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Intel is firing 300 workers, six per cent of its Irish workforce, at a plant near Dublin because the product they have been making is obsolete.

The plant is at Leixlip, County Kildare, and a three-month long consultation process has begun with the workers involved, meaning the first departures will be in October. These are Intel's first mandatory redundancies in Ireland.

Two factories on the site will be consolidated and the process line in one, Fab 14, will be closed down. Demand for the product it makes is falling and Intel says its equipment is outdated. Apparently both fabs made 200mm wafers, while newer processes use 300mm ones.

Intel started its Leixlip operations in 1989. Fab 14 was started up in 1995 and has been working in conjunction with Fab 10 to produce flash memory and logic devices. There is a third fab - actually a pair of fabs, jointly called Fab 24 - on the site, which processes 300mm wafers.

When Intel set up the Numonyx joint-venture with STMicroelectronics in 2007 the Leixlip facility was not included. Intel contributed NOR flash operations to Numonyx with STMIcroelectronics contributing NAND and NOR flash.

It had been hoped that both Fab 10 and Fab 14 would be used to build Intel's 1270 processor, but that work is going to Intel plants in Arizona and Israel. Fab 14 will be prepared for new investment. There are 450 employees remaining in Fab 10, and questions are being asked about their long-term future.

Intel has already lost 200-300 jobs in its Irish workforce through a voluntary redundancy programme that came to a finish in May. The latest program, with the same eight-weeks pay for every year of service, will reduce Intel's total Leixlip workforce to 4,200, down from a peak of 5,000.

Dell closed down its Limerick operation earlier in the year, sending the jobs to Poland. Intel has assured the Irish government that it is staying in Ireland, where it has invested more than $6bn. ®

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