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Have you bought a new car lately? How about a new cell phone, toothbrush, or thermostat? Have you noticed that the price of most electronics has skyrocketed? Some of the increase can be blamed on inflation. But most of it comes from a wafer-thin silicon chip engraved with coding that is many times thinner than a strand of hair — a semiconductor.
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So why doesn’t the U.S. simply produce more chips? The answer is not simple, but it boils down to time and money. At the moment, China tops the list of semiconductor manufacturers. This situation is bad for U.S. manufacturers that rely on semiconductors. It is bad for national security. And it is costly for consumers who end up paying more for an electric toothbrush.
Semiconductors are built on semiconducting material, which is material with electrical conductivity between metals (good conductors) and insulators (poor conductors). The conductivity can be controlled by adding small amounts of other elements.
Chips are complex structures made of millions or even billions of transistors and other components. Semiconductors are manufactured in special manufacturing facilities called “fabs”, which is short for “Semiconductor Fabrication Plants”. It can take up to 500 steps to develop a wafer. Semiconductors are used in the manufacture of various kinds of electronic devices, including diodes, transistors, and integrated circuits.
As mentioned, China owns the semiconductor market. Before COVID, few manufacturers voiced concern that a main part of their final product came from China. The current semiconductor shortage shows the risks of relying on overseas production.
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In an effort to boost domestic semiconductor production, the CHIPS for America Act was passed in August of 2022 and is part of the current National Defense Authorization Act. The CHIPS Act is expected to benefit American companies such as Intel and IBM as well as non-US companies that are or are considering building fabs in the US, including Taiwan’s TSMC and China’s GlobalWafers.
Since its passage, the major investments that were a result of the CHIPS act included:
• $52 billion to grow America’s domestic semiconductor research and production
• $10 billion to establish a new National Semiconductor Technology Center
• $2 billion to support the development of advanced packaging technologies
• $2 billion to support the development of advanced materials
• $1.5 billion to support the development of advanced testing and assembly capabilities
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MNI, compiler and publisher of industrial business profiles for the U.S. manufacturing sector, recently collected new data on the semiconductor manufacturing industry and found 740 related companies nationwide that employ 154,228 workers. Average sales ran $175 billion in 2023.
CHIPS’ effect on the international semiconductor sector will change the state of imports and exports. The data shows that 20% of semiconductor manufacturers import raw materials, compared to only 11% of all manufacturers. Also, 75% of U.S. semiconductor manufacturers sell their product around the world, compared to only 29% of all manufacturers.
In the U.S., 49% of semiconductor manufacturing companies are located in the West. The Northeast runs a distant second with 22% of manufacturers. The South follows with 19% of the total. The Midwest claims the remaining 10%.
|Number of Employees
|L3Harris Technologies, Inc., ISR Systems
|Amkor Technology, Inc.
|NXP Semiconductors USA, Inc.
|Samsung Austin Semiconductor, LLC
|GlobalFoundries US2, LLC
Intel Corp., based in Hillsboro, Ore., manufactures processors, systems and devices, chipsets, wireless products and other computer system items. With 19,300 employees at this massive location, the company innovates in the semiconductor sector. Intel has three other semiconductor facilities in Folsom, California; Santa Clara, California; and Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
L3Harris Technologies Inc., ISR Systems, operates in Greenville, Tex., with 5,500 employees. Based in Majors Airport, this plant focuses on semiconductors for aerospace and military use. L3Harris understands the security risk of trusting the semiconductor supply chain to a foreign competitor.
Intel Corp’s campus in Folsom, Cali.is a significant center for research and development, contributing significantly to technological advancements. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the campus is one of Intel’s largest, boasting over 1.5 million square feet of office, test floor, and lab space across seven buildings. The site is one of the area’s largest private sector employers. The Folsom campus is committed to the creation, testing, and validation of next-generation chips and chipsets, ensuring Intel remains at the cutting edge of innovation.
QUALCOMM Inc. in San Diego, Calif., employs 5,300 people. In 1985, the company’s founders knew they wanted to focus on quality communications products. QUALCOMM now runs the largest satellite-based commercial mobile system for the transportation sector.
Amkor Technology Inc., is housed in Tempe, Ariz. Its 5,000 employees work on automotive semiconductor innovations such as LIDAR. LIDAR sensors provide safe, effective autonomous driving. This advance reduces the number of car accidents due to driver error.
NXP Semiconductors USA Inc. in Austin, Tex., splits its 5,000-person workforce between several semiconductor industries. NXP works in the automotive, mobile communications, infrastructure and industrial technology sectors.
GlobalFoundries Inc. in Hopewell Junction, NY is one of only a few U.S. companies that can fill large-scale semiconductor orders. The 4,000 GLOBALFOUNDRIES employees create innovative, feature-rich chips. The company has a second location in Malta, NY employing 3,000 workers as well as a semiconductor foundry in Essex Junction, Vermont, employing 2,300.
Samsung Austin Semiconductor LLC is in Austin, Tex. Its 3,500 employees focus on the company’s mission to provide a quality, agile supply chain of semiconductors to all its U.S. clients.
Enphase Energy calls Petaluma, Calif., home. The company’s 2,500 workers create semiconductors for the solar industry. Working at a molecular level, Enphase simplifies solar energy, making it effective and affordable
GlobalFoundries, US2, LLC GlobalFoundries, a semiconductor industry giant, has a substantial operation in Essex Junction, Vermont. The company recently secured $35 million in federal funds to speed up the production of unique gallium nitride (GaN) on silicon semiconductors. These high-performance chips, which can withstand high voltages and temperatures, are poised to transform efficiency and performance in areas such as 5G and 6G cellular communications, industrial IoT, and electric vehicles. The funding will be used to acquire additional equipment to enhance development and prototyping capabilities, bringing the company closer to large-scale 200mm GaN-on-silicon semiconductor manufacturing. This investment is anticipated to bolster the domestic supply chain of crucial dual-use commercial technologies.
Semiconductor manufacturers build parts that are crucial to the technologies we need both now and in the future. Looking to contact manufacturers in the semiconductor or electrical equipment industry? An IndustrySelect subscription provides clients with touch-point data for potential leads, including direct executive contact information and other actionable data among 460,000 industrial companies -- including semiconductors. To learn more about how you can use IndustrySelect to generate reliable leads for your company, visit our website or start your free demo.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in September 2021. It is updated annually to reflect new statistics, trends and top companies in the industry.