New Proposals Vie for CHIPS Act Funds for Fabs and Digital Twin R&D

May 15, 2024 by Aaron Carman

Micron, Polar Semiconductor, and digital twin proposals are slated to receive CHIPS Act funding to help secure the U.S. semiconductor supply chain.

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently identified several organizations that may receive funds under the CHIPS and Science Act: $6.14B for Micron, $285M for digital twin research and development (R&D), and $120M for Polar Semiconductor. Each of these investment proposals targets a different segment of the semiconductor industry.


Micron manufacturing infrastructure in Idaho and New York

$6.1B of CHIPS and Science Act funding would support new memory manufacturing infrastructure in Idaho and New York. Rendering used courtesy of Micron

The CHIPS and Science Act, ratified in 2022, earmarked funds to bolster domestic semiconductor production and reduce reliance on foreign manufacturing. In the years following the COVID-19 pandemic, designers and consumers alike are keenly aware of the fragility of the electronics supply chain, something that the CHIPS Act—and these most recent investment proposals—aims to mitigate.


Micron Rallies for Increased DRAM and HBM Production

Micron's $6.14B proposal to the U.S. Department of Commerce has entered the non-binding preliminary memorandum of terms (PMT) stage. The proposal outlines plans to construct three new semiconductor fabs to improve U.S. DRAM production.

Micron plans to build the first two fabs in Clay, New York, as part of a four-fab “megafab,” which will focus on DRAM production. High-performance, reliable memory is essential for supporting computationally intensive applications, including AI, software-defined vehicles, and data centers. 


A majority of memory chips are currently produced outside the U.S.

A majority of memory chips are currently produced outside the U.S. Image used courtesy of Statista

In addition to the New York fabs, the PMT also supports a new high-volume fab in Boise, Idaho, with a co-located R&D facility. The high-volume production fab would allow Micron to further improve high-bandwidth memory (HBM) and leading-edge DRAM technologies.


Polar Semiconductor Earns Vote of Confidence

The U.S. Department of Commerce has also entered a nonbinding PMT with Polar Semiconductor to develop a manufacturing facility in Bloomington, Minnesota. This facility targets sensor and power chips. If approved, the proposal would ultimately turn Polar Semiconductor into a majority U.S.-owned commercial foundry.


Bolstering domestic manufacturing could improve the U.S. and global semiconductor supply chains

Bolstering domestic manufacturing could improve lead times. Image used courtesy of International Monetary Fund

The automotive, healthcare, and defense sectors heavily rely on power and sensor chips and have experienced major bottlenecks due to their shortage. An investment in Polar could improve national security and bolster the supply chain for these high-volume markets.


Inviting Innovation in Digital Twin Technology

The Commerce Department has also released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) soliciting proposals to support a CHIPS Manufacturing USA institute that focuses on digital twin technologies in the semiconductor industry. Digital twin technology aims to replicate a physical circuit or system in an entirely digital fashion, enabling greater R&D collaboration since it stores the twin in the cloud.


Digital twins

Digital twins can theoretically improve the design process by giving researchers access to a digital version of a real device, allowing for more robust testing in specific applications. Image used courtesy of Siemens

Semiconductor tapeout can be an extremely long process. Digital twins allow users to test and model a realistic device, speeding development time. This technology not only addresses circuit and system modeling but also packaging, assembly, and test processes in domestic fabs.

The CHIPS Manufacturing USA institute will join 17 existing Manufacturing USA institutes, each built to fortify the U.S. manufacturing industry through education, development, and collaboration.


Potential Job Expansion 

These proposals under the CHIPS Act may extend benefits beyond semiconductor manufacturers, too. If approved, Micron’s proposal would create approximately 20,000 jobs and generate up to $125B in private capital over 20 years. The proposed investment toward Polar Semiconductor would also generate 160 manufacturing and construction jobs in Minnesota.