Open-source semiconductor chips

University researchers and small start-ups struggle to innovate and test new ideas with semiconductors and nanodevices. Developing and building a new chip usually requires large cash infusions to get to production, preventing researchers from accessing the necessary technology for innovative breakthroughs.

Things may be changing, as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Google recently teamed up to create open-source computer chips for research and development. The effort strives to improve access to semiconductor technology for American academics and small business researchers by removing the usual restriction and licensing fees involved with foundry resources. SkyWater Technology will manufacture the chips at its semiconductor foundry in Minnesota, with Google covering the upfront costs and funding the initial production runs.

The agreement follows the recent CHIPS Act, passed by the US Congress to strengthen US silicon manufacturing by providing ~$52 billion in subsidies and incentives to build manufacturing plants. Moving to an open-source framework will further contribute to developing an affordable domestic supply of silicon, helping the US to establish itself in a leadership role in the space.

Read more about the announcement and tell us what you think!