Applied Materials has announced that it will invest up to $4 billion in a new research hub in the heart of Silicon Valley. The company aims to bring innovations in process technology to the market faster by building the next generation of chipmaking gear in collaboration with leading logic and memory chipmakers. Applied Materials expects the new facility to be the largest of its kind in the world when it opens in early 2026.

The facility will be located on Applied's existing site in Sunnyvale, California, and is expected to create up to 2,000 engineering jobs. The company plans to staff the site with talent from leading players in the tech ecosystem, such as Intel, Micron, and TSMC, as well as AMD, IBM, and NVIDIA. The site will enable these companies to experiment with new process technologies and pre-release equipment.

Applied Materials hopes that this investment will help the US to regain its global leadership in chip manufacturing. The CHIPS Act, approved last year, created $52.7 billion in manufacturing incentives, subsidies for R&D, and workforce development.

The new research hub, known as the Equipment and Process Innovation and Commercialization (EPIC) Center, will span about 180,000 square feet of cleanroom space, making it the world's largest facility of its kind. This size will enable chip companies to reserve space within an equipment supplier facility, extending their in-house pilot lines.

One of the unique benefits of the project is that chipmakers will have early access to new generations of semiconductor equipment months or even years before they are released for wide use. This will enable them to run experiments and validate tools in a context that closely resembles a real production line, helping them fine-tune new process technologies faster than before.

EPIC is designed to be a central hub for collaboration across the ecosystem, and will give university researchers access to state-of-the-art labs and equipment to work on and validate new innovations, thereby increasing the commercial success rate of their research. The project aims to reduce the time it takes to take a new concept in semiconductor technology from the lab to commercial use by up to 30%, and to replenish the industry's supply of engineering talent.

Applied Materials intends to seek additional funding from the US government, and expects the investment to continue through 2030. The new project expands the company's existing relationships with top engineering schools, where it has been conducting research in materials science and chip technologies. If successful, the US research hub help solve some of the challenges facing the chip industry as it aims to become a $1 trillion market in the years to come.