Government Commits $285 Million for ‘Digital Twin’ Research

The Biden Administration has opened a call for applications for $285 million in funding for a national research institute that will develop semiconductor “digital twins,” software representations of semiconductor hardware that live in the cloud, where teams can collaborate remotely to design, test and analyze the components, allowing engineers to discover and address problems before the manufacturing process begins. The CHIPS Manufacturing USA institute will be the hub for companies and organizations advancing this work, which is meant to decrease domestic reliance on foreign-sourced chips as a matter of national security.

The Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) seeks proposals from eligible applicants for plans to establish and operate CHIPS Manufacturing USA. “The funding is part of the 2022 CHIPS Act’s $39 billion allocated for semiconductor R&D,” portions of which have already been allocated to companies including Intel ($8.5 billion), TSMC ($6.6 billion), Samsung ($6.4 billion) and Micron ($6.1 billion), reports Engadget.

With those manufacturing incentives in place, “the Biden administration is starting to unlock research initiatives,” notes Bloomberg, which earlier posited that R&D efforts “could prove more critical” toward the long-term goal of stabilizing the U.S. semiconductor supply chain and bolstering commerce and national security.

The NOFO explains the institute “will manage a portfolio of institute-led projects and competitively funded member-led projects, including education and workforce development (EWD) activities, basic and applied research, and technology demonstrations.” It will join “an existing network of 17 institutes “designed to increase U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and promote a robust R&D infrastructure.”

All of the Manufacturing USA institutes are “tasked with boosting domestic production of crucial next-gen materials and technologies, from photonics and polymers to robotics and biofabrication, so that the nation relies less on foreign suppliers,” writes The Register.

At CHIPS Manufacturing USA, “digital twin-based research can also leverage emerging technology like artificial intelligence to help accelerate the design of new U.S. chip development and manufacturing concepts and significantly reduce costs by improving capacity planning, production optimization, facility upgrades, and real-time process adjustments,” the Department of Commerce said in its announcement.

The plan is for CHIPS Manufacturing “to establish a ‘regionally diverse’ network to share resources with companies developing and manufacturing both physical semiconductors and digital twins,” reports The Verge, adding that “Biden administration officials have scheduled a May 16th date for briefings with interested parties this month to talk about the funding opportunities.”

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