SAN JOSE, Calif. Preparing for a new and steep ramp of advanced microprocessor lines, Intel Corp. on Wednesday (Nov. 2) is expected to announce the “re-opening” of its wafer fab in Arizona. The newly-converted fab will produce 65-nm microprocessors and other products on 300-mm substrates.
The Chandler-based plant, dubbed Fab 12, represents Intel’s fifth 300-mm fab to date. Over time, Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.) said that it plans to own a total of three 300-mm, 65-nm fabs and for good reason. The company is readying a number of new microprocessor lines based on its 65-nm process in an effort to fend off competitive pressures from rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD).
In early 2004, Intel began a $2 billion construction project to convert its Chandler-based Fab 12 plant from a 200- to 300-mm facility. The conversion of Fab 12 was scheduled to be completed in late 2005. The converted facility was supposed to begin initial production on 65-nm processes (see April 21, 2004 story).
At the time, the company shut down that fab for renovation for 18 months. As part of the conversion project, it sent over 800 Fab 12 employees to other Intel fabs in Ireland, Oregon and New Mexico. Employees received advanced training on the newest 300-mm technologies.
The 300-mm conversion project is now complete and the company is producing microprocessors in Fab 12, said Bob Baker, senior vice president and general manger of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group. “We’ve been on a production ramp [in Fab 12],” Baker said in an interview. “It’s about where we expected to be 18 months ago.”
Eventually, Fab 12 will represent the company’s third 300-mm, 65-nm plant. The initial 65-nm designs are being produced within its D1D fab in Hillsboro, Oregon, which was originally announced back in 2001 (see May 14, 2001 story). In 2006, Intel will expand its 300-mm fab in Ireland, which will also produce 65-nm designs, according to Baker.
Intel has been working on 65-nm designs for some time. The company has been shipping its initial multi-core, 65-nm processors “for revenues” starting in the third quarter, he said.
“Intel has a slew of products coming out within a span of the next two or three quarters that could help it close the technology gap with AMD,” said Les Santiago, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, in a recent report.
“During the [third] quarter, Intel launched Paxville, its first dual-core MPU for servers,” Santiago said. “Dempsey, a 65-nm-based dual-core MPU with 2-MB of flash and a higher bus and core speed, should follow in early 2006, thereafter followed by a processor based on the next-generation micro architecture, codenamed Woodcrest, in 2H 06.”
Besides the product ramp, the new 300-mm fab capacity should “ease some capacity woes” for the microprocessor giant, he said. For some time, Intel has suffered from shortages for its chipset lines, which are geared for notebook PCs.