News US Aims to Bring Chip Manufacturing Industry Back to Its Soil

Ajay

Lifer
Jan 8, 2001
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The US Senate and House of Representatives have recently started converging around a bill that would pour taxpayer money into domestic chip production, laying a framework for $25bn worth of direct incentives to stimulate investment in manufacturing capacity, along with advanced research. This plan has been eagerly supported by Texas Republican John Cornyn and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer - representatives of two of the US states with the highest silicon manufacturing rates. However, it's expected that incentives covering some 20% to 30% of the total cost of any new fab and development investment are required to make the US a worthwhile consideration against other, more established countries with higher incentives, existing support logistics and infrastructure, and cheaper labor.
So, we the people are putting up $25B to help our semiconductor businesses. Great, if it works. Now all we need is a decently managed company to put that cash to good use.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
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Lol yeah great plan, where were they when all the foundries folded due to Intel redacted?

Edit holy typo


Profanity is not allowed in the tech forums.

AT Mod Usandthem
 
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DrMrLordX

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Apr 27, 2000
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1). Federal spending must be viewed with skepticism, given the current debt load.
2). The only way this works is if the Feds convince Samsung and TSMC to build more fabs in the US.
 
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sandorski

No Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
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Probably not a total waste of money, given that such Technology has a future. However, while they are doing this, China is going to absolutely Own the Alternate Energy industry due to US foot dragging over GW/CC.
 

Ajay

Lifer
Jan 8, 2001
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1). Federal spending must be viewed with skepticism, given the current debt load.
2). The only way this works is if the Feds convince Samsung and TSMC to build more fabs in the US.
1. $25B is a drop in the bucket compared to current spending levels.
2. That's not the aim of this bill. It's also really hard for these companies to move to the US given the vast cultural differences (plus national politics)
 

Kenmitch

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Oct 10, 1999
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1. $25B is a drop in the bucket compared to current spending levels.
2. That's not the aim of this bill. It's also really hard for these companies to move to the US given the vast cultural differences (plus national politics)
There's other obstacles to overcome. We have tougher environmental laws, endangered rats, bugs, birds, insects, etc that stand in the way. Oops I almost forgot about the tree huggers!
 
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DrMrLordX

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1. $25B is a drop in the bucket compared to current spending levels.
I mean . . . okay. We'll all find out just how easy it is to allocate $25b real soon now. Heh.

2. That's not the aim of this bill. It's also really hard for these companies to move to the US given the vast cultural differences (plus national politics)
US Semiconductor research is now basically dead. Any politician who thinks they can just drop some cash and "grow" a semiconductor fabricator from scratch (or refurb one like GlobalFoundries, never mind that it's not entirely a US company) only shows their ignorance. There are only a few real players left in the field. Unless the US wants to go the SMIC route and just steal IP.

TSMC already operates 1-2 fabs here in the US on non-cutting-edge nodes. Samsung? I don't think they do yet.
 

DrMrLordX

Lifer
Apr 27, 2000
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Samsung has a fab in Austin. I don't know what node it runs on.
Hey good catch! Didn't know that.

In any case, increasing TSMC's (or Samsung's) footprint in the US would have huge strategic benefits in the long run. Well worth the money if Congress can figure out how to print some more . . .
 
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NostaSeronx

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Doug S

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More important to bring back MB mfg.
Why? Motherboards are more and more a commodity item - with DDR5 the voltage regulators move onto the DIMM, taking more away from the board. Not sure if Intel totally backed away from FIVR or not, but if they have/will bring it back, there's basically nothing to distinguish a "high end" motherboard from a bargain basement motherboard other than amount of I/O slots/ports. There won't be much a motherboard vendor can do to better support overclocking if all the voltage regulation is happening in the CPU package and DIMM.

The real issue with "bringing back manufacturing" to the US is that rather than pay US level wages it will be cheaper to automate everything with more robotics. Do you really think that if Apple was somehow forced to bring iPhone manufacturing to the US that it would be done by huge armies of people like it is in China? They designed a special robot to disassemble each generation of iPhone for recycling. I'm sure the same could be done for assembly, and require a tiny fraction of the number required in China.

There are certain classes of manufacturing where either due to low volumes or heavy customization that they're going to be labor intensive for the foreseeable future. If you want to "bring manufacturing jobs back to the US" that's where you want to concentrate. Shipbuilding, for example.

Anyway, this isn't about bringing jobs back, it is about keeping strategic manufacturing capabilities in the US. Making motherboards is not of strategic importance, and it wouldn't be hard to bring up a motherboard factor in the US pretty quickly if it became necessary. Not so for a fab, and what's worse is that if that knowledge and experience leaves the US, re-developing it would be extremely difficult. There's no special knowledge required to make a motherboard, a small team with a few years of experience can slap one together. It requires a fleet of PhDs with tens of thousands of years of cumulative experience to design and build a new fab, and design and deploy a new leading edge process.
 

coercitiv

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Jan 24, 2014
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Not sure if Intel totally backed away from FIVR or not, but if they have/will bring it back, there's basically nothing to distinguish a "high end" motherboard from a bargain basement motherboard other than amount of I/O slots/ports.
FIVR doesn't eliminate the need for a good quality VRM stage on the motherboard, but it does make the job easier since the MB VRM only needs to deliver a reduced voltage range to the CPU. AFAIK both Skylake-X and Ice Lake made a comeback to (F)IVR.

That being said, there's still plenty to distinguish high end mobos from bargain basement models, narrowing everything to VRM quality is quite the oversimplification.
 

moinmoin

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The real issue with "bringing back manufacturing" to the US is that rather than pay US level wages it will be cheaper to automate everything with more robotics. Do you really think that if Apple was somehow forced to bring iPhone manufacturing to the US that it would be done by huge armies of people like it is in China? They designed a special robot to disassemble each generation of iPhone for recycling. I'm sure the same could be done for assembly, and require a tiny fraction of the number required in China.
Nowadays wages are not really significantly cheaper in China any longer (unless you bring reported forced labor by Uyghurs and prison inmates into the mix), that's no longer the main issue.

Apple already has ditched the push for further automation due to the lack of reliance:

Another issue is you need to have stable supply of specific parts, with quick turn around:
That article also shows how the US Senate and House of Representatives would need to nurture a whole local ecosystem for a longer time for it to have a lasting effect.
 

ehume

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Only mentioned MBs because it is easy to slip unwanted chips into them. Both Chinese intelligence and CIA have done this.
 

turtile

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There's other obstacles to overcome. We have tougher environmental laws, endangered rats, bugs, birds, insects, etc that stand in the way. Oops I almost forgot about the tree huggers!
Do you have any evidence that we have tougher laws than Taiwan and South Korea?

Seems the fact that we lack enough American engineers is the biggest issue because our education system isn't improving while others speed ahead.
 

Kuiva maa

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I am not American (haven't even stepped my foot on the other side of the atlantic) but I imagine that a US based and US goverment backed foundry JV between Intel,Qcom,AMD,Nvidia could recapture the bleeding edge lead. The fabless bunch should be happy to have top node dibs anyway. Intel is more of a question mark but might agree to it if they realize they can't catch up. Apple has enabled the ascendance of TSMC and is the biggest beneficiary of the current situation but would probably switch in the case of a new foundry leader.
 

ehume

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Nov 6, 2009
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I am not American (haven't even stepped my foot on the other side of the atlantic) but I imagine that a US based and US goverment backed foundry JV between Intel,Qcom,AMD,Nvidia could recapture the bleeding edge lead. The fabless bunch should be happy to have top node dibs anyway. Intel is more of a question mark but might agree to it if they realize they can't catch up. Apple has enabled the ascendance of TSMC and is the biggest beneficiary of the current situation but would probably switch in the case of a new foundry leader.
This is true, but it misses the national security aspects of having the design and fabrication of a chip occurring on one's own soil; not to mention the aspect of disruptible transport. The national security aspect is why I bring up MB's, even though they are commodity objects. The last domestic mfr of MB's was Intel, IIRC.
 
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