In September, the chip giant Intel gathered officials at a patch of land near Columbus, Ohio, where it pledged to invest at least $20 billion in two new factories to make semiconductors.
A month later, Micron Technology celebrated a new manufacturing site near Syracuse, N.Y., where the chip company expected to spend $20 billion by the end of the decade and eventually perhaps five times that.
And in December, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company hosted a shindig in Phoenix, where it plans to triple its investment to $40 billion and build a second new factory to create advanced chips.
The pledges are part of an enormous ramp-up in U.S. chip-making plans over the past 18 months, the scale of which has been likened to Cold War-era investments in the space race. The boom has implications for global technological leadership and geopolitics, with the United States aiming to prevent China from becoming an advanced power in chips, the slices of silicon that have driven the creation of innovative computing devices like smartphones and virtual-reality goggles.
Today, chips are an essential part of modern life even beyond the tech industry’s creations, from military gear and cars to kitchen appliances and toys.
Across the nation, more than 35 companies have pledged nearly $200 billion for manufacturing projects related to chips since the spring of 2020, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, a trade group. The money is set to be spent in 16 states, including Texas, Arizona and New York on 23 new chip factories, the expansion of nine plants, and investments from companies supplying equipment and materials to the industry.
The push is one facet of an industrial policy initiative by the Biden administration, which is dangling at least $76 billion in grants, tax credits and other subsidies to encourage domestic chip production. Along with providing sweeping funding for infrastructure and clean energy, the efforts constitute the largest U.S. investment in manufacturing arguably since World War II, when the federal government unleashed spending on new ships, pipelines and factories to make aluminum and rubber.
“I’ve never seen a tsunami like this,” said Daniel Armbrust, the former chief executive of Sematech, a now-defunct chip consortium formed in 1987 with the Defense Department and funding from member companies.
President Biden has staked a prominent part of his economic agenda on stimulating U.S. chip production, but his reasons go beyond the economic benefits. Much of the world’s cutting-edge chips today are made in Taiwan, the island to which China claims territorial rights. That has caused fears that semiconductor supply chains may be disrupted in the event of a conflict — and that the United States will be at a technological disadvantage.
The new U.S. production efforts may correct some of these imbalances, industry executives said — but only up to a point.