week Intel CEO Paul Otellini was named to President Barack
Obama's jobs council. This week he went to work announcing that he
would be creating a bunch of jobs.
Intel announced [press
release] plans to open a $5B USD semiconductor fab, dubbed Fab 42.
Fab 42 will be located in the desert, near Chandler, Arizona, alongside
the currently active Fab 32 that produces Intel's Sandy Bridge chips. The
new fab will create chips on an incredibly small 14 nanometer (nm) process,
shrunk considerably from the 32 nm process that current-generation Intel CPUs
are constructed on.
For those of you who snoozed in high school physics, Intel puts this
microscopic transistor size in context, stating, "A nanometer is
one-billionth of a meter or the size one ninety-thousandth the width of an
average human hair."
The wafers produced will measure 300 millimeters, in line with current
generation yields. By cutting thermal losses, the die shrink should help
to increase the energy efficiency of Intel's CPUs -- assuming Intel can get the
issue of leakage current under control.
Brian Krzanich, senior vice president and general manager, Manufacturing and
Supply Chain states, "The products based on these leading-edge chips will
give consumers unprecedented levels of performance and power efficiency across
a range of computing devices from high-end servers to ultra-sleek portable
The plant will create 4,000 new high-tech manufacturing jobs. Currently
Intel sells three quarters of its microprocessors overseas, but manufacturers
three quarters of them within the U.S.
Mr Krzanich comments, "The investment positions our manufacturing network
for future growth. This fab will begin operations on a process that will allow
us to create transistors with a minimum feature size of 14 nanometers. For
Intel, manufacturing serves as the underpinning for our business and allows us
to provide customers and consumers with leading-edge products in high volume.
The unmatched scope and scale of our investments in manufacturing help Intel
maintain industry leadership and drives innovation."
Word of the brand new fab facility follows news in October 2010 that Intel
would be spending
$6-$8B USD on facilities in Oregon and Arizona. It's safe to
assume that the remaining $1-$3B USD will be applied to retooling the Oregon
facility in preparation for the next die shrink.
Together, the two projects are expected to create as many as 8,000 construction
jobs. The new plant is expected to be completed in 2013
Being on top of the game when it comes to manufacturing process is critical for
Intel as it faces an impending onslaught from high-speed
multi-core ARM processors in the laptop sector. Intel recently lost as much as
$1B USD when motherboards for its flagships CPU model, Sandy Bridge,
were forced to be recalled due to SATA failure issues. The chipset flaw
forced Intel's partners to also recall
some laptop models that bore the faulty chipset.
Still, Intel seems on a fast track to recovery, following an economic downturn
for the company that began around 2006. In 2006-2007 Intel announced 10,000 layoffs and closed several
facilities. Now it appears to be looking to re-expand, as the
economic climate warms up.