Intel Leixlip plant expansion could pave way for 450mm

Intel’s prospective expansion at its Leixlip site could be paving the way for a move to 450mm production.

Intel is about to get the nod for expansion to its Kildare plant soon, though intended 14nm production is only said to be going ahead at 300mm.

Future Horizons analyst Mike Bryant says that it is likely that Ireland will see the creation of Intel’s third 450mm, though it is unclear when Intel will begin moving to the advanced production method.

“If they perform this upgrade well then I think it’s reasonable to assume Ireland will be Intel’s third 450mm fab, probably in the 2020 timeframe,” he said. “The fab module will certainly be built large enough to handle 450mm equipment and I suspect the automation system will be dual-size capable.”

Given the significance of the investment to the Irish economy, apparently contributing around two percent to the national GDP, Bryan said he was “surprised” that the decision to go ahead with the plant had been recently delayed.  He claims that the plant is the “most important factory of any sort in Ireland”.

Intel told us that any upgrades to 450mm will not be part of the initial upgrade to the Leixlip facility, with any changes coming later in the decade.

“We expect 450mm wafer production to be ready for the second half of this decade,” a spokesperson said, adding that “the renewed investment in our Ireland fab operations will be sooner than that”.