Chips and Change

Chips and Change

How Crisis Reshapes the Semiconductor Industry

By Clair Brown and Greg Linden

How the chip industry has responded to a series of crises over the past twenty-five years, often reinventing itself and shifting the basis for global competitive advantage.





How the chip industry has responded to a series of crises over the past twenty-five years, often reinventing itself and shifting the basis for global competitive advantage.

For decades the semiconductor industry has been a driver of global economic growth and social change. Semiconductors, particularly the microchips essential to most electronic devices, have transformed computing, communications, entertainment, and industry. In Chips and Change, Clair Brown and Greg Linden trace the industry over more than twenty years through eight technical and competitive crises that forced it to adapt in order to continue its exponential rate of improved chip performance. The industry's changes have in turn shifted the basis on which firms hold or gain global competitive advantage.

These eight interrelated crises do not have tidy beginnings and ends. Most, in fact, are still ongoing, often in altered form. The U.S. semiconductor industry's fear that it would be overtaken by Japan in the 1980s, for example, foreshadows current concerns over the new global competitors China and India. The intersecting crises of rising costs for both design and manufacturing are compounded by consumer pressure for lower prices. Other crises discussed in the book include the industry's steady march toward the limits of physics, the fierce competition that keeps its profits modest even as development costs soar, and the global search for engineering talent.

Other high-tech industries face crises of their own, and the semiconductor industry has much to teach about how industries are transformed in response to such powerful forces as technological change, shifting product markets, and globalization. Chips and Change also offers insights into how chip firms have developed, defended, and, in some cases, lost global competitive advantage.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262013468 272 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 19 figures


$25.00 X ISBN: 9780262516822 272 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 19 figures


  • If you are involved in the challenges of the semiconductor industry, this is a book you should read.

    Paul McLellan

    Electronic Design News


  • No other major industry has the severe ups and downs of the global semiconductor industry. While microchips play a major role in every aspect of modern life, the industry has given participants a roller coaster ride since the invention of the microchip in the late 1950's. Brown and Linden, two experts who have followed the industry for decades, capture the excitement of the ride in terms of a series of industry crises and provide a wealth of data-driven information which they use to give some lessons for the future. This book will be of interest to all who follow this dynamic industry.

    Bill Spencer

    Chairman Emeritus, SEMATECH

  • Brown and Linden provide a brilliant analysis of the competitive crisis facing the U.S. They explain the underlying issues by detailing the challenges which the semiconductor industry has faced. These challenges are not different than what all hi-tech industries will face in the globalized world. This book is a must-read for U.S policymakers.

    Vivek Wadhwa

    senior research associate, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School, and executive in residence / adjunct professor, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University

  • Chips and Change makes an important contribution to understanding the intensifying global competition for leadership in one of the world's most strategic industries. This book will help demystify the complexities of the semiconductor world for a non-professional audience. A must-read.

    George M. Scalise

    President, Semiconductor Industry Association