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Infineon opens high-tech chip factory

Infineon Technologies has opened a new high-tech chip factory for power electronics on 300mm thin wafers at its Villach site in Austria.

Costing over €1.6bn, the investment represents one of the largest such projects in the microelectronics sector in Europe. The Villach site is now among the world’s most modern fabs and was opened by Infineon CEO Reinhard Ploss, Infineon Austria CEO Sabine Herlitschka along with EU Commissioner Thierry Breton and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

“The new fab is a milestone for Infineon, and its opening is very good news for our customers,” said Ploss. “The timing to create new capacity in Europe could not be better, given the growing global demand for power semiconductors. The last few months have clearly shown how essential microelectronics are in virtually every area of life. Given the accelerated pace of digitalization and electrification, we expect demand for power semiconductors to continue to grow in the coming years. The additional capacities will help us serve our customers worldwide even better, including long term.”

The factory was commissioned at the beginning of August, and the first wafers will leave the Villach plant shortly. In the first stage of expansion, the chips will primarily be used to meet demand from the automotive industry, data centres and renewable energy generation of solar and wind power. At the group level, the new factory will give Infineon additional sales potential of around €2bn per year.

Sabine Herlitschka, the CEO of Infineon Technologies Austria, said: “With this investment, Infineon has demonstrated that it is also possible to build attractive production sites in Europe in the highly competitive microelectronics sector. We are setting new standards with this investment. The energy-saving chips from Villach will become important core elements for the energy transition."

The chip factory has about 60,000 m² of gross floor space and production will be gradually ramped up over the next four to five years. More than two-thirds of the 400 additional highly qualified specialists needed to operate the factory have already been hired.

The factory is fully automated and has been designated as a “learning factory,” artificial intelligence solutions will be used primarily in the area of predictive maintenance - networked plants will know at an early stage when they need maintenance thanks to a multitude of data and simulations.

Infineon now has two large power semiconductor manufacturing sites for 300mm wafers, one in Dresden and one in Villach. With both sites based on the same standardised production and digitization concepts the company said that it would be able to better control and co-ordinate the manufacturing operations at the two sites.

Neil Tyler

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