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AMD's Fab 36 Control Room

Fab 36 Technician Unpacking Wafers

First Batch of Wafers Produced at Fab 36
The company prepares for next generation fabrication technology with an investment of over half a billion dollars USD

AMD began production of 90nm parts on 300mm wafers right on time this year at its Fab 36 location in Dresden, Germany. The company stated in its Q4 Earnings conference call to shareholders that production on revenue generating products is well underway. AMD's CEO Hector Ruiz said that AMD expects Fab 36 to be in full production by 2008.

However, recent reports indicate that AMD is attempting to raise capital in excess of $500 million USD to expand Fab 36 production equipment to support a move to 65nm -- the next big step for fabrication. Intel itself is already producing its Core Duo parts  on the new fabrication process and AMD said during its call that it expects to aggressively compete with Intel.

"We'll work our buns off to beat [Intel]. When we went from 180 [nm fabrication process] to 130, we were able to cut that in about half of that same time. Then when we went from 130 to 90, the time that it took to get there was significantly shorter. And our goal now going from 90 to 65, frankly, from the time we start shipping part, we'd like to be at mature yield," said Hector Ruiz, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of AMD.

According to the above statement, AMD is expecting that its ramp up to 65nm fabrication technology is going to happen fairly soon. Intel meanwhile, is already demonstrating its own capabilities with SRAM silicon manufactured at 45nm. According to the reports, AMD announcement of ramp timings as well as its CEO's statements match up pretty well. A quick run down of activities at AMD's Dresden facilities in chronological order:

2002 Production transition to 130 nm technology
2003 First Shipments of AMD Opteron and AMD Athlon 64 processors
2004 Construction of AMD Fab 36 Transition to 90 nm technology in AMD Fab 30
2005 Shipments of AMD Dual Core Processors out of AMD Fab 30 AMD Fab 36 tool move-in, start of test wafers

It takes researchers a minimum of 9 months for lithography tools to be built by tool manufacturers before they can be shipped to and used by AMD, and considering AMD's expectations for manufacturing in 65nm to ramp quickly, availability of parts may happen sooner than later. AMD also recently stated that it expects to be announcing quad-core processors at the tail end of the year right into 2007, and 65nm technology would definitely play a big role in delivering on that goal.




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