back to article Micron wants tax breaks for '$160b' Texas chip fab plant

US memory vendor Micron is seeking tax incentives to build a new semiconductor fab outside Austin, Texas, according to documents filed with the state. The filing comes just weeks after Micron announced it would spend $40 billion over the next decade to expand its DRAM and NAND flash memory manufacturing capacity in the US. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That level of investment is a prerequisite of what is actually required to actually secure supply lines by the time China begins its Taiwan siege.

    1. DS999 Silver badge

      These are DRAM/NAND fabs

      Micron isn't a foundry, they don't make logic chips. DRAM & NAND are commodities, and while most of it is made outside the US most of it is made in South Korea and Japan which are stable democracies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: These are DRAM/NAND fabs

        and right next to China and Taiwan...

        1. tooltalk

          Re: These are DRAM/NAND fabs

          and also Russia and Japan. Let's not forget there are also 20+K US troops in South Korea, too! How exciting!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or, it's a ridiculously inflated number to get the maximum cut of the free money, completely detached from reality.

      Making and selling chips is hard, getting free money from government with China scaremongering is super easy!

      Imagine the kind of prices they'd have to sell their chips for to cover the capital cost of a $160 billion plant. Of course those chips wouldn't be competitive, so they'd need a closed market like the US drugs market to get away with those prices. Which in turn would mean products made with those chips would be uncompetitive.

      It would be self defeating to keep pumping free money into US chip production when they have access to infinite capital commercially.... but only on commercial terms. When they can plausibly repay the debt.

      I just bought a Chinese DVR for the car, it cost $30. It has ACAS, it recognizes cars, and the lane and warns you of lane departures, stationary cars ahead, cars pulling away in stop-start traffic. You could buy 3 for every car on the planet and still not have spent $160 billion. Micron don't make the complex chip needed for that, let alone the DVR itself. The chip probably costs $2 to make, it will be Chinese or Taiwanese and certainly won't be some cutting edge "3nm with massive DNN" or some such marketing crap.

      So who is going to buy Micron chips in a world where chips are used for actual real world use at real world prices?

      If you're going to government with a begging bowl, may as well that bowl massive to try to grab as much free money as possible!

      1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge

        I think I just bought the same unit, I haven't been able to get it to do anything with ACAS, but it does play nicely with the Android Head Unit & record to a internal SDHC.

        Removing a tiny useless screen & buttons also cut down the cost by pennies.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Check latest version of software" on settings page.... upgrade. The ACAS enabled software is not shipped with it, I had the exact same issue.

          I've just found the exact same Anytek camera for $10. FFS.

          I have to say the upgrade birdview camera on my new head unit is amazing (~220 USD T6). It does an excellent 3D rendering as well as the 2D bird-view. I found I can tap the logo 2 times and the car turns transparent, now its only tyres and flashing indicators so you can see the full 3D front and side view (as if you have a camera mounted behind the car in the sky) without the car model getting in the way. Best of all, you can even see UNDER the car, it panorama stitches the road as you drive over it to get a view under the car.

          Android however is a total POS.

          /rant

          I wanted the screen darker, so I write an app, I want it to turn back to normal brightness when the camera pops up. For that I need "Accessibility permission" (because they've crippled every other way of querying the active task). But Google Play turns off the permission after a few hours, or on reboot. It seems that if the app didn't come from Google Play it cannot have Accessibility Permission except for test and development. Disabling Google Play Protect, and you can NEVER have Accessibility Permission. The checkbox will now stays on, as if the user has assigned it, but the API doesn't get called.

          So I try listening to broadcast intents for the indicators and reversing camera trigger, but since Android 10 I cannot get lots of broadcast intents, Android filters them to improve performance (FFS). I think that's why the head unit knows when the car indicators are being used, but the DVR cannot access those to suppress lane departure warnings as you intentionally change lanes. So lane departure warnings become annoying and you turn the whole feature off.

          I notice that apps from Google Play are granted permissions like "overlay" automatically, but apps loaded any other way have to request it. And some permissions get turned off automatically, regardless of any setting in Google Play Protect. Also each upgrade, Google Play Protect grants itself the right to turn off permissions again. So you have to remember to tell it, again, to not remove permission for each upgrade. So unless you're installing a commercial app from Google Play you are screwed. It will keep attacking the third party software to degrade it.

          I also made the mistake of clearing the USB permission from the camera, and there is no Android settings dialog to turn it back on. Uninstall, reinstall.....

          Google are shit. Android gets worse and worse with each version . Each iteration of Android, it does less and less and is ever more flaky and unreliable with more and more dodgy optimizations.

          ([ Added ]another example, Octoprint for Android on Android 10 is has to request USB permission each and every time, rendering it useless as a printer server. Lucky I have an Android 7 box I can run it on, where you can grant that permission once and it isn't removed automatically).

          /rant

          1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
            Pint

            Thanks

            I applied the software update, so far not really had a chance to test in use.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Bluffing

        This isn't "free money" a la Intel, it's cheaper property tax (according to the article). But Texas doesn't have property tax at the state level - just the local level for schools and services.

        The big 160B will never happen, it's just a tactic to get a break for a few millions probably.

        Outside of Japan, contracts are very fluid in East Asia, and finishing one contract as promised is used as leverage for the next contract.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bluffing

          It matters little how the money arrives. e.g. give them a tax break, and that simply will go to shareholders as larger profit, and management as bonus payments.

          $160 billion is a laughable fiction. A typical 1600 man plant, they'd be saying "give us a tax break worth 100 MILLION per employee".

          1. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

            Re: Bluffing

            $160 billion is a laughable fiction. A typical 1600 man plant, they'd be saying "give us a tax break worth 100 MILLION per employee".

            It need not be completely fictitious. I'm not familiar with the tax break law in question but mention of a sunset date in the article suggests they are staking their territory for the maximum possible expansion of that plant, the article does say it is over several possible phases after all. Put in a claim for the most they could possibly want - if the later plans don't go ahead nothing lost. If they do they have the claim in under this scheme prior to the deadline.

            Not that a $160B investment would equate to that much subsidy in any case. I don't understand how this is so difficult for people to grasp, it just comes off the tax assessment rather than a complete refund. So in the case of corporation tax the taxable profit is reduced by the investment and then that figure is assessed for tax. For property taxes as here the facilities built are not assessed for those property taxes - it is not as if they get a cheque in the post.

            Although even having said that, I agree the levels of subsidy make no sense at all as I mentioned here a few weeks ago. Semiconductor fabs have a relatively short lifespan and are incredibly capital intensive compared to the numbers employed. I can't see any justification for millions in subsidies for each job that may only last 10-15 years.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      >by the time China begins its Taiwan siege.

      I thought Taiwan was already under siege, the only question is when will China decide to become overtly aggressive to Tawian.

  2. Auntie Dix Bronze badge
    Thumb Down

    Tell Traitor Micron to Stuff It and Leave

    "If Micron is unable to obtain such a cap, the chipmaker says it will likely pursue other locations with more favorable incentives. The application cites Singapore, Taiwan, or Japan as potential alternatives."

    Threaten the United States? A President with balls would tell Micron to leave and enjoy the U.S. embargo anywhere it sets up shop.

    1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

      Horse and Closing the Barn Door Too Late

      Decades ago, the beancounters at various US chipmakers decided to quit making certain types of chips (e.g., DRAM) so they could concentrate on making higher-profit-margin chips.

      The US government at that time either failed to recognize the national security aspects of that, or simply chose do to nothing about it, which is why they're in the spot that they're currently in.

      1. tooltalk

        Re: Horse and Closing the Barn Door Too Late

        Why? Micron produces almost 20% of all DRAM produced globally -- and 70% in South Korea and SK is hardly a hostile nation.

    2. tooltalk

      Re: Tell Traitor Micron to Stuff It and Leave

      Apple has been doing it for a while and nobody complaints about it.

  3. Richard Jones 1
    FAIL

    Oops, I misread The Headline

    The headline said it all, I misread the header and wondered why the French President wanted a US subsidy to build a fab.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Oops, I misread The Headline

      Upto now the US market has been dominated by large, noisy, inefficient, polluting presidents. But recent trends suggest this has gone too far and people now want smaller stylish european style presidents with lower emissions.

      Since they aren't allowed to import them from Canada, America is now trying to manufacture them locally

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oops, I misread The Headline

        "Have ours, we'll re-badge it for you" says Canada

        "No have ours" says France

        "You can have ours and a couple of her friends" says Finland

        " I don't suppose you fancy..." mumbles Britain

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Oops, I misread The Headline

          Has anyone seen a copy of Boris's birth certificate ?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oops, I misread The Headline

            Priti Patel has, it's the only reason she still has a job.

        2. kat_bg

          Re: Oops, I misread The Headline

          We would like Finland's PM instead of our own... At least she parties in her private life and works during the job hours.

  4. Christoph

    “There are several factors that contribute to Texas’s favorability for development, one however that does not is the state’s notoriously-high property tax burden,”

    And another that does not is the state's notorious position on abortion. They may have trouble getting skilled staff there.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >They may have trouble getting skilled staff there.

      Hence their plan to reintroduce 'lifetime unpaid internships', combined with 'free relocation packages from W Africa'

  5. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Why should taxpayers subsidize big business

    The title really says it all. When I had a small manufacturing company I could have used loads of grants, tax breaks and discounted loans. I look at these multi-nationals and have to wonder why the hell some lawyers feel it's a good idea to give them C-5's full of cash. I just know they're playing one city or state off the other when the already know the best place to locate their facility. I also don't see, in this case, where all of the jobs would come from. Fabs these days don't actually have a large number of employees turning handles and the ones they have need to have good skills and often technical degrees.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Why should taxpayers subsidize big business

      Well if you wanted grants why didn't you just get off your butt and offer all the local politicians non-exec directorships to help them believe your claims of 1000s of jobs to revive the Nevada deep sea fishing industry

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Why should taxpayers subsidize big business

        "Well if you wanted grants why didn't you just get off your butt and offer all the local politicians non-exec directorships to help them believe your claims of 1000s of jobs to revive the Nevada deep sea fishing industry"

        The problem is I did. I got a nice form letter back telling me about all of the wonderful work said politician has been doing and how proud they are about the stance they're taking on a subject where I have the opposite opinion. They did thank me for expressing my concern about **something that had nothing to do with my letter** and they take the input from their constituents very seriously.

  6. aerogems Silver badge

    I smell another Foxconn

    This will likely turn into a giant corporate tax scam like Foxconn in Wisconsin, only with Texas being gerrymandered to hell so that Democrats have no realistic chance of ever winning control of any branch of the government, Texas residents will just be fleeced and the Texas legislature will happily cover up everything, and then conspire with the AG and governor's office to pass laws that excuse anything that they can't cover up leaving the taxpayers holding the bag.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I smell another Foxconn

      My US friends are not saying that the sooner TX leaves the Union the better. As mich as I admire BETO he stands no chance of defeating the MAGA faithful that run TX under Abbott.

      Just when is Ken Paxton going to stand trial? He'd been indicted for years...

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: I smell another Foxconn

      "This will likely turn into a giant corporate tax scam like Foxconn in Wisconsin"

      In a battle of contracts, whose team of lawyers do you think are going to win? The giant multi-national or the local group of minnows with no experience in contract law?

      This is another reason why government shouldn't be handing out free money/land/tax abatements. The terms they thought were in the contract are not what they thought they were. I'd bet a stack of rare coins that Foxconn pulling out was well within the terms as written.

      I'm not a lawyer so I paid one to help me create contracts that I use and I don't use something a customer presents. The government agencies should do the same thing if they are going to continue to hand out free money to billionaires. Either they hire the said number of people within the specified time frame, pay them at least the set amount of salary/benefits and do so for the time set in the contract or the SWAT team evacuates the facility and welds the doors closed.

  7. Ashto5

    USA national debt

    If you look back the records for incentives given to US big corps

    It totals the USA national debt

    It makes no sense to keep giving rich mega corps these tax breaks

    You have bridges falling down cities rotting and homelessness on an industrial scale and you want to give this money to these people

    Cancel student debt, cap property prices

    Finally give some hope to the people of the west

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: USA national debt

      If you want politicians to do what you want - simply pay for them

  8. Merrill

    How much investment will digital services support?

    Ultimately, this all has to be supported by revenues from advertising, gaming, social media, bitcoin mining, etc.

  9. OldCrow 1975

    That us what Micron wanted in Lehi Utah

    Now Micron is gone in Utah. Sold its plant to Yexas Instruments in 2021.

  10. IGnatius T Foobar !

    Manufacturing in the West is needed

    Whatever it costs, it's worth it. The West needs to bring its manufacturing back. We cannot rely on the instability of the current situation.

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