This summary provides an overview of the CHIPS Program Office’s “Vision for Success” for the first CHIPS investments. Get the full text here.
Semiconductors are integral to America’s economic and national security, powering our consumer electronics, automobiles, data centers, critical infrastructure, and virtually all military systems. Yet while the United States remains a global leader in semiconductor design and research and development (R&D), it has fallen behind in manufacturing and now accounts for only about 10 percent of commercial global production. Today, none of the most advanced logic and memory chips—the chips that power PCs, smartphones, and supercomputers—are manufactured at commercial scale in the United States.
In addition, many elements of the semiconductor supply chain are geographically concentrated, leaving them vulnerable to disruption and endangering the global economy and U.S. national security. Moreover, because continued investment in manufacturing technology and related R&D improves technical knowledge and spurs virtuous cycles of innovation, America’s lack of production capacity also jeopardizes its technology leadership and ability to compete globally over the long term.
Against this backdrop, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s CHIPS Program Office has released its first funding opportunity, which seeks applications for projects for the construction, expansion, or modernization of commercial facilities for the front- and back-end fabrication of leading-edge, current-generation, and mature-node semiconductors. This document lays out the CHIPS Program Office’s “Vision for Success” for these investments. Later in 2023, the CHIPS Program Office will release separate funding opportunities for semiconductor materials and manufacturing equipment facilities, and for R&D facilities. Get the full text here.
In releasing this document, the CHIPS Program Office has three principal aims:
The CHIPS Program Office’s vision for success involves meeting the following objectives by the end of the decade:
Leading-Edge Logic: The United States will have at least two new large-scale clusters of leading-edge logic fabs, where clusters are geographically compact areas with multiple commercial-scale fabs owned and operated by one or more companies; a large, diverse, and skilled workforce; nearby suppliers; R&D facilities; utilities; and specialized infrastructure. Each cluster will have the scale, infrastructure, and other competitive advantages required to ensure that chipmakers view continued expansion in the United States as economically attractive and core to their business models, even in the absence of future funding from the CHIPS Program Office. Further, U.S.-based workers will develop and scale the process technologies underlying future generations of logic chips; each CHIPS-funded fab will be supported by an ecosystem of reliable suppliers committed to operating and innovating in the United States; and the U.S. Department of Defense and national security community will have access to secure leading-edge logic chip manufacturing in a commercial production environment in the United States.
Advanced Packaging: The United States will be home to multiple high-volume advanced packaging facilities. In addition, the United States will be a global technology leader in commercial-scale advanced packaging for both logic and memory chips, and semiconductors produced by CHIPS-funded fabs will have multiple options for packaging services, including from both U.S.-based facilities and other facilities in diverse locations outside of countries of concern.
Leading-Edge Memory: U.S.-based fabs will produce high-volume leading-edge dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips on economically competitive terms. In addition, R&D for next-generation memory technologies critical to supercomputing and other applications will be conducted in the United States.
Current-Generation and Mature-Node Semiconductors: The United States will have increased its production capacity for the current-generation and mature-node chips most vital to U.S. economic and national security. The United States will increase production of and maintain technology leadership in compound semiconductors and other specialty chips. The United States will also coordinate with its allies and partners to ensure resilient production of and access to current-generation and mature-node chips, and chipmakers will be able to respond more nimbly to supply and demand shocks.
The funding the CHIPS Program Office is charged with administering represents a small fraction of the investments necessary to realize this vision for success. Trade-offs will be necessary. Not every applicant will receive funding, and many projects will not receive as much support as applicants request. Moreover, although the CHIPS Program Office is launching its first funding opportunity amid a cyclical downturn in the industry, CHIPS funding will not be used as a crutch to help companies endure temporary slumps. Instead, the CHIPS Program Office will be laser-focused on advancing U.S. economic and national security objectives.
The CHIPS Program Office is clear-eyed about the scale of the challenge it faces. It will not be easy to rebuild a highly complex manufacturing industry that has been declining for decades in the United States. Success will require long-term ambition: building a domestic semiconductor ecosystem, revitalizing American manufacturing, and training the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technicians.
To meet this challenge, the CHIPS Program Office has identified nine cross-cutting themes to guide its implementation efforts. These are:
Success across these themes will help ensure that CHIPS funding promotes U.S. leadership in chipmaking, enhances stability in the semiconductor supply chain, and advances U.S. economic and national security.