AMD opens Fab 36

Written by Wil Harris

October 15, 2005 | 11:46

Tags: #dresden #germany #processor

Companies: #amd #ibm #intel #sony

Chris Slaughter sends us this snippet:

"On Friday, AMD cut the ribbon on its third microprocessor plant, Fab 36. Located in Dresden, Germany, the plant is only miles away from AMD's ageing Fab 30. The new plant is currently capable of 300mm wafer production and has begun ordering the equipment to make the transition to 65nm.

While the new factory is undoubtedly a step forward in the progression of AMD's chip line, it also represents a huge gamble on the part of AMD. It is betting that larger sales of its processors will pay for the investment over the next few years - a risky strategy, especially considering Intel has beaten AMD to the punch on manufacturing technologies. In its official press release, AMD called the groundbreaking at Dresden an "on-schedule, on-plan opening," but one has to wonder what exactly the "plan" is.

The 300mm wafers that Fab 36 will use, when it's compete, have been used by Intel for almost three years, and the Fab won't be capable of 65nm production until Q4'06, 9 months after Intel. Even if the plant was caught up to Intel's timeline, it still seems odd fpr AMD to built a new plant in the same city, rather than refashioning Fab 30. Since AMD has only invested $1.5 billion of the project's acquisitioned $3 billion so far, perhaps they have some cool tricks up their sleeves - or a really wicked landscaping job.

One new feature that AMD has revealed is the third revision of their Automated Precision Manufacturing system, which allows them to produce more chips at higher quality with fewer resources. According to AMD, the APM system should allow the company to "Effectively and efficiently meet the growing demand for AMD 64-bit solutions worldwide."

Reading between the lines, it seems that AMD is planning on encroaching on Intel's market share, and is counting on the new factory to keep up with increased production rates.

Behind only the Sony/IBM Cell, Fab 36 seems to be one of the riskiest endeavors being done by a big electronics power-player. As for its conversion to 65nm, the plan for the other half of its budget, and its eventual success, only time and market share will tell."

Are you looking forward to AMD ramping up its production? Rumour has it that the reason Dell doesn't take AMD chips is that AMD couldn't make enough of them. Do you think this will make a difference? Drop us your thoughts in the forums.
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