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Idiots

The most crucial factor in any semiconductor is size, or the ability of manufacturers to cram ever more computing power into the same amount of space. On this scale, the size of transistors on the chip are measured in nanometers and the smallest are the most powerful. (A single nanometer is equal to one-billionth of a metre.)

The chips going into Apple’s newest iPhone models, made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, use a four nanometer processor.

Previously, China was thought to have only mastered 14-nanometer chips at best, while US sanctions restrict the company to importing 16-nanometer technology from the West.

However, Huawei Mate 60 Pro’s small central processor uses a 7-nanometer chip. TechInsights, an American firm that took apart the device to analyse it, said the Huawei phone’s chip was the most advanced it had ever seen from a Chinese manufacturer.

Washington is now scrambling to figure out how the company engineered such a coup.

If you know that something is possible then you can engineer it. Maybe late, expensively and inefficiently, but you can. This means you can keep a step or two ahead, but you can’t stop the others advancing.

20 thoughts on “Idiots”

  1. you can’t stop the others advancing.

    especially in a country where Intellectual Property Rights are not even deemed worthy enough to be a point of negotiation.

    ( The new layout is nicer on my PC than on a tablet )

  2. but you can’t stop the others advancing

    Long term, no, but they’re not planning on the trade phase of the war with China to go on long term. That obviously wouldn’t make sense.

    They’re planning on the war with China going kinetic before 2030. My spidey senses tell me much sooner, maybe 2025/7 at the very latest – there’s a big push to deprecate their failed Ukrainian project now, so the Hegemon can properly concentrate on defeating China.

    (Don’t worry, the war will still go on to the last Ukrainian, we just can’t afford to give them enough weapons to “win” anymore, it’ll be meat attacks from here on out until Ukraine is exhausted by attrition.)

    That’s why the Chinese and the Russians have recently opened up a new front in Africa. In the meantime, you can expect to read a lot more bullshit in Western media about how China is collapsing, the walls are closing in on Xi, the Ghost of Taipei is going to defeat Beijing, yadda yadda. Because we’re ruled by people who think they can magically speak words into being.

    PS – anybody remember who decided to let China join the WTO in the first place? And who decided to make a free gift of the Western world’s industrial capacity to the Chinese Communist Party? Oh yeah, it’s the same people who now want us to die fighting the Chinee.

  3. Dennis, Twatty Something or Other

    Washington is now scrambling to figure out how the company engineered such a coup.

    Well, one thing we do know… It sure wasn’t to industrial espionage.

  4. Dennis, when I worked in a university department I simply assumed that every Chinese from Red China was a part-time spy. Why would anyone not?

  5. But why computer chips?

    We’ve been here before, you may remember news reporters from the early 1980’s solemnly warning that the Soviet Union now had access to Z80 processors, which could have “military applications”. (It could calculate a ballistic trajectory and play Jet Set Willy)

    It’s about the autonomous warfare. Drones are a game changer, but they’re vulnerable to jamming. If the drone is smart enough to lock on to a designated target before it gets jammed, it becomes a lot more lethal.

    Even better, if a drone can designate its own targets, it becomes infinitely more lethal. Because you can just spam the enemy with AI drones, no need to worry about all the human infrastructure at the back end. Warfare can scale as rapidly as your drone production does.

    We’ve been warned by science fiction writers for long enough. The battlefield of the present is already a nightmare for humans, imagine how it’ll be when a swarm of cheap, mass manufactured robots can lurk in the air, in the water, and on the ground for as long as it takes to kill you.

    That’s why we need to arm the chimpanzees immediately.

  6. – there’s a big push to deprecate their failed Ukrainian project now . . .

    Wait, what, you’re working for the CIA?

    (Don’t worry, the war will still go on to the last Ukrainian, we just can’t afford to give them enough weapons to “win” anymore, it’ll be meat attacks from here on out until Ukraine is exhausted by attrition.)

    We haven’t been sending them enough weapons to win at any time, in much the same way we’ve only been partially sanctioning Russia. Presumably we want Russia to lose gently (probably best). The Ukrainians have been progressing methodically specifically to avoid big losses, since they don’t have the luxury of a big meat locker.

    That’s why the Chinese and the Russians have recently opened up a new front in Africa.

    So every time Russia and China have made actual aggressive moves it’s because the US just hasn’t done anything yet.

    . . . the Hegemon . . .

    Lockdown anger doesn’t justify the move into the clown tent.

  7. Dennis, Your Guide To The USA

    Dennis, when I worked in a university department I simply assumed that every Chinese from Red China was a part-time spy. Why would anyone not?

    Here in the states I’d assume that anyone employed by a university was a CCP spy. Especially those employees born and educated here.

  8. there’s a big push to deprecate their failed Ukrainian project now,

    “Their” Ukrainian project? You mean Vladdy’s lingering ‘2 day special military operation’? So, he’s just Biden’s patsy now is he? I thought he was the Great White Hope who was showing the West how to live free of poofs and darkies?

  9. Dennis – possibly, tho it depends on what we mean by “spy”. It’s not always the sexy female assassins pinching the microfilm you want to look out for.

    I tried telling a British academic, 20 years ago, that his postgraduate engineering courses being full of Chinamen wasn’t a Good Thing for Britain or a sustainable thing for his university. You can imagine his reply, and I would be banned from campus if I ventured the same opinions today. (The one surefire way to lose friends and alienate people is telling them the truth, they’ll forgive a murder quicker than that)

    The Chinese must not be able to believe their luck. The stupid Gwailos have just given them, for free, what it took our ancestors centuries of painful struggle to discover and build. And we did so in full knowledge of what kind of regime the CCP is. We couldn’t offshore our jobs, our industrial machinery, and our intellectual property to them fast enough between about 2000AD-2012ish? And despite being in the early stages of war with China (sanctions mean war) we’re *still* desperate to bring over as many of their “students” as possible, so Beijing is kept up to date on our latest R&D.

    I doubt the Chinese will make the same mistake, but I’m cynical that way.

  10. MC – “Their” Ukrainian project? You mean Vladdy’s lingering ‘2 day special military operation’? So, he’s just Biden’s patsy now is he? I thought he was the Great White Hope who was showing the West how to live free of poofs and darkies?

    It’s not your fault.

  11. “That’s why we need to arm the chimpanzees immediately.” But then they won’t be available to program the computers.

  12. 7nm is several years old. The big question is how efficiently they can produce them. The process to produce 7nm has been around for a long time using e-beam technology, but it is slow and inefficient. Good for producing dozens or hundreds of chips. Not the millions needed for commercial applications.

    The main reason to use a small gate process is to reduce power. With small physical size of the chip, yield is better. I would be more worried if these chips were coming out in Lenovo laptops. The West still has a several year lead if this is the best they can do. Maintaining that lead is the best you can hope for.

  13. Incidentally… For the Warmonkeys throwing a tiff…

    You won’t find these newfangled chips in military stuff.
    The smaller the nodes get, the more sensitive they are to errors and interference. Which is what you don’t want in fancy military toys.

    Milspec is chunky. Oldfashioned TTL levels of chunky if there’s room for it. Because it works, keeps on working, and is near-impossible to kill.

  14. Wot Grikath said. There’s a reason we kept freezers full of (iirc) 68030 chips throughout the 2000s – they were proven just about reliable enough to equip the Eurofighter Typhoon, entering operational service in 1998/99, having been in commercial Macs since 1991.

  15. I don’t get why democratic countries which should want prosperity for their electorate employ spies. It’s not as if the wisdom of Smith, the Washington Consensus, the structures of the Cantons/States are hidden behind a secret paywall.

  16. Grikath – You won’t find these newfangled chips in military stuff.

    Not exactly, that’s old thinking. The Ukraine war is being fought with both sides using commercial FPV type drones from AliExpress.

    We do now want the newfangled consumer grade stuff, because drone warfare is all about faster, cheaper and more. But also because:

    Hopper – There’s a reason we kept freezers full of (iirc) 68030 chips throughout the 2000s – they were proven just about reliable enough to equip the Eurofighter

    There was nothing particularly special about the 68030 (unless you were upgrading from a 68000), they weren’t chosen for any particular inherent reliability (remember how often 90’s Macs crashed, tho that was a legacy of the lack of an MMU on the original 68000). The reason the Eurofighter flew with commercially obsolete chips from the mid 80’s is because it took a very long time to develop the Eurofighter and it’s not a trivial matter to change a single component on a £120m jet fighter.

    The 68030 is its far too slow and power hungry to do what you want in even the cheapest and most disposable of throwaway spotter drones. That’s obvs, obvs. But it’s also obvs that we’re not going to do cool Terminator stuff unless we harness the power of autonomy. You need 5G grade chips for that.

    Bongo – I don’t get why democratic countries which should want prosperity for their electorate employ spies

    So they can nick your trade secrets and your customers.

    MG – 7nm has been around for a long time using e-beam technology, but it is slow and inefficient. Good for producing dozens or hundreds of chips. Not the millions needed for commercial applications.

    The Huwai Mate 60 Pro (sp?) is supposed to be a flagship phone.

    Btw, it costs about £750 in Chinese money. Consider for a minute how much the world has changed where there’s now a domestic market in mainland China for phones that cost nearly a grand. Mainland China used to be just a bunch of impoverished slaves looking enviously across the water at Hong Kong.

    DM – We may live to regret arming the robots, but I see no reason to assume anything bad will happen after we arm the genetically engineered apes.

  17. I see the US has named its autonomous drone swarm project “Replicator”.

    Viewers of “Stargate SG1” may pause their cornflake intake at the news.

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