GlobalFoundries (GF), a leading semiconductor manufacturing company, has been granted $35 million in federal funding from the U.S. government to accelerate the production of gallium nitride (GaN) on silicon semiconductors at its facility in Essex Junction, Vermont. This funding will help GF move closer to large-scale production of GaN chips, which possess unique capabilities in handling high voltages and temperatures. These chips have the potential to revolutionize performance and efficiency in various domains such as 5G and 6G cellular communications, automotive and industrial Internet of Things (IoT), power grids, and other critical infrastructure.
The additional funds awarded by the Department of Defense's Trusted Access Program Office (TAPO) will be used by GF to acquire additional tools, expand development and prototyping capabilities, and advance towards at-scale 200mm GaN-on-silicon semiconductor manufacturing. This investment will also involve the implementation of new measures to reduce supply chain constraints of gallium, ensuring a faster development process, a better supply assurance, and increased competitiveness of domestically manufactured GaN chips.
This funding builds upon GF's longstanding collaboration with the U.S. government, which has already provided $40 million in support from 2020-2022. Leveraging the expertise of GF's Vermont team and their experience in 200mm semiconductor manufacturing, this collaboration focuses on GaN-on-silicon manufacturing, which represents the cutting-edge technology for GaN chip production.
Senator Peter Welch expressed his support for the federal funding, highlighting Vermont's role as a leader in semiconductor innovation and emphasizing the importance of investing in domestic semiconductor and chip manufacturers for both local economic growth and national security. The Honorable Christopher J. Lowman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment, noted that this strategic investment strengthens the domestic ecosystem of critical dual-use commercial technologies, ensuring their availability and security for utilization by the Department of Defense.
Dr. Thomas Caulfield, president and CEO of GF, explained the significance of GaN on silicon technology in high-performance radio frequency, high-voltage power switching and control applications for emerging markets. He highlighted its importance for 6G wireless communications, industrial IoT, and electric vehicles. Caulfield also emphasized the critical role of the funding in bringing GaN on silicon chips closer to volume production, enabling customers to explore innovative designs that push the boundaries of energy efficiency and performance in various essential technologies.
GF's facility in Essex Junction, Vermont, near Burlington, has a rich history as one of the earliest major semiconductor manufacturing sites in the United States. Currently employing around 1,800 people, the facility produces GF-made chips that are utilized in smartphones, automobiles, and communications infrastructure worldwide. Moreover, the facility holds DMEA accreditation as a Trusted Foundry, working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense to manufacture secure chips for use in sensitive aerospace and defense systems.