Applied Materials Inc., which supplies equipment for semiconductor chip manufacturers, has announced plans to build a research and development center in California that could, contingent on receiving Chips and Science Act incentives, be the largest facility of its kind in the world.
The so-called Equipment and Process Innovation and Commercialization, or EPIC, Center, would include 180,000 sq ft of cleanroom. Applied Materials says it plans to invest as much as $4 billion in the facility, which would be built at its Silicon Valley campus in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Construction is expected to involve about 1,500 workers, according to Applied Materials. The company did not disclose how soon work is expected to start or immediately respond to inquiries but says the project is expected to be completed by early 2026.
Applied Materials says its aim is to help chipmakers navigate the hurdles in producing more advanced chips needed for connected devices and artificial intelligence. It wants to provide a central hub to replace the sector’s traditional compartmentalized development model—allowing manufacturers to try next-generation processes and equipment and university researchers to try ideas on industrial-scale equipment with sector practitioners.
“This investment presents a golden opportunity to re-engineer the way the global industry collaborates to deliver the foundational semiconductor process and manufacturing technologies needed to sustain rapid improvements in energy-efficient, high-performance computing,” Gary Dickerson, president and CEO of Applied Materials, said in a statement.
The company also notes the facility is “designed to be capable of engaging with a future U.S. National Semiconductor Technology Center.” The potential center was directed by last year’s CHIPS and Science Act, which set $500 million for its creation. The law earmarked about $52 billion toward boosting the semiconductor sector, including $28 billion for manufacturers to build or expand chip plants.
A White House statement emphasizes the law’s role in “impacting the scale of Applied Materials’ investment.” Officials say companies have announced more than $140 billion in semiconductor manufacturing, supply chains and research and development since President Joe Biden signed the law last August.
Since the U.S. Dept. of Commerce released its first funding opportunity notice at the end of February, it has received 300 statements of interest from potential applicants.
As ENR previously reported, the Biden administration is encouraging manufacturers interested in receiving funding from the program to pay their construction workforce prevailing wages and use project labor agreements.
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