, a Chinese company, though Samsung is mostly keeping up. Of course the field is extremely international, which is why we're interested in ASML's fire in the first place.
In terms of crypto, it's an extremely international community, but two of the most significant achievements of the last 20 years were the collision attacks on MD5 and SHA1, which were found at Shandong University, which is in China. (Of course nobody knows where Satoshi is from, but China is near the bottom of the list of possibilities.)
I agree with you about operating systems and programming languages, though of course if you `git annotate` Linux you will find a rather large slice of it is written by people with Chinese names, a lot of whom work at Chinese companies.
As for drugs, well, I explained in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29792057 how far China is from "playing catch up" with respect to covid vaccines. But maybe in other drugs it's true. What are the big new innovations in drugs, and where do they originate?
Look I don't have time to try to answer all this now I'll try to get back to it but I would like to make clear that I am not talking about Chinese people or people of Chinese race or ancestry here. I'm talking about China the country. There are brilliant people of Chinese ancestry who are responsible for many such innovations, many papers and inventions you see coming from western academia and companies have the names of Chinese people associated.
And nor do I say China has done nothing. They just aren't the infinitely-resourced borg that will end up overtaking everyone in everything that people seem to take as a safe assumption.
And nor do I say China has done nothing. They just aren't the infinitely-resourced borg that will end up overtaking everyone in everything that people seem to take as a safe assumption.
It seems that we agree.
> Who else has reduced the cost of solar panel manufacturing over the past 10 years? As far as I can tell it's entirely, 100%, Chinese companies. But maybe you know something I don't.
The solar cost reduction numbers come in the form of reduced cost to manufacture and improved panel performance. There is a lot of non-Chinese research into the latter, but even in the former case a lot of inventions and technology is developed then licensed. USA and Germany.
> I don't know enough about smartphones,
Smartphones, invented in the US.
> electric cars,
Obviously not recently invented, but the recent push to make these competitive and take market share has all come from US, Germany, Japan, and SK.
> conventional cars, reciprocating engines
> jet engines, airliners,
China has been trying to develop their own jet engines for 70 years and desperately needed a competitive jet engine since 40 years when they broke up with the Soviets. No dice. They also want civilian airliners rather than having to buy from the US or EU. There's always rumors this time they might have got something workable last year, but it's quite amazing how difficult it has been for them.
> reusable rockets,
Well the Chinese rocket program is basically repeating the rockets of the 60s. Meanwhile US companies are basically re-inventing commercial rocketry with innovations significantly reusable rockets. China has quickly tried to follow that naturally and they could well do a good job. My point is the innovation and the new ideas aren't coming from there. It's just the same story where ever I look.
> or AI
Just more same thing. The inventions around the recent AI boom ("deep learning" advances like neural networks on GPUs, GAN) has not come out of China.
> The most interesting innovations I've seen in CPUs in recent years are from Padauk (China)
What's interesting about Padauk?
> RISC-V (everywhere, especially Berkeley, but also including China).
RISC-V is another great example that's not come out of China. Despite the fact they desperately need an unencumbered ISA (which is part of the reason for their extraordinary hijacking of their ARM subsidiary), they had never taken the step to create their own (before that they were using MIPS). Using RISC-V is just more of the same thing: following not inventing or leading.
The ISA is not really where much innovation is going on in computing though. You just need something as an interface, and everyone is more or less the same (although RISC-V is not very good as ISAs go, sadly).
> NVIDIA seems to be leading in GPUs; like Lam Research, it's an American company with a Chinese-American founder.
Yes, and yet again not Chinese.
> But now the critical innovation bottleneck seems to be not designing a working CPU design but successfully manufacturing it, and the supreme giant in the field is TSMC, a Chinese company,
It's both, for high performance CPUs and GPUs. There are only a few companies on the planet who can do the logic and circuit design, Intel, AMD, Apple at the cutting edge, and say ARM and IBM after that.
Also we're talking about mainland China or the nation governed by the CCP here (the context was "China" catching up with "not China" in silicon manufacturing). So China does not have TSMC.
> In terms of crypto, it's an extremely international community, but two of the most significant achievements of the last 20 years were the collision attacks on MD5 and SHA1, which were found at Shandong University, which is in China. (Of course nobody knows where Satoshi is from, but China is near the bottom of the list of possibilities.)
Comparatively little crypto has come from China compared with, say, USA. Who developed the crypto math and algorithms that you're using right now?
> I agree with you about operating systems and programming languages, though of course if you `git annotate` Linux you will find a rather large slice of it is written by people with Chinese names, a lot of whom work at Chinese companies.
Not actually a lot compared with how much they rely on Linux (a non-Chinese invention). Recently it has picked up in number, but you actually find a lot of those are janitorial and automated linter type of patches. There are some good developments from China, but very few compared with many other countries.
> As for drugs, well, I explained in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29792057 how far China is from "playing catch up" with respect to covid vaccines. But maybe in other drugs it's true. What are the big new innovations in drugs, and where do they originate?
Well since we're on the topic of COVID their vaccines have been a great achievement. Chinese vaccines use inactivated virus, adenovirus vectors, subunit/protein, which were all techniques developed by the west for a long time. The new mRNA vaccine they are developing is based on this new mRNA vaccine technology which has largely been developed and invented outside China.
> The solar cost reduction numbers come in the form of reduced cost to manufacture and improved panel performance. There is a lot of non-Chinese research into the latter, but even in the former case a lot of inventions and technology is developed then licensed. USA and Germany.
It's come entirely in the form of reduced cost to manufacture; mainstream solar panels have been about 21% efficient and low-cost ones about 16% efficient for decades. Thin-film panels have gotten a lot more efficient over the last 10 years, but they've also been completely eclipsed by traditional silicon panels.
Can you name one or two inventions that have been important in reducing silicon PV manufacturing costs in the last 10 years that originated in the US and Germany? I can't.
I'm confused about why you're bringing up the original invention of things like smartphones (arguably Finland and Japan in the 01990s, rather than Danger in the US, but there's been continuous development), and jet engines. I agree with you that 40 or 70 years ago the US was inventing a lot more things than China was; 40 years ago China was still largely Communist. 1000 years ago China was doing more; the Song had a paper-money-based fossil-fuel mass-production economy administered by a centralized bureaucracy. 2500 years ago the center of innovation was Greece and India.
But I thought we were talking about a much shorter timescale here: where are things being invented now, like, the last ten years. And the US definitely didn't invent jet engines or smartphones in the last ten years. What have been the crucial innovations in smartphones in the last ten years? I think you'll find that most of them came from China, though the M1 is designed in the US.
> Well the Chinese rocket program is basically repeating the rockets of the 60s.
Until a couple of years ago, the US couldn't even "repeat the rockets of the 60s"; it was relying on Soyuz to get its astronauts to the ISS. Reusable rockets themselves aren't a "new idea" on the timescales we're talking about here; the US tried that in the 70s and failed so badly it destroyed its entire manned spaceflight program. Presumably SpaceX has been able to succeed at this in part due to coming up with some genuinely new ideas; do you have any idea what they are or where they came from?
> Also we're talking about mainland China or the nation governed by the CCP here (the context was "China" catching up with "not China" in silicon manufacturing).
If you want to start talking about that, I guess you're free to, but I have no interest in starting to talk about that subject.
> What's interesting about Padauk?
Padauk's CPUs (another Taiwanese company, by the way, in case you're keeping track) have two particularly interesting innovations:
1. They use a second hardware thread on the same CPU (or, in theory, up to three of them) to do things like PWM, SPI, or quadrature decoding which are usually done in hardware (or, say, pioasm on the RP2040, or the tiny amount of programmable logic on some new Microchip AVRs). This means you aren't limited to the peripherals included on a particular chip; you can in theory do things like generate an NTSC signal while running application code, which is something I've sort of done on the ATMega328, but I had to settle for running application code during the HBI and VBI.
2. They cost less than many discrete signal transistors, so it's reasonable to use them where you would use a transistor. Harder to second-source tho.
They also invented their own programming language for the chips, an assembly language with C-like syntax, but I'm not that impressed with it.
> It's come entirely in the form of reduced cost to manufacture; mainstream solar panels have been about 21% efficient and low-cost ones about 16% efficient for decades. Thin-film panels have gotten a lot more efficient over the last 10 years, but they've also been completely eclipsed by traditional silicon panels.
> I'm confused about why you're bringing up the original invention of things like smartphones (arguably Finland and Japan in the 01990s, rather than Danger in the US, but there's been continuous development), and jet engines.
Everything is built on other things, but still you can see significant advances. By smartphone I'm not referring to cellular radios or batteries or computer chips (all of which themselves build on other things), but the invention that revolutionizes a technology. The iPhone. I'm aware there are things people claim are smartphones before that, but that's not what I'm talking about.
> I agree with you that 40 or 70 years ago the US was inventing a lot more things than China was; 40 years ago China was still largely Communist. 1000 years ago China was doing more; the Song had a paper-money-based fossil-fuel mass-production economy administered by a centralized bureaucracy. 2500 years ago the center of innovation was Greece and India.
And today US is still inventing a lot more things than China was.
> But I thought we were talking about a much shorter timescale here: where are things being invented now, like, the last ten years. And the US definitely didn't invent jet engines or smartphones in the last ten years.
My point with jet engines is that China is incapable of developing them independently after 70 years of effort and with the luxury of having samples of good jet engines to copy for the entire time.
> What have been the crucial innovations in smartphones in the last ten years?
iPhone is near enough (I never mentioned 10 years, just general modern).
> I think you'll find that most of them came from China, though the M1 is designed in the US.
Which of them of them came from China? Not software, not silicon manufacturing, not digital logic design, not LTE modems, not screens, not new NAND technologies, not cameras. So what is the "most of them" that exceeds those things?
> Until a couple of years ago, the US couldn't even "repeat the rockets of the 60s";
Of course it could.
> it was relying on Soyuz to get its astronauts to the ISS.
A matter of funding, the rocket technology did not go away obviously they still maintain ICBMs and SLBMs.
> Reusable rockets themselves aren't a "new idea" on the timescales we're talking about here;
No, I'm talking about inventing an actual working reusable rocket and all the technologies and inventions required to achieve that.
> the US tried that in the 70s and failed so badly it destroyed its entire manned spaceflight program.
I'm not sure what you're talking about, but a lot changes in 50 years. 70s was only a decade after the first manned space flight.
> Presumably SpaceX has been able to succeed at this in part due to coming up with some genuinely new ideas; do you have any idea what they are or where they came from?
Certainly not China, which (yet again) is following and copying.
It's an American company though, with very strong restrictions on who can work for them (non-citizens / permanent residents I thin are not allowed).
> If you want to start talking about that, I guess you're free to, but I have no interest in starting to talk about that subject.
This is what the conversation is about. Read the thread, it started from wondering about whether China will catch up in silicon manufacturing. That does not make any sense if you count China as including Taiwan does it?
All my comments apply to mainland China.
> Padauk's CPUs (another Taiwanese company, by the way, in case you're keeping track) have two particularly interesting innovations:
I'm not sure what is innovative about what you're describing as hardware multi threading or software DSP but I'll take your word for it there's probably more to it that I'm not understanding. Still, they're also not mainland China, not surprisingly.
Also, it is not very generous to describe something like this as innovation but at the same time say that iPhone was not innovative.
You also don't address any of the rebuttals I made to other things (e.g., RISC-V, crypto, AI, GPUs). Does that mean you concede on those points?
China will not have a domestically sourced EUV scanner with commercially viable throughput within 20 years, if not longer. They are lacking precursor technologies to the precursor technologies, supply chains, talent, etc for both light source and optics, and unlike the rear of the semiconductor industry, those ecosystems are today found within the US and Europe, not Asia.
Things move pretty fast in China, so even though they are slow to innovate they can quickly copy designs where enough detailed information exists in public.
EUV took decades and billions of dollars in trial and error before the current techniques were figured out. Due to the West's tendency to publish successful techniques, China won't have to repeat these steps.
There is not a single major advanced hard tech application where China has the leading technology (except for maybe sub-6 5G, which isn’t that difficult), and EUV is the most challenging hard tech application ever. So I am not that optimistic about their prospects.
Things moved fast in China (rather Shrnzhen) due to a period of ultra-liberal economics that Xi is now dismantling.
Xi has been cracking down a lot on "soft tech". Hardware tech has never been anywhere close to liberal even in Shenzhen, where all levels of government always had massive levels of investment and involvement in the industry.
Could you define soft tech in this context?
Software, digital services, as opposed to technology pertaining to hardware.
YMMV, depending on the technology.
As an example where this hasn't worked so well, COMAC's aircraft production has not been doing too hot.
Yeah, I mostly agree, but do you consider Taiwan part of China? They do.
Japan and Korea also have pretty big talent in related areas. I believe that Intellectual Property often wears shoes, but a lot of SW, methods, specs, etc can be appropriated more quickly.
Isn't Tiawan an EUV equipment customer, not supplier?
In practice, for where the money goes and what the CCP can block Taiwan right now isn't part of China. That seems like a situation that could change in the near future and the West should plan for.
Taiwan has an even smaller chance of developing an EUV stepper than China. They don’t even really have a precision equipment industry.
ASML has taken over all the business formerly held by such companies as Nikon, who are now in no position to compete. They would certainly be much better placed to do so again than some random Chinese company with no track record in the area. Disruptive innovations do happen, but that's not what the Chinese are doing here.
> pouring high order of millions
All I can think of is dr. Evil saying "one MILLION dollars".
Assuming rationality or optimal play is not good way to think of real world actions. You only need three things for something like this to happen.
1. One side thinks that it will hurt the other side more than it does to itself.
2. Politically it can handle/sell the cost of such an action.
3. There is a leader who is ready to execute it as his agenda.
 Only have to think so, it doesn't have to even be true.
China has no access to advanced ASML EUV lithography. Hurting ASML would help domestic Chinese manufacturers relative to Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the US and elsewhere.
(sabotage has so many other risks that it's not a good idea)
Creating EUV machines took twice as long as getting people on the moon… not sure if it was as expensive, but setting up EUV lithography capacity for mass production certainly sounds like the Apollo program of the semiconductor industry.
>Is impacting the semi supply chain the hot, new weapon of the US-China tech cold war?
If it is, at best only temporarily. The US is perfectly capable of setting up its own complete supply chain if there were the political motivation and do so in a relatively short time frame. China is perfectly aware of this so it will never become a serious issue, they would just be shooting themselves in the foot and cutting themselves off from our (sometimes unwilling) technology transfer.
There is absolutely no capacity to replace ASML on any sort of short timeframe.
EUV step and scan systems are roughly the size of a bus, fractal system complexity and sophistication that rivals the LHC, and mirrors with a roughness two orders of magnitude finer than what the JWST space telescope has to work with (namely .2nm compared to 20nm).
Please do not underestimate the difficulty of manufacturing EUV systems, ASML only manages to build a few dozen a year for a reason :)
If the DoD got scared and threw a few billion at a competition to build this tech locally, I’m betting it could be done relatively quickly, but then what is and is not “quick”
Just call the three or four companies you think would be the closest and tell them they’ll be competing to build the capacity paid for by the defense department.
If you don't have the right people and the right environment, throwing more money at a problem can be enormously inefficient, it doesn't solve every problem.
There are many example of big government funded projects that crumble under their own weight, despite being inundated with cash. Look at NASA's SLS, the DoD's trillion dollar plane projects, big government software projects in general.
For truly large, complex systems, it's not enough to throw more money at the problem. You need an organization that can manage the complexity in the first place, otherwise you can spend as many years and trillions as you want with little to show for it.
You know, expertise does not grow on trees. It was not an accident the manhattan project and moon landings were led by specialists from Germany.
You can't suddenly create experts by throwing money at random business people.
What if everyone who knows how already works for ASML? Then starting up a competing corporation and sniping talent would actually slow down recovery. I'm sure the cost-benefit-analysis has already been done.
to be honest, high level semiconductor lithography would be similar to manhattan project complexity. It could be done, but there's a reason nobody but ASML makes these.
I don’t think you understand, ASML does not have any competitors at its level. They are alone on the bleeding edge of semiconductor tooling.
If all it took was a few billion dollars, don’t you think someone would have already funded it and started a profitable company?
Perhaps you should read the mythical man-month. Throwing resources at the problem doesn't suddenly make it go away in knowledge cases.
The US is capable of many things, in theory. In practise, not a lot of new capabilities have materialised so far. Not even a single new Foxconn plant or a domestic contender (if any).
That's not to say that is impossible, but without good examples we can all say a bunch of stuff and it won't mean anything.
There's a difference between what happens for economic reasons and what would happen for an actual security / supply chain threat.
> That's not to say that is impossible, but without good examples we can all say a bunch of stuff and it won't mean anything.
Ok, in WWII a big part of Allied victory was the US mobilizing a vertically integrated industrial base to build war materiel.
You can look at the history of the Defense Production Act (1950) to see it in action several times building up local industries with lots of cheap money.
Right, if the US wanted it done it could be done.
Is there a reason to assume the ability to ramp up in WW2 has any bearing on the ability to ramp up an operation like ASML today?
You cannot just throw any bodies at a problem like creating ASML. You have to throw very specific bodies with each one having at least a decade or more of very specific expertise (it seems like, based on the comments and articles I have read). That is just ASML, not even getting into the deep expertise TSMC must need to execute, or even Apple in designing.
Knowledge itself has expanded tremendously since WW2 such that to be top of the field in WW2 required much less time than to be top of the field today.
Manhattan Project? That wasn't a "just throw bodies at it" either...
bachElor’s EnrollmEnt and dEgrEEs
Enrollment in undergraduate engineering programs increased this year continuing a decade long trend to 622,502 full-time students in 2018. Degrees awarded increased to 131,937 for reporting institutions (136, 233 including non- reporting institutions). The three engineering disciplines producing the most degrees in 2018 were, as in 2017, mechanical engineering, with 31,936 degrees, computer science (inside engineering) with 19,082 degrees and electrical engineering with 13,767.
mastEr’s EnrollmEnt and dEgrEEs
There was an increase in 2018 in enrollment in master’s engineering programs with a total of 93,559 students enrolled, a 6,687 student increase over 2017. The number of master’s degrees awarded increased to 66,340 for 2018. The three disciplines representing 39% of all engineering master’s graduates are computer science (inside engineering), with 10,946 graduates, mechanical engineering with 8,160 graduates and electrical engineering with 7,048 graduates.
doctoral EnrollmEnt and dEgrEEs
In 2018 there were 12,156 doctorates awarded 78,715 full-time students enrolled in doctoral programs. The 5 disciplines with a combined total of 60% of the doctoral graduates in 2018 are mechanical, electrical/computer engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering and computer science (inside engineering
Soviet also managed that, large state sanctioned projects can accomplish some feats but not others. Soviet did nuclear, soviet went to space, so those are examples of what states can do. However soviet tried to make good computers, but they failed to do so, so for all we know large state sanctioned efforts cannot solve this problem, so it looks like you need the agility of a free private sector to get through it.
I do not know for sure, but I suspect blowing things up might be less difficult than creating and maintaining all the stable reactions needed to create a long lasting microchip. Nevertheless, even the Manhattan project took 5 or 6 years.
Are you sure? They employed well over 100k people I thought, and maybe a handful of those people actually knew the full scope of the project.
Do we have the same quality of human resources we had then?
Manhattan Project would have taken longer without input from all the European scientists chased out of Europe by Nazis.
Fermi, Teller, Bohr, von Neumann, Bethe, Szilard, Einstein - not every one of them was directly involved, but they all moved to America and taught younger generations of American physicists.
Do you have any evidence of required expertiese existing in US, youbare only offering tautologies so far
One of the fun parts of working in Silicon Valley is that there's... industrial stuff everywhere. At one office building, not only did we have the usual fire evacuation plan, but we had extra instructions because of one of our neighbors, who had storage tanks with the usual fab chemicals. Yow.
A small bavarian town in the 80's. A summer day in an elementary school which happens to be across a leather-tanning-plant. One of the kids suddenly bursts out "hey look, why do all the trees suddenly turn brown?". The teacher is flabbergasted but wise enough to close all the windows immediately. Outside it looks like autumn is in full blow, while the sirens in the city go off and the road between school and plant fills rapidly with firetrucks, ambulance and police cars...
It later turned out that one container had over-pressure and a chemical escaped trough an outlet... no people were harmed though but every leave in the vicinity
turned completely brown...
Yeah, that's not just in SV. Here in The Netherlands, you might have a neighbor who hosts illegal fireworks in their apartment/house. Some of that (e.g. 'cobra') is akin to having explosives. Which is illegal to have in your house, due to the safety concerns for other people.
Is this in any particular way specific to The Netherlands? Sounds like it could happen anywhere?
It’s like the Prohibition era. The Netherlands have always tried to control fireworks much more rigidly than the surrounding countries, and now have prohibited fireworks completely under the guise of COVID.
There is still a big market for it though. The obvious and predictable result is that the stockpiles don’t end up in a bunker but in peoples homes and consist of ever stronger and more dangerous items.
I see. Sounds like the plan backfired /s
The intend was to reduce pressure on hospitals. That worked very well, with emergency room visits dropping 85 % compared to the year before, even more to pre-Covid New Year's Eves
A drop indeed, a drop in a bucket. In total fireworks resulted in about 400 emergency room visits in 2019-2020 on a population of 17 million.
So this went from about 5 visits per emergency location per year to about 2. Totally and completely insignificant.
After hours share price is stable as of 10:30 PM EST.
I think we might not be good at building resilient systems.
Normal Accidents is a terrific book on inevitable failures of complex systems — it was written before Chernobyl which makes it prophetic as well.
How is it prophetic? Does it predict a nuclear catastrophe?
It's the opposite, this accident will make us better at making resilient systems. As we get better and better at safety, more and more accidents will be prevented, compared to yesterday and the day before. But as we build more complicated systems, we also discover new problems, sometimes after they become accidents, unfortunately.
The HN headline says "large fire", but the article does not.
This is the best info I could find, linked from a reddit thread.
> Eine automatische Reinigungsanlage sei auf etwa 200 Quadratmetern in Brand geraten.
> According to the fire brigade, only part of the plant was affected by the fire. An automatic cleaning system caught fire on around 200 square meters.
It sounds like the fire itself was pretty small, but considering how sensitive the equipment they manufacture is and how clean it has to be, the potential damage to the facility and the production lines could be really severe.
Their statement is that it's too early to assess damage -- but it's enough they need to take a few days to assess the damage itself and impact on production. Also enough that it hit the share price. So, clearly not trivial.
"At this point it is too early to make any statement on the damage or whether the incident will have any impact on the output plan for this year. It will take a few days to conduct a thorough investigation and make a full assessment. "
"Since the US-China trade and technology confrontation spilled into public view in 2017, most of the attention has centered on trade conflict and the US campaign against Huawei, China's 5G leader and its most important global technology company. But recent US actions involving semiconductors present a more fundamental problem for China. Efforts to cut off the supply of cutting-edge semiconductors to Huawei and to encourage the construction of advanced chip factories on US soil have drawn the semiconductor industry into the US-China technology cold war, raising the stakes in the countries' trade and technology conflict." 
So where's the evidence? It's easy to spew conspiracy theories about anything. Intel could've started the fire in ASML's plant to slow down TSMC. I could've shorted ASML's stock and started the fire to profit from the other side of the world.
I don't believe any conspiracy was present here, or they would have done a better job.
Wouldn't be surprised. It is a pity and a relief that the new face of war will simply result in infrastructure failing at slightly higher rates, in a slow escalation as each side sees what it can get away with while maintaining plausible deniability.
Lem has mapped out a future like that in "Eden". Not sure if it's a great future to live in.
It's against the site guidelines to post like this. We've already warned you, and if you keep breaking the rules, we're going to end up having to ban you.
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> he is right, it is the same story as OVH's recent fires
No, he is not, and you are not right either.
Spewing baseless accusations, creating facts out of thin air, is best way to get flagged on HN.
Yes, some countries want to slow EU. No, that does not give you right to claim it is a sabotage when you have absolutely zero knowledge about it.
is this like when refineries say there is a fire but they just want to cut production .
It's peculiar how many fires and major incidents there have been in European factories, plants, and buildings owned and operated by large European companies the last couple of years.
ASML manufacturing, OVH data center, and even Astra Zeneca's largest vaccine manufacturing site, which is perhaps one of the largest in the world, costing them enormous sums in lost contracts in the early stages of the COVID vaccination effort.
The best question to ask is, who benefits? It seems that more often than not it is a large American company or conglomerate.
China sabotaging ASML profit on to prevent decentralization of chip production from Taiwan and maintain leverage over the US in Taiwan sovereignty struggle.
The timing is so suspicious that it definitely gives weight to that. Like the other sub-poster said, stux'ing a fab to show leverage in a future chip race makes a lot of sense.
Reminds me of Chinese netizen conspiracy theory that US set fire to ASML / Prodrive warehouse in 2019 that delayed EUV delivery to SMIC long enough for Trump admin to pressure Dutch gov to cancel the contract. Plausible more US shenanigans or that PRC is fighting fire with fire. Literally. Conspiracy theories aside, hard to believe stuxnetting semi fabs isn't in the list of options.
Berlin is surprisingly backward compared to the rest of Germany. I don't know why tech companies have established themselves in Berlin.
Out of just curiosity (I do not live in Germany, I have no stakes in this game): how is Berlin backward?
Not the person you are replying to and I don't think that "backwards" is the right way to describe Berlin.
Having said that: Berlin is a very "un-German" city in the sense that it seems unable to get things under control. At first they were broke ("poor but sexy", as the slogan went), then they where overwhelmed by tourists and aspiring artists, and now there's not a single free apartment anywhere. The bureaucracy is slow and everything is forever under construction. The BER airport exemplifies all of this at once.
Having said that, it's one of my favorite places in the world: there's a vibrant, multicultural art community, everything is more laid back, it has plenty of beautiful corners and parks, and you don't need a car at all.
It's a city with a special character, but I can also understand those who would rather live in a more predictable place.
It's as close as one can get, with about 200m missing because, I guess, the driver decided nobody would care about the rest of this godforsaken industrial area. Or they got a call at exactly that moment that Google would stop gathering photos to spite the criticism of data protection advocates that was annoying them at the time.
I though Street View was banned in Germany?
It isn't but people can register their properties if they want them to be blurred out.