Intel is preparing to open the doors of its new $3 billion manufacturing facility in Chandler, Ariz., Oct. 25. The facility, known as Fab 32, will begin mass-producing Intels first round of 45-nanometer microprocessors.
Fab 32 is a major step forward for the company as it looks to make a major shift from 65-nm processors to the 45-nm chips—collectively known as "Penryn." The first of Intels Penryn chips for high-end desktops, workstations and servers are expected to ship Nov. 12.
Intels 45-nm shift is significant because it moves the chip maker to a new manufacturing process several months ahead of rival Advanced Micro Devices, which will not ramp up to 45 nm until next year. The switch will also help Intel trim costs, since it will now be able to produce more processors on a single 300-millimeter wafer than it could under the 65-nm process.
When Intel announced its third-quarter financial results, part of the reason for its net income of $1.9 billion was the reduced manufacturing costs associated with the switch to 45-nm manufacturing. Company officials also have announced they will reduce costs and eliminate another 2,000 jobs.
For Intels OEM partners, and ultimately consumers, Fab 32s opening means the company will be able to ramp up to full-volume Penryn production shortly after the chip lines official launch, thereby getting the chips into vendors hands faster. Intel will open two other volume 45-nm fabs next year: Fab 28 in Kiryat Gat, Israel, and Fab 11x in Rio Rancho, N.M.
Until now, Intel produced its 45-nm processors only at its R&D facility in Oregon.
In Intels road map, the switch to producing 45-nm chips will be the focus for the remainder of 2007 and into 2008. By this time next year, Intel plans to introduce a new microarchitecture—code-named Nehalem—which will be produced on the 45-nm process before another switch to a 32-nm process in 2009.
The Arizona factory will also be the first to produce chips that use Intels Hi-k metal gate transistor processor technology, which reduces energy leakage and increases power.
In addition to the processors, Intel has built green technologies into the 1 million-square-foot facility, including features that allow the company to reuse and conserve about 70 percent of the water it needs to run the fab. When Fab 32 is fully up and running, it will employ about 1,000 people.