if nVdia doesn’t manufacture their own chips and sends their design document to tsmc, what’s stopping foreign actors to steal those documents and create their custom version of same design document and get that manufactured at other fab companies?

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if nVdia doesn’t manufacture their own chips and sends their design document to tsmc, what’s stopping foreign actors to steal those documents and create their custom version of same design document and get that manufactured at other fab companies?

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8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Copyright and patent laws

If Nvidia suspects that someone is stealing their intellectual property they can buy one of those chips and look at it under a microscope and very quickly prove it was stolen.

Similarly TSMC aren’t idiots, if you submit a design drawing to them that’s a copy of what another company has already submitted to them they’ll notice and tell Nvidia or whoever. They have a vested interest in maintaining business with companies like Nvidia, so they work with them to stop this sort of thing.

This is however a potentially major problem with China, as the Chinese are notorious for IP theft and you can’t stop them with traditional legal cases. China also can’t manufacture chips of this grade on-shore yet, but they will in time.

Right now the Chinese are careful about this because they want Western companies to invest in China but in time they can easily turn this around and start making Chinese knock-offs of chips to sell to the 3rd world for cheaper and there’s nothing the west can do about it short of war.

The pandemic caused the Chinese and the US to both finally realize the dangers of TSMC having a monopoly on chip manufacturing. Particularly the effect this could have on the supply chain during a war. So both are investing in their own domestic chip manufacturing.

There’s also a knock-on effect that neither side can afford to give the other a chance to put backdoors into the chips that could be used to spy or shutdown systems during a conflict.

This is partly the reason why the US has started restrict the sale of top-end Nvidia chips to China because they want to stall the Chinese development of AI tools.

Anonymous 0 Comments

TSMC is basically the only company that can manufacture the tech in the first place, the methods and technology that they use is the real secret sauce. So there aren’t exactly any foreign actors that could use those design and make them.

This is why TSMC (and Taiwan more broadly) is such a HUGE deal. It basically has a complete monopoly on high end chip manufacturing. There’s plenty of companies that can make older tech, but for the newest of the new no one else can.

Patent laws and the like definitely make it more difficult, but that’s only part of it.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There *aren’t* other fab companies, is what.

TSMC has the most advanced fabrication machines in the world. That’s what makes them so valuable – nobody else can do what they do. There’s been work to change that so it’s not such a singular point of weakness/failure, but it’s still a very specialized type of machinery, and even the machines to build the machines are hard to come by.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Absolutely nothing is stopping that from happening and industrial espionage by other foreign states is a major issue overall.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Their latest chips must be manufactured using the latest manufacturing technology, often referred to as “xx nanometer nodes”. The current node process is 4 nanometers, which used to refer to a specific part of a transistor. You can count on all your fingers how many plants in the world that have the technology to produce chips using that process.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Patent law, firstly. Any distributed chips that breach Nvidia’s patent will get sued and hit with a C&D immediately.

Second, it’s not like they’re delivering the information via carrier pigeon. It’s all securely encoded and sent via highly secure servers. It would take an impressive team of hackers to gain access to it, and like I said, even if they did for whatever reason decide to do this, it wouldn’t have much value because anyone who tried to manufacture it outside of Nvidia’s control would be sued to high heaven.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There aren’t really any other fab companies. TSMC and Samsung have the most advanced fabs, intel is a bit behind them. No one else is close. All three of those companies use EUV lithography equipment from ASML, and no one else in the world makes those machines.

You could of course steal the designs for the chips and ASML’s EUV lithography tech, but by the time you reverse engineer the design and figure out how to make it, the chip will be 5-10 years out of date, basically worthless to make at that point. They’d also be illegal in the US and EU for violating patents.

The USSR used this strategy for decades and as a result they were always at least a few years behind the west in terms of chip manufacturing.

Anonymous 0 Comments

You gotta like, spin drops of tin in the air until they hit an exact shape then hit them with a laser until they turn into plasma just to make a burst of light at the right wavelength to etch silicon. There is like five machines in the world that can even do it at all and none of them will print stuff some pirate brings them