BY Times Union
Former AMD chief part of plan to build computer chip center
Utica's attempt at a second act as a manufacturing powerhouse is getting some help from Hector Ruiz, the man who put computer chip manufacturing in Saratoga County.
Ruiz, who convinced Gov. George Pataki and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno seven years ago to give his company, Advanced Micro Devices, more than $1 billion to build a computer chip factory in the town of Malta, is bringing a start-up company to the SUNY Institute of Technology outside of Utica.
The company, Advanced Nanotechnology Solutions, is one of six businesses — including IBM, the Sematech chip consortium and Tokyo Electron — that will spend $1.5 billion and hire more than 1,000 people over several years for a $125 million computer chip research center the state is building on the SUNY IT campus in the Utica suburb of Marcy.
The administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling the consortium "Nano Utica" and believes it offers a blueprint for duplicating the success of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany in other upstate cities.
The building currently under construction, called the Computer Chip Commercialization Center, or Quad-C, will focus on chip "packaging," the complex housing that encases a chip and includes the wiring that connects it to a computer or a smart phone.
The idea for Quad-C first emerged as part of a $1.6 billion deal that the administration of Gov. David Paterson negotiated with IBM in 2008. The deal was designed to save thousands of jobs at IBM in East Fishkill while adding 1,000 more in Albany and at another upstate location that turns out to be the SUNY IT campus.
The NanoCollege will operate Quad-C and replicate the model under which the school operates at its Fuller Road campus, which has more than 3,000 employees and has attracted $17 billion in semiconductor industry investment.
The state will spend an additional $200 million over 10 years on equipment for the facility, which will expand to 253,000 square feet of space — double the original plan.
The location of Nano Utica at SUNY IT is critical to the state and Oneida County's efforts to attract a chip manufacturing plant to the Mohawk Valley. The NanoCollege controls most of a 400-acre site across the street from SUNY IT called the Marcy Nanocenter.
The Cuomo administration is pitching the Marcy site to the chip industry as the best location in the world for the next generation of "mega" fabs that will make chips on massive 18-inch silicon wafers instead of the 12-inch wafers used today. Cuomo was also behind the creation of a $4.8 billion program at the NanoCollege that is developing the equipment and architecture needed for these larger fabs.
The consortium, known as the G450C because the wafers are actually 450 millimeters across, is putting together the world's first 450mm pilot factory at the NanoCollege campus.
The state believes one of the consortium members — or several of them — will eventually build a production fab on the Marcy site because of the proximity to the pilot fab in Albany, which is known as NanoFab X.
The Marcy site has room for three such factories, which could cost as much as $15 billion each, more than four times the cost of the typical factory in 2006 when the AMD deal with the state was sealed.
GlobalFoundries is also considering building a second fab in Malta that would be built for 450mm production, although GlobalFoundries hasn't said when it plans to move to the larger wafers. GlobalFoundries is part of G450C, along with IBM, Intel, Samsung and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's largest chip makers and perhaps the only companies that will build 450mm fabs because of the extraordinary costs.
Ruiz's company was founded last year in Texas, records from that state show. Ruiz was a popular figure in the Capital Region for years as AMD and then its spinoff, GlobalFoundries, worked with state and local officials on their factory plans.
Ruiz abruptly left GlobalFoundries in late 2009, just months after ground was broken on the $7 billion Malta facility, which is known as Fab 8 and now employs more than 2,000 people.
Ruiz, an Austin, Texas, resident, was at Cuomo's announcement Thursday and said he has been watching the state run with the opportunity that AMD provided in June of 2006.
"New York is now the world's center for growth for nanotechnology," Ruiz said, referring to the technology that makes producing invisible computer chip circuits possible. "I'm looking forward to working with you, one more time."
firstname.lastname@example.org • 518-454-5504 • @larryrulison