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Intel wants fun in the sun

17 August 2007 | By Mark Osborne | Editor's Blog

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As rumors go, this is not as far-fetched as it seems!

According to news agency AFX, Intel Corporation is looking at getting into the solar wafer manufacturing game via an acquisition or two, though real details seem very thin on the ground.

That said, Samsung is also said to be looking at doing the same, which makes sense. For Samsung it's a great fit as the company is a major flat panel display manufacturer as well as a chip manufacturer.

However, both companies have something very much in common, namely old 200mm fabs. Over the course of a few more years these fabs will become technically backward and, in the case of Samsung, completely uncompetitive for memory manufacturing.

Although Samsung has already shifted away from memory production at even older 200mm fabs in the past 18 months, there is only so much demand for the logic products that Samsung has switched these fabs over to produce.

So solar wafer or thin-film panel production would be a great cleanroom filler, which is also what Intel may need to do or else close all of its 200mm fabs in the near future. With skilled engineers on tap, and all the facility requirements such as recycling systems etc. in place as well as wafer supply contracts, the actual shift to solar production would be very easy and cost-effective.

When I say cost-effective, how about cost-FREE!

With a strong 200mm used tool market environment, the sale of a complete fab tool set could actually pay for the new solar cell tool set, perhaps with some change for retraining!

Don't forget that we have seen a few chip manufacturers get into the solar game, so expect more to do so sooner rather than later. Both Intel and Samsung fit the bill!

The rumor story can be viewed here:
http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/newstex/AFX-0013-18964155.htm

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