This week, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne announced a C$36 million contribution to Ranovus Inc. to support a C$100 million project aimed at advancing the domestic production of semiconductor products and services.
The announcement came as U.S. President Joe Biden unveiled plans to strengthen and secure the semiconductor supply chain in North America during his visit to Canada.
Specifically, President Biden agreed with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to advance a cross-border semiconductor manufacturing corridor, and signed a memorandum of understanding with tech giant IBM to bolster local R&D and advanced packaging of semiconductors.
But while these projects solidify U.S. – Canadian collaboration in advancing semiconductor supply chain resiliency, the investment in Ranovus was mostly geared toward promoting local innovation and protecting Canada’s intellectual property.
Last week, Trudeau also touted local technology innovation at a town hall meeting, and said, “we do not want to be seen as a branch plant economy of the U.S.”
Ranovus, headquartered in Ottawa, develops and manufactures advanced photonics interconnect solutions to support the next generation of AI/ML workloads in data centres and communication networks.
Hamid Arabzadeh, chief executive officer (CEO) of Ranovus, highlighted the recent developments in generative AI to describe the work that Ranovus does. “To apply AI to every Google search query, Google needs to assemble four million processors in its AI hardware cluster,” he said. “And to make these processors act as a larger compute engine, they need to interconnect them together with massive bandwidth. And that interconnect is where Ranovus comes into play.”
Ranovus’ AI interconnect chip, ODIN, delivered in 2022, enables this process, and consumes 75 per cent less power and is 80 per cent smaller than its closest rival, the company says.
This week’s contribution, made through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), seeks to position Canada as a key player in semiconductor innovation.
SIF first funded Ranovus in 2018 with C$20 million to support the development of data infrastructure designed to have a larger capacity and be environmentally-friendlier.
With this new contribution, Ranovus will also increase its workforce in Canada to 200 full-time employees and provide opportunities to 150 Canadian co-op students.
During the announcement, Champagne also highlighted Canada’s position in semiconductor innovation, amid increased volatility in global supply chains following the migration of semiconductor manufacturing away from China, saying, “we can choose collectively to be better prepared.”
He added that it is crucial that “he [President Biden] acknowledges the agreement we reached with IBM, and that Canadians probably learned from his speech that the largest testing, packaging and manufacturing center for semiconductors in North America happens to be in Canada.”