Seattle – Recent budget guidance for federal research and development organizations from the Biden administration is a recognition of steady and growing demand for microelectronics as a key enabler for advancement in nearly every technology sector, according to a senior White House technology adviser.
White House on August 17 released its R&D priorities For the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, providing guidance to federal offices as they plan to submit their spending requests to the Office of Management and Budget in early September. High-level focus areas include strengthening the country’s critical infrastructure amid climate change, advancing trustworthy AI, improving health care, and promoting basic and applied research as well as industrial innovation.
Most of those priorities are related in some way, according to Steven Welby, deputy director of national security within the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. The nation aims to boost the microelectronics industrial base,
“Across the entire research and development portfolio — from space to health to energy to national security and beyond — almost everything in that portfolio is connected to advanced microelectronics,” Welby said during the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Microelectronics Summit in Seattle on Aug. 23. happened.” ,
Microelectronics are at the heart of a range of technology – from cell phones and televisions to satellites and artificial intelligence. The Pentagon relies heavily on advanced semiconductors for complex weapons and emerging technology such as quantum computing and 5G communications.
Most of the world’s microprocessors are produced in Asia, with Taiwan making up 92% of the global supply. The US produces only 12%, which has raised concerns in recent years that lagging behind in the domestic supply chain could pose economic and security risks.
To reduce that dependence and increase US supply, in 2002 Congress passed the Subsidiary Incentives to Manufacturing Semiconductors Act, more commonly known as the CHIPS Act. The measure provided $52 billion in subsidies and tax incentives to encourage manufacturers to set up and expand operations in the US.
The Defense Department received $2 billion in CHIPS Act funding to help develop a network of US prototyping facilities and advance the technology from labs to production lines.
Meanwhile, DARPA has focused on addressing long-term technology challenges within the microelectronics industry and plans to spend $3 billion over the next five years to further research in a number of areas. Advanced manufacturing approaches, including safety and high temperature materials,
Welby’s message to an audience of government and industry technologists echoed that of lawmakers, agency leaders and company executives, who emphasized the interconnectedness of the microelectronics ecosystem.
One of the chief architects of the CHIPS Act, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), called for greater collaboration between government agencies, companies and international partners that are tackling near-term and long-term industrial base and technology challenges.
“I think we need to foster a new kind of cooperation,” he said. “Greater cooperation is critical in strengthening the US semiconductor defense industrial base and implementing the Chips and Science Act.”
Cantwell called for greater partnerships between DARPA-funded researchers and the National Semiconductor Technology Center, which is directing the Commerce Department’s CHIPS Act initiative. He also suggested that the White House should create a government-wide workforce strategy to ensure that training and educational institutions are adequately funded and focused on them. [science, technology, engineering and math] and the needs of the defense and commercial microelectronics sector.
Adam Smith (D-WA), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, said on August 23 that while greater investment in the US innovation base is important, it is also important to foster partnerships with like-minded foreign governments.
“We need to make sure that we build the ecosystem so that you can be successful in what you’re trying to do,” he said. “It’s investing here locally, making sure that the Pentagon that has such a huge chunk of the budget gets better at rapidly innovating and deploying those innovations, and building those partnerships around the world.” also builds so that we can work together.”
Courtney Albon is C4ISRNET’s space and emerging technology reporter. He has covered the US military since 2012, focusing on the Air Force and Space Force. He has reported on some of the Department of Defense’s most significant acquisitions, budget and policy challenges.