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Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told reporters on Wednesday that the goal was to create “at least two” new clusters of manufacturing capacity for leading-edge chips, in addition to facilities producing other kinds of semiconductors. Each cluster would employ thousands of workers and support a web of businesses supplying the raw materials and services they need.
“We have very clear national security goals, which we must achieve,” Ms. Raimondo said, noting that not every chip maker will get what it wants. “I suspect there will be many disappointed companies who feel that they should have a certain amount of money, and the reality is the return on our investment here is the achievement of our national security goal. Period.”
The competition has intensified as the Biden administration prepares to release the ground rules for applications next week. The grants, which can range up to $3 billion or more per project, could start going out this spring.
Executives say huge spending by governments in South Korea, Taiwan, China and elsewhere has helped shape the chip industry globally. And the current U.S. policy push could again alter the market, by giving some companies advantages that allow them to edge out competitors.
Most chip companies, in publicly discussing the subsidies, have stressed the common goal of bolstering U.S. production. But clear differences among them have emerged. Many are outlined in the more than 200 filings that companies, organizations, universities and others submitted to the Commerce Department last March.
Beyond extolling the merits of their own manufacturing plans, some applicants made the case that rival projects deserved less funding or should face strict limits on how they operated, though few companies mentioned their competitors by name.
Intel, along with other U.S.-based firms like GlobalFoundries and SkyWater Technology, expressed concerns about foreign-owned companies, including whether their U.S. factories could continue operating in the event of a crisis in their home country.