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In my last post you read about my arrival in Chandler, Arizona to work on a mask design contract with Intel, in one of their microprocessor labs. In this post, without letting out any company secrets, you will read a bit about the inner workings of this design lab, where I worked for one-year during 2002-2003.
Note – Although it is never easy to leave home to provide financial support for a family, I was pleased to have passed my interviews and get hired as a contract mask designer. If nothing else, I knew that the experience with Intel would open many doors for me, if I decided to remain in contracting.
Intel Chandler Design Lab
C-Building at the Intel Chandler campus is a cement slab bunker constructed the desert and in the author’s opinion, represents The Marine Corps of contract Mask Design work in semiconductors. What is difficult about the Intel Chandler Design lab mask design work is the grueling schedules and a laboratory culture that isolates contract workers.
From the perspective of the mask designer sitting in a cube and checking in to her hotel each night, not being prepared for this life, can prove difficult.
In the larger context, contract mask designers are treated with respect, and they are highly compensated. Respect because of the skilled and stressful nature of their work and highly compensated because they live out of a suitcase and are expected to produce high quality work with a minimum of start-up time.
Chandler Intel Design lab employees are – according to what I was told by a reliable source – encouraged not to talk to mask design contractors. Nor is proprietary information shared, even when certain documents are directly related to mask design work. Adding the usual political and territorial gamesmanship to the mix, with a healthy dose of jealousy over hourly rates, then makes for, at times, a very tense working environment.
Note – With the wisdom of hindsight, the author now understands the company’s need to safeguard intellectual property (IP) within the Intel Chandler Design Labs.
Deep alliances – and sometimes divisions – among working groups are a fact of life in the work place. In the author’s opinion, the political behavior that these relationships can lead to cannot be controlled and can sometimes be quite destructive.
Tribes will always disagree. The best we can hope to do is find our own tribes.
4 x 8 Cube Space
In my case, I was quite lucky. I shared a 8 x 8 cube with a very friendly and outgoing mask design contractor who was a life-long resident of the community in Phoenix, Arizona and was as much of an “insider” as a contractor could be. This guy loved to listen to talk radio from the 1940’s and was, like me, also a big fan of American Idol. We had a blast working together.
2013 – Intel’s’ Fab 42
This post has highlighted some of my experiences in 2002-2003.
What is Intel up to in Chandler, Arizona this year?
Chip maker Intel Corp is building the world’s most advanced, high volume chip fabrication plant in Chandler, Arizona. At a whopping cost of about $5 billion, “Fab 42″ is scheduled to be completed in 2013 and will be set up to produce chips with parts only 14 nm wide, and is currently the second-largest construction project in the world after the facilities being prepared for the London Olympics being held this summer, the Financial Times reported. A human hair is about 100,000 nanometers. For Intel, smaller parts means less heat and increased energy efficiency. In other words, they’re perfect for mobile phones. –
Have you ever worked in a place where a government clearance and extensive background investigation was required?
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