Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner responsible for digital matters, used the opportunity of a keynote speech provided to the IMEC Technology Forum, held in Brussels last month, to ask whether Europe should consider the creation of an Airbus of chips.
The implication is clear even if the outcome is not.
indicating that it may be advantageous to combine the likes of
STMicroelectronics, Infineon Technologies AG, NXP Semiconductors NV and
others because manufacturing semiconductors is of a strategic interest
to Europe and too expensive at the leading edge for these companies to
pursue on their own.
"If we are really going to succeed and throw
our weight on the world stage, we need even more to work together, and
act together at a European level," the text of Kroes' speech said.
acknowledged in the text of her speech: "But the Commission can't bring
this about on its own. We can take the lead and start the talks – but
we need others to commit, too. Commit financially: and commit to doing
things differently. So I need to know, how far are member states, the
research community, and industry prepared to work towards this goal?"
question is really whether the European Commission can turn the
sovereign debt crisis that is washing over the continent right now into a
spur for strategic spending and intervention, using the argument that
difficult times require radical measures. The alternative is that a
break-up of the euro financial zone and the internal tensions it exposes
will prove so overwhelming a distraction that it will be a stimulus for
nothing but lethargy, weakness and continued decline.
some commercial success - producing half the world's airlines! Understatement indeed. The debt crisis has politicians focusing on the next vote, which means numbers. There are more dumb people than smart people, so why would the majority vote for jobs for a few smart people? Nokia is shedding 40,000 jobs since 2010. The people smart enough for a smart chip don't rely on handouts or welfare, so if Europe cannot deliver, they go elsewhere. The unemployed remain. Funding is unlikely.
I agree with Bert22306, and besides China I would also add USA (Intel) and Korea (Samsung) as real world-wide competition that both perpetually stay in the "paranoid competition" mode for silicon. The Airbus vs. Boeing analogy is looking backwards...good historical info but not "shooting ahead of the year 20xx silicon puck". Intel and Samsung do not compete like Boeing.
These strategic, often government-sponsored decisions are a difficult proposition. Sometimes they can succeed, e.g. when the playing field is more or less level, as is the case of Airbus vs Boeing. Sometimes, like this instance, it might be more of a risk. You're going up against super low cost manufacturing in China.
I don't think this is a slam dunk. The worst case scenario being, even with governments going further in debt than they already are, the costs might still favor the Chinese sources.
This makes perfect sense and it should have been the case already if it were not for short term "nationalistic" tendencies within the European community. Let's hope that the current crisis will push for a European chip super company (among other consolidations). I say this more in hope than expectation though....