Intel Antes Up $3B for New Wafer Fab
Bigger wafers and smaller line widths is what chip making has always been about,
and today is no different. Intel announced this week it will build a new wafer
fabrication facility – called a “fab” -- in Chandler, Arizona
that will make 300mm silicon wafers covered with chips with line widths of just
It promises to be a complex project.
"[The new fab is] the modern equivalent of building the pyramids but
in 24 months," says Bob Baker, senior vice president of Intel’s
Technology and Manufacturing group. "It will be our first high-volume
facility for 45 nanometer [technology]," he adds.
Total cost will be in the neighborhood of $3 billion, and the plant will support
about 1,000 new jobs.
The new plant, to begin operation in late 2007, will be Intel's first
volume production wafer fab to make the 45nm chips, and its sixth plant to make
300mm wafers, according to Intel execs. The finished facility – dubbed
Fab 32 – will be a total of a million square feet with 184,000 square
feet of clean room space.
The move to 300mm wafer manufacturing technology means that the company can
turn out twice as many chips with half the number of fabs, according to an Intel
statement. The larger wafers are about 12-inches in diameter as opposed to 200mm
wafers which are approximately 8 inches across. That means that the 300mm wafers
have 225 percent more space than the smaller wafers.
Larger wafers reduce production costs per chip, and also use fewer resources.
Intel estimates the new fab will use 40 percent less energy and water per chip
than a 200-mm wafer factory.
The 45nm technology is two generations ahead of today's 90nm chips. Intel
will begin producing chips based on 65nm technology later this year, Baker said.
Executives for Santa Clara, California-based Intel said the company will also
invest $105 million dollars to convert an existing inactive wafer fab in New
Mexico to a component temporary test facility. The project will provide additional
test capacity to the company's factory network for the next two years and will
result in an additional 300 jobs at the New Mexico site during that period.
Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.