The construction of Intel's first wafer fab for processing 450mm diameter wafers is "well underway," having started in January 2013, an Intel spokesperson tells EE Times.
The fab -- known as D1X module 2 -- is intended to be a development fab for production of ICs on 450mm diameter wafers. However, the breaking of ground for the wafer fab was not widely reported at the time it occurred.
Intel did announce in October 2012 that it was seeking permission to expand D1X with a second module, to accommodate "new manufacturing technology," but it only distributed the press release to local Oregon press and did not post the news on its website.
The first D1X module is expected to be the first wafer fab to produce 14nm FinFET chips for Intel on 300mm diameter wafers. Back in October 2012 Intel said construction of D1X module 2 would begin in 2013 and take more than two years to complete, with wafer manufacturing equipment installation expected to begin in 2015, which would put first wafers out in 2016.
D1X module 2 is also expected to be connected to the existing D1X with the likelihood that this will include a link between clean rooms.
Construction of D1X module 2 began in January 2013 after the necessary permissions were obtained, according to an Intel spokesperson. The fab is expected to cost $2 billion, not including equipment, but there is no schedule for when the fab will start, the spokesperson added.
"We have not said when it will come online because we have not said when we expect to have 450mm wafer production. Nor have we forecast a process node for 450mm," the spokesperson said in email to EE Times.
Intel rival foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. is the only other company with any sort of development push on 450mm production. Back in June 2012 it was reported that the Taiwanese government had approved a proposal to build a 450mm wafer fab in central Taiwan early in 2014. The total cost, including equipment, was expected to be about $8 billion, but the fab was predicted to be capable of producing wafers with a value of about $6.7 billion per year in 2019. TSMC said back in 2011 that it planned to install 450mm pilot lines within a couple of established wafer fabs -- Fab 12 in Hsinchu and Fab 15 in Taichung, Taiwan.