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New facility will employ an estimated 4,300 workers

The Republic of Ireland has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world -- 12.5 percent.  A common criticism is that while some companies shelter wealth in the European Union state, there's been little return in terms of real jobs.

But Intel Corp. (INTC) is putting not just its money, but its jobs where its mouth is, announcing an ambitious plan for a expansive $4B USD 14 nanometer chip plant, to be constructed over the next two years.

Final approval of the plan is still pending from Intel's board, but assuming it receives their blessing, the project would generate an estimated 3,500 construction jobs and 800 permanent high-tech circuit fabrication jobs.

The plant would expand on a smaller scale test facility dubbed Fab 14 (rechristening it "Fab 24", according to some slides), located in the mid-island County Kildare.  Located in the town of Leixlip, 20 minutes west of Dublin, the current facility employs around 4,000 people.  In early 2011 Intel poured $500M USD into construction at the facility.

Intel clean room employees
Intel's Leixlip facilities [pictured] will be expanded this year to accomodate 14 nm production.
[Image Source: Press Photographers Assoc. of Ireland]

According to documents from the An Bord Pleanála, a local regulatory agency which approved the plan last Thursday, the 14 nm fab will be housed in a brand new building on the existing campus with 244,819 sq. meters of floor space.  101,000 square meters will be devoted to a three-story fabrication facility housing the open-air clean room where the integrated circuits (ICs) will be assembled.  The clean room level will be supported by the two additional utility floors and will be serviced by an air conditioning mezzanine and utility trenches.

Other buildings/structures will be devoted to chemical storage, wastewater storage, diesel backup power generation, a two-story boiler/chiller facility, a runoff retention pond, a multi-story parking garage, and a general purpose support building.

Intel 14 nm fab
The 14 nm fab will be one of Intel's three major global production locations.
[Image Source: Intel]

The local Kildare County Council approved the plan in August 2012.

Intel's 22 nanometer process aired last year in 2012.  The next die shrink to 14 nm arrives next year in 2014.  Retiring Intel CEO Paul Otellini said in May that Leixlip would join a pair of American fabs in Oregon and Arizona as the primary producers of 14 nm product.

The Leixlip facility is expected to play an important ongoing role in future die shrinks, as well, as Intel takes aim at the 10 nm, 7 nm, and 5 nm nodes.  The 14 nm architecture, slated for 2014, is code-named Broadwell; the next die-shrink (10 nm) is dubbed Skymont and is targeted at a 2016 launch.

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), a rival chipmaker, is currently testing 14 nm prototypes of its own, and has plans for 14 nm facilities, although its timeline is less clear.  Globalfoundries has promised to deliver 14 nm FinFET chips the same year as Intel -- 2014 -- according to plans announced last September.




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