Applied Materials to Invest $4B in EPIC Center for Semiconductor R&D

Applied Materials has disclosed plans for a significant investment in a new facility focused on semiconductor process technology and manufacturing equipment research and development (R&D). The Equipment and Process Innovation and Commercialization (EPIC) Center is a purpose-built platform designed to facilitate the development and commercialization of key technologies for the semiconductor and computing industries. The planned EPIC Center will occupy a spot on an Applied campus in Silicon Valley, offering 180,000 square feet of state-of-the-art cleanroom space for collaborative initiatives with chipmakers, universities, and ecosystem partners.

The semiconductor industry has been grappling with a set of challenges as the demand for chips is propelled by an increase in connected devices and the rise of artificial intelligence. The transition to what is termed the angstrom era of chipmaking necessitates advanced manufacturing technologies and a highly skilled technical workforce. The EPIC Center represents Applied’s strategy to address these challenges, proposing a novel model that fosters collaboration and streamlines the R&D process. The facility aims to provide chipmakers with dedicated space within an equipment supplier facility, potentially granting them early access to next-generation technologies and tools.

Several industry leaders, including AMD, IBM, Intel, Micron, Nvidia, Samsung, TSMC, and Western Digital, have provided comments on the upcoming facility, expressing cautious optimism for its impact on the semiconductor industry. The platform aims to bridge the gap between academic research and commercial application, offering university researchers access to top-tier industrial labs and hardware, which could increase the rate of innovation success and expedite the commercialization process. Applied Materials plans to work with academic partners to establish satellite labs at university facilities, strengthening their existing ties with institutions like Arizona State University.

Over the next seven years, Applied Materials plans to invest up to $4 billion in the EPIC Center, which is expected to become operational by 2026. The facility’s establishment could create up to 2,000 new engineering jobs in Silicon Valley, 1,500 construction jobs, and indirectly support another 11,000 jobs in various sectors. This substantial investment is contingent on the receipt of support from the U.S. government through provisions of the CHIPS and Science Act. Once operational, the EPIC Center is projected to host over $25 billion in company R&D investments during its first decade.