In 1995, Intel, on the back of the Pentium chipset, started the biggest expansion in semiconductor manufacturing that the electronics industry had witnessed. By the end of the decade, Intel had spent well over $20 billion expanding the number of fabs at its disposal. This go it alone attitude was fueled by the booming growth of the PC market.
Now, Intel’s been stirred by action since announcements by major competitors earlier in the year seemed to emphasize maneuvers to create next generation process advancements around the globe. First, STMicroelectronics, Motorola, and Philips partnered and split up $1.4 billion through 2005 to invest in a 30 mm wafer plant in France. This, despite STMicroelectronics and Philips being in cahoots with TSMC on 90 nm process development.
In July, Fujitsu Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and NEC formed a joint venture to work on standardizing the process technology for 90 nm devices, with the Japanese government putting up over $250 million to finance the venture.
Now, Intel is firmly saying that it has stable 90 nm processes in places, and can deliver Prescott in this process in the second half of 2003. The company says that it has already demonstrated high yields with 52 Mbit SRAM memory chips in its 300 mm wafer facility in Oregon. The SRAM chip is more of a proof of concept so, don’t expect products. As reference, the new process delivers 2X the transistors on the same wafer real estate compared to 0.13 micron.
There’s a little more here. Stories on this will probably keep popping up during the course of the day.