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Enabling and Investing in Semiconductor Design and Innovation

Chip design is a key activity behind the function and value of a semiconductor device. The design process consists of defining the product requirements for the chip’s architecture and system, as well as the physical layout of the chip’s individual circuits, which ultimately enable semiconductors to receive, transmit, process, and store ever-increasing amounts of data for today’s digital world. Chip design is a highly complex, interdisciplinary process that involves years of R&D, hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, and thousands of engineers. SIA works with policymakers to support U.S. chip design leadership.

The Growing Challenge of Semiconductor Design Leadership

A Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA)/Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study finds that continued U.S. leadership in semiconductor design—the critical and high-value-add mapping of a chip’s intricate circuitry—is essential to America’s sustained leadership in semiconductors and the many technologies they enable. The report also identifies three key challenges facing the U.S. chip design sector and highlights opportunities to strengthen America’s position as a global semiconductor innovation and workforce leader. The challenges include: 1) Design and R&D investment needs are on the rise, 2) A shortage of domestic design talent, and 3) Open access to global markets is under pressure. To maintain U.S. semiconductor leadership in the coming decade and continue to develop the semiconductors critical for the innovation so many industries rely on, the report finds the U.S. private sector will need to invest $400 billion to $500 billion in design over the next 10 years. This can be incentivized through an increased R&D tax incentive. America’s current incentive is weaker than incentives offered by our global competitors and should be strengthened.

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Semiconductor Design Across America


The overall share of semiconductor-specific design and R&D funded by public investment is 13% in the US, compared to an average of 30% across mainland China, Europe, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea.
The US semiconductor design industry faces a shortage of skilled workers and is on track to see this shortage increase to 23,000 designers by 2030.
The US’s share of design-related revenues has begun to show signs of a decline, dropping from over 50% in 2015 to 46% in 2020. At the current trajectory, the US share could fall to 36% by the end of this decade as other regions capture a larger share of future growth.
$542 million
Between 2006 and 2020, the cost of designing a new chip on the latest manufacturing node has increased by a factor of more than 18. A 65nm chip in 2006 cost about $30 million to design, while a 5nm chip in 2020 cost over $540 million to design.

Stages of Semiconductor Design

: 01/18/24

Chip Design

: 05/07/18


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: 05/07/18


: 05/07/18

Export Control

: 05/07/18


: 05/07/18