Inside Taiwan’s ‘Sacred Mountain’ of Chip-Making


If you’re reading this, you can thank a semiconductor. Phones, tablets, computers—really any device more digital than pen and paper—all depend on the tiny chips inside them to function. The semiconductor industry is massive, and at the center of it all is one massive firm that makes the bulk of the chips we all rely on: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. Known widely as just TSMC, the company is not only the most important entity in the chip industry, but it’s also a powerful and stabilizing force in the geopolitical standoff between Taiwan and China that, if ignited, would affect the whole world. TSMC’s untouchable status has earned it an amusing nickname: the Sacred Mountain of Protection.

This week on Gadget LabWIRED contributor Virginia Heffernan talks about her trip to the TSMC facility in Taiwan. She tells us how chips are made and explains how the semiconductor industry—TSMC in particular—drives innovation while remaining largely invisible.

Show Notes

Read Virginia’s story about her trip to the TSMC factory in Taiwan.


Virginia recommends the show Seven Seconds on Netflix. Mike recommends the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s podcast How to Fix the Internetspecifically the episode “So You Think You’re a Critical Thinker.” Lauren recommends the Apple TV show Bad Sisters.

Virginia Heffernan can be found on Twitter @page88. Lauren Goode is @Lauren Goode. Michael Calore is @snack fight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@boone ashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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