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Where Biden’s billions in chipmaking money have gone — and what could be next

The White House announcement this week of up to $6.4 billion in chipmaking cash for Samsung (005930.KS) marks a move to the next phase of the Biden administration’s effort to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to the US.

The focus so far has largely been on leading-edge logic semiconductors. The rollout now is set to focus on other areas, including the memory chips that represent another crucial ingredient in powering artificial intelligence.

Billions could be distributed to companies focused on that side of the sector in the coming weeks and months.

Thus far Biden’s team has allotted roughly $23 billion of the $39 billion set aside for manufacturers with that money set to help fund facilities from Arizona and New Mexico to Ohio and New York.

Other big recent awards beyond Samsung were $6.6 billion in grants to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSM) and $8.5 billion to Intel (INTC).

This money comes from the 20-month-old Chips and Science Act, which allows the White House to spend a total of about $50 billion to try and help reignite both the manufacturing and research into chips in the US in the years ahead.

This week’s Samsung announcement will help fund facilities in Texas in both Austin and Tyler. The government money will be part of an overall investment of approximately $45 billion to build out a cluster in the state.

The new facilities, set to come online in phases between now and the end of the decade, will include two chip production manufacturing facilities, a research center, as well as a packaging facility.

Samsung is focused on leading edge chips at this facility, including production using the two nanometer process, the most advanced process technology in the world.

“These facilities will support the production of some of the most powerful chips in the world, which are essential to advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and will bolster US national security,” President Biden added in a statement.

In addition to Samsung, TSMC, and Intel, three smaller manufacturing awards had been previously announced.

There was roughly $35 million for BAE Systems (BAESY), $162 million for Microchip Technology, and $1.5 billion for GlobalFoundries (GFS) largely to fund the manufacturing of less advanced but still crucial chips.

President Joe Biden holds a semiconductor during remarks at the White House in 2021. (Doug Mills/Pool/Getty Images) (Pool via Getty Images)

More to come

The remaining awards, Biden officials hope, will help spur other aspects of the complicated industry.

A likely top priority that remains are leading edge memory chips which — while they don’t handle the high profile computational tasks assigned to logic chips — are still crucial for artificial intelligence.

Micron (MU) — which bills itself as the “only US-based manufacturer of memory” — is still awaiting its award, as one example. President Biden visited a Micron plant in New York in 2022, calling the company’s efforts there “one of the most significant investments in American history.”

Other awards could also be focused on the less advanced chip production that is nonetheless important for a range of applications from national security to home appliances.

The semiconductor supply chain is also set to be a priority in coming awards and perhaps even in a second wave in the years ahead.

The effort there will be to shore up what remains a global process even as the Biden administration aims for an ambitious goal of having 20% of the world’s most advanced logic chips made in the US by the end of the decade.

Monday’s Samsung announcement included a focus on semiconductor packaging — the making of the metal, plastic, glass, or ceramic container to hold the chips — with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo underlining that fact in her comments to reporters this week.

“This isn’t just manufacturing chips but it’s packaging chips at the same site,” she said of Samsung’s coming Texas facilities. She notes that currently “even chips that are made in the US are still shipped in many cases to Taiwan to be packaged, including the chips used in defense systems.”

All told, according to the Biden administration, there have been more than $70 billion in requests for leading edge funding, far exceeding the $39 billion in the manufacturing program overall.

Ben Werschkul is Washington correspondent for Yahoo Finance.

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