Manufacturing memory means scribing silicon in a sea of sensors

Manufacturing memory means scribing silicon in a sea of sensors

Enlarge / How it’s made: silicon wafers! (credit: Micron)

At Micron’s memory chip fabrication facility in the Washington, DC, suburb of Manassas, Virginia, the entire manufacturing area is blanketed in electronic detectors in all their various forms. But the primary purpose isn’t to keep intruders out or anything so prosaic. “A lot of them are microphones,” a spokesman for Micron said. “They listen to the robots.”

It turns out that there are thousands of microphones throughout the facility, or “fab,” as silicon manufacturing plants are commonly known. There are microphones inside the giant $70 million cameras that imprint the component layout on the silicon surface of a memory chip. There are microphones lining the tracks of the robot controlled railways that carry colorful plastic FOUPs (front opening universal pods) along the ceiling throughout the plant. There are microphones near essentially every moving part in the facility.

All those

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Intel stockpiling 10nm chips, warns that 14nm shortages will continue

Intel stockpiling 10nm chips, warns that 14nm shortages will continue

Intel Skylake die shot, built using the 14nm process. (credit: Intel)

In its earnings conference call, Intel has warned that chip shortages are set to continue into the third quarter of the year, However, the company has also said that its 10nm manufacturing process is improving faster than anticipated and that it will be able to sell more 10nm chips this year than previously predicted.

Intel’s troubled migration to its 10nm manufacturing process has had many consequences in the wider computing industry. Gartner and IDC both say that some of the shrinkage of the PC market is due to a lack of processors, and companies such as Microsoft have stated that their financial performance would have been better were it not for the shortages. Intel was expected to be building a wide range of mainstream processors on its 10nm at this point, reducing the pressure on its 14nm facilities.

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