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AMD to reveal 300mm fab partner any day now

That's what it promised earlier this year

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Where is AMD going to build its first factory to produce 300mm wafers? The plant, timetabled by the chip maker to go on stream as a pilot sometime in 2003 before beginning volume production in 2005, has yet to be located.

What is known is that AMD is seeking to operate the facility as a joint venture with a second, as yet unnamed party. The plant's location will ultimately be decided by AMD and its partner. So while the head of the company's Fab 30 in Dresden, Hans-Raimond Deppe, can say that his factory "is a natural choice", that's by no means certain.

Back in August, Dirk Meyer, the head of AMD's computer products division, said the company would name its 300mm fab partner by the end of the year. With less than a month left to 2001, we expect AMD's news any day now.

AMD's Fab 30 is currently churning out Athlons and Durons using a 0.18 micron process. AMD has already committed itself to shrinking its dice to 0.13 micron, beginning early next year, with full-scale production kicking in around mid-2002. Fab 30 will also produce all of AMD's 64-bit Hammer CPUs, due to sample this time next year.

At this stage, AMD is keener on getting its 0.13 micron process right than trying to migrate to 300mm wafers at the same time - as its arch-rival, Intel, is trying to do. AMD has enough on its plate implementing silicon-on-insulator too. SOI will be introduced mid-2002 in time for the introduction of Hammer, though work on the technology has already begun.

Intel has to move to 300mm quickly, of course, because its P4 and Itanium die sizes are so large, though, like AMD, they will be much-reduced by the shift to 0.13 micron.

Still, Intel arguably sets the pace of development in the processor industry, and many observers - and investors - will be keen to hear just how AMD's 300mm plans are progressing. At their heart lies the choice of partner, so we hope AMD isn't too late in revealing who it intends to work with. ®

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