The U.S. Senate earlier this week approved the CHIPS Act, which includes $52 billion to subsidize domestic semiconductor production. It still has to struggle its way through the bureaucracy (here’s a quick refresher), but clearing the Senate is a huge and important step toward the American chip fabrication industry getting a serious chunk of cash.
Personally, I’m psyched that this may be happening for a few reasons. Yes, yes — supply chain problems and chip shortages have been the bane of everyone’s life for a hot minute, and onshoring some of these fabrication materials, tools, and know-how will go a long way toward making the U.S. less reliant on external manufacturing, and more resilient in general.
That’s all good and well, but let’s be honest: $52 billion isn’t exactly a sachet of coppers and nickels, but chip manufacturing is expensive. The last planned chip factories I can remember are the $19 billion plant Intel is building in Germany and the $20 billion plant the company is building here in the U.S. If that’s the price tag of a factory, the subsidy builds two and a half plants. That means jobs, but it doesn’t exactly turn the U.S. into a chip-fab juggernaut overnight.
Far more than new factories, I’m most excited about the possibility of history repeating itself. Intel’s choice to build a $20 billion chip fabrication facility in Columbus, Ohio, along with the more recent news of the potential cash injection into the industry, could set the stage for a startup ecosystem boost.
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