A $52 billion bill aimed at bolstering the US semiconductor industry jobs will include funding for chip design activities, according to a US Commerce Department official, addressing concerns that the funds would primarily support manufacturing.
The CHIPS Act, which was approved by the Senate as part of a larger funding package in June, is intended to reverse a long-standing trend in which most chip manufacturing jobs capacity has shifted to Taiwan, Korea, and other Asian countries. Chip industry supporters had hoped that the bill would become law this year, but US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said this week that it could be delayed until 2022.
Once passed, the next step will be to divide the funds, which will most likely be led by the Commerce Department. Intel Corp (INTC.O), the largest chipmaker in the United States, has aggressively lobbied for potential funding.
However, the majority of the rest of America’s largest chipmakers, including Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), Advanced Micro Devices (AMD.O), and Nvidia Corp (NVDA.O), focus on design and rely on partners for manufacturing.
Some of these firms have expressed frustration to government officials that the act focuses on manufacturing rather than design work, where rivals such as China are also attempting to gain an advantage over the US in manufacturing.
Don Graves, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, told Reuters that the department sees design as an important part of building a more robust chip sector and intends to support it.
“You can’t divorce the design side, the innovation side, the research side, from the manufacturing side,” Graves said while traveling through Silicon Valley to speak with industry officials. “Once the CHIPS Act gets passed, we’ll be very focused on investing to make sure that part of the ecosystem is getting the investment and support that it needs.”