Intel begins $20bn project to “restore world leadership” in surging chip market

Intel’s image of site preparation work under way in Chandler
US chip-maker Intel has begun work on two factories at the company’s Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Arizona, with a combined value of $20bn.

The Fab 52 and Fab 62 plants will be the fifth and sixth at the site. They will be fitted with Intel’s latest technology, which the company hopes will enable it to make up ground on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSCM) in cutting-edge lithography.

Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s chief executive, commented in a press statement that the plan was intended to meet surging demand for semiconductors, which he described as “the foundational technology for the digitisation of everything”.

He said: “We are ushering in a new era of innovation – for Intel, for Arizona and for the world. This $20bn expansion will bring our total investment in Arizona to more than $50bn since opening the site over 40 years ago. As the only US-based leading-edge chip-maker, we are committed to building on this long-term investment and helping the US regain semiconductor leadership.”

He added that Intel planned to announce another campus site in America before the end of the year, and that one would eventually hold eight production plants.

The fabs will offer Intel’s most advanced process technologies, including the RibbonFET and PowerVia innovations in transistor architecture.

The plants will also host the Intel Foundry Services, an important element in the company’s turnaround plan. This will reserve capacity for customers such as Qualcomm and Amazon’s cloud computing business, as well as developing its manufacturing relationship with the US military.

The plants are expected to be complete by 2024. According to Intel, they will create more than 3,000 operational jobs as well as 3,000 construction positions.

Meanwhile, TSCM has also begun a number of expansion project around the world, including a $12bn factory in Arizona, which it is building with support from the state and federal government.

TSMC said that plant would produce up to 20,000 semiconductor wafers a month, directly employing more than 1,600 people, when it opened in 2024 (see further reading).

Image: Intel’s supplied image of site preparation work under way in Chandler

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