LONDON – Intel Corp. is set to spend $500 million as it re-commissions Fab 14 at its wafer fab site in Leixlip, Ireland, according to local reports. The move will create 200 long term technical jobs after a two-year build is completed. More importantly the investment looks set to secure the jobs at the three wafer fabs currently active there.
Fab 14 closed in the summer of 2009 with the loss of 298 jobs and reducing the number of wafer fabs Intel operates in Ireland to three; numbered 10, 24 and 24-2 where it runs relatively trailing edge processes at 90-nm and 65-nm. In February 2010 Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.) completed decommissioning the fab shell and even took at the perforated flooring that supports laminar airflow.
The $500 million could be the beginning of a fresh wave of investment if Leixlip is selected to become a center of excellence for a future generation of microprocessors. There has also been discussion that Leixlip could play a part in preparing Intel for production of chips on 450-mm diameter wafers.
It is not yet clear exactly what Intel has in mind for the new fab module.
"We were able to convince Paul [Otellini, CEO of Intel] that he couldn’t go anywhere else on the planet and get a better deal than in Leixlip, on any metric you want to pick. Whether it was cost, whether it was productivity, whether it was quality, responsive to customers, you name it," the Irish Times quoted Eamonn Sinnott, Intel vice president and general manager of operations in Ireland, as saying.
The 200 extra jobs help safeguard the hundreds of jobs at the other three fabs at Leixlip. I think Intel's decision was whether to pull out of Ireland (gradually) or to invest for one more spin of the technology carousel.
If Intel had opted to spend the money in, say, China then the atmosphere in Leixlip would have inevitably have become downbeat as the fab complex would have been gradually running down...even if it took a decade to finally close.
As it is Intel has been getting very close to the European Union over the last couple of years and that together with the good fundamental R&D that Intel has been getting (such as the junctionless transistor) out of Ireland probably helped persuade the company to spend again in Ireland.
That and the excellence of the fabs it already has up and running there which I think won some sort of internal Intel competition in 2010.
200 permanent jobs isn't that much. However, it is hoped that Intel will generate significant amount of output at the fab and help boost the Irish economy. But then, corporate taxes are quite low in Ireland anyway - hopefully the Irish Government will get some revenue
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