More Bad News For The Intel New Mexico Site

Nothing To See Here - Baghdad Bob
Nothing To See Here - Baghdad Bob
Nothing To See Here – Baghdad Bob

From the Albuquerque Journal “Intel RR loses next-generation investment

Intel Corp.’s plant in Rio Rancho has been passed over again for next-generation nanometer chip technology, but the plant is still an integral part of the company’s global production chain, New Mexico site manager Kirby Jefferson told the Albuquerque Economic Forum on Wednesday morning.

“This site was not selected for the 10 nanometer chips, that’s for certain,” Kirby said. “They will do it at other facilities. Seven nanometer is the next one, and we still don’t know where that will be.”

This is the third time New Mexico has been passed over for next-generation chip technology. The Rio Rancho site currently produces 32-nanometer chips, following a $2.5 billion investment in 2009 to upgrade the plant from 45-nanometer technology.

Now, being three cycles behind the curve makes it more difficult to compete for next-generation chips.

“The investment would have to be extremely high here, because we’re so far behind,” Kirby said.

The New Mexico Intel site hasn’t had the latest upgrades in 3 generations and the longer it goes without getting those upgrades the harder it is to get future upgrades. It seems to spell doom for the Intel New Mexico site.

“The New Mexico plant is front and center with what’s going on at Intel,” he said. “Intel is committed to this community. The thinking all the way up the chain is to keep this operation going.”

Call me skeptical. If I was a highly skilled worker at this site I would certainly see doom and gloom and I would be shopping my skills elsewhere, further adding to the decline of the site. If I recall correctly, when Intel was producing the Sandy Bridge processor the Intel New Mexico site was supposedly providing the majority of income to the whole Intel corporation buy producing the majority of those chips while the other sites were ramping up Haswell.

It feels as if the Intel management has kick the Intel New Mexico site to the curb.

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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.

Los Alamos Lab's Roadrunner Supercomputer To Be Shut Down

The fastest supercomputer in the world in 2009 will be shutdown today, according to the Los Alamos National Labs.

8599713655_c725fb6f3d_bRoadrunner, the first supercomputer to break the once-elusive petaflop barrier—one million billion calculations per second—will be decommissioned on Sunday, March 31.

Roadrunner’s design was unique, and controversial. It combined two different kinds of processors, making it a “hybrid.” It had 6,563 dual-core general-purpose processors (AMD Opterons™), with each core linked to a special graphics processor (PowerXCell 8i) called a “Cell.” The Cell was an enhanced version of a specialized processor originally designed for the Sony Playstation 3®, adapted specifically to support scientific computing.

Future supercomputers will need to improve on Roadrunner’s energy efficiency to make the power bill affordable. Future supercomputers will also need new solutions for handling and storing the vast amounts of data involved in such massive calculations.

Intel Expands Again In Arizona

From the azcentral article “Intel to build $300 million research facility in Chandler

Construction already is under way on the 285,000-square-foot research facility at Intel’s Chandler campus, northwest of Rural Road and Chandler Boulevard.

The construction project will employ nearly 1,000 workers and is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2013, Intel officials said.

Intel Vice President and Director of Assembly and Test Technology Development Babak Sabi said the new facility would be used for “package development.”

“Package” refers to the housing around a microchip used to connect the chip to a computer board, Sabi said.

Former Intel Employee Gets 3 Years Of Prison

From the Associated Press article “Ex-Intel Worker Gets 3 years for stealing Secrets

A former Intel Corp. worker in Massachusetts has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for stealing hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of computer chip manufacturing and design secrets while working for a rival company.

I think he was working at Intel when he was hired by AMD and that’s when he started downloading internal documents. He may have had the idea to sell the documents to AMD but AMD said they didn’t put him up to it and had nothing to do with it.

Extracting Gas From Air

A article on azcentral.com titled “Air Products grows to keep up with Intel” explains how Air Products makes air products and ships them to the Intel site in Arizona. This is probably similar to how it’s done for Intel in Rio Rancho, NM.

The company removes all components of air except nitrogen, oxygen and argon. Then in those white, angular towers, it separates out those three gases with very low temperatures. Oxygen turns to liquid at minus 297.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and nitrogen turns to liquid at minus 320 degrees.

Then the liquid is boiled, producing pure gas.

“We use compression and expansion, like the air-conditioning unit on the outside of a house,” Jordan explained.

Nitrogen gas made in Chandler goes directly into the pipeline, a structure intended to last 100 years.