Home Latest Insights | News Battling for the Soul of Microchips – US vs China

Battling for the Soul of Microchips – US vs China

Battling for the Soul of Microchips – US vs China

If you ever have to design microchips, you must also write a special type of software which makes it possible for hardware to talk to software.  There are many levels here. You have the BIOS (or loosely firmware) which is the elemental software that enables microprocessors to boot up before they handshake to other software. From the BIOS, you get to the operating systems like Windows before you can get to applications like Microsoft Office, Chrome, etc.

If you are making sensors like webcams you need to make firmware that will make it possible for the hardware to be recognized by another level of software. This is the most important part of the technology industry because if you cannot get this working, everything built on top will crash. In short, you cannot even build anything because you will have no product. 

Before Facebook Likes, before the photos on Instagram, before the search on Google, and indeed everything we do in the world of online computing, what happens in those microchips’ firmware defines all. 

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And in that firmware, many bad things could be done. Yes, the person who controls firmware controls national security. This is where China and the USA are battling because when they inspect those chips, they see “codes” they do not like. Today, China is after Micron, a maker of memory chips.

China is making a retaliatory move that will see the products of US memory chip company, Micron Technology, banned in the country.

Beijing on Sunday declared the products of Micron Technology a “national security” risk, escalating its tech war with Washington. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said during the announcement that Micron poses “serious network security risks”.

It may not have to do with anything Micron has there; simply, China is returning the love the US has given Huawei. The 21st century will be defined on the terms these two countries construct as the animosity moves into a stable state!

Comment on Feed

Comment 1: The legendary and most experienced diplomat out there, Henry Kissinger, who will turn 100 later this week, was interviewed by The Economist recently, his take on US-China relation is something to pay close attention to. Whether it’s AI or semiconductor, how both nations manage their differences will define the next phase of our world.

The people we see as adults and call world leaders aren’t really good at leading anyone, and that is why our world is getting messier. Don’t trust any of these creatures to make sound judgments, they are never very far from chaos.

If you push too much and the other person miscalculates, then everything will go wrong from there.

Comment 2: Prof. Sir, the teacher part of you explained microchips so plainly that even a primary school pupil can understand.
This so-called chips story in started with Donald Trump administration where Huawei was accused of comprising the security of American at the chip level in their equipment used in American. China responded by launching a an android-likw mobile OS called harmony. Many of the phones used in Nigeria and other African countries that are presumed to be using Android OS are actually using the Harmony operating system. Samsung phones are few of the popular brands that use Google’s Android OS.


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