Intel is a light industry. It is an American Multinational Company. It manufactures microprocessors such as the Intel i3, i5 and i7 processors. Micro-processors are computer chips that act as the brains of a computer. Intel Ireland is located in Leixlip, Co. Kildare. It supplies microprocessors to computer manufacturers in Ireland and abroad.
Manufacturing micro-processors is a highly skilled job which requires specialist expertise and very special factories. Examining the needs of Intel and how it manufactures microprocessors helps us understand why
1. High grade silica sand
Intel makes batches of microprocessors on a circular disk. This disk is called a silicon wafer. The silicon wafer is made from very pure silica sand.
2. Copper for electric circuits
A microprocessor is very simply a collection of millions of tiny switches called transistors. These transistors are connected by tiny copper wires.
Intel uses about 9 million gallons of water every day. The water is used in the manufacture of silicon wafers.
Intel’s microprocessors are manufactured in a very special factory which they call a Fab unit (Fab for Fabrication, another word for manufacturing). Microprocessors are assembled using tiny parts which can only be seen under a microscope. If there is any movement while the microprocessors are being made, the entire silicon wafer could be ruined. Therefore, Intel’s factories need to be build on solid bedrock that is free from earthquakes and other earth movements.
1. Manufacturing the silicon wafers
The silica sand is smelted and formed into a large cylinder. The cylinder is then cut into thin slices called silicon wafers.
2. Manufacturing the Microprocessors
The silicon wafer is divided into lots of little squares. Each square will be one microprocessor. The connections between the transistors are etched onto the silicon wafer. The wafer is dipped is a special solution that create the copper connections. The transistors are then printed onto the silicon wafer. Each square is then cut out from the wafer and encased in a metal die which helps reduce heat when the microprocessors is being used. Copper wires are added which allows the microprocessor to be inserted into a computer.
The microprocessors are manufactured in special ‘clean rooms’ that are 20 times more hygienic than a hospital operating theatre. These clean rooms exchange the air very rapidly many times a day to ensure the room is dust free. Dust can ruin a silicon wafer so Intel has special air exchange equipment to keep its clean rooms dust-free.
Each microprocessor is tested to ensure it is a quality finished product. The speed of the chip is particularly important as this determines how much it can be sold for so this is measured also.
4. Packaging and Transport
The microprocessors are packaged very carefully so that they can withstand smalls bumps during transport. Microprocessors are expensive to manufacture so Intel uses dedicated transport to ensure its microprocessors get to the market safely.
Intel’s finished product is microprocessors. These are high value computer parts that enable computers to work. Intel is the global leader in the supply of microprocessors for use in computers and other electronic equipment. Much of modern life is dependent on computers so the microprocessors than make computers work must be dependable.
Why did Intel locate in Ireland
1. Leixlip is in Co. Kildare but it is not far from Dublin. It is located close the the M50 motorway which connects Leixlip to Dublin Airport. Intel was able to use excellent transport routes to ship in its raw materials and to export its finished products, the microprocessors.
2. The land offered to Intel had solid bedrock. This meant Intel could build a factory free from the dangers of vibrations that would ruin the manufacturing process.
3. Leixlip is located close to several major universities. Maynooth University, DCU, TCD and UCD all produce excellent highly qualified engineering and science graduates available. Dublin is also the largest city in Ireland and therefore a large labour market.
4. Leixlip lies on the River Liffey. The river acts as an important source of water for Intel’s manufacturing activities. The location also had access to excellent services such as waste disposal, telecommunications and electricity supply.
5. Companies that locate in Ireland can sell their finished products to the EU market without having to pay tariffs (a type of tax on imported goods). This meant that Intel could access a huge European market to which to sell its microprocessors.
6. The Irish Government policy allows foreign companies to pay a very low tax on their profits. This is called ‘corporation tax’. Most EU countries charge approximately 35% tax on profits. Ireland charges 12.5%. This means that Intel could make a bigger profit by locating in Ireland because they would pay less tax on their sales of microprocessors.