President Joe Biden’s Executive Order Calling A Supply Chain Review Spotlight put a spotlight on the decades-long decline in US semiconductor manufacturing capacity for critical products. Semiconductors are logic and memory chips used in computers, phones, vehicles, and devices. US has share of global semiconductor manufacturing Only 12%, down from 37% in 1990According to the Semiconductor Industry Association.
It may not seem significant that 88% of the semiconductor chips used by American industries, including the automotive and defense industries, are fabricated outside of the US, however, there are three issues where they are for the US as a global leader in electronics. Important are: low capacity, high global demand and limited investment.
The increasing dependence by US chip companies on international partners to make chips designed by them reflects the United States’ low capacity. American semiconductor companies account for 47% of the global chip sales market, but only 12% build rapidly in meeting US expectations and smart electronics require chip design innovation, which in turn is based on the most advanced manufacturing technologies available. is dependent.
Advances in semiconductor manufacturing are based on the number of transistors, the smallest electronic components of the chip, per square millimeter. The most advanced semiconductor manufacturing technologies and facilities, known as fabs, are labeled as 5 nanometers or millionths of a millimeter. The number refers to the process rather than to a particular chip feature. Generally, the smaller the nanometer rating, the more transistors per square millimeter, although this is a Complex picture with many variables. The highest transistor density is around 100 million per square millimeter.
Taiwan and Samsung are developing a 3-nanometer fab in South Korea, while the US does not yet have a 7-nanometer fab. Intel has announced that its 7-nanometer fab Will not be ready for production By the end of 2022 or early 2023. This leaves America without the means to make the most advanced chips.
High global demand
With the epidemic, demand for cell phones, laptops, and others work at home The increasing use of devices and the Internet has put pressure on Fubbons to increase the number of chips offered for these products. The global automotive industry predicted that demand for cars would decline during the epidemic, so it reduced its orders for semiconductor chips used in vehicle safety, control, emissions and driver information systems. The auto industry has resumed production but is now Shortage of semiconductor chips suffered.
Recently, eight state governors called on Biden to “urge wafer and semiconductor companies to expand production capacity and / or reorganize a modest portion of their current production to auto-grade wafer production . ” This “minor” realization cannot be done without creating a deficiency elsewhere. And this cannot be done quickly. For example, Taiwanese semiconductor giant TSMC has reported a lead time of six months from ordering to delivery and it is estimated to take up to three months to produce a chip.
Limited federal investment
The governments of Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and China invest tens of billions of dollars each year in their semiconductor industries and it shows. These investments include not only own facilities, but also R&D and equipment development, which are necessary to move the next generation of fabs. Such incentives are minimal in the US.
TSMC plans to invest US $ 25–28 billion this year alone and has promised to invest $ 12 billion for a fab in Arizona. To put this in perspective, the Arizona TSMC fab is expected to start processing 20,000 wafers, compared to 1,000,000 wafers at existing TSMC facilities in Taiwan and China.
Biden’s executive order regarding supply chains is an important step in determining the investment needed to improve prospects for the US semiconductor industry.