Intel is currently preparing production of its next-generation 32nm chips, codenamed Sandy Bridge. These will be built at the company's latest and largest fabrication plants, known in the industry as "Fabs". Mass production of Sandy Bridge is ramping up at the Fab 32 "Megafab" in Chandler, Arizona, and is being followed by Fab 11X in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Fab 32 has a very large cleanroom at 320,000 square feet, but is eclipsed by Fab 11X's massive 370,000 sq. ft cleanroom.
Although the world' largest semiconductor company currently has the manufacturing lead, it is not sitting still. The firm showed off its first 22nm shuttle wafers at the 2009 Intel Developer Forum, and is working on its first 22nm products, codenamed “Ivy Bridge” at its D1D research facility in Hillsboro, Oregon. Microprocessors built on the 22nm process are expected to run faster, consume less power, and cost less to produce than the current 32nm and older 45nm processes. Ivy Bridge is expected to enter mass production in late 2011 with third generation High-k Metal Gate technology. The company also has plans for a 50-core HPC chip to be built on the process.
Intel has announced today that it will spend $6-8 billion to support these future manufacturing technology advancements in Arizona and Oregon. The investment supports the creation of 6000-8000 construction jobs and 800-1000 permanent jobs. While Intel generates approximately 75% of its revenues from sales overseas, 75% of its microprocessor manufacturing is based in the United States.
Fab 12 and Fab 32 in Chandler will be upgraded with new equipment over the next year to handle the majority of Intel's 22nm production. Obsolete equipment will be moved out this quarter, and new tooling will be installed early next year. The D1C and D1D development fabs at Intel's Ronler Acres Campus in Hillsboro will also be upgraded to handle 22nm mass production. This is similar to Intel's 32nm mass production strategy.
Part of the investment will also go towards a brand-new development fab in Oregon to be called “D1X”. It is scheduled for R&D startup in 2013, the same year that Intel is planning to introduce its 15nm process. D1X may help introduce production on 450mm (18-inch) wafers at a later date, which are significantly larger than today's 300mm (12 inch) wafers. Larger wafer sizes are more cost-effective to produce, but are also riskier to develop.
“Intel makes approximately 10 billion transistors per second. Our factories produce the most advanced computer technology in the world and these investments will create capacity for innovation we haven’t yet imagined,” said Brian Krzanich, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Intel’s Manufacturing and Supply Chain.
“Intel and the world of technology lie at the heart of this future. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we can retain a vibrant manufacturing economy here in the United States by focusing on the industries of the future”.
The computer industry is seeing booming sales this year, with one million PCs shipping per day, according to Intel. The company believes that it needs these upgraded fabs not only to create the capacity for the continued growth of the PC market, but also to enter new computing markets such as mobile internet devices and embedded computing.