IBM Will Make More Chips at $5BN Plant

IBM released a set of three white papers covering different silicon alternatives, and even an already developed prototype not too long ago. Big Blue hopes to get an edge during a time when silicon will no longer be able to accommodate Moore’s law, but for now, it still retains some confidence in the 14th element.

The AP reports that IBM has reached an agreement with GlobalFoundries, AMD’s spinned off manufacturing unit, to start making Watson-inspired chips at the $4.6 billion, Albany-based semiconductor plant. Production of the 32-nanometer silicon-on-insulator chipsets will be in full force by the second half of 2012.

“Bernie Meyerson, IBM’s vice president of research, said the Malta fabrication plant — or “fab” — was attractive in part because it is located near the company’s research facility in Albany. Also, the new plant can be used for production for a longer period in an industry that is constantly gearing up to provide more powerful chips.

“It’s the most advanced fab, so it’s literally being built on U.S. soil now,” Meyerson said.”

The city of New York has a $1.2 billion stake at the GlobalFoundries plant, which will employ about 1,400 workers once it’s fully operational and busy shipping IBM silicon. The two companies already have a number of joint ship manufacturing initiatives around the globe, and this newest project  will be spearheading the charge (at least when it comes to competing in the growing  yet constantly shrinking chip market.)

While GlobalFoundries is expanding with IBM, AMD has been doing some work of its own. It too challenges Intel, directly in the latter’s home turf with its five Opteron server chips. The 16-bit processors pack more juice for less power, which drove near-instant adoption by vendors including HP, Dell and others.