Micron preliminary CHIPS grant of $6.1B confirmed for DRAM fabs

US officials on Thursday confirmed reports from a week ago saying memory maker Micron has received a $6.1 preliminary grant from CHIPS Act funds, joining a short list of major chip producers to receive multi-billion-dollar grants. Another $7.5 billion in proposed loans would go to Micron.

Along with the announcement, Micron committed to meet with Communications Workers of America to discuss workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain, according to the CWA. “We are looking forward to sitting down with Micron’s management to negotiate a labor peace agreement,” said IUE-CWA President Carl Kennebrew in a statement. CWA has a labor agreement forged in 2023 with Akash Systems, a semiconductor maker in Oakland, Calif., but union representation in chip fabs is rare.

“Micron respects the rights of workers to form and join trade unions of their own choosing, to bargain collectively and to peacefully assemble as permitted under applicable local law,” Micron said in a statement.

Micron is expected to use the CHIPS Act funds to support construction of two DRAM fabs in New York, part of a plan by Micron to invest about $100 billion in New York over two decades.  Also, the funding would unlock a $25 billion investment in a DRAM fab in Idaho, co-located with the company’s R&D facilities in Boise. Across both locations, about 20,000 facility and construction jobs would be created.

The company plans to onshore about 40% of its DRAM chip production over the next 20 years.  Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has repeatedly promoted the CHIPS Act awards as meeting President Biden’s goal of onshoring vital technology needed for AI and to protect economic and national security.

Today, all leading-edge DRAM chips are made in East Asia, and Micron is the only company producing memory in the US.  Micron’s technology will enable High-Bandwidth Memory production domestically to enable new AI models.

Micron CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said the company’s leading-edge memory “is foundational to meeting the growing demand of AI and we are proud to be making significant memory manufacturing investments in the US, which will create many high-tech jobs.”

The two New York fabs would be the first of four megafabs for Clay, New York, each with 600,000 square feet of cleanrooms for a total of 2.4 million square feet or the largest such space ever announced in the US.  The Boise fab would also be about 600,000 square feet in size.Micron will spend about $50 billion for the first three fabs over the next six years.

In addition to the Idaho and New York projects, Micron has submitted a separate application under the CHIPS program to modernize its Mansassas, Virginia, fab for production of long-lifcycle chips to support customer demand in auto, industrial, aerospace and defense, Micron said.

In recent weeks, CHIPS for America officials have announced preliminary direct grants for GlobalFoundries ($1.5B), Intel ($8.5B), TSMC ($6.6B), Samsung ($6.4B) and now Micron ($6.14B).

The CHIPS for America program office running the grants is coordinated inside NIST, under the Department of Commerce.  The CHIPS Act, passed in 2022, includes $39 billion for direct grants. Most recently the CHIPS Program Office announced in a newsletter on April 19 that it has closed its first notice of funding opportunities for commercial fabs until further notice.   

After the funding opportunity first was posted in February 2023, CPI said it received more than 630 statements of interest and 180 pre-applications and full applications.  “While there are no immediate plans to re-open submissions, we will continue closely monitoring the market and may do so in the future if funds remain available,” the CPO newsletter said.

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