The Next Moon Landing is Actually a 10 Nanometer Microchip
March 8, 2023
On July 20, 1969, the United States of America made one of the most historical contributions to innovation by landing on the moon. Following World War II and the Cold War, physical battles were replaced by a greater goal: competition outside the Earth’s atmosphere. As the race for space dominance spurred international competition, America banded together and proved their technical superiority.
Today, the “final frontier” is no longer a moon measuring 1,079.6 miles but 10 nanometer microchips powering 1.15 trillion semiconductor units annually.
U.S. semiconductor manufacturing has eroded from 37% in 1990 to 12% today. Without swift intervention, China would surpass the U.S. in Microelectronics, 5G, AI, and Quantum Computing by 2030 making technical advancement in these areas more important than ever before.
Without a fundamental change in how the government acquires and invests in emerging technology, no amount of money or support will be enough. After years of stagnation, the Microelectronics Commons is the path forward to strengthen U.S. science and technology innovation.
Changing Our Approach to Rapid Technical Advancement and Prototyping
Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs) were created during the Space Race in 1958 to close the technical gap between the U.S. and Russia, so it is fitting that we fall back on their potential today as we once again compete for technical dominance. As an agile acquisition mechanism, OTAs will allow commercial industry leaders to research and prototype emerging technology through the Microelectronics Commons program.
“Working together is how we got a man on the moon in 1969 and working together is how we are going to achieve these American dreams on research and development,” said White House Coordinator for CHIPS Implementation, Dr. Ronnie Chatterji.
Funding for the Microelectronics Commons prototype and subsequent technology hubs is appropriated through the CHIPS for America Defense Fund, part of the CHIPS Act that was passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden on August 9, 2022.
On February 28th, 2023, the Microelectronics Commons closed their submission process and is currently evaluating proposals. Following project award, the Microelectronics Commons will establish regional hubs each supported by a robust network of commercial innovators giving creators who have the deepest understanding of their technical focus areas the ability to inform the DoD of upcoming challenges and subsequently receive support to solve for them.
“Having regional hubs prioritizing one or more technical areas would facilitate the connections required to nurture and grow regional lab-to-fab capabilities,” stated Doug Crowe, NSTXL’s Strategic & Spectrum Missions Advanced Resilient Trusted Systems (S²MARTS) Director.
As a species, we are driven by a need for exploration and creation, always looking for ways to leave our mark on the world. We are living through the next space race. But today, we aren’t looking to just leave our mark on the world, we working to lead the world in microchip innovation. The Microelectronics Commons program is enabling rapid transition from lab-to-fab and solidifying America’s place as leaders in technical advancement. We won before and we will win again.