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The small company which runs the world

The small company which runs the world

Meet Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), perhaps the most important company in the world, and one you’ve likely never heard of

Meet Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), perhaps the most important company in the world, and one you’ve likely never heard of. 

Based on the northwest coast of Taiwan, TSMC is by far the world’s biggest computer chip maker, powering everything from our cars and phones to laptops and fridges. 

Despite not being a household name, TSMC counts the likes of Apple, Tesla and Intel as clients and some estimates put TSMC’s share of the global chips market at 90 percent.

Meet Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC).
REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo

According to Newsthink’s Cindy Pom, ‘semiconductor chips are the new oil in terms of our dependence on them’.

Pom continued: “[TSMC] has a global monopoly. Nestled on the northwest coast of Taiwan, TSMC produces 92 percent of the most advanced chips in the world.”

For comparison, the only other company in the world that mass produces chips below 10 nanometers is Samsung, which is responsible for just eight percent of global production. 

Pom explained: “Nanometer refers to the length of a transmitter – tiny switches 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, that controls electric currents.

“The smaller the transistor, the more that can be crammed together. The more transistors you have, the better the chip and the more powerful your computer will be.”

Pom also pointed out that during House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last month, she made a point to meet with TSMC’s chairman Mark Liu, something Pom called a ‘sign of just how important the company is’.

Pelosi was urged not to visit Taiwan by China, because Chinese President Xi Jinping considers the island a breakaway province.

After Pelosi’s trip, China imposed sanctions on Taiwan by suspending its citrus fruit and fish imports, however, notably did not sanction the country’s imports of semiconductor chips, something Pom called an indicator of China’s reliance on TSMC’s products along with the rest of the world. 

As for how Taiwan’s semiconductor became so dominant, Pom explained that despite the fundamental technology actually being created in America, by the 80s, the US was struggling with competition from Japanese countries, so turned to outsourcing.

Taiwanese businessman Morris Chang took advantage of this trend, and after being offered the chance by the Taiwan government to develop its semiconductor industry, he decided to create a new company focused solely on making chips, and in 1987, TSMC was born. 

Fast forward 35 years, and TSMC’s 65,000 strong workforce has cemented the company as one of, if not the, most important tech firms in the world.

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Featured Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Technology, World News, Business