30 Nov 2023 -

U.S. Government invests $3B to boost semi packaging tech

semiconductor fabrications

In a strategic move to bolster its position in the semiconductor industry, the U.S. Government has committed $3 billion to advance its leadership in semiconductor packaging technologies, reports The Register. This investment, part of the CHIPS for America funding, aims to enhance the U.S.’s capabilities in advanced packaging, a critical aspect of the semiconductor sector’s future.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced that the funding will support the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP). The program’s primary objective is to stimulate research in advanced semiconductor packaging, with an “initial funding opportunity” set to be announced in early 2024. This initiative falls under the aegis of the Department of Commerce and forms a key part of the CHIPS for America scheme’s research and development efforts.

NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio envisions this investment enabling the U.S. to manufacture and package the world’s most sophisticated chips within a decade. The goal is to establish a high-volume advanced packaging industry that is self-sustaining, profitable, and environmentally responsible while accelerating new packaging approaches to market.

Advanced packaging technology is integral to integrating multi-component assemblies, such as multiple silicon dies or chiplets, with numerous interconnects. This technology blurs the line between chip and package, offering enhanced integration. However, a significant portion of this advanced packaging capacity currently resides in Asia, particularly Taiwan. NIST’s paper on the NAPMP underscores the necessity of developing domestic, cost-effective, and efficient advanced packaging to enable U.S.-made semiconductors to be packaged domestically, thereby enhancing American competitiveness and supply chain resilience.

The NAPMP plans strategic investments in areas such as design and simulation tools, manufacturing equipment, and research into materials, substrates, chiplet ecosystems, novel memory, and photonics. It also includes the development of an Advanced Packaging Piloting Facility (APPF) and workforce training programs to support scaling up to high-volume manufacturing.

Though specific beneficiaries of this funding are yet to be determined, Intel, already a recipient of CHIPS Act funding for its fabrication plants, is a potential candidate. Intel’s recent work on glass substrates for multi-chiplet semiconductor packages aligns with the program’s goals.

Taiwan’s TSMC, which manufactures Nvidia’s GPUs and has faced challenges with advanced packaging capacity, could also be a contender for funding. TSMC’s investment in fabrication plants in Arizona, including potential expansion to include a packaging plant, positions it as a likely participant.

The NAPMP is one of four CHIPS for America programs focused on R&D, ensuring that new chip manufacturing facilities can deliver cutting-edge technology. These programmes, as outlined by the Department of Commerce’s CHIPS Research and Development Director Lora Weiss, will work collaboratively to spur technological innovation, encouraging semiconductor manufacturers to invest in America and strengthen its onshore packaging capabilities.

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