When it comes to technology that interconnects the world, semiconductor chips play a big role. But how did this little chip get into every part of our lives?
From the city that never sleeps to the remote countryside, a technology is changing the way we live and work. From the smartphone in your pocket to the vast data center that powers the Internet, from electric scooters to supersonic planes, from pacemakers to supercomputers that predict the weather, all these devices, whether invisible or lesser-known, may Inside the facility, there’s a tiny piece of technology that makes it all possible: semiconductors.
Semiconductors are a fundamental building block of modern computing. Semiconductor devices called transistors are tiny electronic switches that run calculations inside a computer. In 1947, American scientists built the world’s first transistor. Before that, people used vacuum tubes to complete the computer mechanism. But vacuum-tube computers were slow and cumbersome. Until the application of silicon, everything changed.
Transistors made of silicon, small enough to fit on microchips, opened the door to a whole new world of devices. Every year, these devices are getting smaller and smarter. “The ability to miniaturize transistors allows us to do things no one could have imagined,” said John Nover, CEO of the Semiconductor Industry Association. “And all because we can put a large computer on a tiny chip. superior.”
The pace of innovation is also unprecedented. Chips started getting smaller and smaller at a steady rate, as if the technology had a rhythm to follow. About fifty years ago, Gordon Moore, co-founder of chip-making giant Intel, first proposed this law, which later became known as Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law predicts that the number of transistors that can fit on a chip will double about every two years.
It turns out that Moore’s Law used to be true. Until recently, things started to change. The pace of chip miniaturization has only slowed as repeated efforts to shrink transistors have gotten closer to their physical limits. Early transistors were visible to the naked eye. Today, billions of tiny transistors can fit on a single microchip. Most importantly, this exponential advancement in manufacturing has driven the digital revolution to happen.
But silicon, the core element of this great revolution, has always been an inconspicuous substance and one of the most common substances on earth. 90% of the minerals in the earth’s crust contain silicon. It’s really interesting that one of the most ubiquitous substances on earth has brought about a technology that spreads across the globe.
Silicon is the foundation of all chip industries, and this industry drives the development of the global technology economy. Today, the semiconductor industry is also one of the most global in history: raw materials come from Japan and Mexico, and chips are made in the United States and China. These chips are then shipped around the world to be installed on devices. In the end, the device comes into the hands of people in every country of the world.
“Silicon, as the foundation of a chip, probably travels around the world two or three times,” Nover said. But even with such a large global network, we can trace its origins to a few important places.