US plans $285 million in funding for “digital twin” chips research

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The Biden administration has opened applications for $285 million in federal funding from the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act. The funding is targeted at companies interested in establishing and operating a CHIPS Manufacturing USA institute focused on digital twins for the semiconductor industry. The institute aims to create a diverse network to share resources with companies involved in developing and manufacturing both physical semiconductors and digital twins.

Funded activities will include operational tasks to run the Institute, basic and applied research related to semiconductor digital twin development, establishment and support of shared physical and digital facilities, industry-relevant demonstration projects, and workforce training related to digital twins.

Digital twins are virtual representations of physical chips that simulate real chips, enabling easier testing of new processors before production. This allows for assessing how chips might respond to changes in power or data configurations. According to a press release, research based on digital twins can leverage technologies like AI to expedite chip development and manufacturing in the US.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo stated, “Digital twin technology can drive innovation in semiconductor research, development, and manufacturing across the country, but this can only be achieved through investments in understanding and utilizing this new technology in America.”

The Biden administration has scheduled briefings on May 16th with interested parties to discuss funding opportunities. The government will finance the institute’s operational activities, research on digital twins, physical and digital facilities including access to cloud environments, and workforce training.

The CHIPS Act was passed in 2022 to enhance semiconductor manufacturing in the US but has faced challenges meeting capital demands. Manufacturers had requested over $70 billion in grants, surpassing the government’s $28 billion budget allocation.

Companies like Intel and Micron are set to receive funding through the CHIPS Act. The Biden administration aims to incentivize semiconductor companies to develop new processor types in the US, particularly with the increased demand for high-powered chips driven by the AI industry.

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