After all, the difficult stuff – 450mm, EUV, sub-10nm scaling is now being done on the East Coast.
That’s where IBM develops the fundamental process technology which half the world uses. That’s where Globalfoundries has spent $6 billion building fab and intends to spend another $2 billion building its R&D centre. That’s where The Governor of New York State is aggressively pursuing new semiconductor investments.
It’s where The Albany College of Nanoscale Science and Technology is pioneering 450mm, EUV and advanced scaling where IBM at Fishkill is developing advanced processes, where Cornell is building a $2 billion engineer-entrepreneur campus and where Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he doesn’t want New York to remain No.2 to Silicon Valley in high technology.
By contrast, no one’s built a fab in Silicon Valley for years. Even Intel, with a sixth of the industry’s revenues, builds its fabs outside California in places like Israel, Ireland, Oregon and New Mexico.
So Mayor Bloomberg may well fulfil his aspiration. If he does then the East Coast would merely be reclaiming a high-tech crown which it lost 50 years ago.
It was only because of William Shockley that the American semiconductor industry went West. Before Shockley, it was based on the East Coast, along Route 128 near Boston.
Here could be found Clevite, Sylvania, Transitron, CBS Electronics, Sprague, Tungsol, Philco with AT&T and RCA in New Jersey and GE in New York.
These were the leading companies which drove the semiconductor industry from a $5.1 million industry in 1954 to a $50 million industry by the end of the decade.
And there, in the East, if it hadn’t been for Shockley, the industry would have stayed.
50 years later, is the American semiconductor industry going home?