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Intel Invests $3 Billion in Oregon Fab to Regain Industry Leadership

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Intel today opened a $3 billion expansion of D1X Mod3, an advanced technology fab in Hillsboro, Oregon; an investment that’s aimed at recapturing leadership in semiconductor process technology.

At a ribbon–cutting ceremony, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger reiterated the company’s commitment to U.S. leadership in semiconductor R&D. The largest U.S. chipmaker redubbed the nearly 500–acre campus as Gordon Moore Park at Ronler Acres as a reminder that Moore’s Law is alive and kicking. In recent years, there have been concerns that Moore’s Law has lost steam.

“Since its founding, Intel has been devoted to relentlessly advancing Moore’s Law,” Gelsinger said in a statement. “This new factory space will bolster our ability to deliver the accelerated process roadmap required to support our bold IDM 2.0 strategy. Oregon is the longtime heart of our global semiconductor R&D.”

Intel’s Gordon Moore Park at Ronler Acres (Source: Intel)

The site is the headquarters of Intel’s global Technology Development organization, which is responsible for advancing Moore’s Law by creating new transistor architectures, wafer processes, and packaging technologies that underpin the company’s product roadmap. The Oregon facility is expected to provide the foundation for applications ranging from PCs to cloud infrastructure to 5G networks. The team has approximately 10,000 employees, primarily based in Hillsboro.

One key challenge the team faces is shrinking the features on a chip to the size of atoms. The Oregon fab is credited with innovations such as high–k metal–gate technology, tri–gate 3D transistors, and strained silicon; all of which have been fundamental to keeping pace with Moore’s Law.

“These groundbreaking process innovations all originated right here in Oregon. With the new expansion of our D1X factory, Oregon is well–positioned to deliver the next generation of leading–edge technologies,” said Ann Kelleher, general manager of Technology Development at Intel. “Semiconductors are fundamental to U.S. technology leadership, our economy, and supply chain resilience. Intel is the only company in the world with the majority of its process and packaging R&D and high–volume leading–edge semiconductor manufacturing in the U.S.”

Last year, Intel announced an ambitious process technology roadmap that’s aimed at regaining the lead over rivals Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and Samsung. Intel expects to accelerate the pace of innovation with an annual cadence of improvements, leveraging technologies for new products through 2025 and beyond.

Those innovations include Intel’s gate–all–around RibbonFET, a new 3D transistor architecture; PowerVia, a backside power delivery method; and High NA EUV lithography.

Intel’s RibbonFET technology (Source: Intel)

With the $3 billion investment to expand D1X, Intel engineers will have an additional 270,000 square feet of clean room space to develop next–generation silicon process technologies. Intel will transfer technology from Hillboro to its global manufacturing sites.

Intel’s operations in Oregon are its largest concentration of facilities and talent in the world, with close to 22,000 employees across four campuses in Hillsboro — 20 miles west of Portland. The expansion brings Intel’s total investment in Oregon to more than $52 billion.

The company aims to win some of the $52 billion in subsidies from the U.S. government to revive domestic chip manufacturing. Once the world’s largest chipmaking nation, the U.S. currently accounts for about 12 percent of global production. The decline of the U.S. semiconductor industry is often considered a national security vulnerability.

Intel said that with its employees, a vast network of local contractors and suppliers, capital investments, and other downstream impacts, the company’s total annual contribution is more than 105,000 jobs, more than $10 billion in labor income, and $19 billion in gross domestic product.

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