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Recall that this slide is showing companies with fabs / foundries / semiconductor fabrication plants and the minimum size chips they're able to make. In other words, this slide is showing the companies that can manufacture (not necessarily design) chips at a certain size. As Professor Bryant mentioned in class (and as it says on the slide), only 4 such companies can manufacture chips of size 20-22 nm. Hopefully this number will not continue to shrink (or will grow) so as to encourage competition and drive forward growth and innovation in chip manufacturing.


While more manufacturers does encourage competition, there are numerous companies that can design chips, but these are the only companies able to fabricate them. For example, Qualcomm (SD820) and Apple (A9) both design chips for mobile devices but have agreements with Samsung and TSMC to manufacturer those chips. So the lack of competition in the manufacturing side doesn't have as negative of consequences as this chart would lead you to believe.


@pkoenig but if the number of companies able to manufacture these chips shrinks even further, those companies will have an incredible amount of power in setting the cost of using their services, and would have very little motivation to innovate and improve nanofab technology.