Planet Money podcast

The two companies driving the modern economy

7/3/2024
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At the core of most of the electronics we use today are some very tiny, very powerful chips. Semiconductor chips. And they are mighty: they help power our phones, laptops, and cars. They enable advances in healthcare, military systems, transportation, and clean energy. And they're also critical for artificial intelligence, providing the hardware needed to train complex machine learning.

On today's episode, we're bringing you two stories from our daily show The Indicator, diving into the two most important semiconductor chip companies, which have transformed the industry over the past 40 years.

First, we trace NVIDIA's journey from making niche graphics cards for gaming to making the most advanced chips in the world — and briefly becoming the world's biggest company. Next, we see how the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's decision to manufacture chips for its competition instead of itself flipped the entire industry on its head, and moved the vast majority of the world's advanced chip production to Taiwan.

Help support Planet Money and hear our bonus episode about NVIDIA by subscribing to Planet Money+ in Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org/planetmoney.

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