Dec 1 -- Comment period extended to December 12, 2022. https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2022-26147
Oct 13 -- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is seeking public input to inform the design of, and requirements for, potential Manufacturing USA institutes to strengthen the semiconductor and microelectronics innovation ecosystem, which could include design, fabrication, advanced test, assembly, and packaging capability. These Manufacturing USA institutes are envisioned in Title XCIX of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America) to support efforts in research and development as well as education and workforce development, and that Act also provides for complementary initiatives including the National Semiconductor Technology Center, the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program, and the NIST laboratories program supporting measurement science and standards. Responses to this Request for Information (RFI) will inform NIST's development of funding opportunities for federal assistance to establish Manufacturing USA semiconductor institutes.
Comments must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time November 28, 2022.
Semiconductors are fundamental to nearly all modern industrial and national security activities, and they are essential building blocks of critical and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, next generation communications, and quantum computing.
The U.S. semiconductor industry has historically led in many parts of the semiconductor supply chain, such as research and development (R&D), chip design, and manufacturing. Over the past several years, the U.S. position in the global semiconductor industry has faced numerous challenges. In 2019, the United States accounted for 11 percent of global semiconductor fabrication capacity, down from 13 percent in 2015 and continuing a long-term decline from around 37 percent in 1990. Semiconductor packaging also presents a critical supply chain challenge since less than 3% of global packaging capacity is in North America. Much of the overseas semiconductor manufacturing capacity is in Taiwan, South Korea, and, increasingly, China.
The fragility of the current global semiconductor supply chain was put squarely on display in 2020. The industry faced significant disruptions as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a fire affecting a major supplier in Japan, and a severe winter storm that disabled production in facilities in Texas for several days. These events, together with other factors, such as pandemic-induced shifts in consumer demand, contributed to a global semiconductor shortage that affected multiple manufacturing sectors that rely on semiconductors as critical components for their finished products. Especially severely hit was the automotive industry, which saw plants idled for months.
The Department of Commerce published a Request for Information (or “RFI”) in September of 2021 on the semiconductor supply chain (86 FR 53031, September 24, 2021). More than 150 responses were received from commenters including nearly every major semiconductor producer and representative companies that consume these products across multiple industry sectors. These responses provided new insight into the complex and global semiconductor supply chain. Respondents pointed out a major supply and demand gap that is increasing annually, with very limited inventory on hand for key industries.
To strengthen the U.S. position in semiconductor R&D and manufacturing, Congress authorized a set of programs in Title XCIX of the William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, Public Law 116-283, as amended by sections 103 and 105 of the CHIPS Act of 2022 (Pub. L. 117-167, Division A), codified at 15 U.S.C. 4651 et seq. (hereinafter, CHIPS for America Act). This comprehensive set of programs is intended to restore U.S. leadership in semiconductor manufacturing by providing incentives and encouraging investment to expand manufacturing capacity for the most advanced semiconductor designs as well as those of more mature designs that are still in high demand, and would grow the research and innovation ecosystem for semiconductor and microelectronics R&D in the United States, including the investments in the infrastructure necessary to better integrate advances in research into semiconductor manufacturing.
President Biden's American Jobs Plan [calls for at least $50 billion to fund this set of programs. As funded by section 102 of the CHIPS Act of 2022:
-- $39 billion is available for a program to incentivize investment in facilities and equipment in the United States for the fabrication, assembly, testing, advanced packaging, production, or research and development of semiconductors, materials used to manufacture semiconductors, or semiconductor manufacturing equipment;
-- $11 billion is available to support several R&D and infrastructure investments including the establishment of a National Semiconductor Technology Center, investments in advanced packaging, the creation of up to three Manufacturing USA institutes targeting semiconductors, and expansion of NIST's metrology R&D in support of semiconductor and microelectronics R&D.
Under Section 9906(f) of the CHIPS for America Act, the Director of NIST may establish up to three Manufacturing USA Institutes described in section 34(d) of the NIST Act (15 U.S.C. 278s(d)) that are focused on semiconductor manufacturing. In addition, the Secretary of Commerce may award financial assistance to any Manufacturing USA institute for work relating to semiconductor manufacturing. Such institutes may emphasize the following:
(1) Research to support the virtualization and automation of maintenance of semiconductor machinery.
(2) Development of new advanced test, assembly and packaging capabilities.
(3) Developing and deploying educational and skills training curricula needed to support the industry sector and ensure the United States can build and maintain a trusted and predictable talent pipeline.
This RFI outlines the information NIST is seeking from the public to inform the development of up to three Manufacturing USA semiconductor institutes that will strengthen leadership and national resilience of the U.S. semiconductor and microelectronics industry and other industries that rely on microelectronics, through research and development of manufacturing technology, and enhanced education and workforce development.
The following  questions cover the major areas about which NIST seeks comment. . . .
NIST press release: https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2022/10/chips-america-seeks-public-input-financial-incentives-new-institutes