• By The Financial District


Engineering and technology company Bosch will open a new semiconductor plant next week just north of Dresden, in the German state of Saxony, Hardy Graupner reported for Deutsche Welle (DW).

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The firm has pumped about €1 billion ($1.2 billion) into its new site, marking the biggest single investment in its 130-year history. Construction work kicked off in the summer of 2018 on an area as big as 14 football fields.

As early as last November, some basic parts of the technology already in place completed an automated manufacturing cycle for the first time.

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"Our semiconductor facility in Dresden is Bosch's first AIoT factory, combining artificial intelligence (AI) with the Internet of Things (IoT)," Bosch spokesperson Annett Fischer told DW. "We can thus rely on a continuous data-based improvement of production, setting new Industry 4.0 standards."

When the semiconductor fabrication plant (commonly called a fab, sometimes foundry) reaches its full capacity before the end of 2021, it's expected to provide jobs for up to 700 people who will control and monitor production as well as maintain the machinery.

Until then, several microchip and integrated circuit prototypes need to be subjected to further extensive testing before they can be delivered to customers. Bosch is the latest renowned company to move into Silicon Saxony.

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"All the machines — approximately 100 — and installations in the cleanroom are connected electronically and are hooked up to the whole infrastructure via a data center," Annett Fischer explained. "For that, some 300 kilometers (186 miles) of data lines had to be laid."

The silicon chips from Bosch are tiny, but they contain very complex circuits that can enable several millions of individual electronic functions. The company's focus is on the production of automotive chips, with the car industry in Europe having experienced a dire shortage of such semiconductors as the coronavirus pandemic keeps disrupting global supply chains.

Bosch's new plant will add to the larger Dresden area's reputation as one of Europe's most significant microelectronics hubs. It has come to be called Silicon Saxony in a nod to its much bigger brother, Silicon Valley, in the US.


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