$15 Billion Micron Fab to Improve U.S. DRAM Supply

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Micron Technology, the world’s third-largest memory chip manufacturer, said yesterday that it plans to build the first memory fab in 20 years in the United States. Micron is set to invest $15 billion through the end of the decade to ensure a domestic supply of the chips used in virtually every electronic product.

“I think it’s helpful to bring chip manufacturing to the U.S., and the CHIPS Act has become a trigger for companies in the U.S. to move forward with their expansion plans,” Brian Matas, an analyst with IC Insights, told EE Times. “It will be good to be able to locally source ICs [integrated circuits] in the U.S.”

Matas pointed out the spending will span a period of eight to 10 years, averaging about $2 billion per year. “They are not necessarily opening the floodgates,” he said, “and they’ve trailed other DRAM manufacturers in terms of spending. Still, it’s good to have locally sourced, advanced memory chips on U.S. soil.”

This is the first of Micron’s multiple planned U.S. investments following the July passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, which is the United States’ effort to bring semiconductor manufacturing back onshore. Globally, Micron intends to spend more than $150 billion over the next decade in manufacturing and R&D.

The announcement comes as global semiconductor manufacturers are scaling back their revenue expectations for the remainder of 2022 and, in some cases, their plans for expansion. In August, Micron chief financial officer Mark Murphy told investors the company will cut capital expansion next year, EE Times reported.

Still, the CHIPS Act has attracted other multi-billion–dollar investments in the U.S. by the world’s leading chipmakers, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), Samsung, and Intel. Currently, the U.S. accounts for about 12% of the world’s chip production, with more than two-thirds being produced in Asian nations like South Korea and China.

Idaho schools to benefit, too

Micron plans to co-locate the fab with its Boise, Idaho, headquarters and R&D center, which will increase operational efficiency, accelerate technology deployment, and improve time to market, the company said. Micron also plans to provide daycare at the location and deepen its partnerships with academic institutions in Idaho.

The $27 billion chip company will expand investment for K–12 STEM education programs and increase focus on reaching underrepresented and rural student populations. It also announced a partnership with the College of Western Idaho to lead efforts in delivering key curricula, such as advanced mechatronics engineering technology.

Onshore semiconductor manufacturing has become a priority for the U.S.

The CHIPS and Science Act provides $52.7 billion for American semiconductor research, development, manufacturing, and workforce development. This includes $39 billion in manufacturing incentives, specifically $2 billion for the legacy chips used in automobiles and defense systems, $13.2 billion in R&D and workforce development, and $500 million to provide for international information communications technology security and semiconductor supply chain activities. It also provides a 25% investment tax credit for capital expenses for manufacturing of semiconductors and related equipment.

Still, the U.S. is heavily dependent on overseas sources of materials and services and cannot duplicate the global semiconductor supply chain within U.S. borders. “There’s still a long way to go,” said Matas. “There are still enough products made overseas that [Micron’s investment] is not going to make us dominant in the memory market.”

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