Skip to main content

Biden to Review Issues with the Semiconductor Supply Chain

Silicon wafer
(Image credit: TSMC)

The supply shortage of silicon chips has reached an all-time high, and fabs like TSMC simply don't have enough production facilities to keep up with the incessant demand from the server, PC, and automotive markets. Per a report from CNBC, President Joe Biden plans to review several critically important industries severely hampered by high demand -- including the semiconductor industry.

More specifically, Biden wants the U.S. to be competitive with China and lessen its dependency on Chinese production facilities. For the semiconductor industry, this would mean that millions to billions of dollars would need to be spent on new fabs to both keep up with demand and lessen the strain on Chinese resources. Intel already has a number of fabs in operation in Arizona, and TSMC is currently planning to build fabs in the U.S., so it wouldn't be a far-fetched idea to see significantly more fabs being built domestically.

Biden's plan will consist of two phases: The first will be a 100-day review process of analyzing a few of the high-priority supply chains, including the semiconductor, high capacity car battery, rare earth metal and medical industries. 

The second phase will begin after the 100-day review, which will begin more broad investigations into production for the U.S military, public health, energy, and transportation.

Finally, a year after these two phases occur, the task force responsible for these investigations will submit recommendations to the president on potential strategies to "ensure supply chains are not monopolized."

This plan will clearly take time, so for now, don't expect any major changes with the current semiconductor supply struggle.

  • tennis2
    It would be YEARS before any meaningful production is established. Even then, it'd need to be HEAVILY government subsidized to even get off the ground (ie Foxconn in Wisconsin, which fell though), let alone reach competitive parity with Asia. By that time, supply shortages will have recovered. Then we're only in this arena in case another global health pandemic strikes?

    Who stands to gain from this the most and the quickest? INTEL
    Reply
  • soldierhobo
    Years is an overstatement. We threw up R&D fabs for Face__k in a few months, certainly not a mega-fab like Rhonler Acres.

    The problem 1: Is cheap labor. That can be overcome by tariffs or a global pandemic....

    The problem 2: is a lot of the manufacturing process is terribly dirty. Environmental and safety concerns and regulation cost a lot when your dealing with HF and other nasty chemistry. China just doesn't care.

    Problem 3: I don't think we have a lot of rare earth metals in quantities capable of being extracted in the US?

    Either way, it's a good idea, but it will take more than an exploratory committee and could be damaging to our environment in the long run....
    Reply
  • jasonelmore
    Semiconductor fab's are largely automated, so labor costs tend to be less of a consideration when choosing where to build a fab. The real problem is finding capable engineers who have the expertise and education needed to develop new lithography processes. TSMC and China are killing the US when it comes to attracting top-tier electrical engineering talent.
    Reply
  • soldierhobo
    jasonelmore said:
    Semiconductor fab's are largely automated, so labor costs tend to be less of a consideration when choosing where to build a fab. The real problem is finding capable engineers who have the expertise and education needed to develop new lithography processes. TSMC and China are killing the US when it comes to attracting top-tier electrical engineering talent.

    Mehh.. you need an Army of technicians to run a fab. A lot of them can be automated, but you still need guys to fix tools, test waste so you don't poison the water (at least in the United States), and people to deliver and remove product and necessity. All very well paying jobs, I might add.

    Litho and other R&D for tools (I say tools to mean machines that process wafers, litho, dice, pick and pull, etc.) that is all still mostly US or European based. They may employ good foreign engineers, but they get them here to the US as an incentive or because they'd prefer to work here.

    I think we use the word "capable" to pull the ladder up for young people. Working at Intel and other Fabs, I've seen an incredibly OLD workforce that will be retiring soon, but also they really aren't interested (or too egotistical) to find replacements (Intel's cultures is absolutely crazy too, eventually everyone but a hardened few snap and quit).

    Reality is, I didn't get an Engineering degree and I can hang with the best EEs from anywhere(Hell, most of the bad engineers I work with didn't go to college). What I do is not hard, and it pays super well (If you can fix a computer, you can fix a Litho tool).

    It's all about breaking through the "needs experience." Now that I have experience, I can work for whoever I want, for whatever I want. Before I had 3 years experience, I was treated as a 3rd grade educated moron. I'm not special, I'm just lucky. I would trade a lot of my previous coworkers for Fast Food employees in a heart beat
    Reply
  • COLGeek
    Folks, stick to the tech discussions, and not politics. Thanks.
    Reply
  • el80ne
    Gurg said:
    Meanwhile the Green New Deal will be curtailing nuclear, hydro and carbon based electrical production in favor of windmills and solar panels which either don't work in the cold, at night, if overcast, in heavy snows or freezing rain, if the wind isn't blowing or blowing too hard and that can't supply reliable electrical supply for either real hot or cold weather without people dying not even considering the NIMBY crowd.

    Irony then that 26 of the 30 gigawatt energy shortage in Texas caused by the snowstorm that resulted in people dying is from gas shortages due to frozen gas wells. Only 4 gigawatts were lost from wind power due to frozen windmills. Apparently extreme weather doesn't play favorites to carbon based sources in order to spare lives. All the more justification for the necessity of the Green New Deal.
    Reply
  • Krotow
    US government want to make semiconductor and electronics industry independent from Asian manufacturers - that is nice. But are Americans will agree to work for a bowl of rice in day without social security? Otherwise final product will be quite expensive.
    Reply
  • gggplaya
    el80ne said:
    Irony then that 26 of the 30 gigawatt energy shortage in Texas caused by the snowstorm that resulted in people dying is from gas shortages due to frozen gas wells. Only 4 gigawatts were lost from wind power due to frozen windmills. Apparently extreme weather doesn't play favorites to carbon based sources in order to spare lives. All the more justification for the necessity of the Green New Deal.

    We have natural gas and coal plants all over the country which operate just fine in these rather normal winter temps north of the mason dixon line. Texas cheaped out when they built their facilities and didn't take temperatures into the design considerations. I'm sure all new plants built will have designs that account for these cold temps.

    Personally, I think the future to solving climate change is SMR Nuclear reactors. The problem with Nuclear is that they're very costly and people are still very afraid of it. There are also alot of negative myths that still surround it based on old fundamentals from decades ago. SMR solves most of those issues. The Green New Deal HATES nuclear and actually wants to shut down all nuclear plants, at least the version that I read a few years back when it had some traction.
    Reply
  • Integr8d
    el80ne said:
    Irony then that 26 of the 30 gigawatt energy shortage in Texas caused by the snowstorm that resulted in people dying is from gas shortages due to frozen gas wells. Only 4 gigawatts were lost from wind power due to frozen windmills. Apparently extreme weather doesn't play favorites to carbon based sources in order to spare lives. All the more justification for the necessity of the Green New Deal.

    It’s not irony. It’s simple math. If I made 26 beef hamburgers and 4 soyyy hamburgers, to start, b/c the majority of people wanted beef, and they all go bad, I have to read some ignorant comment about the irony of the ratio.

    What you ACTUALLY want to know is what >>>percentage of each type<<< failed in this scenario.
    Reply
  • COLGeek
    Last warning folks, please stick to the tech aspects of the topic. Not the political.
    Reply