Intel Goes On Spending Spree to Build Mega Fab Hub in Ohio

Intel plans to invest more than US$20 billion to build two brand new cutting-edge wafer fabrication facilities in Ohio.

The investment plan is part of the PC microprocessor giant’s massive capacity expansion plan for its own IDM or integrated device manufacturing business as well as foundry service business, as chip demand is exploding across all boards.

Intel plans to invest US$100 billion in Ohio over the next decade to build 6 more fab, making the region one of the largest semiconductor manufacturing sites in the world.

But it also represents Intel’s fab onshoring strategy – a move to regain U.S. leadership in global semiconductor chip market – as the chip giant is inviting a wealth of ecosystem partners to join its U.S chip making ecosystem.                  

Dozens of ecosystem partners and suppliers will join the Ohio-based ecosystem, including semiconductor equipment and materials suppliers as well as a range of service providers.

They include Air Products, Applied Materials, LAM Research and Ultra Clean Technology, juts to name three.

Hybrid fabs  

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger speaks Friday, Jan. 21, 2022, in Licking County, Ohio, during an event to announce Intel’s plans for an initial investment of more than $20 billion in the construction of two new leading-edge chip factories. (Credit : Intel Corporation)

“Today’s investment marks another significant way Intel is leading the effort to restore U.S. semiconductor manufacturing leadership,” said Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Intel.

“Intel’s actions will help build a more resilient supply chain and ensure reliable access to advanced semiconductors for years to come. Intel is bringing leading capability and capacity back to the United States to strengthen the global semiconductor industry. These factories will create a new epicenter for advanced chipmaking in the U.S. that will bolster Intel’s domestic lab-to-fab pipeline and strengthen Ohio’s leadership in research and high tech,” he added.  

Construction of the two fabs is expected to begin in late 2022. Commercial production will come online in 2025.

“The impact of this mega-site investment will be profound,” said Keyvan Esfarjani, Intel senior vice president of Manufacturing, Supply Chain and Operations. “A semiconductor factory is not like other factories. Building this semiconductor mega-site is akin to building a small city, which brings forth a vibrant community of supporting services and suppliers. Ohio is an ideal location for Intel’s U.S. expansion because of its access to top talent, robust existing infrastructure, and long history as a manufacturing powerhouse. The scope and pace of Intel’s expansion in Ohio, however, will depend heavily on funding from the CHIPS Act.”

Open Up Angstrom Era  

The two fabs will serve two purposes – both for Intel’s own chip fabrication and foundry contract chip-making for chips of others’ design, delivering the most advanced chip processing technology like Intel 18A.

Intel 18A is the latest and most advanced chip processing technology on its technology roadmap for Angstrom era family of chip design, of which node is measured in angstrom -unit of measurement smaller than nanometer.

Referring to 20nm chip circuitry, Intel 20A is the first chip of the family built around a new breed of chip architecture RibbonFET.

Already in development for 2025, Intel 18A is a new refinement to the RibbonFET architecture.                

 “With IFS, or Intel Foundry Service, Intel is opening its factory doors wide to serve the needs of foundry customers around the globe – many of whom are looking for more geographical balance in the semiconductor supply chain,” said Dr. Randhir Thakur, senior vice president and president of Intel Foundry Services.

“The Ohio factories are designed for the ‘Angstrom era,’ with support for Intel’s most advanced process technologies, including Intel 18A. These technologies are critical for enabling next-generation foundry customer products across a range of applications, from high-performance mobile to artificial intelligence.”