Intel this week detached plans to build two chip factories outside of Columbus, Ohio. The announcement is still at an early stage, involving the eventual allocation of $20 billion to build the factories designed to deal with the current global chip shortage — or at least address potential future problems.
The company outlined a rough schedule for the first plant, with planning starting immediately and the next construction before the end of the year. That facility would go live in 2025, marking its first new manufacturing site in 40 years. The project is expected to encompass 1,000 acres of space, with enough space to accommodate up to eight chip factories, if things go according to plan.
“Today’s investment marks another significant way in which Intel is leading the effort to restore leadership in US semiconductor manufacturing,” CEO Pat Gelsinger said in a statement. “Intel’s actions will help build a more resilient supply chain and ensure reliable access to advanced semiconductors for years to come. Intel is bringing capability and leadership capability back to the United States to strengthen the global semiconductor industry.”
The construction phase will create 7,000 jobs, according to Intel’s figures, along with 3,000 permanent jobs once things are up and running. Biden’s White House trumpeted the news as “another sign of the strength of the US economy”, in a statement released yesterday.
It also took the opportunity to promote policies aimed at accelerating domestic R&D and manufacturing amid a Covid-fueled global supply chain crisis that has been seen as a black eye for the government by some.
“To accelerate this progress, the President is urging Congress to pass legislation to strengthen US research, development and manufacturing for critical supply chains, including semiconductors,” the administration writes. “The Senate passed the US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) in June and the administration is working with the House and Senate to finalize this legislation. It includes full funding for the CHIPS for America Act, which will provide $52 billion to catalyze further private sector investment and continued American technology leadership.”
Both parties also touted the security advantages of making chips in the US – no doubt a nod to the increased scrutiny surrounding manufacturers like Huawei, which proved to be a top target for the previous administration. The company notes that “the Ohio site will also provide state-of-the-art process technology to support the unique security and infrastructure needs of the US government.”
The news also comes as Intel grapples with increased competition from the likes of Samsung, while companies like Apple have chosen to ditch the company’s chips in favor of their own designs.