The chip advance set to make smartphones smarter


iPhone user
Apple’s new iPhones are set to be the first consumer gadget powered by 5nm chip technology

When Apple unveils its new iPhones, expect it to make a big deal of the fact they’re the first in the world to be powered by a new type of chip.

This, we’ll likely be told, will let owners do things like edit 4K video, enhance high-resolution photos and play graphically-intensive video games more smoothly than was possible before while using less battery power.

The “five nanometre process” involved refers to the fact that the chip’s transistors have been shrunk down – the tiny on-off switches are now only about 25 atoms wide – allowing billions more to be packed in.

Effectively it means more brain power.

Travel back just four years, and many industry insiders doubted the advance could be delivered so soon.

That it has been, is in large part down to the ingenuity of a relatively obscure Dutch company – ASML.

It pioneered a way to carve circuitry patterns into silicon via a process called extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography.

Its machines cost a cool $123m (£92m) each, which is high even in relation to other semiconductor industry tools.

But it’s currently the only company making them. And they are still more cost-effective than alternative options, in part because of a low defect rate.

“At such small scales precision is key,” said Dr Ian Cutress, who reports on the sector for Anandtech.

“What they’re doing is akin to hitting a stamp on the surface of Mars with a paper aeroplane.”

ASML likens its technology to making the leap from using a marker pen to a fine-liner.

But rather than ink it uses what it terms “feeble light” generated via a mind-boggling process.

Light wavelengths graphic
ASML’s process uses light at a 13.5nm wavelength, sitting in

TIE 2020 Shows a Path to a Smarter Future Forged by Taiwan’s Resilience


TAIPEI, Taiwan, Oct. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The impacts of the recent COVID-19 pandemic on global trade and our daily lives have led to an acceleration of technological innovations in different sectors. At the same time, our society is transitioning from the era of Big Data towards Hyper Digitization. To help industries prepare for these trends and navigate the post-pandemic world, this year’s Taiwan Innotech Expo (TIE 2020) was highlighting the latest smart living technologies that can spark new imaginations. Since its transformation into a global trade show, the TIE continues to draw international attention to Taiwan’s strength in R&D and innovation. This year’s event showcases how Taiwan stays resilient in face of a global crisis.

The TIE has been demonstrating the R&D strength of Taiwan’s private enterprises, government agencies, academic institutions, and research entities.
The TIE has been demonstrating the R&D strength of Taiwan’s private enterprises, government agencies, academic institutions, and research entities.

Blueprints for a better world can be found in the three thematic pavilions

Scheduled to be held at Hall 1 of the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC) from September 24 to 26, the TIE 2020 was jointly curated by the following 10 government bodies: the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Ministry of Education (MOE), the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOWH), the Ministry of Labor, the Council of Agriculture, the National Development Council, the Environmental Protection Administration, and Academia Sinica.

With “Resilient Taiwan, Smarter Future” as the overarching concept, the event organizers had built three thematic pavilions: Pioneering Inventions, Future Technologies, and Sustainable Development. More than 1,000 products, concepts, and patented technologies was on display during the three-day trade show. Exhibitions, keynote presentations, and seminars was live-streamed for international audience. Guided thematic tours of the exhibitions took place both physically and online. Other parts of the event such as intellectual