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Taiwan Semiconductor Switches For Remote Kill

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Remote “kill switches” have been installed in the sophisticated chip-making machinery of SML, a Dutch semiconductor equipment manufacturer, and TSMC, the largest chip foundry in the world, both situated in Taiwan. This prevents China from obtaining the technology in the case of an invasion of Taiwan.
Tensions in Geopolitics and Semiconductors

Given that Taiwan is a key player in the sector and produces the bulk of the world’s advanced chips, the geopolitical tensions between China and Taiwan have sparked worries about the integrity of the global semiconductor supply chain. The possibility of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan has alarmed the U.S. government because it might have disastrous effects on a number of companies that depend on Taiwanese chips.

As a result, TSMC and ASML have taken steps to prevent the improper use of their cutting-edge chip-making technologies. These actions highlight how vulnerable the global semiconductor supply chain is and how crucial it is from a strategic standpoint to preserve Taiwan’s semiconductor production’s security and integrity.

The Roles Of ASML And TSMC

Because of U.S. influence, the Dutch government has prohibited ASML, the only supplier of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photolithography tools needed to produce the most sophisticated chips, from selling its most advanced equipment to Chinese companies. It has not been officially confirmed, but the corporation is purportedly able to remotely turn off its equipment that is deployed at TSMC facilities by using software upgrades during standard maintenance, essentially acting as a kill switch.

Real-time communications with Europe, Japan, and the US are crucial to TSMC’s operations, and the machines wouldn’t function for very long without ASML’s ongoing assistance. This dependence demonstrates how important ASML is to TSMC’s capacity to manufacture cutting-edge semiconductors.

Mechanism Of The Remote Kill Switch

According to reports, ASML’s EUV machines at TSMC facilities include a remote kill switch that may be turned on during regular maintenance by updating the software. Although ASML has not stated clearly that such a function exists, the business has recognized that its equipment requires a lot of maintenance, which may be a way to add a kill switch. Although the exact method by which ASML may stop its machines is yet unknown, experts in the field agree that it would be difficult to operate the equipment without ongoing support from the manufacturer.

Strategic Significance And US Apprehensions

Concerns over the possible repercussions of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, which may have disastrous implications on the American economy, have been secretly conveyed by the U.S. administration to its colleagues in the Netherlands and Taiwan. 92% of the semiconductors used in the United States are sourced from Taiwan, and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo has underlined the disastrous effects that could result from such a scenario. Given the critical role that sophisticated chips play in many different industries, it is imperative that Taiwan’s semiconductor production remain secure and legitimate for the sake of both national security and economic stability. Strategically, ASML and TSMC installed a remote kill button to prevent these vital technology from ending up in the wrong hands.