Xilinx unveils €52m extension

4 Mar 2003

Xilinx, one of the jewels in the crown of Ireland’s technology community, today unveiled a new €52m extension to its research and development (R&D), design and operations centre in Dublin.

The Silicon Valley-based company has also designated Ireland as its regional headquarters for Europe, which now accounts for 21pc of group turnover.

Xilinx, which makes microprocessors for a range of industrial applications, employs 350 people at the facility in Citywest Business Park on the outskirts of the capital and expects to increase that number to 500 over the coming years.

An Tánaiste Mary Harney TD officially opened the new facility, together with Xilinx president and chief executive officer Wim Roelandts.

Describing the latest development of the Irish facility as “a dream come true”, Belgium-born Roelandts said he felt it was important that the company has a strong operation in Europe. He added that the Irish workforce had contributed significantly to Xilinx’s success and paid particular tribute to Irish engineers who work on the company’s international chip design teams.

“We were one of the first companies to introduce 90 nanometre technology, a major milestone in semiconductor production. It means we can build chips less than half the size that we could with 130-nanometre technology. We’ve also done a lot of work producing chips from 300ml silicon wafer,” he said. “During the last quarter, 38pc of our production was done using 300ml, the highest proportion of any company in the world.”

As well as having a design role, Xilinx’s Dublin facility also engages in the testing and quality control of semiconductors made by its contract manufacturers in the Far East. In addition, Dublin is the regional hub for a range of other pan-European functions from finance to human resources. Most recently, Xilinx centralised its marketing and customer support activities and moved the development of its automotive technology division to Ireland. From now on, a marketing team based in Dublin will liaise with customers across Europe in order to develop business opportunities for automotive applications of semiconductors.

Speaking at the opening, Harney noted that the company was bucking the current trend of the IT marketplace. “At a time when many companies are downsizing, Xilinx is expanding,” she said.

Also present was Sean Dorgan, chief executive of the IDA, who said that the Xilinx investment was consistent with the IDA’s aim of attracting knowledge-based industry to Ireland. “It’s yet another example of a US multinational increasing its presence in Ireland,” he told siliconrepublic.com. “Despite the downturn in the information and communications technology sector, the five leading companies in the sector in Ireland employ more people now than they have ever done.”

By Brian Skelly