back to article Intel to spend €17bn on chip mega-factory in Germany

Intel has laid down its grand plans to build chip factories in Europe, which will start with a €17bn ($19bn) mega-site in the city of Magdeburg, Germany. The x86 titan on Tuesday said the facility is part of a €33bn ($36bn) investment in manufacturing, research and development, chip design, and foundry services across Europe. …

  1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Mega-chip factory

    Just how large will these chips be?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      How big?

      Uuuuuuuuuge. The biggested and bestest possible.

      C.

      1. Tams

        Re: How big?

        Then how big's the battered haddock going to need to be?!

        1. anothercynic Silver badge

          Re: How big?

          Uuuuuuuugher and bestester? ;-)

  2. grizzly

    Massive, Intel's new 4m process. nm is a bit too fiddly.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      nm = nautical mile

  3. Tilda Rice

    I'm sure Intel will enjoy the German red tape. Ask Elon :)

    1. Dr. Vagmeister

      Intel have probably thought of that. With Brexit and no red tape, then why didn't they choose the UK for something ?

      I get that subsidies play a part, but i do wonder how many other investment opportunities don't come the UK's way.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Simple, the EU is a much bigger market than the UK.

        If lack of red tape was a big factor, they'd put their new fab in Africa or Central America. Can't get much lower regulation than that, just pay your bribe to the guy on top and you can do whatever you want!

        1. Dr. Vagmeister

          I think as the article indicates, it is diversification, which is a good thing given the current situation with Covid, war in Ukraine and far east issues in the future.

          I am not sure of any hurdles if some of the Intel design or fabrication areas were based in the UK working with Europe. Would be good to hear what Intel thought about the UK now not being in the EU.

        2. Len

          It's looks quite clear to me that Intel chose its sites near major manufacturing clusters (or in the case of Ireland, next to an existing site). Businesses (and politicians) have decided that supply chains need to be literally shorter so European manufacturing is less dependent on supply chains that stretch all the way to Asia. Building your fabs within a few hundred kilometres of your customers makes perfect sense.

          Manufacturing is not considered sexy in the UK and had been the bastard stepchild of UK policy long before Brexit. Obviously Brexit hasn't helped and the bastard stepchild status has been confirmed again with folies such as creating additional red tape in the form of the UKCA certification fiasco and reams and reams of new customs declarations.

          Unfortunately, one of the remaining giant manufacturing sectors, automotive, is impacted quite a bit by Bexit too and the question is how well it can recover post pandemic. It's looking dire at the moment.

          That sort of rules out the UK for a fab. Now, Intel's R&D centre is going to the computing centre of excellence around the Université Paris-Saclay and an argument could be had that Cambridge could have been in the running for that. It appears, however, that the UK was ruled out years ago and that was reiterated last October.

          1. Dr. Vagmeister

            Thanks for the information, much appreciated.

        3. imanidiot Silver badge

          "If lack of red tape was a big factor, they'd put their new fab in Africa or Central America"

          The problem is you also need VERY reliable power supply (or be running your own powerplant), heaps and heaps of highly trained and educated workers, many millions of gallons/liters of water and easy access to take heavy machinery into and finished products out of your plant. Not many places in Africa or Central America could meet all those requirements.

      2. Justthefacts Silver badge

        “I get that subsidies play a part”

        Which part do you *not* get then? U.K. has already been round this loop. We have the scars to prove it. Thatcher subsidised fabs to open in the U.K., which hoovered up money for a few years, and then mostly closed the instant the taxpayer stopped paying.

        Germany is just being the rube at the poker table. If you can’t identify who the patsy is, then it’s you.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: “I get that subsidies play a part”

          Those days of being able to "depend" entirely on China and the 9-dash line region for production are coming to a close. Or have you been asleep for the past couple of weeks?

          Literally trillion in easy credit have been created by the Fed in the past 4 years for the purpose of bouying the US stock market and it has worked wonderfully. But it hasn't lessened US dependence on China at all - if anything it has gotten worse because the dollar is sky high.

      3. nobody who matters

        "..... i do wonder how many other investment opportunities don't come the UK's way.".....

        Probably a similar proportion to those that failed to come in the direction of the UK whilst we were an EU member. Twas always thus.

        1. Len

          Erm, the UK has seen tremendous amounts of investment in financial services, agriculture, professional services and automotive coming its way during our EU membership.

          1. nobody who matters

            Erm, actually no, not at all. Automotive, don't make me laugh (Ford, Peugeot, BMW and the mess they made of Rover). Agriculture - I nearly pissed myself. I've spent 40 years working in UK agriculture and apart from the early years of membership when UK farmers benefitted from massive EU subsidies, UK agriculture had nothing but grief and obstacles put in its way (unfairly restricted under production quotas that allowed the likes of France and Germany to continue massively overproducing).

            The UK also saw a massive amount of investment that could have come our way whilst an EU member, instead go elsewhere in the EU. We also saw a large number of companies who had manufacturing facilities in the UK shut those down and move some or all of their capacity to other EU sited plants (looking at you Ford, Peugeot, Massey Ferguson, Creda/Electrolux, MAN/ERF, Kverneland/Simba, amongst many others).

            Blinkered EU obsessives can downvote as much as you like, it won't alter the facts, we lost out on at least as much as we gained whilst within the EU.

            1. Lars Silver badge
              Happy

              "we lost out on at least as much as we gained whilst within the EU".

              No, I don't think so. When Britain joined the British economy was behind not only Germany but France and Italy too.

              And that changed due to membership of the EU.

              Now with brexit we will see Britain falling behind France again.

              No country can be good at everything and now Britain is destroying even the stronger parts like London.

              It's damned hard to understand how you ended up in this mess. The two party system is no doubt one big reason but I think more or less everything can be explained by this one sentence by Nick Clegg from many years ago.

              ".. a misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war".

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Nick Clegg? I'll raise you a quote from Boris Johnson:

                If we left the EU, we would end this sterile debate, and we would have to recognise that most of our problems are not caused by "Bwussels", but by chronic British short-termism, inadequate management, sloth, low skills, a culture of easy gratification and underinvestment in both human and physical capital and infrastructure. – Boris Johnson

                Even a stopped clock...

      4. codejunky Silver badge

        @Dr. Vagmeister

        "Intel have probably thought of that. With Brexit and no red tape, then why didn't they choose the UK for something ?"

        Same reason as choosing the US. The begging to spray money all over them is justification enough. Thankfully the UK didnt join in and so not here. However it does mean that as the US, EU and Asia will be supplying chips the UK will benefit from the global market of cheaper chips.

  4. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    Uk Efforts...

    Had to think about it for a while, but eventually I remembered that the UK was once a world leader in electronics, chips and silicon type stuff.....

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mullard

    https://www.effectrode.com/news/effectrode-investigates-happened-mullard/

    1. nobody who matters

      Re: Uk Efforts...

      Sadly, we threw that lead away many decades ago.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as long as it is not next to Tesla Berlin

    Which has huge issues over the amount of water it needs to operate at full tilt. Right plant but in the wrong place. Guess why BMW didn't build there?

    Germany has a good number of large rivers so...

    1. Len
      Happy

      Re: as long as it is not next to Tesla Berlin

      The new site is going to be roughly equidistant between Volkswagen's biggest plant and Tesla's new plant. I don't think that is a coincidence.

      It is remarkable, however, that Intel didn't choose to go to Silicon Saxony, Germany's main semiconductor cluster. I think that's because they wanted to be close to customers, not competitors. See my earlier point about being near customers.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: as long as it is not next to Tesla Berlin

        @Len

        "I think that's because they wanted to be close to customers, not competitors.".

        Are they not different states too, Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, and that could make a difference.

        1. Len

          Re: as long as it is not next to Tesla Berlin

          Yes, different states. And I know first hand that Saxony-Anhalt is extremely keen to attract foreign companies and willing to spend big bucks to overcome any obstacles a company might have.

          If you’re looking for a place to establish your business in Germany and you’re not too set on a location, definitely put them on the short list. Plenty of space too.

          So yes, that will likely have played a part.

      2. Justthefacts Silver badge

        Re: as long as it is not next to Tesla Berlin

        The location game isn’t remotely over, this is just the opening shot. Several locations in Germany have previously been lobbying the EU for it to be “in Germany”. But as soon as the result is announced, the game changes. The other regions start lobbying against the subsidies instead of for them, and the Commission has to sign off on the subsidy. The legal challenges will be going in.

        It still might be there, but really the game has barely begun…..buy popcorn; this will be a long decade to be fought over.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: as long as it is not next to Tesla Berlin

      ...Elbe. Lots of water!

      https://hotel-magdeburg.dorint.com/en/

      Stayed at this hotel on a couple of work trips to Magdeburg. One time couldn't stay there due to the flooding.

  6. nobody who matters

    "Plow"??? More american illiteracy!

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      "Plow"??? More american illiteracy!

      British and Australian writers always use plough, along with ploughed and ploughing; American and Canadian writers always use plow, plowed, and plowing. Both spellings are pronounced the same.

      Intel is American, perhaps Agam Shah is also.

      1. nobody who matters

        Point being that 'plough' is the historically correct form in English, and 'plow' is the incorrect modern american miss-spelling. The Reg was always a UK based website, and appears still to be mainly populated by UK and European based readers. Therefore the american misspellings and mangled 'english' to which we are continually subjected nowadays are inappropriate and unwelcome.

        1. atari2600

          Agam Shah resides in the US. It's an assumption, but he's probably a US citizen and is therefore writing in American English. Nothing "incorrect" about that. The UK doesn't have a monopoly on English and how it's used (at least a third of the language is French!), and nor is it usually the case that writers of American English have their words altered for a UK audience.

          Might be time to consider a different worldview.

          1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

            Writing

            FWIW though Agam is a US citizen writing in the US, he didn't do the headline. I did, and I'm a British citizen in the US.

            Whenever we publish in US time, we try to use US spelling. In fact, we're gradually moving to all US spelling to make the site consistent.

            C.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Writing

              In addition to all this plough(or plow) is the wrong metaphor

              You don't plough/plow seed, plowing/ploughing is turning stuff over or pushing it to the side.

              On 2nd thoughts perhaps ploughing government money is a perfect metaphor

              1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

                'the wrong metaphor'

                We can kinda use words how we want around here. Call 911 if you don't like it.

                C.

                1. Equality 7-2521

                  Re: 'the wrong metaphor'

                  "Call 911 if you don't like it"

                  That's no help to the OP - the correct number will be 112 (or 999).

                  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                    Re: 'the wrong metaphor'

                    Not 0118 999 881 999 119 725 3 ?

              2. NeilPost Silver badge

                Re: Writing

                I also didn’t get the “occupy the space of two World Cup-class football fields.”

                I wasn’t aware FIFA mandated extra big (soccer) Football fields (aka pitches as known to everyone else in the world).

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Writing

                  Not extra big but FIFA does require extra precision for World Cup football fields.

                  At lower level there is quite some margin in the size of the pitch, particularly as quite a few football pitches also double as fields for other sports. If you move higher to more serious levels (national, international) the margins get smaller and smaller the higher you get.

                  Finally, for World Cup level there is no margin, and the football pitch size requirements set by FIFA are exactly 105x68 metres.

                  1. NeilPost Silver badge

                    Re: Writing

                    It was a very wierd - almost automated- way of saying it.

                    ‘World Cup class’ makes no difference to the size of the pitch, which is regulation size.

                2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                  Re: Writing

                  >I wasn’t aware FIFA mandated extra big (soccer) Football fields

                  I feel there is a new unit of a FIFA world cup bribe amount

                  The HS2 costs 2 FWCB, the GDP drop due to brexit will be 10 FWCB etc

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Writing

              Just promise you won't change the pub signs and that an Imperial Pint will always be just that.

            3. Korev Silver badge
              Stop

              Re: Writing

              Whenever we publish in US time, we try to use US spelling. In fact, we're gradually moving to all US spelling to make the site consistent.

              Please don't. One nice nice thing that sets The Register apart from the rest is the tone and moving to American English will just move the site nearer to the many homogenous US IT sites...

          2. Lars Silver badge
            Joke

            "The UK doesn't have a monopoly on English and how it's used".

            In my books they lost that right due to the English teachers they sent to India then long ago.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              >In my books they lost that right due to the English teachers they sent to India then long ago.

              Was this like sending all the criminals to Australia ?

  7. Len

    No ASML or Imec

    It’s interesting that neither the Netherlands nor Belgium have featured in these plans, despite Intel CEO Gelsinger stating that:

    Europe has two jewels. One is ASML, the most advanced lithography, and the other is imec, the most advanced semiconductor research in the world.

    I don’t think they could ever have been in the running for a fab but they could have been a location for R&D. I guess they couldn’t compete with Paris-Saclay, they boast 155,000 researchers and R&D technicians and 65,000 students.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: No ASML or Imec

      The way they say “Paris-Saclay is endowing Paris Region” makes me think akin to wild rubbish like

      Cambridge University and all of Cambridgeshire

      MIT and all of Massachusetts

      Berkeley and all of California

      1. Len
        Headmaster

        Re: No ASML or Imec

        The Plateau de Saclay where all this is based is a geographical feature, a sort of hemicycle plateau that straddles the south of Paris. Considering we're not just talking about a single university campus but also all the spin-offs, companies and laboratories that have chosen that location for the talent, other companies that in turn have chosen that location because their customers or suppliers are there etc. (the text book cluster effect) it makes sense to talk about it in a wider sense.

        Similarly we don't speak of Santa Clara but of Silicon Valley and in the UK we often to say 'Silicon Fen' instead of Cambridge because the cluster is not limited to one location within the city of Cambridge.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: No ASML or Imec

      I think the reason is simple: Lack of available workers.

      You need loads of relatively well trained technical people to operate a fab. ASML and IMEC have already sucked the well dry in their respective region (and pulled in talent from all over the world). Putting a fab right next door might make it difficult to staff it. Apart from that the Netherlands is relatively expensive in terms of overall operating costs (power, taxes, logistics). Belgium has similar issues and heaps and heaps of red tape (what with having basically 3 interdependent but separate governments operating at the same time).

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: No ASML or Imec

        I think it's just, in addition, that the big customers are in France and Germany, cars and aviation and so forth.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No ASML or Imec

      Its seems to me that Intel new locations in the EU are next/close to very old IBM plants.

      GlobalFoundries ( ex AMD Fab1 in Dresden ) & X-fab (ex IBM Corbeil-Essonnes) so there is skilled people, suppliers in these region to build, runn etc these new plants.

      Sadly nothing for the region of Leuven/Flanders/Belgium maybe its because there was no correct surface available and/or a to big mess/instability of rule of law on permits and surely on energy supply. We also didn't hear/read any lobbying been done to get Intel's investment in the region... a réflexion of the actual state the different Belgian zombie government(s) are.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: No ASML or Imec

        "Belgian zombie government" - the name of my band

  8. SBU
    Coat

    This fab is going to require electricity, I assume.

    Good luck with that. Germany closing power stations by the fistful. Can't buy gas, won't use nuclear power, closing coal fired power stations. Power cost rising faster than inflation. etc, etc....

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: This fab is going to require electricity, I assume.

      I have a sneaking suspicion Germany might just be reopening some of those nuke plants in future. Once the rolling blackouts start the reticence against nuclear will disappear

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: This fab is going to require electricity, I assume.

        @imanidiot

        "I have a sneaking suspicion Germany might just be reopening some of those nuke plants in future"

        They have also stopped dismantling one of their coal plants in anticipation of having to turn it back on. The Green country of Europe seems to have realised it needs to also generate electricity.

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: This fab is going to require electricity, I assume.

        I suspect you will be wrong and it will be the lignite-burning plants that will either be given permit extensions, or they'll look at exemptions altogether.

        Nuclear power stations, once shut down, are a different animal to start up again than coal-fired monsters that just need... well... feedstock and ignition.

        1. imanidiot Silver badge

          Re: This fab is going to require electricity, I assume.

          Most German nuke plants are currently in a cold-shut down phase (to allow residual heat and radiation to subside) but that is a relatively easy state to recover from. All of the infrastructure (generators, switch-yards, fuel handling equipment, etc) are still there. Once actual decommissioning starts these are the first things that get torn out and at that point recommissioning becomes a nightmare. At this time it would still be relatively straightforward for at least a few of them to get them back up and running. Basically: Inspect main reactor pressure vessel, inspect and refurb (if required) generators and turbines, refuel, reach criticality.

          I also think you underestimate the difficulty in restarting a coal plant, those coal fired boilers are a nightmare on their own just to keep running, let alone restarting one once it's been down for some time. (plus all the same problems with electrical switch-yards, generator plants and equipment, fuel handling equipment etc.

      3. Equality 7-2521

        Re: This fab is going to require electricity, I assume.

        "I have a sneaking suspicion Germany might just be reopening some of those nuke plants in future"

        Indeed - particularly now the EU considers nuclear green energy (sustainable) and plans to formalise that viewpoint.

        1. Lars Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: This fab is going to require electricity, I assume.

          "now the EU considers nuclear green energy ".

          Any link to that decision you could provide?.

          I think that has not yet been voted on.

          I would very much support it, but there is no good reason to play with words.

          Nuclear energy doesn't pollute the way coal, oil and gas does and should be treated as other "green" energy forms economically.

          Thirteen countries in the EU have nuclear plants. Some are cutting down and some are planning for more.

          And Putin has indeed added to the discussion about nuclear energy.

          I

    2. Bonzo_red

      Re: This fab is going to require electricity, I assume.

      Electricity is one problem but a lack of water supplies is going to be an even bigger one. Elon's Tesla plant had problems because the environmentalists considered it would be extracting too much ground water and this fab is going to need a lot more than Tesla.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: This fab is going to require electricity, I assume.

        This plant will also be very close to the Elbe river and will likely set up it's own water treatment plant instead of sucking the ground dry.

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