IDA Ireland has revealed that it has so far ploughed €191m in investment in financial support for Intel’s Leixlip facilities and has committed to investing a total of €150m to support the construction of Intel’s US$2.1bn Fab 24 chip fabrication facility, the company’s largest outside the US.
An IDA Ireland spokesman told siliconrepublic.com that throughout the company’s decade-long tenure in Leixlip, which began with the construction of its Fab 10 to manufacture Intel 486 microprocessors and motherboards, the development agency has invested some €191m to date, split between capital investment and employment grants.
“We are now paying them grants up to €50m this year for Fab 24 and we are committed to provide Intel with grants totalling more than €150m up to the completion of Fab 24’s construction,” he said.
Intel currently employs more than 3,150 people at the Leixlip operation, with a further 1,000 in permanent employment with long-term subcontractors to Intel. There is also a further 82 people employed at Intel Communications Europe, located in Shannon, Co Clare, which is the product development arm of Intel’s Communications Products Group, dedicated to the design and development of advanced broadband technologies for network access devices. When fully operational, Fab 24 is expected to employ 1,000 people. To date, there are already 300 people assigned to the Fab 24 project.
The IDA spokesman expressed delight and relief at the news in April that the chip giant was to recommence construction of Fab 24, which was halted by the world’s plunge into the worst tech recession in history in 2001.
The projected cost of Fab 24 is US$2bn, of which US$250m was spent by the middle of this year. By the end of this year, the total investment in Leixlip will be US$3.5bn and by 2005 this investment will increase to over US$5bn. Construction employment will grow rapidly to approximately 1,500. The new fab will contain 160,000 sq ft of cleanroom, with slightly more than one million sq ft of space for the total facility.
Fab 24 will enable Intel to make an exponential leap into cheaper, faster and more powerful chips that will power everything from personal digital assistants (PDAs), phones and PCs to some of the world’s fastest and most powerful servers and supercomputers. Fab 24 will be prepared for production of chips on 300mm wafers using Intel’s next generation 90-nanometer logic technology in the first half of 2004.
With the new 90 nanometer process technology, Intel is in place to extend its record of introducing a new process generation every two years in adherence with Moore’s Law. Intel researchers have succeeded in building a 52MB chip that is capable of storing 52 million individual bits of information, each containing 330 million transistors on a chip only 109mm in size — smaller than a 10 cent coin. This compares to having 54 million transistors in today’s Pentium 4 chips.
By John Kennedy