With fab expansions on tap across the entire semiconductor industry, Intel today is laying out their own plans for significantly increasing their production capacity by announcing their intention to build a new $20 billion fab complex in Ohio. With the paperwork already inked and construction set to begin in late 2022, Intel will be building two new leading-edge fabs in their new Ohio location to support future chip needs. And should further demand call for it, the Ohio complex has space to house several more fabs.

Intel’s announcement follows ongoing concerns about chip fab capacity and national security, as like other chip fabs, Intel is looking to expand their capacity in future years amidst the current chip crunch. All the while, the United States government has become increasingly mindful about how much chip production takes place in geopolitically tricky Taiwan, placing additional pressure on firms to build additional fabs within the US. To that end, Intel has been not-so-secretly undertaking a search to find a good location for a new fab campus, and they have finally found their answer in Ohio.

The new site, Intel’s first new manufacturing site location in 40 years, is located in New Albany, Ohio, just outside of Columbus. Up until now, all of Intel’s major chip fab sites have been in the western United States – Oregon, Arizona, and at one point, Silicon Valley – so the Ohio site is a significant move for the company. All told, the Ohio “mega-site”, as Intel likes to call it, covers nearly 1000 acres. And while Intel is only initially planning for two fabs, the site offers plenty of room to grow, offering enough space for a total of 8 fabs.

The immediate goal of the company – and the crux of today’s announcement – revolves around the building of two new leading-edge fabs at the Ohio location. According to Intel, these two fabs will begin construction late this year, with production coming online in 2025. The company isn’t formally stating what the initial process node will be – instead saying that it will be using the "industry's most advanced transistor technologies" – however if the company is indeed building truly bleeding-edge fabs, then 2025 lines up with Intel’s 18A process, which will be 4 generations newer than what Intel is using now (Intel 7).

Altogether, Intel expects the project to cost about $20 billion, which is similar to what Intel will be spending for its two new Arizona fabs, which were announced just under a year ago. And further down the line, should Intel opt to fill the rest of the property with the other 6 fabs that the site can support, the company expects that the total price tag could reach nearly $100 billion. Ultimately, the company is making it clear that they are priming the site not just to met their mid-term production needs with the initial two fabs, but are making sure to have the space ready for further capacity expansion over the long-term.

As to whether Intel eventually builds those further 6 fabs, that will depend on a few factors. Key among these will be demand from Intel Foundry Services clients; while Intel will be using some of the Ohio site’s capacity for their own needs, the site will also be used to fab chips for IFS customers. If Intel’s bid to break into the contract fab business is successful, and the company is able to woo over additional clients/orders, then they will need to build additional fabs to meet that demand.

Also hanging in the balance is what the US Government opts for, both in terms of orders and incentives. The Ohio fabs will be used for domestic production of sensitive chips, as the US looks to secure its supply lines. Meanwhile the CHIPS for America Act and its 53 billion in incentives will also be a. Intel for its part isn’t playing coy about its interest in the CHIPS money, explicitly stating that “The scope and pace of Intel’s expansion in Ohio, however, will depend heavily on funding from the CHIPS Act”. In some respects Intel is taking a bit of a gamble by investing in the Ohio location before any CHIPS funding is approved – on a pure cost basis, overseas production is traditionally cheaper – so there is certainly a political element in announcing these fabs and selecting an Ohio location. And as an added incentive to the US Government, Pat Gelsinger has told Time that Intel would even be interested in bringing some chip packaging, assembly, and testing back to the US if the CHIPS Act were funded, which in turn would allow Intel to do every last step of production within the US.

But more immediately, Intel’s focus is on getting its first two Ohio fabs up and running. Along with building the facilities they’ll need a workforce to operate them, and as a result the company is also pledging $100M over a decade in funding for local educational efforts. As with similar local industry efforts, that investment would be focused on helping local colleges and universities establish semiconductor manufacturing curricula to help train the technical workforce required.

And while outside of Intel’s own investment scope, the creation of their Ohio fab complex means that Intel’s suppliers are also coming along for the ride. According to the company, Air Products, Applied Materials, LAM Research and Ultra Clean Technology have all indicated that they’ll be setting up facilities in the area. All of which the company is using to further underscore the size of the project and the value it brings to the area – and why they deserve that CHIPS Act funding.

Ultimately, the addition of a third US fab site and two more fabs to Intel’s portfolio is the latest step Intel has taken under Pat Gelsinger’s IDM 2.0 strategy. Gelsinger opted to go all-in on having Intel fab chips for themselves and others, and this is the kind of expansion that Gelsinger has been alluding to as necessary to make IDM 2.0 a reality. Taken altogether, Intel now has 4 leading-edge fabs set to come online in the 2024-2025 timeframe, and with any luck on Intel’s part, there will be room for several more to come.

Source: Intel

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  • mode_13h - Sunday, January 23, 2022 - link

    That's not really how politics works. The big political donors for in-state offices are mostly in the business community. Construction firms, real estate holders, and other vested interests were likely pushing for this, and will reward the politicians who got it done with more political donations.

    Unions are also probably a bit more far-sighted than their individual members. If Ohio isn't a "right-to-work" state, then unions also could've helped push this through.
  • Hifihedgehog - Saturday, January 22, 2022 - link

    Uh, as someone who lives in the rust belt, what a tone deaf comment. GM and Ford have significant rollouts planned with EVs over the next decade. I know of many new hires from my alma mater who were hired just a couple years ago and who were picked specifically for EV R&D work.
  • Hifihedgehog - Saturday, January 22, 2022 - link

    The traditional assembly line workers in the rust belt are in fact getting transitioned to EV assembly and that will be progressing over the next decade. I have close friends that I interact with often and they have a lot of good things in store, so again you are totally ignorant and underinformed.
  • flgt - Monday, January 24, 2022 - link

    Ha, as someone who grew up in Ohio, I'm always amazed how people from Ohio can drive around all the abandoned factories in the state and still think the auto manufacturers will save them. You think every person who's shoving sheet metal into stamping machines is going to go to Ohio State and design batteries and electric motors. EV will drive a complete re-tooling of the factories which will be mostly automated. Plus it will provide a window for new companies to take market share from the Big 3. You assume they all will survive. A lot of those jobs are going to robots. If not, there will be continual pressure to relocate jobs to southern states or Mexico. In short, acceleration of what's happening for decades. Time to take your head out of the sand.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Saturday, January 22, 2022 - link

    Did you just assume that the EVs would appear from thin air, or all be made in california or something dumb like that?

    Those EVs are going to be made in the same factories making gas cars now, and they'll need chips. And now intel is making a huge plant tapped right into the transportation network that feeds those factories.
  • jjjag - Saturday, January 22, 2022 - link

    Wow now all of a sudden Anand readers are manufacturing experts. As of now, NONE of the below comments have a clue, and are largely making things up. The entire country has a plentiful "water supply". You think these fabs use tap water? Water is a closed system in these.

    Ohio got the fabs because they gave Intel better tax breaks. Did you people even listen or watch the press release yesterday? The Gov mentioned like 10 times that they had to pass legislation to allow them to give tax breaks to win the deal.

    Not saying that's bad -- competition amongst the states is necessary. Intel will not even consider a bid from Texas because of their politics, not while Pat is CEO.
  • Dan Stiegen - Saturday, January 22, 2022 - link

    "Intel will not even consider a bid from Texas because of their politics, not while Pat is CEO."

    Nor, probably, from Arizona, where the alt-right lunatics in their desert doublewides have taken over the state legislature. The more intelligent and educated districts and county have been gerrymandered into impotence. Hence the idiocies of the past year, like the clown show "audit".

    More insanity to come when they pass Az GOP House Bill 2720 making it trivial for themselves to give all Az electors to their candidate. No reason needed; no oversight, consultation, or recourse. No need to even be in session - a 5-min Zoom call will simply turn the state red. That bill is promoted for "election integrity".

    Why build in a "state" headed for such political catastrophes?
  • TheinsanegamerN - Saturday, January 22, 2022 - link

    I suppose it'd be better if we just handed out mail in ballots with no checks in place like we did in 2020 right? Because there was no complaining from democrats when THAT happened. Those poor "educated" districts getting railroaded by idiots, because no republican ever lives outside of a trailer park and despite being educated you cant outsmart a field mouse.

    Leftist lunatics and their blinding hypocracy, honestly. Just stick to ruining california instead of trying to screw the rest of the country thanks. If you want to whine about "audits" maybe address you spent 4 YEARS screaming about "MUH RUSSIA" and auditing the 2016 election only to come up utterly empty handed.
  • mode_13h - Saturday, January 22, 2022 - link

    > I suppose it'd be better if we just handed out mail in ballots
    > with no checks in place like we did in 2020

    Doesn't know how voting-by-mail *actually* works. The envelopes have serial numbers, so they can't be forged. This also tells them who is voting, so you can't vote both by mail and in-person.

    > spent 4 YEARS screaming about "MUH RUSSIA" ... only to come up utterly empty handed.

    Mueller found numerous counts of obstruction of justice. Normally, people only obstruct an investigation to hide their guilt.
  • Dan Stiegen - Saturday, January 22, 2022 - link

    Nobody of any significance questioned the 2016 *count* nor demanded endless "forensic" audits of every county in the nation. Russian meddling in the *campaign* was proven. Two different things. And as noted, mail-in ballots have many checks in place (you are totally uninformed) and are scrupulously handled; and btw 90% of Arizonans have been using them for ~40 years. Not a problem until Trump lost.

    But that and your other whatabouts aren't the point, which is that Az is in the hands of a cabal of state legislators cynically pandering to 2020 election lies and to the alt-right agenda in general, including QAnon. They are 24/7 fostering hate against the Dems and the few remaining Republicans who dare to stand in their way. The rage levels on those forums are incredible. Any sensible corporation will think 50 times before investing billions here. Another price we Arizonans must pay for helping to vote Trump out.

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