President Biden's plan to bring more semiconductor production to the US has just come a bit closer to reality, with the news Samsung is building a $17 billion chip fab in Texas.
For Samsung, this is its largest-ever single US investment, taking its total investment in America to $47 billion. Its aim is to start operations in the second half of 2024, according to an announcement Wednesday from Seoul's semiconductor giant.
The politics of new fabs are a curious mix of high politics and low: the geopolitics of relocating US silicon supply chains onto American soil from Asia, and sharp-elbowed deal-making in town halls.
Businesses from Detroit carmakers like General Motors to Apple in Cupertino have suspended production because of a shortage of semiconductors in the world market.
The slowed assembly lines have caused President Joe Biden to push Congress to pass a $52 billion Chips Act to subsidize semiconductor manufacturing and research.
The White House has been keen to claim the Samsung investment as a win, arguing Biden's meeting with South Korea's President Moon in May helped bring about the new plant.
Samsung is not the only international chipmaker to show it is more than happy to take US cash and expand its US operations.
Its much larger rival, Taiwan's TSMC, has announced $12 billion to build a chip factory in Arizona, as part of $100 billion in investment in new capacity over the next three years. For what it's worth, third-place Intel announced two Arizona semiconductor factories for $20 billion. Meanwhile, Intel's CEO Pat Gelsinger, IBM, TSMC and Toshiba all predict the current tightness in the world semiconductor market will have alleviated by 2023.
AMD's CEO Lisa Su even thinks the chip shortage will abate by late 2022. But chip fabs are enormous things that take years to build. Samsung's new chip fab won't produce a single semiconductor until late 2024.
- Apple wrestles with pre-Christmas iPhone chip shortage
- Nvidia revenue +50%, but FTC throws shade at its Arm buy
- UK should focus on chip design, says top chipmaker
- UK scrutiny chips away at Nvidia's $40B Arm buy
- Huawei phone prices soar as chips supply gets cooked
— Padraig Belton, contributing editor, special to Light Reading