18 September 2007

And now for something completely different

I have talked about my past employer, Boeing, a few times on this blog, but I haven't mentioned Intel. I worked in process engineering in the (tungsten) chemical vapor deposition area out in Aloha, OR. Not my cup of tea in many respects. Making chips and the technology (which is fairly cutting edge) are not things that greatly interest me and the corporate culture was not something I cared for. Plus, the whole clean room stuff and wearing bunny suits did not thrill me, not to mention working with non-life affirming chemicals/gases wasn't my idea of fun.

Since I had a sick kid last night, don't have much to say today, but heard Intel was building a new facility in the Evil Empire, so thought I'd include a brief bit on that.

From the EE Times:
Intel Corp. on Saturday (Sept. 8) broke ground on its first 300-mm wafer fabrication facility in Asia. The new plant, named Fab 68, is located in the northern China city of Dalian, in the Liaoning Province.
Intel's China fab was originally announced in March. The $2.5 billion project is set to be operational in 2010. It will produce chipsets, based on a 90-nm process. Fab 68 will cover 163,000-square-meters of factory space and host a 15,000-square-meter clean room.

Intel investment in Fab 68 sets its total investment in China to close to $4 billion. Intel has established two assembly and test plants in Shanghai and Chengdu, along with R&D centers and labs in Beijing, Shanghai and elsewhere in China.

"Fab 68 will have world-class infrastructure and be an integral part of our global manufacturing network while bringing us closer to our customers and partners in China," said Craig Barrett, chairman of Intel, in a statement. "Intel's investment in Fab 68 comes at a time when Dalian's information technology industry is aiming to compete globally and become one of the top three IT clusters in China," said Dalian Mayor Xia Deren, in the same statement. "Fab 68 is not just bringing advanced chipset manufacturing to Dalian," he said. "Intel's presence will attract investment from virtually every segment of the IC industry, which in turn will have tremendous effect on the region's economy and industries."

Picture of a silicon ingot that is grown and then cut into wafers

A brief overview of how silicon is turned into the material that chips are made from.

If you have any interest, here is a Wiki link on Chemical Vapor Deposition
and another, more in depth link.


Wearing a bunny suit, from the Intel website (what I had to do every day just to get out in the fab):

"Cleanrooms are 10,000 times cleaner than a hospital operating room. It takes an incredible amount of technology to achieve and maintain such cleanliness. Huge air filtration systems completely change the air in cleanrooms about 10 times per minute, reducing the chance that there are airborne particles that might harm the chips.

Keeping the environment clean, however, is only half of the story. What about the people who work in the cleanrooms? The thousands of people who work in Intel cleanrooms all wear special uniforms called "bunny suits" to protect the chips from human particles such as skin flakes or hairs. A bunny suit is made from a unique non-linting, anti-static fabric and is worn over street clothes.

At the Intel Museum, you can see what our BunnyPeopleT look like. Bunny suits come in a range of colors, as long as you like white.

Suiting up is a rather involved process, not to mention that every time you enter and leave a cleanroom you have to repeat the steps below:

(They forgot to mention you have to go through an air shower and walk across fly-paper before the following steps)

1. Store personal items.
2, Discard any gum, candy, etc.
3. Remove any makeup with cleanroom soap and water.
4. Take a drink of water to wash away throat particles.
5. Cover any facial hair with a surgical mask or beard/mustache lint-free cover.
6. Put on a lint-free head cover.
7. Clean shoes with shoe cleaners (think they are referring to the fly-paper here)
8. Put shoe cover on over shoes.
9. Clean any small, pre-approved items to be taken inside.
10. Pick up booties.
11. Sit on "dirty" side of bench.
12. Put on one bootie (over plastic shoe cover).
13. Swing bootied foot to "clean" side of bench.
14. Put on other bootie on "dirty" side.
15. Swing bootied foot to "clean" side.
16. Enter main gowning room.
17. Set aside badge, pager, and any other items to be taken inside.
18. Put on nylon gowning gloves.
19. Obtain bunny suit and belt from hanger.
20. Put on bunny suit without letting it touch the floor.
21. Put on belt.
22. Tuck bunny suit pant legs into booties.
23. Fasten snaps at top of booties.
24. Attach filter unit to belt.
25. Attach battery pack to belt.
26. Plug filter unit into battery pack.
27. Obtain helmet, safety glasses, and ID badge from rack.
28. Put on helmet.
29. Tuck helmet skirt into bunny suit.
30. Zip up bunny suit at shoulders.
31. Attach helmet hose to filter unit.
32. Tighten knob at back of helmet.
33. Put on ID badge.
34. Put on pager.
35. Put on safety glasses.
36. Obtain disposable scope shield.
37. Remove protective covering from both sides of scope shield.
38. Undo front helmet snaps.
39. Attach face shield to helmet.
40. Re-snap front helmet snaps.
41. Examine attire in mirror.
42. Put on latex gloves.
43. Enter the cleanroom.

If you've never done it before, putting on a bunny suit can take 30 to 40 minutes. The Intel pros can do it in five."


gemoftheocean said...

Let's hope you're not having a diarrhea problem that day...or is that an "automatic" sick day?!

When I worked at General Dynamics, one of our satellite facilities was way out in the boonies - people who smoked had to walk a good quarter mile out to a pillbox, and couldn't use matches, but had to touch the ciggie to a heated pipe inside the pillbox. they had to smoke it inside.

We also had a cleanroom at another facility- glad I didn't have to work under those conditions. Looked like a pain in the backside - but thanks for posting those procedures. My.

swissmiss said...

Fortunately, I didn't work at Intel long, but it sure seemed like a long time. It was very interesting, but a bit to electrical engineering in nature for me. Plus, there is nothing like building a great big monster that flies.

I bet the instance you mentioned would be cause for a sick day since you might not ever make it in and out of your bunny suit in time, although their time of 30 to 40 minutes for a newbie seems high and I bet most techs and engineers could whip on a bunny suit in less than five minutes.

I didn't mention how we snuck some wolf urine into the fab and placed it in a co-worker's air pack, did I? Evil, pure evil.

Anonymous said...

oohhh, clean--being a bit of a clean freak--who works in a hospital--I just want to sit in the room one time--but probably would go into instant shock from the lack of contamination.

Ray from MN said...

I didn't really understand that at all, but I found it extremely fascinating.

Thanks, Monica.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

My son would love to watch the processes or even know anything about how microchips are produced. He's fascinated with that stuff.

He might have a problem with the cleanliness issue...he's not a fan of showers (he's 10, 'nuff said!).

swissmiss said...

It may be clean, but you're so covered in stuff from head to foot to care. Plus, at the time I worked in the fab, the air filtration system was a constant background hum. When I left, they were building a new fab with higher ceilings and supposedly less noise. I got a tour of this fab and it was much quieter.

You are usually the one with all the info!

Think your son would like these showers since you are fully clothed and air just blows all over you. The process is fascinating, but I really liked building something I considered way cooler and more tangible. You never get to touch the wafers and they move around the fab in "boats" so it's all kind of removed, especially for the techs. More interesting to learn about than actually do as a job, IMHO.