This is how Europe wants to end its technological dependence

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After Intel in Germany, Europe will have a new chip factory. It will be the second on European soil and will be in Crolles, southeast of France. The project has been announced today and it represents a new step within the European Chip Law, the great plan of the European Union to end the dependence of Asia and the US on the production of semiconductors.

A chip factory powered by two major manufacturers. STMicroelectronics and GlobalFoundries will be in charge of building the first semiconductor factory on French soil. The goal is for it to be completed in 2026 and it is estimated that it will employ around 1,000 people.

An investment of 5,700 million euros will be made for this factory, in addition to receiving public funding from the French government, as part of European funds. By comparison, Intel will invest some $17 billion in its factory in Magdeburg, near Berlin.

France joins Germany in the fight for manufacturing. The two large countries of the European Union have already formalized their plan to have their own chip factory. On the part of the French government they have not specified how much public funds they will receive, but the type of chips that will be manufactured has been described.

They won’t be top-tier transistors, but rather 18-nanometer chips for automotive, IoT, and other applications. That is, transistors for a large part of the industry, but not the latest generation. In total they expect to produce about 300 million wafers annually.

An industry in the hands of TSMC and Asian factories: the map of world chip production

Waiting for TSMC and Samsung. The French factory will be owned by STMicroelectronics, the French-Italian company that is among the world’s ten largest semiconductor producers, and GlobalFoundries, an American manufacturer that works for AMD, Broadcom and Qualcomm. However, neither of these two companies meets the profile that Thierry Breton, European High Commissioner, expressed when the European Chip Law was approved.

Europe’s goal is to attract a manufacturer capable of producing 2- or 3-nanometer chips. And so far it has not been able. One of the problems is that there are few companies in the world capable of achieving this. The great desire is that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) or Samsung bet on Europe, but there is no confirmed news beyond preliminary talks.

In comparison, Samsung did announce at the end of 2021 the construction of a chip factory in texas, with an investment of some 17,000 million dollars. Similarly, TSMC will invest about 12,000 million dollars in Arizona.

Spain is still looking for its chip factory. The PERTE of Spain for the manufacture of microchips amounts to about 11,000 million euros. It is considered a very small amount. It is estimated that a large first level factory exceeds 20,000 million euros. Yes, Spain could present a project similar to the one now announced by France.

As explained by President Pedro Sánchez, Spain aims to install one or two factories of more than 5 nanometers, and around a dozen “fabless”, those dedicated to the design of semiconductors. Achieving a 5-nanometer factory would be considered a success, although it is likely that other smaller manufacturers will first have to choose to lay the first stone. Something that Germany and France have already achieved.

After Intel in Germany, Europe will have a new chip factory. It will be the second on European soil and…

After Intel in Germany, Europe will have a new chip factory. It will be the second on European soil and…

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