How does Intel manufacture semiconductors in a global scarcity?

Some features are more than 50 billion small transistors that are 10,000 times smaller than human hair follicles. They are built on large, ultra-clean factory room floors that can be Seven stories long and four football field lengths.

Microchips are the living organism of the modern economy in many ways. These scores on power computers, smartphones, cars, devices and other electronics. But the demand for the world for them has increased from epidemic disease to supply chain disruption, resulting in a global shortage.

This, in turn, is raising inflation and raising the alarm that the United States is becoming increasingly dependent on manufactured chips. The United States accounts for only 12% of the global semiconductor production capacity. More than 90% of advanced chips come from Taiwan.

Intel, a Silicon Valley title that seeks to restore its long-time leadership in chip-making technology, is creating a $ 20 billion bet that it can help ease the chip reduction. It is building two factories at its Chip Making Complex in Chandler, Ariz., Which will take three years to complete, and recently announced plans for a potential major expansion in New Albany, Ohio, and Magdeburg, Germany. ۾ With new sites.

Why do millions of these small pieces mean building – and spending – so big? A look inside an Intel production plant in Chandler and Hillsborough, Ore., Provides some answers.

Chips, or integrated circuits, began to replace large individual transistors in the 1950s. Many of these small parts are created on a piece of silicone and tied together to work. The resulting chips store data, amplify the radio signal and perform other actions; Intel is well-known for a type of microprocessors that are often performed by computer calculations.

Intel has managed to push the transistor to its microprocessors at mind-bending sizes. But rival Taiwan semiconductor company could make even smaller parts, an important reason why Apple has chosen to make chips for its latest iPhones.

Such successes by a company located in Taiwan, an island that China claims to own, add to the signs of a growing technological gap that can develop into computing, consumer devices and military hardware, both for China’s ambitions and Natural Hazards in Taiwan at Risk Such as earthquakes and famines. And it sheds light on Intel’s efforts to regain its technology leadership.

Chip makers are packing more and more transistors on each piece of silicone, as technology grows more and more every year. This is also the reason why new chip factories cost billions and fewer companies can afford to build them.

In addition to paying for buildings and machinery, companies have to spend a lot of money to make chips from the plate-shaped silicone wafers used to develop complex processing steps – hence the factory being called “Fabs”.

Larger machines make projects in each wafer for chips, and then assemble and cover a layer of material to create and connect their transistors. Up to 25 wafers at a time will move between these systems on special pods automatically under track.

The wafer takes thousands of steps and up to two months to process. TSMC has set the pace of production in recent years, operating “gigafabs,” with four or more production lines. Diane Hutchinson, vice chair of market research firm TechInsights, estimates that each site can process more than 100,000 wafers a month. It has Intel’s planned $ 10 billion facility in Arizona on approximately 40,000 wafers per month.

After processing, the wafer is chopped into individual chips. They are tested and wrapped in plastic packages to attach to circuit boards or system parts.

This step has become a new battleground, as it is more difficult to make the transistors even smaller. Companies are now stacking lots of chips or stacking them in one package on one side, to act as a piece of silicone to attach them.

While combining the above chips is now the norm, Intel has developed an advanced product that uses new technology to bundle a remarkable 47 individual chips, some of which are made by TSMC and other companies. Made in Intel fabs.

Intel chips are usually sold for hundreds to thousands of dollars each. Intel released its fastest microprocessor for desktop computers in March, for example, at a starting price of $ 739. A piece of soil that is invisible to the human eye can destroy one. The fibs therefore need to be clearer than the hospital operating room and require complex systems for filtering the air and regulating temperature and humidity.

The fibs must also be unaware of any vibrations, which can cause malfunction of the expensive equipment. This is why the fab clean rooms are designed on special concrete absorbent shock slabs.

Also critical is the ability to transfer large amounts of liquid and gas. At the upper levels of Intel’s factories, which are about 70 feet tall, they have giant fans that help circulate air directly to the lower room. Beneath the clean room are thousands of pumps, transformers, power cabinets, utility pipes, and chillers that connect to production machines.

Fabs are a water-intensive operation. This is because water is needed to clean the wafer at several stages of the production process.

Chandler has two intel sites totaling 11 million gallons of water daily from local utilities. Intel’s future expansion will most likely require a visible challenge to a dry state like Arizona, which has allocated water for farmers. But agriculture actually uses a lot more water than a chip plant.

Intel says its Chandler sites, which depend on a supply of three rivers and a system of wells, reclaim 82 percent of the fresh water they use through filtration systems, pools and other equipment. This water is sent back to the city, which operates a treatment facility that Intel funds, and which redistributes it for irrigation and other unused uses.

Intel hopes to help expand the water supply in Arizona and other states by 2030, working with environmental groups and others on projects that save and restore water for local communities.

To build their future factories, Intel will need approximately 5,000 skilled construction workers for three years.

They have a lot more to do. Intel’s construction chief Diane Duran said the base is expected to remove 890,000 cubic yards of debris, which is extracted at a rate of one dump truck per minute.

The company expects to cast more than 445,000 cubic yards of concrete and use 100,000 strong steel for foundation – more than the construction of the world’s tallest building in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa.

Mr Drone said some of the cranes were too big to construct that more than 100 trucks were needed to collect these pieces. Cranes carry, among other things, a 55-ton chiller for new fibers.

Patrick Gelsinger, who became Intel’s chief executive a year ago, is lobbying Congress to provide grants for tax credits to invest in construction and equipment. To manage Intel’s risk of expenditures, he intends to emphasize the creation of fab “shells” that can be tailored to respond to market changes.

To combat the chips shortage, Mr. Gelsinger has to justify his plans to produce chips manufactured by other companies. But a single company can do just that; Products such as phones and cars require components from many suppliers, as well as older chips. And no country can stand alone in semiconductors. Although increasing domestic production can reduce supply risks to some extent, the chip industry continues to rely on the complex global web of companies for raw materials, production equipment, design software, talent and specialized products.


Created by Alana Cell

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