Intel to close Hudson, Massachusetts fab

September 16, 2013 // 9:31 a.m.

Tags: #arm #dec #digital-equipment-corpora #digital-equipment-corporation #fab #fabrication #hudson #intel #massachusetts #post-pc #semiconductor

Semiconductor giant Intel is set to close its Hudson, Massachusetts fab at the end of next year, resulting in the loss of around 700 jobs.

Despite being one of the world's largest semiconductor companies, and enjoying a near-total dominance of the high-end x86 market, Intel is feeling the pinch at present: a self-confessed late entry into the burgeoning mobile market has the company on the back-foot as buyers increasingly look towards ARM-powered tablets and smartphones in place of traditional laptops and, in some cases, even desktops. The datacentre market, too, is showing an interest in low-power ARM processors, especially in the supercomputer and high-performance computing (HPC) markets where they can offer the limited serial processing capabilities required to feed highly-parallel co-processor systems like Nvidia's Tesla family.

As a result, Intel is being forced to make some tough decisions - one of which is to close down its allegedly underperforming Hudson facility. According to a statement provided to Boston.com by Intel's Chuck Mulloy, 'the facility and the site do not meet the requirements that we need.'

The fab is, admittedly, a little dated: aquired by Intel in 1998 as part of the same deal with the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) that saw Intel briefly enter the ARM processor market itself, the facility is a claimed four process nodes behind Intel's leading-edge products - and thus suited only for producing lower-end, low-margin parts. It does, however sprawl over 149 acres with 1.3 million square feet of building space, including the Fab 17 facility which cost Intel a claimed $2 billion.

While Intel has been working on a programme of upgrading its fabs over the past few years, the Hudson facility won't be so lucky: the company is winding down its operations, laying off around 100 workers in the next three to four months before letting the remaining 600 go at the end of next year. The company's Hudson research and development facility, which employs 850 workers, is not affected by the move.

Interestingly, Mulloy claims that the fab will be run at near-full capacity right up until the days the final doors close, building up an inventory of end-of-line parts that will - once the Hudson facility finally closes down - no longer be manufactured by the company.

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