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A GlobalFoundries factory in Dresden, Germany. Photo: Matthias Rietschel/Getty Images

For decades now, semiconductors have been made using ever-finer wiring, enabling the famous Moore's law, which predicts a doubling of performance every two years or so. But, as transistors have gotten smaller, some chipmakers are struggling to keep up.

Driving the news: The latest shift to 7-nanometer wiring is proving to be the toughest yet. Intel has already admitted challenges and now one of the other industry giants, GlobalFoundries, said Monday it's going to focus on other types of advances rather than moving to 7 nanometers amid the high costs of the new generation.

Analysts say it's not that GlobalFoundries and others can't get to 7 nanometers eventually — it's more whether it would be worth their while.

"The problems are only partially technical — given enough talent and time, foundries can make 7nm and 5nm, and beyond. The problem is the economics — hiring the talented researchers, paying for the research, buying the equipment, and building the fabs. All that is getting exponentially more expensive. GlobalFoundries owners decided the push to 7nm was no longer going to be economically worth the investment."
Kevin Krewell, principal analyst, TIRIAS Research
"This is also proof positive that only a handful of chip companies can afford leading-edge manufacturing as they are the ones who have to pay for the capability."
Patrick Moorhead, president, Moor Insights & Strategy

The bottom line: The challenges give the upper hand to those moving forward with 7 nanometers — namely, TSMC and Samsung. It also leaves those who contract out for manufacturing with just two options.

Go deeper

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Cuomo asks for “independent” investigator into sexual harassment claims

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Feb. 24. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

A top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that he would authorize and "voluntarily cooperate" with an independent investigation run by New York's attorney general into claims he sexually harassed several women.

The state of play: The statement comes after a day of competing statements from Cuomo and AG Letitcia James over who would oversee an independent investigation into the governor.

Cuomo scandal snares Dems on #MeToo

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Ray Tamarra/Getty Images   

The searing sexual harassment allegations made against Gov. Andrew Cuomo are trouble for Democrats far beyond Albany and New York.

Why it matters: They hammered Donald Trump after the "Access Hollywood" tape. Pilloried Brett Kavanaugh over Christine Blasey Ford. Defended President Biden when he was accused of inappropriate touching. Now, Democrats have to show whether they walk the "#MeToo" talk.