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Building chip plant a huge effort for GlobalFoundries

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
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— Constructing the GlobalFoundries computer chip plant will require nearly as much human effort as it did to build the 102-story Empire State Building, company officials claim.

GlobalFoundries officials said in a fact sheet they handed out that the land-clearing that began Monday at the Luther Forest Technology Campus is the first step in a huge three-year construction project expected to require 5 million man-hours; it took about 7 million man-hours to build the Manhattan landmark in 1930-31, according to the official Empire State Building Web site.

The Delaney Group of Mayfield, the company that will be doing the site preparation, on Monday had a half-dozen earthmovers, several bulldozers and other pieces of equipment stationed in a clearing at the site, currently deep in pine woods.

Starting immediately, construction will be taking place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, for the duration of the project, said Travis Bullard, a GlobalFoundries spokesman.

Initially, clearing will be concentrated in the roughly 500- by 700-foot plant footprint. Bullard said the soft pines will be mulched for use on-site.

“They’ll be clearing trees, leveling the ground,” Bullard said. “We expect the site work to take about 10 to 12 weeks.”

A formal groundbreaking for the $4.2 billion factory is scheduled for late July. Bullard said the plan is to begin erecting steel for the 1.3-million-square-foot building by late August.

Fewer that 100 people will be working on site during clearing, but that will ramp up to over 1,000 people by next year, officials have said.

About $800 million will go into initial construction, with another $3.4 billion being spent on the highly sophisticated chipmaking equipment inside the factory.

GlobalFoundries said construction crews will pour enough cement to build a four-lane highway 11 miles, and use 75 miles of pipe — enough to connect Malta to Pittsfield, Mass.

The factory is scheduled to open in 2012 with a permanent workforce of more than 1,400, making state-of-the-art 22-nanometer computer chips.

Bullard said the project is on schedule, despite starting later this spring than originally planned.

“We talked about getting started earlier, but we built so much flexibility into the schedule, by necessity, that we’re pretty much on time,” Bullard said.

Company officials originally wanted to start work in April, but details of the 223-acre land purchase and then negotiating a construction labor agreement with local trade unions slowed the process.

Last Tuesday, GlobalFoundries announced its formal final commitment to build, and on Wednesday the $7.8 million real estate deal closed.

GlobalFoundries will hold a community meeting to discuss its plans at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Malta Community Center on Bayberry Road.

Plans for the plant were first announced by state officials and Advanced Micro Devices in June 2006. AMD transferred its manufacturing facilities to GlobalFoundries, a new partnership between AMD and an Abu Dhabi investment fund, in March.

 
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