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Asia Semiconductors

Pentagon Backs U.S. Chipmaker to Counter China

Last month at a chip conference in San Francisco, the United States Department of Defense’s investment arm for emerging technologies kicked off a plan to make $1.5 billion in grants over the next five years to university researchers and companies, part of a plan aimed at boosting advanced chip production in the U.S.

Of the $75 million in initial grants by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—also called DARPA—the vast majority went to a project involving a little-known chipmaker called SkyWater Technology Foundry, which received $61 million. The DARPA money will help the company accelerate the development of a promising new chip that is built along three dimensions, with the goal of matching the performance of the most advanced conventional two-dimensional chips at lower production costs. The Minnesota-based SkyWater is also a rare custom chipmaker that is both based in the U.S. and entirely owned by domestic investors, which has made it more appealing to the U.S. military as a trade war with China and security concerns escalate.

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