January 10, 2012
At Last, Chips From Chip Fab
By: Larry Rulison, Business Writer
Source: Times Union
MALTA — It's happening — for real.
Fab 8, the $4.6 billion computer chip factory under construction at the Luther Forest Technology Campus, has started making its first chips.
GlobalFoundries had said it would start running its first "silicon" in early 2012, referring to the 12-inch silicon wafers on which the microprocessors are produced.
But Monday, GlobalFoundries said it had "recently" started making chips for research and manufacturing partner IBM Corp., confirming that the first chips already are being produced — at least in small volumes. It typically takes about 10 weeks for a batch of wafers to be completed.
The chips GlobalFoundries is making are cutting-edge 32-nanometer devices originally developed by IBM and GlobalFoundries at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering. IBM will be making the new chips at its East Fishkill fab at the same time.
"This is the start of the process for producing the first wafers at Fab 8 for IBM, which is our first customer at Fab 8," said GlobalFoundries spokesman Travis Bullard. "The first wafer is a significant milestone in the ramp of the new fab, but we have a long way to go before we are producing chips in any volume for customers."
Volume production is expected in the second half of the year. The new 32-nanometer chips are made using IBM's silicon-on-insulator technology that IBM used in its Watson computer that won the "Jeopardy!" quiz show last year.
The new chips also are designed to speed performance of graphics in gaming, networking and multi-media devices. IBM spokesman Michael Corrado declined to name which manufacturers would use the new chips.
Both political and business leaders, some of whom had been told by GlobalFoundries that initial testing of wafer production was already under way last week, were thrilled by the announcement.
"I'm very excited," said Anita Daly, Clifton Park's county supervisor, who chairs the Board of Supervisors' economic development committee. "It shows that they are on target and moving forward."
F. Michael Tucker, president of the Center for Economic Growth in Albany, said the running of wafers is the first step toward the commissioning of the factory for full-scale production. When fully operational, Fab 8 will be able to process 60,000 wafers a month in its 300,000-square-foot clean room. Hundreds of chips are made on each wafer.
"It's another exciting milestone in the GlobalFoundries evolution," Tucker said.
GlobalFoundries has 1,000 employees already in Malta, and it is looking to hire an additional 400 more by the end of the year. The company and the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors are holding a job fair from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the county offices on McMaster Street in Ballston Spa. Daly said the county has gotten a "tremendous" number of inquiries about the job fair and is expecting a huge turnout.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said the agreement between IBM and GlobalFoundries is great news for the upstate economy.
"I'm thrilled that both companies continue to trust in our workforce, and am thrilled at the news of this new partnership," Schumer said. "I'm going to keep doing everything I can to ensure that more and more nanotechnology companies choose to call New York home as this industry grows at an incredible rate."
Read more: http://www.timesunion.com/business/article/At-last-chips-from-chip-fab-2450917.php#ixzz1j4HM8Suk