What's The Future Of The Intel New Mexico Site

Intel outside by cjc4454 on flickr
Intel outside by cjc4454 on flickr
Intel outside by cjc4454 on flickr

An article in the Albuquerque Journal “Intel’s N.M. future” looks at the Intel Rio Rancho site’s comparison to other state and it’s possibility of building out to support Intel’s latest technology.

Now, with Moore’s law still pushing Intel to double down, or perhaps double up, on the number of transistors it crams onto each chip, New Mexico is vying for the next round of investment in factory upgrades to produce smaller transistors, measured in nanometers.

The plant was last upgraded in 2009 to go from 45-nanometer transistors on chips to 32 nanometers. But that means today Rio Rancho is two cycles behind the curve, since Intel is already producing 22-nanometer chips at other factories, and the company is building manufacturing capacity for 14-nanometer chips at its plants in Arizona and Ireland.

“The next node is 10 nanometer, and no decision has been made yet about where that will be,” said Kirby Jefferson, who became Intel’s Rio Rancho site manager in May. “New Mexico could be 10 nanometers, but next after that is seven nanometers, and maybe New Mexico could be the place for that.”

Another article on the Albuquerque Journal “Intel’s RR plant still viable” that came out at the same time wonders what if Intel’s New Mexico site doesn’t get any new technology.

It’s a question that surfaces in conversations at coffee shops and board rooms in the Albuquerque metropolitan area: Will Intel Corp. invest in upgrades at its plant in Rio Rancho to produce next-generation technology or, as the chips it now produces here become older and less useful, will the Rio Rancho factory wither up and go away?

But the man now running the show in Rio Rancho, site manager Kirby Jefferson, says that kind of talk is premature, because even without upgrades for newer technology, the plant will have plenty of work for years to come.

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Green2V: Non Existence Solar Company To Build Big Ass Factory In Rio Rancho

http://www.krqe.com/video/videoplayer.swf?dppversion=7267

Governor Richardson was with Mayor Tom Swisstack of Rio Rancho today to announce that Green2V will build a million square-foot factory and headquarters in Rio Rancho. With Advent Solar and Schott AG building solar factories in Albuquerque, I wondered when one would build in Rio Rancho.

I have a number of concerns about this company, primarily that the company doesn’t seem to exist. As far as I can tell the privately owned Green2V doesn’t have any buildings or even a website and Wikipedia doesn’t have a page for them. The companies CEO, Bill Sheppard, is a former Intel New Mexico manager. Convenient since I suspect a large number of Green2V employees will come from the Intel New Mexico site. I don’t know where they are getting their money to build this company, what experience they have or what their business plan is.

The only thing I know is that their ambitious plan involves building in downtown Rio Rancho and that they want to start shipping in 2011. I hope this works out.

Update: Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting this is some sort of scam. I really want this to work out and I may even want to work for Green2V. I’m suggesting it’s a little early to get excited. It could turn out like Tesla, Lions Gate or Signet Solar, all established companies that planned to build in the Albuquerque area and didn’t for one reason or another.

Intel Is 98 On Forbes "100 Best Companies To Work For" List

Dilbert.com

Intel just barely made Forbes “100 Best Companies To Work For” list at number 98. I generally don’t think top-whatever lists are very useful and I would hate to think someone chooses their employment based on a list like this. Having worked for other large companies I can only say this: Intel is a huge company are there are plenty of good and bad places to work within it. There were quite a few comments made. There would have probably been more if it didn’t require Facebook.

From Hector Martinez:

I worked for Intel for 13 years and was recently laid off. I state those facts so I won’t be accused of toting the company line. While it is true that Intel expects much of their employees they also provide great opportunities to grow, as long as you are wiliing to work for them. Not everyone is going to like the pressure but this is a cutting edge company that leads their industry and not a place for those that cannot embrace the pace and the chaos the pace sometimes causes. Overall I had a great time there and would go back there if they ever chose to hire me back. Each person has a different experience even though they may be in the same place. In all those 13 years I only knew of a handful of techs or engineers that turned in their badge and walked out. I think that speaks to the ability of the company to keep talent regarless of the unrelenting pace of the factories.

From Pablo Luengas:

Vlad and Stephen are free to express themselves because, just like I, they don’t work there anymore. There is no risk of reprecautions. It’s not the same for people who are currently working there, who cannot say much because their identity in facebook will get them in trouble. Laurel’s experience -and a few others- she probabbly didn’t work directly for the fabs (factories as Intel call them), and her experience may be different for that reason. Unfortunately the great majority of people working for intel are related to the fabs and know what I’m talking about. they can corroborate what I say. When you work for intel, there is no life outside the company. if you are a process engineer, they will call you at 3am -you are not obligated to answer- but your review will reflect the “lack of cooperation” if you don’t. You are “owned” by them 24/7. I was there 87-01. Intel, keep your profit share bonus, I’ll take my life back. For my family and my own well being, I think is a great deal!!!!

Planning For Loosing My Job And Extended Unemployment

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The current recession is like nothing ever experienced since The Great Depression. The semi-conductor industry is getting hit hard and I’m concerned that I could loose my job. It was the beginning of January that my employer said they will not need to cut jobs. At the end of January Intel announced plant closures and layoffs.

I can only speculate but I think these closures were going to happen at some point. They are just occurring earlier than were originally planned. Intel had already been slimming down for the last several years. The 1000 lay offs in the manufacturing sites were a surprise and maybe they were expecting those position to be eliminated though attrition. The site I work at is reducing 100 to 200 people.

A little over two years ago Intel cut jobs here in Rio Rancho when they merged factories and elimated the 200mm factory. This happened when the economy was booming. Then, I was very unprepared to loose my job. I had significant debt, little savings and no plan in the event that I lost my job. That was a very stressful time because the whole process lasted 6 months and I didn’t know if I would have a job or not. In the end, it turned out to be a whole lot of drama for nothing as I was never at risk for losing my job.

That whole ordeal taught me a lesson and I decided that I never wanted to be in that position again. Since then I have cut all my debt except for my mortgage and have started saving and building an emergency fund (I still have a much more to save before I make it to a years salary).

The economy seems to be getting worse. I fear Intel will have no choice but to cut more jobs to remain profitable as semiconductors sales drop. I could still get redeployed, the fancy term Intel uses for “we eliminated your job but if you can find another job in the company go for it. There aren’t any.” What happens If I do get laid off? Business Week says Albuquerque is one of the best cities to ride out the recession. I’m not sure I believe that and have started to plan for long term unemployment, a year or more.

Besides my savings I won’t be immediately without money. Not only do I have accumulated vacation and absent time that I can cash in, it’s very likely I will received at least three months of severance pay, maybe more due to my long service with the company. After the severance pay runs out I could draw on unemployment for a while. I have company stock and although it’s lost significant value in the last few months the stock sale could produce enough money to live off of for several months. Finally I could pull money from my 401K if I absolutely needed cash.

I will need to cut costs where I can. A few of the major expenses I can think of:

  • Good bye satellite tv. Ironic since I will have plenty of time to watch it. I may replace it with a much cheaper Netflix plan, if I find I have time to watch movies. I still have my Apple TV and uh… bittorrent.
  • I might eliminate the data plan from my iPhone. If I find I am at home most of the time I don’t see why I would need it much. I won’t eliminate my internet service. I already have a fairly inexpensive plan and using the internet will be needed for job searching.
  • Since I won’t be at work, I will stop going out for breakfast and lunch. I will need to monitor my food budget much more closely. Now I buy whatever I want without much regard for costs. Maybe I will become one of those extreme coupon clippers.
  • My 1997 Ford Ranger is paid for and in good conidion. I recently reduced the insurance on it. Assuming I’m unemployed for more than a few months, I would plan to ride my bike around town to reduce the chance that my truck would have problems. If I did have problems with my truck I am more than capable of making repairs myself. I could pay for repairs with a credit card and make the minimum payments if I had to have someone else fix it.
  • I’m not sure there’s much room for reducing energy costs. I already have the thermostat aggressively controlled by the home automation computer and I don’t use that much energy by myself.
  • Today if I want something, I put it on my credit card and buy it. If I want to travel somewhere I go. I do carefully budget these expenses so that they are paid for at the end of the month. It is pretty easy to do when I have steady income. If I get laid off and a new iPhone comes out, it’s going to take quite a bit of will power to not buy it.

If I am unemployed, I am not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself. In fact it’s an opportunity to get some things done that I haven’t had time to do.

  • I have bunch of junk that I need to sell and or donate that I haven’t been able to sort out.
  • I have a number of projects around the house I can work on that cost little or no money. I also can scour Craigslist for materials.
  • I have my iPhone and Mac OS programming to practice.
  • I will be blogging a lot more.

I think there will be some jobs out there, they just wont pay nearly as much as what I make now. If I have to I will work for minimum wage at the local pizza place. I could survive off that little money and still make the house payment. Who knows, I might actually enjoy it.

Unlike the last time I went through lay offs, I am not stressed about loosing my job this time. Sure it won’t be easy and it helps that I don’t have a family to care for. I will have to make some lifestyle changes. I have a plan and I am prepared for what ever comes along.

ArsTechnica On Intel Making Batteries

I love ArsTechnica, but I have to question part of an article that Jon Stokes wrote today about Intel making car batteries.

I bring this up because Intel doesn’t actually make as many chips over here as they used to. Most of the company’s sales are overseas (Asia is the biggest market), so that’s where a large and growing percentage of its workforce is, as well. The company’s pronounced shift in moving jobs abroad has been a sore spot for American Intel employees over the past decade, but I hear that, internally, the Intel top brass makes no bones about the fact that they have no qualms about moving the plants closer to the customers.

I am employed by Intel in the manufacturing side of their business. I don’t pretend that I know everything that is going on but I’m pretty sure this part of the article is incorrect. Most of Intel’s manufacturing is in the United States with the rest in Ireland and Israel. The only Asian capacity is in China and it hasn’t finished construction.

I also don’t know anything about Intel replacing manufacturing capacity in the US with factories outside of the US. My opinion: It costs billions of dollars to build a factory, Intel isn’t about to move capacity from existing locations to overseas unless there’s economic reasons to do so and highly skilled worker base. Just because the customers are there doesn’t seem like a good enough reason.

As far as Intel making batteries? I have to agree with the rest of the article. It’s better if Intel invest in battery tech R&D rather than try it themselves. Not that I wouldn’t love to see Intel broaden out in other ventures. Intel has failed at every attempt to make non microchip businesses (see LCOS and the watches they made that I can’t find a link to) as profitable as chips and top management knows that.

Intel's New Mexico Site Layoffs, One Week Later

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I hesitate to blog about work, thinking it will get me in trouble. The most pressing issue in the last month, maybe the last 6 months, has been the layoffs at work, New Mexico’s Intel site in Rio Rancho. Last week everyone got their “message”, either placed in the same position, placed in another position, Not placed with redeployment or just not placed. I was placed with some changes to my current position.

I was prepared both mentally and financially to be laid off. My years of employment at Intel would have provided me with several months of pay. The state is helping everyone find jobs (you know, our Governor is running for President). There was also the chance of going to school. I know, I should be grateful that I have a job particularly since Intel pays so well. Especially for New Mexico. But there were some benefits to being laid off and I am ready for a new career. Or that’s what I have convinced myself leading up to last week. Not to mention that the whole process left a bad taste in my mouth.

There is no good way to do a layoff. There seems to be bad ways to do layoffs. The common way, it seems to me from talking with others who have gone through layoffs at other companies, is that people are suddenly missing one day without warning. You show up to work and a bunch of people are no longer there. Intel’s way was different, it was a process. I could go on and on and on about this, but I will leave it at this for now. Since I still have a job, I want to keep it and stay out of trouble.

The whole reason for these layoffs, which has been widely reported, is that Intel is moving from 200mm to 300mm wafer sizes. There are two factories here, a 200 and 300 one. Merging them together with all the wonders of automation in the 300mm factory means you need less people to run it. New Mexico didn’t have the only 200mm factory, all other factories like this should pay attention to what happened here.

It’s good that I have a job, at least I can focus on other things that don’t involve looking for a job. I paid off my debt in preparation, that was also a good thing. This next year should bring along some changes, time to hold on for the ride.

Related: June 30, 2006: Intel — will it, or won’t it?