Pentagon invests $117 million to boost domestic manufacturing of critical microelectronics

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Written by Jon Harper

The Department of Defense has awarded a $117 million contract to GlobalFoundries to bolster U.S. production of critical microelectronics, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Under a Title III Defense Production Act agreement, GlobalFoundries will transfer its 45-nanometer silicon-on-insulator (SOI) semiconductor manufacturing process from its Fab 10 plant in East Fishkill, New York, to its Fab 8 in Malta, New York. York. Last year, the company received an $8 million award to conduct initial engineering groundwork for the transfer, according to a DOD press release.

“This agreement will ensure access to 45nm SOI semiconductors critical to DoD’s mission-critical systems,” the statement said, noting that the agreement is “part of the country’s effort to maintain the necessary microelectronics manufacturing capacity national and economic security”.

GlobalFoundries did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Microelectronics is a key component of the DoD’s advanced capabilities, including precision-guided munitions, hypersonic weapons, and satellites. Pentagon officials worry about supply chains.

“The migration of semiconductor manufacturing to the Asia-Pacific region, and the subsequent decline of domestic manufacturing, poses a significant security and economic threat to the United States and many allied nations,” the DOD said in a statement. a February report on securing essential defense supplies. chains, an action plan developed in response to President Biden’s Executive Order 14017.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated supply chain challenges.

Federal agencies, including the DOD, seek to strengthen America’s industrial manufacturing base.

Microelectronics is a top priority for Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu, who has deemed them a “critical technology” area.

During a webinar last month hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association, Shyu noted that “there is a real focus on offshoring.”

Among its various initiatives in microelectronics, the Pentagon wishes to create regional poles of innovation to promote national development.

In February, Shyu’s office issued an information request seeking comments on the creation of what the DOD calls a Microelectronics Commons.

The Pentagon envisions the commons as a public-private partnership comprised of regional innovation hubs spread across the United States that “will foster a pipeline of innovative ideas and talent residing in university labs and small-scale R&D teams.” companies”, according to the RFI.

The aim is to reduce barriers to innovation and improve infrastructure, in particular by establishing “Lab-to-Fab” test and prototyping centers, by providing wide access to these centers for developers and by strengthening the education pipeline around microelectronics in academic institutions.

The hubs “will focus on critical prototyping on land to move innovation from universities, start-ups and small businesses to manufacturing,” RFI said.


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