Intel opens $250m 300mm wafer R&D plant

Working on optical interconnects among other things

Intel today opened a $250 million research facility. Its remit: to develop next-generation chips that will be built on 300mm wafers.

The facility is based around a 56,000 sq ft cleanroom and is built next door to Intel's mainstream Fab 20 and development fab D1C.

The plant - dubbed RP1, short for Research and Pathfinding - will provide space for boffins to work on "copper and optical interconnects", "environmentally friendly manufacturing processes" (about time too), and "high-performance" transistors.

Of course, all the development work that will take place at RP1 would have taken place anyway, whatever size wafers Intel happened to be using at the time.

So what's the big deal? What we have here is a fine piece of spin medicine - it's all about helping persuading industry and analysts that Intel's 300mm wafer technology is mature enough to support ancillary R&D work.

"Intel now has all stages of its 300mm technology pipeline in place," says one Dr Sunlin Chou, who's a senior VP and general manager with Intel's Technology and Manufacturing Group.

Intel's release continues: "As a research and pathfinding facility, RP1 is different from Intel's development fabs. Pathfinding is a key crossover phase between research and development. Since RP1 supports 300mm wafers, it allows Intel engineers to share wafers between research and development. This allows Intel to accelerate the introduction of advanced technologies in future products, which will be manufactured at high-volume facilities." ®