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Intel’s $2 billion 65nm investment at Leixlip, Ireland, has funded an additional cleanroom at Leixlip for work on 65nm processes. The investment added 6,000m² of manufacturing cleanroom space, and 65nm manufacturing equipment. Production began in the first half of 2006. Fab 24 was the company's third 90nm facility, and its fourth to manufacture 300mm wafers. The 90nm process already uses strained silicon, high-speed copper interconnects and low-k dielectrics.

In 2005, Leixlip failed to attract a new US$3bn 45nm investment, which instead went to Arizona. The Irish government had previously been refused approval to pay Intel €100m in grants towards the construction of Fab 24-2.

DOUBLES TRANSISTOR DENSITY

Intel's leading-edge transistors include second generation strained silicon with 10%-15% improved drive current, 1.2nm gate oxide and 35nm gates. They have NiSi for a low resistance cap on gates and source-drains, lower interconnect capacitance through low-k carbon doped oxide dielectric and 0.7x line length scaling. Intel has shipped 65nm dual-core microprocessors on 300mm wafers.

Intel's 65nm technology roughly doubles transistor density. The additional transistors provide dual- and multi-cores and improved cache, to innovative technologies such as virtualization and security.

Intel's first dual-core mobile processor, codenamed Yonah, designed for the Napa platform, is based on the 65nm process and shipped in the first quarter of 2006. Several 65nm server products include the product codenamed Dempsey on the Bensley platform and the ultradense server product Sossaman. Intel is shipping dual-core processors codenamed Merom for mobile platforms, Conroe for desktops platforms and Woodcrest for server platforms, all using 65nm.

The second generation of Intel strained silicon increases transistor performance by 10% to 15% without increasing leakage. Conversely, the transistors can cut leakage by four times at constant performance compared to 90nm transistors. Transistors have a gate length of 35 nanometers and a gate oxide thickness of 1.2 nanometers. The reduced gate capacitance ultimately lowers a chip's active power. The new process also integrates 8 copper interconnect layers and a "low-k" dielectric material.

"Sleep transistors" in the 65nm SRAM shut off the current flow to large blocks of the SRAM when they are not being used to eliminate a significant source of power consumption, especially for battery-powered devices like laptops.

An ultra-low-power 65nm process technology under development will deliver power savings on mobile platforms and small-form-factor devices. This process addresses sub-threshold leakage, junction leakage and gate oxide leakage. Total leakage is reduced by roughly 1,000 times from Intel's standard process while maintaining about 50% of the drive current.

Intel's 65nm logic technology was developed at the 300mm wafer fab, D1D, located in Hillsboro, Oregon. At 176,000ft², D1D is Intel's largest individual clean room (roughly the size of 3.5 football fields). In addition to D1D, the 65nm process will be manufactured on 300mm wafers in Fab 24 in Ireland and Fab 12 in Arizona.

PLANT ANTICIPATES GLOBAL SEMICONDUCTOR RECOVERY

The Irish semiconductor sector has taken a battering in recent years, with many IC manufacturers moving to lower cost regions. Under an agreement with the IDA (Irish Development Authority), Intel receives grants and other potential incentives as it continues to invest in Ireland. Intel's 2004 capital expenditure forecast range of $3.6 billion to $4 billion will accommodate the spending for the early project stages.

Intel has manufactured semiconductors in Ireland since 1990, and has invested around $6 billion there in this time. Some 4,700 Intel employees and contractors work at the Ireland site, mostly in Leixlip. This campus includes Irish Fab Operations (Fab10 and Fab14) along with the more recently built Fab 24. The company operates a circuit design centre, Intel Communications Europe, focused on communications products in Shannon. Intel is also engaged in a range of research collaborations with third level institutions in Ireland including DCU, TCD, NUI Maynooth, UCC, UCD and Queens University.

Intel's Irish facilities are the company's most extensive outside of the US. Intel's Irish workforce will rise to above 5,000 after the new expansion.