The US Commerce Department is teaming up with Google to develop chips for researchers and tech startups.
The US is working to revitalize its semiconductor industry, recently passing the CHIPS Act, which set aside $52 billion to help companies fund the building and expansion of foundries and factories. Even before the passage of the bill, however, Google and the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were planning to collaborate on new chips for researchers.
The goal is to make open source chips that are freely available to academia. While large companies often have access to whatever semiconductors they need, the same cannot be said for universities and independent researchers, whose budget is often far more limited. The new chips will specifically be aimed at helping researchers develop “new nanotechnology and semiconductor devices.”
Under the terms of the deal, Google will fund the initial production of the chips, with Skywater Technology tasked with manufacturing them at its Bloomington, Minnesota foundry. For its part, NIST will be responsible for designing the chip circuitry.
“By creating a new and affordable domestic supply of chips for research and development, this collaboration aims to unleash the innovative potential of researchers and startups across the nation,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio. “This is a great example of how government, industry and academic researchers can work together to enhance U.S. leadership in this critically important industry.”