The CHIPS and Science Act is one of the most significant pieces of science legislation in years. With $180 billion for research and development over the next five years, it aims to bolster the semiconductor industry as well as federal science agencies like the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy. But now comes what many observers view as the hardest part: not only must the money be appropriated, but the act must be implemented in a way that meets its many objectives. In the journal Issues in Science and Technology, several experts explore the ways the CHIPS and Science Act can deliver on its promises to spur innovation, strengthen regional economies and workforce, and promote US competitiveness. In addition, there will be a webinar on November 1st at 3 p.m. where these experts discuss how implementation of this important legislation can best meet—and balance—its many goals.
The U.S. Department of Commerce (DoC) released the results of a request for information (RFI) seeking data on the state of the semiconductor supply chain.
The DoC confirmed that there is a significant, persistent mismatch in supply and demand for chips, and survey respondents did not see the problem going away in the next six months. Median demand for the chips highlighted by the buyers who responded to the RFI was as much as 17% higher in 2021 than in 2019, and buyers aren’t seeing commensurate increases in the supply they receive.
The main bottleneck identified is the need for additional manufacturing or fab capacity. In addition, companies identified material and assembly, test, and packaging capacity as bottlenecks.
The RFI received more than 150 responses, including from nearly every major semiconductor producer and from companies in multiple consuming industries.
Other findings include:
- The median inventory of semiconductor products highlighted by buyers has fallen from 40 days in 2019 to less than 5 days in 2021 (see Figure 2). These inventories are even smaller in key industries.
- The RFI allowed us to pinpoint specific nodes where the supply and demand mismatch is most acute, and we will target our efforts moving forward on collaborating with industry to resolve bottlenecks in these nodes.
- The primary bottleneck across the board appears to be wafer production capacity, which requires a longer-term solution.
DoC urged passage of semiconductor legislation pending in Congress — the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) including $52 billion in funding to support domestic chip manufacturing. That legislation remains stalled due to disagreements between the House and the Senate as well as a slowdown in annual appropriations across all agencies.