The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) wants the U.S. Congress to triple federal investments in semiconductor research, reaching a total of $5 billion a year for the next five years.
“America is in a race with global competitors to win the technologies of the future, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing and 5G and 6G wireless networks,” said John Neuffer, CEO of SIA in a blog on June 18. “Semiconductor innovation is the engine that drives all these promising technologies.”
SIA sent a letter to House and Senate leaders urging the increased funding.
The private sector has done its part, SIA argued, by prioritizing investment in semiconductor research, giving about 20% of all revenues back to R&D annually. SIA put that R&D amount at $39 billion in 2018, a level second only to the pharmaceutical industry. “Public and private investments complement each other well to maximize advancements in semiconductor technology,” Neuffer added.
He said that taxpayers see a significant return on investment with federal semiconductor research at the Departments of Energy and Defense, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology. SIA has also backed a policy agenda calling for tripling resources for semiconductor research and doubling funding for related fields in material science, engineering and applied math, reaching $40 billion a year.
Many U.S. researchers have said the U.S. is falling behind China, especially in quantum computing research. The development of quantum information sciences is related to research in ways to overcome the limits of Moore’s Law, which has said that processing power will double every two years. Quantum mechanics has been applied to communications and cryptography. In the past year researchers have tested ways to use quantum key distribution between two ends of a network to heighten security.
In addition to its push for greater government research funding, SIA has also urged policy makers to attract and develop a skilled workforce and to ensure that the U.S. semiconductor industry has continued access to global markets and protections for intellectual property.
The U.S. semiconductor industry employs about 250,000 people directly and commands about 45% of the global market of $450 billion. Nineteen U.S. states are home to major fabs. Semiconductors are the nation’s fourth-largest export after airplanes, refined oil and crude oil.
Charter members of SIA are AMD, Broadcom, Cree, Cypress, Global Foundries, IBM, Intel, Lansdale Semiconductor, Marvell, Maxim Integrated, Micron, Nvidia, On Semiconductor, Qorvo, Qualcomm, Rochester Electronics, Silicon Labs, Skyworks, Texas Instruments, Western Digital, and Xilink. International members include Arm and Samsung.