Monday, October 3, 2022

Will Idaho Land Micron’s Mega-fab?

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Now that the CHIPS Act has passed, where will some of these semiconductor manufacturing facilities locate themselves?

Last week Congress finally approved billions of dollars in funding meant to entice semiconductor manufacturers to build their chip fabrication plants in the United States. Next week President Biden will sign it into law. This week, speculation is rampant about where some of those plants will be built.

They’re speculating in Idaho, at least. Boise, Idaho is home to the headquarters of Micron Technology Inc., an American memory manufacturer. It has been there since the company’s founding in 1978, but it no longer manufactures there. The Idaho Statesman explains that it “now operates what the company calls a ‘pilot line’ for research and development. The process technology is developed in Boise, with the chips manufactured elsewhere.” That’s done in Virginia but also China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan.

The company has been talking about establishing more manufacturing in the U.S. for some time now, while also calling for subsidies to offset costs that make domestic manufacturing more expensive than at its locations in Asia. Now that it’s got them in hand, it says it’s planning a “massive facility. A “mega-fab.” The question in Idaho, though, is where?

From the Statesman:

Micron says its mega-fab will employ 3,000 to 5,000 people, including engineers, operators and permanent construction workers. Non-Micron jobs created as a result of the fab would bring the total to about 10,000, the company says.

If the company were to construct the plant in Idaho, it would represent a return of sorts to the days Micron manufactured chips on its Boise campus. Micron ended manufacturing in Boise in 2009 and increased production at other fabs, mostly abroad.

It’s unclear if Idaho’s state government will work to entice the company to build there, or if Micron will locate this mega-fab elsewhere. Texas, for example, has been putting a lot of effort into growing the semiconductor industry there, and it has borne fruit: Samsung and the (aptly named) Texas Instruments have both announced plans to build facilities in the Lone Star State. Intel, on the other hand, is planning a much-hyped fab in Columbus, Ohio.

It will be interesting to see these multi billion-dollar projects get placed now that the CHIPS Act has passed. We’ll be keeping an eye on their development.

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Christine has always been fascinated by the industrial world. She comes from a family of industrialists and has always been surrounded by machines and factories. When she was younger, Christine would often sneak into her father's office to watch him work on his designs. She loved the way he could take something and make it better. Now Christine is following in her father's footsteps, working at an industrial company that builds machines for factories all over the world. She loves her job and finds satisfaction in being able to improve production lines and help companies become more efficient.
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