In IFTLE 441, (published in February before we were paying attention to the pandemic and the devastation to the world economy that it has brought) we discussed the desire of the US Government to have on-shore, state-of-the-art (SOTA) microelectronics sources.

Recently amid pressure from the US, TSMC announced preliminary plans to build such a facility in Arizona. The fab would reportedly produce 20K wafers per month, using their 5nm process. TSMC anticipates the factory would open in 2024 employing more than 1,600 staff. This TSMC Arizona chip fab inched closer to reality after it was recently reported that they secured government subsidies.

Congress is Acting

“The American Foundries Act of 2020”, was recently introduced in the Senate by a large group of senators from both parties. It followed, by a few days, the CHIPS Act (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America)  introduced by Cornyn of Texas and Warner of VA.

IFTLE sources in the government have been reporting for the last month or so the desire to acquire general information on why packaging was just as important as the chip fabs, while rumors flew that they were ready to put their money where their mouth was in terms of bringing SOTA microelectronics back on the US shore.

Lets take a closer look at what these bills are reportedly proposing:

The American Foundries Act of 2020 proposes spending as much as $25 Billion in three categories:

  • $15 Billion for commercial microelectronics manufacturing
    Administered by the Department of Commerce through NIST to assist in the”…. construction, expansion, or modernization of microelectronics fabrication, assembly, test, advanced packaging, or advanced research and development (R&D) facilities.
  • $5 Billion for defense microelectronics grants.
    Administered by the Department of Defense (DoD) for the “… creation, modernization, or expansion of “commercially competitive and sustainable” microelectronics manufacturing, or advanced R&D facilities capable of producing specialized microelectronics for defense and intelligence purposes”.
  • $5 Billion in R&D spending
    $2 billion for  DARPA’s Electronics Resurgence Initiative, $1.5 billion for the National Science Foundation, $1.25 billion for the DOE, and $250 million for NIST to secure U.S. leadership in microelectronics.

Also mandated is a yearly report “to guide and coordinate funding for breakthroughs in next-generation microelectronics research and technology, strengthen the domestic microelectronics workforce, and encourage collaboration between government, industry, and academia.” From the President’s Council on Science and Technology.

By specifically including the support for “ modernization of existing facilities and R&D” we could see monies directed towards Intel, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Micron, Texas Instruments, or Samsung, which already has US production in place.

Equally as important to IFTLE is the inclusion of advanced packaging, which has all but completely moved offshore over the past 40 years.

TheCHIPS for America Actof Cornyn and Warner seeks to “ restore semiconductor manufacturing back to American soil by increasing federal incentives to stimulate advanced chip manufacturing, enable cutting-edge research and development, secure the supply chain and bring greater transparency to the microelectronics ecosystem, create American jobs, and ensure long-term national security”[link]

A closer look shows that the bill proposes to :

  • Create a 40-percent refundable tax credit (ITC) for qualified semiconductor equipment (placed in service) or any qualified semiconductor manufacturing facility investment expenditures through 2024. The ITC is reduced to 30 percent in 2025, 20 percent in 2026, and phases out in 2027.
  • Direct the Secretary of Commerce to create a $10 billion federal match program that matches state and local incentives offered to a company for the purposes of building semiconductor fabs with advanced manufacturing capabilities.
  • Create a new NIST Semiconductor Program to support advanced manufacturing in America. The program’s funds will also support STEM workforce development, ecosystem clustering, U.S. 5G leadership, and advanced assembly and test.
  • Authorize funding for DOD to execute research, development, workforce training, test, and evaluation for programs, projects, and activities in connection with semiconductor technologies and direct the implementation of a plan to utilize Defense Production Act Title III funding to establish and enhance a domestic semiconductor production capability.
  • Require the Secretary of Commerce to complete a report within 90 days to assess the capabilities of the U.S. industrial base to support the national defense in light of the global nature of the supply chain and significant interdependencies between the U.S. industrial base and that of foreign countries as it relates to microelectronics.
  • Establish a trust fund in the amount of $750M over ten years to be allocated upon reaching an agreement with foreign government partners to participate in a consortium in order to promote consistency in policies related to microelectronics, greater transparency in microelectronic supply chains, and greater alignment in policies towards non-market economies. To incentivize multilateral participation, a common funding mechanism is established to use this fund to support the development of secure microelectronics and secure microelectronics supply chains. A report to Congress is required for each year funding is available.
  • Direct the President to establish, through the National Science and Technology Council, a Subcommittee on Semiconductor Leadership responsible for the development of a national semiconductor research strategy to ensure U.S. leadership in semiconductor technology and innovation, which is critical to American economic growth and national security, and to coordinate semiconductor research and development.
  • Create new R&D streams to ensure U.S. leadership in semiconductor technology and innovation is critical to American economic growth and national security:
    • $2 billion to implement the Electronics Resurgence Initiative of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
    • $3 billion to implement semiconductor basic research programs at the National Science Foundation.
    • $2 billion to implement semiconductor basic research programs at the Department of Energy.

 AND most importantly to IFTLE and our readers

  • Allocates $5 billion to establish an Advanced Packaging National Manufacturing Institute under the Department of Commerce to establish U.S. leadership in advanced microelectronic packaging and, in coordination with the private sector, to promote standards development, foster private-public partnerships, create R&D programs to advance technology, create an investment fund ($500M) to support domestic advanced microelectronic packaging ecosystem, and work with the Secretary of Labor on establishing workforce training programs and apprenticeships in advanced microelectronic packaging capabilities.

The two bills will likely be merged at some point.

For all the latest in Advanced Packaging stay linked to IFTLE……………………

Phil Garrou

Dr. Philip Garrou is a subject matter expert for DARPA and runs his consulting company…

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