12.07.2022, Sachsen, Dresden: Ein Mitarbeiter steht während eines Presserundgangs zum «Bosch Tech-Day» in der Halbleiterfabrik an einer Machine für die Beschichtung von Wafern mit Gold. Foto: Robert Michael/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Bosch is investing another three billion euros in its semiconductor division. This was announced by Bosch boss Stefan Hartung on Wednesday in Dresden. The world’s largest automotive supplier is once again relying on funding from the European IPCEI program for the expansion of the Dresden and Reutlingen locations. Hartung did not provide any information on the exact amount. “For us, there is big business in the smallest components,” he said at the Bosch Tech-Day.

Just over a year ago, Bosch opened its semiconductor factory in Dresden at the height of the chip crisis, at that time with a major political event in the (digital) presence of Angela Merkel and EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. According to the company, the plant in the Saxon state capital is the most modern chip factory in Europe, fully digitized and networked. “Hard to believe, but true: This new chip factory is the first in 300-millimeter technology to be built in Europe since 1999,” said Hartung.

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The Bosch chip factory is a flagship project for politicians. Europe should become competitive as a manufacturing location for semiconductors and oppose the superior power of Asian producers. The European share of global semiconductor production is to be doubled from ten to 20 percent by the end of the decade.

“Setting the political course is important, but not everything. It should also be supported by society,” said Hartung. Europe will not become self-sufficient from deliveries from other regions of the world, and that is not the goal either. “But this continent can and must contribute its own strengths.”

It is important that the needs of European industry are also taken into account, i.e. not just the smallest nanometer structures, which are mainly used in consumer electronics and smartphones. “In electronics for electromobility, for example, structure widths of 40 to 200 nanometers are important,” explained Hartung.

To date, Bosch has invested one billion euros in semiconductor production and received around 200 million euros in public funding – the largest single investment in the company’s history to date. In the long term, 700 jobs are to be created at the location in Silicon Saxony, and 400 employees are to be hired by the end of 2022.

The facility, which started six months earlier than planned despite Corona, currently has 10,000 square meters of clean room space. For 250 million euros, it is to be expanded by 3,000 square meters in the coming year. A new development center is also planned, 100 additional jobs are to be created there. “We are stepping up the pace in view of the supply bottlenecks in our industries,” said Bosch boss Hartung.

Artificial intelligence (AI) makes production in Dresden extremely efficient. According to Bosch, huge amounts of data can be processed in this way. Around 150,000 sensors are installed in the new plant. According to Bosch, they generate a data volume of 250 megabytes every second – as much as the simultaneous transmission of 400 Netflix films in HD quality.

Chips for power tools were initially produced in Dresden, and now 99 percent of them are semiconductors for the automotive industry. According to Bosch estimates, the proportion of chips in cars will quadruple in this decade, from 200 to 800 euros. Bosch does not serve the still large demand for microcontrollers in industry, in Saxony they mainly manufacture for their own needs, for example special chips for automated driving. According to Hartung, a relaxation of the supply bottlenecks is in sight in some areas of the chip industry, while supply and demand still do not match in other sectors. Here the recovery will only start in 2023.

The Bosch developers are breaking new ground with the smallest microelectromechanical sensors (MENS), which are also to be manufactured on so-called 300 millimeter wafers in the future. “So far, this has not existed in industry,” said Bosch boss Hartung.

In the case of such new technological developments, it is also entirely justified for the company to use tax money from the subsidy. “We want to set a standard that the rest of the world doesn’t have,” explained the Bosch boss. 78,000 employees work in research and development, every second in the software area.