Intel Opens Expanded Chip Plant
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Despite the high-tech slump, semiconductor giant Intel Corp. on Wednesday opened a $2 billion expansion of its chip-making plant in New Mexico to meet demand when the economy rebounds.
The expansion, called Fab 11X, will build microprocessors on 12-inch silicon wafers using the most advanced process technology, said Paul Otellini, Intel’s president.
``As computing and communications devices converge, the need for increasingly complex components with more capabilities will grow,″ he said. ``This facility will help us meet that growing demand.″
Intel, which is best known for its Pentium-branded processors, also makes communications processors, flash memory and other silicon-based chips. The expanded plant will build Pentium 4, Pentium 3 Mobile and other processors, Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said.
The facility in Rio Rancho, N.M., will produce chips more efficiently than factories that manufacture chips on 8-inch wafers, Intel said. The newer wafers have 225 percent more surface area than older ones.
In addition, chips made at Fab 11X will have some of the smallest circuitry in the industry _ just 130 nanometers. Still, Intel plans to ratchet the features size down to 90 nanometers next year.
A nanometer is about 10,000 times narrower than a human hair.
Fab 11X adds more than 200,000 square feet of clean room space to the existing 300,000-square-foot facility. The expansion, built over two years, has 3.5 miles of railway for automatic robots, 500 miles of copper cabling and 24 miles of optical cabling.
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