Today, Intel opened a $3 billion expansion at its D1X fab in Oregon. The expansion, called DX1 Mod3, adds 270,000 square feet of cleanroom space to the facility. Intel explained that the extra capacity will be used to aid in the development of next-gen silicon process technologies. Thus, D1X Mod3 is intended to speed the achievement of Intel’s roadmap goals towards Intel 20A and Intel 18A, as well as refining technologies like RibbonFET and PowerVia.
Thinking about Intel, you might casually assume its Silicon Valley corporate HQ in Santa Clara is its beating heart. However, this is not the case. Hillsboro, Oregon, should instead hold that position as the long-established home of global semiconductor R&D for Intel. Considering this, it comes as little surprise that, also today, Intel has announced a new name for that nearly 500-acre campus: Gordon Moore Park at Ronler Acres.
“This new factory space will bolster our ability to deliver the accelerated process roadmap required to support our bold IDM 2.0 strategy,” said Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger. “Oregon is the longtime heart of our global semiconductor R&D, and I can think of no better way to honor Gordon Moore’s legacy than by bestowing his name on this campus, which, like him, has had such a tremendous role in advancing our industry.”
Hopefully, for the sake of future silicon advancements, Gordon Moore Park at Ronler Acres will live up to its heritage with innovations to keep pace with Moore’s Law. The campus has been established for 25 years and has been instrumental to innovations in the past–many readers will remember advances like high-k metal gate technology, tri-gate 3D transistors, and strained silicon.
D1X has the heavy burden of delivering five nodes in four years. According to its presentation (slide 5), Intel will reach process performance per watt parity with its most advanced rivals in 2024. In 2025 it expects to seize the lead, thanks to continuing lithography leadership (slide 7) and the all-new gate-all-around transistor technology dubbed RibbonFET, plus the new backside power delivery network dubbed PowerVia. Furthermore, Intel asserts it will move forward with added focus, investing more in people and equipment for a modular, incremental and predictable tick-tock execution (slide 9), and modular design philosophy to carry through the benefits of past works and reduce the risks associated with new innovations.
With 14,000 employees on campus and the arrival of the $3 billion D1X Mod3 fab expansion, this investment isn’t just going to be good for Intel, there are plenty of positives for Oregon, too. Intel says that this latest investment brings its funding total poured into Oregon to approx $52 billion. As well as directly employing Oregonians, Intel’s supporting network of local contractors and suppliers, capital investments, and other downstream effects should also be considered. This business ‘halo effect’ is estimated to be responsible for 105,000 jobs, over $10 billion in salaries, and $19 billion in GDP for Oregon every year.
Even the act of building D1X Mod3 brought a great deal of work to the local populace. The 270,000 square feet of cleanroom space took 11 million tradesperson hours to build. Importantly, Intel hopes to minimize any potential negative aspect of its activities, and claims that it hit a 92% rate of material recycling over the span of the build.
Last but not least, Intel is still overtly pushing for the passing of the CHIPS Act through congress. It doesn’t say the Oregon developments are dependent upon this extra $52 billion in US manufacturing funding, but it does hint that US chipmaking and associated R&D could wither without this kind of support.