'No change' in Intel's plans for Leixlip
But there are some doubts about its intentions to make new chips in Kildare
When Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said that Ireland would be one of the three factories to produce the next generation of Intel chips, there was the expectation that the boost to the plant and local economy would come in 2013.
But news that the company was recalling up to 600 staff home earlier than expected from the US sparked concern that the Irish facility may miss out on the 14 nanometer chips.
Only a few years ago, the future of Intel looked bright. The company has dominated the desktop computer market for several years, seeing off competition from Advanced Micro Devices and carving out a comfortable niche for itself.
That was good news for the company’s Irish workforce, which numbers more than 4,000 people.
However, if there is one thing that the tech industry knows, it’s that nothing is set in stone. This year’s market leaders could be next year’s followers as the technology industry constantly evolves.
The PC market is contracting as people do more computing on iPads and Android phones. This year the sector will post its first annual decline in more than a decade, research has claimed.
Intel, meanwhile, has been slow out of the blocks to capitalise on the new sector, as mobile-makers sought more power efficient chips.
Despite the difficulties presented by an evolving market, though, and a stagnant consumer economy, Intel Ireland is confident that the plant will continue to play an important part in the company’s future, executives insist.
The Irish operation is still “on the roadmap” for the 14 nanometer chip, according to general manager Eamonn Sinnott, with Arizona already announced as a manufacturing location. Intel manufactures in dual locations for operational reasons.
“There is no delay, there is no change,” he says. “Paul Otellini has identified Ireland as being on the 14nm and beyond roadmap. There is no change to that.”
The company has a theme of “closing, reopening, innovation and renewal”, Sinnott adds, with Intel Ireland’s Fab 10 closing in 2011.
Refurbishments at the company’s existing Fab 14 facility are almost complete and Intel has also been granted planning permission to build at the Collinstown campus in Leixlip.
As yet, though, there is no firm date for manufacturing of the new chip, known as the 1272 process, to begin. It is understood that while it is still expected to go ahead at the Kildare facility, it could be late in 2013 or early in 2014 before it happens.