Report Highlights Shortcomings in UK Chip Plans


The Centre for Emerging Technology and Security (CETaS) has released a report that sheds light on significant shortcomings in the UK's national semiconductor strategy.

The report notes that the US, China, European Union (EU), India and South Korea have all put in place incentives to encourage chip manufacturing (fabs) as part of a broader industrial strategy. "What binds the five countries above is the focus on new investment in manufacturing," the report's authors warned. "The lack of this in the UK means that developing effective global partnerships carries additional importance in building resilience across the UK semiconductor supply chain."

The report urges the UK government to capitalize on its growing relationship with South Korea following the UK-Korea Downing Street Accord signed in November 2023. The report authors recommend the UK establishes a National Semiconductor Institute this year, as current structures are too diffuse and there is not a clear point of engagement for international partners wishing to work with the UK on semiconductors.

The report also warns that the UK's strategic footholds are especially vulnerable to Chinese industrial policy. According to CETaS, China will compete directly with the UK's emerging compound semiconductor industry. It already controls many of the critical minerals the UK relies on for that industry, such as gallium and germanium-based compounds, which are subject to export restrictions.

The report notes that the UK's fabs do not produce the most advanced silicon semiconductors. The lack of investment into building semiconductor facilities in recent decades has led to specialized clusters forming around certain universities, with each having its own manufacturing method and end product. This may result in a mismatch between the output from UK fabs and the requirements of UK manufacturing or technology firms.

Regarding artificial intelligence (AI) hardware, the report warns that the UK government's Exascale funding explicitly specified graphics processing units (GPUs), excluding intelligent processing units (IPUs) from the tender. "Forsaking technological diversity in the national AI compute infrastructure will further entrench applications that suit GPUs and limit techniques made possible by new AI systems," the report states.

The report also recommends that the UK government should be doing more to address the high costs of electronic design automation (EDA) tools, which restrict production timelines for new designs and smaller companies' ability to scale up.

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Kelvin Maina

Kelvin Maina is a dedicated content creator. He has a Bsc. Computer Science, and has worked for companies such as, and as a financial research analyst. At Shortfi, he mostly focuses on the latest technologies, gadgets, and technologies companies making progress in advancing humanity through innovation.

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