CHIPS Act will cost thousands of consumers

On Thursday, the House passed a bipartisan bill to help it compete against China, namely by channeling billions toward domestic semiconductor manufacturing. Chips and Science Act (which means, creating ancillary incentives for America to make semiconductors) More than $52 billion for US firms making computer chips and billions of facilities to go toward scientific research. bill pass Senate on Wednesday, which means it’s now on President Joe Biden’s table to sign into law.

To learn more about the law, fast company spoke with Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, one of the key negotiators behind the Senate version. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

We are seeing the progress of this bill and now it looks like it is very close to the finish line.

Really good news for the country. This will help reduce the cost of thousands of consumer products. I would say that at the top of the list of people are cars; The price of used cars has also gone up due to the shortage of semiconductor chips.

In some cases, production lines have shut down because they can’t get the chips. So this will have a very positive impact on how individuals manage their personal finances, but it is also a huge deal for our national security.

We can’t let China become the leader in manufacturing semiconductor chips. We used to make the best chips in the world. We made the first. This stuff was invented here, and we used to have about 40% of the worldwide production. Now we are at 12%. And it’s getting worse.

What do you think about the idea that even with this funding, it would still take years for AI to accelerate the construction of the most complex and such things?

The companies that will benefit from this law have got a history of making quality semiconductor chips. they’re going to make fabs [semiconductor fabrication plants] Here in the United States. They have one under construction in Arizona right now, and they’re going to build more. They make the best chips in the world. So, they are well positioned here; But even this law has a whole ecosystem. It has the potential to design the best microchips in the world. Therefore, the purpose of this funding is to help organizations and universities and companies to design the best microchips.

We are covering the entire universe of microchip manufacturing. Arizona will become a hub in the United States. Other states will attract semiconductor manufacturing—I’d say Texas, Ohio, New York. This is going to benefit the country’s economy, and it is going to help us stay safe as a nation.

China has very ambitious plans to make better microchips. They make a lot of what we call legacy chips, you know, the thing that goes in your washing machine. But they recently manufactured the 10-nanometer microchip, so they took the leap of a few generations. They often learn how to do this by stealing the intellectual property of other companies in other countries, including the United States. They are used to doing this, and they have plans to become a leader in manufacturing semiconductors.

Well, now we have a plan. We plan to attract companies. Companies want to be here. They don’t want to live in China. But this law is going to help them decide to build these construction facilities here.

We have heard that China’s form of government gives them a great deal of influence over their commercial companies so that they always have what it needs to protect them. Is there anything in this bill that will ensure the DoD can get the sophisticated chips they need?

DoD buys lots of chips from TSMC [a Taiwanese multinational semiconductor manufacturing company] and other manufacturers. They don’t buy much from China. Some of the chips used by the DoD pass through China for testing. And we have no capacity to test semiconductor chips in the United States. This law is going to fix that too. So the DoD will be able to get what they need. I was talking to Raytheon the other day and a spear [missile]For example, it has 250 microchips. The DoD needs a ready supply, and it should not be a supply that has to come across an ocean.

These supply chains that run across the Pacific to carry goods essential to our national security are a major problem. If the Chinese invaded Taiwan, and we did not have access to semiconductor chips from Taiwan, it is estimated that, in a year or two, we would lose 10% of our GDP because we would not have access to semiconductor chips. . You can’t make phone. You can’t make a fighter plane. You can’t make satellites, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, just basically anything that has any electronics.

We have been working on this law for a year. I never saw this thing as an alternative. Some people think it is optional. It is not optional. That is, our national security is at stake when it comes to accessing the best chips in the world.

We know that the Chips Bill sets up a chain of innovation hubs across the country. What is the central goal there? Is it to develop a new kind of chip technology?

Circuits are getting so short that it becomes challenging to keep up with Moore’s Law, doubling the speed every year. The 5-nanometer chip in an iPhone, in one square centimeter, contains about 2 1/2 billion circuits. Two and a half billion! On something that is the size of your fingernail. It is becoming more and more challenging technically, so we need this partnership with government, universities and industry to make science and engineering come together to continue to advance microelectronics at the same rate as Intel started manufacturing microchips for the first time. ,

If we’re able to push this technology forward, we’re going to be, you know, this is what’s going to enable things like artificial intelligence and quantum computing and quantum communication networks that we want them to be .

To what extent do you think these innovation hubs can help deliver more tech jobs to places other than the coasts?

Arizona is clearly not a coast. Arizona is going to be a hub for semiconductor manufacturing, but also for the design of chips, as well as for the ecosystem that is needed to educate people to work in these high-paying jobs. So, I think it will spread more technology to other areas of the country.

When and if the president signs it, are we going to start hearing announcements from chip makers about plans for new features? If this bill is passed, how are we going to start seeing its impact?

I think the first thing you’ll notice is that Intel will probably reset its groundbreaking date in Ohio. A few weeks ago, because it was going too slow, and they were starting to worry, they delayed the foundation of a fab facility in Ohio.

They are planning to build something there. They plan to build two more in Arizona. Companies are making decisions about where to build facilities today. So I think next week you’ll see announcements, but some of that has already started. TSMC, as an example, is about 50% done with its first fab in Arizona. But it was created in anticipation of the United States doing something about the issue. They wanted to live in our country. So this law is the difference between them making one feature and possibly many more.

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