Google and the US government team up to make open-source chips

TL; DR: Google and the US government want to accelerate the design and manufacture of new semiconductor devices, embracing the open source model to let universities and startups go wild with innovative ideas. The cooperative research and development agreement will allow the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to design, develop and produce open-source chips that researchers and companies will be free to use and adapt in their applications.

A new agreement between the US Department of Commerce and Google could trigger a wave of new chip designs and innovations. According to the DoC, the Google-NIST partnership addresses one of the semiconductor industry’s most pressing problems: large companies have easy access to new chips and designs, while universities, researchers and small businesses face a major hurdle when trying to create anything. New. An open-source chip design, which can be used without restrictions or licensing fees, is expected to accelerate innovation and significantly reduce costs.

The agreement stipulates that NIST, along with its many research builder partners (University of Michigan, University of Maryland, George Washington University, Brown University, Carnegie Mellon and others), will provide new chip designs to be manufactured by Skywater Technology at the Minnesota. Google will fund the initial manufacturing cost, also subsidizing the first production run.

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The US government’s goal is to create a new and affordable domestic supply of chips for research and development, a way to “unleash the innovation potential” of researchers and startups.

According to NIST Director Laurie E. Locascio, the collaboration was planned before the introduction of the new CHIPS Act legislation, and it is an example of how government, industry and academia can work together to the common goal of preserving American leadership in technology. industry.

Under NIST’s plans, nearly 40 unique chip designs will be funded in partnership with Google to power different applications such as new memory devices, nanosensors, bioelectronics, and chips for artificial intelligence and quantum computing. Open source designs will allow researchers to go wild with new ideas and share data without restrictions.

Introducing the new initiative, Google Public Sector CEO Will Grannis highlights the Mountain View company’s “long history of open source leadership.” Public and private institutions will be able to iterate on the work of others, democratizing innovation in nanotechnology and semiconductor research. The chips will be produced in the Skywater Foundry using industry-standard 200nm wafer discs, which universities and other build partners will then slice into thousands of individual chips in their own processing facilities.

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