back to article Intel to sell Massachusetts R&D site, once home to its only New England fab

As Intel gets ready to build fabs in Arizona and Ohio, the x86 giant is planning to offload a 149-acre historic research and development site in Massachusetts that was once home to the company's only chip manufacturing plant in New England. An Intel spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday to The Register it plans to sell the …

  1. Mike Friedman

    I was living in Boston when DEC and Wang were dying in the late 80s and early 90s.

    Wang's huge headquarters (five or six buildings), in Lowell (built there to spur business in an old mill town that had seen. better days) ended up selling for $525,000. It had cost $60M to build.

    They just couldn't catch a break.

    1. Roj Blake

      I always felt sorry for the people in Wang's German office who had to answer the phone with "Wang Cologne"

  2. Platinum blond(e)

    Another End of an Era moment

    Sorry to hear this, DEC were formidable.

    I hope there are no contamination issues with the former fab site....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Another End of an Era moment

      >I hope there are no contamination issues

      Intel Byte Ordering has seeped deep into the bedrock

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Another End of an Era moment

        Weren't DEC little endian before Intel?

        1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

          Re: Another End of an Era moment

          The Vax was little-endian. IIRC not quite the same as Intel's idea of little-endian though I don't remember the specifics.

          1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

            Re: Another End of an Era moment

            Intel use IEEE formats for floating point and double precision arithmetic. DEC had developed their own formats before those standards emerged.

            There was a library, but I forget its name, for converting data between SUN, VAX, and intel formats. It handled byte ordering for integers and floats, as well as converting floating bit patterns. Text data, one byte at a time, needed no special treatment.

            1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

              Re: Another End of an Era moment

              I wish I had more than vague memories! Vague memory 1 is that the floating point was quite difficult and expensive to implement; I wish I'd taken note because I recall reading not that long ago that the person responsible was insistent that she wasn't going to take short-cuts with it, though that may have been with specific reference to some arcane instruction for manipulating matrices. I also vaguely recall reading about the various formats many years ago and decided to stick with integers (which was fine as I was mostly writing systems stuff and "glueware" rather than civil engineering stuff).

              Vague memory no. 2 was something to do with the byte order being different (or was it the bits within a byte?) but I suspect it was explained in a suitably ambiguous manner that I didn't quite grasp what was different about it.

              Of course it also did BCD for people who liked that sort of thing.

              1. Dave Pickles

                Re: Another End of an Era moment

                VAX floating-point formats (there were several) had the sign bit and exponent in the middle of the word instead of at the MSB end. This IIRC was for binary compatibility with data from the PDP range of machines.


                1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Bronze badge

                  Re: Another End of an Era moment

                  I never knew that. Thanks!

            2. Steve Lionel

              Re: Another End of an Era moment

              You may be thinking of the CONVERT= option in VAX FORTRAN - I wrote the run-time support for that. Intel Fortran still supports it.

              I worked for DEC from 1978 to the end, continued for Compaq and then was hired into Intel. At the time I retired from Intel at the end of 2016, the site I was then at in Merrimack, NH, was being closed and the developers moved down to the Hudson site. I still have many friends there and they'll be relocated to nearby Harvard, MA - it would be funny if it was a converted shopping center, the way so many DEC sites in the area were.

              1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

                Re: Another End of an Era moment

                No, I was not thinking of VAX Fortran, though I am interested in your point.

                The library I am thinking of was first developed by SUN. Its intention was to take data from VAX machines and make it run on the SUN. When it was ported to other systems, it could export data on magnetic tape or through those new-fangled internet sockets in a common format, which was essentially SUN format. I had programs running on PC/Linux systems, old SUN workstations, and a MIPS machine.

  3. NeilPost Silver badge


    Perhaps they can offer the proceeds up as a down payment into Chips for America funding??

  4. Electronics'R'Us Silver badge

    DEC Ethernet devices

    The DEC ethernet PHY line of devices were owned by Intel in 98.

    I was working with those devices and Intel issued a revised device that did not meet the PCI spec and which caused a great deal of pain for the company I was with at the time.

    That was in the days prior to automatic PCN (product change notices) being issued. I found out after managing to find a blurb (via google when they were still a 'do no evil' company) that stated the problem.

    That line was probably offloaded to Intel prior to the main company being sold.

  5. Joe Gurman

    And then there was the whole enclosure airflow direction issue

    Iirc, it was "IBM sucks, but DEC blows."

    1. Scene it all

      Re: And then there was the whole enclosure airflow direction issue

      I remember the first time I walked behind an early DEC VAX 780 in the lab (I worked for DEC too) and the blast of air coming horizontally out the back of those machines at about knee height could knock papers off of tables. And the noise!

  6. John Savard

    Most Advanced Microprocessors in the World?

    Would that be a reference to the DEC Alpha chips, as opposed to the implementations of the VAX on a chip?

  7. Greg 38

    Fab17 / hot pmos

    I'll miss the demise of the old Fab17 Intel site. Worked remotely with my counterparts there 20 years ago. One of the longest running issues we never fully resolved was that their PMOS ran hotter than the other fabs on the 120nm node. The VTP was always lower magnitude. We sent a half dozen splitlots between the fabs to isolate the source but the results we not conclusive. Rest in peace, F17

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