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Power The Almighty Buck United States Technology News

High-Tech Research Moving From US To China 426

Posted by timothy
from the viewing-the-world-as-a-zero-sum-game dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that American companies like Applied Materials are moving their research facilities and engineers to China as the country develops a high-tech economy that increasingly competes directly with the United States. Applied Materials set up its latest solar research labs in China after estimating that China would be producing two-thirds of the world's solar panels by the end of this year and their chief technology officer, Mark R. Pinto, is the first CTO of a major American tech company to move to China. 'We're obviously not giving up on the US,' says Pinto. 'China needs more electricity. It's as simple as that.' Western companies are also attracted to China's huge reservoirs of cheap, highly skilled engineers and the subsidies offered by many Chinese cities and regions, particularly for green energy companies. Applied Materials decided to build their new $250 million research facility in Xi'an after the city government sold them a 75-year land lease at a deep discount and is reimbursing the company for roughly a quarter of the lab complex's operating costs for five years."
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High-Tech Research Moving From US To China

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  • The US is not alone (Score:3, Informative)

    by hrimhari (1241292) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @05:40PM (#31530190) Journal

    If that serves as consolation, the US is not alone. French companies are also moving their R&D to China.

    Let's hope that they won't see their research suddenly finding facsimiles patented by Chinese competitors before theirs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:12PM (#31530506)

    push more math and science education down to the high school level. Christians will fight tooth and nail to make sure that doesn't happen. Unless "science" is changed to reflect the fact that the Earth is 6000 years old. Or anything else that conflicts with the bible.

    Seriously.

  • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:15PM (#31530526)

    perhaps universities should charge less for an education then?

    You expect someone to get a degree that cost them 30-50K or more and work for 25K a year?

    you are nuts if you think that is fair.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:25PM (#31530642)

    Nope. It'll take you about 8 years to become proficient. Most non-native Chinese majors that graduate with a Bachelor's in Chinese would not be considered fluent.

  • This is significant. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:38PM (#31530770) Homepage

    Understand what Applied Materials does. They're a leading manufacturer of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Your CPU was probably made in a fab equipped with Applied Materials equipment. Applied Materials itself does not make ICs or solar panels.

    Until recently, most high-end ICs were designed in the US or Japan and manufactured with US or Japanese equipment. That's changing; more consumer electronics parts are being designed in China. There are some good Chinese chip design houses. Although they're not yet up to doing a state of the art superscalar CPU, they can do most smaller parts.

    I've met the head of Applied Materials's solar division, who is one of the more sensible people in the solar energy field. For him, it's all about installed cost per KWh per year. He shows charts of where the cost has to be to compete with other energy sources without subsidies. (This changes with latitude; as you get closer to the equator, it gets better. Spain is competitive now.) Most of the people in "alternative energy" are asking for subsidies, but Applied Materials recognizes that to really make a success of solar, it has to compete without subsidies. So, unlike the firms making noise about getting costs down (Nanosolar, etc.) but not actually shipping much, Applied Materials is really doing it.

    A point made by the Applied Materials guy is that the cost of installation needs to come way down. Right now, installation costs are about half the cost of a solar installation on a building. It's "a guy with a pickup truck", he says. That needs to come way down. Solar panels shouldn't be placed on roofs; they should be the roof. This requires roof designs where a section can be either a solar panel or a plain roof, and all the seams are weathertight. There's a big payoff for getting this right. The cost of installation goes way down, the panels are less likely to be pulled off in wind storms, and the wiring is under the roof, which simplifies connecting the panels.

  • Hey Good Idea! (Score:2, Informative)

    by gbutler69 (910166) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @06:46PM (#31530832) Homepage
    Maybe we can even stop trying to change the primary and secondary curriculum to reflect our political goals of having everyone base their lives on fairy-tales and myths. Yeah, maybe we could actually teach science, and math, and critical thinking. Nah! Fuck it! Let's just all learn how to worship the divine creator instead!
  • Re:Wait... (Score:4, Informative)

    by BLKMGK (34057) <morejunk4me&hotmail,com> on Thursday March 18, 2010 @07:22PM (#31531182) Homepage Journal

    Yes but not until you've taught all of their citizens how to run the factory and maintain the gear.

    I know folks who have had things built in China. They tell me that the production line runs 24 hours a day and 12 hours of that is for their parts. The other 12 hours is for the clones that go out the back door! Everything from USB sticks to engine headers. Send a design to China, even if it's just to get a quote for production, and you can kiss your IP goodbye...

  • Re:Good job (Score:3, Informative)

    by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @07:31PM (#31531270)

    Let's see what happens when all these smart people doing the research start figuring out that living and working in Mumbai or Shanghai doesn't offer the same "perks" as living in the Bay Area of California.

    Like low prices? Free health care and free education for your children? The freedom to marry someone regardless of their gender? California has none of those, at least. Seriously, what perks are you referring to?

    Traffic culture is different (And I dare say: better) but that's a cultural thing and something you can get used to. Most claims regarding hygienic conditions, crime rates, etc. can only be made when compared to Mumbais as a whole. When comparing to the wealthy districts, the difference in such things is a lot smaller...

    Eh. Not really. The difference lies in how rich you have to be to enjoy a certain standard of living. I am technically under the poverty line (and living in the Bay Area to boot :P - grad student with a stipend) but I want for nothing and can actually save a significant amount of my paycheck each month. Even living in a city like Oakland, I feel reasonably safe and experience quite acceptable living conditions in terms of environmental cleanliness, lack of visible poverty (well, until I get to Berkeley anyway :P) and just plain stability even in the middle of what is one of the worst economies in recent history. The ratio of work/reward is SIGNIFICANTLY higher in the other places you mention (and I speak from 18 years of experience when it comes to Mumbai).

  • Re:Good job (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @07:54PM (#31531450)

    Bullshit. No corporation pays anywhere near the maximum, because in practice they get to shift their figures around and deduct all their expenses (and state tax counts as an expense when calculating the federal tax!). We may have high rates "on paper", but in reality, direct quote from wiki with 16 (!) cites, "The majority of U.S. corporations pay no federal income taxes." (Following one of those to CNN, they actually claim "nearly 2/3" of US companies and 68% of foreign companies).

    Further, from the same CNN article, "28% of foreign companies and 25% of U.S. corporations with more than $250 million in assets or $50 million in sales paid no federal income taxes in 2005. Those companies totaled a combined $372 billion in sales for the largest foreign companies and $1.1 trillion in revenue for the biggest U.S. companies."

    That's not pocket change, that's 10% of our total GDP. Untaxed.

  • by topcoder (1662257) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:09PM (#31531590)
    Trying to put a little objectivity to this comment i will add this:

    Consider the science contests from high school called science olympiads, where big scientists like Grigori Perelman and Terence Tao have competed, contests where things like the ones you mentioned (innovation, creativity, etc.) play a huge part for the results, let's say the two most relevant subjects for computer science (informatics and mathematics):

    Historic results for all countries on the IMO (mathematics):

    http://imo-official.org/results.aspx [imo-official.org]

    Last results for gold medal on the 2009 IOI (informatics):

    http://www.ioi2009.org/index.jsp?id=414&ln=2 [ioi2009.org]

    As you can see, at least in these competitions, China DOES seem to be better than USA (than all countries in fact), while India seems a more mediocre country like you comment.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @09:50PM (#31532242)

    Only Fundamental Christians hold that one to be true.

    All it takes is to realize that there's passages in the Bible that explicitly state to not hold the dates held within as absolute after a certain point.

    2 Peter 3:8 -- "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day."

    Our concepts of time have no meaning to God- nor should one literally interpret the age of the Earth or any of the recorded history in the Bible to be that 6000 years. Anyone that does this is not really operating off of faith, but rather doctrine, and therefore mere religion (Uh, didn't Jesus warn those of this sort of thing- practicing religion instead of faith? "Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees" mean anything to anyone??).

    As for the Fundies, they're not the sole source of the problem, but more the last kick in the balls as it were. We've got too many all too willing to act upon feelings based "thought", where we're worried about people's feelings- much like one of the other respondents to your comment have indicated. My take's that we've been giving voice to the insane for entirely too long and it's beginning to show.

  • Re:Good job (Score:3, Informative)

    by butlerm (3112) on Friday March 19, 2010 @05:43AM (#31534338)

    No. The government lent ~$200 billion dollars to U.S. banks, many of which were required to take the money even though they did not want it. Nearly all that money will be paid back, with interest.

    $40 billion to AIG, an insurance company, which is probably worthless. $20 billion to GM / Chrysler, who are probably good for it. ~$200 billion to Fannie Mae, now a de facto government agency, which we might get back.

    The other (mostly) TARP [wikipedia.org] money is authorized but unspent.

In the sciences, we are now uniquely priviledged to sit side by side with the giants on whose shoulders we stand. -- Gerald Holton

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