Google tasked to create new supply of chips for researchers
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has signed a cooperative R&D agreement with Google to develop and produce chips that researchers can use to develop new nanotechnology and semiconductor devices.
SkyWater Technology will produce the chips at its semiconductor foundry in Bloomington, Minnesota. Google will cover the initial costs of setting up production and provide funding for the first batch of manufacturing. The chip's circuitry will be designed by NIST in collaboration with research partners from universities. Academic and small-business researchers will be able to utilise the chips without limitations or paying licensing costs as the circuit designs will be open source, a press release reads.
Large companies that design and manufacture semiconductors often have easy access to these kinds of chips. However, the price tag may reach the hundreds of thousands of dollars, creating a significant barrier to innovation for researchers at universities and startups. The partnership is anticipated to significantly reduce the cost of these chips by boosting production and putting in place a legal structure that does away with license 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 Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio, in the press release.
NIST says that it anticipates designing as many as 40 different chips optimised for different applications. The SkyWater foundry will produce the chips in the form of 200-millimeter discs of patterned silicon, called wafers, which universities and other purchasers can dice into thousands of individual chips at their own processing facilities.