Car companies across the globe have had to idle production and workers because of a shortage of semiconductors, often referred to as microchips or just chips. They’re the tiny operating brains inside just about any modern device, like smartphones, hospital ventilators or fighter jets. The pandemic has sent chip demand soaring unexpectedly, as we bought computers and electronics to work, study, and play from home. But while more and more chips are needed in the U.S., fewer and fewer are manufactured here.
Intel is the biggest American chipmaker. Its most advanced fabrication plant, or fab for short, is located outside Phoenix, Arizona. New CEO, Pat Gelsinger, invited us on a tour to see how incredibly complex the manufacturing process is.
First, we had to suit up to avoid contaminating the fab: head-cover – on; bunny suit – zipped; goggles; gloves… ready to go.