When we talk about “semiconductors,” we are talking about microchips. Microchips are in everything from cars to cell phones to missiles but having the fastest and most powerful microchips is essential to maintaining a military advantage (Zeiger, 2022). Nowadays the production of microchips grows exponentially and Moore, an electronics engineer who went on to run Intel predicted that the number of transistors on a silicon chip would double roughly every two years (Gianfagna, 2021). This projection is now known as Moore’s Law. Sixty years ago, four transistors could fit on a given chip, whereas today the number is closer to 11.8 billion (Heffernan, 2022).
Semiconductors have made news recently because of a shortage of microchips earlier this year. Though the causes of the semiconductors’ shortage are not due to a shortage of access to raw materials but rather because of the Covid-19 crisis and the ensuing fluctuating demand, the threats to EU strategic autonomy and the fragility of this market are explicit. Semiconductors have become a critical component in today’s globalised economy and armed forces as they are a vital component in any current electronic device. However, the dependence on Asia and, most notably, Taiwan has generated a significant response from world players such as the US, the EU, and China. Thus, even though it appears the shortage is temporary, it seems likely that such events will continue to occur in the absence of a more coherent and global strategy.