AMD: 300mm and cycles

In the recent months, the stage where we observe the battle of the titans of PC microprocessors (Intel and AMD) was not really shaken by the thunder of news or the tremors of falling prices, like in some other times. You may know it or not, but there are major cycles in this industry and we are reaching the end of an innovation phase brought by past investments. Intel and AMD propose evolving products, but less innovative products, and concetrate a lot of their efforts on heavy investments preparing the future clashes of the giants.

The best example I could find is certainly the news of AMD starting to build a new plant at the side of its old Dresden German plant (here, old, merely means “more than 2-year old“). Fab 30 was long the spearhead of AMD and will stop crunching silicon before the end of 2007. In the mean time, AMD intends to have started several manufacturing lines able to produce 300mm-diameter wafers (silicon plates nearly as large as good old LP’s) while the standard was still 200mm-diameter. With Fab 36 which already started pushing products out and Fab 38 which will be able to go down to the amazing etching size of 45nm (remember that a mere human hair has a diameter more than 1000 times larger than the finest drawings of this one), AMD capacity will simply quadruple in three years.

Kudos to the engineers and technicians of AMD and its suppliers, but let’s notice that this is also a tribute to the fact that AMD went from the role of an outsider to the stardom of being the only serious adversary to Intel.

See also AMD to quadruple chip-making capacity (The Register).