Intel redesigns Gordon Moore’s flagship Oregon site, opens $ 3 billion Hillsboro expansion

Intel on Monday formally unveiled the $ 3 billion expansion of its Oregon research plant, boasting that the state-of-the-art plant will help recapture the lead in semiconductor technology. The company has also announced the renaming of Gordon Moore, the renowned engineer who co-founded its Ronler Acre campus in Hillsboro with Intel.

The 450-acre site, now formally known as “Gordon Moore Park on Ronler Acres”, is Intel’s flagship Oregon base, and the company builds each new generation microprocessor.

Intel said it had completed three years of work, mainly at the Hillsboro factory, which is also known as the Mod3. CEO Pat Kelsinger attended the commemoration on Monday morning, and despite the seasonal April frosts, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, U.S. Sense Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden and U.S. Representative Susan Bonamissi joined in.

The Mod3 will add 270,000 square feet of clean room space to a research plant called Intel’s D1X, an extension equivalent to two full-size Costco stores. Intel claims that this third phase of construction will increase the cleanroom capacity of the entire site by 20%.

According to Intel’s research leaders, the upgrade will enable the company to use the largest new production tools to make many advances in chip technology, which will then be reflected in factories around the world.

Intel’s headquarters are in Silicon Valley, but its most advanced research since the 1990s has been in Oregon. With 22,000 employees employed on its premises in Washington County, Intel is the state’s largest corporate employer. The company said it hired about 2,000 factory technicians last year to support the latest expansion.

“Oregon will always be at the forefront as we make the next (technological) point of development,” said Sanjay Natarajan, Intel’s Vice President, at a press conference around the world last week outlining the Oregon expansion. “We’ll fix it in place here and then move it to all sites.”

Intel’s researchers have struggled to keep pace with innovation in recent years, with major delays for three consecutive technological breakthroughs. Those setbacks led rival Taiwanese semiconductor maker to take the lead in chip technology and plunge Intel into crisis.

The company responded last year by hiring Kelsinger, who was Intel’s chief technology officer before leaving in 2009, and eventually became CEO of software maker VMware. Since returning 14 months ago, Kelsinger has pledged $ 80 billion to build new factories in Arizona, Ohio and Germany – and billions more for chip research.

Intel says the benefits of that investment are beginning to pay off. After many years of delay in new production technology, Intel is running earlier than planned on its 18A microprocessor, which was in 2025. He said Intel expects the new chip to be available in the second half of 2024, based on early production criteria. .

“Those codes were positive enough, it was better than we expected, we were optimistic,” Natarajan said, moving the schedule. He reiterated that by 2025, Intel will once again be at the forefront of semiconductor performance.

If Intel’s spending had revived the company’s technicians, it would have stunned investors and plunged the company’s shares. Chipmaker has warned that profit margins will be controlled for years when the company plays catch-up.

Intel hopes to offset some of its costs by contributing billions of dollars in outstanding grants to governments in the United States and the European Union. The $ 52 billion chips law has the full backing of President Joe Biden and congressional leaders who hope the money will make U.S. production more competitive with Asia.

But the law on a broad spending bill has stalled in Congress for months amid discriminatory disputes over the rules in the House version of the bill that expands its cost and scope. Last week, Democrat leaders named Wyatt and Ponamisi to a conference committee seeking to resolve their differences and pave the way for a final passage.

On Monday, Kelsinger said he hoped Congress would pass the bill by Memorial Day.

Speaking after the event on Monday, Wheaton said he was committed to protecting federal money, but was not going to guarantee a target date for law enforcement.

“We’re going to work as hard as we can to move as fast as we can,” the senator said. Wheaton said the rivalry with China in Congress is acting as a motivating factor, which could help ease some of the delays that characterize Senate business in general.

“I think it strengthens our hand in doing this quickly,” Wyden said.

Intel has been enjoying massive tax breaks in Oregon, saving $ 760 million in property tax breaks over the past five years – $ 193 million last year alone. Ohio has promised $ 2 billion in incentives, including $ 600 million in direct subsidies to new factories near Columbus that will pay even more.

All the major semiconductor manufacturers in the world are setting up large new factories in the United States. Although the bunch of chipmakers in the Portland area were dense everywhere, all the manufacturers passed Oregon when choosing their new bases.

This is largely due to the lack of large, 1,000 acres of industrial land in the region that chipmakers want for the new generation of “megaphones”. The collection of Brown, Wyden, Bonamici and other government and business leaders has formed a working group aimed at resolving the issue and others are clearing the way for new chip investments.

“Computer chips are the heartbeat of Oregon’s 21st century economy,” Wyden said at Monday’s event. “It’s clear that we’re all going to work together here to build (and keep) this important industry in Oregon, to build our state’s strength, to renew our playbook.”

Intel’s Oregon complexes are almost completely built, but Kelsinger said last year that The Oregon / Oregon Live space still has room for a factory expansion.

“In three or four more years, I expect there to be another expansion here and we will copy it across the production network,” he said.

The newly renamed Moore Center is the main office building on Intel’s Hillsboro manufacturing facility, now known as Gordon Moore Park on Ronler Acres.Tim Herman, Intel

Intel’s Ronler Acres campus employs 14,000 people and is approximately the size of Downtown Portland. This is a failed housing development created in 1959 by Washington County. In the late 1980s it was only a house and duplex and had no water or sewer service. Neighbors have been using the property as an informal garbage dump.

Intel acquired the property in 1994 and set up a large factory, eventually turning the Ronler acre into the center of its manufacturing research.

The property will now be named after Moore, who founded Intel in 1968 and served as its CEO. The site’s main office building, formerly known as RA4, will be Moore’s hub.

Moore was famous for creating the rule that the number of transistors in a computer chip doubles at regular intervals – every year, or, again, every two years. Moore, now 93 and living in Hawaii, rightly expected that computer power generation would generate rapid growth despite lower costs.

Last fall, Moore participated in an Intel technology presentation through a pre-recorded video section.

Gordon Moore and Pat Kelsinger

Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel in 2007, with Pat Kelsinger, then CEO of the company.Intel Photo

Although Moore does not live in Oregon, he is proud to have played a key role in Intel’s decisions. Keith Thompson, Intel’s former vice president, was the company’s first Oregon site manager, a member of the Tektronics team that invited Moore in the early 1970s, and suggested that Intel consider Oregon for its first factory outside of California. Tektronix, which manufactures engineering equipment, is located near Beaverton.

So Moore sent Thompson to Oregon, and Thompson chose a site in Aloha. Moore signed in 1974, saying Thompson had not previously considered expanding Intel to Oregon.

“We may not have known Portland existed,” Thompson told The Oregon in 2007.

– Mike Rogoway | mrogoway@oregonian.com | Twitter: Rogoway | 503-294-7699

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