back to article EU still getting its act together on European Chips Act funding

The EU is groping towards a consensus in order to allocate funding for its scheme to revitalize the European semiconductor manufacturing industry, with representatives of member states agreeing an amended version of the proposals. According to reports, EU ambassadors gave their unanimous backing on Wednesday to an agreement …

  1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    Les chips must be fabrique en France

    The French will be saying.

    Nein! In Deutschland, will say the Germans.

    What about us, all the other EU counties will say. You don't count.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Les chips must be fabrique en France

      @VoiceOfTruth

      Sounds about right.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Les chips must be fabrique en France

        @codejunky

        "Sounds about right"

        In what language?.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: Les chips must be fabrique en France

          French, bien sûr. What other language matters?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: Les chips must be fabrique en France

      Hmm. Well, it won't be the UK, That's for sure!

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "still getting its act together on [..] funding"

    I take that to mean they still haven't agreed on whose pockets to line.

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Tough options

    1, Create a pan-european nominally commercial semiconductor version of Airbus = good luck with that !

    2, Fund existing european semiconductor maker = Greece pays Germany to prop up some failing 80s German company ?

    3, Grants to a S.E. Asian chip maker = they build a plant in some poor region promising jobs, import all the skilled roles and close as soon as the subsidy runs out.

    4, Chuck money at every country directly in proportion to their payments into the program = just move money around -20% admin costs

    1. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

      Re: Tough options

      -> just move money around -20% admin costs

      That is the EU as an institution for you. A bunch of failed national politicians in supranational positions.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Tough options

        I don't know - I'm more familiar with the unbelievable efficiency and effectiveness of UK science funding

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Tough options

      3, Grants to a S.E. Asian chip maker = they build a plant in some poor region promising jobs, import all the skilled roles and close as soon as the subsidy runs out

      Just closing a fab is not really an option. They cost billions to build and likely need to operate a minimum of 20 years before they've actually earned their investment back. And you can't just relocate the content of a fab somewhere else and expect it to work when it gets there.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Tough options

        >Just closing a fab is not really an option.

        Yes, that's why Greenock is still today a world center of high-tech manufacturing

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: Tough options

          Fabs there were built in a time when break even was achieved far earlier, outset investment was far lower and most fabs there probably produced for quite a while until they went obsolete. I'm not very familiar with Greenock specifically but from what I can see it basically ran it's economic course and finished getting IBM it's investments back. I wasn't saying fabs never get closed, I said they don't usually get closed before earning enough back for their investors. Keep in mind an average high end 300mm fab will nowadays set you back a cool 10 to 40 billion. (depending on how much litho/wafer-starts capacity you need) I think you'd be hard pressed to get it under 1 billion even for a very small scale fab.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tough options

        Were Siemens a S.E. Asian chipmaker? (They built one on UK grants and closed it before anything was ever produced.)

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Tough options

          I thought it was originally Timex in Grenock ?

          Of course semiconductor companies change hands so often it may have ended up as Siemens.

          - One expert in my field has worked for about a dozen US defence/aerospace companies, without changing desk.

      3. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Tough options

        "They cost billions to build and likely need to operate a minimum of 20 years before they've actually earned their investment back."

        And if the governments of the countries where they are located decide to ban exports of certain chips or ones using certain process parameters, the likelihood of that company ever building a fab in that country drops to zero.

        The smaller asian countries are far more interested in having fabs built than they worry about "national security" concerns surrounding those components.

        What the politicians never seem to get is that it doesn't matter if they deny IC's to a particular country or not. The USSR had a supply chain to get what they wanted and could build something good enough to do the job of sending an ICBM anywhere they liked. Some universities in the US have so many Chinese students that it's more common to hear people talking in Mandarin than English (ok, American). Another huge problem with government bans is they are maintained long past the time the prohibited tech is antiquated. They're a bunch of lawyers so what do they know about electronics?

        To get a company to spend billions of dollars/pounds/Euros building a facility in a country, they have to feel they will see a good return on that investment. They don't need to be paid to do it.

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Tough options

          To get a company to spend billions of dollars/pounds/Euros building a facility in a country, they have to feel they will see a good return on that investment. They don't need to be paid to do it.

          Yeh, but a little subsidy can go a long way. I'm kinda wondering what the point is though, ie the whole supply chain thing. So I'll happily take $40bn to create Eel & Chips Ltd. Or I guess that should be Plc. But what chips am I going to produce? I probably won't want to make Apple's latest brain because I've heard how they treat their supply chain, and no idea if Intel, AMD or other big chip producers are any friendlier with their outsourcers. I guess I could dust off my logic design book and make 555s, or mebbe find the IP for the Transputer and make those. Seems challenging to decide what kind of fab plant to build though, ie chase the latest/smallest and most expensive chips, something that can churn out generic microcontrollers that are stuffed into cars or washing machines. And then hope the market doesn't move away before I've made some ROI.

          I'm kinda betting that by the time the EU's made it's mind up, the market will have moved on and there'll be no demand for the whizzy EUFab.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tough options

      Do nothing and go with the flow, privately investing in and buying from China - then when Taiwan is blockaded and China is the only source, suck it up.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Tough options

        Yes, just saying it's slightly trickier than just waving a magic wand at the magic money tree

  4. Tron Silver badge

    Meanwhile, in the UK...

    The government have handed over an initial £100m of public money to consultants to assist with the development of a world leading Bakelite factory.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: Meanwhile, in the UK...

      Bakerlite?

      That way too advanced for the likes of the tories....

      They are still funding the expansion of our flint napping industry..

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile, in the UK...

        A proper British computer will be made of brass

        As soon as the Imagineers in Hoxton have come up with a pleasing font for the logo, then the job of actually making the analytical engineer can be handed off to some skilled artisans - if there is any budget left.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meanwhile, in the UK...

      Britain's latest 100thou process is the envy of the world.

      1. Robert Grant

        Re: Meanwhile, in the UK...

        Our 0.5mm lithography process is second to none!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Meanwhile, in the UK...

          Lithography? Woodblock printing, Shirley?

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Meanwhile, in the UK...

            No it's lithography.

            We have skilled neanderthals trainees chipping flints as we speak.

            And don't call me Shirley

  5. John Stirling

    and in other news....

    Subsidy receiving company says they need more subsidy...

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: and in other news....

      Sounds like one of those dense American blockbuster novels:

      Infinity Is Never Enough

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: and in other news....

        >Infinity Is Never Enough

        Bond Movie Shurley (ed) ?

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