Gradiant tapped to build water treatment plant for mystery fab in Germany

Ireland Fab
(Image credit: Intel)

Gradiant is building a water treatment facility for one of Germany's upcoming chip fabs, according to a report from The Register. Gradiant did not disclose who would be making the fab in question, saying only that it is a "large semiconductor manufacturer" — making the most likely candidates TSMC or Intel. The water treatment plant will also receive funding from the European Chips Act, which is partially funded by Germany.

The water treatment facility will reportedly be built by Gradiant's subsidiary, German water treatment company H+E Group, which Gradiant acquired just last year (giving the company a presence in Germany). H+E hasn't had any high-profile dealings with either TSMC or Intel, but TSMC is a known customer of Gradiant, and the fab may belong to TSMC.

TSMC's new fab in Germany is located in Dresden, Saxony, and is a joint collaboration between the Taiwanese company and European companies Bosch, Infineon, and NXP. The fab is set to produce chips on TSMC's 12nm, 16nm, 22nm, and 28nm nodes, which are very mature at this point — far from the cutting-edge, but very cheap and efficient to produce chips on.

That said, it's also possible that Gradiant's facility is for Intel's fab in Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt, which is just over 100 miles northwest of TSMC's fab. In stark contrast to TSMC's fab, Intel's fab will produce chips on a 1.5nm process — which likely refers to the company's rumored 16A and 14A nodes. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said the fab will be the most advanced in the world when it's finally finished (later this decade).

Another hint toward the identity of the fab's owner: it will produce chips for "renewable energy, datacenter, and electric vehicle markets." Datacenter chip production is of particular note, as Intel's cutting-edge nodes will certainly be used for datacenter class CPUs and GPUs, while the chips from TSMC's fabs are expected to be used in cars. This still isn't quite enough to narrow down the mystery fab builder, however.

With this project, Gradiant will also be one of the first companies to receive subsidies from the European Chips Act. This semiconductor subsidy funding was under threat from a German budget crisis, but the three-party coalition in charge of the German government resolved the matter.

Matthew Connatser

Matthew Connatser is a freelancing writer for Tom's Hardware US. He writes articles about CPUs, GPUs, SSDs, and computers in general.

  • DavidLejdar
    Possible, that it will be one of the two, yes. But technically, there are a few more "semiconductor manufacturers", such as X-Fab (who have been reported recently to expand their site in Dresden). Their chips are in many a car sold in Europe.

    By the way, in Dresden, interest in semiconductors goes back decades. These days, there is also i.e. Globalfoundries, Infineon Technologies, NXP Semiconductors, and Renesas Electronics. (Particularly foundries as such, but may be expanding.)

    As for H+E, they recently installed a "high-end ultrapure water plant for the treatment of well water for a notable semiconductor producer in Central Europe", and made a presentation about it: