As the global semiconductor shortage continues, chipmakers are taking steps to expand production capacity. Intel in particular is currently undertaking an ambitious expansion operation. The company’s $7 billion Fab 34 construction project in Leixlip, Ireland has entered the tooling equipping phase, marking a significant milestone on the road to starting production in 2023.
The machine is the first of about 1,200 machines to be installed, many of which cost millions of dollars each. The specific machine is known as the Lithography Reserve Track. It is part of Intel’s Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) manufacturing and will be used to produce chips made with the Intel Production Node 4 (a rough 7nm equivalent).
Work on Fab 34 has been underway since 2019, with the facility expected to go live in 2023. It’s just part of Intel’s extremely aggressive expansion campaign. In addition to its expansion into Ireland, the company is working to expand production at its facilities in Oregon, New Mexico and Arizona. This is just the beginning. Intel is also planning a new $7 billion manufacturing facility in Penang, Malaysia, and just days ago announced the construction of two $20 billion facilities in Ohio.
Continued chip shortages and concerns about overreliance on Asia-based manufacturing prompted Intel to focus on US and EU-based manufacturing. In fact, it has become something of a national security issue. The United States’ share of global semiconductor production has fallen from 37% to 12% over the past 30 years and does not want to yield even more to Asian manufacturers such as TSMC and Samsung. US companies such as Intel, AMD and Nvidia, among others, are pushing for Congress to approve funding for the CHIPS Act, which would earmark $52 billion for domestic semiconductor production.
National security is one thing, but obviously it’s much more important to consider the mental health of PC gamers. All these facilities are welcome, but it takes a long time to get from the first step to the delivery of the products. Once Intel’s expansion into Ireland is complete and operational, hopefully the worst of the shortages and the damned pandemic itself will be behind us.
Wouldn’t it be nice to walk into a store a year or so from now and see shelves stacked with 14th Gen Meteor Lake CPUs, RTX 4080s and 7900XTs! Sorry, I dreamed about it for a second.