The United States – A Global Semiconductor Powerhouse

Publish Date

24 APR 2021


Kai Beckmann


Not only is the United States the home of Intel, one of the world’s largest chip manufacturers, it also ranks among the leading nations in the global semiconductor industry. EMD Electronics has increased our activities in the U.S. to provide materials and solutions for the semiconductor industry.

Who invented it?

The telephone, video games, chewing gum, and soda were invented or made market-ready in the land of opportunity. It’s no wonder that the U.S. produced the world’s first computer chip, the Intel 4004, in 1971.

And this trend has continued. Companies from Silicon Valley, Silicon Desert and Silicon Hills regions continuously churn out their technical advancements. Big tech companies call the U.S. home, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Tesla, as do many of the top ten chip manufacturers like Intel, Micron Technology, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Texas Instruments.

As I explained in my blog about the semiconductor demand in Asia, Asia-Pacific may be the world’s largest semiconductor market. However, the Americas rank second. According to the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics, the region accounted for $95 billion in semiconductor sales in 2020.

Semiconductors are the key to success

In the U.S., semiconductors are an important pillar of the world’s largest economy and of its advanced technology leadership. Thanks to developments in artificial intelligence, quantum computing and wireless networks like 5G, demand for chips will remain high after seeing a dynamic acceleration during the pandemic.

Politicians are also helping to support the semiconductor industry. The U.S. government recently announced its intention to ensure that the country remains an attractive production location, making it less dependent on imports from Asia. President Biden has proposed $50 billion for the chip industry to address the constrained global supply of semiconductors to address a shortage that idled automakers worldwide.

The U.S. government isn’t the sole driver moving the country forward as a semiconductor hub; companies are also getting involved. For example, in November 2020, Apple revealed its new computer chip, M1, which replaces the Intel processors used in its products for more than two decades. In March, Intel announced expansion plans for two new factories in Chandler, Arizona. Its buildout represents an investment of approximately $20 billion, which is expected to create over 3,000 permanent high-tech, high-wage jobs. The Taiwanese company TSMC intends to invest $35 billion in the construction of a new chip factory in nearby Phoenix, Arizona. Supporting the supply chain demands for these two companies is expended to bring approximately 15,000 local long-term jobs to the area. Samsung is also considering investing $10 billion in Texas to produce three-nanometer chips.

However, the U.S. economy relies not only on investments but also on the education of highly qualified employees. STEM education is heavily promoted from grade school through university levels. Many of our sites are located near top-tier engineering schools for this purpose. We maintain close relationships with local universities to collaborate on research and recruit top talent. I would love to see Europe join the U.S. in actively promoting curiosity and STEM for our future generations of scientists. 

The acquisitions expanded our product offering to provide a solution for each step in the semiconductor manufacturing process. Another benefit of these acquisitions is that we almost doubled our sales in North America to $585 million in 2020. We employ around 2,000 employees there—that’s more than a quarter of our workforce, including many leaders on our executive team.

The U.S. remains the global leader in semiconductor design and R&D. We have more than doubled our California, Arizona, and Texas footprint to support our customers better. We recently relocated our innovation hub to Intermolecular’s San Jose site to focus our innovation resources in the Bay area and push collaboration with start-ups. We are also investing an additional $22 million in an R&D hub in Tempe, Arizona.

The U.S. is a key market for the semiconductor industry. The major technology trends, such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and Big Data, promise long-term growth prospects. The investments in the industry speak for themselves. We are working to make this technology even better with our solutions and materials—in the U.S. and worldwide. 

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