Intel will start to break ground on a new fabrication facility for semiconductors in Chandler, Ariz., a $2 billion investment designed to allow the company to adopt some of the latest silicon technology.
The Arizona fab will essentially become Intel's first factory for mass producing chips out of 300 millimeter wafers, said Mike Splinter, senior vice president at Intel. Today's silicon wafers measure 200 millimeters in diameter. By moving to the larger wafers, costs will drop while the number of chips produced per wafer will increase by around 30 percent.
"We will be able to get two times the units out of the same floor space," Splinter said. When the site goes live, Intel will have more than 13 fabs, a spokesman stated.
While semiconductor companies often tout scientific breakthroughs or innovative designs, financial success is often determined by fab management. These factories, which can employ 1,000 or more workers, represent huge capital investments. The majority of semiconductor companies today, in fact, don't own fabs but instead hire foundries such as TSMC or IBM to manufacture their chips or sell their designs to other companies, which in turn make chips.
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