Excellence at the Heart of Europe
Intel Technology and Manufacturing Research in Ireland
The Intel Technology and Manufacturing Research Team in Ireland has a mission to deliver world class research results that will provide potential options to maintain the existence and cadence of Moore’s Law* well into the future. To achieve this, Intel Ireland has forged and maintained strong collaborative partnerships with research institutes, universities and other companies across Ireland and Europe, working directly with our Corporate research customers to align these activities with our Corporate Research Technology Roadmap.
*Moore’s Law is the prediction that the number of transistors (hence the processing power) that can be squeezed onto a silicon chip of a given size will double every 18 months. Stated by Gordon Moore (a cofounder of Intel and its former chairman) in 1965, it has proven to be amazingly accurate over the years.
Current areas of investigation for the team include: semi-conductor manufacturing (such as advanced process control and predictive maintenance) and nanotechnology (including research into nano-materials synthesis and integration, nano-photonics and silicon spintronics).
Much research takes place in Ireland, at organisations including:
- The Centre for “Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research” (AMBER) at the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN)
- The Tyndall National Institute
- The EU’s Collaborative Research Framework Programme (FP) and H2020 Programme for Excellent Science and Industrial Leadership
- Factory Operations at our Leixlip campus.
Under the direction of Bernie Capraro, the Intel Technology and Manufacturing Research Team in Ireland makes use of internal Intel Ireland groups as well as Intel-funded research in Irish and European Universities. A number of PhD students are co-sponsored by Intel Ireland in conjunction with the Irish Research Council, adding an essential ingredient to our research activities.
Collaboration with AMBER
AMBER is Ireland’s national materials research centre, a partnership between world-class scientists and industry funded by Science Foundation Ireland and industry partners. The centre brings together internationally recognised researchers from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and University College Cork (UCC) and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The centre delivers world leading materials science research that is industrially and clinically informed with outputs including new discoveries and devices across ICT, medical devices and industrial technology sectors. The centre is hosted in the Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices, or CRANN, the largest research institute in TCD, and Ireland’s leading nanoscience institute. CRANN is made up of academic and industry partners from TCD, UCC, Intel, and other Industrial Companies including a number of small to medium-sized enterprises. Intel was a founding member of CRANN in 2004 and continues to play a major part in the centre’s success.
CRANN is based in a 6000m2 five-story building on the north-west corner of the TCD campus. It provides state-of-the-art nanoscience laboratories, together with a public science gallery. The world class scientific leadership in CRANN is provided by 300 researchers including 37 principal investigators based across multiple disciplines including TCD’s Schools of Physics, Chemistry and Engineering.
Research carried out by Intel Researchers in Residence at CRANN includes: alternative patterning techniques using self-assembly; new memory structures using advanced magnetic layers; breakthrough methods for creating contacts to silicon; screening of new novel 2D materials for transistor applications; and applications for carbon materials in interconnect technology.
Collaboration with the Tyndall National Institute
The Tyndall National Institute is one of the largest information and communications technology (ICT) hardware research centres in Europe. Tyndall was established in 2004 to bring together researchers from the former National Microelectronics Research Centre (NMRC), University College Cork (UCC) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).
The institute specialises in research into photonics, electronics, materials and nanotechnologies, and their applications for life sciences, communications, power electronics and other industries. Research programmes range from theoretical modelling and design to novel materials, nanotechnology, device processing and fabrication, packaging and integration, plus novel systems incorporating these new devices.
Tyndall employs more than 460 engineers and research scientists and has an operating budget of more than €30 million per annum. The research centres are supported by a strong theory, modelling and design centre, and a wafer fabrication facility with CMOS, III-V and MEMS capability. Many of Tyndall’s PhD graduates go on to pursue careers in industry and are respected for the quality of their research and development outputs. Currently Tyndall is host to 120+ graduate students and many Tyndall graduates have gone on to pursue careers at Intel.
Intel has had a significant funded research program at Tyndall since 2010 which covers collaborative projects with Tyndall Principal Investigators (PIs) on topics ranging from device and interconnects modelling to device fabrication and novel materials development. From these collaborations, Tyndall PIs have been awarded “Intel Outstanding Researcher” awards on three separate occasions, highlighting the quality of the work and the close collaborations in these projects.
Of particular note is the SFI-sponsored €30million Photonics Centre known as I-PIC (Irish Photonic Integration Centre) which is hosted at Tyndall and began operating in 2013. The Centre has over 100 researchers and 18 industry partners including Intel working on a variety of projects utilising Tyndall’s photonics device and materials expertise to investigate new technologies related to optical devices.
European Collaborative Research
The Intel Technology and Manufacturing Research Team in Ireland has engaged in the European Framework Programme (FP) for Collaborative Research since 2006. The team works with partners from throughout the European Union in the fields of nanotechnology and manufacturing, researching options for the new materials, materials integration and characterization, next generation semiconductor process equipment, and manufacturing-control activities that will fill and shape our factories in the future.
Projects include: the investigation of carbon nanotubes as a possible material for future manufacturing; the use of the electron’s ‘spin’ instead of ‘charge’ to carry computing information; the use of light instead of ‘charge’ to increase the speed of data transfer between computer chips and boards; and the research and development of the next state-of-the-art processing equipment. This work is co-funded through the European Union’s previous FP and current H2020 programme for Excellent Science and Industrial Leadership.
Research in Manufacturing
Advanced Process Control research is led by Niall MacGearailt. It focuses on research and development for the improvement of the semiconductor manufacturing processes. The approach has been to increase Process Engineering diagnostic capability (troubleshooting), as well as developing autonomous self-learning analytics to augment human intuition. This has been achieved by developing advanced visualisation and analytics systems that leverage new and existing data sources to provide process insights for process engineers. New data sources include remote sensors that generate a continuous stream of data, which is processed efficiently at point of acquisition using a bespoke “Internet of Things” solution.
Techniques for processing huge volumes of data have been developed, including initial data acquisition, distributed cloud storage for high dimensional data, and the machine learning methods for analysing and making sense of the data. Visualisations and advanced analytics are used to expose latent patterns and relationships that allow technical experts to explore and develop their own hypotheses using real data and not speculation.
Collaborations have been a key enabler of the work. These collaborations include PhDs, post docs and PIs from NUIM and DCU. Intel’s well defined problem statements have been mutually beneficial by aligning a real technical and business need with a strong academic contribution. There have also been collaborations with partners from leading European academic institutions and peer companies as part of European Framework Programme projects.
The strategy of the research team has been to deliver continuous incremental value to the Corporation. That is, to focus research into areas that have a near term benefit, but also build a foundation for future more ambitious impacts. Partnering with Process Engineering stakeholder and management ensures research is aligned tightly with current and expected needs.
In its Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (2006-2013), the Irish Government proposed the establishment of Competence Centres to address the “key issue of building and reinforcing areas of strength within both industry and the academic sphere and ensuring that these are highly networked with each other”.
Competence Centres are funded by the Investment and Development Agency (IDA Ireland) and Enterprise Ireland (EI). They are collaborative entities established and led by industry, and resourced by highly-qualified researchers from research institutions who undertake market-focused strategic research for the benefit of industry. In partnership with other high-tech companies based in Ireland, the Intel Technology and Manufacturing Research Team has taken a leadership role in establishing three Competence Centres in Ireland. These are:
- The Energy Efficiency Competence Centre (I2E2), which identifies and drives world-leading research and innovation to help Irish manufacturing companies reduce, on a sustainable basis, both the cost and associated environmental impact of their energy use.
- The Irish Centre for Manufacturing Research (ICMR), which uses industry-led research to encourage advanced manufacturing to make Ireland their location of choice.
- The Competence Centre for Applied Nanotechnology (CCAN), which hopes its work in ICT/nanoelectronics and nanobiotechnology/nanomedicine (and specifically the convergence of these two latter disciplines via a highly collaborative eco-system and access to a world-class research and development infrastructure) will make Ireland a leader in the emerging nanotechnology industry.