DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) - Intel Corp. inaugurated a factory Thursday that manufactures the semiconductor company's newest chips, using an industry-leading technology that allows computers to work faster using less energy.
Chief Executive Paul Otellini officially opened the Fab 24-2 plant in Leixlip, west of Dublin, Intel's major manufacturing base in Europe since 1989. The plant, which began production three months ago, joins similar facilities in two U.S. states in making Intel's most efficient microprocessor, the chips that run computers and other electronic devices.
Intel's first plant that uses circuit widths of 65 nanometers (a human hair is about roughly 80,000 nanometers in diameter) began production last year in Portland, Ore. The second started up earlier this year in Chandler, Ariz.
Intel officials say the Irish plant will be the most cost-effective of the three, citing Ireland's exceptionally low business tax rates and lower wages than in the United States.
''Intel's ability to ramp advanced 65-nanometer silicon technology into high-volume production in three factories clearly sets us apart,'' said Otellini, who revealed that more than half of Intel's worldwide output of chips for computers and servers now contains the 65-nanometer standard.
This technology means Intel can pack more transistors onto a single fingernail-sized chip than ever before. But Intel, which invests heavily to stay ahead of its main competitor Advanced Micro Devices Inc., is already planning to produce 45-nanometer chips by the end of 2007.
Intel completed the 60,000-square-foot plant despite losing about $210 million in state aid midway through the two-year project.
Ireland reluctantly withdrew the help in March 2005 after European Union competition authorities signaled they would reject the aid as illegal _ the first time EU authorities fought such aid for Intel in Ireland. Previously, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company had received about $275 million in Irish state aid.
Underscoring the government's interest in Intel, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern attended Thursday's opening and praised the new plant as ensuring ''that Intel Ireland remains at the leading edge in the semiconductor industry.'' He also signed a memorandum of understanding with Intel chiefs that commits the company to work with the government to promote home computer use in Ireland.
''At a national level, the arrival of Intel in Ireland has helped in no small way to put us into the first division of technology-driven economies,'' Ahern said.