November 19, 2007

Sematech News Boon For Albany; Plan To Sell Chip Fab Laboratory In Austin Could Mean More R&D Jobs Coming To Nanotech Center Here

By: by Larry Rulison, Times Union


ALBANY - In a move that could mean more good things to come for Albany NanoTech, Sematech Inc. is looking to sell off its chip fab laboratory in Austin, Texas.

The lab, known as the Advanced Technology Development Facility, or ATDF, includes 62,000 square feet of cleanroom space and is used to help companies do the latest research on computer chip manufacturing. It employs about half the 400 people who work at Sematech in Austin.

The news, which was reported last week by the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, means that Sematech, which has a growing presence at Albany NanoTech's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, will likely do more of that R&D work in Albany.

"I can confirm that discussions are under way that include both ATDF and potential investment partners," said Sematech spokesman Dan McGowan, who declined to talk specifics.

Sematech is a research consortium of the world's largest com puter chip manufacturing companies, including IBM Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp. Created in the 1980s, the organization helped make Austin a global center for computer chip manufacturing and design. But New York state and the NanoCollege, which is part of the University at Albany, have been chipping away at Austin's grip on Sematech.

In 2003, Sematech created Sematech North at the NanoCollege's Albany NanoTech complex on Fuller Road, and now is expanding its presence there in a $760 million project that includes $300 million from New York state.

As part of that deal, Sematech will put the headquarters of what will be known as International Sematech at Albany NanoTech, and grow its presence there to about 700 people from the current 250.

The American-Statesman story said Sematech employees not affiliated with ATDF are being told they must move to Albany if they want to keep their jobs.

"I can't speak directly on specific staffing plans," said McGowan, the spokesman. "(But) the vast majority of the new positions ... will represent new hires."

The NanoCollege is currently building a $100 million, 250,000-square-foot building that will house International Sematech's offices.

The college also is spending $50 million to expand its cleanroom space, where it does computer chip manufacturing research and development on 300-millimeter silicon wafers.

That cleanroom - which has capabilities similar to work done at ATDF - will grow to 80,000 square feet, from 65,000 square feet currently, opening up additional space for Sematech's work.