China’s pursuit of technological dominance in the autonomy economy is centered around the development of autonomous machines and the crucial role played by computing chips. While China leads in the hardware supply chain of autonomous machines, it lags behind the United States in computing chips, often referred to as autonomous machine computing (AMC). This missing link is the key obstacle in China’s journey towards a self-reliant autonomous machine ecosystem.
In the past, the United States has asserted its dominance in various economic eras by spearheading advancements in enabling semiconductor technology. From personal computing to mobile and cloud computing, American companies like IBM, Apple, Intel, Qualcomm, and Nvidia have played pivotal roles. However, a strategic document published by the Chinese Academy of Engineering sheds light on China’s plan to break this pattern and establish itself as a powerhouse in AMC solutions.
China’s plan involves elevating AMC to national strategic importance, pooling resources for research and development through national laboratories and engineering research centers, attracting top AMC talent, and prioritizing commercial development in key areas like chip design and processing. The ultimate objective is for China to achieve global leadership in AMC capabilities by 2030 and complete dominance by 2035.
To expedite this process, the Chinese government has invested significant financial resources into its semiconductor industry. In 2022 alone, $1.75 billion was allocated as subsidies to 190 chip firms for research, development, and manufacturing capabilities. Furthermore, China has already achieved semiconductor self-sufficiency in the low-end AMC market, as demonstrated by its dominance in the global sales of robot vacuums.
While U.S. semiconductor companies still dominate the high-end AMC market, Chinese companies are rapidly catching up. Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have begun utilizing domestic computing solutions and have plans to develop proprietary computing chips for their next generation of intelligent electric vehicles (IEVs). The export curbs on AI-related chips imposed by the United States, aimed at stifling China’s tech industry, may ironically serve as a catalyst for China to prioritize AMC at the national level.
The repercussions of these developments extend beyond market share. If China achieves world-leading AMC technologies, U.S. semiconductor companies could face a “permanent loss” in one of the largest markets globally, with far-reaching implications for their revenue streams. The battle for dominance in AMC is set to reshape the global tech landscape and redefine competition in the autonomy economy.
Q: What is AMC?
AMC stands for autonomous machine computing and refers to the development of computing chips specifically designed for autonomous machines.
Q: How does China plan to achieve dominance in AMC?
China has outlined a comprehensive strategy that includes elevating AMC to national strategic importance, pooling resources for research and development, attracting top talent, and prioritizing key areas of commercial development.
Q: What impact do export curbs by the United States have on China’s pursuit of autonomy?
Export curbs on AI-related chips act as a catalyst for China to prioritize AMC at the national level, potentially propelling its quest for dominance in autonomous machines.
Q: How has China achieved semiconductor self-sufficiency in the low-end AMC market?
China’s dominance in the global sales of robot vacuums exemplifies its achievement of semiconductor self-sufficiency in the low-end AMC market. Chinese manufacturers have advanced technologies and offer competitive prices, replacing computing chips previously provided by U.S. companies.
Q: What are the implications of China’s rise in AMC for U.S. semiconductor companies?
If China achieves world-leading AMC technologies, U.S. semiconductor companies could lose significant market share and face challenges in one of the world’s largest markets, leading to potential revenue loss.