IBM reminds Joe Biden it’s also making chips amid funding surge • The Register

President Joe Biden stopped by IBM’s latest chip manufacturing venture this week as Big Blue clearly hopes to keep the White House close and bag some of those federal subsidies for semiconductor manufacturing.

The US leader had been invited to the IT giant’s campus in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he unveiled a $20 billion expansion of the company’s facilities in the US state. IBM said this spending will be used to accelerate the development of next-generation mainframes, quantum computing, and semiconductor design and manufacturing technologies.

Big Blue operates a number of locations in New York’s Hudson Valley. Poughkeepsie is home to IBM’s mainframe manufacturing and quantum computing research center, while the company operates a research factory in Albany.

It’s clear that IBM is hoping to offset much of its investment through government subsidies and tax breaks potentially granted through the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act signed into law this summer.

In addition to $39 billion in manufacturing subsidies and another $24 billion in tax incentives to support domestic semiconductor expansion, the bulk of the legislation – $170 billion – is intended to fund research and development at American facilities.

“As we tackle grand technological challenges in climate, energy, transport and more, we must continue to invest in innovation and discovery – because advanced technologies hold the key to solving these problems and driving economic prosperity, including better jobs, for millions by Americans,” IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in a canned statement.

IBM says its $20 billion investment will support the development and application of quantum computing technology by businesses and scientific researchers. Meanwhile, in Albany, IBM plans to expand its semiconductor research facility to support the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) established by the CHIPS legislation.

The computer giant may no longer get the attention that Intel, AMD and Nvidia enjoy, but Big Blue continues to invest in semiconductor development. IBM’s Power9 processors are at the heart of the Summit and Sierra supercomputers at Oak Ridge and Los Alamos National Laboratories. Meanwhile, IBM’s Z-series processors power the latest mainframe machines used by some of the world’s largest financial institutions for fast, redundant transaction processing.

However, IBM not only develops chips for use in its servers and mainframes, but is also involved in the development of next-generation process technologies at its Albany plant. Last year, the company demonstrated a 2nm process node with a gate-all-round transistor design that it developed in collaboration with Samsung.

IBM was also one of the first companies tapped by Pat Gelsinger to get Intel’s process technology back on track after he took over as CEO in early 2021.

However, it remains to be seen how much of the CHIPS funding IBM will claim. Since the passage of the bill, semiconductor manufacturing and packaging projects in the United States have grown significantly in anticipation of these financial cuts. Intel, Samsung, TSMC, SK Group and others plan to build facilities on American soil.

Just today, US memory maker Micron announced a $100 billion foundry project also destined for the Empire State.

However, we’ll have to wait and see how much taxpayer money IBM, Micron and others expect until sometime after February, when the US Department of Commerce officially begins submitting requests for funding. ® IBM reminds Joe Biden it’s also making chips amid funding surge • The Register

Rick Schindler

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