Intel ready to upgrade its plants in New Mexico and beyond

Intel ready to upgrade its plants in New Mexico and beyond

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger was a guest on the 60 Minutes program recently to discuss the ongoing chip shortage in a wide-ranging interview with Leslie Stahl, a correspondent for CBS News. The latter, during the program, anticipated that Intel would announce a $ 3.5 billion cost upgrade to its Rio Rancho, New Mexico facility this week.

Plant upgrade follows in the wake of Intel's transition to its new IDM 2.0 model which will involve manufacturing custom chips for third parties and consequently improving its manufacturing capability. The Santa Clara company has already announced a $ 20 billion investment in two new factories in Arizona and is also seeking subsidies from the United States government for further expansion on American soil. Intel recently confirmed a $ 10 billion investment in its Israeli facilities and is also reportedly looking to fund around $ 10 billion from the EU for a new factory in Europe. Intel's spree will serve to counter rival TSMC, which has announced a $ 100 billion investment in factories and "research and development" for the next three years.

Intel's investment in Rio Rancho could include funding for the production of Optane memory (also called 3D XPoint). The only other company committed to this technology, Micron, recently announced that it will cease production at the end of 2021 and plans to put its 3D XPoint factory in Lehi, Utah up for sale around the same time. Among other functions, Intel's Rio Rancho facility is currently used as the “R&D” and manufacturing center for Optane media. Intel originally co-developed the technology in collaboration with Micron and owns the associated IP, meaning Intel can manufacture the devices, but the Rio Rancho factory is currently not being used for mass production.

Optane is a new type of memory that blends the speed and endurance of DRAM with the persistence of data storage devices, but has encountered some obstacles in its market success. The abandonment of Micron means that if Intel wants to continue to focus on Optane memories, at least in the server area, it will have to buy Micron's 3D XPoint plant or start its own production lines. Given that Rio Rancho is the home of his Optane research, it wouldn't be surprising to see Intel establish production lines right there.

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