Chip manufacturer Micron Technology announced today that it will spend $20 billion to build what it called the largest semiconductor factory in the U.S. and could spend up to $100 billion over 20 years to expand it.
The manufacturing facility, to be located in Onondaga County, New York, will be the size of 40 American football fields and is expected to bring nearly 50,000 jobs to the region, including “9,000 high-paying Micron jobs.” Once completed, the manufacturing facility is expected to dramatically increase the local supply of memory chips.
Micron’s announcement follows other U.S. semiconductor fab projects made recently by other chipmakers, including Intel, Samsungand TSMC. The new factories are part of an effort to restore chip and other technology manufacturing to US shores.
In September, Micron broke the ground at a memory manufacturing facility near the headquarters in Boise, ID. This plant was Micron’s first new memory manufacturing facility in the US in 20 years. Micron also recently announced plans to invest approximately $15 billion by the end of the decade in advanced memory manufacturing in Boise, the largest private investment ever made in the state, according to the company. The manufacturing facility follows Micron’s earlier announcement of invested $40 billion by the end of the decade to establish leading US memory manufacturing.
In a statement, Micron President and CEO Sanjay Mehrotra thanked President Joe Biden and members of Congress for passing the $50 billion CHIPS and Science Act, which was signed into law in August. The law is aimed at reviving the domestic U.S. semiconductor industry, whose market share has shrunk dramatically in recent years due to high operating costs compared to competition in East Asia.
While other factors including geopolitics and technonationalismplay a big role in reviving semiconductor manufacturing, the CHIPS ACT is “the latest motivation” as the funds, subsidies and tax breaks “provide a level playing field where U.S. fabs can be cost competitive with those in Asia, ,” said Gaurav Gupta, Gartner’s vice president of emerging technologies and trends.
Micron will receive $5.5 billion in New York State incentives over the life of the project, along with expected federal grants and tax credits from CHIPS and the Science Act to support hiring and capital investment.
Even as leading semiconductor makers move forward with plans to build new manufacturing facilities in the U.S., creating tens of thousands of new jobs, a lack of available technical talent threatens to derail the effort.
“Competition for talent is fierce,” Cindy Harper, vice president of human resources, talent planning and acquisition at Intel, said in an earlier interview with Computer world. “It’s also a candidate’s market, which means the demand for talent is greater than the current supply.”
Gupta noted that finding skilled workers will be difficult, although there are a number of chipmaker-sponsored university programs — even at community colleges — for workforce development.
“Of course, the CHIPS ACT also has some provisions for that — workforce development,” Gupta said. “Now that chip manufacturing is kind of coming back, students and young engineers and technicians will have the motivation to look at this field.”
Micron and the state of New York said they would spend $500 million on community and workforce development with a focus on disadvantaged populations during the plant’s construction.
However, chipmakers have to compete with hyperscalers and software makers who can pay more, “but we hope government subsidies will help,” Gupta said.
“I think that will be a work in progress,” he said. “Fabs will be online between 2024 and 2030 and most of them are highly automated. Initially, you need construction workers, but the labor and staffing requirements are not too high.”
Micron said it chose the New York site based on the region’s higher education institutions, access to talent “traditionally underrepresented” in tech jobs and a significant military population, which the company said would align with its commitment to hire veterans. The region also has available water sources and clean, reliable energy for a project of this scale.
Site preparation will begin in 2023, construction will begin in 2024, and production will ramp up in the second half of the decade, gradually ramping up in line with industry demand, Micron said.
“Locating Micron’s industry-leading DRAM manufacturing in the US brings enormous benefits to customers, enabling them to build their innovative products and solutions using a more sustainable, secure and geographically diverse supply chain,” the company said in a statement.
The manufacturing plant could eventually include four 600,000-square-foot cleanrooms, for a total of 2.4 million square feet of cleanroom space.
Micron aims to use 100% renewable electricity at the plant and plans to rely on green infrastructure and “sustainable building attributes” to build the.
“Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for the new facility will be mitigated and controlled using state-of-the-art technology. These efforts support Micron’s global goal of achieving a 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from operations by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050,” the company said.
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