Our digital economy is built on silicon: Microelectronic chips with up to tens of billions of transistors “printed” on feature sizes as small as one-ten-thousandth of a strand of hair. Innovative technologies, amazingly, continue to extend the life of Moore’s law: doubling the transistor density every two years, as we have seen throughout the past half-century.
For the American semiconductor industry, we are currently in the critical years. One constant reminder is the difficulty for all kinds of companies, such as the automobiles, to access chip supply and continue their production. To fully understand the picture, it helps to visualize the supply chain in five steps.