Is it a sign of the times? Intel Corp has reportedly put on hold the opening of a new chip manufacturing plant, "Fab 42," at its site in Chandler, Arizona. The facility, which was slated to allow Intel to create transistors using a 14 nanometer process, will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Other factories at the site will be upgraded instead.
The company said in 2011 that the Fab 42 project would cost an investment of over $5 billion USD. This is the very plant that President Barack Obama once held up as an example of U.S. manufacturing potential during his 2012 re-election campaign. Now the plant remains empty.
"The new construction is going to be left vacant for now and it will be targeted at future technologies," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy told Reuters. He informed PC World in an email that "we've been headed down this path for some time," and that construction of Fab 42 was completed on schedule.
Mulloy also told PC World that Intel will still deploy 14-nanometer technology in Arizona, but will do so in the existing Fab space at the site rather than use the new facility. As previously stated, the new space will be set aside for new technology, whatever that will be, as there's nothing in the new space save for heating and air conditioning; there are no manufacturing tools to be found.
"By running both 14 and 22 nm processes at the same time we get better utilization of our equipment," he said.
The news arrives after the IDC said that PC shipments took a 5.6 percent dive in the fourth quarter of 2013, with only 82.2 million units sold. For the full year, unit shipments declined 10 percent from 2012, a record drop due to changes in mobility and personal computing. Commercial purchases helped prevent a larger decline while the consumer side remained weak.