Micron Technology Inc. will phase out wafer production at Kiryat-Gat, Israel, which could cost 1,000 jobs by 2015 if the company can't find a buyer for the plant.
The plant, about an hour southwest of Tel Aviv, manufactures NOR flash chips, which are used in mobile devices but lack the storage capacity of other chips. The company wants to move production from 8-inch wafers made at the Israeli plant to 12-inch wafers, which increase chip yields and lower costs. The 12-inch wafer production would be handled at the company's fab in Manassas,Va.
Employees were notified by the company Thursday. Micron got the Israeli plant as part in the purchase of Swiss memory chip maker Numonyx in 2010.
Moving beyond 8-inch wafers is a smart move for Micron, said Mike Howard, a semiconductor analyst for IHS iSuppli and a former Micron employee. The NOR market is just beginning to move to the larger wafers, which puts the company ahead of the competition, he said.
"Micron needs to be out of 8-inch wafers," he said. "It just doesn't make sense."
The company closed an 8-inch wafer fab in Boise in 2009, which added to layoffs totaling about 3,500 employees.
The company is having the same discussions about a similar-sized plant Avezzano, Italy, although no timeline has been developed.
Bill Roberts: 377-6408