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EU made CPU's? EU signs €145 billion declaration to develop next-gen processors and 2nm technology

Summary

 

The EU alongside 17 of it's member states has signed a declaration that promises to expand and improve the 'capacity to develop the next generation of processors and semiconductors'

 

Quotes

Quote

The European Union, alongside 17 member states, has signed a joint declaration designed to take Europe to the forefront of semiconductor design and manufacturing. 

This declaration is designed to allow Europe to create low-power "trusted" processors on advanced process nodes down to 2nm, allocating €145 billion in funding over the next 2-3 years. This move is seen as a vital one for Europe moving forward, as leading-edge semiconductor technologies are used in everything from automobiles to medical equipment, telecommunications and medical devices. This project will help ensure that Europe does not become too reliant on other economic blocks when it comes to the creation of powerful processors. 

Below is a statement from the EU declaration, which was signed by Belgium, Croatia, Greece, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Finland, France, Estonia, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Romania. Having left the European Union, the United Kingdom (UK) can have no part in this declaration or development plans.

 

To ensure Europe’s technology sovereignty and competitiveness, as well as our capacity to address key environmental and societal challenges and new emerging mass markets, we need to strengthen Europe’s capacity to develop the next generation of processors and semiconductors. This includes chips and embedded systems that offer the best performance for specific applications across a wide range of sectors as well as leading-edge manufacturing progressively advancing towards 2nm nodes for processor technology. Using connectivity, where Europe enjoys global lead, as a major use case driver for developing such capacity enables Europe to set the right level of ambition. This will require a collective effort to pool investment and to coordinate actions, by both public and private stakeholders.

https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/sites/digital-agenda/files/newsroom/microelectronics_73418.jpg

My thoughts

 I'm surprised but also not really surprised considering other countries like china have started and continue to expand their semiconductor market. The future of tech as always is becoming more and more interesting, and I'm curious to see how will this affect the market.

 

Sources

 Overclock3d

Europa.eu

 

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Philips, a large Dutch company known for many things electrical, had a semi-conductor division prior to selling it off in 2006, to become NXP. It retained its HQ in the Netherlands. I suspect a large chunk of that money will end up in the Netherlands anyway, as ASML, the company that makes the machines that make chips, is located not far from Eindhoven, Philips HQ ;)

 

PS: it's worth exploring the ASML site if you're interested in the basics of chip manufacturing etc!

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As much as I would love to see this be successful, I am very skeptical of the EU's ability to actually see this through. I feel like this will be another failed pet project where a lot of money has been wasted. Fortunately, of things that money could be wasted on, this is perhaps the least worst of the options... 

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Isn't 2nm so small that quantum effects start breaking the normal functioning of a transistor?

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1 minute ago, Beskamir said:

Isn't 2nm so small that quantum effects start breaking the normal functioning of a transistor?

I think that's like 1nm, but again 2nm doesn't mean 2nm everywhere when it comes to processor technology.

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Didnt TSMC try to make a process node smaller than 3nm in like 2019 and fail since the transistors were not behaving as expected.

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Nice! It never made sense to me that they tax those products, since they don't make any! Now they will have a reason to tax imported products, so that we ll have our own to buy. Also phone, except the irrelevant Nokia, will be the next step that EU have to look at

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So, Europe is going with Airbus approach but for chip design and manufacturing. I'm guessing it'll be ARM or RISC-V based considering x86 is pretty much out of the question with Intel's ownership of its license.

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8 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

So, Europe is going with Airbus approach but for chip design and manufacturing. I'm guessing it'll be ARM or RISC-V based considering x86 is pretty much out of the question with Intel's ownership of its license.

Well, about ARM... Now it's also American. I think x86 licence can be bought at well

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All they need to do is just make some orders from ASML like what TSMC normally does.

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EU always had a strong silicon market, but in different areas. A lot of leading telecom companies are EU-based, like Siemens (Infineon now), Rohde und Schwarz, Nokia, Ericsson... even Intel had telecommunication design in Europe

 

Fab investment is the bigger thing

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UK: We'll make our own CPUs, with hookers and blackjack!

 

I'd read "CPU" in this context to be any processor, not necessarily something you'd find in a PC as we know it. A new (or variation of existing) architecture here is not much of a stretch.

 

It opens up an interesting question: What is currently the "best" process fab in mass production physically located in the EU and significantly controlled by a EU based organisation? I think that's the bigger challenge.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, PeachGr said:

Well, about ARM... Now it's also American. I think x86 licence can be bought at well

ARM is American, but it's freely sold to anyone and everyone. Where x86 is just totally locked down and I don't think Intel is willing to grant it to anyone outside of Intel, AMD and VIA (or whoever is the current owner of it).

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51 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

ARM is American, but it's freely sold to anyone and everyone. Where x86 is just totally locked down and I don't think Intel is willing to grant it to anyone outside of Intel, AMD and VIA (or whoever is the current owner of it).

Funny thing... That will make more developers focusing on ARM based applications, so will move people away from x86, so from Intel

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1 hour ago, RejZoR said:

I'm guessing it'll be ARM or RISC-V based

the plan is to use ARM first and then RISC-V

54 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

ARM is American, but it's freely sold to anyone and everyone

You're right about ARM licensing to basically anyone. But the actual company is originally from the UK but like many modern companies it has offices around the world and many international employees

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3 hours ago, Orangeator said:

As much as I would love to see this be successful, I am very skeptical of the EU's ability to actually see this through. I feel like this will be another failed pet project where a lot of money has been wasted. Fortunately, of things that money could be wasted on, this is perhaps the least worst of the options... 

Airbus worked out quite well

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8 minutes ago, Drama Lama said:

You're right about ARM licensing to basically anyone. But the actual company is originally from the UK but like many modern companies it has offices around the world and many international employees

Yes, IIRC ARM originally stood for "Acorn RISC Machine" (Acorn being a British computer manufacturer from the late 70s to the 90s), but was spun off on its own. It's still based in Cambridge, the original place where Acorn was founded. For those not aware, it's soon to be a subsidiary of nVidia, which is of course an American company, so whether that will make any difference remains to be seen.

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I have memory of pretty much the same news from years ago(maybe about the plan to do so, which is now becoming true?) and my opinion is similar to what it was back then - EU just doesn't want to be entirely dependent on other countries with its microprocessors. Even though the chance is low, if for whatever reason we get cut from foreign supply, that'd be as shitty situation as it can be, having even small manufacturing capabilities with fabs that are behind the worldwide top, that's still a much better start and a guarantee of some capacity for crucial infrastructure devices.

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I think the key for this investment is building fabs inside the EU and not rely on stuff coming from the US or Asia. As for the x86 licence, in the past Siemens and Philips/NXT produced microcontrollers based on the 8088, which is the founding chip of the x86 platform. It's very conceivable those licences are still in place and x86 chips from Europe are indeed a possibility. In contrast to many others I don't think ARM and/or RISC will dominate future technology and x86 (in its current 64 bit guise anyway) will continue to be prevalent for consumer grade products like desktops/laptops etc. Likewise, the enterprise world has heavily invested in the x86 ecosystem and until those devices are economically written off, changes are unlikely to happen in favour of ARM and/or RISC.

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7 minutes ago, Dutch_Master said:

I think the key for this investment is building fabs inside the EU and not rely on stuff coming from the US or Asia. As for the x86 licence, in the past Siemens and Philips/NXT produced microcontrollers based on the 8088, which is the founding chip of the x86 platform. It's very conceivable those licences are still in place and x86 chips from Europe are indeed a possibility. In contrast to many others I don't think ARM and/or RISC will dominate future technology and x86 (in its current 64 bit guise anyway) will continue to be prevalent for consumer grade products like desktops/laptops etc. Likewise, the enterprise world has heavily invested in the x86 ecosystem and until those devices are economically written off, changes are unlikely to happen in favour of ARM and/or RISC.

Well the future will depend on how well x86 will keep up, if ARM cpu's become significantly more powerful than their x86 counterparts there would definitely be a move towards ARM. Regardless, ARM is very popular in the consumer market, specifically in IoT devices like smart thermostats, speakers and many more devices that need simple low power chips, what seems to be happening right now is a move of ARM from devices focused on either low power consumption or low costs, like phones, handheld consoles and so on to higher power, higher end applications, like desktop computing. It's hard to say whether ARM chips will take over the market, but x86 won't go away any time soon.

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30 minutes ago, Dutch_Master said:

As for the x86 licence, in the past Siemens and Philips/NXT produced microcontrollers based on the 8088, which is the founding chip of the x86 platform. It's very conceivable those licences are still in place and x86 chips from Europe are indeed a possibility.

It's pretty well confirmed that only Intel, AMD and VIA have x86 license to be able to produce CPUs. Everyone else that had a license has either expired or been acquired by one of these three companies. Some of them also only had the Intel x86 license and not the AMD64 license, so if it were somehow still valid would be limited to 32bit processors.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_x86_manufacturers

 

I'm pretty sure this all has to do with telecommunications technologies so they will be targeting custom SoCs, embedded CPUs where x86 basically isn't used.

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2 hours ago, Dutch_Master said:

Likewise, the enterprise world has heavily invested in the x86 ecosystem and until those devices are economically written off, changes are unlikely to happen in favour of ARM and/or RISC.

 

Not even then, corporate will want the backwards compatibility with existing software. Software only gets replaced when it stops doing it's job, and thats rarely going to, (intentionally), coincide with a hardware change. And that locks corporate into x86 for as long as it's being manufactured, (and the fact that corporate is locked in and a big customer base ensures it will keep being made), and it's prevalence in corporate space is going to keep it present in the home space because people want for a desktop or heavyweight laptop an experiance that matches their work system because they know how to use that. Realistically the only one who could change it IMO would be Microsoft.

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The next 10-20 years are going to be really interesting in the CPU industry. 

 

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