Central New York — Waiting in the Wings for Semiconductor Assembly?

The following appeared in a slightly different form as an editorial in Chip Scale Review magazine's online edition.


Ever since Governor George Pataki's "ChipFab '98" program back at the end of the last century, New York State has been trying to attract a commercial state-of-the-art wafer fab above and beyond the existing facilities at IBM Fishkill. The development of the Global Foundries facility at Saratoga Springs is just one outcome from that long-held desire. While the region doesn't yet have a cute nickname ("Silicon Alley" came and went with the dot-com bust, and the oft-touted "Silicon Forest" turns out to have been claimed by Oregon many years ago), the first wafer outs from the Saratoga Springs facility are due in Q3 2012, according a recent speech to local educators and interested parties by local Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (District 116).


Yes, here in the central New York (CNY) region, a lot of state-funded activity is beginning to bud, even in the middle of a New York winter. Local academics have been busy. Professor Wolf Yeigh, President of State University of New York Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome (SUNY-IT) recently commented on his team's plans for academic excellence in nanotechnology and semiconductors:

"The projected Computer Chip Commercialization Center (Quad-C) and Center for Advanced Technology (CAT) complex will be on the main campus of SUNYIT. Construction will begin this year, and we envision that the complex will be 120,000 ft2 of lab and office spaces complemented by up to 30,000 ft2 of clean room for Quad-C. The academic CAT building will be around 65,000 ft2 of academic and research space. The two buildings will be connected by a rotunda collaboratorium, and the entire complex layout will be similar to what you'd see at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) in Albany, allowing a free flow of academic and industry R&D interaction along with the standard teaching and learning spaces.

Rather than duplicating fundamental research done at CNSE, our facility will emphasize further application and integration of nanotechnology research and development, including testing and evaluation. The academic departments at SUNYIT, working in conjunction with CNSE faculty, will offer courses and programs in nanotechnology applied to semiconductors, materials, informatics, biology and engineering (electrical, computer, civil, mechanical, bio, and materials).

Our major connectivity within the NY school system will be with CNSE. We will also work with community colleges and private institutions in the regions just as CNSE works with community colleges and institutions in the Capital Region and beyond."

The not-for-profit Mohawk Valley (MV) Edge group has been actively promoting the area as suitable for development, with control over 400 acres of land leased from NY State adjacent to the SUNY-IT facility in Marcy. Despite the fact that several years ago, the MV Edge failed in its bid to have AMD (now Global Foundries) locate their fab in Marcy, the region still stands ready to host a manufacturing facility. Already appropriately zoned and wetland permit-approved, with all new infrastructure ideal for a semiconductor fab or similar high-technology facility, the area may be ideally suited - if not for a fab - certainly for BEOL / 2.5D and 3D assembly processes, as the site is an easy drive (less than 2 hours) from the Global Foundries Saratoga Springs, and the adjacent SUNY-run CNSE facility in Albany, the New York state capital.

Local semiconductor, solar and LED-focused companies like Indium Corporation, and the first tenants in the proposed Quad-C building, Valutek and nfrastructure, will derive benefits from the close proximity of the SUNYIT facilities.

Nestled in the foothills of the Adirondack mountains (which remains the largest park in the United States), it looks like a brand new chapter may be about to be written, as the small Mohawk Valley region transforms from its old electronics moniker "RF Valley" to "Nano Valley".

Cheers!  Andy