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  • Over 30 years, Taiwan underwent massive industrialization in what has become known as the Taiwan Miracle.

  • Huge tech firms grew becoming household names.

  • ASUS, HTC, Acer.

  • At the center of this is the semiconductor industry led by a company you've probably never heard of: TSMC.

  • It's one of the largest semiconductor manufacturers in the world, producing the chips inside some of the best phones, including the iPhone 11.

  • It is most likely if you have a smartphone, you have something made by TSMC.

  • And these chips were only made possible thanks to the discovery of semiconductors.

  • Why's semiconductor important or interesting?

  • Because it changes your life.

  • With factories or fabs, as they're known, across the globe, the largest is here in Taiwan.

  • And we've been granted exclusive access to see just how those chips that form the heart of our electronic devices are created.

  • But before we could go into the fab, there was quite a process to undergo.

  • I have to take my shoes off the carpet.

  • And put them in the locker it seems.

  • And that was just the start.

  • I had to put on a hair net, wash my hands, and wear this to keep the dust out.

  • Phew, but it is time for an air shower.

  • Weird, I feel like I'm in the tumble drier.

  • Manufacturing of wafers has to be extremely precise.

  • They cannot tolerate any particles.

  • That may fall onto the wafer and damaged the chips.

  • So finally we were allowed in the factory, and there was a good reason rule of that faff.

  • The speed of these chips relies on how many transistors you can cram into a tiny space.

  • And what I say tiny, I'm talking nanometers, so even specks of dust would matter.

  • I don't really know how to describe how fine that five nanometer or seven nanometer is, but I think people very often say, if you look at 28 nanometer, it was like one thousandth of a...the diameter of a human hair.

  • In this fully automated factory, the lights are kept yellow to protect the product, and the machinery is moving all around.

  • But there are quite a few things in here.

  • We're not allowed to film because this is seriously cutting edge technology, so it needs to remain pretty secret.

  • We have to protect our customers information.

  • Whichever way we we can.

  • And so, basically, we do not allow cameras to freely roam inside our fab is because, inevitably they may pick up customer information.

  • Between all the automated devices in this facility, they travel 400,000 kilometers a day.

  • To put that into context, that's 10 times around Earth.

  • All of this is about the concept of keeping up with Moore's law.

  • As predicted by Intel engineer Gordon Moore in the 60s, it refers to the doubling of transistors on a chip every two years, whilst the cost is halved.

  • A concept increasingly hard to keep up with, despite us expecting a lot more from our ever connected lives.

  • The next driver is what we call ubiquitous computing.

  • It is computation everywhere at any time.

  • All the devices are connected.

  • Billions and billions of edge devices that are smart, that can compute at any time and communicate and link.

  • And that would be the future enabled by semiconductors.

Over 30 years, Taiwan underwent massive industrialization in what has become known as the Taiwan Miracle.

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