Hats off to C.J. Muse the semiconductor analyst at Barclays Capital for contemplating that Intel’s new fab, D1X could be primed to be its first 450mm fab. Full details of the speculation can be viewed here at EETimes. The fact that Intel said very little about its most significant new fab expansion plan in many years certainly adds fuel to the conspiracy theories.
Granted, Intel says as little as possible about such projects but something missing from the EETimes report and possibly from Barclays assessment (not seen the note to investors yet), is that you only need to look at the images Intel released of the projected facility to realize this is a massive fab and significantly larger than anything Intel has built before.
One trend that microprocessor companies have yet to follow is the ‘monster fab’ sized facility such as Toshiba/SanDisk fabs that have 250,000wspm capacity for NAND flash production.
Both Intel and AMD/GlobalFoundries went for capacity sizes of no more than 45,000wspm. One reason is market served and cost of equipment per node migration and that didn’t change during the monster fab era.
So something else is driving Intel to build such a huge fab and market share isn’t it.
In a webcast with Brian Krzanich, Senior Vice President, General Manager, Manufacturing and Supply Chain at Intel, covering the latest manufacturing investments, Krzanich did concede from a journalists question that D1X (though he called it D1E by mistake before correcting himself) would be 450mm capable but would start life as a development fab using 300mm wafers.
As usual, no further information was provided about the fab DI X specifications.
As the picture shows, D1X dwarfs everthing Intel has built in Oregon so far.