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Chips and Change: How Crisis Reshapes the Semiconductor Industry [Kindle Edition]

Clair Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

For decades the semiconductor industry has been a driver of global economic growth
and social change. Semiconductors, particularly the microchips essential to most electronic devices,
have transformed computing, communications, entertainment, and industry. In Chips and Change, Clair
Brown and Greg Linden trace the industry over more than twenty years through eight technical and
competitive crises that forced it to adapt in order to continue its exponential rate of improved
chip performance. The industry's changes have in turn shifted the basis on which firms hold or gain
global competitive advantage.These eight interrelated crises do not have tidy beginnings and ends.
Most, in fact, are still ongoing, often in altered form. The U.S. semiconductor industry's fear that
it would be overtaken by Japan in the 1980s, for example, foreshadows current concerns over the new
global competitors China and India. The intersecting crises of rising costs for both design and
manufacturing are compounded by consumer pressure for lower prices. Other crises discussed in the
book include the industry's steady march toward the limits of physics, the fierce competition that
keeps its profits modest even as development costs soar, and the global search for engineering
talent.Other high-tech industries face crises of their own, and the semiconductor industry has much
to teach about how industries are transformed in response to such powerful forces as technological
change, shifting product markets, and globalization. Chips and Change also offers insights into how
chip firms have developed, defended, and, in some cases, lost global competitive
advantage.



Editorial Reviews

Review

For decades the semiconductor industry has been a driver of global economic growth and social change. Semiconductors, particularly the microchips essential to most electronic devices, have transformed computing, communications, entertainment, and industry. In Chips and Change, Clair Brown and Greg Linden trace the industry over more than twenty years through eight technical and competitive crises that forced it to adapt in order to continue its exponential rate of improved chip performance. The industry's changes have in turn shifted the basis on which firms hold or gain global competitive advantage.These eight interrelated crises do not have tidy beginnings and ends. Most, in fact, are still ongoing, often in altered form. The U.S. semiconductor industry's fear that it would be overtaken by Japan in the 1980s, for example, foreshadows current concerns over the new global competitors China and India. The intersecting crises of rising costs for both design and manufacturing are compounded by consumer pressure for lower prices. Other crises discussed in the book include the industry's steady march toward the limits of physics, the fierce competition that keeps its profits modest even as development costs soar, and the global search for engineering talent.Other high-tech industries face crises of their own, and the semiconductor industry has much to teach about how industries are transformed in response to such powerful forces as technological change, shifting product markets, and globalization. Chips and Change also offers insights into how chip firms have developed, defended, and, in some cases, lost global competitive advantage.



"No other major industry has the severe ups and downs of the global semiconductor industry. While microchips play a major role in every aspect of modern life, the industry has given participants a roller coaster ride since the invention of the microchip in the late 1950's. Brown and Linden, two experts who have followed the industry for decades, capture the excitement of the ride in terms of a series of industry crises and provide a wealth of data-driven information which they use to give some lessons for the future. This book will be of interest to all who follow this dynamic industry."-- Bill Spencer, Chairman Emeritus, SEMATECH

(Bill Spencer )

"Brown and Linden provide a brilliant analysis of the competitive crisis facing the U.S. They explain the underlying issues by detailing the challenges which the semiconductor industry has faced. These challenges are not different than what all hi-tech industries will face in the globalized world. This book is a must-read for U.S policymakers."--Vivek Wadhwa, senior research associate, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School, and executive in residence / adjunct professor, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University

(Vivek Wadhwa )

AcknowledgmentsPreface to the Paperback EditionIntroductionCrisis 1: Loss of Competitive AdvantageCrisis 2: Rising Costs of FabricationCrisis 3: Rising Costs of DesignCrisis 4: Consumer Price SqueezeCrisis 5: Limits to Moore's LawCrisis 6: Finding TalentCrisis 7: Low Returns, High RiskCrisis 8: New Global CompetitionConclusion: The Way AheadNotesReferencesIndex



"Brown and Linden provide a brilliant analysis of the competitive crisis facing the United States. They explain the underlying issues by detailing the challenges that the semiconductor industry has faced. These challenges are not different from what all hi-tech industries will face in the globalized world. This book is a must-read for U.S policymakers." Vivek Wadhwa , senior research associate, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School, and Executive in Residence/Adjunct Professor, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University



"If you are involved in the challenges of the semiconductor industry, this is a book you should read." Paul McLellan Electronic Design News

About the Author

"No other major industry has the severe ups and downs of the global semiconductor industry. While microchips play a major role in every aspect of modern life, the industry has given participants a roller-coaster ride since the invention of the microchip in the late 1950s. Brown and Linden, two experts who have followed the industry for decades, capture the excitement of the ride in terms of a series of industry crises and provide a wealth of data-driven information that they use to give some lessons for the future. This book will be of interest to all who follow this dynamic industry." Bill Spencer , Chairman Emeritus, SEMATECH


Product Details

  • File Size: 2841 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1 edition (September 30, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004GCJEP0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,231 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Study of Strategy and Change September 19, 2009
Format:Hardcover
"Chips and Change" provides an excellent overview of the rapidly changing strategic environment in the semiconductor industry, and some sense of where things are headed. Since the 1960s the semiconductor industry has been a driver of global economic growth and social change. Each country involved wants a large, viable semiconductor industry that provides good jobs. The authors use eight technical and managerial crises going back to the mid-1980s to examine the industry from an economic perspective, helping readers understand how global competitive advantage can be won and lost. None of the crises are permanently resolve, invariably rebuilding, often in a new guise (eg. fear of Japan re-emerges as fear of China).

In the first crisis, Japanese chip producers raised their share of industry revenues above U.S. producers by the mid-1980s by improving their manufacturing technology thanks to government demanding technology transfers from IBM etc. wanting access to growing Japanese markets, and lower capital costs. Their government also subsidized R&D, promoted cooperation between competitive groups, and protected Japanese markets. Japanese yields (70 - 80%) exceeded U.S. (50 - 60%), and reliability was also higher. American responses included Motorola's Six Sigma program to dramatically improve quality, U.C. Berkeley's establishing best-practice comparative performance benchmarks and the fall of "not-invented-here" attitudes in the industry, lowering the value of the dollar 51% vs. the yen, establishing a research consortium (SEMATECH) that helped chip-makers and suppliers work more closely together, and largely exiting the DRAM memory business due to overcapacity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
Semiconductor folks are all very familiar with the eight crises that the authors describe as reshaping the industry (rising design costs, rising fab costs, challenges and limits to Moore's Law, globalization, outsourcing, etc.). But they will appreciate the well-written and thoughtful analysis that describes the last 20 years of change, challenge, progress, and uncertainty. There is a clear appreciation of the great story that marks the rise of TSMC and fabless chip companies, the relentless pace set by Moore's Law, the global fireworks of national competition, and the ebb and flow of high tech careers. Some very sophisticated and original public policy and workforce insights.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely and Accessible September 22, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brown and Linden provide an insightful economic history of a turbulent industry that shapes much of our daily lives. Their primer on semiconductors was useful and concise. You will come away with a new respect for the toil, risk, and resilience that characterize the chip industry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Y. Paik
Format:Hardcover
This is a great book about the evolution of the semiconductor industry and its development cycles. Brown and Linden prvide fresh insights about the global competitiveness of America. This is an easy read, yet is based on statistics and scientif findings.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Chips and Change is an overview of the semiconductor industry and how it has evolved over the last 60 years. It starts by discussing the 8 intertwined crises that the industry is facing and has faced. It is a good introduction to the competitive dynamics of the industry, the microeconomics of the busineses and labour and the engineering evolution underpinning the dynamic landscape. The constant challenges the industry faces can be further highlighted from the fact that in just 3 years since the printing of this the Taiwanese DRAM producers and Elpida are all gone due to some of the crisis that were articulated in the book.

Chips and Change is split into 8 chapters each of which is on a specific crisis that the authors think are especially relevant to the semiconductor industry. They start by discussing the loss of competitive advantage which is focused on how the US was the first innovator in semiconductor manufacturing followed by Japan then Korea then the foundry model of Taiwan and finally a potential new threat of China. They focus on subsidized capital being a short term tailwind to moving up the manufacturing curve but the long term challenges of the industry making subsidized capital not a sufficient criteria to maintain dominance (evidenced by Japan). The second crisis discusses the rising cost of fabrication, the incremental cost of a leading edge fab today is a huge multiple of what it was 20 years ago and given the lack of concentration of profits within the industry being able to fund the capex for leading fabs has become prohibatively risky (which helped catalyze the foundry business which has much better economies of scale). The authors discuss also the crisis of rising costs of chip design.
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