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SkyWater to Build $1.8 Billion Fab in Indiana

SkyWater Technology, a U.S. foundry that’s a trusted chip supplier for the Department of Defense (DOD), plans to build a $1.8 billion chip R&D and production facility in the state of Indiana. The fab, which would be located on the campus of Purdue University in the town of West Lafayette, is planned as a public–private partnership that will count on some of the $52 billion in funding from the proposed CHIPS Act. The investment joins SkyWater, Purdue, and the Indiana government working to obtain federal incentives defined in the CHIPS Act that’s currently making its way through Congress. “This endeavor to bolster our chip fabrication facilities will rely on funding from the CHIPS Act,” Thomas Sonderman, SkyWater CEO, said in a prepared statement. “Federal investment will enable SkyWater to more quickly expand our efforts to address the need for strategic reshoring of semiconductor manufacturing.” Second from left: SkyWater CEO Thomas Sonderman, posing with Purdue and Indiana government administrators. (Source: SkyWater) The planned project is the latest sign that the proposed CHIPS Act is helping to attract new investments that promise to rebuild the U.S. semiconductor industry and reduce dependence on imported chips. GlobalWafers, one of the world’s top–three silicon wafer manufacturers, last month said it plans to build a new 300–mm facility in Sherman, Texas, the first such investment in the U.S. in over 20 years. The new SkyWater facility will ensure security of intellectual property and support a more resilient and comprehensive supply chain, providing advantages for U.S. government and commercial customers, the company said. The DOD endorsed the plan. “SkyWater’s investment in a new state–of–the–art semiconductor manufacturing facility at Purdue’s Discovery Park District represents a major step forward and highlights the importance of public–private partnerships in fostering a robust and thriving domestic microelectronics industry,” said Devanand Shenoy, principal director of microelectronics of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering for the DOD. SkyWater said it will benefit from close collaboration with Purdue and its pipeline of talent. Purdue is ramping up what it calls the first “comprehensive” degree program in the U.S. in semiconductor engineering. With an estimated 13 new fabs being built in the U.S. over the next five years, the nation will need 50,000 new semiconductor engineers — more than double the number that U.S. universities are currently producing. Purdue has been working with the DOD on projects such as the development of radiation hardened chips and advanced packaging. SkyWater makes chips using 90nm process technology at two fabs in the U.S. The company was formed in 2017, when private equity firm Oxbow Industries acquired Cypress Foundry Solutions, a subsidiary of California–based Cypress Semiconductor. Early last year, SkyWater acquired a second chip fab in Osceola, Florida, by repurposing a University of Central Florida research facility. The CHIPS Act is close to approval now that the Senate has voted in favor of a trimmer package of subsidy measures that’s more focused on rebuilding the American semiconductor industry. The Senate voted 64–34 on July 19, demonstrating bipartisan support for the bill designed to boost U.S. semiconductor competition with China.

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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