The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Google are teaming up to develop and produce semiconductors for researchers and startups.
The chips will be manufactured by SkyWater Technology in its Minnesota chip fab. Google will pay the initial costs of setting up production and will subsidize the first production run. The chips will be produced in 200 millimeter wafers at the SkyWater fab and universities will be able to use the wafers in thousands of individual chips at their own processing facilities.
NIST will design the circuitry for the chips that will be open source, allowing researchers and startups to use the chips without restrictions or licensing fees.
“By creating a new and affordable domestic supply of chips for research and development, this collaboration aims to unleash the innovative potential of researchers and startups across the nation,” said Laurie E. Locascio, NIST director.
The deal was planned prior to the passage of CHIPS and Science Act but this as well as the CHIPS Act is an example of how government, industry and academic researchers can work together, Locascio said.
NIST said there may be as many as 40 different chips optimized for different applications and will be open source for researchers to pursue new ideas without restriction and share data and device designs freely.
Additionally, the NIST/Google collaboration will make available a bottom-layer chip with specialized structures for measuring and testing the performance of the components placed on top of it. This includes new kinds of memory devices, nanosensors, bioelectronics and advanced devices for artificial intelligence and quantum computing.