After 24 months of construction, today AMD's first 300mm semiconductor fab, Fab 36, celebrates its grand opening. Built adjacent to AMD's 200mm Fab 30 in Dresden, Germany, Fab 36's grand opening takes place 6 years after Fab 30's introduction. The name Fab 36 comes from its existence 36 years after the founding of AMD.

The announcement for Fab 36's site in Dresden came in November 2003, with first ground breaking at the end of that month. Approximately 12 months later, the building was ready for equipment, and another 12 months after that, Fab 36 began preparations for mass production.


Over 150 members of the press enter AMD's press conference at Fab 36 in Dresden

Unfortunately, at its grand opening, Fab 36 is still a 90nm-only fab; throughout the next year, AMD will begin the transition to 65nm production. The first CPUs built at Fab 36 will be shipping in the first quarter of 2006, with the first 65nm chips leaving Fab 36 by the end of 2006.

Sometime in 2007 AMD will have performed a "substantial amount" of the transition of Fab 36 to a 65nm semiconductor fab, bringing the grand total for the cost of Fab 36 to an astounding 2.5 billion US dollars. There is no word when Fab 36 will be completely converted to 65nm manufacturing.

By 2008, Fab 36 will be able to produce more than 2x the number of processors as Fab 30 (potentially 100M processors per year based on current die sizes).

The first 300mm wafer produced at Fab 36 actually took place back in March, but preparation for mass production continues up to and beyond today. Today's grand opening of Fab 36 marks a huge step in AMD history, as it will hopefully alleviate a number of the supply issues they have been plagued with in recent history.


The two individuals in the middle kicked off the day at Fab 36, AMD's CEO, Dr. Hector Ruiz is the second on the left, and VP/GM of AMD Dresden, Dr. Hans Deppe is to the right of Dr. Ruiz.

The day started off with a press conference kicking off the grand opening of the fab. Below we've got a picture of a clean room engineer (or someone dressed as one) posing with AMD's Dr. Hans Deppe, the Corporate VP and General Manager of AMD in Dresden.

While we don't have a 200mm wafer here to compare sizes with, imagine the wafer pictured above, but smaller.

After some brief words about the opening of Fab 36, a brief Q&A period started. One of the first questions was what will happen to Fab 30 in the future now that Fab 36 is ready to start mass production. Dr. Ruiz mentioned that Fab 30 could be used for more x86 microprocessor production, it could potentially become a chipset manufacturing fab (possibly indicating AMD's intentions to eventually return to chipset manufacturing), or it could be upgraded to future semiconductor technologies for use in the future (e.g. 65nm).

One other important question that was asked was "why Dresden" for Fab 36, to which the answer was obviously multi-faceted:

1) First and foremost, AMD has invested a lot in the people of Dresden, when it comes to training and expertise in semiconductor manufacturing. It was simply easier to leverage the existing human investment.

2) Obviously government subsidies played a large role in AMD's decision to bring Fab 36 to Dresden. Dr. Hans Deppe listed the total amount of government subsidies for Fab 36 as 500 million US dollars.

The final question of the press conference was about AMD's future fab plans, which Dr. Ruiz answered with a timeframe of 2008 for the start of production on the next major fab plant.

AMD Draws a Crowd: German Chancellor Schröder Arrives
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  • ceefka - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    50%? That will take a long time still, if ever. I suppose Intel will have done something significant or a lot of significant stuff before that or they're toast. Reply
  • matthewfoley - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    In this case, because AMD is the underdog with the cheaper chips almost across the board, then if they claim more of the market, prices will go down, which should be better for all of us. Reply
  • IdahoB - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    "While we don't have a 200mm wafer here to compare sizes with, imagine the wafer pictured above, but smaller."

    Outstanding :)
    Reply
  • johnsonx - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    got a big LOL out of that one myself... came into the comments just to comment on it. Reply
  • nserra - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    I really laugh at that too ;) Reply
  • Lord Zado - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    Save picture, go to photo editing program of choice, scale by 66.67% and viola! A 200mm wafer :) Reply
  • Diasper - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Unfortunately, at its grand opening, Fab 36 is still a 90nm-only fab; throughout the next year, AMD will begin the transition to 65nm production. The first CPUs built at Fab 36 will be shipping in the first quarter of 2006, with the first 65nm chips leaving Fab 36 by the end of 2006.


    That's really disappointing and does indicate that AMD *is* significantly behind. My hope was for early 65nm production for AMD to increase profits but more importantly get 65nm chips out to us - which given trying to manufacture in bulk would mean 65nm chips for S939 of at least dual-core.

    Any idea when Intel is meant to swing into 'full' 65nm production? Early 2006?
    Reply
  • Viditor - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    quote:

    That's really disappointing and does indicate that AMD *is* significantly behind.

    No, it really doesn't. Guys, think about it and remember back when 90nm was introduced first by Intel.
    The fact then (and now) was that even at 130nm, AMD had superior chips compared to Intel's 90nm parts. For AMD to convert to 65nm parts now would mean they are just throwing their 90nm production lines in the garbage, when they are still churning out chips that will exceed Intel's 65nm parts! That would be a terrible waste and would increase the cost of the AMD chips significantly...and for what?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    You can say all you want about K8 beating NetBurst, but Conroe/Merom/etc. are going to put up a hell of a fight. No one really knows yet (that can talk, at least) how the next gen Intel architecture performs. Do you really think Intel is planning on just matching K8, though?

    Part 2: AMD is really behind on manufacturing plants, but that comes from total revenues. AMD has only a few plants, and I think Fab 30 is the only 90nm plant. (I could be wrong - maybe they have two 90nm plants, not counting fab 36?) Meanwhile, Intel has something like 9 in full production of 90nm parts. Oh yeah, and this is AMD's first 300mm fab, where all of Intel's have been 300mm for... five years? More?

    As I said, it comes down to revenues. 40 billion vs. 4 billion, isn't it? Or maybe 30 billion and 8 billion? The point is that Intel is making a lot more money, which allows them to build more fabs, which allows them to procure more OEM partners.... It's a viscious cycle (from AMD's perspective).

    But hey, competition is good. Statements like "AMD is behind on manufacturing" are true, and sugar coating it doesn't do anyone any favors. That's the same as the "AMD had superior 130nm chips compared to Intel's 90nm parts." What are you trying to do, get a job with AMD? Was Barton better than Prescott? Not really. Is Newcastle better than Dothan? It depends on the market, and the mobile market has answered with an emphatic NO! Are Newcastle and Hammer better than Prescott, Irwindale, Sonoma, etc.? In many cases, yes. Too bad Intel makes and sells about 10X as many of those as AMD... which comes back to manufacturing. Long term, this plant opening should only be a good thing for AMD, but it's far too early to declare it a complete success.
    Reply
  • Viditor - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Conroe/Merom/etc. are going to put up a hell of a fight. No one really knows yet (that can talk, at least) how the next gen Intel architecture performs


    Ummm...If no one really knows, how do you know that they are going to "put up one hell of a fight"? :)
    quote:

    Do you really think Intel is planning on just matching K8, though?

    I think they are planning on doing the very best that they can, as will AMD.
    Intel's Nextgen does indeed sound good on paper, but so did Prescot. BTW, do you really think AMD is going to stop innovating between now and then as well?

    Part2: AMD is only "behind" on the number of Fabs (the quality of their Fab30 is the best in the world, and they have all of the awards to prove it). If they had the same number of Fabs as Intel, they would be bankrupt tomorrow (or already) because:
    1. They don't sell anywhere near the range of semiconductors that Intel does (not just CPUs), so those extra Fabs would be just sitting there.
    2. AMD is still locked out of a lot of the market (vis a vis the antitrust action), so again those extra Fabs would be just sitting there.
    3. For a list of Intel's Fabs, check http://www.intel.com/pressroom/kits/manufacturing/...">here.
    Note that the majority are 130nm and 200mm...also note that very few of their Fabs (though it doesn't say this on the list) make CPUs.

    quote:

    Statements like "AMD is behind on manufacturing" are true, and sugar coating it doesn't do anyone any favors

    I disagree. Quantity does not equate to better quality or even making more money. To give you an example, Intel uses a manufacturing method called "copy everything"...what this means is that they develop and tweak the chip on a pilot line, then copy all of the parameters to all of their Fabs that manufacture that part. This is a very smart thing to do if you have Fabs all over the place, but it makes future changes nearly impossible to accomplish quickly (because they have to first change the pilot Fab, then refit all of the rest of the Fabs.
    OTOH, AMD has a dynamically changing model utilizing their proprietary APM software. They can even change a single wafer in the middle of processing it!
    You should read http://tinyurl.com/b9llw">this article!
    APM is (IMHO) the main reason AMD has done as well as they have been for the last few years...
    Reply

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