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The Asianometry Podcast

The Asianometry Podcast

By Jon

An audio version of the Asianometry YouTube channel. Maybe it will be more in the future. www.asianometry.com
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The Big Automotive Semiconductor Problem
The Big Automotive Semiconductor Problem
Let me ask you something. You probably have heard all the news about this or that car factory shutting down because of the global chip shortage. That nobody can get the car they want because of a tiny little chip.  And you might be wondering. When did semiconductors matter so much to today's vehicles?  Why do we need to turn our cars into computers? Why can't things just be simple? What are all these electronics actually *doing* for our cars?  In this video we are going to go into the automotive supply chain and their semiconductors. The specific focus will be on conventional cars. But if this video does well enough, perhaps we can do a version for electric and autonomous vehicles.
15:03
June 29, 2022
How New Zealand’s Fonterra Won Dairy
How New Zealand’s Fonterra Won Dairy
New Zealand's biggest company, by far, is a dairy co-operative. With $14 billion USD ($20.6 billion NZD) total revenue in 2021, Fonterra Group is the country's juggernaut.  A dairy company does way more than milk. And over the years, Fonterra has evolved and grown along with the New Zealand dairy industry to become a globe-spanning food giant.  In this video, we are going to look at New Zealand’s biggest exporter and a cornerstone of its economy.
15:21
June 22, 2022
How Armed Drones Disrupt Modern Warfare
How Armed Drones Disrupt Modern Warfare
One of the bigger things that happened in 2020 was that two countries - Azerbaijan and Armenia - fought a war. The war lasted for about 6 weeks, and it has set the air defense world ablaze.  For the first time, the world got to see a national army bring a fleet of armed drones to the battlefield. And the impact those drones have made was huge.  Using a swarm of cheap Turkish drones and Israeli loitering munitions, Azerbaijan swept aside Armenia's air defenses and paved a road to victory.  Cheap armed drone technologies are spreading like wildfire across the world. In this video, I want to look at how such drones add new wrinkles, opportunities and challenges to modern warfare. 
14:53
June 15, 2022
The Economics of TSMC’s Giga-Fabs
The Economics of TSMC’s Giga-Fabs
In 2018, TSMC broke ground on Fab 18 near Tainan City in the south of Taiwan. Fab 18 is a monster. It sits on 103 acres and has a total floor space of 950,000 square meters (10.2 million square feet). That is about 3 times the size of AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas - home of the Dallas Cowboys.  In total, across all of its phases, Fab 18 will cost TSMC nearly $20 billion to build and operate. More than the cost of the USS Gerald R. Ford, the US Navy's most advanced aircraft carrier.  In this video, we are going to look at why TSMC's fabs are getting bigger and more expensive than ever before. And why that makes a lot of economic sense for the Taiwanese chip maker. 
17:22
June 08, 2022
Floorplanning a Better Chip with AI
Floorplanning a Better Chip with AI
Machine learning has been in the news a lot lately. Some of the early hype has died down, but the trend still lives on. And now it has really started to make waves in the chip design world.  Machine learning and AI in chip design is such a sprawling field that I started to lose myself in all the research. So I figured to just go into a recent breakthrough in the chip design field: Floorplanning.  Google has been applying the same AI prowess that allowed them to badly beat the best Go masters to this obscure, but important sub-category of the field. 
13:17
June 01, 2022
What Comes After EUV?
What Comes After EUV?
Right now, Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography is working. Foundries are using dozens of these $150 million machines to create amazing patterns nanometers wide.  The industry labored for decades on this intricate technology. But there is no time to rest. ASML is already looking ahead at the next generation of EUV: High-NA EUV. The centi-million dollar machine that will be better than regular EUV.  In this video, we are going to do a deep dive into what’s next in the world of EUV. ASML's follow-up to the most complicated nanolithography system ever delivered. 
15:18
May 25, 2022
The Economics of Giant Container Ships
The Economics of Giant Container Ships
In July 2021, Evergreen Marine took possession of the world's biggest container ship: the Ever Ace.  Built for Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine, the ship is as long as the Empire State Building is tall from bottom floor to roof.  With a carrying capacity of 23,992 twenty-foot-equivalent units or TEU, these Evergreen A-class megaships take the record - set just the previous year - from HMM's Algeciras-class ships.  It can hold 10% more cargo than the infamous Ever Given, that one ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal.  These ships herald a new era of ultra-large container ships. And it is a bit of a surprising trend. What is pushing these container ships to get bigger? And is there anything keeping them from getting even bigger down the line?
14:13
May 18, 2022
The Rise and Fall of Britain's IBM
The Rise and Fall of Britain's IBM
In 1968, the British government arranged a shotgun marriage between three computer manufacturers to create International Computers Limited, or ICL.  The government envisioned ICL as the United Kingdom’s answer to IBM - a national champion in computers. But the company could not compete against American and East Asian competition and eventually sold to Fujitsu.  The United Kingdom pioneered computing technology. So why did ICL fail? In this video, we are going to trace the history of the British computing giant from its punched-card days to its final demise in 2000. Sit back and relax. This is going to be a long one. 
34:48
May 11, 2022
What We Learned From China's Spectacular Dinosaur Bird
What We Learned From China's Spectacular Dinosaur Bird
In the 1990s, western scientists were allowed to study a series of fossils from a dig site in west Liaoning, China. What they saw would blow their minds:  One of the most famous fossil beds ever discovered in history. A finely preserved slice of life from 120 million years ago.  And within this treasure trove, a unique creature. A dinosaur that would make headlines around the world.  I have been a dinosaur fan ever since I was a kid. I am excited to dive back into the field once more. In this video, we are going to look at China's contribution to our understanding of the dinosaur theory of birds. 
14:47
May 07, 2022
Taiwan’s Hidden Shoe Giant
Taiwan’s Hidden Shoe Giant
People love their shoes and sneakers. Nike is a $250 billion company. Athletes make hundreds of millions endorsing their own athletic shoes. And vintage Jordan 1s are trading for thousands of dollars on sites like StockX.  You also might vaguely know that the big shoe brands outsource their manufacturing to third parties. And that the shoes are made by low-wage labor overseas. "Somewhere in Asia," they usually say.  But we don't hear all that much about the actual companies running those production lines. As it turns out, the biggest branded maker of athletic and casual footwear comes from Taiwan - making 300 million pairs each year. 
15:49
May 04, 2022
The Rise and Fall of Evergrande Group
The Rise and Fall of Evergrande Group
You might have heard something about Evergrande Group (恒大集團) recently. This is a sprawling company with billions of dollars in debt, a little bit of a cash crunch, and is looking for a way out.  Who knows what is going to happen. Everything is all up in the air and we are hearing new things each day. But the whole saga has gotten me interested in how a real estate company has managed to grow so far, and so fast. That is what we will talk about today.  In this video, we look at the rise and fall of what had once been China's biggest real estate conglomerate. A company now with $300 billion in liabilities. 
33:03
April 27, 2022
The Two Carl Zeisses
The Two Carl Zeisses
For nearly half a century, there were two Carl Zeisses. One based in the Federal Republic of Germany, or West Germany. The other in the German Democratic Republic, or East Germany.  The Carl Zeiss of today is the Western German variant. Their work in lithography and EUV sits on the cutting edge of what is possible in nanoscale technology. But the Carl Zeiss of East Germany was fascinating too. It grew to be a massive industrial conglomerate, doing cutting edge research into optics, military tech, and semiconductors.  In this video, I want to step away from Asia once more and look at a fascinating history. One of Germany's most iconic companies, split in two between East and West. Capitalism and Socialism. Let's go! 
16:17
April 20, 2022
The Growing Semiconductor Design Bottleneck
The Growing Semiconductor Design Bottleneck
In 1997, American chip consortium SEMATECH sounded an alarm to the industry about the chip design productivity gap. They observed that integrated chip manufacturing capabilities were expanding at about 40% a year. At the time.  Yet IC design capabilities were only growing at about half of that rate. Thus, a potential crisis was brewing where design capabilities lag far behind manufacturing.  This crisis never took place for reasons we will discuss later. In turn, however, a new challenge for the industry has emerged: Verification.  Here, we are going to look at why this previously unheralded step has become a rather big deal in today's competitive chip design world. 
16:41
April 13, 2022
The Downfall of Korea's Biggest Shipping Line
The Downfall of Korea's Biggest Shipping Line
In 2016, Hanjin Shipping, Korea's biggest container shipping line, abruptly filed for reorganization.  The company had once been the country's pride and joy - a worthy sibling alongside flagship carrier Korean Air.  The unexpected insolvency roiled the markets and caused global chaos in the shipping industry.  Once they had been the fourth biggest container line in the world. In 2016, they had 97 ships and called on 90 different ports in over 35 countries around the world. 
19:34
April 06, 2022
The Insane Computation Behind Your Smartphone Cameras
The Insane Computation Behind Your Smartphone Cameras
I recently got an iPhone 13 Pro. I love it. For me, the thing that sticks out most - literally - is the camera.  For a long time, iPhones have had increasingly better cameras. The last few generations, camera performance has headlined the marketing messaging: Get the new iPhone, because the camera is a lot better. It is one of the few things that gets people to upgrade.  And indeed, the 13 Pro's camera takes really good pictures. But it is not just the iPhone. Virtually all of today’s top smartphones can take images on par with anything you can get with a standalone.  How does your mobile phone camera work? And how did it get to be so good? In this video we will look at the amazing computer and semiconductor engineering that goes inside this impressive feature.
17:27
March 23, 2022
How Japan Won the Lithography Industry (& Why America Lost)
How Japan Won the Lithography Industry (& Why America Lost)
In 1978, 70% of all the world's lithography equipment came from an American supplier. As late as 1982, Americans still held 62% of the market.  Seven years later in 1989, Japanese firms held 70% share of the market - led by their two lithography giants: Canon and Nikon. The American once-market leaders, rapidly declining. One loses $100 million by 1986. The other withdraws from the market entirely by 1989.  The dominance of the Japanese lithography industry stunned the semiconductor world. Americans back home spilled gallons of ink, trying to figure out where it all went wrong. The answer, as always, is not what you might have expected.  In this video, a prequel to my ASML video, we are going to look at Japan’s famous cross-industry effort to develop an indigenous semiconductor industry and conquer the global lithography market on the side. 
21:42
March 16, 2022
Why Russia Can't Replace TSMC
Why Russia Can't Replace TSMC
In late February 2022, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company or TSMC announced that it would halt shipments to Russia per a new round of sanctions.  The TSMC halt ended shipments from fabless companies like Baikal, MCST, Yadro and STC Module. Intel and AMD have stopped their shipments to Russia as well.  In recent years, Russia has been looking to create their own supply of semiconductors. While there are some interesting domestic design successes, domestic capacity to manufacture those designs have been falling farther and farther behind. We find ourselves living in strange times. In this video, we are going to do an overview of Russia's ever-worsening domestic semiconductor manufacturing industry. 
16:06
March 15, 2022
China’s Looming EV Battery Waste Problem
China’s Looming EV Battery Waste Problem
China is the world's largest EV market with over 5.5 million sold as of March 2021. This is a good thing in many ways. China has the most cars in the world and these are replacing harmful greenhouse gases. But these things have their own sustainability concerns.  There have been the concerns about environmental damage resulting from the extraction of elements like lithium and cobalt. But another concern has to do with the coming problem of waste.  China is starting to experience the leading edge of this problem. In 2020, 200,000 tons of batteries were decommissioned, and the figure is anticipated to rise to 780,000 tons by 2025.  In this video, I want to look at China’s looming EV battery waste problem. And what the world’s biggest EV market is doing about it.
17:20
March 10, 2022
China Makes Their Own x86 Processors, But Does It Matter?
China Makes Their Own x86 Processors, But Does It Matter?
The two major companies making and selling chips using the x86 instruction set are some of the most prominent in the tech community: Intel and AMD. In 2020 Intel sold $20 billion worth of processors to China. AMD had $2.3 billion. Both figures are on par with or higher than what those companies make from the United States. China is a massive market for these two. And China knows it too. So it is interesting to see some Chinese companies coming out with home-grown x86 processors of their own.  Is a domestic swap in the works? How did China acquire x86 technologies in the first place? The whole thing is worth looking into, to say the least. So I thought to do a video about it. 
13:19
March 02, 2022
How ASML Won Lithography (& Why Japan Lost)
How ASML Won Lithography (& Why Japan Lost)
In the mid 1990s, two companies dominated the lithography space. Both of them were Japanese: Nikon and Canon. Together, they held three quarters share of the market.  Then a Dutch company called ASML rose to overtake these two, relegating them to bit players in the industry. Today, the two are no longer trying to compete at the cutting edge. While ASML is now Europe's most valuable technology company.  In this video, I want to talk about how ASML took the market share and technological leadership crown. And why the Japanese incumbents failed to keep it. 
15:54
February 22, 2022
Australia's Forgotten Plan to Tow Icebergs For Freshwater
Australia's Forgotten Plan to Tow Icebergs For Freshwater
Look at them icebergs. Out there in the open ocean. Just sitting there. Made of freshwater. Melting away. Melting away into nothing. Nobody doing anything with them. What a waste.  Look at Australia. Land of desert and thirsty kangaroos. Starving for water. Crying out for it! Is there no possible solution?? Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, members of the Australian scientific community seriously studied the possibility of harvesting Antarctic icebergs out on the open sea and towing them back to Australia. 
15:47
February 15, 2022
China’s ASML? SMEE, Explained
China’s ASML? SMEE, Explained
Shanghai Micro Electronics Equipment, or SMEE (上海微电子装备) is China’s ambitious project to replace ASML.  The company has been around for a while, and they have received a lot of attention and cheerleading in the Chinese media. But recent high profile export bans to China have brought them special focus.  In this video, we are going to take a closer look at this under-covered company, what they have been able to produce, and how they are doing so far. 
18:11
February 08, 2022
India's Semiconductor Design Challenge
India's Semiconductor Design Challenge
India's chip design industry is a multi-billion dollar giant. As fabless chip companies emerged as a real force in the industry, the South Asian country captured more than its fair share of the gains.  For foreign multinationals, the country still offers amazing, high-class talents at a reasonable cost. But is that really such a good thing?  In this follow up video, we will take a look at India's rise in the chip design world, the current state of affairs, and the challenges the industry faces in the times ahead. 
14:13
February 01, 2022
What Happened to Australia’s Auto Industry?
What Happened to Australia’s Auto Industry?
Once upon a time, the Australian automobile industry employed 100,000 people. They produced tens of thousands of vehicles for both domestic consumption and export abroad.  The cars were uniquely suited for the Australian market, and they were prized in the country's rural areas.  But now that industry has vanished. The last factories, operated by Toyota and GM, closed in 2017. Other than a few units produced for national security purposes, the Australian car-making industry has all but vanished.  In this video we will return to the Land Down Under and look at the rise, decline and fall of Australia’s automobile manufacturing industry. 
27:08
January 25, 2022
What Eating the Rich Did For Japan
What Eating the Rich Did For Japan
The Zaibatsu of Japan practically ran the nation's economy. Over the span of many decades going into the early 1900s, the families who owned these titanic businesses grew to possess plutocratic amounts of wealth. Unchecked expansionism allowed their industrial combines to become vast mini-economies within the Japanese nation. But then, over a very short period of time, this vast wealth and income inequality abruptly ended. These families lost their control and then their companies.  In this video, we are going to look at how Japan's richest families got to be so rich. How the authorities came to attack and consume their fortunes. And what doing so meant for the Japanese economy post-War.
18:07
January 20, 2022
Hollywood's Coming China Problem
Hollywood's Coming China Problem
In 2020, China overtook the United States as the world's largest box office. The pandemic had a lot to do with it, of course, but it is still a sign of the times.  Over the past two decades, the American movie industry increasingly leaned on the Chinese market. Producers and studios bent their movies' content to appeal to Chinese audiences.  But the Chinese theater market is changing. Chinese studios are making better movies across a variety of genres. And the country is looking to turn its growing movie-making strengths into a massive cultural export machine.  Hollywood and the Western movie industry hoped China would mature into a cash cow. But China is actually turning into a competitor. In this video, I want to talk about the industry’s coming Chinese competition. 
14:41
January 14, 2022
How Tiny Singapore Became a Petro-Giant
How Tiny Singapore Became a Petro-Giant
On the surface, it makes little sense. Singapore has no oil reserves whatsoever. Despite this, Singapore is today one of the world's biggest players in the petroleum industry. And that role has helped the country's rise from poverty to first-world wealth.  In this video we will see how Singapore came to be a hub for almost everything oil-related, without any of their own reserves. 
14:35
January 12, 2022
The Semiconductor Health and Environment Hazard
The Semiconductor Health and Environment Hazard
When we talk about semiconductor manufacturing, we might bring up images in our head of massive fabs, yellow clean rooms, and people walking around in bunny suits.  That mental image might lead us to presume semiconductor manufacturing to be this squeaky clean endeavor.  But when we say "clean", we really mean "clean" in the sense that we want to keep the product free of particles. We really have no idea what is going on in those fabs for the people working and living around there.  These companies use immense amounts of toxic and carcinogenic materials to make the beautiful chips that power our machines. And, if we were to simply look at the historical record, then there is reason for concern. 
15:08
January 05, 2022
How Nvidia Won the Graphics Card Industry
How Nvidia Won the Graphics Card Industry
In 1995, there were over thirty different companies competing with one another to build the best graphics chips for the personal computer.  Six years later, there would be only three. With one clearly in the lead: Nvidia.  As of this writing, Nvidia Corporation is the 15th biggest company in the world, worth half a trillion dollars.  Their graphics cards sell out like gangbusters the second they come onto the market.  And the company is seeking to buy ARM for $40 billion.  In this video, we are going to look back into the past and see how a little startup came up from behind everyone else to dominate the graphics card industry on route to being the world-leading tech juggernaut it is today.
22:41
December 16, 2021
Thailand's Hard Drive Industry Problem
Thailand's Hard Drive Industry Problem
In 2005, Thailand became the world's biggest manufacturer of hard disk drives or HDDs.  As of this writing, they remain the second biggest exporter after China and the largest in Southeast Asia.  Thailand's dominance in this particular industry tends only to be recognized when something happens to damage it. For instance, floods in 2011 that caused a number of worldwide HDD shortages.  But I do think - like with the semiconductor shortage - it is worth studying how this situation came to be. And how, kind of like with Malaysia, Thailand has yet to be able to grow as far and fast beyond that as they would like.  In this video, we will look at how Thailand came to be a leader in the hard drive industry. And the daunting challenges associated with growing beyond that early success. 
13:45
December 09, 2021
Australia's Billion Dollar Water Project Failure: An Economic Breakdown
Australia's Billion Dollar Water Project Failure: An Economic Breakdown
Northern Australia is Australia's last frontier and also its most vexing economic development puzzle.  People have long dreamed of turning its vastness into a bountiful bread basket. It might be possible. But there remain formidable challenges in the way.  For over thirty years starting in the 1960s, the Australian government built a series of dams to divert the waters of the 650 kilometer or 405 mile long Ord River for irrigation.   Over a billion dollars went into the project since 1950. And the water eventually did flow. But a (maybe) surprising thing happened: The farms would not make money.
13:22
December 02, 2021
LG Energy: Korea’s $90 Billion EV Battery Giant
LG Energy: Korea’s $90 Billion EV Battery Giant
As electric vehicles gain popularity around the world, people are starting to pay closer attention to the batteries going into those EVs. A recent report by the Biden administration singles out large capacity EV batteries as one of four critical industries worth further scrutiny.   Asian-based companies are driving substantial technical progress here. In a prior video, I profiled CATL Group, the world's largest EV battery company by shipments. While they are indeed growing very quickly, CATL's leading position is almost entirely defined by its dominance in the China market. Outside of China, the situation is very different.   In this video, I want to look at another battery market leader, one with considerable strength outside of China. What had once been LG Chem, but is now called LG Energy Solution.   Links: - The Asianometry Newsletter: https://asianometry.substack.com- Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Asianometry
15:45
November 29, 2021
7 Taiwan Startups on the Rise (& A Few I Just Like)
7 Taiwan Startups on the Rise (& A Few I Just Like)
I recently attended the 2021 Meet Taipei Startup Festival in Taipei. It was a fantastic, 3-day event and I got to meet a variety of Taiwanese startups.  Based on my short time there, I put together a list of small startups that I thought are doing something kind of special or noteworthy. 
12:01
November 26, 2021
Why Northeast England's Semiconductor Dream Failed
Why Northeast England's Semiconductor Dream Failed
Let's do something different this time. For this video, I am going to shift focus from Asia to talk about the United Kingdom.  Northeast England was once a heavy industry powerhouse. But when those industries declined, the region struggled to come up with its next growth industry.  So when Siemens Semiconductor pledged in 1995 to invest over a billion pounds for a semiconductor fab, the area was overjoyed. The Queen showed up and everything. But the plant never had a chance. Siemens closed it after just 15 months of operation. An aborted attempt to revive the plant fell through.  What happened here? In this video, we are going to look at semiconductor manufacturing's failure in North Tyneside. 
19:50
November 18, 2021
India's Semiconductor Failure
India's Semiconductor Failure
India is a semiconductor design powerhouse. Nearly every major semiconductor company has a presence in India, designing some of the most advanced chips in the world.  But once those designs are completed, they are sent to the United States, China, South Korea or Taiwan to fabricate.  It begs the question. Why can't India fabricate any of the chips they lay out? In the 1980s, the Indian government attempted to follow China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea, and Singapore in creating their own semiconductor manufacturing national champion. 
17:13
November 11, 2021
How Carl Zeiss Crafted a House of Mirrors for EUV Light
How Carl Zeiss Crafted a House of Mirrors for EUV Light
Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography is the next step on the semiconductor fabrication roadmap. It is a disruptive technology using a new ultraviolet wavelength.  Dutch company ASML is currently the only company shipping these million dollar machines. But ASML in turn relies on Carl Zeiss in Germany for the all-important optics system. The two are intimate strategic partners.  The key issue that ASML and Carl Zeiss engineers had to overcome is that high-energy UV light gets absorbed by virtually all materials, which means that lenses are not feasible. The lens material will literally just eat up those rays. Thus, Zeiss crafted an optics system entirely out of multi-layer mirrors.  It is super cool. In my last video I gave a brief overview of Carl Zeiss the company and a few of their products. In this follow up, we are going to go deeper and look at how Zeiss made a EUV optics system.
13:36
November 04, 2021
Applied Materials: America's Biggest Semiconductor Equipment Maker
Applied Materials: America's Biggest Semiconductor Equipment Maker
Applied Materials is America's biggest semiconductor equipment manufacturer. They are a R&D leader and without the work they do, we would not have the sophisticated chips we have today.  Just as the number of foundries capable of fabbing at the leading edge is shrinking, the set of potential manufacturers capable of making leading edge chip making tools is shrinking too. The two or three who are left are some of the very best in the business.  In this video, we will continue our exploration of the chip making supply chain and do a deep dive into this unheralded but vital company. 
19:34
October 28, 2021
The Big Semiconductor Water Problem
The Big Semiconductor Water Problem
As I am writing this, Taiwan is suffering through one of its worst droughts in many years. The northern-western part - Taipei, New Taipei City - is generally fine. There are enough reservoirs.  But other areas like Tainan, Kaohsiung, Taichung, and Hsinchu are having some issues. Their water infrastructure is not as resilient or their water demand is greater. There are reports in the media of TSMC budgeting for millions of dollars to truck water down to its fabs in Tainan.  Ah, and TSMC along with Intel and a bunch of other chip companies are building fabs in Arizona. A land inundated with clean, fresh drinking water.  The company - and the industry as a whole - has long had to deal with water usage issues at their facilities. And the problem is only going to get worse as we progress forward. 
12:17
October 28, 2021
Rio Tinto and China
Rio Tinto and China
Rio Tinto went back on its word in a tense situation and ended up paying the price. In the early 2000s, China began a magnificent economic growth trend at a scale unlike anything before seen in this world.   That growth, however, found itself dependent on a single valuable commodity. China, the world's biggest maker of things as varied as cabbages to door knobs, does not have enough good iron ore. But Australia did, and so was born a very rich relationship.   But as iron ore prices exploded upwards, tensions erupted between China and the big mining companies. And that led to a monumentally bad situation for everyone involved.   In this video, we are going to explore the tensions that would eventually lead to the Sino-Australian kerfuffle known as the Stern Hu affair.
21:46
October 21, 2021
60 Days on Venus
60 Days on Venus
In the 1970s and 80s, the Soviet Union put 5 landers on the surface of Venus - a planet that, by the way, exists - and none of them lasted more than two hours. No one has tried it since.  It has been over 40+ years since the last Venera probe. We know a lot more now about the conditions on Venus. And technology has progressed in leaps and bounds.  So is it possible to create a probe with today's technology capable of lasting hours, days, weeks, or even months on the Venusian surface? I have been thinking about this idea ever since my last video on the subject matter. So in this short video, we are going to look at several key new technologies that make a Venus landing a little more possible. 
13:00
October 18, 2021
Ennostar Group: The Company Behind Apple's 10,000 MINI-LED Display
Ennostar Group: The Company Behind Apple's 10,000 MINI-LED Display
In this video, I want to talk about Apple's latest technology plaything: the mini-LED panel in the 2021 model of the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. The reviews on the iPad have invariably noted how nice the display looks. And it appears that the technology is mooted to show up in some of Apple's other products as is their tendency.  Tech publications like Linus Tech Tips and the Verge have talked about what makes mini-LEDs special. Definitely check those out too. But in this video, I want to take a look at the company supplying this interesting technology. One of the world's biggest LED vendors, Hsinchu-based Ennostar Group. 
11:48
October 14, 2021
Carl Zeiss: The Semiconductor Optics Master
Carl Zeiss: The Semiconductor Optics Master
Germany-based Carl Zeiss AG is a fascinating company. Fascinating, even if you do not take into account that they make lenses and optics for some of the coolest systems in the world.  When you are etching patterns as wide as a small virus, you have graduated beyond simple lens. Now we refer to them as "optics systems". These massive multi-component systems are at the very heart of the multi-million dollar photolithography machines that ASML makes. Without them, ASML has no machine to deliver to TSMC, Samsung or Intel.  In this video, we are going to continue with our deep dive into the semiconductor industry’s critical suppliers with a look at one of ASML’s closest partners. The makers of the optics systems that let high-energy UV light etch wafers. And a company with an utterly fascinating history. Carl Zeiss. 
15:49
October 07, 2021
How AMD Left GlobalFoundries for TSMC
How AMD Left GlobalFoundries for TSMC
AMD began as an integrated design manufacturer competing directly with Intel - meaning they designed and made their own chips. When the company's internal manufacturing operations started to lag behind Intel, the company transitioned into being a fabless manufacturer.   Even after the transition, its foundry partner GlobalFoundries struggled to keep up with the company's technical and yield demands. Eventually the company would turn to the Taiwanese giant TSMC for its leading edge processes. Today, TSMC is AMD's closest foundry partner and the manufacturer of some of its best products.   In the video, we will look at the chip designer's move away from its manufacturing roots, its up-and-down relationship with GlobalFoundries, and how it came to fab its most advanced products at TSMC. 
16:58
September 30, 2021
CATL's Sodium-Ion Battery: Better than Lithium?
CATL's Sodium-Ion Battery: Better than Lithium?
Contemporary Amperex Technology or CATL recently unveiled their first generation sodium ion batteries for commercial use. I have been hearing a lot about this technology and thought that it would be worth talking about. Scientists started off developing sodium ion batteries right alongside lithium ion batteries. Over time, lithium rose to dominance and sodium fell by the wayside. But now things have changed, and sodium ion batteries have started to see renewed interest.  In this video, we will briefly review sodium ion batteries, their state of development, and what their commercialization means for the renewable energy market at large. 
14:19
September 23, 2021
China's CATL Group is Winning the EV Battery Industry (For Now)
China's CATL Group is Winning the EV Battery Industry (For Now)
Asia is as strong in EV battery technology as they are in semiconductors. So instead of lasers and silicon, let us talk about cathodes and lithium.  CATL Group or Contemporary Amperex Technology (宁德时代新能源科技股份有限公司) is the world's largest battery manufacturer when measured by installed capacity.  Their market share in China is 50%, accounting for 28% globally. They have become a critical supplier to the country's fast-rising EV industry and recently signed Tesla as a big customer.  Just ten years old, the company is today already one of China's most valuable companies. In this video, we will take a closer look at this mysterious, low-profile Titan. 
20:07
September 16, 2021
Tokyo Electron: Japan’s Biggest Semiconductor Equipment Maker
Tokyo Electron: Japan’s Biggest Semiconductor Equipment Maker
ASML is one of TSMC’s big suppliers and the only maker of EUV photolithography machines in the world. They make the machines that TSMC uses to fab its chips. But there is so much more to semiconductor production than just photolithography.   I want to continue my series on the industry’s supply chain with another multi-billion dollar semiconductor equipment supplier that flies under the radar: Tokyo Electron Limited or TEL.   They are Japan’s biggest semiconductor equipment maker and one of its most valuable companies with a $68 billion market cap. That is as big as Nintendo or Honda.   In this video, we will look at Tokyo Electron's history, what they actually do, and where they are within the semiconductor manufacturing supply chain. In the meanwhile we will get to learn more about the process of making a semiconductor.    Error at 3:07: Meant Bretton Woods, not Plaza Accords 
15:14
September 09, 2021
Semiconductor EDA Software, Explained
Semiconductor EDA Software, Explained
My father was a chip designer. I remember barging into his office as a kid and seeing the tables and walls covered in intricate diagrams and drawings. I watched him work in fascination as he painstakingly drew lines I did not understand.  These days, nobody draws circuits anymore by hand. In this video, we are going to dive into a critical software tool for chip designers - Electronic Design Automation or EDA. Without this unheralded software, many of today's most advanced chips cannot be made. 
12:10
August 27, 2021
Neptune Orient Lines: The Fall of Singapore's National Shipping Company
Neptune Orient Lines: The Fall of Singapore's National Shipping Company
In December 2015, Singapore's investment fund Temasek agreed to sell its shares in Neptune Orient Lines or NOL to French shipping line CMA CGM. The board unanimously approved the transaction.   For nearly fifty years, NOL was Singapore's national shipping line. Rising up from nothing to a top 15 shipping line, NOL reflected Singapore's rise in the global economy.   But as the industry changed, the company's performance started to fall behind its competitors. Burdened with a high cost base and unable to invest in its future, NOL lost the ability to compete. And that would lead to its decline and eventual sale.    In this video, we are going to take a deep look back at what had been a Singaporean national champion.   
19:37
August 21, 2021
Reviewing ASML's 2021 (So Far)
Reviewing ASML's 2021 (So Far)
2020 was a crazy year for ASML. Between COVID outbreaks and worldwide economic instability, ASML found itself juggling whipsawing customer demand.  TSMC lost Huawei as a flagship customer. As a result, they did not need so many EUV machines and they cut their allocation.   Then, Intel delayed their roadmap by 6-12 months, and the EUV order book shrank yet further.  Suddenly, ASML found itself making more EUV machines than their customers needed. So they cut their 2021 budget. They told their entire supply chain to hunker down.  Well, you know what happened next. The economy came roaring back and everyone needs chips now. 
15:45
August 09, 2021
BOE Technology: Apple’s Next OLED Supplier?
BOE Technology: Apple’s Next OLED Supplier?
Beijing Orient Electronics or BOE Technology Group as it is now called is a publicly traded display technologies company based out of Beijing.   With $19 billion in revenue, they are the world’s second largest OLED vendor and the biggest seller of flat panel displays. They are China's most advanced display technologies company - the only one equipped to produce LCDs in the 6th generation category or above.   They are a serious challenger to Samsung and LG Display and might supply the next iPhone. In this video I want to take a look at BOE’s development and how they are challenging the current display incumbents.   Links: - The Asianometry Newsletter: https://asianometry.substack.com- Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Asianometry
12:11
August 06, 2021
How the Soviets Landed on Venus
How the Soviets Landed on Venus
In the 1970s and 80s, the Soviet Union put 5 landers on the surface of Venus and they each survived for over 30 minutes. No one has tried it since.   From time to time, someone will post to Reddit pictures from the Venera missions and everyone goes "Nice". And yeah it is pretty cool that these pictures exist. But have you ever wondered what it took to build a machine capable of taking those pictures? Like, how did they do it?  In this video, I want to look at the Venera space series and the engineering behind this stunning achievement.   If you want to hear the Venera 14 audio in full, try this soundcloud link: https://soundcloud.com/user-193686737/venus
17:25
July 26, 2021
The TSMC First Half 2021 Mega-Review
The TSMC First Half 2021 Mega-Review
We are already more than halfway into the year. Time really flies, doesn't it?  It has been a while since my video deep dive on TSMC's $28 billion capital expenditure plan at the start of 2021. Some time has passed since then and so I think we are due for another review.  So in this review, we are going to look back at the first half of TSMC's 2021 year. This is going to be a collection of individual thoughts on the company, its environment, and more. We will review financials, the Arizona fab, the outbreak, water, and more.  Thus, at the risk of looking too obsessed with TSMC, let us dive in! 
19:06
July 21, 2021
Yangtze Memory Explained: China’s Next Semiconductor Giant
Yangtze Memory Explained: China’s Next Semiconductor Giant
Not everything is about the sexy microprocessor or GPU in your desktop. Memory is one of the major categories in the semiconductor world.   The memory industry as it currently exists is dominated by a number of incumbents. The reason for this is because memory is a brutal and cyclical industry. But it can also serve as a critical starting point for many semiconductor companies to nurture their fabbing expertise. The industry’s dynamics also make it easier for new, low cost entrants to sell in the market.   One of those new entrants into the market is Wuhan-based Yangtze Memory Technology Company. The company began as a low cost supplier but has impressively scaled the value chain in recent years. In this video, I want to look at one of China's leading memory companies and one of its flagship semiconductor champions. 
10:16
July 19, 2021
How Giant Bicycles in Taiwan Became a Bicycle Giant
How Giant Bicycles in Taiwan Became a Bicycle Giant
I regularly make use of YouBike here in Taipei. It is a simple, easy-to-use bike share that makes biking around Taipei as convenient as the MRT. I use it regularly to get to places while enjoying the outdoors.   YouBike would not work half as well as it does if the bikes sucked. And luckily they do not. These bikes were provided by Giant, Taiwan's biggest bicycle brand.   I do not know much about the bicycle industry, so Giant's success and name recognition came as a surprise to me. It is pretty cool that in the midst of a bunch of semiconductor and electronics companies, one of Taiwan's most well-known brands makes bicycles of all things.   In this video, I want to profile Taichung-based Giant Bicycle. Their beginnings, rise to prominence, and how they managed to make it from being a white label manufacturer to a global brand of their own.
14:04
July 12, 2021
How Taiwan Created TSMC
How Taiwan Created TSMC
It is a question that every developing country in the world wants to know: How can we upscale our economy? How can we make more competitive, technologically advanced product that everyone else wants? The early 1970s gave the people of Taiwan such a challenge. Times were changing. The island needed to adapt in order to survive in a new world full of challenges. Its economy then was made up mostly of agricultural products and simple electronic assembly - exports of low value and would be easily replaced.   In this video, I want to briefly review how the government created a world-class next-generation manufacturer, the plan they followed, and what lessons we can take away as a result. 
12:14
July 05, 2021
How TSMC Builds a Fab
How TSMC Builds a Fab
The world runs on electronics and semiconductor chips. Many of these chips are made in massive, multi-billion facilities run by foundries like TSMC, Samsung, and GlobalFoundries.  Right now the world is going through a protracted shortage of these semiconductors. Especially in the case of TSMC, the most advanced foundry out there, there is only a limited amount of capacity available for all of its hundreds of customers.  So why can't TSMC just build another factory? Obviously more factories need to be brought online.  Just how hard can it be?
12:50
June 28, 2021
Where the Economy of the Soviet Union Went Wrong
Where the Economy of the Soviet Union Went Wrong
Recently, I watched a video by a popular YouTube channel about the economy of the Soviet Union. I have long been interested in how Soviet society worked. But sadly that particular video failed to scratch the itch. It felt a bit watered down. So I figured I would make my own.  For generations, the Soviet Union grew faster than every other developing country except one. But once that strategy ran its course, the Soviets failed to adapt and things fell apart. It is a challenge that every country has to face at one time or another in the process of its development.  In this video, I want to look at the rise and decline of the Soviet Economy. 
16:52
June 14, 2021
Can Malaysia’s Semiconductor Industry Compete?
Can Malaysia’s Semiconductor Industry Compete?
Malaysia's semiconductor industry has seen impressive growth. Following in the footsteps of its Asian neighbors, the country successfully built itself up as an attractive location for foreign direct investment. It leveraged that to make a place of its own in the semiconductor industry.  But that industry has found itself sort of caught in the middle. Unable to invest in the future, the country’s small local cluster of semiconductor firms find themselves stuck in a tenuous place low in the value chain. With seemingly few good prospects.  Here, we are going to look at Malaysia's place in the global semiconductor industry. 
18:14
June 11, 2021
TSMC and AWS: Comparing Two Infrastructure Giants
TSMC and AWS: Comparing Two Infrastructure Giants
What do Amazon Web Services and TSMC have in common? One is the cloud computing division inside the biggest e-commerce company in the world. The other is a Taiwanese state-backed semi giant.  While these companies might seem quite different, one thing that I notice unifies them is that they provide a platform that enables other companies to succeed and exist.  TSMC's focus on manufacturing and commitment not to compete with its customers has spawned a generation of "fabless" semiconductor companies. AWS has allowed Silicon Valley to build pure internet service companies without needing to build a data center of their own.  For this episode, I want to look at and draw a few parallels between these two special companies. The plumbing providers of the modern internet.
15:02
June 04, 2021
How China Won the Solar Industry (& Why Germany Lost)
How China Won the Solar Industry (& Why Germany Lost)
At the start of the 21st century, China's solar cell industry found itself far behind those in Japan, Germany, and the United States. As late as 2003, Chinese market share of the solar cell industry was about 3%.  In less than ten years, the Chinese solar industry absorbed foreign technical expertise, created their own indigenous capacity, and outcompeted its western incumbents. By 2013, China accounted for 60% of global solar cell production. It retains strong market share today, though a lot of production has migrated to the Southeast Asian countries due to cheaper labor costs. Europe’s share is negligible and its former national champion Q-Cells sold to a Korean company. 
21:28
June 04, 2021
How ASML Builds a $150 Million EUV Machine
How ASML Builds a $150 Million EUV Machine
ASML is a critical supplier of semiconductor lithography machinery for foundries like Intel and TSMC. In my video discussing TSMC's $28 billion capital expenditure, I briefly discussed their situation. Their CEO said in an earnings call that they can make 50 high-end EUV lithography machines a year. That's it. Without those machines, the foundries cannot churn out more 5nm chips.  So why not make more of these machines? ASML itself has thousands of suppliers making parts that end up into its machines. Coordinating and integrating all of these parts together into a single smooth-running machine is immensely challenging.
14:52
June 04, 2021
Why the Bank of Japan Bought $300 Billion of Stocks
Why the Bank of Japan Bought $300 Billion of Stocks
It is December 2020 and the Bank of Japan is now the single biggest shareholder of Japanese stocks. Over the span of a decade, the central bank bought hundreds of billions of dollars in Tokyo-listed stock ETFs as part of its monetary easing programs, sitting on a handsome $130 billion profit.  You might be forgiven for wondering if it is normal for a central bank to buy "stonks". It has never been done before in this way. Yet as Japan threatened to enter another era of economic stagnation and deflation, the bank decided to go where no bank has gone before in an effort to fight the future.  In this video, I want to dive into a controversial, groundbreaking program and the market-distorting effects that it has wrought on the world's third largest economy. 
19:38
May 31, 2021