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Owning massive amount of advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities across the globe, Intel Corp. strategically upgrades selected fabs to manufacture chips using leading-edge process technologies. At present, Intel’s fab in Kiryat Gat, Israel, is making innovative Core i-series “Ivy Bridge” processors using 22nm fabrication process. The fab will skip 14nm technology in order to be upgraded to 10nm in several years from now.

The upgrade of fab 28 in Israel and initiation of 22nm production in 2012 helped Intel’s subsidiary in the country to more than double its exports last year to whopping $4.6 billion, over $2.2 billion in 2011. The factory will continue to produce chips using 22nm fabrication process this year, gradually shifting production from current-generation Ivy Bridge design to next-generation Haswell design. The Israeli plant will continue to make mainstream chips for Intel for quite some time, but it will not be upgraded to make leading-edge code-named Broadwell products using 14nm process technology. Instead, the management of the fab is looking forward to make 10nm chips several years from now.

"The average life of a technology is two to six years so we need to be busy to get the next technology, 10nm. We need to get a decision far enough in advance to be able to upgrade the plant. So for 10nm, decisions will need to be made this year," said Maxine Fassberg, general manager of Intel Israel, reports Reuters news-agency.

The 10nm seems to be a pretty interesting process technology for Intel as it may be the last tech to utilize the current manufacturing methods, or the first technology to use the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. Moreover, at 10nm the world’s No. 1 maker of chips may also initiate transition to 450mm wafers, at least on some of its facilities. It is unlikely that the Israel subsidiary of Intel is looking forward a new 450mm plant, though.

The claims made by Mr. Fassberg does not reflect Intel’s commitments or plans. Moreover, Intel’s fab upgrades usually involves incentives from the governments. Intel has invested $10.5 billion in Israel in the past decade, including $1.1 billion in 2012, but have been provided $1.3 in incentives.

The exports by the world’s largest chipmaker accounted for 20% of Israel's high-tech exports in 2012 and 10% of its industrial exports, excluding diamonds, notes Reuters. Most of Intel Israel's foreign shipments – $3.5 billion – came from its chip manufacturing activities.

"If Intel had not increased its exports, Israel's high-tech exports would have shrunk by 10%," said Mooly Eden, the president of Intel Israel.

Tags: Intel, Semiconductor, 10nm, 14nm, EUV, 300mm, 450mm

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