President’s Council of Advisors recommends actions for maximizing $11 billion for semiconductor R&D in CHIPS and Science Act
President Biden’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is recommending ten actions for securing the long-term health and competitiveness of the U.S. semiconductor ecosystem. Released today, a new report expands on the high-level recommendations that PCAST released in a letter to President Biden last month specifying actions the Administration can take to maximize the $11 billion appropriated for semiconductor research and development (R&D) through the CHIPS and Science Act.
“A thriving domestic semiconductor ecosystem is crucial for the success of countless other sectors as well as the global competitiveness of the U.S. economy,” said Maria Zuber, PCAST co-chair. “I am excited that PCAST is issuing this report to help ensure that the efforts funded by the CHIPS and Science Act accelerate strengthening the semiconductor workforce and drive innovation through R&D. Our recommendations can help make this happen not just for a few years, but for decades to come.”
The report recommends that the Secretary of Commerce be inclusive in establishing the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), drawing from government, industry, and academia, and ensuring broad geographical inclusion through the creation of six distributed coalitions of excellence aligned to the major technological thrusts in advancing semiconductor capabilities. It also strongly emphasizes the need to create education and training opportunities that will prepare students to excel at a wide array of in-demand, good-paying jobs in the semiconductor ecosystem. To that end, the country needs directed efforts to build a broad, diverse workforce by reaching students wherever they are and at all types of educational institutions.
“There is no substitute for a skilled workforce in this area. Retaining our global leadership will require that there are well-trained Americans working at every stage of the semiconductor R&D life cycle,” PCAST member Bill Dally said. “The report reflects those sentiments by calling for both the creation of a national microelectronics education and training network and annual funding for ~2500 scholarships and research assistantships.”
For near term advancement, PCAST recommends that the NSTC create an investment fund on the order of $500M to provide financial support and in-kind access to prototyping facilities and tools for semiconductor startups. Additionally, by 2025 the NSTC should create or fund a “chiplet platform”—which is a chip that includes the common, non-innovative parts of a product—to enable startups and academic researchers to more rapidly innovate and drastically reduce their development costs.
In longer term efforts, PCAST recommends dedicating on the order of 30-50 percent of the overall funding to priorities that are identified in a national research agenda and engaging stakeholders to tackle a set of nationwide challenges that span three complementary areas that would benefit from large-scale nationwide collaboration: advanced computing into the zettascale era; significantly reducing design complexity; and proliferating semiconductors in life sciences applications.
“Investing in research and development is crucial to strengthening long-term U.S. semiconductor competitiveness,” said Lisa Su, PCAST member. “The $11 billion from the CHIPS and Science Act dedicated to R&D is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fill the pipeline with new breakthroughs in semiconductor innovation and train the next generation of semiconductor innovators.”