If we weren’t already living in the digital age before the coronavirus, we definitely are now. Due to lockdowns and fear of catching COVID-19, people were forced to stay at home, which led to a surge in digital trends such as shopping at home, working from home, and learning from home.
As a result, there was a surge in demand for laptops, smartphones, tablets, TVs, and cloud computing. Semiconductors are essential for making all of this “smart technology” operate.
What are Semiconductors?
A semiconductor is a material that partly conducts current. Most semiconductors are crystals that are made up of materials such as silicon. Their conductivity can be altered through impurities, or doping, to meet the needs of an electronic component in which it resides. A transistor is a semiconductor device that is used to amplify electronic signals and electrical power.
Semiconductors serve the purpose of amplifying signals. They are essentially the brains of almost every electronic device you use, such as your computer, smartphone, or watch. Semiconductors, or chips, can be used for memory, graphics, or storage. For instance, memory chips serve as temporary storage of data that passes information to and from parts of a device. Graphics chips help power the graphics from your computer to your monitor.
Semiconductor companies are continually trying to create smaller and faster products so that more power can be placed on each chip. The more transistors that are on a chip, the quicker it can do its work. This gave way to Moore’s law, which states that the number of transistors in a microchip will double roughly every two years. Not every company in the semiconductor industry designs and makes them. Some only design them, while others do the actual manufacturing. Other companies create the machinery to manufacture them.
Why are Semiconductors Important?
The pandemic led us into a digital age that is here to stay. Semiconductors have been essential to facilitating that digitization. Even after the pandemic subsides, consumers will continue to expect and need the latest in technology. That doesn’t happen without chips. That’s especially true with 5G, artificial intelligence, and autonomous driving.
Semiconductors can do anything from power up a device to communicate with other devices. They will be used in homes, networks, and even factories and warehouses. Everything from computing, automobiles, manufacturing, and telecommunications are dependent on chips. For instance, as mentioned in our 5G industry report, all networks require chips. They are needed for base stations, 5G smartphones, and other types of devices.
In another example, autonomous vehicles will require chips. Cars must be able to react instantly with each other, and that can only be done with semiconductors.
While the demand for semiconductors skyrocketed last year, it also led to a worldwide chip shortage. Before the pandemic…
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