When your computing device – be it a smartphone, tablet, or Ultrabook – just ‘works,’ you never have to think about where it came from or how it works. It just does. It’s your window to the world. It’s your connection to your friends and family. It’s how you get your work done. It’s how you shop. It’s how you play. It’s that one thing in your life that you would likely never be willing to give up. And unless you are an energy drink guzzling, over-clocking gaming fanatic; you certainly may not be doing much thinking about where the components like the microprocessor inside your computing device came from.
But you might want to take just a minute or two to reflect on what goes into the manufacturing of that microprocessor you could never do without. Here at Intel we talk about our transistors a lot. We have an army of PhDs working on how to make them more powerful and more energy-efficient every couple of years. But once they’ve done their magic, and design engineers have developed products to make the best use of those transistors, how does that translate to what you care about – the products you love?
That’s where Intel’s manufacturing powerhouse comes in. Those tiny little microprocessors, the “brains” inside your favorite products, get pumped out of nine Intel production fabrication facilities or “fabs” around the world that are running 24 hours, seven days a week.
Intel’s fabs are some of the most technically advanced manufacturing facilities in the world; as complex as the chips that get made inside them. And we are constantly looking at ways to improve them, to develop and manufacture leading-edge chips more cost-effectively. Over the past year, Intel broke ground on two new fabs, “D1X,” a development fab in Oregon, and “Fab 42” in Arizona, which will allow us to do exactly that. Recently Industry Analyst Dan Hutcheson of VLSI Research and Financial Times West Coast Tech Correspondent Chris Nuttall visited the Arizona Fab 42 construction site. See their articles for their perspectives and photographs from their tours (Note: you may need to register on each site to view articles):
- “The Cooks Tour: Intel Fab 42” by G. Dan Hutcheson
- “Intel’s Chip Plans Bloom in the Desert” by Chris Nuttall
And to get a better understanding of the scope of this construction project, check out some of the numbers. First of all, Intel is using the largest land-based crane in the world – one that can pick up and place massive roof trusses that weigh approximately 300 tons each. The crane is so large it had to be delivered on trucks to the site in pieces – approximately 250 truck loads in total.
Additionally, Fab 42 will require 24,000 tons of steel rebar and 21,000 tons of structural steel. And to make room for the fab, 875,000 cubic yards of dirt had to be excavated. When all is said and done, approximately 10.5 million man hours will be required to complete the project.
Pretty cool, right? So next time you pick up your smartphone, tablet, or Ultrabook; remember that Intel is here, with our fabs humming away day and night to make sure the next generation of microprocessors will be ready for future products that you’re going to love!