April 25, 2013
Nano deal is change that spans continents
By: Larry Rulison
Source: Times Union
Seven years ago, leaders in the Saxony region of
Germany couldn't be bothered by the Capital Region or its dreams of
building a semiconductor industry.
The German region, which is
called Silicon Saxony, is home to a large number of computer chip
manufacturing equipment companies, as well as GlobalFoundries, which
operates two chip "fabs" in Dresden. The fabs were formerly owned by
Advanced Micro Devices.
So when state leaders announced in 2006 a
$1.3 billion deal to beat out Dresden and other cities for AMD's newest
fab, Saxony's political and business class were not amused.
continued to assert for nearly a year and a half they were still in the
running for the chip factory, which GlobalFoundries, a spin-off of AMD,
ended up building in Malta in 2009. After an expansion of the facility
that's currently under way, GlobalFoundries will have spent $7 billion,
with as much as $16 billion more in new investment in Malta possible by
That — as well as the state's new $4.8 billion computer chip
manufacturing initiative at the College of Nanoscale Science and
Engineering — is likely the main reason why the prime minister of Saxony
visited Albany last week looking to open doors here for Dresden's
The visit followed a letter Saxony Prime
Minister Stanislaw Tillich wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January saying
he would be in town for a couple of days as part of a weeklong business
trip to the United States that also included a visit to the
GlobalFoundries plant in Malta.
Last Wednesday, per instructions
from the governor, Tillich and a large contingent of business and
political leaders toured the NanoCollege and met with Lt. Gov. Bob
Duffy. At the end of the visit, NanoCollege officials and Silicon Saxony
e.V., a consortium of semiconductor firms in Saxony, signed a research
and development agreement that could lead to German companies
establishing a presence in New York.
The agreement follows the
Israeli government striking a $3 billion research deal with the school
last month, as well as a visit by European Union Vice President Neelie
Kroes, who visited the NanoCollege in February.
CEO of the NanoCollege, said that the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Europe's
largest applied research organization with 22,000 employees, is also
looking at having a presence at the NanoCollege.
which has amassed $14 billion in private and government investment at
its campus on Fuller Road, has become the focus of the international
semiconductor industry after Cuomo announced the $4.8 billion Global 450
Consortium. G450C, as it's called includes five of the world's largest
chip companies that are sharing the costs of moving the industry from
using 12-inch silicon wafers to make chips to 18-inch wafers, which have
a diameter of 450 millimeters.
New factories using 450mm wafers
are expected to dominate the industry but will cost more than $10
billion each, compared to between $4 billion and $7 billion for today's
Europe has been struggling over how much it should spend on
supporting the 450mm transition. In the meantime, companies have been
flocking to the NanoCollege hoping to have a presence inside NanoFab X,
the NanoCollege's new $365 million building that will be home to a pilot
450mm manufacturing line. The G450C is expected to set most of the
standards and agenda for future computer chip factories.
changed from we would like to have access (to G450C) to we need to have
access," Kaloyeros said of the urgency of officials in Saxony and