The future of the US chip industry is in the northeast – TTG

Comment: I remember the excitement in the Saratoga area when this chip fab started construction. This is great for US manufacturing and great for the Saratoga region. I seriously thought about keeping the in-laws house for one of my sons. It’s a wonderful place to live and it’ll be a terrific place to be in IT as the years go by. It would also have been a great place for SWMBO and I to enjoy some decent winter weather. All my skis, snowshoes and skates are just sitting in my cellar here in Virginia. 

Global Foundry is the world’s third largest chip maker and its Saratoga fab is its flagship and most advanced semiconductor manufacturing facility. The corporate headquarters just moved from California to Saratoga. Oddly enough, the UAE is the money behind Global Foundry. Damn! Arab money doing something worthwhile. That’s a refreshing switch.

The Foxconn deal left Wisconsin high and dry. TSMC is building a chip fab in Arizona and is planning to build a total of six fabs there. I don’t know what kind of deal they got, but I doubt it took into account the water situation in the southwest. Manufacturing chips is a water intensive industry. I doubt Arizona is willing to go without water just to allow TSMC to make chips. Global Foundry’s fab 8 and 8.2 won’t have that problem. They are situated at the confluence of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, just north of Round Lake and within walking distance of Saratoga Lake to the north of the fab. However, I doubt they’ll get their water from the lakes. The fishing and boating is too good in those lakes.

The area’s strong educational infrastructure was one reason Global Foundry decided to build in Saratoga. RPI is just across the river and SUNY Polytech has its NanoTech Complex in Albany. Hudson Valley Community College has a branch campus adjacent to Fab 8 and is starting an 18 month apprenticeship program with Global Foundry. Fab 8 and 8.2 are aiming at supplying a wide range of customers with chips. That includes the US defense, communications and auto industries. They are especially looking forward to supplying the US auto industry with the some 3,000 chips needed for each EV produced.

At some point, our economic reasons for continuing to defend Taiwan will become moot. 


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2 Responses to The future of the US chip industry is in the northeast – TTG

  1. fredw says:

    “At some point, our economic reasons for continuing to defend Taiwan will become moot.” Two quick thoughts:
    1. That time is not yet. But I think you are right that we should be working towards it.
    2. The factor that I see usually overlooked is the commitment of Taiwan to its own independence. If they are committed and organized, they can make a takeover pretty hard. If not, then our attitude is likely to end up being irrelevant. I have always thought that anything we share with Taiwan is likely to eventually be an asset for the People’s Republic. Their practice is quite different from the PRC, but their ideology is not that different. There are strong forces within the ROC that envision eventual merger. It is not automatic that they will choose to ally with the US.

  2. Leith says:

    “Manufacturing chips is a water intensive industry.” It is energy intensive also. TSMC hogs five to seven percent of Taiwan’s energy resources. There will be some pushback against GlobalFoundries by environmentalists. Let’s hope they use the newer and greener etching gases and solutions than the hazardous ones used in Taiwan by TSMC. Cleaning industrial chemical residue from water and carbon from smokestack emissions will be key to making this work.

    It is kind of a conundrum or paradox in a way. Per the Guardian: “Meeting global climate goals will, in part, rely on semiconductors. They’re integral to electric vehicles, solar arrays and wind turbines. But chip manufacturing also contributes to the climate crisis. It requires huge amounts of energy and water – a chip fabrication plant, or fab, can use millions of gallons of water a day – and creates hazardous waste.”

    As an aside, IMHO it’s a good thing for Wisconsin taxpayers that the FoxConn deal fell thru. Subsidies granted by the Guv could potentially could have cost those taxpayers $1Million per job created.

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