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Intel makes The Register sweat

Part I: Facts and figures from Fab 11

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Executives at the Intel Corporation took The Register for a bunny-suited tour of Fab 11 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and made us sweat. But more on perspiration later. From the outside, the plant looks unexceptional, a two or in some places three story building, but there are three floors below ground. Security at the front of the building is relatively tight. Employees and visitors have their bags examined as they enter, and there are several guards posted at the entrance. Most of the functions of the fab itself are controlled from one room, but as far as we could tell, this room does not have fail over. At the back of the building, is a car park but we couldn't tell what security was like there. One of our journalistic colleagues on the tour said, that as far as he could tell, there were no major back up systems in place for electrical supply. Plant manager Brian Harrison said that Intel New Mexico is the company's largest wafer fabrication site. It started in 1982, while Fab 11 itself started in 1993. There are over 5000 employees working there, with a total of 350,000 square feet (35,000 square metres). At the moment, there are two separate fabs in three buildings. Although there is some more room for additional development, we were told that it was unlikely Intel would build extra fab facilities there. According to Harrison, Intel believes Fab 11 is the biggest wafer production facility in the known universe. Currently, Fab 11 ships thousands of 200mm wafer a month in 0.35 micron and 0.25 micron logic (but see related story). Pre-production material for 0.25 micron (P802) Flash memory is in progress and successful prototype products have come off line. State of the art process tools cost between $2 million and $6 million and the capital investment in Fab 11 is currently over $2 billion. Each wafer, said Harrison, goes through around 400 individual steps as it travels through the line, with 80 per cent of the steps common to both logic and Flash products. ®

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