The world is currently experiencing a global semiconductor crisis that is also affecting innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI). To react to this, the Commission published, in February 2022, the Chips Act package. It is now seeking stakeholder input to map out the semiconductor supply chain and better anticipate and respond to future shortages.
Semiconductors are the material basis for integrated circuits, typically referred to as “chips”. They are embedded in virtually every technology product, while also enabling the digitalisation of many different products and services. Reading this blog post via your smartphone or personal computer would not be possible without chips. Entertainment, mobility, as well as key infrastructures for energy and communications are increasingly relying on these tiny, invisible devices to function properly. At the same time, chips are powerful enablers for the sustainability transition and can lead to new products and more efficient and effective ways of working that contribute to the Green Deal objectives.
With AI penetrating more and more application domains, the need for specialised chips optimised to run AI code has been driving innovation in the field. And it’s not only large enterprises that are competing in this area (although we’ve all seen AI applications in data centers performing tasks related to translation or image optimization, as well as AI applications on our smartphones powering personal digital assistants via natural language processing), numerous startups are designing chips optimized to run machine learning workloads in various application areas such as robotics, cybersecurity or autonomous vehicles. Innovation in these areas is crucial, as companies are striving to design AI chips that are significantly more time and cost effective to run AI code than their typical counterparts.
In this global race for optimized AI chips, it is important to remember that, to make these chips, simply designing them is not enough. Numerous inputs (raw materials, gases, etc.) are used to manufacture chips, in complex production processes that also involve sophisticated manufacturing equipment. On top of this, the semiconductor value chain is disperse, with many steps in the manufacturing process taking place in different parts of the world. And in recent years, the world has witnessed unprecedented disruptions in the supply of chips, resulting in serious delays and negative effects on important economic sectors.
Against this background, the Commission published on 8 February 2022 the European Chips Act Package to address the global semiconductor crisis, create an attractive environment for investment and strengthen Europe's technological leadership along the semiconductor value chain. The package includes a Recommendation with immediate effect to enable the rapid and coordinated monitoring of the European semiconductor value chain, focussing on risks that may disrupt, compromise or negatively affect the supply of semiconductors.
Building on the lessons and results of a first stakeholder survey on European chip demandand with a view to defining the first approach towards a monitoring system for the European semiconductor supply chain, data is now being collected from economic actors to establish a detailed mapping of the semiconductor supply chain, a precise assessment of structural weaknesses and related risks, and help decision-makers to better anticipate and respond to shortages. As a first step to monitor this situation, the European Commission has launched a consultation on the semiconductor value chain implemented via a stakeholder’s consultation. The results of this consultation will deeply influence the way the Commission will monitor and react to future semiconductor shortages.
If you or your company are involved in chip production or find the use of chips important for your current or future activities, we need your help! Your participation to the survey will contribute to the Commission’s initiative on semiconductors and help us respond in the best way possible to future global semiconductor crisis!
The survey as well as more information on how to participate can be found via the Commission’s webpage.
- Log in to post comments