Glass substrates maker Absolics on track for $75M in CHIPS Act

US CHIPS Act officials have signed a preliminary deal with Absolics for $75 million to support an advanced packaging facility in Georgia developing glass substrates. It marks the first time CHIPS funds would be used for manufacturing a new advanced material, according to CHIPS for America officials in the Commerce Department.

Absolics is an affiliate of South Korea’s SKC, a manufacturer of chemicals and films primarily. It is part of the semiconductor division in SK Group, part of SK Hynix. Absolics’ glass substrates are designed to lower power consumption and complexity. They have smaller and more densely packed components and shorter connections to enable faster and more energy efficient computing, seen as vital in support of AI and HPC. Advanced packaging is heavily concentrated in Asia and the proposed investment will expand the domestic supply of glass substrates for advanced packaging, Commerce officials said in a statement on Thursday.

“More capable substrates open the door to innovation at every other level in the packaging process,” officials said. Absolics expects glass substrates to be a $3 billion market in 2025, up from $1 billion in 2020.

The preliminary award is small in comparison to several others exceeding $6 billion that have been granted to large chip manufacturers.  Preliminary grants to chip makers for facilities in the US have included Intel ($8.5 billion), TSMC ($6.6B), Samsung ($6.4B) , Micron ($6.14B) and GlobalFoundries ($1.5B). More than $30 billion in funds have been designated of a total of $39 billion under the CHIPS Act for manufacturing, signed into law in August 2022.  The total in the CHIPS Act designates $52 billion, including the $39 billion for manufacturing plus additional billions for research and development of electronics-related work.

The Absolics funds would go to support construction of a 120,000 square-foot facility in Covington, Georgia, helping created 1,000 construction jobs and 200 manufacturing and R&D jobs and enhance innovation at Georgia Tech. Absolics has provided lab-to-fab development and has collaborated with Tech’s 3D Packaging Research Center.

Absolics will continue to work with Georgia Tech and also collaborate on the Defense Department’s Heterogeneous Integrated Packaging program in RF technology. Absolics is also planning to work with Georgia Piedmont Technical College to provide hands-on skills training.

In 2023, Absolics CEO Oh Jun-rok said the company was building a factory in Covington to make 4,000 glass substrates each month.

Those substrates provide a layer of glass about 0.8 millimeters thick, one-fourth the thickness of conventional substrates. With glass, the package thickness is cut in half and power consumption is also reduced, officials told Korea JoongAng Daily

Intel last fall announced support of glass substrates.

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